Gentlefolk here gathered, I thank you for your attendance…and your bravery.
I introduce you to a place which, as a concept, evokes the untamed imagination, encourages fraternising with the dark and embracing of the weird; as a quirk of geography, cosmology and fickle theology, it has been known to shatter the mind and baffle the sensible.
(Luckily there aren’t any if that sort here)
Maybe this is your first time, perhaps this is your prophesized return, some might say you never left…
Either way, we arrive.
The day’s last embers fade into the horizon and Night awakens, stretching its lithe frame over the uncertain terrain of the island of Hopeless, Maine.
The stars do not twinkle above. They cajole. The shadows do not gather, or creep, but walk brazen on the cobbles.
Cottages knot together, hastily made by those who must constantly glance over their shoulder with little time for aesthetic or architectural standard. Only the knowledge that they need shelter. And soon.
Beside rune-etched doors, chimes tinkle on a breeze that isn’t there. Dreamcatchers twist above beds encircled with salt.
Part of the island’s eerie soundscape the sound of lapping waves on this forsaken pebbled shore, is a wordless lullaby sung by that which waits beneath the brine.
Whispers from the woods in a voice half-remembered, perhaps once loved, threatens sweets things to those who wander too close.
But not all inhabitants of Hopeless are so. Though they choose different weapons (rationality, faith, hearsay) they all stand against the What-might-it-bes and I’ll-never-tells that rattle the locks and skitter along rooves.
Make no mistake, there are no winners, here. Only those who survive a little longer.
Of course, none of this is any fault of the night. It is merely witness to all that happens below its silken arches. The only witness. As forgetfulness, here, is a tool of survival. Those who remember are doomed to ramble in step and word. Those who question, may regret the answer.
Sit back. Set your drink on the table before you,
lest your hands begin to shake.
Welcome to the impossible isle. Hopeless, Maine.
As the title suggests, this is an invocation of the island of Hopeless, Maine by the bloody fantastic (literally) author, Craig Hallam. It was read aloud as the opening piece of the Hopeless Vendetta Live during the Asylum steampunk festival. We all had goosebumps. If you have not yet encountered Craig’s work, you would do well dive into the Adventures of Alan Shaw. (The third and final book in this series is eagerly awaited in this household!)
Art by Tom Brown