By David Farnell, (c) 2000
Prologue: “Tiger” was originally written as an entry into the “Immortality” short story contest, at www.delta-green.com. It did not win–not surprising, as it was never really intended to be a separate story. I meant it to be the first half of what eventually became “Angel.” Then “Angel” kind of grew out of control. Now I have reunited them. Many aspects of the Tcho-tcho tribe presented here grew out of a very fruitful list discussion.
Chapter 1: This is, of course, the origin of the infamous “eyelids/tongue/balloon animals” discussion, revealed at last. I have revised this chapter a bit since its first posting to the DGML.
Chapter 2: The chapter title is derived from Blake’s poem “Little Girl Lost”; Lyca is the name of the little girl in that poem.
Here is the legend of Lago Espantosa:
“Via FM 1433 south 4 m[iles from Crystal City], Lake Espantosa is a strange, listless,
jungle-like oxbow or resaca from the ancient Nueces River, out of place in this brush country. In the 1700s it was the best campsite–both wood and water–between San Juan Bautista and outpost San Antonio. A 1750 wagon train camped here and one woman was dragged into the lake by a monster ‘much larger than an alligator.’ Tales grew that a later treasure train with Spanish payroll for the San Antonio garrison was sucked into the lake–some old-timers believe that on dark nights the rumble of that wagon train, and the screams of its drivers, can be heard. Later, refugees fleeing the 1830s English colony of Dolores, nearby…, camped here and were massacred. Thereafter, the lake itself was deemed the killer, and its name, loosely translated, became ‘Lake of Terror.'”
–Syers and Hodge, Backroads of Texas, Gulf Pub. Co., 1993, p. 101
I first mentioned Crystal City in “Yuki Onna” when I needed a place (chosen pretty much at random) for Henry Nakata to have been interred during World War 2–it was pure serendipity that legend-shrouded Lago Espantosa was only four miles away. Maria would have come from San Antonio otherwise. Crystal City and environs turned out to be a pretty darned intriguing place for many reasons.
Chapter 3: The chapter title is taken from Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark.”
Chapter 4: Deacon Jacob’s reading is Psalm 83, “A Song of Asaph.” The cult has modified it slightly to suit their purposes.
Chapter 5: The chapter title derives from Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
Chapter 6: The chapter title is the first seven words of “The Call of Cthulhu.”
Chapter 9: The chapter title is a quote by Edward in King Lear. Sky Farnsworth is an old character of mine from the first Call of Cthulhu campaign we tried, way back in the day when CoC 1st Edition was released. It ended up being the best RPG campaign I have yet experienced, providing more memorable moments than any before or since. (Sky was also the father of the OSS man in “Yuki Onna.”) Stephen Alzis is the creation of Dennis Detwiller.
Chapter 10: The title is Hawaiian, from an eponymous Keali`i Reichel song; it means “O cool, fragrant mist.” The MiB sighting in this chapter is wholly unauthorized–I expect to be sanctioned for it. Dr. Grant Emerson is our own Graeme Price in disguise. And yes, Hank Nakata is a very spry old man.
Chapter 11: The Dancers in this chapter were directly lifted from Shane Ivey’s story “lesserdark.” The gong effect came out of Thomas Ryng’s version of The King in Yellow. The chapter title, which most Americans will recognize, is part of a poem for telling the difference between a poisonous coral snake and a harmless king snake.
Chapter 12: Everyone seems to have a different take on the Tableau. I think my main inspiration was Karl Edward Wagner’s “The River of Night’s Dreaming.” James Blish’s and Thomas Ryng’s versions of the mythical play, The King in Yellow, also provided some ideas. Many aspects of the geography of Carcosa come from the mind of John Tynes. The fictional town of Equiano, in the fiction-within-a-fiction state of Suanee, is named after the real Olauda Equiano. (Look him up–he’s amazing.) Agent Luke’s claim that the DG alphabet-cell structure is disinformation is of course disinformation itself. (But that might be disinformation, too.)
Environment: While writing “Angel,” I was binging on Dead Can Dance, Tom Waits, PM Dawn, Keali`i Reichel, Chet Baker, Kyu Sakamoto, Sibelius, Cyprus Hill, and the soundtrack to Akira. Between bursts of writing, I would read James Ellroy, John Le Carre, Lewis Carroll, WB Yeats, Iain Banks, and Clark Ashton Smith when I needed indirect encouragement to get back to the keyboard. (HPL, RWC, Tynes, etc. were direct inspiration.) They had their effects. It’s nice to relax with Roddy Doyle or George Fraser now, and listen to Shonen Knife.
“Angel” is dedicated to the members of the Delta Green Mailing List. It was stuck in my head for years, and you let me get it out. Now maybe I can get some sleep.
In particular, I want to thank those who encouraged me with comments and criticism, on- and off-list, especially Mark “Lizard” McFadden, Davide “Dr. Dee” Mana, Andy “Glove Cleaner” Robertson, Chris “Crusty” Womack, and Shane “2 a.m. Feeding” Ivey, and many others.
For assistance with language questions, sincere thanks to Junko Nishiyama, Claude Poulin, Francisco “Shoggoth” Javier Rodriguez Cabanas, Junnon Merigoux and Francois Sawamura, Kai Allen Chang, and Maria Ortiz.
For playing in the scenarios that led to this story, and in some cases inspiring characters, thanks to Myles Derven (Derek Williams), Rhys Truman (Ahmed Shah), Emily Dolan, Travis Latham, Kevin Fowler, Matt “The Fat Man Who Shoots a Lot” Hutzell, Mayumi Shigeno, Alfred Griffin, Alison Thomas, Kerstin Purschel, Steve Ziggerelli, Maria Ortiz, and Gurmit and Amrita Singh. Oh yes: the MiB (Chapter 10) was inspired by the MiB.
And of course thanks to Pagan Publishing for the Delta Green setting and the re-exploration of RW Chambers’ works, and for providing this mailing list, which is the most fertile ground for discussion and inspiration about these topics one could hope for. I have borrowed (i.e: ripped off) numberless ideas from our discussions, many of which I can no longer disentangle to discover their original author. Of course many aspects of this story (novella? novel?) are copyrighted creations of Pagan Publishing and its associated authors.
In addition to the most obvious inspirations–the works of Robert W Chambers and HP Lovecraft, and Detwiller, Glancy, and Tynes’Delta Green and associated works–I gained great inspiration from John Tynes’ Ambrose/Broadalbin/Sosostris series and some stuff he wrote back when he was a student at the University of Missouri, which eventually became the “Hastur Mythos” chapter of DG: Countdown. Shane Ivey’s “Blacker Than Black” and “lesserdark” also inspired me to see not only the possibilities of the Hastur Mythos, but moreover got me thinking about trying to write again after a somnolescence of several years. And it was Davide Mana’s “Chasing the Bride” and Mark McFadden’s “Callahan’s Endtimes Saloon” that woke me up to the possibilities of the Dreamlands.
Finally, thanks to my long-enduring and loving wife, Junko, and daughter, Natsumi, for putting up with my pounding the keyboard in the kitchen long into the night. Aishiteru.
And now for a request: “Angel” is not really finished. Originally it was meant as just a lark, to shake the rust off my writing before moving on to other things. But before doing that, I’ve decided to rewrite (as in tear down and completely rebuild) the story to create another, longer, fuller, and hopefully better story over the next year or so (it will not be re-serialized onlist). I am especially interested in what you thought worked well and didn’t work well, and why. I know well that it is easy to get myopic with one’s own stuff. Also, if you catch any continuity errors or other little mistakes that got past me (and I know there are several, some even done on purpose), I’d appreciate being alerted. That way I can fix them in this first version of the story, too. And, for those DGML members whose ideas I’ve borrowed (ripped off): if you have any objections or concerns, or want acknowledgement for your contribution, please contact me and we’ll work it out.