....It was an ambience on the threshold of awareness, like the sound of time and the weight of the hills bearing down atop us.
Most "New Lovecraft" collections are filled with earthbound and lackluster work: the market is glutted and the prose is unarresting.
Among the fill, however, is a diamond:
"On These Blackened Shores of Time" by Brian Hodge.
It begins with an accident and a family tragedy strange and confounding enough for Bierce. It wends its way from there through eastern Pennsylvania mining lore. It ends with the subterranean and the ineffable.
....In the main tunnel I stepped on something that shifted beneath my boot, then gave with a crunch. I probed with my foot, too much rubber in the way to discern anything, so I pushed up my sleeves and plunged my hand into the cold water. When it came up with a length of spinal column and a rib cage, I flung them away in disgust.
....It was obvious she hadn't seen the bones as well as I had. In that glimpse I'd caught in the headlamp, they didn't seem right, something malformed about them. The spine was overly long and twisted, as if from scoliosis. The rib cage had seemed wider, flatter. To me, it was only human because of expectations. Actually, I wasn't sure it was human at all. But I wasn't going to dredge it up again for another look.
From: Children of Lovecraft edited by Ellen Datlow
20 April 2019