Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yellow Brick Roads


"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour."
Charles Dickens


Yellow bricks do not seem all that threatening, except perhaps in the midst of a riot when someone might lob one through a window or something, yet the yellow brick roads leading to and from the Jumbles, the Barrier Woods, the White Orchard, the Inner Ramparts, and especially the Eastern Rampart are a lingering source of dread and an ever-present reminder of the implacable, ever encroaching, inhumanly patient things that rule over the ruins of more than one Adjacent World.

After the bombs stopped falling and people got on with the hard work of surviving and re-building things no one gave much thought to the yellow bricks they dug out of the wreckage and ruins. Even fractured, chipped and half-broken bricks were put to use in reconstructing hearths, homes tenement walls and market stalls. No one realized that the bricks were infected, no one would have cared that all the roads paved with these bricks led back to centers of pestilence, hotbeds of disease and infection. By the time anyone started to ask questions about something as commonplace and ordinary as bricks and the old roads originally built from them, it was well past the point of doing anything about it.

The old roads had been there before even the Three Camps were first established on the plateau where Wermspittle was in time founded. The yellow brick roads were older than the mounds where the rocks are cut with spirals of Aklo. Only the Blue Walls deep below are older, according to the descendants of the Etrurian outcasts who interred their honored dead and kept the Mystery Rites of their people in the outer caves. A few academics quibbled over increasingly esoteric and rarefied theories as to who built the roads and why, but for the most part people just took them for granted.

Crude, rectangular blocks of some dense, yet porous and highly durable unglazed ceramic; the old yellow bricks had endured millennia of exposure to the elements and to the ravages of all out war. It was only natural that the survivors put the bricks dislodged and torn loose by the bombs and artillery barrages to work patching their walls and shops and homes.

It wasn't until after the rebuilding effort was well underway that something terrible happened at the Eastern Section of the Inner Ramparts. The Guardhouse is surrounded by blazing pyres and quarantined under penalty of death. The survivors have all been issued flame-throwers and a small group of Puritans have been welcomed to assist with the constant burning of whatever has infected the lower levels of the all-but-abandoned Guardhouse.

Commandant Zulmer has sent scouts along the winding, twisting lengths of the various branches and by-ways of the old yellow brick roads. The way leading into Wermspittle from the Eastern Keep has been closed to all civilian traffic, unless they are transporting loads of 20 gallon glass jars of acid back toward the Guardhouse. All through the city yellow bricks are beginning to soften and to seep a sweet-smelling fluid with the unmistakable aftertaste of corruption and decay...and people exposed to the fluid began to chuckle until their mouths bled, their faces contorted in a hideous rictus that was somewhere between a scream and a smile. The lucky ones died well before their bodies blossomed into wet fronds of long dormant fungi...



Inspiration: The Yellow Peril by M. P. Shiel provided a meaningful (if slightly sordid) detour through some troubling history that was actually more than a little pertinent to this stuff, even if it isn't necessarily immediately obvious; Mister Sardonicus and The Man Who Laughs both contributed a little to the proceedings; Mr. Lovecraft's The Shunned House; Ambrose Bierce's An Inhabitant of Carcosa; Mr. Chambers' The King in Yellow,..and of course L Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...as well as a certain song from 1973. And Yes, there is a definite, distinct connection between the Yellow Brick Roads and the Sickly Yellow Phantoms and Yellow Kids...as well as the Inner Ramparts.

4 comments:

  1. Hey! Welcome back!

    And don't forget the Yellow Wallpaper...

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    1. Hi! Finally had a chance to get some old drafts finished off and set-up in the queue. You're right about the Yellow Wallpaper having a bit of a connection to all this, as do the Yellow Creepers that tend to infest the wallpaper...
      Not sure how regular a thing this is going to be, but I am working like mad on a few things and making real progress now that I'm feeling better. The next posts will be going out one or two a week for a while, at least for the next few weeks.

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  2. Great stuff! More Wermspittle is always welcome.

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    Replies
    1. There will be a few more posts once or twice a week for a while. If I'm able, I plan to keep Wermspittle posts coming out as close to weekly as possible.

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