Saturday, July 17, 2010
Sold: "The Feast of the Night-Soil Man"
Earlier this year I wrote a short story called "The Feast of the Night-Soil Man." It was my first completed piece after quite a long break, and I was pretty proud of it. Then I started submitting it to magazines. The reactions I got were, um, rather confused. It seems that a post-pandemic eco-folktale about a servant of the gods who eats their shit wasn't exactly what most editors were looking for.
I'm glad to say, though, that "Feast" finally found a home. And a hell of a home, at that: Polluto, one of England's raddest, oddest, edgiest speculative-fiction magazines, has accepted my coprophagiac allegory for their upcoming seventh issue. It's great to know there are some other weirdos besides myself dwelling in the fringes of the genre -- and not afraid to own it. Here's a teaser:
I was forbidden to gaze upon Yu-in in the full light of the day, so it was only Ith I came to know. Sometimes at dawn in Yu-in's cavernous chamber He mistook me for some long-dead lover, reaching toward my manhood with languid, clanking fingers. He smelled of iron and vanilla--that is, after I had finished my work with Him. With rag and shovel I scrubbed and scraped at the thick slime and barnacle-like shingles that collected around His vast and nautiloid anus. After flushing the waste down the cracks of the mountain's glacier as I had been instructed, I would return to anoint Him with a perfume of ambergris and afterbirth, spices and sperm, that Yu-in deposited in a bedside urn daily for this purpose.
But earlier--that is, when I would climb to the slumbering, snowbound Gods in the hours just after star-rise--the smell was far less ambrosial. Like a tomb cracked open and left to fester, Yu-in leaked a black and brackish feculence that stunk of rot and waste. They wallowed in their filth, tossing and turning until even Their single, blank face--for Yu-in seemed to be possessed by none of its constituent deities as it slept--was slathered in that rank muck.
To this day I shudder to think of the dreams Yu-in must have had. Ith told me once; it was morning, and I was still wiping away the last festoons of stool that clung to Yu-in's massive hindquarters. Ith awoke in a panic and told me of a nightmare He and the Others had been having.