Eldritch City Shorts
Robin Heggelund Hansen
Date of Publication: March 21st, 2015
Number of pages: 15
Word Count: 5100
Nine years have passed since the tragic and mysterious deaths of Mr. Phillips and his daughter. A new clue surfaces, one which the lead investigator will follow to the brink of insanity.
Available at Amazon
To whoever reads this: I feel that I must apologize if what you find on these pieces of paper appears to be nothing more than a collection of near-indecipherable words. I can assure you that I have tried everything I can think of, and yet I cannot keep my hands from trembling. This, however, is only a symptom of my much greater problems.
I cannot eat, or sleep, or even close my eyes for longer than the briefest of moments. I feel as if I’m about to lose my mind, but I’m clear enough to realize that I have to get this story off my chest, before it consumes whatever sanity I have left. Unfortunately, the only recipient I can trust with a story as bizarre and horrible as this are the same pieces of paper upon which these words are written.
For officers of the Eldritch City Police Department, no two days are alike. Even with this in mind, yesterday morning would still single itself out as peculiar. As I entered the precinct to begin my shift, I met a man who I realized was from out of town. It was clear that he was uncomfortable since he was constantly scratching his arm and shifting his gaze. It was as if he was trying to view the entire room at once.
There are many things that can be said of Eldritch City, but the one thing people always remember is the air. It’s not that it has a particular smell, but it has a way of sticking to your skin, like wet clothes on a rainy day. Us locals usually say that it is due to the humidity that comes with being in a warm coastal city, but humid air does not leave you with a feeling of being watched, or that something terrible is about to happen. Given time, one learns to hide this discomfort. People from out of town, however, usually haven’t learnt the knack.
The man introduced himself as Deputy Swanson of the Heartbrook Sheriff’s office. Upon learning my name, he raised his eyebrows in surprise. “It would seem I am in luck,” he said. “It is in fact you that I have come here to see.”
Before continuing the conversation, I invited Swanson back to my desk — I have yet to earn my own office — and offered him a choice of coffee or tea, of which he chose the latter. When we were both sitting comfortably, I asked what had brought him all the way here from Heartbrook. To this he responded by handing me a newspaper article, dating back nine years. The article was an interview with a younger me regarding a murder case out by Mirkwood. I knew the article well, not just because I was the subject of the interview, but also because the case in question had been troubling me ever since I had been assigned to it.
Nine years earlier, for their summer-break, the Phillips family had gone out to their newly built cabin in Mirkwood, on the outskirts of the city. Only a day into their vacation, Mr. Phillips and his daughter, Julia, were brutally murdered. Their bodies had been mutilated to the point of being barely recognizable — large portions of flesh were missing. It was almost as if something had fed on them. The coroner couldn’t rule out an animal attack, but thought it unlikely since the wounds were inconsistent with the bite of any species known to be living in Mirkwood.
- Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Sort of. I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller; the format is never something I’ve been picky on. I have tried acting, writing movie-manuscripts, making games and I do have a large trail of unsuccessful attempts at writing a book behind me. I think I’ll stick with writing though, as every ounce of energy you pour into it becomes a part the story you wish to tell, and you get full control of how that story is told as well.
- When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
Truth be told, I still don’t. For me, being a writer means having published a novel, which I haven’t. Yet.
- How long did it take to get your first book published?
Not that long. I spent a week finding a good cover artist and an editor. Once they were done with their work I went over my story one final time, and pressed «publish.»
- Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
Right now I work as a software developer for a company that specializes in home automation. That means that I’m part of a team that develops software which can control the lights, blinds, tvs, radios, air conditioners etc. in your house.
I won’t do this for much longer though. Come fall I’ll be back at the university, studying to become a teacher. I’ve come to realize that working with people, is much more rewarding than working with machines.
- What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest published book is ‘Beneath’, and is about a detective who gets the chance to close a nine-year old murder case. Solving that case however, threatens to destroy his sanity.
- Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I self-publish. It just made sense considering that I currently write short stories, and that I write English in a country where that is not the main language.
- How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Difficult question. I don’t sit down to write unless I have the entire plot in my head. From the time I get the original idea until I have something that is fleshed out enough to start writing, could take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months. Luckily, I get a lot of ideas, so I’m usually working on one idea while another is developing.
For my short stories, it takes about two to three weeks to get a draft I’m happy with. Then my editor spends a week marking the whole thing red, and then I get to spend another couple of days re-writing the story into a readable product.
- What can we expect from you in the future?
In the short term you can expect more short stories. While they won’t be sequels to ‘Beneath’, they will be set in the same universe. My second book, ‘The Account of Matthew Brighton’, should be out any day now, and I’m far along with my third short story as well.
In the long term, you can expect to see a novel set in Eldritch City. I’m almost done thinking it through, but I plan on writing a total of six short stories before starting on it. There will be some crossovers between the short stories and the novel, which are all set in the same place, at about the same time.
- What genre would you place your books into?
Horror/Mystery, but I guess SciFi/Mystery or Fantasy/Mystery could work as well.
- What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I’ve always been a mystery fan. There is something about being presented with something that can’t be explained right away, and then try to solve that mystery. If I’m paying close attention, I might even beat the main character to the conclusion, which is always fun.
To make it all the more exciting though, I really like mysteries which includes some element of the supernatural or fantastical. Mostly because, in a world where what you consider reality and what you believe to be fiction collides, anything can happen. Mysteries suddenly become more interesting because there are now more possibilities that are not restricted by such silly notions like science or facts.
- Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
Not really. Not yet, anyway.
- How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
Although ‘Beneath’ is my first published work of fiction, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Not often though. I get a lot of ideas, but there are few of them I feel are good enough to invest the time it takes to write them. Sometimes it can take months before I sit down to write, and I usually don’t finish those stories. Recently though, I’ve grown tired of never completing anything, so I’ve promised myself to at least write the ideas I have revolving Eldritch City (the universe ‘Beneath’ is set in), and we’ll see where it goes from there.
When it comes to inspiration I don’t really have a good answer for you. I get bored easily, and when I do I tend to imagine what would happen if something extreme happened in the scene in front of me. By extreme I mean things like: «What if that guy just came out of the TV» or «What if every animal in the world tried to get in here to kill that one guy.» Sometimes, thoughts like that leads to a story I find cool enough to write, sometimes they don’t.
- Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I sit on the floor, right between my couch and my living-room table, and listen to the sound of rain and some dark ambience. Musica Cthulhiana is good, so is Atrium Carceri, sometimes I even listen to movie soundtracks like «The Wolfman» or «From Hell.»
- Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes. Then again I don’t get many reviews.
- Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Title first. Like I mentioned earlier, I usually know exactly how the story goes before I write a single word. Figuring what the title should be is how I start writing the book.
- How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
For characters I try making something that sounds right by just combining different names I know. When I’m too tired to do that, or if I can’t make something good up, I go on facebook and ask one person to say a first name, then another person to say a last name, and then take whatever combination that works.
For places, it helps visualizing the place in my head first. The name usually comes on its own.
- Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
Names are decided after their creation. I usually know what I want before I know what to call them/it.
- Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
That happens as I go along. I always know what I want the characters to do. Usually, I discover what kind of persons they are when I consider how they would describe the situation they are in, or why they are doing what they are doing.
- Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
No. Well, sometimes. My first priority is to entertain, to make people forget about their real world problems for a while, and just be sucked into this alternate world of horror and mystery. Sometimes I also want to tell them something, but not if I have to sacrifice excitement to do it.
- Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
eBook. I’m a huge Kindle fan, and love having my entire collection of books in my hand, with easy access to light and dictionary. Funny enough, I still find actual paper to be the best thing to make notes on though. Something about the freedom of having one or multiple sheets of paper, and not be dictated by the rules of the machine.
- What is your favorite book and why? Have you read it more than once?
That would have to be Sherlock Holmes and the hound of Baskerville. I have read it three times.
- Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
That really depends on the book and the film makers.
Worst adaption would have to be Eragon, with the best being Lord of the Rings.
- Your favorite food is?
- Your favorite singer/group is?
Don’t really have favorites. I kind of move on from artist to artist. Currently I listen a lot to Two Steps From Hell, last week it was Katy Perry.
- Your favorite color is?
- Your favorite Author is?
Again, don’t really play favorites. But I have recently enjoyed the writings of Kafka and Clive Barker.
Robin was born on a cold winter night in Oslo, Norway, 1989. Growing up, he was always fond of telling stories, leading people to wonder when, not if, he would move on to writing stories of his own. Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, he wrote his first short story, 'Beneath', in 2015.