Archive for January, 2012

072: The Brass Candle

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on January 22, 2012 by glasganon

There is an object that seems to find its way into the collection of various shops around the West End of Glasgow. The rhyme and reason as to where it appears is unknown.

This object is a brass ornament shaped like a candle that, when lit by the flame from a matchstick, casts a light that allows the holder to see ghostly streets that never appeared on any of the city’s maps, dilapidated corridors and rooms of dead buildings long since vanished, and primeval tunnels that lead deep under the city. The holder of the brass candle can travel down these ancient places for as long as the candle remains lit: if the candle is ever left in the dark, unlit, it disappears – and, at the next equinox or solstice, will reappear in a shop somewhere in the West End.

Curiously, a number of people who buy the candle tend to go missing within a few weeks: perhaps they’ve been negligent in keeping the brass candle lit while walking those ancient pathways.


141: The Phone Network

Posted in Gideon Keys on January 22, 2012 by glasganon

Electromagnetic fields are often used to explain away bizarre phenomena that the human mind experiences – in particular, theory suggests that electromagnetic fields cause the feelings and hallucinations that conspire to create a “ghost sighting”. The two are linked, but it’s the wrong way around. The phone network is made up of electrical signals masquerading as sound, so it should not be surprising that haunting phenomena occur on the phone lines as much as in decrepit castles and old houses. For this reason, many acolytes refuse to carry mobile phones, or else keep them turned off for extensive periods of time.

A number of people in the region of Glasgow have experienced the “screaming phone”. Instead of the traditional ringing tone of their home telephones, the phones emit a high-pitched peal of electrical screams that tear into the heads of anyone unfortunate enough to hear them; answering the phone will immediately cease the screaming, but it is far preferable to let the phone ring unanswered by simply waiting for the screams to end, or leaving the building altogether – the voice on the end of the line is always your own, and the secrets it delivers may lead to your own destruction.

It is not uncommon for acolytes to receive texts, picture messages and voicemails from unknown individuals that tease answers to the questions of Glasgow’s living mythology. Pictures of a missing girl. A message detailing a severed hand with sticks of incense poking out through decaying flesh. A video of reflected lights in the sky. A voicemail message spoken by vaguely familiar voice, pleading for you to show mercy. A photo taken through a watery lens of paintings bleeding colour. It is pivotal that these are ignored unless their source is known; the acolyte that seeks the Truth must seek the Truth itself, and not false icons created in her name. Truth is the greatest temptress, and They know this well.

116: The Fungal Bloom

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on January 22, 2012 by glasganon

There is a house in Bearsden that lies condemned, but this is not immediately obvious from the outside. It cannot be demolished as there would be too much disruption to the homes it is connected to, and the door and windows of the house cannot be welded shut, because residents of the neighbourhood felt it would cast a stigma over the area and petitioned for it to stay empty. Nowadays, people have all but forgotten about the strange house, and it would be entirely unnotable were it not for the thing that was responsible for it being condemned – the Fungus.

The house has become a home for a persistent, interminable mould that covers vast swathes of the ceiling, walls and floors. The fungus is so prevalent that acolytes will not realise that none of the rooms are carpeted – wherever you walk in the house, you are walking on a bed of mould, which releases small clouds of dust-like spores as you tread atop it. The master bedroom on the upper floor is murky and difficult to see in, due to the descent of millions of spores falling like snow from the ceiling – breathing in this room invites respiratory problems that come accompanied with persistent, recurring visions of people made out of mushrooms standing around you, watching you with absent faces.

The bathroom on the lower floor is the nexus of the bizarre infestation. From the plugholes of the sink and bath, long, pallid fungal stalks rise up to a foot in height, crowned by pale yellow cone-like heads. The shower head has stalks growing down from it, which curl up at the ends like hooks. The mirror over the sink has shattered, with a wrinkled, tumour-like mushroom growth sprouting through the glass.The toilet has become a throne for the fungal bloom; thick wreaths of white-and-beige flesh has burst out of the broken cistern, leaking trails of amber pus into a greasy puddle around the stained white ceramic. The u-bend has become a vase for a fungus so large it could easily be mistaken for a tree, its fleshy bark white and tender, topped with the sickly yellow cone of the thinner stalks in the bath and sink.

Entering the bathroom causes a subtle change in the fungus – it almost seems to quiver at your presence. The stalks sway from side to side, the fungal face in the mirror twists and flexes… and the tree-like growth seems to shudder. Approach the growth in the toilet bowl, and grasp a limb or stalk from the fungus – the flesh will tear off quite easily.

Chewing and swallowing the stalk will cause vivid hallucinations of an impossibly vast parallel reality made of endless, juddering fungi, writhing and rubbing against each other in a mass mycological breeding conclave. This is the fundamental reality under our own, and the fungi release spores that cause us to hallucinate the world that we perceive every day; the stalk allows a brief glimpse into that true world, grants us the chance to walk under the cyclopean caverns formed out of the bulbous skin of megafungi, lets us see the forests of colossal mould trees lit up by the otherworldly blue-and-green light of luminal rot. It is paramount that the acolyte does not become addicted to these altered states of consciousness – although that world is filled with painful beauty and unfathomable wonder, it won’t take long for someone to notice that you have awoken.

129: On Gloom Geometry

Posted in Gideon Keys on January 22, 2012 by glasganon

Have you heard of the Shadow Farmers?

There are places in the city where shadows fall in such a way that they create biomes for other kinds of life. The feng-shui criss-cross of penumbras with slashes of light cutting perfectly across the network of shadows allow strange things to take root, but complete darkness, or complete brightness, will prevent their growth. Places that are exposed to the same level and orientation of light and dark are the best breeding grounds – abandoned places that no longer suffer human interference.

Urban explorers tend to run into the work of the Shadow Farmers the most, though they do not always recognise it when they see it. Human silhouettes that seem to stalk them throughout their expedition, shadows that fall towards the light, the outline of a window where none are to be found… these are often written off as “a trick of the light”, which, in a way, is exactly what they are.

The Shadow Farmers make new things out of the lack of light. “Shadow people” can easily be crafted from the silhouette of a single human body, which fulfill the Shadow Farmer’s requests. The angles of a building that suggest depth and perspective can form a hallway that allows access into people’s darkened bedrooms at night through the shadows cast by lights outside their windows. The overlap of mesh and scaffolding can create a cage to imprison their enemies. The motion of a slow, grinding fan can create a method of execution for those same enemies.

Fortunately, we have an ally. The Shadow Farmers are said to be opposed by a group who have discovered ways of permanently destroying things crafted through gloom geometry. Their methods include the use of sunlight reflected in hexagonal patterns, six-sided prisms that split light into various colour wavelengths that seem to expunge shadow when used alongside sounds that harmonise with those wavelengths.

Unfortunately, it is a necessary consequence that those casting the strongest light will also create the strongest shadows.

043: The Missing Girl

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on January 15, 2012 by glasganon

There is an ongoing rescue mission to find a girl that nobody remembers, with sparse information as to what she looks like, where she comes from, and who she is.

Legend has it that the first persistent record of the Missing Girl was found inside a Bible that had been annotated with various miscellaneous references to the city of Glasgow – a Bible said to be held by the Guides, a shadowy cabal tied into the living myth of Glasgow’s Gideon Keys. In that Bible, she was named “St. Ella”: she would appear during the colder months in the Blacader Aisle of the Glasgow Cathedral, praying to St. Mungo to stop monsters from taking her back at midnight. When the Cathedral closed for the night, she would be forced to leave – and by twelve o’clock, all trace of her disappeared from the city.

But people do not just disappear. Similarly, people do not just appear; St. Ella had to have been someone before appearing in folklore. St. Ella has a number of relics that hint at her existence, spread throughout the city, but only on certain days of the year, which are apparently impossible to tell. On these days, in a certain dental practise in the East End, her name reappears on the patient database. Her bus pass occasionally remanifests in the hands of the last person to hold it for just under 24 hours. A calendar from 2002 gains a blue circle around January 24th. But these relics lose their ties with St. Ella as soon as their allotted 24 hours are up – information on her is impermanent.

This is perhaps due to the strangest miracle associated with St. Ella: the fact that, unless the acolyte is aware that she only remanifests on certain days, they will forget ever hearing about her, or ever knowing her. Which means, for knowledge of St. Ella’s predicament to have manifested in the first place, someone, somewhere in Glasgow, knows what happened to this little girl in the first place – and yet, they remain silent.


100: The Contrary Line

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on January 15, 2012 by glasganon

The Contrary Line is an impossible railway line running under Glasgow. Each part of the line, each “Contrary Station”, is not spatially connected to another. Instead, the Contrary Line is a purely conceptual framework that allows travel between several different points throughout Glasgow (and its alternates), a psychogeographical walkway that takes the acolyte to a place most in-tune with their subconscious mind.

To ride the Contrary Line, the acolyte must first locate a Contrary Station. These are found all over the city of Glasgow, but are difficult to find – acolytes that do find one often mark it as such using graffiti that only another acolyte would recognise – usually a pictogram of another Gideon Key – near the entranceway that allows access to the Contrary Line (a door, tunnel, ladder, hallway…). Indeed, many of the locations described and documented in the Gideon Keys contain a Contrary Station nearby.

The acolyte must then lead themselves into a highly associative mental state. This can be achieved in various different ways; many acolytes opt to meditate on the graffiti at prominent Contrary Stations, and several Stations have graffiti created by acolytes for this explicit purpose – look for related motifs arranged in a web-like pattern near an entrance into a dark or underground passage, and focus on unlocking the elements that link them all together. Other acolytes choose to compose spontaneous, nonsensical poetry in a stream-of-consciousness style, or carry books written in free association for that purpose.  The acolyte must then venture into the opening at a Contrary Station, all the while contemplating inter-related symbols, ideas and themes that mesh together in various ways. Focusing exclusively on one specific idea will prevent the Contrary Line taking effect – “sleight of mind” is a requirement.

Using the acolyte’s generation of interwoven ideas, the Contrary Line will transport the acolyte to the station most closely aligned with the topic that is linking together most of the acolyte’s thoughts, with a vast majority of these stations existing partway or entirely in Stained Glasgow. Those who focus on disease will travel to the Contrary Station at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Gory Bell. Those who focus on escape will find themselves in Trenchton, halfway between the only known exits of Rutherglen Rig. Those who focus on uncovering secrets will find themselves trapped in a dark, metal room with a slowly rising water level and The Man in the Tower – and, though they may not realise before too late, they are also deeply asleep.

Travelers beware: do not let your thoughts focus too heavily on death. This is almost unavoidable for those new to exploring the darker spaces of Glasgow, who cannot help contemplating the danger they may be in. Those whose minds resonate to strongly with death will be brought to the High Street Bone Railway Station, and may witness atrocities that force them not only to accept their inevitable termination, but welcome it – and rightly so. In the world above, there is no recuperation for a mind lost to the Bone Railway Station.

036: The Earthen Womb

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on January 15, 2012 by glasganon

On December 8th, 2011, Scotland was hit by strong winds that, thanks to the zeal of Scotland’s population, was unofficially termed “Hurricane Bawbag.” Transport around the country halted, businesses closed for the day, buildings were torn up and electrical power was disrupted. The storm also uncovered a “room”, buried several feet under the surface of a garden in Anniesland, which the garden’s owner never realised was ever there.

Despite having no entrances whatsoever, the room bore signs of recent habitation.

The room was an almost-perfect hemispherical shape, dug into the soil by unknown hands. The floor was somewhat smoothed, and in several places, shapes reminescent of footprints can be seen – as well as patches of earth darkened by the spilled blood of a housecat, whose remains were found near the middle of the room, freshly-killed. On first glance,the room appears to have hundreds of tender roots reaching in through the dirt wall – on closer inspection, these roots are seen to be small, fleshy tendrils. The tendrils themselves seem stiff but flexible, and could be manipulated like a human finger. One particular set of tendrils, however, lay slack and lifeless against the wall of the room – when they were tugged at, a clod of earth collapsed out of the wall, revealing a dessicated crumple of withered flesh. Comparisons were instantly drawn with a human placenta.

The owner of the property, before moving out and putting the house on the market, mentioned that her garden always seemed to have more birds in it than the neighbours’ – and once saw a bird instantly disappear before her eyes in the garden, but rationalised and dismissed it. She also actively prevented her son playing in the garden, as he had told his mother on several occasions that someone in the garden had grabbed him while he was playing; his mother came to believe there was a pedophile in the neighbourhood.

The hidden room was filled in with soil after its owner decided to move house. In the two weeks that followed the aftermath of the storm, many homeowners in the area reported that the grass and soil in the gardens had been partially dug-up.