024: The New Build

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on February 12, 2012 by glasganon

There is a building in the city center that has been under construction for at least the past four decades. It’s not hidden, it’s not disguised – it’s just taken for granted. However, no workers are ever seen on the site, aside from those who visit the building once a fortnight to check for signs of vandalism. When someone looks at the New Build and realises that work on it has never moved on, a set of interesting properties of the New Build make themselves known.

Once such property is the absence of an interior. Trying to enter the half-constructed rooms or climbing down into the structure reveals that, though it should be possible to get inside the half-a-dozen solid, sheltered rooms, the acolyte will always be standing outside, no matter how they try to get in. Bizarrely, thrown objects are immune to this rule – one could easily toss sensitive documents, old personal effects or things that might be used as evidence in undesired police investigations into the unapproachable rooms and be assured that it would not be discovered… more or less. It is simply impossible for living creatures to enter the rooms; they either find the passage impossible, or find themselves in a different building entirely.

This is down to the New Build’s second interesting property; by looking through the scaffolding of the building at different angles, different buildings are quite clearly visible. This is not down to the building being a mash-up of various architectural styles – although several are employed to disguise this bizarre quirk. In fact, the geometry of the scaffolds actually allow for passage from the New Build to specific other sets of scaffolding in construction sites around the city. There is no guarantee of safety, however – running along the wooden planks on the second storey of the New Build may cause you to shift to the seventh storey of an unfinished building in Queen’s Park – but this may prove vital if you need to make a hasty retreat from the city center. These “spatial shortcuts” do not always remain constant, and can switch even as someone is passing through them, leading to our third interesting property; the inhabitants of the New Build.

The Inhabitants are those people unfortunate enough to have been crossing between the New Build and another place when the shortcut they were on suddenly changed. Because of the unusual geometric effects of such a change, most inhabitants simply resemble fleshy canvases spread across frames of metal scaffolds, human forms punctured by bursts of broken brick and wood, heads bisecting corrugated iron with steel-wire nerves. The Inhabitants reside in the unapproachable center of the New Build, making themselves the custodians of all the unwanted objects that are tossed inside. They know our deepest, darkest secrets, all the things we want to hide, and they collect them when they fall into the New Build, stashing them away in some unseen room. Those that have secrets so dark they must be hidden here must pray the Inhabitants are never released from the unapproachable room.

197: The Silent Man

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on February 5, 2012 by glasganon

An entity has entered the annals of urban myth under a number of names and guises; in Glasgow, it is given the name “Sandshoe Sammy”, a mocking title intended to discourage fear by laughing in the face of it – the name comes from the fact that it can move without making a sound, as though its shoes dampened the noise of its footsteps.

This entity is given other names. Another common appelation is “The Still Man”, in the sense that the entity often brings with it a sense of foreboding stillness before it strikes, or that it makes very little movement in those rare moments where it is seen by an eyewitness. Irrespective of how appropriate this title is, it may be misapplied – German folklore refers to it as “Der Stillmann”, which can be translated to “The Silent Man”, referring back to its method of remaining completely quiet when stalking its victim.

The Silent Man usually appears as a man dressed in dark-coloured formal clothing, but for whatever reason, appears hazy and indistinct when viewed with the naked eye; its facial features seem to blur into one another when viewed closely. According to most eyewitnesses, the Silent Man simply stands and stares – if it can be said to have eyes. The Silent Man will stalk its victims for any length of time before ultimately disposing of them.

In areas where the Silent Man is seen, atrocities are inevitable; it is an omen of disaster. While eyewitness accounts of its actual behaviour are lacking, it is obvious from the aftermath of its appearances that it is capable of severely mutilating its victims. The most common artifact discovered after an encounter with him are a number of “canopic bags” – fleshy containers that hold each of the victim’s individual organs and body parts. The face bag tends to be left behind most often.

130: The Green Grimoire

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on February 5, 2012 by glasganon

Part magical artifact, part posturing art-school degree show project, the Green Grimoire is simultaneously an inspired supernatural tome and a sickening insight into how anything, regardless of taste and sensibility, can be drawn into the web of the occult. It is held in an underground art gallery, but rarely sees the light of day due to its odd effects on the psyche.

The Green Grimoire is also known as the Folio and Das Garten, although the latter title is incorrect, both grammatically and due to the fact that the title belongs to a different book entirely). It is a small booklet of thirty pages of thick, hand-made paper, bound to a cover that feels smooth, like the rubbery texture of fake plant leaves. On the first page is a name, “D. McDonald”, then “Glasgow School of Art”. Near the bottom is a single word, “Folio”. The rest of the book is given to drawings made up of words, images of ferns and trees made up from synonyms that branch out from one another in tangential leaves and stems, all written in various shades and colours. The whole work appears to be an exercise in combining stream-of-consciousness writing with pictorial typography.

In fact, the Green Grimoire combines memetics with magic. The pictures-of-words are made in such a way that, when the reader consciously understands them, the seed of that picture takes root within their mind. An image of a wispy, frail-looking tree comprised of synonyms for “fear”, “deception” and “paranoia” will eventually grow inside the reader’s neural forests, with the end result of them feeling constantly afraid and suspicious of the people around them. Dry, barren vistas made up of prickly calligraphy and the word “thirst” can make the reader die from dehydration in an hour. A mushroom – one of the few images in the book to be shaded in – is made up of opposites and antonyms. “Lies” beside “truth”, “illusion” beside “reality”, “black” beside” white”; the mushroom provides fertile ground for schizophrenia to take root. Nobody knows the real effects of the willow comprised of the word “They”.

Not all of the meme-plants growing in the Green Grimoire are negative traits, though. Others include a row of sunflowers made up of “happiness”, “confidence” and “bliss”; poppies grown from “dreams of the future”, “clairvoyance” and “second sight”, and a tangle of weeds repeating one word, over and over in sprawling, creeping handwriting – “eternal life”.

105: The Crossroads Rite

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags , on February 5, 2012 by glasganon

Something happened on one of the crossroads at French Street. Constituent pieces of folklore mesh together around that crossroads that map a gory and haunting history, but those in the know refuse to comment upon it; how the specifics of the ritual came to light, such as the participants names, is unknown; someone, somewhere must know the truth.

Visit the crossroads on Monday about an hour before sunrise with two other people. Each person must stand on a different part of the crossroads; on the empty corner, place the entrails of a mammal – a “canopic bag” gives the best results.

The ritual must be performed like a play, where each person has a different persona to adopt. One person must at all times be addressed as (and consider themselves to be) Brian. Another is Margaret. The last is Steven. Their surnames are not given here, but they are easy for acolytes to discover, as they have since become bywords in the occult community in Glasgow. It is pivotal that “actors” make the performance as realistic as possible, and they must never break character; otherwise, the ritual will fail, bringing into being certain entities that otherwise remain bound to the crossroads.

‘Brian’ must turn to ‘Margaret’ and say “Margaret, you have to put her out of her misery.”

‘Margaret’ responds, “I never agreed to this.’

‘Steven’ must then say “I’ll bring her through“, and walk to the entrails, picking them up with his bare hands, preferably while saying “Here we go, girl, let’s go see your mum“. He must then bring the entrails to ‘Margaret’ and set them down at her feet.

‘Margaret’ must bend to the ground, and devour the entrails, whole. Nothing must remain. When she is finished, ‘Steven’ and ‘Brian’ must pull her to her feet, and lead her down the street.

Once the ritual is complete, the person who played Margaret will be forever sterile or barren, and cancerous cells will begin to grow in their brain; however, this tumour will slowly coalesce into something like an organ – and this organ brings with it a series of bizarre “powers”, such as the ability to cause spontaneous epileptic seizures in people purely by focusing on them.

Incidentally, there are people with the same first and second names as the three original members of the ritual, who are said to be enjoying successful careers with a certain law enforcement body.

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.