There are places in this world where the skin of our world has been worn thin. Here, breaches can happen and travelers from our world can cross over to the other….just as they can also cross over into our world. These are places where the very fabric of reality has been frayed and where the unreal and impossible realities of other dimensions bleed into our own. These are places where the mad prophets have visions of phantasms and the insane see their brain-fever dreams made unbearable reality.
It was during my researches into the Necronomicon that I believed I found the location of one of these places. The Mad American prophet Lovecraft gave vague instruction about the location of a nexus where demons could cross into our world with the same ease that we cross the street. I made the decision that I would track down this place, this portal into other worlds, and I would see for myself if it truly existed.
With a fellow explorer, we made our way deep into the North End. We walked through markets that reeked of fish and sold strange and exotic fruits. We trudged up main thoroughfares clogged with the pulsing hum of humanity, tourists unaware of how close they were to some dark, elder nightmare
And after an hour of climbing up and down hills, we determined that Lovecraft was full of horseshit. We gave up on our quest and headed to the local Applebees, where we enjoyed four dollar Killians (a Friday special!) and nachos. I also ordered the Cowboy Burger, a delicious all-beef patty topped with fried onion rings and applewood smoked bacon and slathered with melted cheddar cheese. My fellow traveler into the dark abysses that hide beneath the skin of the world ordered the Bourbon Black and Bleu burger, which was covered in bleu cheese, mushrooms and smoky mayo.
It was delicious.
I was reading the Necronomicon, a collection a short stories by the Mad American H.P. Lovecraft, when I noticed something interesting in one of his stories, specifically “Pickman’s Model”.
While most of his tales revolve around fantastical locations or rural areas or fictional towns, this particular story takes place in Boston’s North End. There is even mention of several actual streets and locations nearby. With a little research, I discovered that Lovecraft had, indeed, based this nightmare vision upon an actual location.
The location, in the story, is a place where the fabric between worlds has worn dangerously thin and creatures from beyond are able to traverse from one side to the other with apparent ease. I wondered what Lovecraft saw or felt when he first laid his eyes on the spot; if he had some inner voice telling him to write about this spot.
It would do me good, I think, to visit this same location now. Even though the original building has been torn down, there may be some lingering traces that gave him his own idea.
Using the text, I was able to narrow down the possible location of the shack where Pickman and his demons lived. Tonight, I plan to find it. I will report back here with any and all findings.
I was reading Pickman’s Model, one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, and I realized I recognized most of the places he was talking about in the story. There was the studio on Newbury Street and South Station and there was the North End. In fact, Lovecraft placed Pickman’s studio of horrors right smack dab in the middle of the North End on an unnamed street.
But I want to find it. At least, I want to find the general location where the story was set. Since Boston is deadset on staying the same way it was hundreds of years ago, I’ll be looking at the same buildings that Lovecraft saw in his Boston, almost a hundred years ago.
And there’s something distinctly appealing about that, the ability to go and see the places that affected a writer.
So, since I have business up in the North End anyway, I figured I might as well poke around while I’m there and try and see what Lovecraft.
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I’ve been reading Necronomicon, a massive collection of Lovecraft’s stories. Lovecraft has always informed what I write, even before I started reading his stories. He influenced the writers who influenced me, Stephen King in particular. And when I got into my big Lovecraft kick right after high school, I began to make a couple of (terrible) attempts at writing about elder gods and eldritch horrors with noneuclidian features.
And though I stopped writing anything overtly Lovecraftian, ancient evils from beyond time will creep into my stories, those nameless horrors that can’t be described with human language. So in a lot of ways, I respect that curmudgeonly, crazy bastard. Without him, I wouldn’t be the writer I am (for better or for worse).
So when I read the first story in the collection, I was a little disappointed. There was a great idea at the center of it, but it was very short. It wasn’t really very well fleshed out. There are hints of what he would do later in his stories; creatures from the abyss, indescribable monsters that are so close to human, ancient ruins and crazed protagonists. On the whole though, it’s a cool idea without enough story or backstory. And it made me happy. While I’m nowhere near his equal in the things he does well, at the very least, I’m stumbling the very same way he did in those early years.
It’s comforting to see that because I can see that he overcame it, which means (hopefully) I can too.