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Saturday, August 18, 2012

"The Last Testament of Henry Halleck"

In honor of the publication of the August issue of Stupefying Stories, I'm posting my story that was published in the March 2012 issue. Seven points count against your sanity if you can correctly identify the author whose style I attempted to imitate here - an effort I think met with rather less success than the story written in the mode of Guy de Maupassant. If you enjoy fantastic fiction, there are few better values out there than the increasingly well-regarded Stupefying Stories anthologies.

The Last Testament of Henry Halleck
Stupefying Stories, March 2012
Vox Day

At the request of the Cardinal Prefect, I have forwarded this document to you, Cardinal, which according to our records, has been in the possession of the Congregation since 1885. I trust you will find it of some use in your present investigations concerning the historical suppression of Humani Generis Unitas. I should also like to call to your attention the series of files on the Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft das Ahnenerbe, particularly the one concerning a 1939 expedition led by Dr. Otto Huth on U-41, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gustav-Adolf Mugler, which I believe is already in your possession.

Monsignor Damiano Marzotto Caotorta
Palace of the Holy Office
The Vatican


I have burned the memoirs I once thought to leave to posterity. I have also destroyed my correspondence, public and private, and can only hope that my fellow conspirators will see fit to follow my example and do the same. I have only preserved my books and my translations, which I have concluded are harmless, and I pray that if I am remembered, it will be through them and not for my crimes or the monstrosity I played a part in releasing upon the world. I shall leave behind only this letter, in the hands of Bishop McCloskey, whom I charge with the duty to ensure that it reaches whatever Papist order or society watches over things of this nature, as I have been told exists somewhere in the heart of Rome. For the evil we unleashed half-unwittingly is neither dead nor vanquished, it merely slumbers, waiting patiently for its next awakening.

To Seward must be laid the greater portion of the blame. I do not excuse my own misdeeds in stating this, but state a simple fact. He had long possessed grandiose dreams of world conquest, but they were inflamed by the thought of having another century or two to realize them. This, I did not know until afterward, but when I was living in California in 1860, I saw the man twice, before and after his first fatal trip to Russian America, and upon his return I even remarked to my dear wife upon what a changed man he was. He had always been ambitious and vainglorious, but after his northern excursion, he carried himself with what I can only describe as a Messianic demeanor. I do not hesitate to admit that I fell under his spell, and upon receiving the promised promotion from the California militia to major general in the United States Army, I believed I could trust him implicitly.

I did not know the terrible truth of the reason behind this change in the Secretary of State until the autumn of 1861, after traveling to the city of St. Louis and accepting the command for the Department of the Missouri. Seward met me there and he was much agitated, as the President and the Cabinet were much concerned about the prospective loss of the war following several defeats in Virginia, while I feared that my own career as a Union general would be a short-lived one, since the federal forces for which I was now responsible had been repeatedly defeated by the rebellious State Guard. How foolish our petty fears now appear in light of the events that subsequently took place! It was vanity, nothing more, that led us to meet at the Masonic temple in St. Louis, where Seward promised that he would reveal to us a discovery that would change the course of the war.

There were four of us who met in secret that cold October night; the Secretary of State, myself, a promising young general I had inherited from John Fremont who is presently the President of the United States of America, and the commander of the Department of the Cumberland. Why Seward chose us rather than any of the much better-known generals from the Eastern states, I cannot say, but I assume it was because Grant, Sherman, and myself were all well outside the federal military establishment and any disasters could be safely attributed to our lack of conventional credentials. Perhaps more importantly, our distance from the circles of power in Washington meant that his experiment in occult warfare could proceed without criticism and with little risk to his reputation.

He swore us to secrecy first, and then unveiled the treasure he had discovered in the northern territory. It was a little idol of a fat, seated man wearing an octopine helm, carved from ivory by the Esquimaux people and small enough to fit in a man's hand. We thought him mad when first he showed it to us, but as he was our benefactor, we gave him the opportunity to explain himself nevertheless. He claimed that the figurine spoke to him, which we did not initially believe, and then said that it would speak to us through him. To our immense surprise and horror, after he placed both hands around it, his eyes lost their focus and he began speaking with a distinctly different voice. It was indescribable, and none of us had any doubts that it did not belong to Seward.

The voice identified itself as a representative of a race of ancient beings. It refused to name itself, but declared itself to be possessed of such powers as would permit the Union to win the war if we would only provide it with the sustenance it required to wake its fellows. It said it came from a planet very far away and assured us that neither it nor its race had any interest in the affairs of Man. We were none of us religious men, but even so, we placed it upon a Bible and Seward immersed it fully in holy water he had obtained for just such purposes, which was sufficient to satisfy myself and Grant, although Sherman still harbored reservations about its nature, particularly when we were told that the sustenance it required was atmospheric, being a psychic substance released by intelligent minds at the moment of their death. Human minds, although apparently somewhat deficient in various ways, would suffice, which was why it was interested in military men like ourselves. Sherman and Grant both examined it closely. I did not touch it, as something about it struck me as unclean, if not unholy. And yet, we were desperate and ambitious men, disinclined to turn our backs on any device that might serve our ends, however strange.

Sherman was troubled by the notion of feeding it death, but Seward pointed out that this incorporeal scavenging was no different than the birds of the air and the insects of the field that fed upon the dead and transformed them back to the dust from whence they came. Therefore, he argued, there was no reason to ascribe either nefarious or beneficial purposes to the idol despite its morbid hungers. When Grant reminded Sherman that our profession was intimately concerned with killing as many men on the other side as possible, Sherman reluctantly relented. It was agreed that we would put the strange device to the test as soon as possible, and Seward left the strange little idol in the possession of Sherman prior to his return to Washington the next day.

The experiment was an unexpected success. I arranged for one of my colonels to carry the idol into battle unbeknownst to him, and much to our surprise, he dealt the State Guard their first defeat of the war at Fredericktown. The men were greatly heartened by this success, as the Missouri rebels had beaten them four times previously. Grant then insisted on taking his turn with it, and with its aid he managed to overrun the Confederate camp at Belmont, killing nearly a thousand rebels at a stroke. He lost nearly six hundred dead himself, the significance of which we did not truly understand until our next meeting, when Sherman picked up the idol and was unable to remove it first from his hand, then, as he struggled frantically to escape it, from his chest.

Sherman lay prostrate and speechless for nearly a month before rising from his sickbed and resuming his duties as if nothing had happened. He would not talk about the device, nor would he permit himself to be approached by doctors, but instead applied himself to his duties with a vengeance. But he told me once that when he slept, he dreamed of swimming through oceans of blood, and climbing over white mountains of lifeless flesh. Grant, too, was affected by the dreams, which thankfully left me untouched. He took to drink to cope with them, but like Sherman, he too began to drive himself and his men relentlessly. The two men became increasingly close, until I was finally forced to assign Sherman to the Army of West Tennessee so he could serve under Grant.

The immediate consequence was Shiloh. Nearly four thousand men died and if there were not oceans of blood, there were at least rivers. Battle followed battle, victory followed victory, and though I did my best to restrain their increasingly erratic behavior and hide their indifference to the fate of their men, others eventually began to notice. One newspaper in Ohio even described the pair of them as a drunkard advised by a lunatic. But they were victorious. I was summoned to Washington by President Lincoln himself and named General-in-Chief over the entire Union; Grant and Sherman too won promotions despite the whispers that followed them everywhere they went. The madness and bloodshed finally culminated in The March to the Sea and the dreadful Wilderness Campaign, where entire cities were burned and Grant sacrificed 55,000 of his own men to our secret god of victory.

I never learned when the idol came into the possession of the President. But I began to suspect something was amiss when I overheard him ordering Grant to begin destroying plantations and even entire villages throughout the Shenandoah. He had become obsessed with the tremendous amount of deaths to which both sides were being subjected and he took to wandering the halls of the White House late at night, looking more than a little like a bearded corpse himself. His eyes burned with the same haunted fire that Sherman's had after his spell of silent madness and he carried himself with uncharacteristic delicacy. Mrs. Lincoln openly expressed her fears to me one night after he spent the entire evening sitting in a chair, rocking back and forth mumbling to himself, and to my everlasting shame and regret, I had not the courage to share my own doubts with her.

It became clear that we needed to intervene after the meeting at Hampton Roads. The Secretary of State was badly shaken when the President refused to countenance the Confederate offer of surrender, and his concerns deepened when I shared with him a letter from Grant in which he confessed that he had handed over the idol to the President. But our every attempt to broach the subject with Lincoln met with rebuff. And our hopes that the end of the war would have a salubrious effect upon him disappeared when the President came to me and asked me to draw up plans for repopulating the conquered southern States by settling the freemen of the North there. Astonished at his choice of words, I looked into his eyes and saw nothing human there. At that moment, I knew he would die rather than give up the idol, in fact, I began to wonder if the man I had once so admired even existed anymore.

As with so much that had gone before, the assassination was Seward's plan. He contacted the actor and arranged for the seats at the theater. It all went as anticipated, including the false attack on Seward, except for the escape of the actor. But we had bigger concerns that evening than mere exposure of the plot, for when we brought the President back to the White House, we found that he was still alive despite being shot directly in the head at close range with a large caliber pistol. Imagine our horror when the thing that the President had become opened his eyes and smiled at us. He seemed to know everything we had done, for he rose from couch upon which he had been placed and attacked Seward, and such was the violence of the assault that he very nearly slew the Secretary of State before Phineas Gurley, the Chaplain of the Senate who had been summoned to pray for the President's soul, drew a strange object from his waistcoat that caused the demon animating the President to desist.

At Gurley's instruction, I slashed away the President's coat and shirt, revealing the terrible truth. The idol was embedded into the dead man's chest like a large, spiderish creature, the octopine tentacles pink and pulsing with parasitic life. It was with some difficulty that we managed to remove the demonic thing, being of course most careful not to touch it. At the very moment we pulled it from his flesh, the alien light faded from the President's eyes. It was the most peaceful I had seen him in months. I repent of my many sins and confess them freely as I prepare to meet my end, but the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was neither a sin nor an act for which I can repent. Had Lincoln lived, I am certain he would have become one of history's greatest monsters. Lincoln kept the Union together, but it was Seward who saved the nation.

I arranged for David Farragut to take the chest in which I secreted the idol on his next voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Somewhere at sea, no one knows where, he weighted it with iron and dropped it into the depths. There, I believe, it will stay, forgotten until the end of time, its rapacious hunger for death unassuaged. You who read this, know there are evils lurking in the deep shadows of this world beyond the comprehension of men, and that it is ever the duty of those who are cursed to look into those shadows to remain vigilant against them.

Henry Halleck
Louisville, Kentucky
January 1, 1872

Labels:

73 Comments:

Blogger El Borak August 18, 2012 1:10 PM  

The opening line reminds me of Poe's Cask of Amontillado for some reason. But if that's correct, be warned that I have no sanity points to spare.

Anonymous Clay August 18, 2012 1:27 PM  

That's cool, VD.

The usage of Halleck gets you an A+.

Anonymous Clay August 18, 2012 1:33 PM  

Oh, I smell Lovecraft all they Way....

Anonymous Clay August 18, 2012 1:36 PM  

Maybe, even some Melville.

Anonymous Mike August 18, 2012 1:42 PM  

HP Lovecraft. Very reminiscent of "Some Notes Concerning a Green Box."

Anonymous Lilburne August 18, 2012 1:47 PM  

After reading one sentence... HP I say

Anonymous Noah B. August 18, 2012 1:52 PM  

Don't have any idea whose style you might have borrowed, but it's excellent.

I do have one possible revision to suggest in the sentence: "Mrs. Lincoln openly expressed her fears to me one night after he spent the entire evening sitting in a chair, rocking back and forth mumbling to herself, and to my everlasting shame and regret, I had not the courage to share my own doubts with her." You may have meant to say "himself" or "her" instead of "herself." That's the only thing about it that struck me as slightly unusual. Well, other than the alien idol embedded in Lincoln's chest.

Anonymous Clay August 18, 2012 1:55 PM  

I formally surrender my seven sanity points to your blog.

Hell, I wasn't using them anyway.

(Are you watching your ViQueens play Rufflbo?)

Blogger Random August 18, 2012 2:02 PM  

I say closer to Bram Stoker with several measures of Lovecraft thrown on as adjective garnish.

Anonymous Clay August 18, 2012 2:17 PM  

"garnish"

That's an appropiate word for Vox, and The Ilk.

Blogger Vox August 18, 2012 2:24 PM  

I do have one possible revision to suggest in the sentence

Good catch. Corrected. Note that this is the unedited version I sent to the OC.

Blogger IM2L844 August 18, 2012 2:51 PM  

John Scalzi? :>|

Blogger wrf3 August 18, 2012 3:09 PM  

Sherman was troubled by the notion of feeding it death, but Seward pointed out that this incorporeal scavenging was no different than the birds of the air and the insects of the field that fed upon the dead and transformed them back to the dust from whence they came Therefore, he argued, ...

Period after "came" and before "Therefore"?

Anonymous Redhand August 18, 2012 3:14 PM  

Don't quit your day job. Whatever that is.

Blogger Vox August 18, 2012 3:25 PM  

Don't quit your day job. Whatever that is.

Markku... is it too soon to call it?

Blogger Vox August 18, 2012 3:26 PM  

Period after "came" and before "Therefore"?

Corrected, thanks.

Anonymous jm August 18, 2012 3:28 PM  

Ray Bradbury.

Blogger ajw308 August 18, 2012 3:46 PM  

H.P. Lovecraft.

I only have 3 sanity points. If I'm not back or make considerably less sense, you'll know I was wrong.

Anonymous Anonymous August 18, 2012 4:16 PM  

Poe, "the tell-tale heart"; regardless, one of your best...{lovecraft would be the second guess}

Anonymous jack August 18, 2012 4:24 PM  

Enjoyed the story: Went to Amazon and downloaded three of the Stupefying issues and look forward to them. I now realize that you can get Stupefying on Amazon. Got them for the Kindle.

Anonymous Tom Trumpinski August 18, 2012 4:29 PM  

First guess is Lovecraft--about 80%, with 10% each Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Bloch.

Anonymous RedJack August 18, 2012 4:39 PM  

Got an old school Conan vibe to it. Liked it.

Anonymous Strange Aeons August 18, 2012 4:44 PM  

I'm more reminded of Lumleys tribute to Lovecraft than of Lovecraft directly, but I wouldn't be much surprised if I was incorrect.

Anonymous Mr Green Man August 18, 2012 5:09 PM  

Shelly.

Anonymous CMC August 18, 2012 5:14 PM  

Wilkie Collins.

Blogger Lovekraft August 18, 2012 5:24 PM  

Very good.

Anonymous Kyle In Japan August 18, 2012 5:46 PM  

I like it. I'd guess Lovecraft too (though it's a blind guess, since I've never actually read anything by him yet, to my shame.)

Anonymous DavidOfOne August 18, 2012 5:50 PM  

Umo ... Uno ... Eno ... Emo ... Emu ... WETFII!!!!

Anonymous Anonymous August 18, 2012 5:53 PM  

"presently the President of the United States"

Meaning "at the present time" ?

In the slightly archaic diction you're employing here, the word "presently" would have signified "after a short time".

Blogger Lovekraft August 18, 2012 5:56 PM  

from R E Howard's "The Black Stone":

Now the beast-masked priest lifted the bound and weakly writhing girl in his brutish hands and held her up toward that horror on the monolith. And as that monstrosity sucked in its breath, lustfully and slobberingly, something snapped in my brain and I fell into a merciful faint.

Anonymous DavidOfOne August 18, 2012 5:59 PM  

At first glance it reminds me so much of Sir Conan Doyle's style for Sherlock Holmes.

Anonymous The Stranger August 18, 2012 7:10 PM  

If it's Lovecraft, there should be an aside detailing some quirk of New England architecture. And at least three occurrences of the word "cyclopean".

Anonymous Noah B. August 18, 2012 7:16 PM  

That's funny David, it reminded me a bit of A Study In Scarlet, though I'm not really sure why.

Anonymous Hannity August 18, 2012 8:22 PM  

That Bill O'Reilly is one hell of a historian.

Anonymous Zbignu August 18, 2012 8:56 PM  

Bram Stoker? I like the way you spelled Esquimaux.

Anonymous Zbignu August 18, 2012 9:03 PM  

Oh, and by the way it was really good. I wish it were longer.

Anonymous Clay August 18, 2012 9:51 PM  

*sigh*

Me too.

Anonymous Rantor August 18, 2012 10:04 PM  

Definitely sounds like a story of the Cthulu. That is what I thought of at least. As for style, it has been over 25 years since I looked at any Lovecraft, so I can't say. Back then my best friend was a madman trying to raise the dead using the Assyrian Necronomicon or some such.

I will email this story to him, he will like it. Despite having been mad, he does AI research today and lives a quiet, domestic life with wife, children and pets.



Anonymous Roundtine August 18, 2012 10:26 PM  

Back then my best friend was a madman trying to raise the dead using the Assyrian Necronomicon or some such....he does AI research today

The next horror story...

Blogger LP 999/Eliza August 18, 2012 10:38 PM  

Great reading, perfect for a late summer diversion from current events! Wish there was more 2 read.

Anonymous Too Late August 19, 2012 12:48 AM  

Back then my best friend was a madman trying to raise the dead using the Assyrian Necronomicon or some such....he does AI research today

The next horror story...


Charles Stross already wrote those stories (the Laundry series).

Blogger Longstreet August 19, 2012 1:00 AM  

I would guess Lovecraft as well.

Thoroughly enjoyable. I also wish it were longer. And what's the deal with Otto Huth and U41?

Anonymous Luke August 19, 2012 1:50 AM  

Stoker or Doyle. Lovecraft and Poe are too easily guessed to be the author(s) Vox is emulating style from.

Anonymous Faust August 19, 2012 4:42 AM  

I don't think Lovecraft. The prose isn't florid enough, Lovecraft's horror was more personal and on a smaller scale, and the last sentence didn't end with a big reveal in italics.

Anonymous Anonymous August 19, 2012 4:46 AM  

Aaaaaawwweeeeesommmmmmmmmmme!

Blogger Andrew Cordeaux August 19, 2012 5:02 AM  

However, "destroying documents" and a record intended for an exclusive audience is the premise of about a dozen Lovecraft stories. And Lovecraft is the only modern author reading whose works counts against your sanity.

Blogger Andrew Cordeaux August 19, 2012 5:04 AM  

It's not primarily the writing style but the story itself that is Lovecraftian.

Anonymous scoobius dubious August 19, 2012 7:49 AM  

I'd say you're doing a parody of Hunter Wallace.

Anonymous scoobius dubious August 19, 2012 7:51 AM  

By the way, how much do you know about the genuinely disturbing Lovecraftian details of actual ancient Inuit "Dorset culture" sculpture? It really can be that horrific.

Blogger JACIII August 19, 2012 7:54 AM  

Interesting subject matter. Fun read. Always nice to see the American Stalin cast from the shadows so the monster he was becomes evident.

Anonymous duckman August 19, 2012 10:04 AM  

Considering it's written by "Old Brains", why don't zombies make an appearance? That would seem appropriate.

I don't know who is being emulated.

Blogger DJ | AMDG August 19, 2012 10:25 AM  

Harry Turtledove

Anonymous Dr. J August 19, 2012 10:29 AM  

Surprised you made sherman the voice of reason. I too think Lovecraft. Alien world, mind control, and the obligatory ! in the intro. It is, as mentioned, missing the big italicized reveal. Fun read.

Anonymous E. PERLINE August 19, 2012 11:21 AM  

I see that you're an excellent writer. That means you can adjust to any style--
you don't have to re-invent the wheel. I wish you every success.

If I can suggest something, bring your plot out with some dialogue, rather than description. This will introduce some dramatic pauses to the story and make it easier to read.

Anonymous scoobius dubious August 19, 2012 11:25 AM  

Now wait a minute: this evil being-in-the-idol is advanced enough that it can perform interstellar mind communication, and it needs mass human deaths to feed on, so its first stop was naturally to visit... the Eskimos? Where it presumably sat listless in the ice for goodness knows how long, missing out on making a deal with the likes of Tamurlane, Genghis Khan and Mohammed?

Talk about an idle idol.

Blogger Vox August 19, 2012 11:28 AM  

Where it presumably sat listless in the ice for goodness knows how long, missing out on making a deal with the likes of Tamurlane, Genghis Khan and Mohammed?

You're failing to see the true horror. There used to be a great and populous civilization in the north, Ultima Thule. But the idol ate everyone....

You can't be too logical with this stuff. I always wondered why the Deep Ones wanted to mate with landlubbers.

Blogger Justthisguy August 19, 2012 11:58 AM  

I always suspected those damyankees were in league with Satan.

Deo Vindice.

Anonymous MendoScot August 19, 2012 12:11 PM  

And what's the deal with Otto Huth and U41?

I presume the sunken casket.

Anonymous Beau August 19, 2012 7:21 PM  

But the idol ate everyone....

Eskimo pies?

Anonymous Feh August 19, 2012 7:29 PM  

I always wondered why the Deep Ones wanted to mate with landlubbers.

Well ya know, there are even (primitive) humans that can't leave the primitive species alone...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/77098954.html

Chimpanzees living in dense jungles in Africa have been confirmed as the probable source of the HIV virus which caused the human AIDS pandemic.

Researchers have identified simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in wild apes for the first time. The virus, which at some point jumped to humans as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has been found in chimpanzees in Cameroon, west-central Africa.
...
The team says the findings provide the clearest picture yet of the 70-year-old origins of the current human AIDS pandemic.

"We think it's likely that the cross-species transmission took place locally" in the Cameroon region, Hahn said.

Hunters in the region who caught and ate chimps were probably the first to contract HIV, she adds. (See a photo of a Cameroonian family preparing a meal of bush meat.)

"Based on what we know about the biology of these viruses, you need to be exposed to infectious blood or body fluids," she said. "You don't get it by petting a chimp."


Suuuure they got it from eating the chimps, suuuure they did.

Blogger tz August 19, 2012 8:49 PM  

This would explain much about Dick Cheney. We must continue the war on drugs to avoid Trance-Plants.

Anonymous Josh August 20, 2012 12:24 AM  

Tim Powers?

Blogger Markku August 20, 2012 5:02 AM  

Markku... is it too soon to call it?

Fee fie foe fum. I smell the blood of a dimwitted one.

Anonymous Herriman Eye Doctor August 20, 2012 6:35 AM  

the last testament of henry halleck is my fav.

Anonymous 43rd Virginia Calalry August 20, 2012 10:53 AM  

Tanith Lee

Blogger Nate August 20, 2012 3:09 PM  

Vox...

I love you man.

Anonymous ridip August 20, 2012 8:18 PM  

Reading it I thought Stoker & Lovecraft at first, but Stoker gave a fair description of Budapest and environs. So I think I have to rule that out. I could almost still go with straight up Lovecraft, but being as it is an alternate history I'm inclined to think you were imitating someone another more modern writer.

By the way, I believe there were two masonic temples in St. Louis at the time. Frankly I'd have to drive a couple miles down the street and check the dates on the buildings, the Moolah and Scottish Rite buildings may actually date back to the Civil War.

Kudos on the story, all in all I enjoyed it. I was half waiting to find out Henry Halleck was Robert E. Lee and he ripped the idol from Abe's chest putting the demon down.

Anonymous Redhand August 20, 2012 9:39 PM  

It can't be Tanith Lee. Tanith Lee is actually good.

Anonymous Kaeleb August 22, 2012 9:57 AM  

Either Lovecraft or Bloch.

Blogger Virginia Southron August 28, 2012 6:15 PM  

OK. I give up. Who is it?

Blogger Steve "scotju" Dalton August 28, 2012 6:43 PM  

It's Lovecraft. The way eskimo is spelled is a dead giveaway.

Anonymous Stilicho November 01, 2012 4:53 AM  

Hmmm... a squidlike demon controlling (and granting) power while feeding on human misery and death...where have we seen that before?

Blogger Bernard Brandt June 28, 2013 12:10 PM  

I hope that I will be permitted to comment, despite the fact that I come rather late to the party.

It seems that most of those writing confused theme with style. The theme of this story was, of course, H.P. Lovecraft's: the eidolon of a Cthulhu-like being which possesses and demonizes the holder. I thought the back story explanation for Grant's drunkenness, Sherman's bloodthirsy-ness, and Lincoln's choice to 'let loose the dogs of war' was quite effective, by the bye.

But there were two great American writers of the 19th century who wrote about horror and the Civil War. The first was Mark Twain. But Twain could not write a line without including his humor in it. There was little humor here.

The second writer, however, was far more mordant, in both his wit and his commentary. Your writing, VD, appeared to emulate that quality to the full.

I therefore vote that the stylist whom you imitated was the author of The Devil's Dictionary, Chickamauga, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and The Damned Thing.

I vote Ambrose Bierce.

P.S. As I have no sanity left, as far as I can tell, I would ask that instead of 'sanity points', you might instead read the free sample of my Kindle novel, Bad Trip, which can be found here:

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Trip-ebook/dp/B00AA3PDB8

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