YOUR CALL TO CTHULHU IS IMPORTANT TO US. PLEASE HOLD.
Red tape. Catch-22s. Circular chains of command. Whether you're a customer or co-worker, bureaucracies can drive us all insane. Even management is just a cog in a vast machine. Cut-throat office politics keep employees too distracted to notice the contradictory logic, byzantine hierarchy, and blatant nepotism. Information, items, and even people tend to get lost in the system, never gone but never found. Worst of all, no one seems to notice the insanity surrounding them... or if they do, they keep it to themselves. After all, those who notice and call attention to it tend to disappear, leaving nothing behind but an empty desk and whispered rumors in the break room. If ever there was a place for a cosmic horror to hide, grow, and thrive, it's deep within the archives of a huge, old bureaucracy.
But of all bureaucracies, corporations are the most powerful, seeming to have a life and will of their own. They're privately held with a multi-national reach, seemingly bottomless resources, and armies of lawyers jealously guarding their trade secrets. Corporate culture fiercely resists any attempt to change or regulate it, and anything and everything is justified by the bottom line. Who needs a Cthulhu Cult when you've got Cthulhu, Inc.?
Into this insidious world are thrust our heroes—the curious, the puzzled, and the frustrated. Defying authority, seeking answers they'd be better off not knowing, the secrets they discover threaten their sanity and their lives. Will they become the next whistleblower media hero? Or the next no-call / no-show their coworkers promptly forget? Just remember: it's nothing personal—it's just business.
• Introduction by Nicholas Nacario
Are there similarities between HP Lovecraft's "cosmic horror" and the absolute dread of working for a huge, faceless, impersonal bureaucracy?
• It Came From I.T. by Gordon Linzner
Starbright Enterprises attempts to recreate the Shining Trapezohedron with a 3D printer.
• The God Under the Church by David Tallerman
The new CEO of Tettenkorf Import & Export learns his company has a dark past and even darker secret.
• Esoteric Insurance, Inc. by Evan Dicken & Adrian Ludens
Life in Innsmouth just isn't the same since the Esoteric Order of Dagon incorporated.
• Refusal by DJ Tyrer
A Victorian merchant squares off against a crew refusing to sail their cargo ship through a certain part of the South Seas, fearing the demon Tulu beneath the waves.
• Forced Labor by Peter Rawlik
In 19th century New Orleans, the new heir to Delapore Chemical investigates why employees at the steam plant keep disappearing.
• Casual Friday by Todd H. C. Fischer
No temp has ever lasted more than a week at Hygon Solutions . The newest one finds out why.
• Welcome to the Rlyeh Corporation by James Pratt
New employee orientation, including dhole safety procedures and hyper-dimensional etiquette.
• Death Pledge by Jeff Deck
An investigation into mortgage default and inside trading brings a banker face to face with the Cult of Yog-Sothoth.
• No Doves Come From Raven Eggs by Mark Oxbrow
A whistleblower risks life and sanity to reveal what Kongshavn Deepwater Oil is really looking for on the ocean floor.
• Facilities Management at Dagocorp HQ by L Chan
Please immediately report any patches of shoggoth slime; it's a slipping hazard. Also, do not open the electrical access panels in the floor under your desk. Just... don't.
• Career Zombie by John Taloni
Just how far will management go to obtain cheap labor?
• The Loponine Exploitation by John M. Campbell
When Elton Pharmaceuticals discover a way to mine valuable organic material from higher-dimensional space, something else crosses over too.
• Tindalos, Inc. by Charlie Allison
When coworkers don't show up for work at Tindalos, Inc., it's best not to go looking for them. And avoid corners.
• Like a Good Neighbor by Wile E. Young
When an unusual piece of corporate artwork arrives in the lobby of State Ranch Insurance, their business culture begins to change in disturbing ways.
• Maryanne's Equations by Harry Pauff
When Maryanne's new job seems to take over her life, no one seems concerned—except her lifelong friend and coworker, who knows enough to be worried.
• Boedromion Noumenia by Andy Scott
A policeman's investigation of a bizarre suicide leads him to Malakakis Media and its search for a unique corporate branding symbol.
• Retraction by Marie Michaels
A publishing company's decision to print a controversial article in a scientific journal triggers outrage, investigation, and mystery.
• Shadow Charts by Marcus Johnston
An auditor investigating a private hospital's charting discrepancies begins to suspect they're hiding something.
• Wholesome Labor by Sam Rent
A labor relations team from Wholesomes Superstores tries to crush a small town's attempt to unionize, but are not prepared for what they find.
Charlie Allison is a writer based in West Philadelphia, where he works as a storyteller and swimming instructor. When he isn't scrubbing chlorine from his body or the antics of his role-playing group from his forebrain, he can be found re-learning how to cook, standing on his head, and perfecting his Nahuatl suffixes. His first novel is forthcoming and involves the transnational nature of worship, inter-planar rail-lines, murder and of course, spiders that infiltrate the subconscious. Charlie Allison recently received his MFA from Arcadia University's creative writing program. His work has previously appeared in Podcastle, Ellipsis Zine, Stonecoast Review, Devilfish Review and Bride of Chaos. He runs a forum for writers at: fitsofprint.proboards.com, and he can be found on Twitter @cballison421.
Justin Bailey holds a Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University under the mentorship of novelist Tim Waggoner. He has previously been published in Nightmare Magazine, Blood in the Rain 2, and Old Scratch and Owl Hoots: A Collection of Utah Horror.
John M. Campbell is an engineer who spent thirty-five years in the aerospace industry. He has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and led engineering teams building computer systems for the government. Now, he speculates on the worlds currently unknown to us that modern physics may unlock. He is compelled by the promise technology offers to address many of the issues facing human survival. He is fascinated by the prospect of extraterrestrial life in our solar system in Mars and the outer planets. He is intrigued by the likelihood that machine intelligence will likely surpass man’s ability to control it in this century. He hopes sanity prevails on this planet, and humans live to see this future. The Loponine Exploitation is his fourth published short story. He lives with his wife in Denver, Colorado.
L Chan hails from Singapore, where he alternates being walked by his dog and writing speculative fiction after work. His work has appeared in places like Liminal Stories, Metaphorosis Magazine, and Arsenika. He tweets occasionally @lchanwrites.
Jeff Deck is a fiction ghostwriter and editor whose writing has been featured on the Today Show. He lives in Maine with his wife, Jane, and their silly dog, Burleigh. Deck writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, dark fantasy, and other speculative fiction, as well as helping other authors tell their stories. Deck's latest book is the supernatural thriller novel The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley. His previous book is the sci-fi gaming adventure novel Player Choice. Deck is also the author, with Benjamin D. Herson, of the nonfiction book The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time (Crown/Random House). He has a story in the anthology Murder Ink 2: Sixteen More Tales of New England Newsroom Crime (Plaidswede). Get a FREE book when you subscribe to Deck's e-mail updates. Just go to: www.jeffdeck.com.
By day, Evan Dicken studies old Japanese maps and crunches data for all manner of fascinating medical research at the Ohio State University. By night, he does neither of these things. His short fiction has most recently appeared in: Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Tales to Terrify, and he has stories forthcoming from publishers such as Chaosium and Analog. Feel free to visit him at evandicken.com, where he wastes both his time and yours.
Todd H. C. Fischer is a graduate of York University in Canada, with a double honors BA in English and Creative Writing, where he studied many different forms of literature and poetry. He has had work appear in several publications around the world and has published almost two dozen books though his own publishing house (Stonebunny Press). Mr. Fischer has had work recently appear in (or is slated to appear in): The Compleat Anachronist (a medievalist journal), Helios Quarterly, NonBinary Review, and The Healing Muse. You can read more about Todd H. C. Fischer on his website: todd-fischer.com.
Ethan Gibney is easiest understood if you know that the two pieces of media that most informed his aesthetic were the Sherlock Holmes stories and The Addams Family. His Gomez is John Astin, his Bond is Timothy Dalton, his Holmes is Jeremy Brett and his Doctor is Peter Davison. He drinks his cider brewed with chai spices. His affection for the King in Yellow may be because he’s also a theatre person, but it’s also possible he just likes yellow cloaks and pallid masks. Who doesn’t? Check out his website at www.ethanmgibney.com.
Marcus Johnston grew up a navy brat, so after moving many times in his childhood, he was infected with a permanent wanderlust. He's traveled the world working in international schools, before finding himself in the corporate world, becoming a mercenary teacher who travels the US selling his training to the highest bidder. Through his travels, Marcus often finds himself between worlds, so its not surprising that his characters do as well. When he does get home to Phoenix, Arizona, he comes home to his wife and two kids, who don't bother to read his stories, so he shares them with those who will.
Gordon Linzner is editor emeritus of Space and Time Magazine, and the author of three published novels and dozens of short stories that have seen print in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine.
Adrian Ludens is the author of Ant Farm Necropolis (A Murder of Storytellers LLC), and is a member of the Horror Writers Association with Active status. Recent and favorite publication appearances include DOA 3 (Blood Bound Books), HWA Poetry Showcase IV, Blood in the Rain 3 (Cwtch Press), and Zippered Flesh 3 (Smart Rhino Publications). Adrian is a radio announcer and a fan of hockey, reading and writing horror fiction, swimming, and exploring abandoned buildings. Visit him at www.adrianludens.com.
Marie Michaels is a lawyer and nerd living in Portland, Oregon. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies including Visions V: Milky Way, Tell Me a Fable, and Rejected, and the webzines Fiction Vortex and Devolution Z. Upcoming stories will appear in Keeping Pace with Eternity and New Legends: Mercenary, Engineer, Captain v. 2. She tweets about science fiction, fantasy, writing and feminism at @lavidanerdy and can be found on Facebook.
Adam Millard is the author of thirteen novels and more than a hundred short stories, which can be found in various collections and anthologies. Probably best known for his post-apocalyptic fiction, Adam also writes fantasy/horror for children. He created the character Peter Crombie, Teenage Zombie just so he had something decent to read to his son at bedtime. Adam also writes Bizarro fiction for several publishers, who enjoy his tales of flesh-eating clown-beetles and rabies-infected derrieres so much that they keep printing them. His "Dead" series has been the filling in a Stephen King/Bram Stoker sandwich on Amazon's bestsellers chart, and the translation rights have recently sold to German publisher, Voodoo Press. Adam also writes for This Is Horror, whose columnists include Shaun Hutson, Simon Bestwick and Simon Marshall-Jones. Adam lives in the post-apocalyptic landscape known as Wolverhampton, England, with his wife, Zoe, and son, Phoenix.
Nicholas Nacario is an author and award-winning graphic designer living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. His work can be found in Destroy All Robots (Dunhams Manor Press), Ill-Considered Expeditions (April Moon Books), shoggoth.net, microphonesofmadness.wordpress.com, The Chabot Review, and in the forthcoming anthology Puncture Wounds (Stygian Fox Publishing). He splits his time between designing books for the respective Call of Cthulhu and Fiction product lines for Chaosium Inc. and dreaming about living on a Polynesian-style outrigger canoe in the Pacific Ocean.
Harry Pauff writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror and lives in Maryland with his wife and two cats. He tries to write as much as possible, but when not writing he's reading, playing basketball, traveling, or making blood sacrifices to this thing that lives in his house and meows at him all day. Follow him on Twitter @HarryNotGood.
Pete Rawlik is the author of more than fifty short stories, the novels Reanimators, The Weird Company, and Reanimatrix, and The Peaslee Papers, a chronicle of the distant past, the present, and the far future. As editor he has produced The Legacy of the Reanimator and the forthcoming Chromatic Court. His short story Revenge of the Reanimator was nominated for a New Pulp Award. He is a regular member of the Lovecraft Ezine Podcast which in 2016 won the This is Horror Non-Fiction Podcast of the year award. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Science Fiction.
Sam Rent grew up and lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was working behind a register while writing this story.
Andrew Scott writes fantasy, horror, science fiction, alt-history and myth in prose and comics. His most recent work appeared in an anthology about Salmiakki, reportedly the most disgusting sweet in the world.
Max D. Stanton is an academic and a student of the weird who lives in Philadelphia. His literary heroes include Cormac McCarthy, H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Portis, and R.A. Wilson. He is outnumbered by his animals, and increasingly fears that they are conspiring against him. Max has published fiction in magazines including Hinnom, Lovecraftiana, and Sanitarium. He has new stories forthcoming in the anthologies Pickman's Gallery, Year's Best Transhuman Sci-Fi, and Death’s Garden. Feel free to contact him via the Book of Faces or Twitter (@max_d_stanton).
In his life, Josh Storey has only ever had three career ambitions: astronaut, Superman, and writer. Since he's no good at math and (as far as his parents will admit) not from Krypton, he's going with option three. A reformed pantser and proud Shimmer badger, Josh occasionally blathers about writing, comic books, and other geekery on twitter @soless. You can find his other stories at www.phantasypunk.com.
David Tallerman is the author of the YA fantasy series The Black River Chronicles, which began in late 2016 with Level One and continues in 2017 with The Ursvaal Exchange, the Tales of Easie Damasco series, and the Tor.com novella Patchwerk. His comics work includes the absurdist steampunk graphic novel Endangered Weapon B: Mechanimal Science and the Rosarium miniseries C21st Gods. David's short stories have appeared in around eighty markets, including Clarkesworld, Nightmare, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. A number of his best dark fantasy and horror stories were gathered together in his debut collection The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories. He can be found online at davidtallerman.co.uk.
John Taloni has been reading SF/F since he was eight and stumbled across a copy of Alexei Panshin’s Rite of Passage. His major influences include Anne McCaffrey and Larry Niven. His interest in horror stems from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. Taloni is a long-time attendee at SF conventions, and he met his wife while dressed as a Pernese dragon rider. Their daughter asked at the age of four if they could watch more of the show with "the robots that say 'exterminate,' " and the entire family has happily watched Doctor Who together ever since.
Darren Todd writes short fiction full time, along with freelance book editing for Evolved Publications and narrating the occasional audiobook for Audible, Inc. His short fiction has appeared in twenty-four publications over the last eleven years. He has had four plays produced and a non-fiction book published. While many of his works fall under the literary umbrella, he often returns to horror. His style and reading preferences tend toward the psychological, as he enjoys stories that linger in the imagination long after he's closed the book on them. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife and son and does his best work in coffee shops on a dated word processor.
DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness (Popcorn Press), Sorcery & Sanctity: A Homage to Arthur Machen (Hieroglyphics Press), Tales of the Black Arts (Hazardous Press), Ill-considered Expeditions (April Moon Books), Cosmic Horror (Dark Hall Press), and Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), as well as having a Yellow Mythos novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor). Check out his website at djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk, or follow him on Twitter @djtyrer.
Wile E. Young is an author of the bizarre, horrific, and fantastical. When not fleeing from angry mobs or tormenting members of various schools and universities, he can be found running, playing a video game of some sort, stitching someone up on the side of the road, or hanging out with his friends. No matter what, he will always be writing when the day ends.
Steven C. Gilberts is known for his dark, macabre, and bizarre artwork. No stranger to Lovecraftian Horror, he's done cover art before for Chaosium, Cemetery Dance, and Elder Sign Press. And, as you can see, he's no stranger to monsters in business suits either! You can check out his artwork at his website, www.stevengilberts.com.
Ashley Cser is a digital artist with dozens of ebook cover designs under her belt. She did the black-and-white "Boss-thulhu" divider art seen above! You can check out more of her artwork at her website, mllebienvenu.weebly.com.