Sunday, 29 May 2016

Shakespeare Sunday: The “Iä”s of March

Andrew Lane's contribution to Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu is unusual because it is one of only two stories in the anthology not set during the last 600 years or so. As you have probably already guessed, it was inspired by Julius Caesar, and so takes place before the birth of Christ.
Here's a taster...

The figure up ahead suddenly darted down a narrow alley. When he got to the corner, Casca gazed down its shadowed length. He looked around, checking that he was still alone. If he investigated it was likely he would arrive late at Brutus’s residence for dinner, but given what they were going to be talking about he felt that he ought to investigate. Perhaps Caesar was visiting some mistress whose identity would cause a convenient scandal if revealed. So he followed.
At its end the alley opened out into a small square that Casca had never been in before. A few twisted trees emerged from holes in the pavement around it, and oddly they all seemed to be leaning away from the centre, as if trying to escape it, rather than all being bent the same way by the winds that sometimes swept through the city. In the centre of the square was a temple of grey, weathered marble, raised up on a wide platform of five steps. It was one of the many hundreds of temples scattered around Rome dedicated to one or another of the many gods in the Roman pantheon – a fair number of which had been appropriated from other religions and bought under Roman control. The steps were cracked, and grass was growing out of the gaps between the slabs that formed them. Abandoned, perhaps – its worshippers a small cult or a foreign minority who had gradually died off?
The temple itself looked… wrong. The pillars all appeared straight when Casca looked at them, and the roof was set firmly and properly on top of them, but whichever part of it he concentrated on, his eyes tried to tell him that the other features were somehow twisted, or joined each other at odd angles. It was as if he was trying to make sense of the architecture while drunk, although he hadn’t had any wine since the afternoon, and that had been weak. He might have ascribed the askew look of the place to the results of a long-ago earthquake, or some subsidence in the ground beneath it, but when he looked at it straight there was nothing wrong. It was just when he looked away, or past it, that it was disturbing. It made him feel queasy, and not just in his stomach. Queasy in his head.
Caesar glanced around, and Casca moved back into the shadow of the alley’s walls. Seeing nobody, he climbed the steps and entered the temple.
Nerving himself, Casca crossed the open space and climbed those same steps.

Andrew Lane is the author of eight books in the Young Sherlock Holmes series as well as several Doctor Who-related dramas for Big Finish Audio, and is currently working on a new set of adventure books with the overall title Crusoe. He has recently written Cthulhoid fiction based in the South-West of England for the anthologies 'Secret Invasion' and 'Dead Letters'. He studied 'Julius Caesar' for his 'O' Level English, which renders him suitably qualified to be included in this anthology...

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