”Hochmuller’s Hound” sees Thomas Carnacki and his assistant, Charles St. Cyprian, battle the monstrous Hound of Mons! It will be published in 2014 by Emby Press in the anthology, Monster Hunter: Blood Trails.
“Well, there’s something for the old after dinner conversation,” Thomas Carnacki said with forced mildness as he gazed into the depths of the muddy shell crater. Charles St. Cyprian looked over at his friend, mentor, and superior officer, and then was violently, noisily sick. He staggered back from the crater and span about and collapsed onto his hands and knees as the remnants of a singularly unprepossessing breakfast was evacuated from his rebellious stomach.
Carnacki pretended not to notice his assistant’s plight, and instead concentrated on the depths of the crater. It was ancient, as judged by the conditions of No Man’s Land, and filled with a sucking morass of noisome mud. Things—some white, most brown, with bits of pink and gray—floated in it. That, in and of itself, wasn’t unusual in the battered wasteland between the ever-expanding-when-not-contracting line of opposing trenches. An entire generation would be buried in the inadvertent necropolis that vast swathes of Europe had become before the end of the affair, Carnacki suspected. But the things in the crater hadn’t been chewed apart by man-made weapons. In fact, from cursory examination, it looked as if the culprit had been…teeth.
“Or fangs, rather,” he murmured. He straightened, folding back the mud-coated edge of his greatcoat to reveal the Webley holstered on his belt. Something rather like a rosary had been tied to the holster, and several strange charms dangled amongst the dull, black beads. More charms hung from his coat, thrust through button holes or pinned to his lapels.
Before the Great Powers had slouched into war, Thomas Carnacki, late of Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, currently afforded the rank of captain in His Majesty’s armed forces, had served in the capacity of the Royal Occultist of the British Empire. To the public at large he had merely been ‘the Ghost-Finder’, whose adventures had decorated the pages of The Idler, even as those of the Great Detective had appeared in The Strand in the decade prior to the War. Hodgson had done a damn fine job of those, Carnacki thought, though he’d never admitted it. But his days as ‘the Ghost-Finder’ were done and dusted. Only the grinding, grisly monotony of his duties as Royal Occultist remained.
Formed during the reign of Elizabeth the First, the office of Royal Occultist (or the Queen’s Conjurer, as it had been known) had started with the diligent amateur Dr. John Dee, and passed through a succession of hands since. The list was a long one, weaving in and out of the margins of British history, and culminating, for the moment, in one Thomas Carnacki and his erstwhile assistant-cum-apprentice, Charles St. Cyprian.
During more peaceful times, it was the remit of the Royal Occultist to investigate the strange and the sinister, anything that might threaten the peace of the Empire. In war, that remit was not much changed, though its scope was extended. Weird worms of all sorts struggled to the surface after a rain of artillery. Carnacki glanced at his assistant and frowned. “Quite finished there, old chap?”
“Ugh,” St. Cyprian groaned.
“Eloquent as ever, Chaz old sod,” Carnacki said. “Pick your guts up out of your boots and tell me what you see. There’ll be a quiz.”
“Gah—s-something ate him,” St. Cyprian grunted, “Tore him apart, poor bastard.”
“Artillery could have done that, what?” Carnacki said. He watched as St. Cyprian crouched at the edge of the crater.
“If it was artillery, they wouldn’t have called us, Carnacki,” St. Cyprian said, wiping his face with a grimy handkerchief. “Something ate him.” Idly, he drew a sigil in the mud beside his foot. Carnacki nodded to himself. The Caudete Loop was one of the first protective gestures he had taught his apprentice, along with the Monas Glyph and the Sign of Rhee. The Loop was a sign for protection against those from below—the Ghul, the Charnel Hounds, or the Very Old Folk, whatever you chose to call them. In this case, however, Carnacki thought it was a bit premature.
“Not them,” he murmured. St. Cyprian looked at him, his face tight and his eyes wide.
“Then what,” the young man said.
“That, chum, is what I intend to find out,” Carnacki said…