Rated R. Contains, well, Marla Mason. Also violence and profanity.
Ill Met in Ulthar (Featuring Marla Mason)
by T.A. Pratt
Dr. Husch slid the panel over the window shut as the beast continued battering against the door. “Don’t worry, it can’t get out. The interior of the room is lined with rubber, reinforced by magic. We used to keep a paranoid electrothaumaturge locked up there. There are no electrical outlets or light fixtures, either—when we found the creature in Barrow’s room, it had smashed the light bulbs, and was suckling at the outlets like a hamster at a water bottle.”
Marla took off the glasses and rubbed her eyes. “What is that thing?”
“Barrow calls it an arc-drake. The live in the haunted mountains called the Lightning Peaks, north of the Sea of Surcease, a vast lake of liquid suffering.”
“You sound like the trailer for a bad fantasy movie,” Marla said.
“Appropriate, as Barrow was a fantasy writer. Though he wasn’t a particularly bad one, especially by the standards of his time. He was a pulp writer, mostly, published alongside the likes of Clifford Simak, Doc Smith, Sprague de Camp, Marsham Craswell—did you ever read much science fiction and fantasy, Marla?”
“Not really. I was too busy smoking and having sex with boys. I was always more interested in this world than in imaginary ones.”
Husch sniffed. “As a sorcerer, you should be ashamed. Magic is the act of imposing your will on reality. But without imagination, what good is even the strongest will? So what if you can do anything, if you can’t think of anything interesting to do?”
About the Author
Tim Pratt is the author of more than 20 novels, most recently the Axiom space opera trilogy. His multiverse adventure novel Doors of Sleep, beginning a new series, is out in January 2021. He’s a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Mythopoeic, Stoker, and other awards. He tweets incessantly (@timpratt) and publishes a new story every month for patrons at www.patreon.com/timpratt.
About the Narrator
M.K. Hobson recently decided to follow a time-honored authorial tradition and become a bitter recluse. She swore off all social media and left her website to go to seed. At the moment, she exists only as a voice on short fiction podcasts such as Podcastle and Cast of Wonders. She leavens the tedium of her vastly expanded free time with misanthropy, paranoia, and weight lifting.