Cumbrian Cthulhu’s First Donation To LDSAMRA!


Our first donation has officially been given to our charity ‘Lake District Search And Mountain Rescue!’
From production to promotion, sales to donation, we have finally completed our first of many laps!
Below you will find the details of the donation day, brief project history, photographs by Alan Cleaver and link to a video of the event.

Thank you to all of our CC contributors, promoters and customers.

Donation Day

LDSAMRA kindly agreed to Cumbrian Cthulhu creator Andrew McGuigan’s request to take a photograph holding up a big silly cheque.

The handover and photographs took place at 10:30 am on Saturday 24th August at the Keswick MRC centre down by the lake.
This donation was the profits from the first two books, from November 2012 to April 2013. Sale profits since April 2013 will now build up for next year’s donation.

Photographs by Alan Cleaver

Present on the day were Karen and Stephen of Keswick MRC, the McGuigan clan: Jennifer, Stephen, Suzanne and Andrew, Allan Mitchell and Bryony Parrish.

We were given a guided tour of the Keswick Mountain Rescue Centre where we got to see the training facilities, meeting room, the high tech call out and monitoring systems and the wide range of equipment packed into each rescue vehicle.

We were privileged to meet Mike Nixon MBE, the only active MRC member to receive a 60 year certificate.  Mike thanked us for our cheque and wished us great success with our future publishing.

Andrew was pleased as well to finally meet Alan Cleaver, who has long been a supporter and promoter of Cumbrian Cthulhu both online and in newspaper print!

 Cumbrian Cthulhu in Times & Star, by Alan Cleaver

Alan joined us on the day to photograph and report later on the cheque handover.
All in all the day was an enjoyable success and we look forward to future yearly cheque presentations!

Here is the link to the video, many thanks to Stephen McGuigan!

A Brief Project History

The Cumbrian Cthulhu project was started in 2009 when Andrew McGuigan wrote the first Cumbrian Cthulhu story ‘The chamber in the Hillside,’ a tale about invaders from the sea seeking to unearth a monstrous creature from beneath the Senhouse Roman site.

After being joined online by other writers and our illustrator Andy Paciorek, the Cumbrian Cthulhu team collected stories to self publish our first two illustrated anthologies in November 2012.

Cumbrian Cthulhu Volumes One and Two

Our Youtube advert, thank you Alex Goth and Andy Paciorek

In the spirit of the project, we decided all book sale profits should be donated to a Cumbrian charity. LDSAMRA was chosen as a very worthy recipient.

Books were initially sold on our publishing site and then later on and other online retailers.
As the creator of Cumbrian Cthulhu, Andrew McGuigan ordered boxes of books which were sold to relatives and work colleagues in order to squeeze every extra penny profit by keeping costs low, utilising bulk orders combined with occasional discount codes.

Early word of mouth, Facebook friends and the relatives of contributors have made up the majority of sales so far. Members of the CC project took to email, Facebook and Twitter to inform both Cumbrians and Lovecraft fans of the books.

We hope that news of the donation will further increase awareness and encourage new sales!

Illustrations by Andy Paciorek

The Future of Cumbrian Cthulhu!

What makes Cumbrain Cthulhu different to a one day charity event is that the books will always be on sale. The aim of the project is to build up a collection of books under its banner so that even in years to come they can be stumbled upon, creating new charitable revenue which will always be donated to LDSAMRA.

In the next two years we will have completed and published all of our currently planned books: Four volumes of paperback short stories, a hardback version featuring all stories together, a collection of Lovecraft’s own stories for those new to his work, a book of Cumbrian Cthulhu roleplaying adventures and finally a coffee table style book featuring the full colour art and history of the Cumbrian Cthulhu Project.
We also have a new merchandise shop where you can buys shirts, mugs and art prints featuring Cumbrian Cthulhu artwork from our books and also designs unique to our souvenirs.

Lamb Attack by Tony Clark, now on CC merchandise!

Cumbrian Cthulhu Flag Shirt

In October this year we will be releasing Volume Three of our short stories and also the H.P. Lovecraft anthology.

These will be on sale through LULU.COM, available from Halloween.

At Cumbrian Cthulhu, we always welcome new writers and artists! 

Currently we are having a big push to increase awareness of our ‘Cumbrian Cthulhu Cover Art Competition,’ where artists can win the chance to have their work featured as the cover of our hardback book, as well as a full biography in our Art & History book.

Thank you once again to the whole Cumbrian Cthulhu team, our promoters and customers. We hope to donate more and more over the next few years as word spreads and readership grows!

Please contact me with any questions!
Andrew McGuigan


The Great Cumbrian Cthulhu Cover Art Competition!

CC Cover Art Facebook Group and Gallery

The Great Cumbrian Cthulhu Cover Art Competition!
Win the chance to have YOUR art on the cover of Cumbrian Cthulhu!

Cumbrian Cthulhu is a fully illustrated collection of short horror stories set in the Cumbrian region and based on H.P. Lovecraft’s legendary Cthulhu Mythos.

We will be publishing a total of four paperback anthologies, followed by a deluxe hardback edition containing all stories together, entitled ‘The Complete Cumbrian Cthulhu.’ Alongside this we will be publishing ‘Cumbrian Cthulhu Art & History,’ a full colour coffee table style book containing all our CC art in large detail, with a full history of the project and those involved.

Our contributors very kindly give their work and time for free, so that all profits from the CC books can be donated to Lake District Search And Mountain Rescue (LDSAMRA.) It is in our interest to raise awareness and promote book sales whenever we can. One of the CC project’s main aims has always been to encourage and publish new writers and artists.

With this in mind we would like to announce a new competition open to all fantasy and horror artists!

We are looking for the best full colour artwork inspired by the stories or themes of Cumbrian Cthulhu.
Any medium is acceptable, from scanned in drawings and paintings to digitally altered photographs. You may enter any or all categories as many times as you wish and all entries will be proudly displayed on our Facebook page.

CC Cover Art Facebook Group and Gallery
*Several selected finalists will have their submissions and a brief biography published in the ‘Cumbrian Cthulhu Art & History’ book.

*One winner will have their submission featured as the cover art for ‘The Complete Cumbrian Cthulhu,’ and will have their own (non CC) artwork and full biography featured in the ‘Cumbrian Cthulhu Art & History’ book.

Some (but not all!) of the categories below indicate which Cumbrian Cthulhu book the relevant descriptive text can be found. As stated earlier, it is always our intention to encourage sales as the profits benefit the Cumbrian Mountain Rescue Teams.
The first two books can be bought either on Amazon, or ideally from LULU.COM (Where our profit and therefore donation is greater.)


Pickman's Cumbrian Model-
A Lakeland vista being captured by a painter, but the painter has captured something more interesting as well…
A creature from a lake? A famous Cumbrian site turned Lovecraftian? Completely open ended.

The House of Dark Lanterns- CC book 1
The ancient lantern itself and the unearthly shadows it casts.

The Elusive Valley- CC book 2
Alfred's view up to the altered Wasdale Head. (Consider crystal rocks, thrashing lake, alien colours, bizzarre stars and planets, mountains of madness above horizon, the two gates, creatures in undergrowth.)

The Cumbrian Cthulhu flag-
An Occult relic. The Cumbrian flag with flowers replaced by Elder stars and tentacles in the waters. Show the flag and its design in any way you wish, completely open ended.

Ashness Bloody Bridge- CC book 1
One of the final photos taken before the photographers death.
(The Classic Bridge shot. The winter sunset, the creature emerging .)

The Occultus Carvetii- CC book 2
Upon a rock shelf sits the open ancient book, showing evil runes, illustrations of the Elusive Valley map, portal gates and jade key. (The Moresby Swan, The Elusive Vallley)

Caasand- CC book 1,2
The ragged traveler- Administering cures from his potion belt to the dying of Shonderhowe village (The Fell Faith), sharing sandwiches with the young Alfred (The Elusive Valley), or a pose of your own creation.

Cumbrian Cthulhu-
An epic masterwork in a Lakeland Lovecraft theme. Completely open ended.

CC Cover Art Facebook Group and Gallery 


*All submission artwork should be sent as attachments to the email address below. Any questions not already answered to the same email please.

*The final deadline for competition submissions will be 1st June 2014.

*Members of the existing Cumbrian Cthulhu team will serve as competition Judges.

Cumbrian Cthulhu prides itself on being a relaxed and friendly project. We look forward to seeing your entries and we hope you enjoy creating them and joining our team!

Cumbrian Cthulhu Now On Sale!

Cumbrian Cthulhu

‘All new tales of Cumbrian horror inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's legendary Cthulhu mythos’

Information regarding the Cumbrian Cthulhu charity project and the upcoming release of anthology volumes one and two

The cover art of Cumbrian Cthulhu Volumes one and two

Cumbrian Cthulhu aims to encourage and publish stories by amateur horror writers, celebrating the mystical beauty of Cumbria and the timeless horror of H.P. Lovecraft.

We will donate 100% of sales profits from each volume produced to The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA).

Both books are available NOW from LULU.COM, our publishing site. They will be available on in a few weeks, however we urge everyone to buy from LULU.COM, where the profit (and therefore charity donation) is substantially higher.


Okay, so what on earth is a Cthulhu?
Cthulhu is an ancient monster created by legendary horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Cthulhu lies in a deathly sleep in a sunken city, sending madness to the dreams of mankind. His cultists on earth seek to expedite the prophecy that when the stars are correctly aligned, Cthulhu will rise from the ocean to reclaim and destroy the earth.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937) was an American author whose guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed ‘cosmic horror.’

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his lifetime, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century.

During his life Lovecraft encouraged other writers to use his created worlds and monsters in their own stories. This tradition continues today, with regular books being published every year. His stories continue to inspire writers and artists today, with influences found in music, film and graphic novels. It is our great hope that our ‘Cumbrian Cthulhu’ books will eventually become a part of the Lovecraftian fiction legacy.

Where did the idea for Cumbrian Cthulhu come from?
My name is Andrew McGuigan and I began the Cumbrian Cthulhu project in 2009.  I am a proud Cumbrian myself, born in Beckermet in 1975 before moving to the North East of England when I was a small child.

When growing up I was lucky enough to return every year during holidays. With caravan and awning my family toured the Lake District, climbing hills, paddling in lakes and finding pubs for me that served my favourite chicken in a basket (often the Britannia at Elterwater.)

Today my parents are retired and living in the beautiful west coast town Maryport. It was during a visit in 2009 that I read about the excavation of the local Roman fort site at Senhouse. At the time I was re-reading a Lovecraft anthology which included the classic ‘Shadows over Innsmouth’ and it gave me the inspiration to try some writing. The proposed excavations seemed like an interesting situation around which to base a horror story. By borrowing some local history books from my parents I constructed a three part horror story set in 1950’s Maryport, using the geographical references of the time, and bringing in some of Lovecraft’s better known monsters. I have been a fan of H.P. Lovecraft for several years and I admire the way that he encouraged his fellow writers to base their stories on the particular creatures and worlds he had invented. It took a few months, but finally I finished what would be my first Cumbrian Cthulhu story, ‘The Chamber in the hillside.’

The story takes the form of three warning letters written by an elderly archaeologist after he reads of proposed plans to excavate the Roman fort site at Senhouse, Maryport. He states that contrary to popular belief the area has been dug before, back in 1954 by a team he himself assembled. The three letters describe the horrors that were found, and the writer’s subsequent descent into madness.
Having written the story, I started an online blog so I could publish it there for friends to easily read. It then occurred to me that other amateur writers might wish to contribute stories in a similar theme and it may be possible to gather together a small collection of new Cumbrian Lovecraft fiction.
And so cumbriancthulhu.blogspot was born.

How did the other writers, artists and contributors come to the project?
Once my first story was online I sent out paper copies to several writers groups in Cumbria and also the Times & Star newspaper. All of the letters included a card advertising the blog site and an invitation to contribute stories. We were lucky enough to be featured on the Yog-Sothoth website, which was encouraging to see in those early days! Take up was very slow at first, but a big change occurred six months later when I was joined by our resident artist Andy Paciorek who not only wrote stories, but also expressed a desire to illustrate each Cumbrian Cthulhu tale. Right from the beginning I have always been very impressed by Andy’s work. There is no doubt he has brought a much valued extra dimension to the stories and elevated them from simple text to a solid unified collection.
The main boost to our writing force came when I had a small article about the Cumbrian Cthulhu website published in ‘Pulse’ an internal Civil Service magazine. Several enthusiastic amateur writers made contact, and our total number of stories went from eight to twenty within a year, all illustrated by Andy.

It was mid 2011 that I decided to move forward with an actual printed anthology of our stories and art. All of our contributors agreed that it would be in line with the spirit of our project to donate any book sales profits to a Cumbrian charity and we quickly decided on the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association. The horrors of our Cumbrian Cthulhu protagonists are nothing but pure fiction, written for fun. The volunteers of LDSAMRA selflessly assist those with real injury and placate real fear everyday. They save lives each year and do their best to ensure that Lakeland walkers are well informed regarding safety precautions and the potential hazards of the high fells and elements.

I have never published a book before and I realized that in order to make the production as professional as possible I would need further help. I contacted my old University at Northumbria to see if any creative writing students would be interested in gaining experience as a proof readers and editors.

Creative Writing Programme Leader David Stewart was a great help, pleased to pass on our information and to encourage the involvement of Northumbria students. I received a reply on the same day of asking and we were pleased to welcome recent graduate Lucy Collier to the Cumbrian Cthulhu team as our new editor. We were also fortunate enough to recruit Kate Taylor and Matt Walby giving us much needed help managing the research of media contacts and social network promotion respectively. Ben Powell-Jones, a university friend of mine came aboard as our book cover artist and was able to produce fantastic digital art and titles to the exact designs I imagined, designs that were frustratingly well beyond my own ability to realise!
As Cumbrian Cthulhu has grown, I have been constantly impressed by the generosity of those giving their time and help freely either for fun, career experience or just to be a part of a creative project alongside others. Without their enthusiasm and hard work there would be no Cumbrian Cthulhu book, promotion, illustrations or stories at all.

Tell me about the Cumbrian Cthulhu stories

The stories are a tribute to both the imagination of H.P. Lovecraft and the awesome beauty and rich history of the Cumbrian Lake District. You don’t have to be a Lovecraft fan to understand the stories as each one is self contained with no requirement for additional knowledge. Although the stories feature traditional themes of horror, they do not contain explicit language or sexual content, instead following Lovecraft’s themes of fear of the unknown mixed with discoveries of insanity causing otherworldly creatures and gods. We believe the stories would be of interest to fans of horror in general and fans of Lovecraft specifically, as well as those interested in Cumbrian folklore.
All of our stories are fiction, but set within the recognised landmarks and history of Cumbria. Two local tales of Cumbrian folklore have been adapted to fit the Lovecraft Mythos. We have a version of the famous ‘Croglin Vampire’ story and also ‘The Treasure of the Moresby Swan.’

Our writers research Cumbrian history back through the ages, and tales take place in many eras: from Roman soldiers building forts along the Solway Firth and turning back invading creatures from the Maryport sea, to cultist villagers living in then wooded fells of Blencathra during the building of Christian Furness Abbey. There are detective tales from the 1950’s, treasure seeking crypt robbers in the 1970’s and a modern Bed and Breakfast that serves some very strange sausages.

Why give the sales profits to charity? Why choose LDSAMRA?
As a group of amateur writers and artists completing our first project, we are fully aware that our impact on the wide world of literature may be very small! If we accomplish nothing else, this is an opportunity to draw some attention to a good cause in Cumbria and give something back to a place we all love. While sales will be unpredictable, we would much prefer to give any and all of our profits to LDSAMRA, with the relative increased readership being sufficient reward in itself..

 We hope that by promoting LDSAMRA alongside the book at every opportunity, we can at least do our very best to raise awareness and help to increase donations to a very worthy cause.

Could I write for Cumbrian Cthulhu?
Yes, please do so!  is a home for budding horror writers who wish to have their short stories published online. We will also publish physical collections of stories as regularly as we have enough content and spare time!

The only requirements are that the stories are set somewhere in the Cumbrian region and are based around the themes of H.P. Lovecraft’s legendary Cthulhu Mythos. There are no grading systems for your submissions, we all amateur writers here. As long as you are happy with your final drafts and as long as they fit the criteria above and have no illegal or libellous content, you are on! Feel free to supply your own original artwork to complement your story. Cumbrian Cthulhu poetry is welcome as well. You may revise your work at any time after publication online. The Cumbrian Cthulhu website will always be a stress free and relaxed project, ideal for new writers to ‘put themselves out there’ without judgment.

Whilst it is our intention to avoid editing and censorship, the only caveat we make is for submissions that contain themes that would be considered deliberately overly extreme or offensive. Remember that these stories are intended to be a representation of H.P. Lovecraft's Mythos and always respectful to Cumbria.
Come up with a story idea. Anthologies of H. P. Lovecraft’s works are available for reference and collections of new Cthulhu Mythos tales appear regularly.
Research your setting and era. Use accurate and interesting source material. There are many books available detailing the history of The Lake District and the North West coast of England. You can find beautiful photographs and personal accounts from the villages, towns and industries as they grew throughout the ages. The region is rich with inspiring vistas and preserved local tradition, fuel for any overactive imagination! Send your submissions as Word document attachments including contact information to:

A plea for additional sales
If you buy the books, thank you! You have made a group of amateur writers, artists and production staff very happy. We love you.

Everyone involved in this project has kindly given their time and work for free. All profits from Cumbrian Cthulhu sales will be donated directly to LDSAMRA. We would very much like you to assist us in keeping the sales rolling.
Please recommend the books to at least one other person so we can continue to make donations. Why not buy someone a copy as a present, or make them buy you a copy as a present? Nag until a friend or relative gives in. Use the emotions of guilt, shame or the crimes of bribery and blackmail. Sit with your victim until you have witnessed the online book sale transaction completed. If everyone who buys a book gets another person to buy one, we will sell a copy to the entire population of the world. It’s that easy. Unless of course someone breaks the chain. I can only imagine the years of bad luck such a deed would bring upon a person. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.
Anyway, thanks again for buying the book. Follow our Twitter to check on plans for the next book. We are always looking for new writers.

PS. You should probably buy another copy just for yourself so you can keep it in mint condition. It’s bound to be worth loads in the future, just like those Harry Potter first editions.

Statement of fiction and disclaimer
All stories and characters are completely fictitious; this project was created with a great love and respect for both Cumbria and Lovecraft.  We would like to make it very clear that Cumbrian Cthulhu is completely independent and separate from LDSAMRA and they have no connection or involvement with the content of our books or website.  As a group of amateur writers and artists we have merely chosen a slightly different way to make donations, mainly due to Andrew McGuigan being too fat to do sponsored fell runs and yet strangely still having no sellable cake or fudge making ability. Neither can he keep his mouth shut long enough for a sponsored silence and the less said about the confusion leading to the naked eating of the bath full of baked beans the better. So if you have any issues with the Cumbrian Cthulhu books, speak to Andrew. It’s really not LDSAMRA’s fault, or anything to do with them.

The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association is the umbrella body for mountain rescue teams in Cumbria (UK). It covers the Lake District and Cumbria in 12 member teams and is a registered charity solely funded by voluntary contributions. Teams are largely autonomous, but LDSAMRA coordinates the development of operational matters such as radio communications and insurance, as well as the day to day running of an efficient, voluntary rescue service.  All the teams rely almost totally on donations received from the public. Charitable gifts are always gratefully received, either to specific teams direct, or to mountain rescue generally.


We need as much exposure and promotion as possible please!

Feel free to copy any information from this pack to publish on your website, or in your magazine. Use any of the images provided alongside.

Link to our LULU.COM page on Facebook and mention us on Twitter.

We would particularly appreciate any publication of the poster image advertising the books and the LDSAMRA donation.

Email me with any specific ideas for assistance you would like to provide the project.

Such a Quiet Place. Part One

Such A Quiet Place
Part One
Written & Illustrated by Andy Paciorek
With Special Thanks to Andreea V. Balcan.

So bitter is the touch of the cold fingers of fate, that should a car engine suddenly cease on a long winter night’s journey; it never does so outside a cosy inn, brimming with fine wine, real ale, hearty food, good cheer and a roaring log fire. No, it is typical, cliché perhaps, that when on such an evening, should a vehicle suddenly give up the ghost, it will decide to do so in the cold, dark middle of nowhere, situated to the back of beyond.
And so it happened to me.

The journey had run smoothly from Nottingham to Scotch Corner, where I took a short break at the service station and the opportunity to fill the tank with petrol and my own yawning belly with hot coffee and convenience food. It was upon resuming my journey north that my troubles began. Firstly the GPS stopping working and then the radio that had kept me company and kept me alert, with its mixture of music and talk descended into a crackle of static and no attempts to retune to any station were successful. By coincidence or otherwise, this coincided with a fall of snow. First a few flakes upon the windscreen, but then rapidly progressing to a flurry and then a heavy and rapid bluster. In both sound and vision now I was beset by quiet white noise.

Had my wife, Caroline, been in the car with me, I would have indulged her in jovial banter about the north – south divide (her being a native of Cumbria and myself hailing from Hertfordshire; the Midlands home we shared being our happy median) and how once past Scotch Corner I would have jibed her about how we were now approaching the ‘end of the world’. But she was not travelling with me; in fact it was to join her that I was making this journey. Earlier in the week she had received a telephone call informing her that her Aunt Isobel had taken ill. Being her nearest living relative, since the death of her own parents, my wife felt an obligation to the old woman, cantankerous and strange as she was. And she was a peculiar woman, short of temper and both very religious and highly superstitious in her ways. And old, very old, in her late nineties at the least but still for the most part strong and independent of character, despite her wizened frame, though she had been very lean and stubborn in the thirty odd years I had known her.
We would make a point of visiting her maybe once or twice a year and take walks along the coast with the old lady or play chess with her in her ancient yet solid and attractive cottage. Chess was a passion of the old lady, and so sharp in mind and strategy was she that neither my wife nor myself ever came close to beating her in a game though we were rather adept players ourselves. “The sport of Kings … and Queens”, Aunt Isobel would cackle when claiming an inevitable checkmate. Yet in life she was never made a queen by any man. Unmarried, childless, Isobel was a true maiden aunt …apparently; however I recalled vaguely a conversation with my wife’s mother many years ago, when she spoke of a man whom Isobel had loved. He was apparently a seafarer – a fisherman or a trader, perhaps a smuggler or pirate for all I knew, but whatever his trade, for one summer he had seduced the Isobel and melted her heart. Apparently the man appeared, by my mother-in-law’s recollection, to be a couple of decades at least older than the teenage Isobel. It was not meant to be, as though he told Isobel he would return for her after his next sea voyage, he was never seen in those parts again. Isobel grieved fearing him lost at sea, but the truth may have been that there was an ‘Isobel’ in every port, the last one forgotten as soon as the next succumbed to his charms. It was said that after the second summer had passed without his return, Isobel never mentioned her erstwhile lover again and never fell into the arms or bed or another man. Though sometimes on our strolls along the shoreline I would see her gaze wistfully across the waves as if she still hoped against hope, after long lonesome decades, that her seadog paramour would still return.

Such a Quiet Place. Part Two

Such A Quiet Place
Part Two

Written & Illustrated by Andy Paciorek
With Special Thanks to Andreea V. Balcan.

I gazed through the misty haze below the orange glow of the electric streetlights that cast long deep shadows on the chaste white snow. I listened to the low guttural growl that issued from the end of that long terrace and squinted my eyes to discern the source of this noise. Silhouetted in the shimmering golden light were a pack of dogs. There seemed to be quite a few and the sight of them filled me with trepidation. Though the clarity of my view was obscure, I sensed instinctively that there was something not right about these hounds but even so their very presence seemed wrong. On holidays abroad in Europe and Asia I had viewed upon packs of feral dogs roaming the towns at night but never more than a couple of strays at a time had I witnessed in Britain. Especially here it would be assumed that their occurrence would not be tolerated, for Cumbrian sheep farmers are extremely protective of their flocks and the salt-marsh mutton and lamb of this area commanded a very good price at market.

There was something so unnerving about the gathering of dogs, that although it was a slightly longer walk and would mean being exposed to this wintry onslaught longer still, I decided to turn and take an alternative route down Lumley Lane. Here the walking was more hazardous even without the gathering inches of snow, for this street was still cobbled. The terraces of Derleth were mainly Victorian and though there were a couple of 20th Century builds, the rest of the buildings were older, mainly 18th Century cottages. I remember Aunt Isobel had said that all new building in Derleth had always followed the same labyrinthine pattern of what came before. She supposed that the mixture of hiding points and escape routes were of great use in the bygone days of sea smuggling (which she hinted were perhaps not quite as bygone as some may assume). She also said that there ran a greater maze of caverns and tunnels that led from sea-cove mouths to deep below the streets of Derleth, meandering out and upwards from the cellars of certain houses.

Though I slipped a couple of times and gathering myself up, dusting myself down and cursing, I made good headway to Aunt Isobel’s house and was soon at the wrought iron gates of Ambrose Cottage. I unfastened the latch and with a little difficulty as I moved away the gathering of snow behind it I proceeded up the path to the door. I found the door locked and gave it a gentle rap of gloved knuckles. No answer. I tried again a little harder and still no response. I moved around the house and could see the comforting luminance of lamplight radiating gently from out of the windows. I gazed into one and saw nothing except for the old leather chair in which Isobel would often sit and read her way through the copious collection of books that stretched along the walls. Isobel was a voracious reader of many diverse subjects, though the shelves were notably absent of the Mills & Boon type books that are a favourite amongst many women of Isobel’s age. I moved further along and gazed through another frosty pane into the sitting room. There I saw a small table, upon it a game of chess in mid-play.
My mind ran over the pieces and I could see that a white knight was about to be claimed by a black bishop but beyond that I could not foresee any potential developments; the mind of Isobel would however already have been many moves ahead and the word ‘Checkmate’ would already be tickling behind her thin, tight lips. For some unfathomable reason the sight of the abandoned chess match disturbed me and a shiver ran down my already cold spine. In the hearth, only the bare embers of flame remained in the dry pool of grey ash.

I speculated on what the situation may be. If my wife and Aunt Isobel had just gone out somewhere for a little while (and would they in this weather?) then Isobel would have ensured that only one lamp at most would have remained lit and that the fire would be safely stoked to burn until their return. My wife had mentioned Isobel’s condition in her text and I wondered whether the situation had worsened and she had been taken into hospital. I was uncertain where the nearest hospital actually was, Whitehaven perhaps.
And still the snow fell. I huddled onto the small porch, looking under flowerpots in search of a door key to no avail. I popped another of the sweet and nasty clumps of candy into my mouth and contemplated my next action. Standing there in the freezing cold and waiting for who knows how long for their return home, did not seem to me the most enticing prospect. Otherwise I could walk further and try a neighbour’s house, though Derleth people were defiantly private and parochial by nature, surely they weren’t devoid of all compassion particularly on such a frigid night or alternatively I could try to break into Isobel’s house, causing of course the minimum of damage possible, and to get warm and to use the land line to ring Caroline’s mobile phone. Isobel, if well enough, would be most displeased at this, but rather her wrath than hypothermia. And perhaps if my prospects as a ‘burglar’ were not great surely a police cell would be warmer than here. I chuckled at this imagining, but my reverie of pondering was very soon to be shattered with an alarming ferocity.