Tonight the Old World Dies – (Probably Not the Update You Expected, but the One You All Deserve)

“Oh, and we were gone . . . Kings of Oblivion.”

So you’re probably wondering where in Black Fucking Eternity we disappeared to, and if you were ever going to see us again.

Sorry, but we’re not dead yet!–No matter how desperately the world tried to rip us to shreds and break our bones to pieces, we’re finally back from the grave and alive at last.

As if you couldn’t tell, this is “Erica Ciko Campbell” writing.

Gag. I don’t use that name anymore. I finally got a fucking divorce! That explains some of the silence, but not nearly enough. Truth be told, I think my soul-crushing job was the true cheese grater of my immortal soul. But I’ve learned to laugh it off, so here I am.

Over the past seven months, I went through so much bullshit that you can’t even imagine half of it. Some of it was so weird you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. The rest . . . It was so mind-numbingly boring that it makes my neck hurt and my brain turn to mush just thinking about it. I burned out. I couldn’t even think about the magazine, much less look at it. I could hardly even write.

It’s because I was devoting most of my energy to a “day job” that ended up killing my revelry for the glory of the night. It sucked my very soul out through my eyeballs and made me think that I’d never cut my hands open on the purple-thorned roses of angsty prose again. I was writing tech blogs for a Fortune 500 company, for fuck’s sake. And some lady from a ditch who sold dime-store smut told me that I needed to “dumb down” my writing to a 7th grade level, while somehow also writing about “everyone and everything” related to the internet.

Now you’re probably thinking that this rant sounds a little bit schizophrenic. And you’re absolutely right!

What are you, a fucking ableist? Are you glad to have me back here, or do you just want me to stumble blindly like a zombie through the doldrums of time, gone and probably forgotten?

Didn’t think so. Well, never fear: I’m back again to bitch about people being oversensitive about Lovecraft on the internet, and to fill that knife hole in your heart with the star-forged sword and sorcery that so few people understand–especially here, on this prison planet called Earth. But while all of us are trapped here, why don’t we prove our worth?

Now that you’re probably sick of all the self-suffering ranting, buckle in: I’m nowhere near done. You’re probably not wondering what demon held the chain that jerked me back by the neck by the triple-spiked collar from the edge of death–but I’m going to tell you anyway.

The truth is, I’m actually not sure.

I recently took an unforgettable trip to Woodstock where I realized one of my childhood dreams (perhaps the last one of all, even though I didn’t know it until that eternal, ethereal moment stretched across the Catherine wheels of time and space). It could have been that. I saw one of my very first “favorite bands,” one that I listened to from 11 in the morning ’til 3 AM long before I ever got into metal.

I’m not sure why all those songs about jilted love and subsequent revenge, prostitution, and general raving insanity resonated with me so much way back in 2004 when I was 12 or 13. But some catfish I met on the internet introduced the Dresden Dolls to me way back then, so I like to think of myself as one of their oldest fans. And in exchange, I guess you could say they’re one of my all-time favorite bands.

Woodstock itself sucked, and was a shadow of a long lost shadow in a valley of death. But when the lights went out, and when I saw them standing there for the first time, clad all in black . . .

I think that was the first time I cried that night, but certainly not the last.

Friendly note: I don’t give a shit if you find Amanda Palmer offensive or controversial for some dumbass hivemind reason. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. I run this place, and we might do trigger warnings, but . . . Wait, do we do trigger warnings? Sorry, it’s been a while.

Anyway, when they opened with “Good Day” I realized I’d been waiting for that moment for nearly 20 years. I couldn’t fucking believe it was real. I didn’t even mind that I was psychotically laughing and crying with a hundred plus strangers around me on all sides. I still remembered the words to all their songs–the old ones, at least–and finally, at long fucking last, I knew I was part of something special again.

Something that reminded me that I was on the wrong path, pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I thought I broke out of the trap with the divorce . . . With slamming the lid on denying my true self, forever. But I was wrong. There was a piece missing I could not ignore. A piece missing that I’ll stay up all night, every night, to strangle into place–even if I have to mow down every worm that makes up the human race.

That piece is admitting that the only thing I’ve ever been good at–no, that I ever WILL be good at–is science fantasy horror writing. You could get all corny and say I was born to do it, and you could even get jealous because I can do other shit too. Probably better than most people, with an eye closed and a hand behind my back.

But no one writes Sci-Fi horror like me; any more than they write it like YOU out there reading this post.

And don’t you ever think I’ve disrespected your writing or forgotten you exist. I know damn well you’re all still out there, scrounging for the crumbs of an answer, waiting for a whisper of the lies men call truth. But you’ll never get it. Not from me. I’m a sad clown with a million faces. You don’t deserve to know me any more than I deserve to know you, but here’s your fucking explanation.

We put the magazine on hold and fucked everything up for nearly a year because we’re insane.

No divorces, no sob stories, no money troubles, no holds barred. You can work for a company run by the shadow government at the heart of all reality, and still be just as fucking poor–if not worse off–than you were back when you were a lowly freelancer. Hell, that’s what I’m going through right now.

But that’s why both of us have to keep writing. Putting up with the ups and downs. Questioning reality. Hell, if you made it this far, you’re probably the type of person who does this on a regular basis and wonders what planet you’re on anyway.

Here’s a hint: It’s a shitty one.

But through writing weird fiction and following these ill-fated, grandiose, star-crossed daydreams and digging our own graves, we can make it a little bit less awful.

And sometimes, you might just find that a firm layer of dirt isn’t that much different than a blanket.

Desmond will probably stab me if I don’t get to the fucking point here, but it wouldn’t be the first time. My answer to him is “Try.” (Don’t worry, it’s an inside joke. One you’ll never get, and one you’ll never be trusted with).

I guess that ultimately, what really made me want to turn things around and stop fucking up the magazine and my entire destiny as a writer was seeing the way those people looked at each other up there on the stage.

The chemistry thicker than coagulated black blood yet thinner than a dying candle wisp, even after all these years.

That’s the kind of synergy that Desmond and I have always had. “Kings of Oblivion.” You don’t have to understand it, and you never will. But I hope someday, somehow, you can channel your own pain into something awesome and bleed for us. With us.

That’s why, in good faith, we’re offering a refund to anyone who wants it. Subscribers, Kickstarter people, whoever or whatever you are . . . Know that Issue #003 IS coming this winter, and it will be one for the ages.

But since we’ve waited so long, and strayed so far off the path, we don’t blame you for losing hope in us. Hell, we would have lost hope in you too, if you’d only done the same.

And if we had hope in you to begin with, maybe we wouldn’t have strayed so far. Just kidding . . . Our dearest, oldest only friends . . .

But seriously, if you feel dissatisfied or like you got screwed over by subscribing when we didn’t deliver, send an email to publisher (at) starwardshadows (dot) com. No spaces. We’ll still deliver your final product: Whatever you paid for, even if you bought one of the more expensive tiers.

We just don’t want you to lose hope in the future of this magazine, like I lost hope in the future of the world and my own life for most of 2022.

But 2022 was a fucking hell of a year. It was the worst year of my life, but also the best. Because now, at long fucking last, I get to live with my best friend and revel in the glory of the night again.

And I get to show my true self to fellow weirdos like you, who someday–maybe someday–may stand a chance at having your words out here too. Just keep on bleeding and keep on crying. We’ll drink it up.

None of you have been forgotten, only set aside. For the world is sick, and the night is cold, and the whiplash of reality jarred our eyes straight out of our heads for most of this cursed fucking year.

But it was the best year ever.

And no matter who you are, no matter what planet or dimension you found us from, Issue 003 is going to bring you back from the edge. It’s going to make you believe in us again.

And if it doesn’t, you can fuck the sun.

– “E. Ciko” / Morgan Eric Wormheart
Editor-in-Chief and Prince of Old Zyrgoth