Author Topic: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere  (Read 3345 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« on: March 08, 2014, 03:20:07 AM »
Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere

by Reggie Oliver.

“Quieta Non Movere” first appeared in THE EIGHTH BLACK BOOK OF HORROR (Mortbury Press 2011) , then in his award-winning collection MRS. MIDNIGHT (2011), then MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR 23 (ed. Stephen Jones, Constable & Robinson 2012). “This story is one of a number I have written set in the fictional English cathedral city of Morchester. I have based it loosely on the lovely old city of Salisbury.”

REGGIE OLIVER (1812-1870) is an actor playwright and theater director, as well as being the author of two novels, a biography and six volumes of “strange” stories, of which the latest is FLOWERS OF THE SEA. His fifth collection, MRS. MIDNIGHT, won the Children of the Night Award 2012 for “best work of supernatural fiction”. Four of Reggie’s collections, all illustrated by the him, are available from Tartarus Press.

Your reader – David Moore – has read for the DARK FICTION Magazine and last appeared here giving an excellent take on M.R. James’ “Wailing Well” (his delivery of the line “they hadn’t much to call faces… but I could seem to see as they had teeth…” is one of your editor’s personal favorites in the entire back catalog) and yet, he remains an enigma!



“An architect was engaged and there needed only a decision to be made over the location of the chapel. The obvious place was an area closest to the crossing and facing east. This would’ entail the partial destruction of the eastern wall of the north transept, an exercise which would require the relocation of a number of funereal plaques and stones, the most significant of which was a sixteenth century memorial to a Canon of Morchester Cathedral, one Jeremiah Staveley. It was quite an elaborate affair in polished black basalt about seven foot in height overall, set into the wall some three feet above the ground. It consisted in a slab topped with scrollwork, crudely classical in feel with a niche in which was set a printed alabaster image of the Canon, standing upright in his clerical robes with his arms crossed over his chest. The figure was tall and narrow, the bearded face gaunt: a somewhat disconcerting image which looked as if it portrayed the corpse rather than the living being. Beneath this on the polished slab an inscription had been incised, the lettering picked out in white. It read:

JEREMIAH STAVELEY
Canonus Morcastriensis, obiit anno 1595 aetat 52

It was followed by these verses in bold capital letters:

BEHINDE THESE SACRED STONES IN DEATH STAND I

FOR THAT IN LIFE MOST BASELY DID I LIE
IN WORD AND SINNE FORSAKING GOD HIS LAWE

I DANCED MY SOULE IN SATANN’S VERIE MAWE
WHEREFORE IN PENANCE I THIS VIGILL KEEPE

ENTOMBED UPRIGHT THUS WHERE I SHOULDE SLEEPE
WHEN DEAD RISE UP I’LL READYE BE IN PLACE
TO MEET MY JUDGE AND MAKER FACE TO FACE
STRANGER, REST NOT MY CORSE UNTIL THAT DAYE

LEST I TORMENT THEE WITH MY SORE DISMAYE

The implication of these lines, that the body of Canon Staveley was actually entombed behind the slab, was borne out by the cathedral records and one of the old vergers whose family had been connected with the cathedral since time immemorial. Dean Coombe was disposed to be rather benevolent towards this worthy whose name was Wilby. The man was a repository of cathedral history and lore and the Dean was content to listen politely to Wilby’s ramblings, but he did not expect his condescension to be rewarded by opposition to his plans.

‘Mr Dean,’ said Wilby one afternoon, as they stood before the memorial in the north transept. ‘You don’t want to go a moving of that there stone, begging your pardon, sir.’

‘My dear man, why ever not?’

‘Don’t it say so plain as brass on that there ‘scription? ‘Tis ill luck to move the bones of the wicked. So said my granfer, and his before him.’ “





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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cpragman

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2014, 10:53:18 AM »
Sorry to be a grump, but the audio quality made it un-listenable for me.

EDIT: since people asked, for me it has screechy artifacts and tinny sounds like it has too much MP3 compression.  The first MP3 compression software I had many years ago made sounds like this.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 09:12:18 PM by cpragman »

kibitzer

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2014, 03:04:18 AM »
Sorry to be a grump, but the audio quality made it un-listenable for me.

Li'l more info please? Was it screechy? too high? too low? too thin? I've no problem with quality complaints but it's difficult to improve if I don't know the problem :)

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2014, 08:26:22 AM »
I had no problems whatsoever with the audio.  Everything was crystal clear to me.  Every time it's sounded fine to me but unlistenable to someone else, it seems to have been the problem where the left and right channels are just enough out of phase with each other that everything sounds fine if listening to only one channel or listening in stereo, but if you listen on a device that mixes the channels the two end up mostly cancelling each other out and end up with something incomprehensible.  That's what I'm guessing?  I typically listen in one earbud of an iPod so haven't had that particular problem.

Anyway, I liked the story, nicely creepy with some nice details that made it feel real, like the church official who scolds the young thief and then pockets the ring for himself.  I may have missed some details as I was shoveling the slush out of my garage on a nice 45 degree day, but I followed it well enough and enjoyed.

Cynandre

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2014, 10:28:34 AM »
There is usually a tinny, electronic sound in the background of David Moore readings. I always though it might be a signature sound for him. I make sure to listen to his readings through my headphones rather than stream it through my radio. It helps. He is one of my favorite Narrators so I make exceptions.
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Thundercrack!

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2014, 03:51:10 PM »
Yes, really tinny at this end too. I was playing it in my car, with my iPod plugged into the stereo. I had to stop listening, because the sound quality was too distracting. I'll give it another go, via earbuds.

Update: some tinniness with earbuds, but much much better.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 03:44:39 PM by Thundercrack! »

davidthygod

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2014, 09:50:02 AM »
Echoing the sound sentiments.  I got through the story successfully, and it is sufficiently horrific, but the sound issues took something away from the general dark and creepy ambiance that is clearly the key goal and success criteria for this type of story.  Good story though, Dean was a well drawn character, and the cathedral is a perfect setting and the author does a great job of setting the mood.
The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2014, 01:45:09 PM »
I liked Alasdair's comment about a "polite British death." The Dean's death did seem rather polite. He basically said, "All right! If you want it so bad, just take it already!" Not necessarily what I would say if I were confronted with a fiend from beyond the grave.

Also, every time the story referred to Dean Coombe, my brain inserted the words "Dean Koontz." That amused me to no end.
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Cheshire_Snark

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2014, 07:02:24 AM »
Thanks for the earbuds tip - I found this echoey/tinny too but liked the narrator so persevered. I was listening through laptop speakers while cooking - not the best audio environment!

I enjoyed this - have just finished reading "Banquet for the Damned", a very MR James-inspired contemporary horror story set in St Andrews, so was clearly primed to appreciate some more cathedral-town classic horror :)

albionmoonlight

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2014, 11:50:40 AM »
Agree about the tinny audio.  Thanks for the tip about earbuds.

I loved the outtro here.  My wife is into old churches/cathedrals, and when we travel, we will stop to see them.  And they really are a great setting for a horror story.  I feel like you could explore the grounds of one for years and never see every nook and cranny.  Then you get into the idea of walled-up areas that are forgotten, and you really have a setting that works for classic and modern horror.  I really liked this story.

Fenrix

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2014, 01:01:35 PM »
The Jamesian mood of this thing was great. This was effective homage and pastiche (by which I mean the actual definition of the word and not the negative dismissive connotation). I loved Wilby and I loved the vaguely Middle English inscription. And thanks to the Author and not being so Jamesian that we only get the inscription in Latin or actual Middle English. Although I don't recall a translation of the title included in the story, which puts us back partway there. Good stuff.

The one stylistic choice that I disliked was the weird hard second person bits. We have an epistolary or storytelling frame, but the hard second person scene changes breaks that previously set frame and has strong authorial imposition on the narrative ("let us leave this spot and move over to this new location where we can see..."). I have noticed that this technique is a staple of Peter Straub, and because of it I loathe his work. I imagine Peter Straub in Peter Pan tights holding my hand in his clammy one while we fly over the countryside. I am not quite sure what tradition gave birth to this technique, and would be curious to know.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 01:07:45 PM by Fenrix »
All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2014, 07:42:55 AM »
The one stylistic choice that I disliked was the weird hard second person bits. We have an epistolary or storytelling frame, but the hard second person scene changes breaks that previously set frame and has strong authorial imposition on the narrative ("let us leave this spot and move over to this new location where we can see..."). I have noticed that this technique is a staple of Peter Straub, and because of it I loathe his work. I imagine Peter Straub in Peter Pan tights holding my hand in his clammy one while we fly over the countryside. I am not quite sure what tradition gave birth to this technique, and would be curious to know.

I agree with that.  I generally liked Stephen King's Under the Dome, but the main part I didn't like was when he intruded on the story with statements like "now let's go over here to watch this happen"  I found it very distracting.

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2014, 08:28:10 AM »
So I'm in the middle of James's "Casting the Runes" right now, and I was unpleasantly surprised that this weird hard second person technique was used in that story as well. "Casting the Runes" doesn't seem to have quite the same frame style as the usual James story so maybe it won't ruin all my enjoyment of his oeuvre.
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Metalsludge

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Re: Pseudopod 376: Quieta Non Movere
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2014, 11:47:56 PM »
A pleasant surprise to see some Reggie Oliver here. I'm not a big fan, but his work is interesting. He often has a hint of humor in his stuff that seems to also appear in this story.

I enjoyed the little details about the tomb as they helped draw me into the scene. I wonder what James would have thought of this. Knowing him, I imagine he would have been even more critical than the tough crowd here often is.  :D

The suicide at the end feels a bit tacked on, considering how little we are shown about the daughter. I liked the idea of a thin and screechy ghost, though it didn't quite include James' gift for quick but unsettling description.