1. What is your favorite Sci-fi horror novel or short story?
Blood Music by Greg Bear. I read it shortly after discovering Lovecraft in junior high school, and it perfectly dovetailed with the unacceptable revelations of At The Mountains Of Madness. It was an utterly new vision of the apocalypse in its truest sense, as revelation rather than mere disaster. Also, it cleverly disposed of cliche cleft-jawed heroes and sexy scientists fighting to avert the coming change.
2. Tell us about your story and what your influences are?
For "Earth Worms", I delved into cherished memories of pulp sci-fi from Fredric Brown and Theodore Sturgeon, as well as cheesy Golden Age sci-fi comics, where the undoing of all human aspirations come as the punch line of a twisted cosmic joke. To push those hoary old tropes in the service of a deadly earnest issues like environmental and spiritual apocalypse scenarios just seemed like a natural fit, with the unspeakable alien zookeeper obligingly explaining how, from our earliest origins as multicellular life on Earth, we'd been conned.
3. Tell us something about yourself as a writer that isn't common knowledge?
Not much of international interest... I used to write for a local music and culture magazine in San Diego, and was one of the first (if not the first) to unmask guerrilla artist Shepard Fairey as the man behind the Andre The Giant sticker and banner campaign back in the 90s. I used to compose electronic scores for porno videos in college, and am currently working on the soundtrack for a short monster movie I wrote called Stay At Home Dad.
Gary Caldwell awoke from a dream he couldn’t remember, except for the sound of his own voice telling him to be fruitful and multiply.
Cold golden light poured like sand into his eyes, but he could not close them. Could not move at all. He could see nothing but the light, feel only a vague, universal aching which brought him to the edge of panic. He was still in his body, or he seemed to be. The sensations he felt were nothing like the deep meditation or the OOBE training that was supposed to prepare him for the end.
Something his wife said came to him, just then: the End isn’t when we die… it’s when we all get what we deserve…
Was this what he deserved, then? Was this the Limbo reserved for infidels and unbelievers? It would be far better, if he could panic; if he could feel exultation, fear… anything.
Because the end had come, and what he believed had come true.
This thought cast his discomfort and confusion into a whole new light. He had seen them come down out of the sky with his own eyes. When the whole human race had succumbed to despair, he and the others who shared the vision had held out long enough to see them come.
He was with Joyce in the communications bunker, watching the torrential acid rain. The telescopes and pirate satellite feeds had found nothing, but their Big Ear had been pinging with anomalous radio signals for weeks. Someone had to be listening out there, and might finally be trying to speak.
Caldwell was the only one well enough to stand watch. A Grey Grids infection had wiped out half the group in the last week. Joyce was well into the terminal phase, the livid, circuitry-shaped rash branding every pallid inch of skin, but she came topside to bring him soup and spend her last breaths on accusations.
“Just admit it, darling,” she whispered, like begging for medicine. “Admit you were wrong.” It was unworthy of her, but it was easier than facing the real betrayal. She had followed him out here, and she was dying, and he was not.
“What did I do, now?” He busied himself with rebooting the sweeping radio receivers, but no outsiders broke into their argument. The constant atmospheric disturbances caused by the roving tri-state cyclone-cluster they called the Funnel, now a permanent feature of the Great Plains, had snuffed out all terrestrial communications.
No one on Earth had anything to say that was worth hearing, anyway. Night and day, the group tended their telescopes, their radio transmitters and their lasers, and sent out Dr. Scriabin’s message to the universe.
“All of this was a mistake. All the calculations, the predictions, the pilgrimage out here… just laser-guided prayer. Just another cargo cult pipe dream.”
That stung. The world had called them a cult, but what did they believe, that was not written in the poisoned earth, the tainted skies and the rising, dying seas? Their leader was not a wild-eyed crankcase, or a glad-handing evangelist, but a soft-spoken retired college professor.
Dr. Scriabin predicted the end based on Malthusian charts and greenhouse gas curves, while the rest of the world clung to their fantasies of a universal Daddy who gave them the earth to eat like a pie in an eating contest. Was their retreat into the Montana badlands to try to contact an extra-terrestrial intelligence any more insane than the infantile belief of a solid majority of Americans that they would be raptured away from the end by angels?
It was hard to look at her, but he forced himself. “You’d rather we stayed in LA, when it fell into the sea, then? You’d prefer to have died in the food riots?”
“We didn’t just come out here to survive,” she spat. “You staked our lives on the premise that someone out there was watching. And that they would save us.”
The distress signal had been going out, in some form or other, for almost twenty years. The endless string of binary laser-light pulses and more esoteric codes were a barrage that anyone who could make sense of mathematics would surely decipher to learn the location of Earth, the dire state of its environment and, if they were as merciful as they were advanced, they would come running to save the few humans left from imminent destruction.
“We could have gone out with our families,” she sobbed, “with people who mattered to us… we could’ve gone somewhere and just tried to live…”
Biography – Cody Goodfellow
Cody Goodfellow has written three solo novels––Radiant Dawn, Ravenous Dusk and Perfect Union––and three more––Jake's Wake, The Day Before and Spore––with John Skipp. His short fiction has been collected in Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars and All Monster Action. As editor and co-founder of Perilous Press, he has published illustrated works of modern cosmic horror by Michael Shea, Brian Stableford and David Conyers. He lives in Los Angeles.