31 October 2021

A Halloween Trip to the Hellmouth in Tagus, North Dakota

A 2021 October 29th Halloween expedition to the world-famous hellgate in Tagus, North Dakota. A Friday afternoon drive.
We arrive at twilight to encounter screams of the damned, a hellhound, and a ghost train.
“It looks like farming, but truly it is the harvesting of souls.”
Nothing happens.
An allusion to the 1987 book “The Ultimate Evil: An Investigation into America’s Most Dangerous Satanic Cult” by Maury Terry.
A reading of the 2021 March 20 post “The Gateway to Hell in Tagus, North Dakota” by Malcolm Logan at the website My American Odyssey.
An allusion to the 1903 novel “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London.
Reading some Reddit comments.
A reading of the 2016 March 22 post “The Legends of Tagus, North Dakota” by Troy Larson at the website Ghosts of North Dakota.
A reading of the 2013 September 1 post “Tagus Triangle…The Mystery and some fiction” at the website Larsen Adventure Chronicles.

27 July 2020

Casting our Thoughts as Stars in this Sky

Some discussion on optimization of experience into individual expression of personhood.
“To be a person among people.”

30 April 2020

27 April 2020

“The Presence of Death” from The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat

“Refrain from reading this book. You have been warned.”
“The Presence of Death”
from The Blind Owl
Sadegh Hedayat
translated from the Persian by D.P. Costello
“The presence of death annihilates all superstitions. We are the children of death and it is death that rescues us from the deceptions of life. In the midst of life he calls us and summons us to him.”

14 May 2019

Audible.com audio sample for The Face of Cthulhu and Other Weird Poetry and Tales

A collection of 18 poems and 6 stories, weird as fungi. Ghosts, monsters, and aliens; empresses, adventurers, and cultists; and a lot of death.
Audible.com audio sample for The Face of Cthulhu and Other Weird Poetry and Tales
written and narrated by The Voice before the Void
Available at: Audible.com and Amazon.com

23 April 2019

William Roe’s sighting story from Bigfoot: America’s Abominable Snowman by Elwood D. Baumann

Weirdness for the spring season of Walpurgisnacht. The possibility of a relict species of hominid ruling the wilderness of North America is pretty weird.

William Roe’s sighting story
from Bigfoot: America’s Abominable Snowman
Elwood D. Baumann

14 September 2018

“A Narrow Escape” by Lord Dunsany, with Discussion

A wizard makes a plan to destroy the city that annoys him.

“A Narrow Escape”
Lord Dunsany

01 June 2018

“The Wood of the Dead” by Algernon Blackwood

Summer Vacation:
Blackwood’s power is so great that he makes even sunny summer days become abysmally creepy.

“The Wood of the Dead”
Algernon Blackwood

02 April 2018

“WTF, D&D: Cthulhu ’90s Solo Project – Serving the Servants (Part 2)” by Steve Sumner and Zack Parsons

Kurt Cobain finds horror in Waxahachie, Texas. Explicit.

Read more by Steve and Zack at:

Support “WTF, D&D” on Patreon.

“WTF, D&D: Cthulhu ’90s Solo Project – Serving the Servants (Part 2)”
Steve Sumner and Zack Parsons

18 March 2018

“WTF, D&D: Cthulhu ’90s Solo Project – Serving the Servants (Part 1)” by Steve Sumner and Zack Parsons

Kurt Cobain goes on a vision quest in southern California. Explicit.

Read more by Steve and Zack at:

Support “WTF, D&D” on Patreon.

“WTF, D&D: Cthulhu ’90s Solo Project – Serving the Servants (Part 1)”
Steve Sumner and Zack Parsons

04 March 2018

The finale of “WTF, D&D: Hard Ticket to Baghdad” by Steve Sumner and Zack Parsons

Steve and Zack play Call of Cthulhu as Kurt Cobain, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and Eazy-E versus Saddam Hussein in the early ’90s. Explicit.

Read more by Steve and Zack at:

Support “WTF, D&D” on Patreon.

“WTF, D&D: Hard Ticket to Baghdad 4: Real Muthaf***in’ G’s”
Steve Sumner and Zack Parsons

01 December 2017

“Oklahoma” by Ernest Hemingway

An early poem.

Ernest Hemingway

All of the Indians are dead
(A good Indian is a dead Indian)
Or riding in motor cars—
(the oil lands, you know, they’re all rich)
Smoke smarts my eyes,
Cottonwood twigs and buffalo dung
Smoke grey in the teepee—
(Or is it myopic trachoma)

The prairies are long,
The moon rises,
Drag at their pickets.
The grass has gone brown in the summer—
(or is the hay crop failing)

Pull an arrow out:
If you break it
The wound closes.
Salt is good too
And wood ashes.
Pounding it throbs in the night—
(or is it the gonorrhea)

20 October 2017

“Looking into the Can” by The Voice before the Void

one of ten winning stories in the 4th Lovecraftian Micro Fiction Contest at the 2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon in Portland, Oregon

“Looking into the Can”
The Voice before the Void

15 July 2017

There is Life Before Reading Moby-Dick, and There is Life After Reading Moby-Dick

Life is paradox.

Works mentioned:
Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour
“The Fiddler” by Herman Melville
50 Great American Short Stories edited by Milton Crane
“I and My Chimney” by Herman Melville
Great Short Works of Herman Melville edited by Warner Berthoff
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
“Arma Virumque” by Ambrose Bierce
The Sermon on the Mount by Jesus
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Sea-Wolf by Jack London
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

Other authors mentioned:
Mark Twain
Robert Benchley
Patrick F. McManus
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Edgar Allan Poe
H.P. Lovecraft

04 April 2017

“The Moon-Slave” by Barry Pain

Walpurgisnacht. Springtime Halloween.

A famous tale... of the danger of dance.

“The Moon-Slave”
Barry Pain

13 March 2017

Todd in Baghdad with the North Dakota National Guard during the Iraq War

Todd served at Camp Slayer in Baghdad with the 164th Engineer Battalion, Headquarters Company, of the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2007 and 2008.
Recorded in 2011 in Todd’s home in North Dakota while looking at Baghdad on Google Maps and at his photos, with the television in the background.
Todd’s recollections are filled with charm and dark humor, wonder and sudden horror.

Todd in Baghdad with the North Dakota National Guard during the Iraq War

1. Stray Bullet
2. We Didn’t Have a Bunker, We Didn’t Have S***
3. Victory Over America Palace
4. One Night with the Wrecker
5. Work Area
6. All Demolished
7. Patriot Missile Launcher
8. They Were Trying to Hit That but They Could Never Hit It
9. What Kind of a D*** Tree Is This?
10. Quick Response Force
11. Weird Bunch of Boys
12. Our Flags
13. Blimp
14. Orange Sandstorms
15. Crammed in There
16. Little Fox
17. Towers and a Firefight
18. Destroyed Vehicles
19. Up-armored Humvees
20. Totally Destroyed the S*** but What Are You Going to Do?
21. Civilian Peterbilt
22. Convoys
23. Trouble
24. They’d Get Nailed
25. They Had It Rough but They Had It Made
26. Firing Range in Kuwait
27. Camels
28. Flying in a Tanker
29. Loaded to the Max

11 November 2016

“I Have a Rendezvous with Death” by Alan Seeger

World War I:
Soldier’s war poetry.

“I Have a Rendezvous with Death”
Alan Seeger

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air–
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath–
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

22 October 2016

“The Night Ocean” by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

Amidst brooding philosophy, the pieces of the horror lie unobtrusively throughout the story for us to fit together. A superb story.

27 September 2016

“Darkness” by Lord Byron

Ineluctably, the world shall end.

Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crownéd kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the World contained;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks
Extinguished with a crash—and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenchéd hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past World; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnashed their teeth and howled: the wild birds shrieked,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawled
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again:—a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no Love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was Death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress—he died.
The crowd was famished by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heaped a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other’s aspects—saw, and shrieked, and died—
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The World was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropped
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The Moon, their mistress, had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perished; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

“The year that the poem was written was known as the Year Without a Summer – this is because Mount Tambora had erupted in the Dutch East Indies the previous year, casting enough ash in to the atmosphere to block out the sun and cause abnormal weather across much of northeast America and northern Europe. This pall of darkness inspired Byron to write his poem.”

21 September 2016

24 April 2016

23 May 2015

Plastic Bottles at Midnight in Mongolia by Meredith Potts

Meredith Potts is the executive director of the non-profit NGO FIRE, the Flagstaff International Relief Effort, based in Flagstaff, Arizona and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Since 1997, FIRE has been administering aid programs in Mongolia, with a current focus on viral hepatitis and liver cancer, which are epidemic in Mongolia. As of May of 2015, FIRE has also begun a relief project for the survivors of the village of Langtang in Nepal; the village was almost completely destroyed by a landslide triggered by the earthquake of April 25.

Learn more and help support FIRE at: fireprojects.org. FIRE is a non-profit organization; all contributions are tax-deductible.

Plastic Bottles at Midnight in Mongolia

Meredith Potts

Dusk did not even begin until 9:45 PM on this May night in Mongolia’s capital city. Still feeling energized, I took the long way home from a friend’s house at 12 midnight through Chinggis Square. It has been more than four years since I was last in Mongolia. As I casually strolled, absorbing the dramatic changes in Ulaanbaatar, from the skyline to the abundant and overly friendly taxi drivers concerned for my safety at that late hour in new cars (not 20-year-old junk-heaps) to the new planters and upgraded sidewalks and well-lit streets, I became a bit annoyed with the plastic bottles everywhere. My first inclination was to pick them up and put them in the recycle bin. Then I remembered that I was not in the United States and there are no recycle bins in Mongolia. As an avid recycler, the thought of putting a plastic bottle in a trash can made me feel a bit awkward. So I tried to ignore the bottles.

Across the square, I saw a husband and wife picking through the trash cans in search of bottles. Wearing everything they owned, including a winter coat in 60-degree weather, their stained skin and soiled clothes were the familiar dark-brown color created from years of layered dirt, telling a long, arduous, and painful tale. The rice bag he dragged behind him was almost full. I walked around the square collecting bottles until my arms were overflowing – something we volunteer to do at home. I walked over to the husband and unloaded my arms into the rice bag. One of the bottles still had some grape-flavored soda in it. I handed the bottle to him asking, “Is it okay?” (Zugeer uu?) to drink or “No?” (Ugui?) in my one-word, kindergarten Mongolian. I could see a tiny glint in his eyes, and the corners of his lips turned up ever so slightly. He gulped it down. We both thanked each other a few times over, as I was happy to know the bottles would be recycled. Though it is an activity of desperation for them, not choice, I was very glad someone was doing it.

I started to walk out of the square. Again, the bottles were everywhere. With another armload, I walked back to the man with the bag. This time he was with his wife. I had found a bottle with some water in it; I handed the bottle to her. Sometimes the trash pickers are aggressive. Often, they are drunk. Almost always, they are adults. In 2004, during my very first week in Mongolia, a man was found dead in the stairwell of my apartment building. He had been beaten to death in a drunken fight over the rights to dig through the building’s dumpster. This couple was not aggressive. They were not drunk. His face was deformed from what looked to be a terrible burn. He was humbled and appreciative – me, the foreigner helping them pick up trash in the middle of the night. She was grateful and ashamed. Both were bewildered, with the same look on their faces I saw so often during my years of delivering clothes ger-to-ger, hand-to-hand. “What? Why? You have come from where? To do this, for me?” I gave them 5,000 togrog. My heart strained as I looked into their eyes for the few seconds they let me hold contact. For her, it was barely a split second. 5,000 Mongolian togrog (about US$2.50) is more than twice what they will be paid for their night’s worth of scouring trash cans across the city filling a rice bag with 200+ bottles. 5,000 togrog will barely buy a 500-ml bottle of water in the Western restaurant a few hundred yards away.

Though a lifelong photographer with a camera in my pocket, I refrained from taking a photograph. I felt her shame so strongly that I did not want to add to it by making her feel like a show. Nor did I want any confusion about my motives. I just wanted to help fellow humans who were suffering and show them respect that I am sure they rarely, if ever, receive.

19 April 2015

“Song of a Second April” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Gone and gone for evermore.

“Song of a Second April”
Edna St. Vincent Millay

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep,
Noisy and swift the small brooks run.
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively, —only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

01 April 2013

Introduction to The Voice before the Void

This inaugural presentation is an expression of what we explore, feel, seek, and celebrate through The Voice before the Void.

A Halloween Trip to the Hellmouth in Tagus, North Dakota

A 2021 October 29th Halloween expedition to the world-famous hellgate in Tagus, North Dakota. A Friday afternoon drive. We arrive at twiligh...