Death To All Flesh Excerpt

Happy New Year everyone. As promised, here is a text-only sample of ‘Death To All Flesh.’

It’s a Lovecraftian/Joseph Conrad type of gothic horror tale, about a soldier recuperating from the Great War who takes a mining job overseas
on a dark and forbidding continent and soon lives to regret it.

This is from the early part of the story, when the narrator, his wife, and their two small children are just about to begin their journey via ship.

The supernatural elements start to creep in near the end of the excerpt.

from “Death To All Flesh.”


Death To All Flesh


The bluff of the ship
Is acrid and steep,

Its varnish slickened with
Guttering dilapidation.

As we are boarded,

It bucks from its moorings
In its slip at the dock,

As if straining
To break free from all catchings
And restraints.

With our small children
Now bundled and secured

The banner and mast
Of the great ship
Are unfurled,

It disengages from the dock,

And we are departed.


Our ship carries little freight
Or cargo, merely passengers.

There is a small party
Of doubtful men taking travel
With us.

Saturnine and distant,
They keep to themselves,
And never once
Leave their cabins.

The boy,
Also does not
Agree with
The ship’s

And so spends
The journey
Locked dolorously
Indoors with my wife.

The ship’s determination,
Fitful at the start, eventually
Becomes settled

And we encounter
Little difficulty
From the weather

During our navigation across
The corridor of the sea.

There is another party
Worthy of note who share in
The transaction of this voyage.

A small disposition of travelers,
Equally divided among the sexes

Appear each night in the dining
Commons after the sun has set.

They are strangely complected,
Seemingly of a mixed race,

And engage to maintain
Camaraderie on ship in regards
To my person.

Though we are unable to relate
By means of proper interaction,
By native speech or intellect,

The close quarters we maintain
Encourage friendly intercourse.

After supper is
Left behind

We hold revels
And drink bitters

Playing at games
That last at length

Until night
Is again superseded
By day.

When the sun comes up
I return to my quarters
And am grateful to find

My wife and children,
Interposed as one body

Asleep within the confines
Of our cabin-bed.

Charged with delight,

I wrap my arms around
Their collective form

And take to exhausted
Slumber beside them.


Our passage by sea remains steadfast.

The crewmen do not
Speak a common

And do little but
Inhibit me in my

My boy remains
Mute, and sullen

My wife spends herself
Devoted to him,

And so the bulk
Of my conversation
During daylight hours

Is shared with my

We are alone on deck

Stationed under
The ship’s banner

Taking in the air.

I hold her small hand in mine.


She pulls herself away

And her whole face

Has become shadowed.

She points


On the water

Among the chopping distances
Of the waves

A watery mass


From the shuddering


It continues to ascend

Until reaching its full height

And towers high above us.

It assumes

Tangible shape

And definition

And its fibrillation

Casts long shades

That throw us into

Complete darkness

And the entire sea

Seems to still

The sun

Becomes suspended

Occulted in the sky

And we are held

Fixed in place


And then

This massing of shadows

With their glinting

Furtive brilliance

And malignity

Are suddenly passed.

There is light again

The ship is moving

And my daughter

Is huddled against me.

She begins to tremble

Then runs below decks



© 2013 Gregory H. Russell


One thought on “Death To All Flesh Excerpt

  1. Pingback: Death To All Flesh excerpt 2 | gregory h russell

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