Life had been bleak for a while, and as always a way into light was provided. Gratitude for that way and for the stars to be so aligned, my creative obsession somehow turned to podcasting. To catch us up…
I was all about making radio shows on tape as a boy, and for many years my heart wished for a career in radio. I listened avidly to the airwaves since the nineties, not just songs but to talk radio as well as spoken word, getting political while learning words and phrases. A dream of hosting my own talk show, or even just voice-over work, traveled with me during my surveying career. The years went by and podcasting waited just outside of my own personal awareness.
My health took a downturn and so fieldwork days came to an end. Working from home granted more time for writing, or at least a schedule more accommodating to a creative writer’s life. My thoughts also branched out into other muses, other platforms, and finally podcasting.
I was running a writer’s club, Joe’s Writers’ Club, and after a few months of observations and planning, the time came to record it and add its flavor to my experimental network. This was a magical time for me, finding regular attendees and friends while rocking the portable setup, making a studio of whatever space would allow us to record. It felt adventurous to me, but maybe I’m just a goose. One thing not to be silly about is the hardcore talent that can be discovered just hanging around somewhere.
My friend Joe took a break to reinvent himself and the club chapter he gave me slowly transformed into a fantastic podcast, and as we met week after week our creative obsessions were laid out. Tom T had short stories for miles and a magnificent epic hovering in the stratosphere, just waiting to become a bolt of creative lightning out of Valhalla’s azure sky. Julie read from her inspirational works and aided in the batting around of several project ideas. The one that stuck out was a side step phrase she said.
Something like: “My husband said gothic corporate, but I don’t know. What do you think?”
I said, “How about Corporate Gothic? How does that sound?”
Tom said, “That sounds great…”
The whole thing was framed by the phrase “haunted workspaces,” and when Julie said something like, “Yeah… and a corporate haunting with some sort of karmic justice.”
As soon as we workshopped that mythic brainstorm session, the inspiration started to flow. When next we met, Tom had stories ready to sling in the form of corporate gothic, enough where my own muse flashed bright. As to that, in another point of clarity, I had never written a short story that was any good, and resorted to the abandonment of short story writing and the childish destruction of those horrid works, committing them to the abyss for Chronos to gloss over in his lamenting boredom.
My newly acquired inspiration came forth and a whole new muse burned in the winds of my creative obsession. From podcasting to short story writing, such bizarre trends are their own wonder, but what satisfied me most was how it all came together.
Tom, Julie, and Ben were the originals, being the first of our club’s regular attendees. Corporate Gothic burst forth from its own coffin during a time when I was leaning into paranormal research, a thing that Tom and I had in common. He knew many angles of parapsychology and the supernatural, as well as a cross-section of ghost stories, cryptid tales, and zones of mythic haunting where almost anyone is supposed to be able to see a spirit at the right time of night. We would finish each other’s creepy sentences, and I considered trying to get him on my paranormal podcast.
Once TC joined our ranks for regular meetings during the library days, we found ourselves with several stories and a whole lot of confidence in our project’s muse. What happened next changed the game, for me and for Joe’s Writers’ Club.
My muse for “The Eminent Domain” came online…
Known as a storm watcher, Xando went to the cliffside to brave a wash as he usually did. Lightning strikes in webbed networks traced the sky, never hitting the same spot twice. As Xando watched, a strange light burned away the storm clouds and made a cavern-like hole in the overcast. There was a loud boom and a flash as bright as daylight and startled by it all, Xando beheld an object crash into the chop on the shoreline.
In the waves, a drama of steam and hissing of wind appeared. To his shock, Brother Xando beheld a person fighting to swim in the stormy water. Whoever it was, it must have been connected to the crash, and so, with great haste, Xando made his way through the overgrowth and to the waves moved by a fear that whoever it was may drown.
The sight that greeted Xando was from another world, and with religious fear, his heart palpitated as he crossed himself. A being lay face down on the sand, it’s body limp and cold. It wore a shimmering silver robe. Lightning danced in the vestment like a biblical visitation, and as he grew closer, he saw that this person had no hair atop an enormous head. A heavy odor from sea or storm lay in that place, but still, Xando picked up the prone person and slung him up over his shoulder.
Soon after a stalled muse “Songs of Agharti” blazed forth likewise.
Steve felt spellbound just as the night before. He made a connection between the Bogniki legend and the Sumerian goddess Lilitu, who was also featured in Jewish Midrash as Lilith, a spirit who slays babies in their cribs. Everyone seemingly noticed nightfall at the same time, and soon they sought to change the subject. Being well fed and needing questions answered, they turned to Steve, who through Elzbeita, gave them such information as he felt was appropriate.
Details were kept to a minimum, but otherwise he explained what their goals were and why he wished to explore the mine. He told them of his authorship, and the book he intended to write once this trip was completed. They nodded knowingly to certain points, and having been required to sign NDAs, did not wonder very much beyond what they already knew. Most were satisfied by the answers he gave and admired his desire to honor great grandfather Ziggy’s legacy. Steve mentioned nothing about the treasure. The team retired early, and being well walked and fed, most of them slept deeply.
In the middle of the night a shrill scream woke everybody up from out of dreaming slumber. Thinking someone had just been murdered, the men emerged from their tents to investigate. Everyone was out of their tents, everyone but Ivona. Her tent remained sealed. They unzipped the flap and found Ivona staring vacantly, scared into silence by something. When she finally spoke it was in a near whisper, with eyes wild and knuckles white from fear. Elzbeita’s intonations matched Ivona’s involuntarily because of her own rising concerns.
“I had a horrific nightmare… A large fire at night with skulls in the coals… And human torches walking, screaming… all under an umbral moon.”
I can’t tell you how satisfying it all has been, how grateful I am for all that I have learned from it, and just what a cool thing it is to have a club with talented, creatively obsessed dreamers who see the path ahead. I was poet, novelist, and now short story writer and blogger, and my club has helped me and each other breathtakingly along the way.
Corporate Gothic is our first and will always be special for me, but I look forward to many years going forward and many more projects working with these fine people, and hopefully many others. Our goals will bring this podcast’s vibe to the world, with Corporate Gothic being it’s own loud bump in the night-black office of creative horror. The club’s moods are elevated and we can’t wait to bring this muse to a waiting audience.
I invite you to check out Joe’s Writers’ Club Corporate Gothic project. Enjoy!