The title of this post comes from the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. To quote the poem, “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a-gley.” In other words, those plans often go astray. The post’s title is also the title of a story by my friend C.J. Henderson. The story happens to be one of my all time favorite Cthulhu Mythos stories and I was fortunate enough to publish it in Tales of the Talisman volume 9, issue 1. The story tells about about a man who studies the Necronomicon, learns it inside and out, and believes he can control the Great Old Ones. The problem is, the Great Old Ones prove, as always, they are far more clever than us puny mortals.
Two weeks ago, I received a heart-wrenching call. C.J. had been fighting cancer. He called to tell me the doctor had given him two months to live. Turns out C.J. didn’t have two months. He passed away on July 4 while many of us were watching fireworks displays. He was a fine writer and he deserved the fanfare.
Over the years, I’ve been honored to publish many of C.J.’s stories. Several of them were horror, often with a clever or unexpected twist. Back in Tales of the Talisman volume 7, issue 2, we published “A Glorious Ending” about an old man who dies quietly in his car, which ultimately has world-shaking consequences. In volume 9, issue 2 we published “Without Doubt” which was a story with a steampunk twist about unlocking a gateway for dark forces and the way that gateway had to be closed.
C.J. also appeared in my anthologies Space Pirates and Space Horrors. In the latter, the crew of the Starship Roosevelt must face an enormous creature that literally eats everything in its wake. In that story, the communications officer ultimately figures out that the only way to communicate with this creature is through pure emotion and often the best way we express that emotion is through song.
In my post two weeks ago, I discussed Kolchak, The Night Stalker. It turns out C.J. wrote some Kolchak books for Moonstone press. One that’s still available is Kolchak and the Lost World.
We have one final story by C.J. coming out in Tales of the Talisman, volume 10, issue 1 called “The Secret Order.” Again, dark forces are at work. This time they’re manipulating religion and rock and roll.
It’s an understatement to say that cancer takes an emotional toll on a family, but people often forget it takes a financial one as well. Probably one of the best ways you can help C.J.’s family is to look him up at Amazon. I’ve given the link to his Kolchak book above, but even if you aren’t interested in that book, you can use it as a portal to explore more. Besides, what better tribute can we give a writer than to read their words after they’ve moved on?
There is also a donation site to help C.J.’s family at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/society-for-the-preservation-of-cj-henderson/87881