Wythersfield, by Liam Sharp

Hellraiser

Liam Sharp is a British comic book artist, writer and publisher working mostly in the US marketplace. 

Liam made his debut in the late 1980s drawing Judge Dredd for 2000ad.  He later moved to Marvel UK, where he drew the best-selling Marvel UK title ever, Death's Head II. Thereafter he began working mainly in the United States on books as diverse as the X-Men, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Venom, Man-Thing (for Marvel Comics), Superman, Batman, and The Possessed (for DC Comics and Wildstorm), Spawn: The Dark Ages (for Todd McFarlane and Image) and Red Sonja for Dynamite comics.

Liam has also worked on more mature themed books for Verotik, drawing Frank Frazetta's The Death Dealer, and a strip originated by Stan Winston called Realm of the Claw.  

In 2004 Sharp set up his own publishing company, MamTor™ Publishing, with wife Christina. This saw the launch of the critically acclaimed and award-winning anthology Event Horizon, and the prestigious collaboration with Mother (London) Advertising, Four Feet From a Rat, which appears as a quarterly comic in Time Out magazine. 

Liam recently finished the controversial DC Vertigo title Testament with best-selling novelist and media commentator Douglas Rushkoff, the comic adaptation of the seminal XBox game Gears of War, and the Aliens graphic novella Aliens: Fast Track to Heaven for Dark Horse. He is currently working on an epic personal project that he is co-writing with wife Christina McCormack called Captain Stone is Missing. 

Liam also worked on designs for the movies Lost in Space, Small Soldiers and the animated series Batman Beyond.

 Liam's first novel GOD KILLERS: MACHIVARIUS POINT & OTHER TALES was published in 2008 with a second edition in 2009.

 

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The black gloom the Autist had brought to the copse outside Wythersfield was lumpen and disorienting.  The locals long ago sunk into a poor-man’s depression lifted only by the spring wind that would occasionally get snatched by the meander of the valley.  Dog whistles sometimes caught on it, drew away the caution of such downtrodden and effluvial grace as remained there, and wrought nine songs of wisdom - themselves dispersed on whim-dreams to openhearted followers of Form.  (Such dreamers would stare rapt at the vague blue, at these times visible through the enveloping blanket gloom, and picture the sun - not seen for longer than even the black-toothed elders interminable spans, nor of those who were elders in their youths.  They would ullalul the songs into plaintiff being, and tears would inevitably dampen the necklines of their garments.)

It was said the Autist had loved the daughter of the priest who then presided over Wythersfield.  That the love was thwarted and the gloom cast. 

It was said that three prayers had been made, and two honoured.  That the third went so disastrously unanswered that the Autist split open his own head with an axe, and that the gloom emerged from that opening. 

It was said the priest split open the head of the Autist. 

It was said that the Autist threw himself from the single high stone bridge - that both divided and joined Wythersfield above the deep gorge - beneath which tumbled the white waters of the River Soame, into which the daughter of the priest soon afterwards flung herself. 

Or so it was said.

On Wentday was the market.  Down the copper streets of Wythersfield the merchants clattered and clanged, and erected their merchant’s frameworks on which to hang their merchandise – and, as the sole inhabitants possessed of any wealth what-so-ever, proceeded to sell each other their trinkets. 

The Bay Hare, who liked order, sought solace in his books and stuffed his ears with tissue.  Wentday troubled a sensitive heart and delicate mind with its curious incoherent tradition and neurotically formal procedures.  If trade ceased it was generally believed the two halves of the town would drift apart, the bridge collapsing into the valley depths rending forever asunder such loves and family ties as existed in Wythersfield.

Skipping down the old ramways, weaving from Merryhook Meadow to Blue-Iron Farm, went Saul McCleft, the wayward son of Lord Ivan McCleft.  Blind to the gloom, and unencumbered by the strictures of the acceptable, he instead ‘thought the thoughts of they that think, and all damned be they that didn’t’ – but that he didn’t damn anybody at all.  And in truth the gloom shunned him, coiling into dark shadows amongst the thorns and thickets of the copse, rustling as he passed heedless by.  And they that do, and they that don’t, and all that that should but won’t, carried away from sight of him nothing but a dim sense of longing lost, and forms promised yet forgotten.

Such a soul was the wife of Dr. Albinon.  The taught striated tendons, fit for plucking chords upon, spoke volumes from the backs of her pale hands - volumes denied her eyes.  Her eyes were deadened, like plaster.  None of the black-laced finery that propped her up gave joy to either herself or they that might appreciate it, for the light-robbing dullness of those eyes, the inescapable dry pulling of them.  She was avoided, for all the solemn and sculpted beauty of her features, her elegant gait and mannequin figure.

Dr Albinon himself was a pleasant enough fellow, if elusive.  He loved his wife with a passion that made him fearful and weak, and thus said little and looked upon her less.  For most of his life he watched his impressive mustache turn gradually white while the world encircled him just within his peripheral vision.

***

When, one bright Vulsday in Novingbrer, the Gloom unfurled its aged and unloved essence from the shadowy confines of the copse, within which it had dwelt in exile so long – which, despite its legend, was entirely unconnected to the Autist in any way, but rather a fleeting, alien love it had itself endured and lost – it was Dr.Albinon’s wife that noticed first, though she did not know that she noticed. A powdery pink rose in those porcelain cheeks, and that day she purchased a gown of the same colour and lined with golden brocade.

The gloom continued to rise until at last it dissipated with a sigh on a warm summer gust of wind.

 

(C) Liam Sharp 2010

 

 

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