Saturday, July 20, 2013


A tale from between chapters of Blood of the Centipede
by Chuck Miller

SEE how the fantastic BLACK CENTIPEDE helped make radio and motion picture history in a single afternoon!

Read it now at the spiffy new PRO SE PRODUCTIONS website!

Right here:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Big huge mass of reviews, oh baby!

I dare you not to, after you read all this!

By Ron Fortier

Chuck Miller is emphatically one of the bright new voices in the New Pulp Fiction movement and last year burst on to the scene with this book.  It introduced the world to his truly mondo-bizarro hero, the Black Centipede.

Describing Miller’s twisted, odd and vibrant style is a challenge in itself.  Unlike traditional classic pulp writers, his work is a hodge-podge blend of history and fiction and told from way too many different perspectives.

Written in first person narrative, the Black Centipede is a young man who crosses paths with the infamous Lizzy Borden of Massachusetts and through her encounters a mysterious being calling herself “Bloody” Mary Jane Gallows; the supposed spiritual creation of Borden and Jack the Ripper.  If that wasn’t twisted enough, our hero is saved from being murdered when his own body is possessed by another alien entity representing itself in the shape of an ugly, creeping black centipede.  Once this merger occurs, he finds himself capable of many super human feats of strength.  He becomes, like Will Eisner’s Spirit, virtually impossible to kill.

From that point on his adventures have him crossing paths with real life figures such a gangster Frank Niti and newspaper tycoon, William Randoph Hearst who wants to turn the Centipede into a popular “real life” pulp hero in his own magazine.  Then there are villains like Doctor Almanac, voodoo fighter Baron Samedi who battle across Zenith City, each with his own perverse agenda and little regard for the citizenry caught in the middle.

It’s fanciful stuff indeed but this reviewer wishes Miller would make an attempt at sticking to one point of view.  Towards the end of this first outing, we are given an entire chapter told to us by a police officer who was on the scene.  Supposedly this is necessary because the Black Centipede was on the other side of town when the incident took place. Still paragraph after paragraph of hearsay is as deadly in a novel as it is in a court of law.  Writing rule of thumb, Mr.Miller, show us, don’t tell us.

Still as this is his first book, that one flaw is easily overlooked for the overabundance of originality infused in this book.  With “Creeping Dawn,” Chuck Miller clearly establishes himself as a voice to be reckoned with.  We predict a truly brilliant future for both creator and his one-of-a-kind hero.


5.0 out of 5 stars Move over Shakespeare, October 3, 2011
By C. Hahn

I have read numerous books in my long history and the number of authors I seek out to read again and again can be numbered on both hands. It is time to graft on a new finger because the world of literature has a new shining light.

With a gift of language and a eye for detail Chuck Miller spins a delightful web that draws the reader in and doesn't let them go.


5.0 out of 5 stars
The odd becomes reality in this pulp character, April 14, 2013
By Darkendale "Raven"

Enter the Black Centipede, a crime fighter of a decidedly different cut. When the person who will become the Black Centipede is introduced by being involved with the likes of Lizzie Borden, the tale can only grow stranger from that starting point. Then we are introduced to Bloody Mary Jane, a very much alive and deadly thought creation, a tulpa, brought into this world through the minds of Lizze Borden and Jack the Ripper!

The Black Centipede is both in love and in danger with Bloody Mary Jane. She bounces in and out of the story, which presently reads like a Shadow magazine with various gangsters all vying to become boss of the underworld. The Black Centipede is a dark avenger, much like the Shadow, as he has no compulsions against shooting gangsters to death.

But along the way, the Centipede encounters FDR, and is directly responsible for saving the President's life. Action packed beginning to end, this book is a must read for every fan of the modern pulp.


5.0 out of 5 stars
February 20, 2012
By Doctor Panic

I enjoyed the Black Centipede. I loved the dark side he has, and I think the way the book was written speaks volumes to the author stepping outside the box a little with the writing style. He ties in some famous...or maybe infamous characters into a pulse pounding story that makes you want to turn the page over and over. The book as i said has a dark undertone, but i think what the author came out with was brilliant!


5.0 out of 5 stars
"Creeping Dawn" Twists and Turns Like its Multi-Legged Namesake, February 5, 2012
By Don Gates

Chuck Miller's take on classic pulp vigilante tropes first came to my attention through his blog, where he's been posting bits and pieces of his writing for some time. The Black Centipede isn't the only character Chuck's been working on, but it's the one that grabbed me personally due to my love of Shadow-like pulp heroes and after reading the short stories on the blog I eagerly anticipated the full-length Centipede novel. I was not disappointed with the novel, and was actually very pleasantly surprised: I was familliar with what Miller did that made characters like Centipede and his world unique creations, but wasn't prepared for what the sustained reading-experience of a whole novel would be like.

If you are expecting an untarnished hero with a heart of gold pitted against plainly obvious "eeevil" characters, you may be disappointed. There are no blacks and whites in this book, only shades of gray. It sounds like a cliche, but it's true... it's also true that Miller pulls it off in ways I've never seen a writer do it. For an example, start with the Centipede himself: a wry and sardonic narrator who channels the croaky "voice" (among other traits) of William S. Burroughs into a Spider/Shadow hybrid- a master of skills both martial and esoteric and who seriously enjoys cracking the skulls of criminals. There are quite a few times that the Black Centipede's witty and conversational narrative made me chuckle out loud... it's been a while since a character- especially in a pulp- made me do that. The Black Centipede ultimately comes off as human (even though his skills are often obviously fueled by something more) and it's this humanity- with all the pitfalls and shortcomings that being human includes- that makes him a terrific character.

The Centipede's world is also a unique creation: from the phantasmagorical origin sequence involving Lizzie Borden and eldritch forces to the strange parallels of the JFK assassination that come later in the book, "Creeping Dawn" is a funhouse mirror of figures from our histories both real and imaginary, infamous and legendary. There was quite a few times I thought "Wow, I can't believe he's doing this" in regards to people or events referenced. Many writers squeeze in events from history or fiction into their works, but none of them do it in this particular way... it feels both natural and weird, and by "weird" I mean "weird in a good way" since weirdness is a key element in the story.

And what of the story? Well, it's hard to discuss it too much here without giving away some of the finer plot points, but it involves an eternal dance of death and love between the Black Centipede and his friend/lover/enemy Bloody Mary Jane Gallows, an entity not quite of this earth yet not entirely otherworldly. The story also involves the rise of a mysterious criminal mastermind in the nowhere/everywhere city of Zenith, a man known as Doctor Almanac who echoes (to me, at least) some of the earlier Batman villains. Lastly, much of the story also deals with the public's perception of the Black Centipede himself, as he rises from "masked-nut" to unacknowledged force for good to media-darling and "sanctioned masked-nut". It's these threads, Centipede's place in them, and the movers and shapers behind the threads that make this a fun read.

I can't find too much wrong with the book. Modern pulp books are often fraught with typographic errors within their pages, but this book has almost none that I was able to find. If I had to find any fault with it, it would be with the climax, or rather the series of climaxes in the story: one of these is related to Centipede via one of the supporting character's flashbacks. This technique makes for a bit of an unusual feeling that I'm not used to when it comes to a pulp's boiling-point of action. Then again, this book is a unique experience all around and this just goes to add another special twist to the book's storytelling.

I can't recommend "Creeping Dawn: Rise of the Black Centipede" enough. It may not be for everyone, but if you want to experience a truly unique and one-of-a-kind pulp novel then give it a shot.


4.0 out of 5 stars
Interesting new, neopulp character, November 3, 2011
By Michael R. Brown

This is another original "new pulp" or "neo pulp" character. While set in the 1930s, the author doesn't trying to imitate the style or characteristics of that period. This can be either good or bad, depending on your tastes. do you want something totally in the style, or are you willing to accept a modern work set in that period).

Chuck Miller has for some time been working on his "Black Centipede" character and the world he lives in thru his blog [...]. This then is the first book length appearance of the BC.

Overall, the BC is a mixture of crime/pulp heroics/weird menace. Real characters from the period (HP Lovecraft, Amelia Earhart, Lizzie Borden, and others) are mixed in, along with fictitious characters and places.

All center around the hero of the piece, the Black Centipede. What is interesting, is Chuck works in that the BC has a biographer who writes and publishes highly fictionalized versions of his exploits. So there is in that world a fictional BC and the real one. Also, the occult does play a part in this series, something that was not true for most original pulp heroes.

This work serves as the original and beginnings of the Black Centipede.

I do hope we get further volumes of this character and his world.


5.0 out of 5 stars
Creeping Dawn... The beginning of a New Pulp Legend!, June 4, 2012
By Bittergreen

This is going to be the most unusual book you'll read for quite a while. If there is one thing Chuck Miller does well, it's turning convention on its ear in the most entertaining way. You're not going to find your hero as clear cut or stalwart as expected, and neither are your villains pure evil incarnate. That would be the expected norm in most pulp stories, but this is something very unique. Against a big swash of noir background, and with a wry sense of humor and acute timing, Chuck Miller gives us his take on the reluctant anti-hero, and the completely incredible but somehow believable world he exists in. It's not just an enjoyable read, it's a romp through history as viewed in a cracked and distorted mirror. Half the fun of devouring this page-turner is seeing what famous or infamous individual is going to show up next. Creeping Dawn is a book you're not going to forget soon, and bits and pieces of this tale are going to stick with you. This reader is very much looking forward to whatever Chuck Miller serves up next, because if his debut novel is any indication; The Black Centipede--as well as his creator--are here to stay for the long haul. You don't want to miss this introductory novel of what is destined to become a New Pulp legend.


By Voice Spider on April 26, 2013 :   
'Creeping Dawn: The Rise of the Black Centipede' is a book that I both highly enjoyed, and one that also made me want to set it aside and forget about.

The intro to the book is wonderfully done, the way that Miller introduces the Centipede from his fictional roots and then goes into his actual roots was interesting to read. Some elements, such as Lizzie Borden, were both unusual and yet very engaging. It actually had me reaching for Google to refresh my memory.

The first half, if not first three quarters of this book are well done. Elements flow easily into each other, the action is handled well. Not too detailed yet not too glossed over. There's an element of danger, mystery, and the hunt for Dr. Almanac contained just the right of Pulp villian craziness with over the top characters. (Baron Samedi being one of my favorites)

The writing is fairly well done, the characters are believeable and the Pulp aspect of the story shines bright. There is a lot here to engage the reader, to drive them on in the story and to keep them interested. Even slow parts in the beginning were still interesting enough to keep me interested in what was going on.

However, in the last quarter of the book, the story quickly falls apart for me. There is no real climax to the story, no final confrontation between Almanac and Centipede. Instead, you are treated to a second hand telling of how the criminal mastermind was arrested. Not only that, but the telling of that tale is so drawn out, so muddled, so uninteresting, that I really wanted to set the book aside and forget about it. One of the major things I have found with Pulp fiction, is that much like modern day superhero stories, you can't build up to a climactic battle and then not have it. It's like reader's blue balls. Not only that, it takes the climax right out of the book. Your rising action suddenly ends and then...nothing.

Creeping Dawn could have easily been a four to five star book. I really did enjoy a large, significant portion of it. I will and have recommend it to others to read, especially if you enjoy the Pulp genre. However, the lack of any real climax to the story, even with the surprise 'who done it' ending, really drags this book down for me. I will be buying the sequal to this novel, however, because I really do like the story, I do like the characters, and Miller is a fairly good writer.

So if you like Pulp, pick this book up. The ending may work for you, it has for others that have rated and reviewed this book. However, it didn't work for me. But still, if you like Pulp, you will probably really enjoy this story.



5.0 out of 5 stars
Black Centipede's Back !, April 14, 2013

By Darkendale "Raven"

I found this volume of the Black Centipede fascinating, with its mixture of the occult and the simply criminal. The Centipede is called to Hollywood to consult on a movie featuring one of his pulp magazines. With him, as a special envoy from President FDR, travels Amelia Erhart, who proves to be handy in a tussle, plus helping the Centipede rein in some of his kill lust. She also has a secret that will be crucial to stopping Jack the Ripper, if only for a time.

But I want to share something I found to be fascinating. The Centipede is dreaming of a court case with twelve jurors. Each person rises and says something unusual. It was awesome to see how Chuck Miller used verbal tapestry to allow one to identify each as a suspect in the unsolved Jack the Ripper case. He names one of them but even without that, what the person says would allow most readers to recognize the individual, although they might NOT have known this person was even a suspect.

The book is a wild roller-coaster ride with some of the usual suspects from the first book, Rise of the Black Centipede, such as Bloody Mary Jane Gallows and Lizzie Borden, along with Baron Samedi and Jack the Ripper. It also introduces a fearsome female who calls herself The Black Centipede Eater, and the very mysterious White Centipede. If you love pulp fiction, you'll love this book!

The part that deals with Jack the Ripper raises yet another genuine suspect, although exactly who or what the Ripper truly is may leave you still wondering by book's end. This is far from a bad thin since there are hints that perhaps the Ripper is still not truly gone. The discovery of just who is the Black Centipede Eater is also worth the read. Then there is the White Centipede, a conglomeration between a real person infamous for madness and drunk with power, and an undisclosed Symbiote from a burial ground. Miller also ties this volume in with other characters of his creation, such as Dr. Unknown, Jr..

Well worth reading, highly enjoyable.

Quoth the Raven...


5.0 out of 5 stars
Love this book., February 12, 2013
By Leigh S

I read this book out loud with my son and we both loved it. I fantastic, and other worldly adventure. I recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews


4.0 out of 5 stars
2nd novel of this original New Pulp character, November 15, 2012
By Michael R. Brown

This is another original "new pulp" or "neo pulp" character. While set in the 1930s, the author doesn't trying to imitate the style or characteristics of that period. This can be either good or bad, depending on your tastes. (do you want something totally in the style, or are you willing to accept a modern work set in that period?)

Chuck Miller has for some time been working on his "Black Centipede" character and the world he lives in thru his blog theblackcentipede .blogspot. com. This then is the second book length appearance of the BC. The first one, "Creeping Dawn: Rise of the Black Centipede" served as an origin story for the character, and I recommend you read it before this one. You'll have a better understanding of the character, his origin, and his link to two of the other characters in this story. Some shorter stories have appeared in Pro Se Presents, Pro Se's monthly digest 'zine'.

Overall, the BC is a mixture of crime/pulp heroics/weird menace. Real characters from the period (Hearst & FDR, Amelia Earhart, Fatty Arbuckle, Einstein, Aleister Crowley, and others this time) are mixed in, along with fictitious characters and places.

With this story, set in 1933, after the first one, has the Centipede in Hollywood dealing with a movie based on him called "Blood of the Centipede", written by his pulp biographer and directed by Fatty Arbuckle. While there, he is accompanied by Amelia Earhart at the bequest of FDR, whom the Centipede saved from assassination.

But the Centipede must deal with a new menace: Jack the Ripper, who is helped by the mysterious White Centipede and the Black Centipede Eater. While he defeats the White Centipede, he doesn't learn who/what he is, and hints at the end indicate he will return to plague the Black Centipede and the world in the future. We are also introduced to some new characters in the world of the BC: Doctor Unknown and Doctor Unknown, Junior, Vionna Valis and Mary Jane Kelly, the Blue Candiru (some have appeared in short stories, and am sure they will appear in future stories as well).

As noted, there are 2 BC related short stories that have appeared in Pro Se Presents so far, and a new story being serialized, so should see more stories of the BC and the others. Can't wait.


4.0 out of 5 stars Gonzo Pulp!!!, October 27, 2012
By Greg Daniel

If Peculiar Oddfellow wasn't already the name of an interesting New Pulp character in his own right, it would be an apt descriptor and tagline for the Black Centipede. For the uninitiated, it is hard to describe the Black Centipede as a character without leaving the reader with slack jaw and raised eyebrow. Chuck Miller has really created a one of a kind hero ... or maybe anti-hero ... heck, by the time Miller is done with the Centipede Saga, he may play two supporting roles and be the villain as well.

For starters, the Black Centipede's adventures are presented in the first person "as told to" Chuck Miller. The Centipede's adventures were also chronicled back in the 1930s in his own pulp magazine by a writer who the Centipede views as an untalented hack. In Blood of the Centipede, said hack is now serving as screenwriter for a "B" movie featuring the Centipede, directed by Fatty Arbuckle and produced by William Randolph Hearst. This combination of multiple chroniclers, fiction within fiction, and a potentially unreliable narrator all lend a meta quality that one does not normally encounter in New Pulp, old Pulp, or any Pulp (except maybe that Tarantino movie).

The other thing that jumps out immediately and grabs the reader by the throat or eyeballs or other vital part is the voice. As I mentioned, it is in first person, which, while not unheard of, is relatively rare in masked vigilante stories. But it is the actual voice that makes it truly unique. It is sardonic, sarcastic, and downright snarky. It is not like any voice in the genre and it delivers a wild, twisting ride that touches on the action, adventure, mystery, and mysticism one comes to New Pulp to experience and delivers it in a manner that is both comforting and disorienting, like a funhouse at an amusement park. That is if that funhouse was designed by Salvador Dali

Miller walks an amazing tightrope in this book and it is testament to his skill and the character of the Black Centipede that I enjoyed it as much as I did, For you see, this story had several elements that, in general I don't like and yet I must admit that not only they worked, but they were necessary to the book. I hate it when a book (or movie or television show) starts in some predicament near the climax and then tells the bulk of the story in flashback. I hate dreams as a plot device. I am tired of Jack the Ripper stories. But here, these things worked.

It is hard to discuss much of the plot for fear of giving too much away. The Black Centipede heads to Hollywood with new partner-in-action, Amelia Earhart, to investigate a mysterious threat while also serving as a consultant to the aforementioned movie. There he discovers a familiar foe (or two) and a new nemesis, the White Centipede. He is helped and hindered by a new costumed vigilante, the Blue Candiru. He discovers a mystical tome of great power, has a run-in with Aleister Crowley, and is introduced to the Order of the Centipede, all while investigating a string of Jack-the-Ripper copycat killings.

But, trust me it isn't as simple as all that.

Blood of the Centipede is a whirling dervish, spinning wildly from childish fun to mystic ecstasy. It is The Shadow by Hunter S. Thompson. It is gonzo pulp. Give it a spin.

Lest I forget, I loved the back cover by Sean Ali. I don't know if it is the Spy vs. Spy vibe or what, but that is one cool piece and should be a poster or t-shirt or both.


5.0 out of 5 stars
A new spin on the pulp hero, October 18, 2012
By D. G. Lee "Low Zoo"

Perhaps there's nothing new under the sun, as Ecclesiastes said 6,000 years or so ago, but Chuck Miller's Black Centipede is definitely a breath of fresh air amongst his neo-pulp brethren.

If I had to pick one dimension of the character and writing of Chuck Miller's adventures of of the Black Centipede that makes them sing, I'd be stuck, but I can pick two: first, the whole conceit of having the "real" Centipede telling his stories in old age to Chuck Miller, is a wonderful framing device which pays off. Not that it hasn't been done before -- Harry Flashman's memoirs are "edited" for publication, etc. -- but I don't recall this tactic used in pulp or especially neo-pulp. Whatever the case, it is an intriguing framework/backstory.

Which ties into the other angle I so enjoy about Miller's writing: the Centipede tells his own stories, first person, laying out the "real" story-behind-the-story while his pulp biographer (whom he thinks is a putz) chronicles the fake tales the made it into the Centipede's pulp magazine, back in the day.

Is it hard to imagine Doc Savage pulling this off (possibly one of his aides could), a pulp adventure tell-all that includes historic personages like William Randolph Hearst, Amelia Earhart (who turns out to be more than just another familiar name or pretty face), etc. Not to mention intimations of mortality by the Centipede himself. Will he make it? Sure. Will he make it without getting his ass kicked somewhere along the way? Probably not. Go Centipede!

So instead of the usual slavish imitation of the classic three (Doc Savage, the Shadow, the Avenger) or a pastiche of some character who appeared once in a back issue of NERVOUS TALES in 1934 -- not that there's anything wrong with that! -- with the Black Centipede we are given new wine in old skins, and in a good way.


5.0 out of 5 stars
The Black Centipede Goes to Hollyweird, January 3, 2013
By Don Gates

In "Blood of the Centipede", Chuck Miller takes us further into the mythos he's created with his many and varied characters, specifically the enigmatic Black Centipede. There really isn't a character (or a series) like this in New Pulp, and Miller has really stirred up an unexpected brew pieced together from his varied influences and his own creativity. To describe the Black Centipede to a first-timer is tricky, but it goes a little something like this: take a pulp vigilante with an occult bent (kind of like a more mystical version of The Shadow), throw him into a Farmerian world of interconnected figures & events both real and fictional, add a wry dollop of William Burroughs, and stir. Then watch the chaos and fun happen. It's a refreshing, heady, and addictive mix, and it's never boring.

"Encouraged" to take a break after the events of the first Black Centipede novel, our hero is saddled with a mysterious "assistant" in the form of Amelia Earhart as he travels to Hollywood to oversee the production of the upcoming Black Centipede B-movie. Once there, things begin to get seriously weird as the 'Pede is stalked by a strange gas-masked creature known as the Black Centipede Eater and her master, the mysterious White Centipede. Also introduced is a new vigilante in the form of the Blue Candiru (I know: "The Blue what?" I said that too... look it up. Ouch). Not everything is as it seems, and the rabbit hole goes deeper than originally thought. Everything leads to a confrontation with a hideous evil force in a battle which answers as many questions as it asks new ones. There's an exciting, creepy, and often surprisingly hilarious good time in this book.

Should new readers read Miller's first Centipede novel, "Creeping Dawn", in order to be able to enjoy this one? I don't think so. However, at times the mix of characters, places, and references in "Blood of the Centipede" get almost too heady. Just when things get too thick, Miller reels us back in a bit so it shouldn't be too overwhelming to new readers. However, reading "Creeping Dawn" first should help untangle some of the strands. That first book is also highly recommended.
Many writers in New Pulp (including myself) could be (and sometimes are) accused of rehashing or retreading old pulp tropes. And there's really nothing wrong with that: pulp cliches are pure fun. Chuck Miller is one of those writers who could not be accused of doing that, however. The intricate tapestry he's weaving for us in his tales are truly unique and are not to be missed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Few Excerpts


The next few days were a cornucopia of pointless annoyances. The Phantom received a total of 18 unsolicited pizza deliveries, 26 unwanted taxi cabs, four unordered magazine subscriptions, and an endless string of stupid prank phone calls.

I had my suspicions about who was doing it. The best candidate, I thought, was that loony singer I had so thoroughly rebuffed the night all this began. I decided to look him up and give him what for.

I was trying to track down his address and phone number online when I heard somebody at the front door, fiddling with the knob. The Phantom was in his bedroom, deep in the arms of Morpheus by way of Jim Beam. I was in a waiting-for-the-last-straw mood, and here it was. I was gonna send this goddamn taxi driver or pizza boy or call girl away with a whole bunch of fleas in his or her ear. I flung the door open without looking through the peephole.

It was the only time I had ever done that, and wouldn’t you just know it, this time it actually was some jerk with a gun. It was a guy about my age, neither handsome nor ugly, and he had one of those goddamn Justin Bieber haircuts. And the gun, of course.

He pointed it at me and said, “You’re that girl, right?”

“You astonish me, Holmes,” I said. “However did you deduce it?”


“Nothing. What the hell do you want?”

“Um, I’m supposed to kill you. Nothing personal, but my... Uh, that is to say, Doctor Piranha has sent me to... ah... extract revenge on the Bay Phantom.”

“Doctor Piranha,” I said. “Well, this is actually something of a relief. We’ve just been sitting here waiting. I think you mean EXACT revenge, don’t you?”


I rolled my eyes. “Then you ought to shoot the Bay Phantom, genius.”

“Naw, the Doc said to kill you, not him. I’m especially not supposed to kill him, or even hurt him. Honestly, I never heard of the dude. But my great... uh, my great criminal boss is making a major deal out of it.”

The guy was a total idiot. On top of that, he was wearing a pair of those dumb earrings that look like washers that you jam into your earlobe and stretch it all out of shape. For some reason, that pissed me off more than the gun, and I did something I've always wanted to do to someone with that kind of earring. I jabbed my index finger through the hole, got a grip on the earring, and jerked down as hard as I could. The result was exactly what you would imagine, and then some.

He clapped one hand to what was left of the ear, and I plucked the pistol from the fingers of his other hand, which had gone all rubbery. He was cursing as though I had torn off something way more important than an ear, but he stayed on his feet. I applied the toe of my shoe to a very sensitive area hard enough to put him on his knees. A kick in the ribs sent him all the way down, and I felt pretty good about that. I pushed the door shut.

“You little bitch,” he snarled.

“Shut up, Van Gogh,” I snapped back. I jiggled the pistol to emphasize my position of power. “You’re on the wrong side of this gun to be calling anybody a bitch.”

He saw the sense in what I was saying. I stepped on his neck, just in case, and snatched his wallet out of his back pocket. I made a vague remark about putting a bullet in his head if he didn’t start behaving, and he stopped thrashing and squawking and lay there breathing heavily and bleeding gently.

I thumbed through his wallet until I found his driver’s license with his name and address. I got a chuckle out of his first name, --which was an ironic one under the circumstances—and a big WTF out of his surname. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I knew it meant something. I had planned on interrogating him, but didn’t think it would be necessary now. I memorized the address.

“Stay put,” I told him.

I grabbed a dish towel and wet it with hot water. Then I buzzed into the bathroom for a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Next, I ministered to my battered miscreant. Handing him the towel, I opened the bottle of alcohol and poured about half of it over the ear I had so cruelly used. He yelled. I clapped a hand over his mouth, and the dishtowel to his ear.

“Be quiet,” I said. “These walls are thin as paper. You don’t want the cops in here any more than I do, I’m sure.”

He thrashed around again for a couple seconds—during which time I unobtrusively slipped his wallet back where it came from—but gamely bit back any further caterwauling, and pressed the towel to the side of his head. There was blood all over, but his life was not in danger.

I went back to the bathroom for some gauze and antibiotic ointment. Van Gogh had become very meek by this point, and offered no resistance as I dressed his tattered ear. I hadn’t actually torn it off. But his earlobe was shredded. I got it squared away, more or less. When I finished, he sat up and eyed me sullenly.

“Now what?” he said. There was fear in his voice.

“Now get out of here.”

“Huh? You’re not gonna hold me for the cops?”

“I’m not gonna call the cops.”

“Why not?”

“None of your business.”

“Um. Can I have my gun back?”

I said nothing, because the look I was giving him spoke volumes.


 The Keel house was sort of out in the country east of Zenith. The house stood by itself in the middle of a good-sized bit of land, surrounded by woods on all sides. A narrow dirt driveway went from the main road, through the woods, and curved around to the front of the house. Mary and I drove out there the evening after we were hired.

We decided we could keep an eye on the place from a distance. If she came out and got into a car, we could follow. We had all kinds of high-powered binoculars and spy cameras and various things like that. There were woods all around the house, so we could hide in those and observe from different vantage points. Mary took up a position to the north of the house, and I took the south.

I spent an hour or so setting up little remote cameras and recorders in the trees. I doubted we'd need them, but since we had spent some of Mister Keel's retainer money on the stuff-- honestly, we went a little bit nuts in the electronics store-- I would have felt bad about not using it on his case.

Mary still didn't like the whole situation. She kept coming up with weird complaints and making smart remarks and things.

"It's just a routine stakeout," I told her. "Detectives do this stuff all the time. All we do is watch the house, and if it turns out Mrs. Keel is cheating on her husband, we take some pictures and we tell on her, and Mr. Keel pays us some more money."

"I still think it's a sordid way to make a living," she grumped. Since we had been over that whole thing about a million times, I didn't say anything. She went to her position on the north side of the house, and we settled down to wait.

The first night, nothing happened. Mary amused herself with a little hand-held video game, which she found fascinating, having lived the biggest part of her life over a hundred years ago. I was trying to learn how to knit, for some reason, so I brought that junk with me. Our first night out, Mary scored a million points on Space Invaders and I ruined most of a whole ball of yarn. As dismal a failure as the time I tried to learn to juggle.

The same nothing happened on the second night. But the third night was the charm.

It was way after midnight. It was very dark out there, and very quiet. I was in a condition closer to falling asleep than a professional detective ought to get while she’s on a job.

“Vionna,” came Mary’s voice over the walkie-talkie. “I’m seeing something I do not understand. Can you help me?”

“I’ll try. What is it?”

“I have no idea.”

“What does it look like?”

“I don’t know.”

“Okay… You’re making this kind of difficult.”

“Tell me, is there any such thing as an airplane that has no wings and makes no noise?”

“There might be.”

“Are they very common?”

“I wouldn’t think so.”

“Nor would I. I don’t suppose you know of any kind of aircraft that is perfectly round and glows all over with a sort of bluish-green color?”

“Can’t say that I do. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

“Well, if you’d care to, you’re in luck. It just passed almost directly over my head and is moving toward the house. If you stand up and train your binoculars in this direction, you should catch sight of it. It’s only about twenty feet off the ground.”

So I did that. It took me a second to find the thing, you know how when you’re looking through binoculars everything is fuzzy and jerky and hard to focus on. I saw it. I got it in my field of view and held my hands and head as still as I could.

It looked like a smaller, greenish-blue moon. I looked quickly back over my shoulder at the actual moon, which was right where it was supposed to be, and hadn’t strayed away and changed color.

I looked back at the thing and saw that it was more of a disk shape than a sphere, and was totally smooth, which the moon is not. I couldn’t tell what the thing was made of. From where I was standing, it appeared to be right over the Keels’ house.

“This is weird,” I said into my walkie-talkie.

“That’s the word I would use,” Mary replied. “I believe it has stopped moving now. It looks to be right over the house. Yes, the green light is shining down on the roof, I can see it.”


“Yes. What do we do?”

I had no idea what to do.

“I have no idea what to do,” I said.

“So this is not some object that is common—or even uncommon, but known—in the 21st century?”

“Nope. What it looks like is a flying saucer.”

“So you ARE familiar with it?”

“Nope. A flying saucer is a thing that some people think exists and other people think doesn’t exist. A lot of people that do think they exist believe they come from other planets. I don’t know one way or the other. I’ve never thought about it much. I’m just saying that thing there is what one is supposed to look like.”

While we talked about it, the flying saucer hovered over the top of the house, drifting very slightly back and forth, like a toy balloon in a slight breeze. It was certainly strange-looking. I closed my eyes and asked if my “roommate” knew anything about this, but all I got was nothing.

I was about to say something else to Mary, but something started happening that made me forget what it was, and that I cared about it. Three little figures came drifting out of the flying saucer. They were shaped more or less like human beings, except that their heads were too big and their arms and legs too thin.

“I’ll be darned,” I said out loud. Mary’s voice came through the walkie-talkie, saying something I’d prefer not to write down. She said it again. Then she said something different which I am also not going to write down. Finally, she said something I don’t mind writing down:

“Are those creatures from other planets, Vionna?”

“They don’t look like they’re from around here,” I replied, jinking the binoculars around to try and get a better look at them. They were bathed in green light, so I couldn’t tell what their actual color was. They were small, and they had big, dark eyes, and they were drifting down toward the house. They drifted down toward the window of the Keels’ bedroom, then drifted right on in, passing right through the glass without breaking it, as though either they or the glass weren’t really there. But I was pretty sure both they and the glass really were.

“Gosh,” I said, “that isn’t supposed to happen.”

“Those creatures appear to have passed through solid matter, Vionna.”

“Yes, and I don’t think you can… Oh, wow! Look, Mary! They’re doing it again!”

The three little creatures emerged through the window, the same way they’d gone in. Not only that, but they had added a fourth member to their group.

Mrs. Keel.


Back in the 30s and 40s, there was a pulp magazine with my name on it. It featured highly fictionalized accounts of some of my cases. In some instances, tales were fabricated out of whole cloth by writers on the staff of the publishing company that put it out. I never minded that. It was an extra source of income, for one thing. For another, good PR does wonders for one’s reputation, and it can also maximize one’s efficiency. I did not actually have to go out and be a wholesome, generous, highly moral do-gooder in order to enjoy the benefits accorded to such paragons by the public.

I used to get a lot of letters sent to me in care of the publisher. Fan mail. This tapered off during the 40s, as did a lot of things, and the magazine was cancelled in 1948. However, I still received the odd missive now and then, from someone who had turned up an old copy of the rag and wanted an autograph, or to practice idolatry, or to make a sexual proposition, or to solicit my help with some insoluble problem.

In the summer of 1957, I received one that caught my attention. I reproduce it here in its entirety:

Dear Mister Black Centipede Sir:

I write to you as I am a great fan of yours. I have read all your magazine adventures as well as newspaper clippings about some of your big cases that are even talked about so far away from civilization as Plainfield ha ha.

How come I am writing to you is, I have got a problem that I cannot seek advice about from the police or pastors or anyone I can think of here. But I remembered some of the fantastic crimes you have investigated and solved and how you got the better of criminals like Doctor Almanac and Bloody Mary Jane. I says to myself if anyone can get to the bottom of this, it is the Black Centipede. I got the mail address out of one of your old magazines that I have a collection of, and I hope this letter finds you and that you take an interest.

The problem I have Sir is with my mother. She died some years ago. But she came back. This may sound crazy, I know, but it is God’s truth. I give you my word as a Junior Secret Centipede – which I was and I reckon I still am, as the certificate I sent off for some years ago has no expiration date on it. She came back to me here at my house that used to belong to her and Daddy. At first she was just a voice that called to me late at night. Then I begun to see her face looking in through the windows when the sun come up every morning, and also late in the evening just before dark. After a while of this, I begun to see her on the inside of the house, walking around. At first you could barely see her at all, you had to be looking just right in just the right direction. Then she got darker and more solid looking. Pretty soon you could tell just who it was standing there, even though she had no color to her, like a black and white photograph.

Well, it wasn’t long before she started talking to me, and pretty soon it was just like old times, her telling me what to do and me doing it. I thought it was queer, but like they say, the Lord works in mysterious ways. I had been missing Mama something awful and praying every night that she could come back, and now here she was, so I counted myself lucky.

One day she said something that didn’t sit right with me. She told me she needed her a new body to live in, she was tired of just being a ghost. Which I could sure see her point, as it never looked to me like she was having much fun. Of course, she never looked that way when she was alive either. So I ask her how she’s going to get this body she wants.

She says to me that I’m going to get it for her. I says to her I have no idea how to go about getting a brand new unused human body. She says don’t be so stupid, son, you can’t get a new one. Just get me one that’s already been used and I’ll make do with that.

That seemed to make sense. Mama always did make all of our clothes by herself, for me and her and Daddy and my brother Henry that also died years back. I figured she could do sort of the same thing with a body, which when you think about it some, is just a suit of clothes for your spirit. I figured she must have known what she was talking about, since she had already come back from the dead, which was in itself a miracle. I figured if that miracle could take place, the miracle of me doing something that would make Mama happy might happen too.

Well, like I say, I didn’t like the idea. But I went out to the graveyard the next night and dug up a woman that had just been buried there. She was about Mama’s age and the same size, so I thought it would be a good fit.

Well, Sir, if I had any doubt that she was really my Mama, she cleared it up by the way she carried on and called me everything but my right name when I come back home with that body. Boy, she says, you stupid idiot, I don’t want no body that’s been all cut up and embalmed and buried in the ground. I want something fresher than that, she says. I says to her, Mama, why don’t you at least try it, I went to a lot of trouble to get it, and I could have got into serious trouble if someone had caught me. Come on and just try it, I says to her.

So, she did. She didn’t like it one bit, she cursed me and carried on fussing the whole time, but she turned all wavy like and oozed into that body like smoke.

And of course I knew she wouldn’t like it and she didn’t. She made it stand up and walked back and forth in the kitchen a few times, complaining every step of the way. I don’t like these feet, she says, they’re all pigeon-toed. This hair is ratty, I wouldn’t never be able to get it looking half-decent, she says. She found nothing but fault from head to toe. Well, that's Mama for you ha ha!

I saw that it just wasn’t going to do, so I asked her, well, Mama, what do you want me to do then?

She says she needs a body that has just died and not had anything done to it. How am I supposed to get one like that, I says. She says, what’s wrong with you, boy, you go out and get one that’s still alive and kill it and bring it here to me. When the spirit leaves it, I can jump right in and then patch up any holes you might make when you kill it. She always did like to fuss about how she had to tell me how to do everything because I was just helpless in this world.

Well, Sir, I’m not proud of it, not proud of it at all. But I done what she said. Mama always did have a way with me. She could get me to do anything she wanted. And now that she’s come back from the dead, it’s a whole lot worse. I CAN’T not do what she tells me to. I HAVE to obey her. So I did, I went out and got her a body just like she said to.

This was in 1954. I went and got this lady that run a tavern in Plainfield back then, and I shot her, and brought her right back here to the house. She didn’t die when I first shot her, but she passed away soon after I got her home, and Mama seemed very pleased about that. She oozed right on in there, and somehow she sealed up the bullet holes I made when I shot Mary. I didn’t like shooting her like that, but I didn’t have any choice.

So, Mama got into that body and she strutted up and down through the whole house like she was modeling some fancy dress she got in Paris France. I felt relieved and I thought we might get some peace and quiet after that and let things go back the way they was before Mama died the first time. In some ways they did. She was critical of everything I did, and blessed me out something fierce at least twice a day. She even took to popping me on the head with a big wooden spoon like she used to. It was just like the old days and I felt content and kind of safe like in the bosom of my family, and God was in heaven and everything was right with the world.

Until the body started rotting, that is.

It lasted a lot longer than it ought to have. There weren’t any real problems for the first couple years. Then she started getting short of breath and she said she felt like she was having a heart attack. She was constipated and she couldn’t see out of the left eye any more, and I don’t know what all. She almost quit talking to me altogether, which made me sad and aggravated since I had gone to so much trouble to keep her here and do like she wanted me to.

Well, after a while, I found out that Mama had been sneaking out of the house of a night and digging up dead women at the cemetery and hauling them back here. She was trying to patch up that old body with bits and pieces from these others. She hardly said a word to me during that entire time, which I thought was unusual. I didn’t know at the time what she was doing, and now I think it was just pride on her part. She wanted to fix everything by herself instead of having to depend on me to do it.

Well, it didn’t work, not at all. Mama ended up using them bodies she dug up to make kitchen utensils and patch up the furniture and make little curiosities and bric-a-brac like she used to do. When she was really alive, she was always thrifty and prided herself on not letting anything go to waste, and she is still that way now.

The body has really gone bad. Mama says she doesn’t think she can keep it going much longer and I bet you can guess what she wants me to do. She finally started talking to me again, and the first thing out of her mouth was, you need to go out and get me a new body like you got this one, she says. I don’t want to do that, Mama, I says to her. And she says back, I know you don’t, you wouldn’t turn a hand to help me at all, you are an ingrate like your father and brother.

We have been going back and forth like that for days now, and I know it’s just a matter of time before she makes me do it. I guess she’s using up too much energy just keeping that old body running to spare any of it to charm me, or whatever she does. But one day pretty soon, I know I won’t be able to stop myself. So that’s why I decided I would write to you. I have your old magazine number 95, October 1938, where you solved the mystery of the Murdering Ghost of Seacliff Manor, and I knew you were the man to bring this thing to.

I sure hope you can help me, Mister Centipede Sir. I know you must be busy, but you have to admit it’s an extraordinary case, and I know you are famous for rising to any challenge. I don’t have a phone here but I am enclosing with this letter a map to my house, it’s real easy to find. Come as soon as you can!

Your Great Fan and Friend (hopefully),

Edward T. Gein
Plainfield Wisconsin

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


"Have a care," Anonymoushka warbled from the back seat as I strode toward the figures in the road. "These are displaced persons, and they are somewhat fragile. They have nothing to do with the current business. This is our God moving in his mysterious and utterly arbitrary way-- what is known as the miracle of the teaser! Someone is sure to be roped in!"

I shook my head. I'd had just about enough of my faceless friend's foolishness. I resolved that, once this current crisis was over, I would force her to say something that made sense, even if I had to resort to torture.

Prudence had a hand on Stymie's shoulder and a look of intense concentration on her face. Stymie was speaking rapidly and uncertainly to the strange pair that had appeared in the road.

"Yes," I heard him say as I approached, "Miss Prudence here knows where you're from.. uh, and she... she knows you're confused about being here. She says not to, um, worry over it, because you'll be gone pretty soon, and... and you need to talk with the Black Centipede, because you can tell him things nobody else can. In a minute, uh, you'll remember what they are."

"What on earth could I say that would interest an
arthropod?" Lovecraft wanted to know.

"The Black Centipede is a person," Stymie explained.

"Yeah," I said. "And here he is." Gently pushing Stymie and Prudence out of the way, I stepped up to confront the odd couple.

I studied their faces while they gawked at my mask. They certainly appeared to be the real McCoys. The light there under the trees was poor, but I thought Lizzie Borden looked much as she had the last time I saw her intact, just before she had been cut to ribbons by her "daughter," Mary Jane Gallows. As for Howard Lovecraft, with whom I had maintained a correspondence after I left Massachusetts in 1927-- I had last visited him the same day Lizzie died-- he was very much like the most recent photograph he had sent me, though he seemed to be older, thinner, and considerably less healthy.

"I'm wondering," I said, "if there would be any point at all in my asking if you two are who you appear to be."

Lizzie narrowed her eyes and said, "Just who in God's name are you?"

I started to say something, but it dawned on me that Lizzie-- if that's who this was-- had passed away years before I first donned my mask, and Howard had never learned that his young friend from Fall River was actually the mysterious and celebrated guardian of Zenith. I reached up and plucked off my hat and mask. It was impulsive, illogical, and probably foolish, but-- When in Rome...

Recognition dawned on both of their faces.

"William!" Lizzie exclaimed.

"Bill!" Howard said with a tentative smile, reaching out to shake my hand. "You're looking well. You've filled out since the last time I saw you. Are you going to a masquerade?"

Lizzie's eyes were brimming with tears. "I cannot believe this," she whispered, stepping closer to peer at my face. "How can you be here? The last time I saw you... My God, the last time I saw you, you were dead! You had been murdered by the tulpa, Mary Jane. Are you truly my William?"

I was greatly mystified by this, but I was irritated even more. My response reflected this.

I pointed the gun in my right hand at Howard and reached into my jacket for another one to cover Lizzie. Both of them shrank back.

"Let me tell you something," I said through clenched teeth. "For the past couple of days, I have been up to my neck in homicidal character actors, invisible mad scientists, deadly dirigibles, faceless Russian assassins who talk the most outlandish shit I've ever heard-- and now this. Well, I have had e-goddamn-nough. You're going to tell me what..."

I stopped talking because my little refugee from Our Gang was plucking at my sleeve and clearing his throat theatrically.

"Not now, Stymie," I hissed. "I'm busy at the moment, and..."

"This is important!" he insisted. "Miss Prudence says that these people are who they look like they are, and they're here to tell you something very  important, and if you don't listen, you're gonna find yourself in some very deep... a word I'm not allowed to say."

I glanced over at Prudence and she nodded. What the hell, I thought, I guess that's good enough for me. I put the guns away and folded my arms across my chest.

"Lizzie," I said, calmly and reasonably, "I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you are dead. You're the one who was murdered by Mary Jane on the night of May 31, 1927. I'm quite certain about that. It's part of the reason I started wearing that mask. 

"And Howard. While you are still among the living, there is no force on earth that could entice you so far away from your home in Providence. The last time I saw you in person was also on May 31, 1927-- almost seven years ago."

"Seven years?" he repeated, sounding puzzled, and still nervously eyeing Lizzie. "Bill, that was almost ten years ago. I'm not the world's greatest mathematician, but I do know that 1937 minus 1927 is ten."

"That may well be," I said. "But it's 1933."

Lizzie let out a little gasp at that. It was then that I noticed something curious. She looked older than she should have-- older than she had ever lived to be.

"Oh, that can't be," Howard said. "I turned 46 back in August-- of 1936. I even had a birthday card from you. You suggested that we meet. I've been too ill to travel, I'm afraid, but you wanted to come to Providence to discuss a story idea you had. Something about a white centipede, now that I think of it."

I just shook my head. I tried to think, but I couldn't get any traction. 
I leaned closer to Lizzie and said, "Tell me, are you absolutely certain that you are Lizzie Borden?"

She thought about that for a minute. Meanwhile, at the mention of Lizzie's name, Howard's eyebrows had shot up and he had taken a couple steps away from her.

"I cannot be certain," Lizzie said after half a minute. "It feels like I am me. I am certain that I am Lizzie Borden. But I could be some other person or entity that believes itself to be Lizzie. If I've been brainwashed, I would hardly know the difference."

"If you've been what? Brainwashed? What does that mean?"

She looked puzzled. "Surely you cannot be unfamiliar with the term. It refers to a sort of mind control. The term originated during the Korean War, I believe."

"What Korean War? Who was Korea fighting?"

"Why, the United States and her allies, of course. Against Communist North Korea, that is. We supported South Korea, as did the rest of the United Nations."

I shook my head. "The United States has never fought a war against Korea."


"No. And what the hell is the United Nations? You must mean the League of Nations."

"Do I? No, that doesn't sound right. The League of Nations dissolved in..." Her voice trailed off and she closed her eyes. "Oh, my. The little boy was right. I know what has happened. I've been drawn here through time as well as space. Perhaps into an utterly different version of the world I know-- one where you survived Mary Jane's attack and were restored by the agent of the Order, while I... Well, none of that is relevant. The engine brought us here to give you a warning."

"What engine?" I asked sharply.

Lizzie shook her head. "I cannot go into all that. William, you will be at the very eye of a terrible storm that is coming. Almanac is not the one you should be concerned about. Neither is Mag DeMilby. They are just mosquitoes, something to irritate and distract you. Behind them, hiding in their wake, is another-- a true predator, a deadly threat to everything you care about."

"And behind him," said Howard, who seemed to have gotten over his Lizzie-phobia, "there is yet another monster-- the worst of them all. I remember it now. He lurks, distorted and disguised, in a place very close to your heart. You cannot defeat him on your own. You cannot even detect him on your own."

Howard had evidently shot his bolt, because he fell silent. Lizzie remained that way. So did I. I just couldn't think of anything sensible to say. I looked over at Prudence. The corners of her mouth had turned up a fraction of a millimeter-- a broad grin in her own peculiar body language. She nodded her head.

"That's it!" Stymie announced brightly.

I looked back at Lizzie and Howard. Or tried to, at any rate-- but there was nobody there to be looked back at. 

I realized I had been expecting that.

"Okay," I said to Prudence and Stymie, replacing my mask and hat and rubbing my hands together. "I believe that more than meets my minimum daily requirement of cryptic, nonsensical flapdoodle. Anonymoushka herself would be hard-pressed to top what I just heard here. What say we get on with the slightly less bewildering errand that has brought us to this place?"

Prudence nodded. She took Stymie's hand and we walked back to the car together.

"Centipede," Stanley said as I slid onto the seat beside him, "I'm not going to ask you anything, and I do not want you to tell me anything. Is that clear?"

"As an unmuddied lake, Stanley," I said. "As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer."

"Welly welly well," came the voice of Anonymoushka from the back seat. "I heard the whole exchange, droogie, and my hat is off to old Bog in his heaven. He may run our world in a rather slipshod manner, but he knows how to foreshadow! I for one cannot wait to find out what that was all about! What a horrorshow tale it will be! 
Well worth the fifteen bucks!"

I closed my eyes and said, "Drive, Stanley."


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy 130th birthday to Franz Kafka!

Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was a German-language writer of novels and short stories, regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Kafka strongly influenced genres such as existentialism. His works, such as Die Verwandlung ("The Metamorphosis"), Der Prozess (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.

From "The Return of Doctor Reverso"
From the SECRET JOURNAL of the Black Centipede, as told to Chuck Miller

Gregor Samsa was the other half of my new office staff.

He's a bit difficult to explain.

As far as work history goes, he was a traveling salesman in Europe for many years, until the day he awoke to find that he had been transformed into a human-sized insect of some sort. That's the easiest way to describe him, though he does not really resemble any terrestrial insect I've ever seen. How and why this metamorphosis took place is unknown. I suspect some trick of quantum mechanics combined with Gregor's own overdeveloped sense of existential angst.

Whatever the case, the former salesman was now a six-foot-long crawling vermin of an undetermined-- possibly unprecedented-- species. During a recent trip to Prague, where I had gone in search of the elusive Mary Jane Gallows, I had discovered Gregor lying at the bottom of a rubbish heap, apparently dead. He had evidently been there for quite some time. Intrigued, I had dragged the bizarre, chitinous remains back to my hotel. During the course of my scientific examination, the thing revived and told me its story. (Interested readers may find a full account of this in "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka. How much truth there is in that version of the tale, I can't be sure, nor do I know how Kafka got the story. All I know is that Gregor Samsa was a giant, intelligent bug. How he got that way seemed almost immaterial.)

I had brought him back to the States with me and allowed him to live in one of the subcellars under the Benway Building, where he was charged with guarding the entrance to my secret tunnel. But Gregor, in spite of his social shortcomings, was not by nature a solitary creature. He had taken to crawling up one of the elevator shafts to the top six floors once or twice a day, in search of company. I often passed the time of day with him when I was not on a case, but he still spent most of his time alone. That had changed after Prufrock had been hired. The pair of them took to one another almost immediately, which I found a little surprising. But I suppose they had a lot in common, if you really got down to it.

Though I knew he possessed human intellect, something in me saw him as an amiable, if hideous, domestic animal. Though he could speak, and had even learned English, Gregor generally preferred to remain mute. He said he didn't like to startle people. 

I mean, come on...

--The Black Centipede