One of the most antic texts in my collection is also the longest: a typescript, running to over 200 pages, entitled, on the first, The Wanderer: A True Narrative. It recounts a weird tale: of cursed immortals, aeon-stalked by a being of demonic cruelty; of a dread, eldritch realm, which, at certain liminal sites, abuts this world – a place lurid, grotesque, seething with menace; of a future world, desolated and hostile. It is narrated by its protagonist, one of the blighted deathless, who records its events on an ancient typewriter, on rusting hulk – long before run aground or scuttled in the Thames Estuary – as the Earth slowly dies about him.
Excerpted below is my foreword to the Perfect Edge volume, in which I describe the typescript’s bizarre provenance and those elements which most disconcert me about it, those things that make it seem more account than story.
On the 18th December 2010, Simon Peterkin, a British Library archivist and writer of weird tales with a small, if cultic, following, disappeared from his Highgate flat. The event wasn’t widely reported in the popular media at the time, for, though the circumstances were bizarre, it was not deemed newsworthy: there was no human angle, no one left behind – Peterkin, who was sixty-three years old at the time of his disappearance, was a man of lonely habits, was estranged from his family, had few friends. It did, however, attract the notice of some horror and strange fiction journals, including The Shambles, for which I’d written a number of articles. The editors asked me to investigate and write up Peterkin’s vanishing; being intrigued, I readily agreed.