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Literature / Katalepsis

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Katalepsis is an urban fantasy/cosmic horror/lesbian romance Web Serial Novel, currently updating with new chapters once or twice weekly.

Nightmares and hallucinations have plagued Heather Morell all her life. Diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child after the loss of her twin - a sister nobody else believes ever existed - and now struggling with her mental health at university, Heather teeters on the verge of giving up on life. A chance meeting ends in a revelation: she is not crazy, her visions are all too real, and probably want to eat her soul.

Embroiled with a crippled, bad-tempered magician and her self-proclaimed ‘bodyguard’, Heather descends into a world of terrifying magic and otherworldly monsters, in an effort to stay alive and sane, and bring her sister back from beyond.

Katalepsis is a low urban fantasy story seen through the lens and values of cosmic horror, peppered with violence and tea, sexually confused twenty-somethings and bad curry, wrapped in a nice crunchy layer of lesbian relationship drama, set in a fictional English university town full of spooky old architecture and run-down terraced housing.

It can be read here.

Katalepsis provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: A running theme so far, between Evelyn’s mother, Twil’s mysterious grandfather, and Raine dropping some off-hand remarks about her parents.

  • Affectionate Nickname: Evelyn allows people close to her to call her “Evee.”

  • Alien Geometries: The pocket dimensions that the main cast encounter. In one case, Heather and Raine walk in a straight line only to end up at the exact same spot.

  • Aliens in Cardiff: Sharrowford is a unimportant hole, unremarkable except for its university, unless you get involved in supernatural goings-on.

  • all lowercase letters: All arc titles are written in lowercase.

  • Amoral Attorney: Harold Yuleson speaks on behalf of Edward. According to Nicole, the lawyer once got the Northcolt Ripper a lesser charge of manslaughter.

  • And I Must Scream: The main cast does find a cultist that is still alive at the site of the massacre in Arc 7. The cultist is a breathing, gurgling ring of human flesh, disfigured to the point of unrecognizability.

  • Anger Born of Worry: Evelyn’s usual reaction whenever her friends unexpectedly do anything heroic but dangerous.

  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Central to Heather’s background and motivation.

  • Bad with the Bone: Evelyn uses a intricately-carved femur bone (heavily implied to be her own) as a focus for magic.

  • Badass in Distress: Raine gets kidnapped by the remnants of the Sharrowford cult. She kills one of her captors with one hand cuffed and her ankles bound.

  • Badass Normal: In amongst all this painful magic and teenage werewolf summoners and terrifying inexplicable monsters, Raine, the story’s deuteragonist so far, appears to hold her own while being entirely normal, except for a tendency to enjoy violence a little too much.

  • Black Speech: The language of Outsiders. Humans that attempt to speak it experience pain.

  • Boom, Headshot!: Happens to a cultist in the Sharrowford pocket dimension after he thinks she is bluffing.

  • Campbell Country: The sleepy, run-down university town of Sharrowford and its surrounding villages in the North of England.

  • Capital Letters Are Magic: The Eye and Outside. Heather even notes that she can hear the capital O in Outside when Raine says it.

  • Cast from Stamina: Even after she learns how to use her dubious powers Heather’s left weak and bleeding for hours after the most minimal experiments, let alone what happens when she really exerts herself.

  • Cast Full of Gay: There are no straight people in the main cast.

  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Averted in the service of realism. Heather calls friends for help at least once via her cell phone, which is quite realistic in the early 21st century. Verges on Super Cell Reception when the characters try to use Google maps from a pocket dimension.

  • Character Tics: Heather's nervousness in social interactions tends to manifest as hiccups.

  • Charm Person: Alexander can convince people to do things with his voice, but the effect is weak enough to be resisted with effort.

  • Chekhov's Gunman: Felicity is first introduced into the story in Arc 3 where Evelyn calls her to confirm that Felicity isn’t behind the pocket dimension. She makes no appearance until Arc 7 to save Evelyn from her coma.

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Lozzie is prone to saying non sequiturs and sentences that other people do not understand. At times, her strange comments seem to not just be nonsense, such as when she correctly tells Kimberly how to finish a magic portal… without even looking at it.

  • Cluster F-Bomb: Twil has done so more than once. When she gets a knife stabbed through her hand, she proceeds to swear loudly several times.

  • Combat Tentacles: Employed by several monsters as well as Heather.

  • Couldn't Find a Pen: After finding four corpses in the house of the Sharrowford cult, the main cast discovers a large replica of the Fractal drawn on a wall in blood.

  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Armed with just a knife, Stack easily fends off Twil in a battle that lasts seconds and forces her to flee. The rest of the main cast is surprised.

  • Curse Cut Short: Twil arrives at Evelyn’s house uninvited, her family offering unwanted help. Evelyn is furious.
    “She can take her help,” Evelyn snapped, “and shove it up her rotten cu-”
    I scooped my shoes off the floor, one in each hand, swung them wide and slapped the soles together as hard as I could.

  • Darkest Hour: At the end of Arc 6, Evelyn is in a coma from an attack by the Outsider in Glasswick tower. Raine is unconscious after being hit by the Lozzie-thing. Then, Heather gets captured by the Lozzie-thing and brought to Wonderland.

  • Demonic Possession: How familiars, zombies, and other supernatural servants are powered and controlled, though apparently using an actual human corpse creates certain dangers.

  • Dimensional Traveler: Heather, unknowingly, unwillingly, reluctantly, and heroically.
    • Lozzie, habitually. And necessarily, she can't function without weekly exposure to other dimensions.

  • Disabled Deity: Hringewindla is an Outsider that arrived on Earth centuries ago, worshipped by the Church of Hringewindla in Brinkwood. It cannot move and is currently hibernating. Evelyn calls it a “crippled God.”

  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: An unknown party creates an effect that stops Heather from Slipping out of Sharrowford starting in Arc 7. If this wasn't in effect, Lozzie joining the team would break the story, because Lozzie can Slip with no backlash.

  • Dynamic Entry: When Heather is first kidnapped by the Sharrowford cultists, Twil shows up just in time and delivers a flying kick to Zheng’s face that sends Zheng across the room.

  • Familial Body Snatcher: Loretta Saye attempted to escape death by doing this to her own daughter, Evelyn. It failed in part due Loretta’s experiments inadvertently training her daughter to resist the attempt.

  • Fate Worse than Death: Meeting the Eye. The prospect is so horrible that when Heather threatens to send a cultist to the Eye, he desperately attempts to kill himself instead.

  • Feel No Pain: Alexander takes a bullet directly to the chest and is only mildly surprised. He is later seen calmly digging through his own chest with a pair of pliers.

  • Flowery Insults: Evelyn to Twil’s father.
    Evelyn: -you brain-infected overgrown sock puppet-

  • Giant Spider: The servitors that guard Evelyn’s house are giant spiders invisible to eye without the aid of magic.

  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Evelyn eventually figures out how to make glasses that the wearer is capable of seeing pneumasomatic life through.

  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The remnants of the Sharrowford cult summons the Eye for “negotiation,” using the fractal as a form of defense. When the main cast stumbles on the site, the place is littered with mutilated corpses.

  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Attempted by Yuleson and Julian when negotiating. Yuleson pretends to be nice, and Julian pretends to be rude. Heather immediately sees through it.

  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Heather's sheltered past leaves most of her insults fairly G-rated.

  • Hair-Raising Hare: Evelyn reanimates a bloodthirsty rabbit as a trap in case the negotiation with Edward Lilburne goes wrong.

  • Healing Factor: One of Twil’s powers as a result of being a werewolf is accelerated healing. She is capable of healing cuts in a matter of minutes. This also applies to Zheng, although to a lesser extent.

  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: While genuinely a nice person who wants to help others, all the main cast acknowledge Raine to be at least a bit sociopathic. Usually played for laughs since Heather finds it to be a bit more attractive than is probably healthy.

  • Heroic Resolve: While continued usage of her powers is very painful, Heather has been shown to be willing to endure the pain to protect her loved ones. For example, when the main cast brings Lozzie back to the Sharrowford pocket dimension, Heather tears a lung straining herself to fight an eldritch abomination that threatens Raine and Lozzie.

  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Heather manages to see herself as weak and unheroic regardless of how many people she saves and heroic feats she accomplishes. Justified by the fact that she has spent the last decade of her life thinking she is crazy and inept.

  • Hope Spot: During a Slip, Heather blinks and reappears back on Earth. She immediately finds herself Outside again.

  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Heather calls herself one. Throughout the story, she frequently has lewd thoughts about multiple characters even in tense, serious situations, but she tends to keep the thoughts to herself.

  • Humanoid Abomination: The Lozzie-thing, a monster from Outside that vaguely resembles Lozzie. Its appearance is so frightening that it even startles Raine.
    • Heather is trying to become one on purpose.

  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: After being afflicted by the Eye, Sarika is shown stabbing herself in an attempt to kill herself, but her efforts have no effect.

  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Despite having an aptitude for magic, Kimberly wants to return to a normal life. However, circumstances conspire to keep her involved.

  • Improbably Female Cast: Every single member of the main cast is female, and many of the recurring side characters are female as well.

  • Insecure Love Interest: Heather thinks of her girlfriend as out of her league.

  • Invisible to Normals: The constant hallucinations and monsters and nightmares Heather sees everywhere.

  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Before infiltrating a building to save Raine, Heather remarks that all of the pneuma-somatic life is suspiciously gone.

  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Heather sends Gillespie Outside when she refuses to give information. Upon return, a terrified Gillespie answers every question.

  • Lady Swearsalot: Twil swears far more often than the rest of the cast.

  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Of the self-deprecating variety.
    Heather: “When did I end up in a bad supernatural romance novel?”

  • Lovecraft Lite: We’ve seen glimpses of contact with some real Outsiders, and the horrifying effects, but also at least one Adorable Abomination. Though their plans seem quite inadequate compared to the godlike alien influence of The Eye, the characters do seem to be holding their own, so far.

  • Magic Is Evil: Magic uses knowledge from beyond human reality and comprehension. Even with good intentions, magic is often painful, whether spoken, heard, or read, and can lead to madness.

  • Masquerade: Of the self-reinforcing type. Anybody not already exposed and acclimated to the supernatural tends to forget what they saw or get confused. However, this may be a case of Heather being lied to.

  • Matricide: Evelyn is forced to kill her own mother in self-defense. It results in years of unresolved grief.

  • Mayfly–December Romance: Zheng is immortal. Heather isn't. Zheng more or less shut down when her first lover died. Do the math.

  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Edward's plan for returning from the abyss involves him first dying, even if he never technically dies.

  • My Instincts Are Showing:
    • Twil has a habit of growling when upset or threatened.
    • After her journey in the abyss, Heather develops inhuman instincts to hiss or grow alien biology to defend herself.

  • Nervous Wreck: Heather perceives herself this way, but her actions tend to show otherwise, most of the time.

  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Heather shows a cultist how to draw the Fractal in hopes that it will keep the influence of the Eye away. The next time she sees him, he along with all of the other cultists are dead as a result of an experiment gone wrong.

  • Ninja Maid: While she generally fit the role beforehand, Arc 5 has Praem develops a fondness for maid outfits.

  • The Nose Knows: Twil has a very strong sense of smell courtesy of her werewolf powers.

  • Not So Invincible After All: Raine, unwaveringly confident and the source of Heather’s emotional support, receives one hit from the Lozzie-thing, is immediately knocked out, and gets kidnapped while unconscious. Heather has trouble believing it happened at first.

  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Played with in universe whenever a standard word gets used to describe something supernatural.
    Heather: I slapped a werewolf. Oh, that’s such an intolerable word.

  • Not What It Looks Like: In 6.2, Twil walks in to see Praem in a French Maid Outfit and Heather in a cat onesie.

  • Old, Dark House: Evelyn’s house in Sharrowford fits the bill, but the characters warm it up a bit.

  • One-Word Title: The web serial novel is titled one word, “Katalepsis.”

  • Our Mages Are Different: It’s heavily implied to Heather and the reader that you have to already be broken or damaged in order to do magic.

  • Overly-Long Tongue: Zheng has one. It is described in very vivid detail.

  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Initially described as a little shorter than five feet, Twil is strong enough to rip steel.

  • Plug 'n' Play Prosthetics: Averted with Evelyn’s prosthetic leg, shown in all its inconvenient detail.

  • Properly Paranoid: Played with as Heather goes through the process of discovering she’s not crazy at all.

  • Psychic Nosebleed: A common result of Heather using her powers, as well as from her eyes or worse depending on how severe it was.

  • Punny Name: Seven-Shades-Of-Sunlight. Seven shades of sunlight make a rainbow, and she's the resident lesbian Humanoid Abomination.

  • Queer Romance: Heather’s open about being a lesbian, and this applies to several other characters to varying degrees as well.

  • The Quiet One: Praem rarely ever says more than a few words at a time.

  • Rescue Romance: Between Heather and Raine.

  • Ret-Gone: Almost All traces of Maisie, Heather’s twin sister, are gone from reality. Heather is the only one who remembers she exists.

  • Robbing the Dead: Raine rifles through the belongings of a dead cultist, pocketing his wallet and keys. Twil calls her out on it, only to be comically ignored.

  • Shipper on Deck: Seven-Shades-Of-Sunlight, the freindly neighboorhood lesbian matchmaker Humanoid Abomination.

  • Son of an Ape: Zheng refers to humans as "apes" and "monkeys."

  • Soulless Bedroom: Brought up several times in the story, Heather's flat she lived in at the beginning of the story, Lozzie's room when she first moved into Number 12 Barnslow Drive, Badger's apartment and Jan and June's first hotel room.

  • The Stoic: Stack hardly ever shows any emotion. It takes having her arm broken before she has any significant reaction.

  • Swallowed Whole: Happens to Heather in the abyss. She proves to be too difficult to eat.

  • Talking in Your Dreams: Occurs multiple times between Heather and Lozzie.

  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Soft-spoken Heather has been described as femme, and Raine jokingly refers to herself as a dyke. Evelyn has a soft spot for magical girl anime, and Twil is a rough-and-tumble werewolf.

  • The Team Normal: Raine. Everyone else has some flavor of supernatural wierdness: Heather has her brainmath/Abyssal powers and is as much Abyssal entity as human, Evve's a wizard, Twil's a werewolf, Lozzie has own flavor of Outside powers and is as Outsider as she is human, Zheng is an ancient unbound demonhost and Sevens is a fairly powerful Outsider. Raine is just good at stabbing and shooting people.

  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Evelyn owns several of these, or at least implies she does.

  • To Serve Man: Zheng finds humans to be very tasty. One of her first actions upon being deliberately freed from Mind Control is to rip the tongue out of a man trying to mind control her again and devour him.

  • Trademark Favorite Food: Praem was summoned to this world for the payment of being fed strawberries.

  • Transparent Closet: When Heather comes out to her mother, she's bluntly told that she'd always known, and she wasn't exactly subtle.

  • Tsundere: While Evelyn usually comes off as harsh and grouchy, she has a soft spot for Twil and Heather, which she is reluctant to admit.

  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Several times so far. The story even opens with one of these.

  • Wall Pin of Love: Done by Zheng to Heather to intimidate her. Has unintended consequences.

  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Alexander seeks to evolve the human species into something that can protect and save itself from the horrors of Outside. However, his method to do so includes kidnapping innocent people and connecting their minds to an eldritch abomination from Outside to extract forbidden knowledge. Some of the victims are children.

  • What the Hell, Hero?: Thrust into the leadership position with Raine and Evelyn incapacitated, Heather decides to kill an intervening police officer to stop her from interrupting. Lozzie calls Heather out on it before it happens.