Category Archives: horror

Sitting in Darkness is Back!

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I have finally seen the error of my ways.

Despite knowing better, I have allowed Resistance (as Pressfield would term it) to kick my ass and stand with its jackboot on my neck. And, as Pressfield so accurately predicts, this turning away from my passion has resulted in a deep undercurrent of discontent.

A new job has me on a commuter train after years of working from home. Funny thing: with less ‘free time’ I’m actually getting some writing done again. It’s like characters in a story: when we limit their freedom of movement, they are forced to actually DO SOMETHING to counteract what is threatening them.

Suffice to say I was never so happy as when Sitting in Darkness was rolling merrily along, and I was churning out weird, little stories.

It’s time for me to go back down to that dark place where the stories live. Maybe other things are down there too..but I can’t control that.

I hope you’re well, Reader.

I hope you find this blog again.

Stories are coming.

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Interregnum

First of the dead comes callling

 

The world no longer tolerated human sounds.

We again had only the wind and birds and streams, not the constant thrum of industry.

Cars and trucks and trains lay askew, smoking and silent under gunmetal skies.

Whatever happened had passed us by – it was elsewhere, an abstraction.

In the first weeks we heard only whispers and rumors – fevers on a distant continent.

We cut wood and drew water while the world bled away from us.

The sun warmed our shoulders and backs in the garden.

We made love, and ate, and said beautiful drunken things.

We ran naked through the house, delirious in the aftermath of history.

We lived as the Creator had always intended.

And it was only after the first of the dead scratched lightly at our bedroom window

That we realized the world would have its horror – our dreams be damned.

_____________________________________________________

For the flash fiction contest over at terribleminds. The theme was disease and horror. Happy Halloween from Sitting In Darkness!

Image by Burtoo


Reaching Out

 

 

 

 

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I am still in here.

In this blog.

In these stories.

New horrors coming.

Parched and dry,

Reaching out to you.

Can you see me?

Am I real?

________________

Sitting in Darkness has been inactive for a while – but I have sprinkled the ‘tana leaves’ into the tea, and made the dusty beast drink. Soon Sitting in Darkness will be dragging its dead feet into your reading space once again. 

Image:Eflon

 


Deep Ones

The Deep Ones took her on a beautiful summer day.

She’d been lolling in the gentle surf, eyes half-closed against the sun and its glittering reflections. On the cusp of womanhood, her scent drew them in, just as the elders said it had happened in the time of horrors.

The Deep Ones dragged her to the bottom and drowned her, leaving a seed deep in her dead womb. It burst forth, fully tentacled, a storm of blood and bubbles.

Decades later, his stolen daughter a local legend, the fisherman spied a tentacled horror on the bottom – and wept in recognition.

_________________________________

Thanks to Emma Audsley who posted this excellent image (drawn by Victor Hugo, no less!) as a prompt for a 100-word story on her active and excellent blog, The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog. I responded to Emma’s prompt with the story you read above and I’m re-posting it here because I like this tiny tale.

Interestingly, I found the following text from Victor Hugo accompanying the image when I downloaded it from 50 Watts via Flickr.  Strange and fun, I think, how it meshes with the story I wrote having only seen the picture. More a testament to Hugo’s drawing than my writing, I suspect.

At night, however, and particularly in the hot season, she becomes phosphorescent. This horrible creature has her passions, she awaits her submarine nuptials. She adorns herself, setting herself alight and illuminating herself; and from the height of some rock she may be seen in the deep obscurity of the waves below, expanding with a pale aureole — a spectral sun.


Thinking About Horror…How Does it Feel?

Decided to write a horror story? Don’t think about it.

 

Use your feelings and fears instead.

Someone once said, “I write in order to discover what I think.”  Could’ve been Blaise Pascal, or Joan Didion. Maybe Susan Sontag. I can’t remember.

The quote is accurate enough, I guess. A bit intellectual for me, though. Because I am naturally suspicious of what I think. Too many filters and prejudices attach to thinking, like those suckerfish on sharks.

I’m more comfortable with the statement, “I write in order to understand what I feel.” That’s seems a little closer to the mark.

I could dial in the focus even further and say, “I write in order to know what frightens me.” Now that seems true. And maybe that’s why most of what I write (and read) is identified as “horror”. After all, horror fiction is most concerned with the evocation of dread, right?

I think, therefore I ape….

That sub-head above caused me no end of anxiety. I mean, who the hell am I to tell any writer how – or how not– to approach a story? It’s ludicrous. But, as a READER, I know in my guts if a writer was just plowing the same old horror field, or if that writer was really down there in that basement with some un-named…thing. Or trapped in ‘The Penal Colony’ with Kafka’s protagonist.

As a writer, thinking too much tends to make me wily. I’m looking for an audience, or a cheap reaction. And the stories that spring from that soil usually never make it off my hard drive. But when I’m fueling the action of a story with my own revulsion and fear? Well, then I think I’m onto something true and good and worthwhile.

So, as I write a story, I’m always asking myself, “Does this frighten you, Bob?”

Since you’re reading this, I assume you are, to some extent, a horror fan (or a much-appreciated supportive friend who checks in on this blog every now and then) and, like me, completely unfazed by werewolves and vampires. Those old world tropes just don’t cut it anymore. Oh, they can be written as sexy and angst-ridden to appeal to a YA audience. But scary? Pazuzu-scary? No way.

And that New World, post-industrial trope – the Zombie – has been so done to death in fiction and movies, it’s become a parody of itself: undying, yet devoid of life.

I’m not saying a story written to these tropes cannot be effective. I’m saying any contemporary story using these tropes, will find success only insofar as it touches on more timeless, even phobic, fears.

Like claustrophobia, for example. One of my…problems.

If a writer wants to crank up the tension in a story, the easiest way to do it is by progressively limiting the mobility and the choices of the characters. Melville did it in Moby Dick. The moment the Pequod left the dock, those sailors were doomed, with no escape but a watery death. Where, in the trackless wastes of the Pacific, could they run to escape Ahab’s obsession?

Stephen King made immobility and the lack of options famously explicit in Misery. The protagonist is successively and progressively immobilized by accidental injury, involuntary drugging at the hands of a crazed fan. He is even hobbled, for Chrissakes (just to drive the immobility point home, in a spectacularly gruesome scene). And not only that, this all takes place in a remote cabin where no one will come to help. Talk about dwindling choices! And King’s own anxiety in relation to this situation is apparent in the writing.

Exorcising demons

 

I believe all writers – not just horror writers – use their fears to create their greatest stories: fear of intimacy, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of people not just like them. It’s almost as if the act of writing itself were nothing but the exorcising of these fears.

And maybe that’s just what it is.

My strongest stories are those composed of scenes that make me flinch. The ones that make me feel I am, myself, this character undergoing this horrifying experience. I may even turn my head away from the page as I type – but my fingers know the words, and won’t stop until the story is told.

To write a story and not be moved by it is a cheat – to both the writer and the reader.

I think I’d like to write a story now.

And I feel it is dark enough to get it done.

____________________

Image by Pink Sherbert Photography


Interregnum

The world no longer tolerated human sounds.

We again had only the wind and birds and streams, not the constant thrum of industry.

Cars and trucks and even trains lay askew,  smoking and silent under gunmetal skies.

Whatever happened had passed us by – it was elsewhere, an abstraction.

So we made love, and ate, and said beautiful drunken things.

We ran naked through the house, delirious in the aftermath of history.

We lived as the Creator had intended.

And it was only after the first of the dead scratched lightly at our bedroom window

That we realized the world would have its horror – our dreams be damned.

______________________________________

Image by Burtoo


Once Upon an Apocalypse (or, the Continuing Pursuit of Publication)

I’ve found I can’t ONLY write a novel. I mean, to write-write-write and not finish anything for months will kill me.

So, I’m peppering my novel writing efforts with some short stories, and making an all-out effort to get myself published. Officially.

Right now, I’m focused on completing a submission for the upcoming anthology, Once Upon an Apocalypse. Check it out here.

The challenge is to cross-pollinate the ‘story’ of classic fairy tales or fables with the zombie apocalypse. Great fun! I have mine well –started and no one has claimed this fairy tale yet, so I’m pushing to get it polished and submitted (and hopefully accepted).

Then back to the novel.

You all rock, for taking the time to stop by and read my scribbling. If you are also blogging and telling stories (especially edgy, creepy ones) you can count on the fact that I am visiting your sites and enjoying your writing also.

Random:  I dreamed last night (no – not that I went to Manderly!) about the Vincent Price treatment of I Am Legend, the early sixties Italian flick, “The Last Man on Earth”. Great fucking movie, the best of the attempts at telling I Am Legend in film. My wife and I sleep in 3-season porch that we’ve converted to a 4-season porch. It’s all windows, which are thrown wide open during the spring, summer, and fall. In my dream, I could smell the grass I’d mown earlier; the owl who-ing across the field made it all that much more quiet and peaceful outside the porch; the cool breeze forced me deep under the comforter.

Then the silence was shattered by a raspy voice.

Morgan!” 

It blasted in from the dark wood, and I sat bolt upright in the bed.

 Read the book, see that movie. Matheson and Price at the very top of their respective crafts. They were legend.

I’ll keep you posted on the anthology submission as well as the novel progress.

Day job tomorrow – must sleep.

_______________

Apocalyptic Sleeping Beauty Awakes image by Kelly Bailey


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