Experimenting With Horror

Can you tell it's going to be a scary book?

Can you tell it’s going to be a scary book?

I’ve been experimenting with horror/monster fiction lately as I wander through the vast fields of literary options, seeking to settle myself into a comfortable niche. So far, I kind of like it here in Scaresville, finding its sweet spot between the need for fanciful creations and tried and tested settings a very appealing one.

Without even noticing it, I’ve realised that most of my last few half-written stories in the last few weeks have been steering towards that direction. More importantly, I also come to see that I’m to focus on the story from the get go instead of trying to describe or make up the world.  I can express my fiction beyond the limitations of natural laws, yet have a grounded setting that can be typical without being branded as overly cliche.

It’s just something that the reader has come to accept and expect in this genre, that it is ok for Regular Joe to have a couple of coffee in the morning, run into some weird monsters in the afternoon, and save the world in time to have dinner. Rinse and repeat. In fact, if you take the same story, change up the monster/ghost/murderer, it will usually still work without any need for lengthy explanation.

My Journey towards Horror

I originally wanted to go with fantasy, but my beef with it is that it’s become boxed in to a expected set of creatures and myths. E.g. a clean-shaven dwarf who wields a mean bow, prancing through the forest and enjoys strawberries immediately breaks the mould, and you have to try to justify it, i.e. he was raised by the elves etc. Wide universe, but extremely boxed-in.

Then I tried my hand at Science Fiction. Immediately, I found it unsuitable for the shorter kind of fiction that I like. The best ones need to be grand, need a lot of believable science or nonsense leading up to the big reveal and are generally one trick ponies as I have mentioned in my Michael Crichton article. If you read those that succeed like Philip K. Dick (Minority Report) or H.G. Wells (World of the Worlds), they’re actually thrillers / war stories with a sci-fi setting.

My last attempt was actually peeking into the realm of superhero fiction. Maybe it’s just me again, but I kept facing the same issues as in Sci-Fi, while basing my characters off popular ones, so that people already have a picture in their head when I mention them. A crutch I eventually felt that I did not like.

So yea horror. Smooth going so far, though my problem now is the climax. Just a series of smaller battles leading to the big one ala Godzilla, or hold off the violence and make the violent erupt as a build up to the climax ala King Kong. I’m not going to try Stephen’s King arbitrary-in-your-head sort of horror for now. Just going to go with something physical first to muddy the waters.

Journey Through The Darkness

Journey Through The Darkness

My thoughts about the Genre

The best ones all play tricks in your head. They don’t always need to be unexpected, as long as it’s screwed up enough such that the twist that eventually comes still feels satisfying enough. That’s the sweet spot I mentioned earlier. People already know what to expect, yet you still have the liberty to throw a few bones at them and make them crave for more. Readers who complain about typical plots / writing shouldn’t be reading books on murder and monsters anyway while still complaining about the plot. That’s like complaining about Dwarves are cliche in a fantasy realm.

–  The monster isn’t important, the story is. Like superheroes, people already expect the monster to be just that, a monster. It kills people, they know. A man with a knife, he’s going to kill someone. I’ve tried to make my creatures sound or scary, and tried to make my setting more fascinating. But in the end, at the meat is still going to be the story. Origins is an extremely popular topic that readers love, followed by the typical agendas on why it does what it does. Whether the freaky clowns nose is red and round or green with snot doesn’t really matter beyond the initial visualisation. Oh, and the gimmick that your creature does, makes the story interesting, but doesn’t make the story.

Always start with the mundane. A fascinating monster in a bombastic setting sort of takes away the focus from the appearance of a monster/killer. Stick with the mundane or a concept that can be easily understood to make your creature and the story around it stand out.

For example:

The Midnight Snack. 

Peter walks into the kitchen, looking for a snack. In the dark, he notices the carton of chocolate milk sitting on the counter and his eyes perk up. One of the kids must have left it behind while they were packing for their sleepover. Without so much as a thought, he unscrews its top off and chugs it straight from the carton, wondering where the hell his wife is. She was suppose to be back from her book club at eleven.

In the dark, he fails to notice that the red liquid trickling down his chin.

This milk tastes a bit salty, he thinks to himself, smacking his lips as he wipes the dribble off with a hand. Probably just another one of those new fangled flavours that the kids love. Satisfied now, he walks back up the stairs to prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Halfway up though, his stomach starts to gurgle and churn. Not feeling so good, he sits on the steps and rubs his tummy. Wait what’s that bump? Lifting up his shirt he stares at his flabby skin and the tiny lump thumping vigorously at him from the inside.

If anyone of you noticed, yes I took the same plot from my earlier story and just plonked it here with a different setting. Still sort of works. 

Other great posts about Horror on WordPress

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Flesh Eaters: Part 2

Alien Bursting

Flesh Eaters: Part 2

Keeping a hand pressed against the beast in her belly,  she makes a mad dash down the stairs, screaming all the way. The lump in her hand seems to be growing bigger, squirming and sliding around in her gut, ripping through organs and flesh.

The pain is terrible, Joan cringes and tumbles. She can feel it now, the thing inside her, biting and gnawing at her. She cries out in pain, rolling on the floor, clubbing at the thing eating her from the inside. It keeps growing, gorging itself on living meat as Joan feels sharp teeth pulling at her innards.

“Penny!” In a last desperate attempt, she grabs at the grotesque lump extending out of her belly and squeezes it between her palms, attempting to crush it to death.

A jingle of keys and the door opens, “What the hell Joan… What’s going on!”

“Help me!”

Penny panics as she bends overs and tries to hold the thing in Joan’s belly still. “Oh my god, what do you want me to do!”

“Take it out, take it out!” Joan whimpers in between sobs, sweat pouring down her face.

Running into the kitchen, Penny grabs the a steak knife from the drawer and returns to her suffering sister. Clenching the blade between two hands, she holds the tip of the knife to Joan’s belly, trembling as she looks into the eyes of her sister’s ashen face.

“Do it!” Joan wheezes, barely able to raise her voice beyond a whisper now as she starts to fade out of consciousness.

Screwing her eyes shut, Penny looks away and plunges the knife into the grotesque lump, skewering both human and thing with the blade. Joan screams and convulses, still holding on to the lump trashing violently in her hand.

“Joan, hang on!” Penny shouts, staring at the blood and matter gushing from the mess of flesh in front of her. She can see the creature now, alive and still squealing inside the cavity of of sister’s belly. It’s worm-like head rises from the open wound, and bites down on her hand, tearing at her flesh.

Penny screams, stabbing down with her knife again and again, chopping through the monster. Blood splatters everywhere, on her face, in her hair, in between her fingers, but she does not stop. With a sawing motion, she cuts a gory path through flesh and entrails, until the creature squeals its last and finally lies limp.

Penny stops. She throws the knife and rushes beside Joan’s head, trying to shake her sister awake. But Joan lies motionless, with her extended belly has been sliced open. Inside her belly, the beast lies dead.

“Joan, I’m so sorry, wake up… Please wake up,” Penny sob, moving beside her sister to cradle her head.

 

End Part 2

Part 1 here, will upload Part 3 tomorrow. 

Flesh Eaters: Part 1

Flesh Eaters: Part 1

Joan Eckart is late.

Sitting on the bathroom floor waiting for the test strip to pronounce her sentence, she wonders who it was that got her into this mess. The boys in her life have been a blur lately, moving on faster than she can change her Facebook status. .

“Joan, are you ok in there?”

“Just a sec,” Joan looks closely at the test strip and shakes it vigorously, “Come on, minus baby, minus!”

“We’re going to be late, the show starts in ten.”

Joan did not feel like going to the show anymore. She just wants to sit here and cry as the faint symbol of the plus lights up. Why me damn it! I use protection!

In need of a second opinion, she pulls another box out from under the sink and pees on it again.

Joan!”

“I’m coming!” she slips the urine-stained stick between a mass of tissues and stuffs it into her pocket.

Opening the door, she sees a concerned Penny looking at her with stern eyes with folded arms.

“Spill it, what you doing inside, drugs?”

“Leave it Penny,” Joan sighs as she brushes past her step-sister.

Penny grabs her by the hand, “Hey! We’re all worried about you.”

“Yea whatever,” Joan replies, storming back into her room and crashing on her bed. Right now, all she wants is be left alone with her thoughts.

Penny comes in after her, “Are you coming or what?”

“No, I’ve got a headache, leave me alone,” Joan says, burying her face into the sheets, feeling a sudden cramp in her stomach.

“Suit yourself, want me to get you dinner?”

Joan shakes her head again, lying there silently as Penny walks out of the house.

When she was gone, Joan took to her computer immediately and began searching for homemade recipes for abortion. She clicks on the very first result which promises to teach her a safe and herbal method. In her mind, she thought of Patricia in her school. She’s done it before, maybe she should ask her.

She puts a hand on her belly and imagines the life growing inside, contemplating her life  between being a murderer and a single mother. Father will kill her if he finds out about. No, I must end it now. 

No sooner had she ended that thought, she feels a kick in her belly. So soon? Lifting up her blouse-top, she stares at her smooth white skin, and the tiny lump thumping vigorously against her from the inside.

Shit! She runs to her window. Outside, she can still see her sister’s car reversing out of the driveway. “Penny!” she screams, but her sister doesn’t answer.

Part 2 Here

The Experiment

Red Monster 1024X768 Wallpaper

Just trying my hand at different styles. First person, present tense, less droning, more beating. 

Someone is pounding incessantly at the door.

Rising from my slumber, I grope blindly for my glasses on the dresser.

“What time is it honey?” came the sleepy voice of the redhead beside me, tucked snugly under the sheets.

“Too damn early.” I grumble, feeling the chill of the night air as I crawl out from the bed. “ Go back to sleep, I’ll go see who’s making that racket.” I say, grabbing my bathrobe and wrapping it around myself.

Putting on my glasses, I shuffle down the stairs and to the door, too sleepy to think. Whoever it is better have a good excuse for making this ruckus in the middle of the night.

More pounding.

“Enough already, I’m coming!” I shout, hearing my own groggy voice. Cursing loudly, I make no attempt to veil my irritation.

“Police! Open up!”

That got my attention. Looking through the peephole, I see three officers standing outside on my dimly-lit porch. Puzzled, I’m about to unlock the door when something hard presses against my back. I freeze in mid-motion.

“Make a sound and you’re dead,” a muffled whisper behind me says.

I nod my head vigorously.

“Good, you’re going to answer the door and tell the men outside to leave. Understand?”

I nod again, as my knees start to tremble uncontrollably.

“Open it nice and slow, just show your face.”

I comply, turning the lock and reaching for the knob.

“Slowly!” the voice behind hisses, digging the weapon deeper to make his point.

I swallow hard, all thoughts of sleep forgotten now. Opening the door just wide enough, I stick my head out. “Evening gentlemen, anything I can help you with?”

“Sorry to bother you sir, but we’re looking for a man about his tall,” one of the officers say, hovering his right palm just below his chest. “Someone saw him running up this street.”

“Haven’t seen him,” I shrug, trying to keep a straight face as the intruder twists his weapon into my flesh. I smile grimly.

The officers turn and look at one another, before one of them steps forward, reaching for the gun on his belt.

“Please boys, don’t do this.” I whisper, shaking my head.

He cocks his gun and signals to the rest. Squaring his shoulders, he charges against the door, sending it flying open with a loud crash.

“He’s got a weapon!” I scream, before the intruder kicks me viciously and sends me flying into the officers standing outside, knocking the two of them to the ground.

The first officer screams. I turn my head just in time to see a shadowy figure take the gun from his gun and whipping it hard across his face The officer collapses with a sickening crunch.

“Christ!” I exclaim, trying to crawl away from the violent scene as blood and brain matter splatters onto me.

In an instant, he’s on the second officer, pummeling the prone figure with his makeshift club. The officer lashes out with his boot, catching his attacker squarely in the jaw. He barely flinches, and returns the favor with a swift kick to the ribs, before sending him sprawling with a devastating blow to the head.

More blood. I scream and start to run.

The last officer is on his feet now, his gun in his hand. He fires, the shot ringing out in the still of the neighborhood.

When I look back, the third officer is down on the floor. Somehow he missed, or maybe he hit. I don’t know. The intruder is after me now. Next thing I know, I’m on the floor, my head hitting the pavement hard. Everything becomes a blur.

“Please don’t kill me,” I whimper, my face stained with tears as I roll around and raise my hands against my assailant.

He doesn’t say anything. Bloodshot eyes peek out from behind a mask, studying my face.

“Honey, what’s going on… Oh my lord!”

I look up and see Martha standing at the door.

The man points the gun at my head and wags a finger at Martha, making his threat clear. He signals for my wife to come over and for me to get up.

“Clear the yard,” he orders, changing his target to my wife.

“Ok, ok, just don’t hurt us!” I squeal.

“Doctor Anders?” the man turns to my wife and asks.

My wife blinks and answers.

“What’s all this about?” I ask, afraid he might do something to my wife.

“Shut up and move the damn bodies first.” the man snarls, moving beside my wife and jabbing the gun to her head.

Walking up to the one nearest to me, I see his head had been shot partially off. His eyes still wide and staring at the sky.

“The bushes,” the man instructs, picking up a second gun from the ground.

Me and Martha comply, each holding one leg, grunting as we inch our way over to the side of the yard.

Any minute now, help would arrive, I thought to myself. Someone must have heard the gunshot.

A few minutes later, all three bodies lie hidden in the bush. I look around, my heart sinks. All the houses are still dark.

“Inside,” the man orders as me and Martha trudge back up the steps.

We enter the darken house and move to the living room. He waves at us to sit as he turns on the light.

“Remember me, Doctor Anders?” he says, removing his mask.

I fall back in shock at the creature looking back at us.

There is nothing human underneath the mask. Aside from eyes, everything else is missing. Two holes exist where the nose should and the mouth has been sewn together by rough strings. But most importantly, the skin on his head had been removed, and the sensitive inner membrane is covered with blisters and sores.

“Oh my…” Martha exclaims, “Wiley?”

I turn to my wife and stare at her smiling face, surprise that she knows this thing.

The sides of the creature’s face twitch, forming a morbid smile with the stitches on his face. Through the threads, I can a featureless mouth moving. “Glad you remember doctor.”

I look at my wife and glance at the creature, watching them communicate with their eyes. I feel sick in my stomach knowing that this murderer is actually acquainted with her.

“Someone please tell me what’s going on.”

The creature named Wiley turns and looks at me, while Martha reaches out for me reassuringly and holds my hands. She smiles grimly. “Remember when I told you I was doing some research for the government?”

I nod, not liking this one bit.

“Well, meet my baby,” she smiles.