Note: This Post Originally featured on the WickedWriters Blog… http://thewickedwriters.blogspot.com/
A time for confessions? Indeedy!
But, not only have I not read any Stephen King (not even his book on writing, Sharon), I have also not read Dean Koontz, James Herbert and that chap called Poe! (I have been warned off Shaun Hutson and Clive Barker – but, strangely enough, I had never heard of them in the first place. No loss there, then.)
He heard snarling, inhuman voices cutting through the ghostly blackness in front suddenly … a man was beating a dog with a stick… [He] strained helplessly not to see or hear … A small crowd watched. A squat woman stepped out and asked [the man] please to stop. “Mind your own business,” the man barked gruffly, lifting his stick as though he might beat her too …
Ooops…. Now where did that come from?
When researching for this post… “Research,” I hear you exclaim. Yes, research…
When researching for this post I recalled the one (horror) story that I read that must have appealed to me. Well, I recalled it, didn’t I?
When I was young, I had a collection of short stories – the only collection of short stories I had ever attempted to read, until I acquired a collection of Anton Chekov only last year… There I go, digressing again…
[He] quickened his pace to get away, almost ran … At the next corner a man was beating a small boy brutally in the midst of an immobile crowd … [He] recoiled with sickening recognition. He was certain he had witnessed that same horrible scene sometime before. Déjà vu?
Some digression! Now, where was I?
Ah, yes… a short horror story… Well, despite recalling it, I have no idea of who wrote it or what its title was; but its themes have stuck with me. If someone tries to engage me in a conversation about horror stories and writers, then this short story is about the only thing I can talk of… then I try and change the subject because I truly cannot recall the detail.
I do know that the story in question featured three inns on a desolate moor, three inn-keepers, copious quantities of darkness and fog, a traveller and various body parts – including some rather ornately carved “ivory-like” utensils, chair legs and some rather tasty soup… Just what a tired traveller on the desolate moor would look forward to! I believe one of the inns was called the Rest of the Traveller!
The yawning wound — was that a tube of slimy bone he saw running deep inside the gory scarlet flowed behind the twitching, startling fibres of weird muscle? — was dripping blood in several trickles, like snow melting on eaves, but viscous and red, already thickening as it dropped.
Urggghhhhhhhhhh……… too, much detail! Is that why I don’t read horror stories? My mother was a nurse, my sister is a nurse, and my step sister too… I’ve been in and out of hospitals (as patient and visitor) and I viewed the effects of knife wounds and gunshot… Do I really want to read about more of the gory stuff?
[His] undershorts… were soaking up blotches of blood on one side as though in thirst. [He] was stunned at how waxen and ghastly his friend’s bare leg looked, how loathsome, how lifeless and esoteric the downy, fine curled blond hairs on his odd, white shin and calf. The wound… [was] as long and wide as his hand, and too raw and deep to see into clearly. The raw muscles inside twitched like live hamburger meat.
I said… “DO I REALLY WANT TO READ MORE OF THE GORY STUFF?” It’s a good job I’m not a regular at MacD’s or (perish the thought) BK… (Live oysters are much more fun… they don’t twitch so much… well, maybe, if the lemon is particularly sharp! But that’s another subject entirely.)
Then he saw a sickening, gigantic hole in his friend’s ribs and watched helplessly as the man died before him, his insides spilled out all over him, revealing a secret.
“Look, this is beyond a joke…”
“This interrupting my blog post with your constant glimpses of stuff I’m not interested in…”
“Ah! That STUFF! You mean you don’t like glimpses into…”
“Pardon,” I exclaim, “you’re interrupting me! I thought? Now you’re getting me confused…”
“I should say!”
His teeth were chattering in horror. He forced himself to look again. Here was God’s plenty, all right, he thought bitterly as he stared — liver, lungs, kidneys, ribs, stomach and bits of…
“There you go again.”
“There. Interrupting me when I’m about to tell you what I’m up to.”
“You’re up to something?” I ask, sarcastically. “What do you know of horror?”
“More than you, it would appear!”
“If that’s horror, I’m not sure I’m going to change genres…”
“But what?” I snap.
“But didn’t you say… now let me think… last post, wasn’t it? Didn’t you say something about horror being found in reality?
“Well, yes I did, I guess. But this?
“It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter; that was [his] secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was [his] secret. Ripeness was all”
“Where did you find this?”
“Don’t you know? I am surprised, David… it’s one of your all time favourite books, by one of your all time favourite authors.
“I just played with your mind a bit and changed the context.”
“Go on then, tell me.”
“No. Now sit there and eat your soup…” 😉
“What did you say the name of this inn was?
You know, guys, I really didn’t mean for everyone to start confessing things.
Anyway, David, you don’t need horror books in England. You’ve got moors. How many of Sherlock Holmes’ foes have fallen into the moor, like the Grippen Mire in “Hound of the Baskervilles,” and have never been seen again. (note how the abused wife in the story is saved because she was forced by her husband to be evil, but in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce film, she’s the one who falls into the moor and drowns).
These days, Greg, England is a horror set, without the need for our lovely moors! I think I’ll get my axe and shovel and dig up a few skeltons this weekend!!!
Then there’s the “Well of a 100 heads” I think near one of the border towns, maybe Berwick-on-Tweed (where my great great grandfather came from). Seems like every km. there’s a marker where someone’s clan slaughtered someone else’s. By the time we got to Skye, we stopped reading them….
Oh yes, we were fresh faces from America and wanted to go camping, arriving with our lightweight backpacks (that got stuck in the double-decker bus doorways in London). People asked where our gear was for the monsoons that would surely come as soon as we put one peg into the lush green earth. I have never been so cold or miserable before or since. But young and in love and out of the US for the first time, it was a blast. Even got used to the “horrible” room temperature beer!
Oh, Sharon! Kilometre markers? That will never do! Not in England… we love our miles! (Though your Euro-experiences, like mine, give you a certain lee-way!)
Berwick is a couple of hours drive for me. I was last there a few years ago, camping on a wind-swept coastal site. Even in the middle of summer is blew a gale and rained constantly!
As for beer? It depends on the cellar! It should be a cold dark place, the sort of place where you can experiment on live bodies without anyone hearing! Then the beer should be just the right temperature!
Okay, David. I’m with you on the moor and a little wayside inn, or a castle with a real feather bed (and hope they have an electric heater that doesn’t take loonies-oops-Euros). The other stuff should inspire the rest of our crew. In Outlander, some the descriptions of the battle scenes with the implements they used, and the self-surgery done in dungeons and prisons while shackled, I guess this gets about as close as I get to that.
But you did our group proud, and I’m hoping you’ll get the praise you’re due!
I will jump into the shame pool with you and admit that I’ve never read any Stephen King even his writing book (although just bought and I am reading it now in between other books..)as well as Dean Koontz – though my hubby loves to listen to books on tapes so I have heard all of the Odd Thomas books so much I feel like I have practically read them.
And that Poe guy – I remember the story we had to read in highschool with the beating heart under the house. That was just a little too creepy for me.
As for the gory stuff – I’m a little weird there. I don’t really like horror movies.Not because of the gore but because they scare me – which I know that is the point after all. But I love to watch surgeries and stuff on OR-live.com. After I had major sugery in 2008 I found a similar procedure and watched the surgery so I knew what they did to me.. now if that ain’t gory…
Give me a good thriller any time. Just not ready for horror.
Oooooooooo, Kris… I don’t think I admitted shame!!! Confession yes… But, given that I write more in the thriller genre myself, I only admit to being proud of my reading habits!
Did you spot which book the exceprts came from? It’s not a horror title!
Hi, Sharon… A real feather bed! Right on… though I have a feeling the travellers in the story never got beyond the ground floor! And considering it was some moor in England (I think!) then you would be safe from those Euro thingamies!