Stop and smell what exactly?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 13, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

This is a non-fiction rant I wrote after reading some magazine article telling me to stop and appreciate life.

If life is a gift then poverty is a drunk urinating on the gift before the wrapping paper is even taken off. For too many, this gift of life isn’t enjoyed not because they push themselves too hard, but because the circumstances of their individual lives are simply miserable. They struggle to survive. They’re not clocking extra time at the office to earn a raise or a bonus. They’re working a second job at Walmart because the collections agencies won’t stop calling.

You can’t swing a dead cat without finding some written work admonishing people to stop and smell the roses. How about making it a little easier for others to enjoy life?

Working too hard leadss to spiritual deprivation, no doubt. But why do we work too hard? Sure, some of us work too hard because we want too much or we want too much for our kids. Some of us though, work too hard because there ain’t no other option.

We’re All Going to Burn

Posted in Horror Fiction, Sad with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

The woman and the girl ran to keep from burning. They saw a small wooden shed in the distance. For the moment, it wasn’t on fire.

They went in and huddled into a corner. It was dark inside aside from the embers that showed through the cracked wooden walls. They covered themselves with a wool blanket the woman carried with her. Once they were under the blanket the woman held the girl close. The girl reached to hold her hand.

“Thank you for being with me,” said the girl.

The woman saw a giant flame fall to the ground nearby. She could hear people screaming. “Well, thank you for being with me. You close your eyes now.”

Though dotted with racing flames, the sky was darker than it had ever been before.

“It’s okay,” said the girl.

“Yep, it is.”

She looked up. “I don’t mean it the way you mean it.”

Fire fell closer this time. They could hear it crackle. “What are you talking about?”

“When you say its okay you mean that we aren’t going to burn. When I say its okay, I know we are going to burn. But that’s okay.”

The woman sighed. Ever since she found the girl filthy and living off garbage the girl could always tell when she was lying.

“I’m happy I have your hand and I can hold it”

“I wish I could make it different for you. I’m sorry things are like this. I’m sorry we have to go this way.”

The girl rubbed the woman’s hand with her thumb while she held it in her fingers. It wasn’t clear anymore who comforted whom. “Even if the sun didn’t break, we were still going to die.”

The roof caught on fire. Smoke filled their lungs. They held each other as they burned.

Congressman Steve Malone at the Grocery Store

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 26, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

I did the below dialogue exercise for a writing class I’m taking.

Congressman Steve Malone hadn’t been grocery shopping in years. Usually Robert, his office manager Robert did it for him, but Robert was dead and buried in the Congressman’s backyard.

He stood across from the cashier after his groceries had been bagged.

“And sir,” he said. “I have this coupon for toothpaste. Here.”

“Okay, sure. Let me take a look.”

The Congressman adjusted his tie and smiled at the woman behind him in line.

“I’m sorry, this coupon is expired sir.”

“It’s what?”

“It’s expired.”

“When did it expire?”

“Yesterday.”

“It expired yesterday and you can’t accept it?”

“No. I’m sorry. I just can’t. The system won’t let me.”

“Ah, the system. I know how that is.” The Congressman looked back again at the woman behind him to see if she laughed at his joke. She didn’t.

“Your total is $202.43,” said the cashier.

He handed the cashier a credit card. “Does the system accept Visa?”

“Yes sir, it does.”

He took the card and finished the transaction. The Congressman waited with his arms crossed while he put the bags in the cart. The woman waiting in line rolled her eyes.

Before the Congressman rolled his shopping cart away he turned and looked at the cashier. “Maybe, someday, you should learn to think for yourself instead of accepting the system.”

Attendants of the man-eater

Posted in Horror Fiction with tags , , , , on March 18, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

The plane was a beast. The flight attendants its servants. The airport its lair, a façade used to lure prey.

Passengers are welcomed aboard daily and shown to their seats. Overhead compartments are filled and closed. An attendant displays the safety protocol and another smiles and greets the flight’s youngest passengers, asking the names of their stuffed animals.

A sound is heard; a deep rumble. The plane has finished digesting its last meal. The passengers believe it only to be the engine starting.

When the planes takes off a man pricks his finger on his seat and it starts to bleed. An attendant brings the man a band aid and says she has no idea what could have cut him. She lied. It was a tooth, the plane’s tooth.

Up high in the air, before the seatbelt lights come off, all the seats grow teeth. With its many mouths, the plane eats all the passengers. At 30,000 feet, only the attendants hear them scream.

My Relationship with Loneliness

Posted in Essays and non-fiction with tags , , on March 10, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

I feel cursed by loneliness. It’s a nagging little feeling that has followed me forever and not one I can really describe. Possibly, it’s a feeling of not being understood or of not being valued or of not being wanted. That’s as close as I can get.

However, sometimes I enjoy loneliness. I feel the judgment of others all the time, whether it is there or not. I interpret a scowl as someone being specifically displeased with me. No matter the people, no matter the setting, I feel like I don’t belong. I retreat. I seek solitude and escape from the judgment and scorn of other people.

My retreat into myself probably causes some of my loneliness, I see that. Does it hurt me in the long run? I don’t know. I’ve heard other people say that feelings like the ones I’ve described have held them back in life. Maybe at some point I will look back and say the same thing.

When I was an adolescent I would react to my feelings with violence. I was often in fights when I was in middle school. Over time I have learned not to act like that, but I can’t tell you that those feelings aren’t there. Only now I handle them by retreating into myself.

This is all to say that my relationship with loneliness is complex and not likely to go away any time soon. I can’t imagine I’m the first person to ever have this type of paradoxical relationship with loneliness either.

The Call from the Pit

Posted in Horror Fiction with tags , , , , , , , on February 22, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

Image

(Short Story)

 

The pit cried to the children. Its voice was warm and charming, like a mother’s. “Your life will be painful,” it said. “You’re death can be beautiful. Come and I will show you.”

Sometimes the children crawled out from the pit after death because they wanted more friends. They too carried the call from the pit. “In life you are alone,” they said. “In death we will be together as one.”

The pit came to be regarded as a public health concern. It was fence off and a sign was put up. Children were dying and their parents were mourning. No one likes dead kids and crying parents. It had to be sealed. Even though no one could positively refute the claim that death was better than life.

I love Frankenstein

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 17, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

I love Frankenstein. I first read it during my junior year of high school, though I can’t remember much from that first reading other than the fact that I liked it. It was dark and subversive.

Last month I read “On Writing Horror,” a compilation from the Horror Writer’s Association about, duh, writing horror. There is a chapter in the book that discusses the must reads in horror. Of course, Frankenstein is first on the list. Because I agreed that a good author thoroughly knows and understands the genre he is writing in, I decided to go and re-read it. I’m about half-way through.

What hits me this time around is how well Mary Shelly captures the worst of human feelings: sorrow; regret; guilt; and I think, depression.

Here’s a passage:

“Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and deprives the soul of both hope and fear.”

I’ve had clinical depression my whole life, but I’ve had one serious and dangerous bout of deep, utterly debilitating depression. It came a month after I graduated college. I worked full-time while going to school, often taking more credits and working more hours than any human should. To me at the time, the worst thing was to have nothing to preoccupy my mind. All I had were my thoughts and those weren’t always good company. Reading this passage sent me back to those times.

The great thing about good horror such as Frankenstein is that it reflects on what’s awful. Sometimes, as Viktor Frankenstein explains, the most awful things are inside our own heads.

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