Archive for April, 2014

Worse Than Death

Posted in Essays and non-fiction with tags , , , , , , on April 24, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

Chuck Palahniuk says you should write about things that upset you. Franz Kafka hit a similar note when saying, “We ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us.” I agree with both quotes and have pondered them quite a bit, using them as motivators behind what I chose to write and read. In writing horror, upsetting is particularly important and more so, I think, is frightening.

Judging by the amount of religious reflection on the subject, I would say that for many folks, assuming they too follow the above admonitions, the issue that scares them or upsets them or wounds them is death. I, honestly, have never really been afraid of death. Okay, I admit, it’s a upsetting, especially in regards to loved ones, but it’s not all that frightening. Maybe I’m still too young for it to have really hit me. It’s possible I’ve still got that youthful sense of immortality. Maybe, but probably not.

Hell and the possibility of suffering in the afterlife have something to do with it. Past the age of eleven I haven’t believed in it. As I think I’ve made clear in my posts here, Hell is place on earth. We’re already there in many ways and we’ve made it a reality.

Death, I think, is an end, which makes it sad and unfortunate. It might not be an end to everything, however, it certainly is an end to our existence as we know it. But, and to a degree I suppose I am relying on faith here, it is also the start of something new; a new life; a new experience; a new presence; a complete absence; whatevs.

Here’s what upsets me and scares the crap out of me: continuation, the sense that something could go on forever. I get a nasty case of poison ivy each year that covers my body with leprosy-like lesions. It’s uncomfortable, it hurts, and it looks awful. Every summer when I notice the damn rash I get filled with the terrible and irrational thought, not that it could kill me, but that it will never go away. Imagine that, living the rest of your life with a hideous itchy rash covering your entire body. That’s worse than death.

Also what scares me is the thought of being stuck; in a bad job or in poverty in particular. To me, that’s the absence of growth and simply plain boring. A book that truly frightened me because it so accurately captured the dread of monotony and boredom was A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The guy was stuck in a Soviet gulag filled with tedious, meaningless work that went on and on. Luckily, I’ve never been in a gulag, but the thought of it is terrifying.

Everyone has it

Posted in Horror Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

I had the idea for this short piece while sitting in a doctor’s office for yet another case of poison ivy.

(Short Story)

He walked into the doctor’s office concealing his wounds with a sweatshirt despite the heat of the day. The waiting room was filled with other patients, all entranced by a T.V. positioned in the corner. When called forward by the receptionist he walked silently from the room without attracting any attention to himself.

His wounds were bubbling under his clothes. Only thin fabric hid his condition, which grew each second in size and pain. The pain of a public eye on his shame, he believed, would be even worse.

A nurse asked what brought him in and he responded by rolling up a small portion of his sleeve, showing her only the least offensive sign of his illness. The nurse reacted with pity and said the doctor would be in to see him shortly. She left and went to the bathroom to tend to her own wounds, also hidden from other’s eyes.

In a mirror in the room he inspected his face while he waited for the doctor, who was late because he was inspecting his own face in a mirror. The man held tightly the sides of the mirror and gritted his teeth instead of screaming just as the doctor did the same. When the doctor entered the room he too reacted with pity.

His injuries bubbled into one another as he waited for the doctor to return with a prescription. In seconds he became only one mass of sickness, no longer displaying any signs of life other than suffering. Soon, he evaporated. The doctor returned to an empty room.

The next patient called up by the receptionist concealed her unsightliness with a purple scarf on her neck and an extra layer of foundation on her face. She pulled back only an inch of her scarf to show the nurse why she made an appointment. As she waited for the doctor she too evaporated into only a fleeting memory.

Stop and smell what exactly?

Posted in Essays and non-fiction 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.