Archive for death

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.

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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.

Always Around

Posted in Sad with tags , , , , , , , on January 25, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

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(Very Short Story)

Little Dorothy sat in the car next to Uncle Edward on the ride back to his home, where she would be living now that her parents were dead. She said nothing during their funeral, but now had something on her mind.

“Mother and Father will always be with me.”

Edward turned his head, a little surprised. “Yes,” he said, “that is right, Dorothy.” He looked back at the road.

Dorothy continued speaking while she looked down at the frills on her dress. “They will be in the air and the ground and the trees and in everything. That is what Mother said.”

Edward pulled the car into his driveway and looked back at Dorothy when he stopped the car. “Okay, time to go inside.”

Dorothy was shown to her new room. It had a large window that overlooked a park across the street. The park had a neatly trimmed lawn and many tall old trees. Dorothy stood at the sill and stared at the park all afternoon until she was called downstairs for suppertime.

Together, Edward and his niece ate meatloaf at the kitchen table. Dorothy missed her mother’s meatloaf. She missed the sound her father made when he ate it.

“Do you like your new room?” asked Edward.

Dorothy nodded her head. “Yes,” she answered, “I do, Uncle Edward.”

“That’s a good girl. Now, go wash up and get ready for bed.”

As the sun started to rise the next morning, Dorothy lay with her head on the pillow, her new pillow. It was soft and it was clean. But it didn’t smell like her pillow and it didn’t feel like her pillow. She missed her bed too. She wanted to be in her old room, living her old life. Her mother said they would always be with her, but she couldn’t see her around and couldn’t feel her in the air.

She sat up. Maybe she could feel her parents outside, with the trees and the fresh air. She put her feet on the ground and, in her night-gown, walked downstairs and outside. She walked across the street with the cold early morning air teasing goose bumps out of her skin. She walked to the biggest tree she could find.

Edward went to wake Dorothy for morning oatmeal and found her bed empty, but still warm. The door to the bathroom was open, so he peeked inside: she wasn’t there. He quickly checked all the other rooms. Then he looked out the front window and saw a small figure over in the park across the stree. He ran outside in his bathrobe and slippers.

“Dorothy! Honey, what are you doing?”

Dorothy turned around and looked at her uncle. “I want Mother and Father.” Her eyes were wet and pink with tears. Her bare feet were dirty.

Edward ran to her and picked her up. He put his hand on the top of her hair; it was damp from the morning fog.

“I know. I know.”

Edward stood holding her for a minute, rocking her gently back and forth, and thought about what she had said on their way home from the funeral. He looked up at the trees and wondered about his sister and her husband.

Don’t Dogs Do the Strangest Things?

Posted in Crime fiction, Horror Fiction with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2013 by stantonmccaffery

Their second day in the house was when she found the skulls.

17 Brian Street had been on the market for two years before John and Susan Myers moved in. With the depressed credit market, it was hard for them to get a mortgage. They persisted and eventually prevailed even if the neighborhood they moved into was a bit odd – there were cat ladies, women in moo moos that sat on their porches all day, and crazy men that cursed obscenities at the sky when it rained.

Susan didn’t care. She had her own home, and more importantly, she had her own yard. At last, she could garden without having to get approval from some stuck up nosey-ass landlord. The day after the closing, Susan woke up and went to Home Depot. She picked up shovels, trowels, a hoe, fertilizer, some flowery gardening gloves, and tomato seeds.

She sped home like a demon, put on her new gloves, got on her knees, and stuck the trowel into the ground. The soil smelled just like it should have, like dirt. She stirred it up. She smiled. Just when she had made the dirt soft enough to sift through her fingers, she stuck her hand into the ground. She hit something hard.

She tapped on it with her finger. It wasn’t a rock. She got her hand around it and pulled out a white, dirty oval. She brushed it off. It was a dog’s skull. A little creepy, but still quaint. Someone had loved their dog so much they buried them in their front yard to keep them close.

She shook her head and thought that even though she’d be disturbing someone else’s memories, she had to dig up the rest of the skeleton. Her tomatoes wouldn’t grow with the dead dog there. What she pulled out of the ground next is what gave her the stroke. It was another skull, but this one didn’t belong to a dog. This one belonged to a human, an infant human.

The dog’s name was Farrah, but no one knew the baby’s name. Farrah’s owner Mitchell was the last person to see the baby before he buried it underground and even then it was already dead.

Mitchell was a drunk and beat Farrah daily, usually with a mop handle for peeing in the house. Farrah never attacked Mitchell, but she growled at him constantly and every once and a while during walks, she would come to a dead stop for no reason. She’d lock her legs and refuse to budge. She was a Doberman, and a strong Doberman.

One day, Farrah pulled this stunt on the way home from the liquor store. Mitchell had already guzzled his weight in alcohol before he went out to restock and didn’t have the strength to pull Farrah or the patience to try to persuade her to walk. He dropped the leash, told his dog she could find her own fucking way home, and walked away.

When Farrah came home she had a dead baby in her mouth. She was carrying it softly and hadn’t left even the tiniest tooth mark in its flesh. She rested the body on the front lawn and sat down next to it. She started to whimper.

When Mitchell saw what Farrah had brought home, he freaked. He tried to grab the baby and stuff it in a garbage bag but Farrah barked and twitched as if she’d contracted rabies. She lunged at his hand and showed her white dagger-like teeth and pink gums. Mitchell ran into the house and came back out with a shovel.

“Come here Farrah,” he said softly with the shovel behind him. “I’m sorry honey,” he said, alcohol steaming from his mouth.

With her head down she walked closer. When she was within an arm’s length, he came down hard on the top of her head. Her teeth crunched and her skull cracked. She bled from her eye sockets. He gave her a few more solid whacks to make sure she was dead.

He dug a deep hole and threw in the baby and then the dog.

“Some poor asshole is gonna go to dig a garden and give themselves a fuckin’ stroke,” he said.