Yes, the title story, the one that, as noted in the previous blog post, kicks the door in, splinters it into pieces, and whittles what’s left into one ultra-dark and deeply perverse tale.
(I'm chatty today, bear with me.)
Our narrator, James, is an anti-social, anti-human character, originally sculpted with a nod to Thomas Ligotti in mind, his work some of the deepest darkness out there, with philosophical foundations and that pervasive anti-everything mindset; this character was created out of a perception of Ligotti himself, and not exactly his writing. Of course, as a piece of fiction, it uses this thinking as a launching pad, so perhaps I am the only person would even think of Ligotti as things unravel in the story, but we all need that initial spark to even put words on the paper. Just roll with the anti-social, anti-human aspects and all will be fine.
James is convinced, as he tries to fit in with our feeble race, to join a horror writer’s group, since he’s taken up the craft as a means of getting by in our pathetic world. See, his goals are of a different nature, searching for a means to connect with Dark Matter; yes, Dark Matter. He thinks of it, because of an incident from his childhood, as much more than simply that which dominates most of our galaxy. But what is revealed to him at the initial meeting knocks him for a loop, and sets the course for a truly depraved piece of work, one that shatters taboos (see the fourth section—it’s split up into five sections, 1-3-5 deal with the here and now, while 2-4 deal with his most demented history; yeah, read the fourth section, take your shower, come back for the finale), as well as leads to an ending steeped in…let’s say, it’s obvious what is happening, but an ambiguous quality is threaded into it all. Lots of questions of reality and perception are asked. The story even asks that proverbial chicken and egg question within the scope of horror fiction: what came first, the psychological or the supernatural? I’m a firm believer that anything is possible and there’s no reason not to explore all possibilities. And utilize them, if necessary or, more so, if the story demands it.
There’s a LOT of layers in this one. I can’t stand fiction that doesn’t have more going on than it seems. Surface level fiction might be a fun read, but if there’s nothing there to think on afterwards, I tend not to care. Most of the fiction I enjoy is full of layer upon layer, both in substance and in writing technique, I suppose. [Thinks on it; more thinking on things? Guess I’m into this thinking deal…] Yes, the writing as well; as in, use of metaphors and descriptive nuances and such. I enjoy writing that engages the senses in every way, firing the synaptic hardware in my head with much to contemplate. I read a lot of fiction over the summer that really filled me with more possible avenues to add to my fiction; it was part of a kind of research I was conducting, quite helpful and eye-opening. I love to constantly learn and grow; I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills as a writer. Growth is paramount. Never standing still, not me…
So, a sample? Hard choice, here’s something to just make your brain go, “What the…?” The first meeting, where the revelation is made, but more so, pay attention: these words are from James’ work, and his work is close to his heart in more ways than imagined. Layers, I tell ya…
Here’s James, not impressed by these people and ready to leave:
“Good day or, rather, good night,” I said, not needing explanations or anything more to do with them. I turned to leave.
As I made the door, Stan piped up, “‘The knocking on my apartment door grows more desperate by the second, as if the import of each ‘thump’ holds within its resonance the secrets of the known and unknown world…and they are about to be revealed to me. I close my eyelids, the parchment flesh motivated by instinct and not necessity, as the orbs that used to reside within the empty sockets work feverishly in what used to be the corner of the front room. They have scalloped out the edges and angles and created a curvature--the appropriate warping of space required to consider the possibilities within the universe and, hence, within myself; the appropriate invitation to dark matter in all its churning, pitch-black glory. The solid black orbs view everything around them, the scope of their--of my-- vision completely unlimited. Because they are my eyes, even if they move beyond the usual assumptions of what one would expect from one’s eyes, they are still part of my faculties, though now of a more tactile, more kinetic function; unlimited in more ways than the visual.’”
“‘My metamorphosis is in full bloom ’” Teri said, her voice cracking.
I’m sure I was shaking now; this may have been the most purely human I had ever felt in my life, despite my experiences or perhaps because of them.
“Please,” Stan said, no laughing now, me realizing his laughter had nothing to do with anything humorous. No, there was obviously something more insidious in motion here.
My eyes felt hot with dread; my heart had sunk to my belly and felt like it was boiling in the acid there. I walked back to the group and sat down.
“Sorry for that, but there really is no reason to pussyfoot around it.”
I had only one thought at that moment: How could they quote verbatim the opening paragraph to my novel?
Hmmm…so, that bit is close to his heart, eh? Strange heart, this guy. And what the heck is he talking about--his eyes, separate from him, doing what? Oh, dear, weird, weird stuff, and just the tip of the diseased never-melting iceberg lodged in his warped head. Trust me, you won’t believe where this one ends...
Actually, the story within the story was from another story I was attempting to write that I could not get my head wrapped around. When I needed James' novel here, what the group somehow also knows, I immediately knew I had a home for the other piece. See, writing, even when sometimes things don't end up how you think they will, some of that work can be utilized eventually, as seen here.
So, just a taste, but lots to comprehend. This is no simple tale of zombies or vampires, oh no; this tale explores deeper, more disturbing facets of the psyche. This one… [shakes head] phew!
Next up: gender aspirations gone awry. (Huh? Stick with me, you’ll see.)