Sunday, December 18, 2011

Steinbeck, via Rush, Gone Sideways: "My True Name."

Story ideas come up in the strangest ways. Here's an amusing example. In an email correspondence with a good friend, I had made a reference to Alex Lifeson, guitarist for the excellent prog-metal-something-more-than-that-band, Rush. In his response, he made a joke I missed, mentioning somebody named, "Bill DeathDaughter." When questioning him, he mentioned Lifeson and yeah, yeah, it all made sense in our own quirky conversation and...

The name stuck with me.

Within a day or two, I had written the core of an insidious piece of work entitled, "My True Name," starring a lethal force named, TriggerBoy, and his hapless cohort, the one with the real power, Bill DeathDaughter. 

I think of this one as my nod to Steinbeck's "Of Mice And Men," though it honestly has nothing to do with that tale besides, perhaps, a wishful ambience.  Sure, there are two intrinsically entwined characters, as well, but my guys are wandering amidst the stark fields of the midwest, and their bond is of a different, perhaps supernatural nature.  And here it all goes really, really sideways and deep into the pit of horror.  Because it is a pure horror piece, lifted into the realm of the strange by a finale of apocalyptic aspirations. 

And it's icky.  A freaky kind of icky. 

Yet there's something about it, whenever I read it, perhaps their world, that makes me think Steinbeck.  Odd. 

Here's the opening sequence, where we meet TriggerBoy and Bill DeathDaughter and experience the grim curse that is Bill's existence...


TriggerBoy sniffed the air and circled around me, bouncing to and fro like a happy puppy. “It’s time. It’s gettin’ close.”

I cringed, but with the statement, I felt it rise in me.

In my head.

The sun hung as a ripe peach, dead center of the sky. I rubbed the back of my burnt neck and continued toward the dilapidated diner, which seemed as beat down by the heat as I felt. The two cars parked in front of the diner had license plates from other states.

This was not a destination, just a break from driving, the heat, or to fill one’s belly with grease and whatever came with said grease.

I was sure there was a victim to be had.

We approached a green Honda as a couple opened their doors to exit. The mother went to open the back door, but hesitated as we neared.

“Can I help you?”said the father.

“What is…?”

A battle raged within me, between my conscience--wanting it to stop--and the uncontrollable need. My conscience always lost the battle…as if it really had a chance.

Something squirmed in my skull, something of hideous intent, a loathsome prescience: the piranhas who lived there were chewing through my brain.

I gathered my composure. It had to be played out.

“What is your name, sir?” I asked, my face twisting from him.

“Excuse me?”

The inherent goodness of human nature is a weakness. The father looked toward his wife then approached me. He stuck out his hand to shake mine. “My name is Sam. Sam Wenders. How can I help you?”

“Tell him. You gots to tell him what your name is. Tell him!” TriggerBoy was jittery with anticipation.

I stared past the father, to the car, and the little red-haired girl playing with a headless doll, seeming none the worse for the absence. Her mother stood pensively next to the open door.

I whispered to myself, “No,” but the piranhas only grew more agitated at my vacillation. As I reached for his hand--synapses sparking, setting fire to the nerves at the tips of my fingers--I said, “My name is Bill. Bill DeathDaughter.” I gripped his hand tighter and asked, “What is your true name, sir?”

His eyes went blank, and then the soiled epiphany of what was about to happen hit him hard, and he said, through clenched teeth, “My name is Sam. S-Sam DeadGirlsFather…” and then, struggling past his lips, the plea: “Please…no…”

Tears made his eyes glossy but did not wash away his dread; his desperation.

But I only saw this peripherally, as I stared at his daughter, this beautiful little girl…and her skin started to bubble, she started to melt as an ice cream cone would on hot pavement. The clipped scream from her lips was matched by her mother’s scream, her mother’s scream continuing long after the few seconds it took to turn their daughter into a puddle of steaming viscera; a stain on the backseat, never to be removed; a stain on their minds, never to be forgotten.


Funny thing, well, two funny things.  1) I can see tweaking this one, cleaning it up a bit--yes, toning down the semi-colons, Sharene--because 2) I can see this being the opening salvo to a second collection.

It originally appeared in the final anthology released by the online horror writers' group, The Parasitorium. The book was called, Parasitic Thoughts, hence, what's going on in Bill DeathDaughter's head. 

Speaking of collections, have you bought, The Dark is Light Enough for Me, yet?  Come now, you know you want to.  Not convinced, there's another fantastic 5-star review on the Amazon page, just check it out.  There's 24 'likes' too.

Before I get outta here, thought I'd let you know there will be more teasers again from the collection, we'll get deeper into some of the stories, I think.  I'll also be heading out to the AlternaWorld for more adventures dealing with the collection.  That and there's some poetry coming up, including my Christmas poem with a Bukowski vibe or, ah, you'll see.

Here's the cover art for the The Parasitorium: Parasitic Thoughts anthology.

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