If you think you know where a story I am writing is going, think again.
I rarely write fiction dealing with familiar horror tropes. I've dabbled, but even at that, the story is usually about something else. That something else is the focus, the tropes are littered in the path, nothing more. As "Becoming Human" opens, we are introduced to Detective Roberto "Bobby" Vera, locked into a cat and mouse chase with a copycat killer. A copycat killer mocking Vera's most famous case. But then, at the point where the comment above was made, everything you think you've been reading goes sideways, crashing to the floor.
As a writer, I work hard at learning how to better convey the stories filling my head. I am never satisfied as much as understand when a story works. There's always better, yet with a handful of stories, I know I've gotten as close as I can Right Now--perhaps later, as I grow as a writer and learn more, I will get even closer, but perfection is never a part of the deal. And I don't mind. I also don't mind working hard to improve what I do. Always. Anyway, the point is, with "Becoming Human," I feel I've gotten close. Solid wood on the baseball, that is a home run, perhaps it's tape measure. Oy, sorry, that analogy has been floating around in my head for the last few days in many formations, I've just stripped it to the bare bones, haha...
This one is not for the light-hearted, either. There are a couple of truly nasty scenes meant to evoke a response from the reader; one scene in particular. Why? Because if I'm going to go dark, it's going to be pitch black, so when we rise out and into the light again, it's euphoric. I remember a response from an early reader of this story who said she really enjoyed hardcore fiction...and how this one almost turned her stomach. I swear, after the mess of what Detective Vera goes through in this story, when I read the final sequence, I cannot help but tear up. Such an emotional ride.
I'm not here to tuck you into bed with a kiss on your forehead and wishing you Sweet Dreams. I am here to shake things up, to make you think, to let you know you are alive and breathing... Because when it goes dark in this one, when Evil shows its face...then when that something else shows Its face, well--
All bets are off.
Here's a clip from the beginning. Get the feel, the tone, then remember, you have no idea where this one is going. You'll appreciate that when you get there.
Detective Roberto “Bobby” Vera clenched his large, gnarled fists, then opened them wide and took the bottle of whiskey in one hand, the shot glass in the other. He set the glass down and tipped the bottle against his eager lips. He needed the burn. He needed to have his insides cauterized by the harsh liquid. He set the bottle down, head swimming in dismal thoughts, drowning in the knowledge of what came next. Moving the mouse, he clicked on the arrow to the video clip sent to him by a copycat killer, rapist, and worse— a strange statement, but Vera understood the vile contingencies of “worse;” it crippled his every thought— and cursed God, cursed his mere existence, and cursed the deranged déjà vu mockery playing out before him on the monitor.
He set out on his path to the abandoned factory in northern California immediately after watching the clip. He had done this before. Done exactly this before. It may have been a different factory the first time, but the gist of what was in motion was a perfect reproduction. What he’d just watched looked like the work of the fiend from that other time.
His primary thought was that, despite the spot-on similarities, he could not let it reach a similar finality. This time there would be no questions asked, no chance for this bleak acolyte to weave his heinous philosophy into Vera’s now broken mind. He would unload the whole magazine into the madman and walk away. Though he’d been working with the FBI once the copycat crimes had commenced, and he was contacted by this unoriginal yet still quite lethal perpetrator for the finale, he needed no interference. Now… now he had to be alone to deal with this as he knew he must. He saw no other way, having spent the last three months on a condensed, accelerated reliving of the fourteen-year case that defined his reputation, yet tainted his life thereafter.
The case of Corbin Andrew Krell: Krell the Destroyer, Krell the Creator.
This, from Krell, a taste of his aforementioned heinous philosophy:
“Evil should not be, Detective Vera. Truly never can be. But in defining it as such, an inherent human bond with negativity confirms its very existence. Its mere acknowledgement cancels its credibility. Evil is nothing—the lack of anything of substance— made concrete as a balance to everything else. Evil is not, yet it is a part of each human, because humans welcome its participation in their lives. They speak of it in anger or disgust, fear or even wonder— the most appropriate response— giving it a stronger foundation with every passing thought it distorts. Though within their pliable minds, they welcome it with the glee of the ignorant, nurturing the unthinkable, thinking the unimaginable, imagining the most horrid, abysmal designs, embellishing them with an insidious veracity until evil is as substantial a reality as their next breath. I strive for something else, beyond evil’s claustrophobic clutches. I strive to transcend evil by becoming pure nothing. I strive as my followers strived.” He paused, his ideology a cancer, spreading… “I am, yet I strive to not be. Do you understand, comrade?” His tone suggested fellowship, disciples of the same obscene religion. Vera did not believe evil and madness required mutual participation, yet with the latest developments from Krell in The Pit, he was not sure anymore. Because this latest stage moved beyond logic he could fathom. Krell hadn’t even touched on the questions of his copycat follower, besides a curt, “My footsteps are deep. Many shall follow my path.”
This one goes even deeper than pitch black, if that's possible...
Autumn in the Abyss will be published 3/3/14, which is tomorrow. You ready? Here's the link for the Amazon page. Pre-orders for the paperback are available. The Kindle version will be ready to purchase sometime Monday.
Please check it out, purchase it, love it, fear it, immerse yourself in it and let it shake things up for you in a good way. One more blog post on the stories within the collection, that will probably be up Tuesday or Wednesday.
Here's not just one, but many copycats. Meow.