Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Occasional Beasts: Tales, Story Notes #3: "A Declaration of Intent"

I’d made a declaration of intent last week (excuse that), planning to get the Story Notes blog post for the third tale in my forthcoming collection, Occasional Beasts: Tales, out on, say, Thursday or Friday. Last Thursday or Friday. Well, as I was finally wrapping it up on Saturday, delayed by internet connection issues here in Rome—just something we have to deal with, especially when storms hit--one slight misstep zapped the post into cyberHell, where it remains to this day; well, it’s only a few days later, but you get my drift.

That’ll teach me! That’s why I am doing as I had done with the first two posts, typing them up in a file.

Let’s see: “A Declaration of Intent” is one of the most visceral tales you will ever read. No really. The inspiration behind it was Brian Evenson’s tale, “The Brotherhood of Mutilation,” which I’d read at some point just before writing it. That and Gary Braunbeck’s stunning, horrific novel, Prodigal Blues (my favorite by him), which I’d read quite a while ago. Elements of that novel still lingered within my writer’s brain as a possible path of exploration. The central connective tissue between those two wildly disparate tales, as hinted at more solidly with the title of Evenson’s tale is mutilation.

My tale starts subtly: 

     I am naked, lying on my stomach on the cool, dark sheets of a bed.  Everything in the room is dark, so my perception about the color of the sheets might be skewed by the absence of light.  I don’t feel right, don’t feel like myself.  I feel smaller.  I might be a child, but I don’t think like a child.  I think like myself, as I am now.  Now being relative, as dictated by the ambiguity of my present condition.

     I realize the sense of feeling smaller might be a feeling of being less than I was before this moment.  Less mass, less me.  

Before the scalpel slices deeper: 

     I am still naked, perhaps leaner than I remember.  There are markings all over my flesh.  A few quarter-sized chunks of flesh have been gouged out of my body.  I glance from the mirror to my body, noting the markings look to be made with ink. 

     These are the blueprints of some thing, of some place, I do not want to explore.

     Each quarter-sized hole is surrounded by dried blood and red, infected skin.  Pus oozes around the ridges of some of the puncture wounds.  I get the impression these holes were done as some kind of testing, perhaps to gauge how my body would react to…something more being done to it.  The markings on my flesh indicate patterns with purpose.  As if something has begun to take shape.

     A new me?   

It only escalates from there… 

If you’ve read my fiction before, you already know I enjoy body horror (“Broken Teacup,” anyone? “The Dark is Light Enough for Me”? Riding the Centipede, of course! Even The Wilderness Within, though the body transformation is less horror and is, well, something more positive; wish fulfillment?). I may veer weird, but I’m your Weird writer who enjoys messing with the body as much as the mind. I like to touch the reader in all possible ways. Horrors experienced via the physical are something all of us can relate to, especially if presented in an unflinching manner, as I try to do. With “A Declaration of Intent,” the slow mutilation with a purpose, as sculpted into the body, interlinked like puzzle pieces, perhaps—you’ll see; you’ll Read!--is done out of love. A warped, obsessive spin on love…but love, nonetheless.

*I believe my love of body horror comes from being a big fan of David Cronenberg’s movies, of which, as I am sure you know, the early ones veered deep into the horrors of the body, while still being intellectually complex, something I like to do with my fiction. Anyway, this thought came to me to earlier today as Alessandra and I were out discussing such things. šŸ˜‰

Here’s the


pre-order info for Occasional Beasts: Tales.

And here’s some tattoo art that seems appropriate…

Next up, what could be so haunting about “Dandelions”?

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