Monday, January 29, 2007

Goreless Me

I have been asked a lot why I write such gruesome stories. Why must I always show the guts plopping out of a man who just got disemboweled by his insane mother? Why must I always splatter everything I write with gore? Is it a shock factor I'm looking for? Perhaps, but that's not all. Horror has to have blood, it's just the way it works in my mind. Granted, I show a bit more than is necessary, but not all my work is blood and guts and monsters. There are quite a few, actually, that contain no blood at all within their chilling pages. Like the very short story that follows. Which isn't a horror story at all but something I can't put my finger on. Is it genre less? I don't know, you be the judge. You decide for yourself just what I wrote here, and lets see what we come up with.

Heal Me
Afraid of losing her again, Dan reached out to grab her. She backed away from him, eyes sad and weary. She shook her head and Dan burst into tears. Christ, he loved her so much! He got out of bed and stumbled toward her as she backed away toward the open closet.
"Emily." He croaked and reached out for her again.
Emily dodged his groping hands and shook her head again. She would not speak and this in itself drove Dan to the point of rage. Although he couldn't be mad at her. What did she do anyway to deserve malice? Nothing. She was the innocent one here, not he. If he should be mad at someone it should be himself.
"Em, oh Em. I love you." He whispered.
A smile bloomed on her pale face just then and he couldn't help the warmth spreading through his body. She loved him as well. He knew she did, but once, just once he'd like to hear it spoken. He knew that was impossible, of course, but he could wish could he? Yes. Yes, he could wish for it. He could hope. But Emily remained silent, her smile fading.
Dan coughed, turned and took up the half empty bottle of Jack Daniels from the nightstand beside his bed. He spun back around, swaying on his feet. She was still there, looking at him with those large lovely eyes of her. He noted both pity and sorrow swimming in them, but ignored it. Dan wrapped his lips around the mouth of the bottle and upturned it. He chugged down a couple gulps and set the bottle back down on the nightstand.
"Em." He murmured and turned back to look at her.
She was frowning now.
"Em...I. Em I can't stop. I want to. But I can't." For being drunk his words flowed out of him without much slurring.
Emily's frown deepened.
"Em." Dan said and stepped closer to her. "Em, I need to help me. The kids, they see this. They see this and know their daddy's a drunk. Heal me, Em. Please."
He dropped to his knees before her, tears building in his eyes. She looked down at him and for a moment he couldn't tell what she might be thinking or feeling. After a moment, she shook her head. Then she turned to leave.
"No! No Em! Don't go! Don't leave me! Please.."
She turned then. A smile like a billion diamonds lengthened on her face and then her lips puckered as she blew him a kiss.
"No, no, no. Don't go."
But she was gone even before he finished. She simply walked out.
Dan awoke the next morning on the floor of his bedroom. His head thrummed and his stomach felt tired and weak. Had last night even happened? He didn't know, and was afraid to even think about it. He sat up and looked at the digital alarm clock on his night stand. 12:00 PM, it read. Holy Christ, he thought, I over slept! He'd have to call work. But first he needed to see if the kids had gotten up for school today. God he hoped so. Another lecture by their princable just might drive him Loony Tunes.
Then his eyes drift to the bottle of Jack Daniels beside the alarm clock. There they stay. He got up off the floor with a groan and picked the bottle up. He looked at the amber liquid sloshing around inside and grimaced. All of a sudden just the sight of it made him sick to his stomach.
Dan dumped the bottle down the kitchen sink after checking if the kids went to school or not, they did thank God. That done, he went to the refrigerator and took out the six pack of Old Milwaukee he kept in the bottom drawer. HE cracked each open and dumped them too down the drain.
"Back to hell with you." He said and actually laughed at that.
A while later he saton the edge of his bed looking down at a newspaper clipping. The headline read: Wife and Mother of Two Killed in Blizzard
Dan sighed.
"Thank you Em." He said. "You healed me even though you couldn't. I love you." In his other hand he held their wedding photo. He kissed her and began to weep.
The End


Susan Miller said...

I'll let others label it, Lucas, since that's not really my thing. know I think we all have them. You've touched on several important points in so few words, which I think is difficult. His pain is evident and can be just as gripping as the blood dripping from a monster's mouth in a horror novel.

Oh hell, I'll go ahead and label it...It's GOOD!

Anonymous said...

As a person who sets type, a graphic designer... just this tip... it's very hard to read a story in all caps. That is why books are in upper and lower case. It is much easier on the eyes and the mind. Our brains find it hard to compute ALL CAPS FOR A STORY. ARE YOU YELLING AT ME? Because you are trying to tell a story, and this seems a peculiar thing to suggest, after all, I'm not giving you a critique on the content necessarily, just the format. But consider posting your writings in upper and lower case so that it has a more "book-like" effect. It is easier for brains to follow the flow of upper and lower case letters. This will allow readers to concentrate on the content and not try so hard to read.

Also, I liked the story. I, too, like the themes of ghosts, salvation, redemption, hurt, and love that can't be replaced.

Christina Rundle said...

That was a really heart-tugging story.

lol. I get asked "Why fantasy, can't you write something more normal?" I guess we are both getting hassled.

Lucas Pederson said...

Susan, thanks for the good words! Yeah. I wrote this after a twelve hour day and I was half asleep. But all in all I think it served its purpose.
Anonymous, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views with me. my knowledge this story isn't typed in all caps. Unless the outgoing is messed up somwhere, what I see is upper and lower case. Wierd. But thanks anyway for the kudos.
Christina, yeah, I guess we're the lost children in the literary world, huh? Seriously though, I do get a lot of snears when I say I write horror stories. And those who I have proof read for the first time often tell me that the story was good, but all that gore seemed to be too much. The way I see it though, there is a point to the gore I have in my stories, it usually either explains something that's happened or will happen, teh beginning of tragic problems, (or just because that's what I see in my mind's eye.) Who knows.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I have to reach out and tap you. "No," I say, inching closer. "Horror doesn't have to have gore. Not in the least."

You look up and shrug, but before you can respond, I get even closer, my breath hot against your ear.

"Gore and horror are two different things. Entirely. Horror is about making people uncomfortable, it's about tapping into some primal instinct and strumming it with your fingernails. There's nothing scary about ground hamburger. There's everything scary about worrying that you're going to become that character....

Without identifying with a protagonist, there's nothing. Edgar Allen Poe said that horror can only occur if there is hope. Without hope, horror is merely fatalistic."

Lucas Pederson said...

I do realize, Stewart, that horror and gore are two different things. And I agree with you 100%. I'm working on combining the two in ahppy medium. Sometimes it works out ok and other times its doesn't. I think that a horror story should have some gore in it though. Without it there would be no pending hope for the characters. I guess it works both ways. But I get you. And I'll work on the too much gore thing. Thanks for that.