Category Archives: horror writing

Books That Make You Hurt

242757

Yes, I read this book.  Yes, it scared the poop out of me.  Yes, it made me cry.  This is a uniquely horrific horror story that is so realistic that you know that it has actually happened in real life somewhere, sometime.  Only the names of the characters would be different.

I have a deep abiding respect for Richard Peck as a writer.  He earned that with his books A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago.  Those books made me laugh so hard it blew chocolate milk out of my nose.  And, yes, I was drinking chocolate milk at the time.  They are so realistic because the people in those stories are real people.  I know those people personally.  Of course, they have different names in real life.

But Are You In the House Alone? is a very different book from those other two masterpieces.  It tears your heart out and eats your liver because it is a first person narrative in the voice of a high school girl being stalked by a sexual predator.  Everything that happens to Gail in the high school, at home, and at the house where she babysits is hyper-real with horror movie levels of attention to detail.  I don’t wish to be a spoiler for this well-written book, but the narrator does not die in the book and it definitely does not have a happy ending.  For anyone who has the amount of empathy I do, and in many ways becomes the narrator-character by reading, reading a book like this can physically hurt.  A teacher like me has lived through horrible things like this happening to students before, it even happened to me as a boy, and it adds the slings and arrows of those things being re-lived as you read.

This is not the only book that has ever done this sort of damage to my heart strings.  I remember the pain from the conclusion of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop.  You root for Little Nell and boo Daniel Quilp.  But the bad guy wins.  No happy ending can linger in the harp-strings of your memory-feeling song as long as a tragic outcome does.  I was there with Scout in that ridiculous costume in the dark when Bob Ewell was attacking her brother Jem in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  That story was filled with wise and laughable things, but the stark horror of that climactic moment nearly wiped all the good feelings away, if not for the heroics of ghostly Boo Radley whose timely intervention brings it all back before the novel ends.  It horrifies me to admit it, but I was there, too, in the moment when the boys all turn on Simon on the beach with their sharpened sticks in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.  They mistook him for the monster.  I still haven’t fully recovered from that reading trauma.

The thing about books that hurt to read which makes it essential that I never try to avoid them, is that they can add more depth and resonance to your soul than any light and fluffy piece ever could.  Life is much more like Lord of the Flies than it is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  I am sadder but wiser for having read Are You In the House Alone?  I am recommending it to other readers like me who don’t so much live to read as they read in order to live.  Not because it is easy and good to read, but because it is hard and essential to read.  It will hurt you.  But it will leave you like it leaves its narrator, damaged, but both alive and purely resolved to carry on.

Leave a comment

Filed under book reports, book review, horror writing, insight, inspiration, irony, old books, reading

Dutiful Dad

Today I go to pick up the family at the airport before noon. They have been visiting my oldest son in Virginia since last Wednesday.  Not exactly a larkish vacation in the middle of the school year, they went there to be with him while he had surgery on Thursday.  The trip caught me at a time when I am simply not well enough to travel, even by airplane.  My arthritic back problem doesn’t allow for long periods of sitting.  So I got to stay at home and take care of the dog and do what housework I could…  You know, the stuff dads are expected to do when they get left out of a family vacation… again.  So, I washed some dishes… but not all of them.  I laundered some bedding… but only my own.  I cut some grass… but only the tall stuff behind the house.  I did enough work that the boss shouldn’t be too mad at me when she returns home.  I did get her car’s oil changed, though I don’t do that myself any more.

But while the cat’s away…

It’s not what you are thinking…

And why are you thinking THAT?

I broke out the paints and HO Model train stuff that needed painting, updating, and repair.

C360_2017-04-16-08-47-57-126

Fun for me may be defined differently than it is for you.

C360_2017-04-16-08-48-42-486

I put snow on buildings with white puff paint where there was never snow before.

A real whee of a time, I know.  But it’s not like I could go out dancing… or singing in the rain.  My life and my jollies are a bit slower and more sedate than they used to be.

I also wrote a bit more of my werewolf novel re-write.  And soon I must go to the airport, so enough of fast and silly Paffooney-making for me.

(**Note**  Paffooney is artwork made by my hand and connected to writing.  It’s not what you were thinking.  And why were you thinking THAT?)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, battling depression, being alone, feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, humor, illness, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Dark Thinking

C360_2017-04-03-20-36-34-397

On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house.  Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything.  It is my dark place.  I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.

But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue.  Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes.  Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.

But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side.  Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?

So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there.  I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form.  It isn’t a true story.  Ghost stories never are.  But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.

There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church.  We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog.  I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.

There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard.  He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened.  I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.

There were the nights spent in the emergency room.  Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class.  And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.

I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are.  I have spent time in his company too many times for that.  I do not fear him.  In some ways he brings welcome relief.  And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.

So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also.  I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me.  So, I think I can safely write a horror story.  And I admit I am not Steven King.  But I don’t want to be him.  I want to be Mickey.  And that is certainly scary enough for me.

4 Comments

Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel plans, photo paffoonies

Lizard Politicians

article-0-01d41d5a00000578-930_224x423

This scary-faced man is the nutball known as David Icke.  My essay today is not about him, but about his amazing conspiracy theory that puts to rest once and for all the notion that intelligent life exists on the planet Earth.  His theory clearly shows that the correct answer to the notion is, “No, there is absolutely no intelligent life on the planet Earth.”

Seriously… this man believes there is a race of reptilian aliens living in the center of the planet Earth which is apparently hollow.  But not content to live in the center of the Earth and kidnap people to eat, they morph into human form and replace world leaders and important humans with cold-blooded reptilian aliens.  Queen Elizabeth of England is one.  Both Presidents Bush are also aliens.  He offers as proof that sometimes they begin to let their disguises drop and photos have been taken that reveal the true nature of these disguised individuals.  Particularly if they are photographed or videoed poorly.

Or, you know, maybe the photos were altered slightly to bring out the change.

And you know that this theory must be true.  David Icke has all those years as a soccer commentator to back up the validity of his analysis.

Anyway… I believe he is right.  At least, metaphorically speaking.  Many of the bad guys that keep winning  against the odds and the interests of the American people are obviously cold-blooded lizards underneath.  Especially Republicans.

ted-cruz-sorry-575x383

Notice the simpering lizard grin.  The self-satisfied smile of a blood-drinker who has recently slaked his thirst on the blood of other immigrants.  He is elected by a State that is is largely made up of Hispanic immigrants, yet his idea of immigration reform centers around deportation and cruelty to people who nominally share the same cultural background as he does.  He loves to eat machine-gun bacon, cooked on the hot barrel of an assault weapon that it is his sacred second-amendment right to own and to open carry.  He is ever ready to stand his ground and shoot down anyone whom he might perceive as a threat, including, no doubt food-stamp-fed grandmothers and their children… or rather “Abuelas y nietos”.  It is not hard to believe in his cold-bloodedness.  And since he is obviously the darling of the Koch Brothers and other scions of the greedy right, it is easy to believe that he eats little children for breakfast.  Or at least wants to take public assistance  monies away from them to give it out in tax breaks to the wealthy corporate elites.tea-party-idiots-ryan

Senator Tedhkruzh

Senator Tedhkruzh, the lizard-man from the doomed planet Galtorr Prime.

These lizard politicians have sympathy for no one but the wealthy and the powerful, most of which are also presumably lizard people.  And now that the Trumpasaurus Rex has taken over the White House, the lizard people are going to feast, stripping the bones of the poor and the helpless, along with the ground meat from the withering middle class.

trumpasaurus

Does all of this nonsense about lizards scare you?  If it doesn’t, it probably should.  But none of it is my fault.  If you have to blame someone… it’s David Icke’s conspiracy theory.

8 Comments

Filed under aliens, angry rant, horror writing, humor, monsters, Paffooney, politics, satire

Terrible Trumpkin Trolls

images-2

A new Sith Lord has arisen to take charge of the new GOP Totally Dominant Empire of Evil.  He has successfully usurped the throne of power even though the Democratic candidate actually got over a million more votes than he did.

And one of the most surprising things about it is how accidentally the pieces of the Republican Empire seem to have fallen into place.

Lord Trump has benefitted from several evil and self-serving plots that the Republicans have been advancing since the rule of Lord Darth Ronny.  Reagan appointed Scalia of the Many Scales to the Supreme Court.  Scalia and Roberts (a minion appointed by Darth George W. the Rodeo Clown) created the Citizen’s United plan to bathe evil candidates in blood money from billionaires.  They also conspired to loosen the grip of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to allow voter suppression to run rampant in places like Florida, Texas, and North Carolina (two of which should’ve gone blue instead of red without the interference).  The FBI, led by Republican minion Comey, managed to keep the email scandal alive right up until the very week of the election even though they had to admit no evidence of wrong-doing was ever uncovered.  And it seems that the Russian hackery of emails and the publishing of them by Wikileaks might even be connected to statistical anomalies from districts where electronic voting machines were used.  Clinton may have lost 30,000 votes dropped by voting machines in Pennsylvania where she lost the State by 27,000.

giphy.gif

Of course, the victory conditions were not really set up to benefit Donald Trump.  The Republicans had intended all along to get a more competent Sith apprentice into the seat of ascendancy like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or even, if forced to, a (shudder) moderate like John Kasich.  But Trump used incendiary rhetoric to fill the downtrodden masses who are suffering from the demise of the middle class with hatred and blame-bombs, effectively turning them into a vast army of Trolls.  And, unfortunately for the rest of us, Trumpkin Trolls are much better shots than stormtroopers ever were.  All that time in the NRA paid off.

28272883354_5a39285ed4

So, simply by accidentally taking the power for himself, Lord Trump has killed us all.  Yes, I mean literally.  He will pull us out of climate-change agreements and revitalize the use of coal to turn this planet into Venus where it is more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface due to rampant greenhouse effects.

And he has plans to put racists, warhawks, misogynists, and criminals in the highest positions of power.  If you don’t believe me, investigate the background of Sith Apprentice Steve Bannon even just a little bit.   He claims darkness is a good thing.

“Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals) get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing,” Bannon said in an interview published Friday, his first outside of Breitbart since the election.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/18/politics/steve-bannon-donald-trump-hollywood-reporter-interview/

trump711

One might imagine that Trump Ice Cream would be Nazi flavored.

I know people who voted for Trump.  They are not racists and do not share some of the hateful ideas these Trolls embrace as their own.  I imagine they feel betrayed already by Lord Trump.  If they don’t, they should.

636142218721755809-trumpcake.png

Trump celebrated his rise to the top of the Sith leadership with a scary Trump-head cake.  Presumably during the celebration, at some point, they ate his head.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, humor, politics, rants, satire

Werewolf Inspirations

Having lived through a horror story recently, I now must work more on mine.  I have a werewolf story that I have been writing since the 1970’s.  I have been calling it The Baby Werewolf for forty-two years.  And that may have to change.  It is a story of a boy with hypertrichosis (werewolf excessive hair disease, a genetic disorder) and the family that is ashamed of him and tries to hide him forever in the attic.  Of course, if you know anything about me, you probably realize I am going to clown it up one side and down the other, because writing serious stuff is not my style… at least not without a “hefty helping of our hospitality”.  I am doing serious research now, which translated from ManicMickian means, “I am watching old werewolf movies on YouTube.”

 

I know you don’t believe I can pull off a YA novel that is a comedy about murder, wolves, and lycanthropes, with naked girls thrown in for good measure.  But watch me.  I am nothing if not willing to do practically anything to be creative.

dscn5093 (640x480)

300816_395700127149962_1053002835_n

The Baby Werewolf

A Gothic Novel by Michael Beyer

 

 

 

Opus One – Of Wolves and Men

Canto One : “Homo Homini Lupus”

 

      Dad doesn’t like it when I watch horror movies.  He says they will give me nightmares.  They will keep me from getting a good night’s sleep.  And a farm kid needs his sleep because he has to get up early in the morning to check on the pigs, give them feed, and milk the cows.  We only have five cows.  Just enough to give the Niland family the milk it needs.  We can process it ourselves because we once had a lot of milk cows.  Not so much anymore.  Things are changing in the 1970’s.  But there I was that night watching The Wolfman on Grave’s End Manor the horror movie show that comes on CBS every week on Saturday… midnight.

I don’t always do exactly what Dad says.  Fathers don’t really know everything.  Well, not… everything, everything.  So, I have this story now to tell you, and it’s a… well, horror story.  It’s about werewolves.  Little ones.  And naked girls.  And me being almost fourteen already, I have to get this story told while I can still remember every little detail.  I just won’t show it to Dad.  And if they make it into a movie, I will tell him not to go.

I was all by myself that night.  The farmhouse was dark.  Mom and Dad had taken my little brother Nathaniel to Grandma’s house and they were in Rochester, Minnesota for some medical thing.  I was supposed to look after the farm and the pigs and the cows.  Our big thirty-six-inch TV was capable of doing full color, but the horror movie on Saturday nights was almost always a black and white movie anyway.  I was almost naked while watching it.  I only had on my Fruit of the Looms and an old silver crucifix on a chain around my neck.  It was something Great Aunt Hannah Foxworth had given Mom when she died.  Hey, it was a werewolf movie after all.

Lon Chaney Jr. was the star of the movie, and he looked more like old Elmer Dawes from Norwall, Iowa than your usual movie star.  But he was great in monster movies.

3 Comments

Filed under horror writing, humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, Uncategorized

Parking Lot Nightmares

Sadie

Sometimes life is more like a car accident than a well-planned story.  You have to scrabble for themes and meaning as you undo your seatbelt to get out of the burning car before it explodes.  It was like that last night in the high school parking lot.

Princess

You see, the Princess had a U.I.L. academic competition last night.  In Texas we compete in nerd olympics so we can pretend that our kids actually learn things in school.  The Princess was a part of the science team, taking a test in competition with the nerds from the other district middle schools.  Well, she lost.  Personally, team-wise, and school-wise, the Long Middle School Falcons were shut out of the top three places.  Yes, that sucks, but she did get to compete, an honor already.  As much as this society pooh-poohs participation ribbons and feeling good about less-than-winning, sometimes they do represent real effort and real value.  It is the kind of gut-twist you put up with every year, with every competition.  Not everybody can win, and non-winners don’t deserve punishment.

But the excitement last night was not about that.  What was it about?  I don’t still completely know.

I went at 9:00 p.m. to pick her up from the Newman Smith High School competition site after her team was thoroughly beaten.  I hate high school parking lots.  You have to put up with other parents and their Texas driving skills.  We call it “driving friendly” in Texas.  It means pushing to the front of the line, cutting people off, bluffing your way through with the threat of violent collision.  In truth, if most of those parents in the parking lot had to take the driving test today, they not only wouldn’t have a license, they would be in jail to prevent vehicular manslaughter.  So, when I saw the multiple police cars at the high school, I merely assumed that some of the parents of UIL contestants had been “driving friendly” a little too hard.

Well, I pulled up behind the buses and got an ominous text.

“We are in lock-down.  Something happened.  Are you in the parking lot?”

“Yes.”

“My teacher says to stay in your car and keep the doors locked.  Wait until I tell you that we have been cleared.  The police are here.”

Well, that was tense.  Twenty minutes of sitting in the car not knowing what was going on… not knowing how to find out.  Finally I get another text.

“You have to pick me up back at Long.  They are taking us out to the bus at the back of the school.”

So, I drove the ten blocks to Long Middle School and waited in the parking lot there.  Far fewer parents in cars to run into, so it had its plusses.

Finally the bus arrived.  My daughter had to sign the teacher’s roll call of students before she would be released for me to take her home.  It was already 10:30.

“We’re sorry for this,” one of the teachers told me.

“The principal will probably call you tomorrow and explain what happened,” said another teacher.  Personally, I didn’t really care what happened.  She was safe, and that was what mattered.

“I don’t know what happened, Dad,” the Princess said, “but the police were looking for a man with an AK47.  At least, I think that’s what they told me.”

Ah, Texas.  The right to bear arms truly makes us rest at ease.  Except, I do not want to have the arms of a bear.

9 Comments

Filed under gun control, horror writing, humor, Paffooney