Category Archives: horror writing

The Wolf in My Dreams

wolfgirl

Rosemary Hood was a bright, blond seventh grader who entered my seventh-grade Gifted English class in September of 1998.  She introduced herself to me before the first bell of her first day.

“I am definitely on your class list because my Mom says I belong in gifted classes.”

“Your name is Rosemary, right?”

“Definitely.  Rosemary Bell Hood, related to the Civil War general John Bell Hood.”

“Um, I don’t see your name on my list.”

“Well, I’m supposed to be there, so check with the attendance secretary.  And I will be making A’s all year because I’m a werewolf and I could eat you during the full moon if you make me mad at you.”

I laughed, thinking that she had a bizarre sense of humor.  I let her enter my class and issued her copies of the books we were reading.  Later I called the office to ask about her enrollment.

“Well, Mr. Beyer,” said the secretary nervously, “the principal is out right now with an animal bite that got infected.  But I can assure you that we must change her schedule and put her in your gifted class.  The principal would really like you to give her A’s too.”

So, I had a good chuckle about that.  I never gave students A’s.  Grades had to be earned.  And one of the first rules of being a good teacher is, “Ignore what the principal says you should do in every situation.”

But I did give her A’s because she was a very bright and creative student (also very blond, but that has nothing to do with being a good student).  She had a good work ethic and a marvelous sense of humor.

She developed a crush on Jose Tannenbaum who sat in the seat across from her in the next row.  He was a football player, as well as an A student.  And by October she was telling him daily, “You need to take to me to the Harvest Festival Dance because I am a werewolf, and if you don’t, I will eat you at the next full moon.”

All the members of the class got a good chuckle out of it.  And it was assumed that he would. of course, take her to the dance because she was the prettiest blond girl in class and he obviously kinda liked her.  But the week of the dance we did find out, to our surprise, that he asked Natasha Garcia to the dance instead.

I didn’t think anything more about it until, the day after the next full moon, Jose didn’t show up for class.  I called the attendance secretary and asked about it.

“Jose is missing, Mr. Beyer,” the attendance secretary said.  “The Sherrif’s office has search parties out looking for him.”  That concerned me because he had a writing project due that day, and I thought he might’ve skipped school because he somehow failed to finish it.  When I saw Rosemary in class, though, I asked her if, by any chance, she knew why Jose wasn’t in class.

“Of course I do,” she said simply.  “I ate him last night.”

“Oh.  Bones and all?”

“Bone marrow is the best-tasting part.”

So, that turned out to be one rough school year.  Silver bullets are extremely expensive for a teacher’s salary.  And I did lose a part of my left ear before the year ended.  But it also taught me valuable lessons about being a teacher.  Truthfully, you can’t be a good teacher if you can’t accept and teach anyone who comes through your door, no matter what kind of unique qualities they bring with them into your classroom.

 

4 Comments

Filed under education, horror writing, humor, Paffooney

We Are All Gonna Die

20180624_09xx4944

I hope you listened to Joe.  Not just the first part, then got bored and disgusted and turned on Fox News.  I hope you listened all the way to the end and heard the hopeful things he says there.  He is a very good video essayist who uses real science to reason with you about questions that are really about life and death.  One way we may be going to die as a species is through climate change and global warming.  The dire predictions we get from climate scientists, whom nobody seems to take seriously, are becoming increasingly alarming.  If we are too stuck in our own little kingdoms and don’t look the castle windows at the weather outside, we are not only going to have our parades rained on, it will be acid rain, and the parade marchers will get boiled on the hoof as they march.

McConnell-and-Dracula-e1499321042132-387x400

Those of us who put too much faith in the Trump Train, burning its beautiful clean coal, are going down to the bottom when we get to the canyon bridge and the train roars off the tracks.  Just ask Paul Manafort after his trial ends, or Jeff Sessions after Trump fires him to make racist sausages out of him to serve at an I-Love-Putin Picnic, what the ride has been like on the Trump Tongue Express.

But, of course, the Pumpkinhead in Chief is not the only reason we have no money and no jobs and are going to be roasted to death in a polluted world.  There is also the little matter of Trillions of Dollars in Debt that was racked up to make the rich richer and people like me foot the bill.

I know you may be suspicious of an interview conducted on RT which is an arm of Russian propaganda in the USA.  But I should point out, if you like Trump, you like Russia already, and both of these journalists, Chris Hedges and David Cay Johnston, are not afraid to tell the unvarnished truth.  That means the mainstream media is uncomfortable about putting them on the air, and those who want to stir up trouble find it easiest to do that by simply allowing access to researched facts and basic truths we are reluctant to hear.

If you don’t believe in the predictions offered by science, it is bound to be because of one of two different things.  Either you see the science and follow how the results of computer models become overwhelmingly dire, disgusting you with a total lack of optimistic outcomes, or you reject science in favor of the oil companies’ rose-colored fairy-tale outlooks where unicorns will consume CO2 clouds and fart out benevolent rainbows.  From where I stand now, broke and old and ill, it doesn’t matter much to me.  In the short time frames we are looking at for global-warming Armageddon, I will undoubtedly reach the end of my natural life.  I probably won’t be around for the horrific-suffering part of how this all is going to end.

I know if you haven’t turned away from this heat-death-of-the-planet idea already, you are probably pretty depressed by this point in the essay.  I know I am.  It does not bode well for my children and any future grandchildren.  But I will leave you with the reminder that we are human beings.  And human beings are complex and able to solve large complex problems.  We put men on the moon.  (Or we did the even harder job of faking it and not letting the secret be discovered for fifty years, complete with space-travel debris on the moon that you can take photographs of from earth with a really good telescope.)  So, just maybe this massive terrifyingly horrible problem can yet be solved in the nick of time.  I do believe in the good that can be found in mankind.  But I also see the corruption and evil.  So hopefully Mark Twain’s final hope for mankind, that this time when God drowns us, there will be no Ark, will be thwarted.  Believe me, I have no wish to die a horrible death.  But I am a pessimist after all.

5 Comments

Filed under angry rant, battling depression, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, Liberal ideas, pessimism

Political Pessimism

20180727_095403

I get tired of being the one whose blood is constantly sucked by vampires.  And I am not talking about actual blood so much as money I need to live.  Every time I turn around another corporate vampire is sticking a fang or a needle into my bank account to exsanguinate it more.  I owe more money than I can pay to the IRS.  I owe a huge gob of money to hospitals for the last two hospitalizations that struck my family.  And these are blood suckings that occurred after I went bankrupt at the end of 2017.  Why do I have these woes from things sucking on my neck?  Well, one thing that is staring me right in the face is how the current government, run by Republicans, is enabling corporate vampires who pump the economic blood out of middle class and working poor people like me and feed it into the gaping bloody maws of ever-engorging CEO’s,  fatbat investors, and wealthy one-percenters.

bhCpWbv

You are not going to believe this, but I found an article that says Mitch McConnell is directly descended from Dracula.  You can see it for yourself at this link. So let me expand on this with a list of dire predictions for our economic health and wellbeing generated from my blood-deprived pessimist’s brain.

  • Even though it looks like the Trumpula Administration is about to implode from chaos overload due to porn stars and betrayals by lawyers, it is a very long-lived undead thing and will continue to survive.
  • Republicans will continue to suck trillions of dollars of our economic blood because they will win in a large way due to legal gerrymandering, voter suppression, and Russian assistance by hacking.  The minions of the vampire lords are many.  And at least a third of the American population is zombified to the point that no evil act committed by Trumpula will make them vote against him.
  • Midwestern farmers will all be driven out of business by Trumpula’s tariffs and trade wars with all their most important market countries.
  • The bread basket of the world will be turned into a toxic goo factory by Monsanto (noted vampire brand for GMO-based mind-controlling food substitutes).
  • We will all become mindless zombies and happily vote Trumpula into the presidency for life in 2020.
  • And then the whole world will gradually cook itself through un-combatted global warming into a lifeless orb fit only for the undead.

So there you have my rosy outlook on not only my economic future but that of everybody who is not currently a billionaire blood-sucking corporate vampire.  I say “rosy” only because red is the color of blood which is draining away from my bank account at this very moment.  I know it is an over-exaggerated conspiracy theory worthy of Alex Jones at his top-of-the-lungs shoutiest, but if Trumpula could become president, then any possible horror show could soon be coming to life.

Leave a comment

Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, humor, Paffooney, pessimism, politics, villains

H. P. Lovecraft Gaming

call_of_cthulhu_gw

Back in the early 1990’s my little group of game players turned the full power of nerd obsession on the fantasy role-playing game Call of Cthulhu.  It is a totally weird little game based on the novels and short stories of H. P. Lovecraft.   It is a game about solving mysteries that, if successfully solved, will lead you to confrontations with all-powerful ancient evils that you cannot win against.  And you keep playing until your character absorbs so many insanity points that they go completely insane.  Your character then becomes a minion of demonic and irresistible evil that the next player character you roll up will have to hunt and defeat.  It is not a game you ever win.  You merely have to learn to survive and stay sane, things at which the game is set up to make you fail.

In 1991 the television gods took an old vampire soap opera that I had loved in the 60’s and remade it.  Dark Shadows came back to life starring Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins (the Chariots of Fire guy playing the vampire role that would later have a part in the downfall of Johnny Depp.)  The lead player in our group, a kid who was such a nerd that he would go one to be in the intelligence division of the Marine Corps, decided his character would have to be the vampire Barnabas Collins.  He reasoned that the only way to fight big evils was to fight back with evil that had been converted back to goodness.

And his instincts were good.  Barnabas and his lady love, Victoria Winters, were the only player characters not eaten by the minions of Nyarlathotep in the first adventure.  And Victoria had to be raised from the dead by having Barnabas turn her into a Vampire.

20180512_104247

Of course, the very next challenge would be from a white witch voodoo priestess from New Orleans, the Vampire hunter Sofia Jefferson.  (She was an NPC, not Sofie’s player character).  And she had a special potion that, given to a vampire, would restore it to normal human life.

This was a problem for Barnabas, because he really depended on his powers as a vampire and was not willing to go on without those powers.  So the vampire hunter had to be avoided without killing her and putting an end to her good work fighting evil.  If you can’t tell from the picture, Sofia was blind, yet could see with uncanny vision through sightless eyes.

20180512_103425

The next player character added to survive more than one adventure borrowed Luis’s vampire idea by making his character from the movie Darkman, a Liam Neeson movie about a doctor who had burned his face off, but could become other people by wearing their cloned skin.  He was the lead investigator to help solve the werewolf problem in the bayou , and took on the dark circus adventure where the foolish sideshow people were trying to make money exhibiting the captured Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

20180512_104746

There was a lot of death and horrible murders in those game sessions, but not committed by the player characters.  They had to keep good notes and draw conclusions and manage their characters’ powers and assets.  Notes like these;

And so, while the game never ended to my satisfaction, the players did get the feel of acting in a horror movie and fighting on the side of goodness against evil.  It was weird, but definitely worth doing.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, Dungeons and Dragons, horror movie, horror writing, humor, Paffooney

Hearts in Atlantis (a book review)

542830

I finished reading this marvelous book over this dreary sunshiny weekend.  And I am totally surprised by how much I loved it.

This marvelous book, Hearts in Atlantis, is a book by Stephen King, whom I have always considered a dreary sunshiny popular writing hack.  I have learned by it, how wrong I have been all along about this author.  He is now established in my mind as a serious literary giant  (as opposed to a comic literary giant like Kurt Vonnegut or Terry Pratchett).  He deals with the emotions of fear, loss, angst, and regret, and so falls too easily into the horror writer category.  I misjudged him for so many years because I read Carrie, his first success, and Firestarter… well, I tried to read Firestarter and only got 40 pages in when it was due back at the library… and… I mean, I never fail to finish a book I have chosen to read.  And then I did.  But both of those books showed me a writer who was trying too hard, following some road map of novel writing borrowed from some other writer he admired.  And it all becomes formulaic and trite, sometimes even boring.  He is mimicking someone else’s voice.  I filed him in the “authors who are hack writers” drawer next to R.L. Stine.

But this book proved me totally wrong.  I had to take King out and put him in a different drawer.  It starts out as a typical Stephen King monster story with a first section with a young boy as the protagonist and introducing us to the monstrous “low men in yellow coats”.  But it is a total trick to draw us in.  And it is even a very good monster story.  Like H.P. Lovecraft he has learned the lesson that a good monster story is not about the monster.  And showing us the monster directly is something that should only be done very briefly, at just the right moment in the plot.  Like the works of David Mitchell, this section connects you to threads from King’s other books, especially the Dark Tower series, which I must now read in the very near future.  Stephen King has learned through practice to write like a master.

But the theme doesn’t really start to score ultimate literature points until he tricks us along into part two.  The hearts in the title is actually the card game.  It is a card game that takes over the lives of college boys in a dormitory in the 1960’s.  They play it for money and it takes over their lives to the point that they flunk out of school at a time when that means they will be drafted and sent to Vietnam.  And the characters that are immune to the pull of the hearts game (also a metaphor for the second protagonist’s love life) fall victim to the urge to take on the government and protest the war.  Hence the “sinking of Atlantis” metaphor means the loss of innocence, and the devastation that comes from making choices when you are young that will haunt you forever.

2222e587e1e026a0f9f57358afc1142b--heart-images-free-illustrations

The post-war section of the book is filled with hubris, regret, lost love and stoic determination that is barely rewarded for only two characters in the entire plot.  I won’t of course, say anything that is a plot spoiler.  This is a horror story, and it is not my place to reveal the truth about the monster.  I can only tell you that this story is a devastating read for those of us old enough to remember.  And it is a fine work of dreary sunshiny fiction that frightens us with its truthfulness.

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under book reports, book review, good books, horror writing, metaphor, monsters, NOVEL WRITING, reading, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Call of Cthulhu

20180414_081528
I feel the need to take up the subject of a role playing game that I planned for and played to a limited degree, but explored to the point of insanity.


But I am recovering now from the double-danged downers of taking care of my bankruptcy case and paying off a surprise new tax penalty that nearly sank my little boat. Therefore, I can’t go into this in depth until my mind is more fortified against the depredations of Yog Sothoth.
20180414_081549
So, next week I will begin talking endlessly and listlessly about the infinite insanity of Call of Cthulhu, the role-playing game. In a gibbering, half-insane manner, I will describe the playing of a game where you confront the depths of human darkness in an indifferent and terrifying world. And I will attempt to explain why a school teacher in his right mind (as much as a middle school teacher can be in his right mind) would ever take up such a game. So, stay tuned to Mickey the Dungeon Master’s silly little Saturday D&D blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, horror writing, humor, illustrations, surrealism

Is Mickey Icky?


This post is about writer doubt. And Stephen King. Do those two things go together? If they don’t then Mickey is an awful writer and does not know how to do what he does. It would mean Mickey is icky.
532212_503279773040663_1824445573_n
I used to think Stephen King was a totally over-rated writer. Back in the early eighties I read Carrie, King’s first novel, and got halfway through Firestarter, and had to give up. Partly because the book was overdue at the library, and also because I found the books mechanical and somewhat joyless in the writing. I thought he suffered greatly in comparison to writers I was in love with at the time like Ray Bradbury and Thomas Mann. I began to tell others that King was somewhat icky.
king-901x676
But King was obviously also somewhat successful. He began to get his books made into movies and people who don’t read discovered the evil genius of a man who tells stories to scare them and laces them with a bit of real humanity, real human feeling, and love.
I saw it first in Stand by Me. That movie, starring young Wil Wheaton as the Steven King autobiographical character, really touched my heart and really made for me a deep psyche-to-psyche connection to somebody who wasn’t just a filmmaker, but somebody who was, at heart, a real human being, a real story-teller.

Now, the psyche I was connecting to may very well have been Rob Reiner, a gifted story-teller and film-maker. But it wasn’t the only King movie that reached me. The television mini-series made from It touched a lot more than just the fear centers of my brain as well. And people whose opinions I respect began telling me that the books The Dark Tower Trilogy and Misery were also amazing pieces of literature.
542830
So I picked up a copy of Hearts in Atlantis at Half-Price Books and began reading a Stephen King novel for the first time since the 80’s. MY HOLY GOD! King is not a little bit icky. He is so NOT ICKY that it makes Mickey sicky to have ever thought King was even a little bit icky! Here is a writer who loves to write. He whirls through pages with the writer’s equivalent of ballet moves, pirouettes of prose, grand jetés of character building, and thematic arabesque penchées on every side of the stage. I love what I have discovered in a writer I thought was somewhat icky. Growth and power, passion and precision, a real love of both the words and the story. He may not know what he is doing. But I know. And I love it.
Novel2bc Pix
And so, while I have been editing the first novel I ever wrote, Superchicken, to make it ready for self-publishing, I have begun to ask myself the self-critical question, “Is Mickey really icky when he writes?” My first novel is full of winces and blunders and head-banging wonders that make me want to throw the whole thing out. But I can’t throw it out. It is the baby in the first bathwater that I ever drew from the tap. The answer to the questions of Micky ickiness have yet to be determined, and not by me. I guess I have to leave it up to you.

Leave a comment

Filed under artists I admire, book reports, goofy thoughts, horror writing, humor, insight, irony, Mickey, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life