Tag Archives: horror story

Writing Myself To Life

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I have been working on my novel The Baby Werewolf, and I am now in the final phase, working on the climax and crisis point.  And I surprised myself.  The killer monologues to the main characters who have now become his intended next victims.  I have played this out over and over in the twenty-two years I have been writing this book.  Last night, for the first time ever, the hero character laughs in this scene instead of the cringing fear that had always been there before.

How is such a thing possible?  What changed?  I have been writing and rewriting this story since 1996.  But it goes much deeper and darker than that.  This story went on my have-to-write list in 1966 when an older, stronger boy who lived near my home trapped me in a place out-of-sight of others and stripped me, gaining some horrible kind of pleasure by inflicting pain on my private parts.  Recovery from that has taken half a century.  The recovery itself probably explains why I struggled so long to pull this story together in a finished form.

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There are things about my writing life that are undeniable.  First of all, I have to write.  There is really no other choice for me.  My mind will never know rest or peace without being able to spin out the paragraphs and essays and stories that make it possible to know those things.  Nothing is real if I can’t write it out.  Secondly, I am a humorist.  If I can never be funny at all, can never write a joke, then I will descend into madness.  My sense of humor not only shields me and serves as my suit of armor, it heals me when I suffer psychic wounds.  This book is a horror story, but like many of the best horror stories, it relies on humor to drive every scene and knit the plot together.  And it was a breakthrough for me to have the hero character laugh instead of cringe in the critical scene.  It allows me to live again.  And love again.  And the real monster that caused this book to be, is now forgiven.  The world continues to turn.  The picture is now complete.  And soon, the novel will be too.

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Penny Dreadful (Thoughts from the Uncritical Critic)

 

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I confess to binge-watching the show Penny Dreadful, all three seasons on Netflix.   Good God!  What was I thinking?  It is everything that I cringe about in movies.  Blood and gore.  Gratuitous sex and debauchery.  I almost gave up and stopped watching when the Creature came bursting through the chest of Dr. Frankenstein’s latest creation.  And yet for a monster to be introduced to the series in such a way, and then to become the one character that strives hardest for redemption… I was hooked.

Sin and redemption is the major theme of the whole series.  And each character strives so painfully for redemption that you cannot help but love them… even though they are monsters.

You see, I, like all other people, am aware that one day, sooner than I would like, I will die and live no more.  And life, though filled with heartache and suffering and regret, is a priceless treasure to be guarded for as long as I can hold onto it.  There is poetry in that condition.  The greatest beauty that can be beheld is soon to pass away into ugliness.  The candle flame lights the darkness briefly and then is gone.

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The story is built from Victorian era literature and includes Mary Shelly’s Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a couple of werewolves, numerous witches, demons, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll, and a character named Lord Malcom Murray who is obviously based on the African explorer Allan Quartermain from King Solomon’s Mines by H.Rider Haggard.

The characters all do a lot of suffering and striving.  Friendships are formed and made blood-and-family deep by shared adventures and brushes with pure evil and death.  The main character, Vanessa Ives, is variously possessed by a demon, courted by Lucifer, hunted by witches, and then seduced by Dracula.  She uses her deep faith in God, which wavers continually, to defeat every enemy but the last.  She is also aided by a cowboy werewolf and sharp-shooter who is her destined lover, protector, and killer.  It all swiftly becomes ridiculous-sounding when you try to summarize the convoluted Gothic-style plot.  But as it slowly unfolds and reveals new terrors with every episode, it mesmerizes.  The sets, the cinematography, the costumes, and the horrifyingly sweet-sad orchestral background music puts a spell on you that, when you awaken from it, you realize you want more than is available.  Three seasons was simply not enough.

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As I believe I indicated previously, the character that almost made me give up on the series, Frankenstein’s Creature, became the most compelling character of all to me.  He began as such a violent, repellent, selfish thing… and in the end became the most self-sacrificing and tragic character in the entire drama.  He took the name of the English poet John Clare for himself, and became a tragically beautiful person.

Do I recommend that you watch this thing?  This poetic and sometimes deeply disturbing depiction of what it means to be human and be alive?  I cannot.  It was a moving personal experience for me, one that made me weep for beauty and horror at almost every episode.  No one can find that sort of thing through a mere recommendation.  It is entirely between you and your God.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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The Terrible Strip Poker Game That Sealed My Fate

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Any time you try to play Russian roulette with girlfriends, especially two girlfriends at once, especially especially two girlfriends who don’t like each other, you have to expect at some time or other, a gun is going to go off.  This happened to me during a card game.  And it was fatal.

Now, I should warn you, the innuendo in this story is R to X rated.  But the truth is neither of these two young ladies became my wife (although my wife is actually more like Ysandra than she is like Abby… a fact I probably should not reveal because I promised never to write a post like this about her).  I never consummated anything with either young lady, though in the course of five years of this double-trouble relationship thing, I had way more opportunities than I am comfortable with.  And I really don’t know if Ysandra would be upset or happy to know that she was not the first young lady I ever saw naked.

The trouble began when I said yes to Abby’s plan to have a card party at my place.  It didn’t seem like such a terrible idea at the outset.  Card parties were a thing on autumn or winter nights in the Midwest, and both Abby and I had family experiences with card parties.  Abby diligently invited others to attend.  She offered a tepid, half-hearted invitation to Ysandra… out of a sense of duty, I suppose.  She also invited Mother Mendoza to play cards with us.  Now, Endira Mendoza was the older sister of the 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Evangeline Delgado, and she had been a Catholic nun before taking a job in Cotulla to teach 7th grade Science.  Everyone called her “Mother” or “Mama” because she loved all her students like they were her own children.  And she disciplined them that way too.  “I am fed up with this nonsense!” was the phrase that her students dreaded because the use of the paddle was not banned in Texas schools in those days.  What could go wrong with a party that included everyone’s “Mama”?

Well, I didn’t know everything about the situation before I committed to the party.  Mother Mendoza looked upon Abby as the wild and carefree little sister that she always wanted and never had.  And Abby could do no wrong in her eyes.  So, apparently, she was actually in on the plot.

Ysandra never actually said no to the card party.  She just didn’t show up.  She and I had talked about the possibility of buying a house together and living together.  But she insisted she had been married and divorced for the last time in her life.  She had no intention of going through that again whether she ultimately decided whether she loved me or not.  And, while I had done her bidding and gotten in contact with the American Naturist Association in Tampa, Florida, and discovered there was a club near San Antonio, I had never actually done the naked tent-camping thing that we had discussed.

So there were only three of us at the card party.  We had the requisite soft drinks and snacks.  We had a small table to use and plenty of chairs.  And I had a pack of playing cards that I had bought at the local grocery store.  But, oh no… My cards were not to be considered.  Abby had been to a novelty store in San Antonio, and she had purchased some very special cards.

“We have to use these,” she said.  “I bought them just for you and for this card party.  Endira was with me.”

I should have realized what was going on as she pulled things out of the brown paper bag she brought with her.  They were pornographic playing cards.  Each and every one had a picture on it that would turn me bright purplish-red.

“We are going to play strip poker!” Abby announced.

I immediately looked to Mother Mendoza for the expected, “I am fed up with…” but it never came.  Endira just sat there with an embarrassed grin on her Catholic nun face.  Remember, Abby could do no wrong in her eyes.  And besides, I later learned that Abby had won her over with the temptation of getting to see me at least partially naked.  Loneliness can work strange magic even on the most virtuous of maidens.

“Urm… ah… I can’t possibly do that…” I mumbled, unable to contain my shame, and my knees visibly shaking.  “Can’t we play gin rummy or trump or one of the other card games we talked about?  I may have some UNO cards.”

“No.  We have to use the playing cards I bought, and there will be prizes if I win the gin rummy game.”

“Well, okay… I guess…”

So we played a hand of the most embarrassing game of gin rummy of my life.  I could barely stand to hold my cards in my hand, let alone look at them long enough to plan a winning strategy.

“Rummy!” she cried eventually, laying down a run of 2, 3, 4, and 5 of hearts matched with three Jacks.

“Oh, uh… another hand then?” I timidly said trying to avoid… you know.

“Oh, now, wait a minute, Mike.  You promised me my prize.”

“Um, I may have some pie in the refrigerator.”

“No.  My choice.  I bought you something.  You are going to model it for us.”

I could not speak.  She reached in her brown paper bag and pulled out a male g-string.  I am not going to tell you what happened next because I may have fainted.  Suffice it to say that everything in this story is true… except I changed the names.   Any lies that are part of this story are lies of omission.  There are certain things I can’t tell you even thirty years later.

Ysandra forced me to reveal every little detail about the card party on a later date, and she got one of the best laughs of her life over it… at my expense.

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I eventually said goodbye to both of these young ladies.  Between the two of them, although I later realized that I didn’t love either one of them, they managed to ease up my self-imposed sexual repression to the point that I would be able to marry when the next real opportunity came along.  Abby moved on to a job in San Antonio where she became something of a hero-type teacher when she ran down and karate-chopped a purse snatcher trying to steal school-event money from her after an organized bake sale.  Her fiance was with her when she stopped by my apartment to tell me about moving to South Carolina.  He witnessed her giving me a hug and a kiss to say goodbye.  I understand the two of them had two beautiful little blond-haired daughters, and were both still teaching the last time I had word.  Ysandra decided she was never going to change me enough to suit her.  And we parted ways about a year after Abby left.  I actually bought a year’s membership in a nudist club, but I never had to use it before she left me.  I wanted to part as friends, but she emphasized that she wanted me to be happy, and she was sure if I ever found a wife, that she would not appreciate Ysandra as a close female friend.  The last I knew she was still single, still living in Cotulla, and still getting her way about everything there at the center of the universe.

Life is like that.  You juggle two girlfriends at once, you are bound to drop them both.  But it turns out for the better in the end.

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Sonny Daze

Okay, I know that is the squirreliest title possible, but it has been the squirreliest situation you can imagine.  At the beginning of the year, the Texas school-rule system of shoot-from-the-hip-and-let-somebody-else-take-the-blame educational decisions pinched us into a small ball and tossed us into a basket where we didn’t deserve to be.  My middle child was forced to repeat his eighth grade year of schooling because of last Spring’s hospital stay and missing the sacred State test that you must pass or forever after be shamed and classed as an ugly duckling in a world full of swans.  He was dying of sheer boredom at having to re-take those classes.  He is a gifted student with above-average intelligence and a super-power of asking his father questions so difficult and numerous that it makes his father’s head explode.  (The exploded head is mine if my third-person-ness is confusing you).  So, at the half year, we tried to get him into Creekview High School.  We had a counselor on our side who had told my wife that Henry belonged in high school.  Except, at enrollment time, we never got to talk to her.  An assistant principal looked at the fact that he had not taken the sacred State test (tests, actually… you have to pass Reading, Math, Writing, Science, and History… all made harder by the State with every passing year) and told us to go back to middle school, do not pass Go, and do not collect 200 dollars.  That cruelty was not unexpected.  It is the way education works in Texas.

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So, today we went to re-enroll him in the middle school.  But the counselor from there, the very excellent counselor who was responsible for Henry last year, knew all the reasons that school was a bust for Henry last spring and also knew how wonderfully, intensely smart he really is.  She insisted that the high school was the only right place for him.  She contacted the higher administration on our behalf, and Henry’s former 6th grade principal, now assistant superintendent for the district, agreed.  The decree was given and several good people who were in our corner were vindicated.  And here’s the part that made me tear up.  Henry got his wish to be in high school with the kids that were his friends in middle school last year.  Miraculously… unexpectedly… the gods of Texas education decided to smile on my family for a change.

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