Horror Inked with Tragedy
Writing horror fiction doesn’t mean we’re particularly displaying pleasant imagery, nor are we tapping into the kindest parts of our brains. While there’s undeniable beauty in the world, the fact is it can also monstrously suck. We’re not putting the focus on a bouquet of flowers unless those flowers are being grown from demon’s blood, so to speak. Whether a particular horror story is presented in a fun or serious manner, they are always inked with tragedy. Unfortunately, there’s tragedy aplenty in the world to process, then express.
To me, horror symbolizes aspects of real life that are difficult to deal with and/or express in any terms other than horror. Horror is truthful, sadly, in a rather blunt sort of way. If you’ve ever experienced the death of a loved one, or even the death of a pet, if something horrible has ever happened to you or people you know, then you know what pain is and it can likely be expressed through horror. When writing horror, you have to be brave enough to face yourself.
There’s also a rather simple, yet clichéd, question to see how you might relate with horror. Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf? Yet this simple question can spawn many more to get started on a journey. Why did you choose either? Which do you relate to? Neither? Again, why? In what way do you feel compelled enough to write (or read) about them? What do these creatures mean to you? That question can go as deep as you want, or it can stay on the surface, which is fine too. How philosophical do you feel like being? Or, possibly you feel nihilistic. It’s up to you where you want to take it. Think about it.
Horror can also symbolize societal issues. We’re bringing light to dark parts of life, grappling with the chaotic aspects of the human condition. We’re exposing demons, per se, and exorcizing them without mercy. Or maybe we’re just having fun. Maybe we owe that to ourselves. The story you’re writing can be as important as any issue you or the world might be dealing with, or it could be a proverbial escape pod—or maybe a bit of both.
From personal experience (call it a curse or whatever you will), when I’ve written stories strictly for entertainment purposes, these stories tend to fail. Not sure why, but they just do. Guess it doesn’t work for me; however, when I put a piece of myself and some tragedy into a story, that story tends to be better and relatable. Maybe the reader takes something worthwhile from it.
Horror is also a bit of a gambit, with the odds immensely set against your characters. Not to be negative, but at times the odds are set against us in real life. Tragically, these odds are not in favor of many folks on the planet. There might be a situation a person feels like they’ll never get through, and everyone has their personal journey. There’s war. There’s famine. There’s mental illness. There’s disease. We all know that list continues, and we know what emotions that list evoke. Obviously we should take realistic ways to help in any way we can. Many of us do. Horror fiction is where I place emotions about the things I can’t control. In the big picture, life isn’t easy. Writing horror is a way to express that. Maybe writing horror can help with your personal battle against the heaviness and despair that the world can bring.
Screams the Machine
Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.
Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.
The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.
Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.