Once Upon a Scream: Wax Shadow, by Emerian Rich
by Emerian Rich
When Editor Dan Shaurette first approached me about writing a horror fairy tale for Once Upon a Scream, I thought, “Wow… This will be easy.” But boy was I wrong.
First, I never really followed fairy tales as a kid. I wasn’t encouraged to read fairy tales and as for the Disney movies, I wasn’t allowed to watch the ones with witches in them. Despite all that, my favorite fairy tale is Sleeping Beauty. But how could I take my most beloved Sleeping Beauty and do something different than all the awesome variations I have read over the years?
That’s when I went in search of new fairytales, ones I hadn’t heard about or ones I thought I could turn on their ear. Research blew my mind when I ran into the Aarne-Thompson classification system which places all of the motifs in categories. Wow…a whole world I’d never explored before. I spent weeks pouring over the types and pulling out ones I found interesting. I narrowed it down to three and tried to write them all, but one reigned victorious.
“Wax Shadow” is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Skyggen” or “The Shadow.” Published in 1847, “The Shadow” was a tale about a man whose shadow became solid and took over his life. As the shadow got stronger, the man weakened.
“I have gone through the most terrible affair that could possibly happen; only imagine, my shadow has gone mad; I suppose such a poor, shallow brain, could not bear much; he fancies that he has become a real man, and that I am his shadow.” ~ from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Shadow”
In the original story, the man is a moral, good person, but the shadow sees the world from another perspective. He does not have a soul and sees the world only by what he can get from it. He cheats, steals, and lies. It’s easy to hate the shadow in that scenario.
Recreating this story in modern times, I decided to pick a less moral person as my star. Josh Anton is a rich, cocky, action movie star who seems to have everything his heart desires. He’s a jerk to his assistant, plays around on his girlfriend, and thinks extremely high of himself. So highly in fact, that when the leading entertainment company, Star Experience, wants to make a wax statue of him to place in their global locations, he jumps at the chance. He asks for a replica to be sent to him and displays it in his Malibu beach house. When an unexpected injury takes him down, strange things start happening and that’s when things really get interesting.
I hope you’ll try “Wax Shadow” in Once Upon a Scream and let me know what you think.