Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
Review: Broken on the Inside by Phil Sloman
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Tuesday, June 26, 2018I Know I Promised You a Story by Gary McMahon
Welcome to the first intimate look of the contents of Primogen: The Origin of Monsters. As outlined in the last Primogen post, I aim to read each story in turn and create an addendum, if you will: a piece of flash fiction to provide you, dear reader, with a flavour of the story contained within. And of course, should these posts over the next few weeks get the juices flowing, feel free to click on the cover above and take a look at the book on Amazon.
First up is Gary McMahon, with I Know I Promised You a Story.
In his short and atmospheric opener, Gary dabbles with the vampire mythos, but rather than gloomy castles and misty graveyards, he sets his gritty piece on a council estate in 1978. I imagine many of us horror writers raised in the 70s and 80s can relate to the young protagonist. I know I certainly did.
I thought about the circumstances of the boy and some of the things vampires have represented over time, or the events that have been attributed to their nefarious actions. To me, vampires are a metaphor for evil and torment, and human suffering the blood they crave. But this relationship can't be one-way...
(Inspired by I Know I Promised You a Story by Gary McMahon)
They have it wrong about us, you know. Always have. Hanging cloves of garlic by your windows and nailing crucifixes over your beds. Romantic fiends descending the ancient brick of a Transylvanian castle, cape billowing in the moonlight. Stakes through the heart, and hissing at the creeping dawn.
Harbingers of disease? Better to blame the creatures of the night than the great unknown, yet to be unravelled by the scholars with their microscopes and developed cultures. By placing us in test tubes and distilling down to our cores, would they compare our existence to a virus? To avoid extinction, we reproduce: passing on our appetites like DNA and transforming the host. However, we are not so virally crude to invade, to weaken...to destroy. Symbiosis is a delicate relationship, ruled by numbers. Left unchecked, we would overrun, ensuring our own demise alongside those that currently sleep in their stacked houses, safe from the night and the dangers that stalk within.
We can slip into your bedroom and watch from the crevice of an open wardrobe, listen to your thoughts from under the bed, and curl up beside you in your safe, warm cocoons as you stare at the ceiling, weighing your fears and worries. All the while we lurk close by: drinking in your suffering and smiling. We don’t need to be invited in; we’re already here, waiting for you to turn off the television, climb the stairs, and enter your sanctuary. As you begin to undress for bed, you also shed the burdens of the day, eager for sleep, for a few hours of sweet respite. You sigh, and we gather like hungry dogs, sniffing at their master’s feet come dinner.
We’ve watched you, young man, as you’ve watched us. You surround yourself with talismans of protection, more effective than any crucifix or vial of holy water. Any psychiatrist worth his fee would recognise a defence mechanism, a coping strategy, a place to divert one’s thoughts away from the trials and hardships of life. The darkness surrounds you like a bubbling sea, eager for you to dip your toe in the water. The vampires observe from their eyes on the flickering black and white screen, from the pages of your books. You construct models in our imagined image, totems of worship, yet further idols of protection. We assess you through these plastic and painted eyes surrounding your bed. We siphon off the errant scraps. With that first taste, we know.
This boy has risen above the cattle. He can host.
We can enter your homes as we wish, but the legends have a couple of things right. We must feed from you, but you must also feed from us. A willing exchange as you decide to taste the darkness we offer. Spread the misery. Feed.
This is the invitation which we place before you. Can we come in?