Flash Fiction: Shadow Man

I woke immobilised, the weight of sleep still pressing upon my limbs even though my eyes were wide open. I could see him there, crouched, leaning against the wall with his head bowed towards me. I had to scream. I had to move!

I shut my eyes in an effort to redistribute my panic, but when I opened them again he was gone – replaced with a box, my backpack, and an old shirt. I blinked and for a split second the image blurred back towards him, and I breathed a sigh of relief. He was never here.

I relaxed and took stock of myself. The adrenaline overdose ebbed away, leaving me feeling strangely energised when I had just been paralysed. What a terrifying event. Was I so paranoid that the fear had frozen me? I curled my hand into a fist, just to reassure myself I could move my limbs again.

Where had it come from? I had gone so long without an incident, and while this one hadn’t led me to lashing out the fear was familiar. The trigger was more than the shadows under the dim light of dawn. It was the dream.

“It was a dream,” I said aloud, trying to seal my fears away with the words. I could tell the difference now, between a dream and a visit. This last one had been cobbled together – memories skewed with fears. It hadn’t been real.

Not like when I was younger…

Here under the covers, I felt safe enough to think about it. The man of shadows, who came to pull me apart and stitch me back together, so what I loved was what I hated and what I hated was what I loved. I didn’t know if he was a real demon or just something out of the darkness in my own mind, but once I grew up the visits stopped. I had not.

The visits messed me up, but I was almost free. I wouldn’t tell my therapist about this dream, not now, not when I was about to be released…

The day was bright and sunny, a clear sky with a light tinge of blue. It was glorious, as if it were created just for me, so I could fully appreciate my freedom. I was settled. I was at peace. I was deemed safe.

But the tendrils of darkness still crawled at the corners of my mind, and I wondered…

What if he was real?

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Response to Danielle’s Literary Essay Prompt: Frankenstein

1. Why is the Frankenstein’s monster concept so enduring in modern life?

Even if you’ve never read the book, you know the story. At it’s simplest, it is a horror story about a man-turned-monster and a doctor daring to challenge nature. These are now staples of the horror genre. How many mad scientists and awry experiments have been written since? Or what about creatures back from the dead?

I think the reason Dr Frankenstein and his monster have survived for almost 200 years (yes, it will be that long in 2018) is because the story has inspired so much. A large part of it has to do with film – Frankenstein was first turned into a movie in 1910, and since then 55 movies have been featuring Frankenstein’s monster (although there are some tenuous films in that list, but we can safely call it 50, and that’s not counting all the movies and television the monster has cameoed in). It’s become a part of popular culture, and the things Frankenstein has inspired… can you imagine a world without Igor?

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I have this, and I am using it as my diary.

So why is Frankenstein so adaptable?I think it’s because it’s got two great ideas going for it – monster and creator. As a comparison, Prof Van Helsing did not permeate pop culture nearly as much as the romanticised aristocratic vampire, Dracula. He didn’t create the monster – he just killed it (after lots of research and experimentation). Sure, we’ve seen plenty of vampire-hunters since, but how many of them seem to be inspired by the Professor? Dr Frankenstein is much a more creative, flawed and interesting character. We’ve therefore seen the ‘mad scientist playing God’ and ‘well-intentioned scientist in over their head’ as the catalyst for many, many monsters and experiments.

doctor drankImage result for back to the future mad scientist 

But I’ve gone off on a tangent here: the original question was about Frankenstein’s monster. I think it’s survived because it’s got three main things going for it:

1. The monster is undead.

2. The monster is an experiment; a creation.

3. The monster has a conscience.

Wow, that was an awful lot of waffling to arrive at the final point. I hope I’m better at this when I start writing assignments on teaching.

What do you think about the tale of Frankenstein? Why do you reckon it survived for so long?

 

Indie Book Review: The Perfect Son by Kyion S Roebuck

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Review:

I’ve always liked short psychological thriller/mysteries, and The Perfect Son provided exactly what I love about the genre. My mind was running with questions the whole time I was reading it. Has his mind split in two? Has he been experimented on? Is he a robot? Is he possessed? I love these stories that walk the boundary between science and the preternatural. The mystery was compelling, the ‘Perfect Son’ was both a sympathetic character and a really creepy kid. Then there was the mother. You can never tell with mothers in these sorts of stories. Are they as nice as they seem?

The pacing was well done, and after being absorbed in the mystery I felt I was well-rewarded with a satisfying ending. Not that everything is explained in nitty-gritty detail, but it mystery is resolved enough so that I felt content and could fill in some minor blanks with my own imagination. I found it a very appropriate ending for this sort of genre (the reason I say this was I saw a review that lamented the ending not being explained enough, and I thought it was it was unfair. The ending was right for the story).

An enthralling horror-esque read. Highly recommended for a dark and stormy night.

Like my review? Like it on Goodreads too!

The author requested me to read this book and I purchased it of my own accord. This is an honest review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Currently on Amazon for US$0.99

Author Goodreads

The Perfect Son, by Kyion S. Roebuck

Book Length: 68 pages

Pyscho-Thriller (Novella)

According to the Blurb:

After barely surviving a near fatal accident, fifteen-year-old Cody Winters returns home changed in ways that defy science. He’s now more intelligent, polite, responsible and mature– practically every parent’s ideal son. Oddly, he can’t remember anything about his life prior to the injury, but nothing stays buried forever.

Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

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Review

So, this is what a King horror is. I liked it, but not for the reasons I was expecting. I liked the characters, the environment, the descriptions, and the narration. It was all just downright GOOD storytelling so I definitely get why people love his books.

But the horror…

I just don’t see this as horror. It’s a tragedy with paranormal elements.

Tragedy
Noun
1. an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.
“a tragedy that killed 95 people”

synonyms: disaster, calamity, catastrophe, cataclysm, devastation, misfortune,misadventure, mishap, reverse, vicissitude, setback, trial, tribulation,affliction, blight, injury, adversity, sad event, serious accident

2. a play dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending, especially one concerning the downfall of the main character.
“Shakespeare’s tragedies”
synonyms: tragic drama, drama, play;
Did it scare me? Honestly, no. Not in the ‘boo’ sense or in the creepy sense or in the ‘oh, the horror!’ sense. It was sad. It was horrible. But for me, it wasn’t horror.

The psychology was good, and I found it fascinating, but it wasn’t messed up to the extreme that would make the characters unlikeable. Was I expecting more? Was I expecting it to go further down the rabbit hole? I think maybe I was.

This is a good book, no doubt about it, and it’s possibly as good an introduction to King as any (said by a person who’s never read a King book before). But for someone who likes horror and monsters, it’s just not that kind of book, ya know?

Okay, even though it’s been a week since I finished this book, I still can’t express my opinion in a sensible manner. If you want a book that will make you think about it long after you read it, this is your book.

I read this as part of the Goodreads Group “RMFAO (Reading My Friggin A** Off)“‘s buddy read for the month of November.

Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
Book Length: 465 pages
Adult Horror Fiction.

According to the Blurb:

The house looks right, feels right, to Dr Louis Creed. Rambling, old and comfortable. A place where the family can settle; the children can grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seem a world away from the fume-choked dangers of Chicago.

Only the occasional big truck out on the two-lane highway growls out and intrusive threat. But behind the house there’s a carefully cleared path up into the woods where generations of local children have processed with the solemn innocence of the young, taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.

A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding…

Weekly Haiku Challenge: Haunt & Release

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So this week for my haiku, I decided to take part in Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Challenge! I had been meaning to for a while, and since I was planning on a halloween-themed haiku anyway (for obvious reasons), I figured I could hit two birds with one stone. The words I have to use are Haunt and Release. Alright, let’s give this a go.

Red-blooded legend

Haunting bound in the red dust

Death was no release.

Storms stir up the sand

Rain dampens the spirits again

And dust turns to blood.

Inspiration: The majority of Australia is full of red dust and dirt. It’s actually from the high content of oxidised iron from the ancient weathering of rocks (really ancient, that’s part of the reason why it’s difficult to grow things in our country – the soil has very little natural organic matter left). But sometimes I like to pretend the ground is red for a different reason…

Mini Story: These Dead Days

I seem to be the only person who remembers we used to be dead.

Back then, we were so desperate to be alive. Why was I so obsessed? Life fluctuates between monotony and pain and terror. Why did I think I’d be happy if I were alive?

None of the others remember. We used to be friends. I remember back in the dead days, we’d play tricks on the living. We had fun. Now, none of them want to know me. I’m just the weird one who sees ghosts. Which is stupid – the living can’t see ghosts.

I just know they’re there.

The misfortune, the accidents, the mistakes, these are all brought by the dead. I can’t understand how the living can ignore the signs when they’re so obvious. We were literally shoving ourselves in their faces; we were so desperate to make contact. Heh, I had the most fun going through people and mimicking them. Sometimes, I even made them mimic me.

I miss being dead.

The Dead Time is drawing near. That is one thing the living recognise, even if they can’t pinpoint it properly. The Dead Time doesn’t follow seasons or lunar cycles – it is a tide all on its own. I don’t know why I can still feel it. Maybe it’s because I’m meant to be dead.

I don’t recognise the dead one when it comes to me. It tries to do the thing I once loved – puppetry. It doesn’t work so well. I hate that I am so connected to the dead. Why can I feel it inside me? Why remind me of freedom I don’t have? This creature is trying so hard to have its fun.

I decide to let it – I give it my whole body.

When I open my eyes, the gloom is wonderfully soft and comforting. I feel so light – lighter than I ever could while I was alive. The silence is such relief. I want this numbness.

The thing that was dead is surprised at first, but then my eyes bursts into tears and my face breaks into a smile. It is happy.

It is only a matter of time before it regrets its ‘fortune’.

I go back to doing what I loved. A lucky catch is dropped. A frayed wire becomes a fire. A faulty tyre bursts, spinning the living into death. Have I become stronger? Perhaps being alive made me better dead. I become the whisper of wind that tips the scales.

Why was I the only one who remembered that we used to be dead?

The others avoid me. They must be afraid, but I miss the camaraderie, even if I don’t need their help anymore. I play and play and play. I reach for the happiness I had.

It does not come.

I find myself stalking my old body. The thing inside it is laughing with those who I loved when I was dead. No; I am dead. I am the one laughing. I am the one who is loved.

Why is that thing in my body so happy? Why couldn’t I be happy, in the very same body?! Why can’t I be happy? Why doesn’t it work for me?!

Give me back my body!

It slips on the stone steps. I watch it topple forward, finally feeling something akin to relief. I watch my arms rush forward and break in a vain attempt to save itself. I watch my head hit the fifth step and slide down and slump. The rest of the body rises up in a perfect headstand and forces the whole weight onto the neck. It doesn’t break. It doesn’t break. I don’t break.

So I add weight.

The snap is the most wonderful sound I have ever heard. The creature inside my body is dead again, and I laugh. I wait for it to rise so I can mock it. I wait. I wait I wait I wait. Where is it? Is it not dead?

I plunge my fist into the corpse. I cannot feel the heartbeat as I usually do. I cannot feel anything.

Where is that spirit? Where has it gone?

I watch as they bury my body. There are so many people around. People I used to know. People who are sad I have died, or at least pretending to be. Are they all pretending? Please don’t pretend…

Life fluctuates between monotony and pain and terror. I’m meant to be dead. Why remind me of freedom I don’t have? I want this numbness. I don’t need their help anymore. Why doesn’t it work for me?! I don’t break, so I add weight. I cannot feel anything.

So many people have these thoughts. I think all of us have had these at some time. It could be in the past, in the present, or looming dangerously on the future’s horizon. We worry. We hate. We become trapped by others or by ourselves. There are always some of us who wander through life feeling dead. There is always a part of ourselves who feels that life isn’t perfect. We need to remember that we all have our breaking points, and we all need each other. We need to feel. We need to give each other freedom.

Don’t just keep adding weight until you break. Recognise yourself. Recognise yourself in others. Life is more than monotony and pain and terror. Sometimes it’s difficult to believe, but sometimes you don’t know what you have until you lose it.

MdD