I think the best horror stories come from those hell-visions that flash through your head in an instant, when you spot something not quite right.
You reach for your shoe. The laces shift, or the tongue flops down, and you see something vanish inside. It’s a shadow. It’s a spider. It’s a fibre-thin worm with a long, skinny snout. It’ll crawl under your toenail and into your bloodstream, all the way to your brain. It’ll give birth in there, and its squirming, sentient brood will take your body for a walk.
There’s a crack in your ceiling. A hundred thousand dermestid beetles live in it. One day, you’ll die, and they’ll drop down and eat you. They’ll eat you so fast you won’t have time to stink. Your skeleton will preside over the remains of your life till the sea swallows the earth.
Your TV’s stuck between channels. You’ve got the news on one end, Gordon Ramsay on the other. He’s making beef Wellington. He’s tenderising the meat. And it’s human flesh…and they’re sentient, the zombies. They look like us, and they’re everywhere, and we’re—
You wake up. There’s a bird on your foot, must’ve come in the window. And it’s pulled out your toenails, all ten of them, and you’re looking at raw flesh, beads of blood, naked nailbeds—aw, fuck, no!
You punch a motherfucker in the face. His tooth gouges your knuckle. And he infects you with some, like…some high-octane space gangrene, and you rot from hand to jaw. They sedate you. You don’t feel yourself die. But after you’re gone comes the true horror, the indignity that cements your place in history: the bug eats through your spine and its soft nervous centre. When the coroner lifts your body, your head falls off.
You hear one of those, ah…that tidy, chitinous tap, when a bug hits your window. It’s a small sound, but distinct. Nothing else sounds quite like it. Still, you don’t even look, ’cause a bug, yeah, who cares? A few seconds later, you hear it again. And again. This time, you check it out. It’s a horsefly. No, two horseflies. No—a great, meaty welter of them, battering and battering and battering, and they can’t get in; of course they can’t—but they do. You laugh. It’s a dream. It has to be: millions, no, billions of horseflies, shattering your windows like sugar glass. You fall back on the bed and pull the covers over your head. They swarm in and bite you to death. Your last thought is why?
You check out your symptoms on WebMD. This time, it is cancer.
(Sorry about that last one. That was more of a—a, man, fuck WebMD.)
I wish Stephen King would go back to writing horror, and not all those detective books. I mean, I shouldn’t—there’s better horror out there. I don’t have to buy everything he writes. But I’m chasing that Cujo feeling. That was the first horrorbook I read, unless you count, y’know, scary sci-fi…and I loathed it. That dog, shit…I hated it so much I stuffed the book under my mattress. And then I dug it out again, and I read all night, ’cause I had to get past the horrible bit. I had to do that, or I wouldn’t sleep. It was brilliant. And I was ten. And I know I can’t have that at forty, that same sort of ghoul-tickle…but I want it so much.
I’d like a job writing horror. I keep getting sci-fi and romance*. And then the shivers creep in, like…around the edges. Wee visceral bits. Flights of fancy, one sentence or less.
At any rate, I didn’t get that bubble tea, yesterday—I did feel sick. And I still do, today, so I reckon I’ll lie down. Maybe the Cryptkeeper’ll spin me a dream.
* Yep. Romance. Me. I’m not terrible at it.