Insight

Insight

Have you ever had one of those startling moments of realisation? Those crisp instances of lucidity? Where one aspect of your life makes perfect sense?

I just had one of those.

I’m not talking about ‘the light so bright it hurts your eyes, closely followed by a thought so clear and right that it cannot be questioned’. I call those ‘mornings’, and the thought is generally… ‘what the fuck are you doing being awake??!! Go back to sleep, twatbag!!!’

I’m talking about actual epiphanies! I had one of them.

I was performing a normal day to day task. Putting away freshly laundered clothes. Neatly pairing up the fresh, clean socks an tucking them away in the sock drawer… As I am lead to believe normal people do it. My version is a little simpler. Grab a fistful of fresh, clean socks and hurl them across the room at the cubby hole that is used to home fresh, clean socks. Those that go in… YAY! You are where you are meant to be! Those that don’t, and bounce onto the floor… You are obviously still too dirty to go into the fresh, clean sock cubby hole. You shall be washed again.

And it was at this point that this inspration hit me. This moment of impeccable clarity. This epiphany!!!

‘Maybe shit like this is the reason I am still single!’

I know! Stupid, right?

Right?

When I grow up, I want to…

When I grow up, I want to…

I've been thinking lately. Well, my mind tends to play along on weird ideas, but after having been reacquainted with an old friend thanks to social media, I've thought a lot about that imaginary conversation. I don't think a single person who met me 20 years ago could imagine me being me today. Living in the country? Doing a PhD? Being engaged to the sweetest guy? Looking forward to our second trip to Chernobyl? Being a fungal nerd? Driving a Mercedes? Loving Champagne?

No way!!!!!

And, looking at my friends, none of them are where we/they thought they’d be. In the next circle, the one between friends and acquaintances, there are several. And in the outer circle, the acquaintance circle, most of them are where you thought they’d be. Regardless of their own career wishes, you could've written a list 20 years ago and it would be correct today.

Which gets me thinking. Those people on my outer rim, are their friends all where they thought they’d be in 1993? Do they have any friends like me? Or are they all the same, they've ended where they were destined to be, whether it be mothers, lawyers or teachers.

Are these the new classes? Not differentiating between “classes” as such, but between those who've ended where they were destined 20 years ago and we who didn’t? It’s not that I don’t like them. I just find that I have nothing in common with them. They have a life I've never had, partly because of my environment/family and partly because they've never had to cope with the stuff I've been through. Then again, many of my friends have not had that problem – so why do we connect on such different levels?

I've never believed in fate, chance, or coincidence. I think there’s a reason for everything, good or bad. Life throws you lemons and it’s up to you what you do with them. So how come I always meet people who'll use them for tequila rather than lemonade?

There is no e in book.

There is no e in book.

You know that moment of social interaction while waiting for the kettle to boil? Because you know it is going to boil by the time you get back to your chair and actually re-enter your password to unlock the pc. I remember this one morning I felt particularly opinionated after being squashed into an overfull tube (subway train) and to top it off having been hit over the head by a eBook reader. Off topic – if Boris (Johnson) thinks his tubes are fine I really would like to invite him on the Victoria Line between 8 and 9 in the morning. So you can guess my mood when I unleashed my prepared speech onto the first unsuspecting colleague who came in looking for a cuppa.

As a predator ready for the kill, I saw him look at the kettle filled to the maximum and not making any sounds of reaching boiling point yet. Then the most wonderful invitation to a chat sounded, 'So how are you?'. Muhaha! How am I? How am I? I will tell you how I am! Is what sounded in my head as I started to tell him my opinion on eReaders…

Yes, eBook readers and other electronic devices posing as a replacements for a book. How can you possibly say one of them toys can replace a book? I gave him all my arguments. How was I to know that I encountered my nemesis a true eBook lover? So I started by saying that it just isn't the same, you don't know how far along you are in a book. He proved me wrong, you have little icons showing you how far along you are in a book in some readers.

Startled but not beaten I stated that you miss a big part of joy when you line up a trilogy on a bookshelf. He countered that in his tiny London flat books were mostly kept under the bed, in boxes at his parents and no where near a bookshelf.

After a few more waved away points I thought I had him, and revealed my secret weapon the smell of a new book! Now admit it, there is nothing like that lovely smell of opening a fresh book. Breaking the binding and sniffing the pages is like smelling a waft a perfume that takes you back to a lovely holiday or a steamy hot date with a handsome man. It recounts all those wonderful adventures you shared with Drizzt, Scarlet, Fitz, Frodo and so many more. He looked defeated, there was no winning this one. That was until a few hours later when I got this link sent to me in my mailbox… http://smellofbooks.com/

Yes, some person had this kettle argument before and ended up thinking, I will get that e book reader hater! And bottled the scent of that sacred pleasure that every book lover cherishes, the plucking of a books cherry. To add to the audacity of bottle new book smell they also have old book smell and bacon smell! You read it right, bacon smell described in the following poetic words: 'Crunchy Bacon is a low calorie, low cholesterol alternative for your breakfast reading enjoyment. ' I don't know about you but I don't really end up eating the pages I read on my morning commute.

But there went my last bit of defence I had to hold on to the old fashioned medium called books. However the day went on and I decided to be the old fashioned book user while the world would convert to e readers. I imagined myself printing an e book and having it bound at the printers. This morning I passed mr e reader on the stairs and just as the warm sun hit my back he spoke these words: 'You forgot to mention that you can never run out of battery with a normal book' while shaking his kindle at me. The smile that appeared on my face that blissful moment has not left my lips all day. How could I not see the flaw, me whose phone is always dead and never knows her own number when someone asks for it, me whose laptop dies in the middle of the most exciting episode of V ever, me who has turned back from running multiple times when her iPod didn't have the energy I was so willing to waste away on a run.

Books always work, they don't need charging or plugging in or expensive batteries! They love you without needing anything in return, nothing but a shred of imagination and a hint of curiosity.

01 Clockwork

01 Clockwork

As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die. It is funny how a roaring fireplace can bring so much peace to this single mind. I have always enjoyed sitting here dozing off as the wood crackled and the pulsating heat swept my cheeks and closed my eyes.

It is sad how the world has become obsessed with power. Everyone fighting each other to prevent progression in the hope that they either can lean back on something they know; or profit from others misery and stagnation.

No one cares about tomorrow as long as they can pay off today. Everything I have learned so far and I will in this moment be arrogant, by saying quite a lot; leads to this blissful moment. I have never thought that a single concept could spark so much turmoil. I never had the faintest idea of the magnitude in organized religion and cultism.

What was the purpose of my life then? Was it to be born to give the populous the simple and may I say beautiful answer? Or was it just to be born so I could make everyone happy when I die?

It has been two weeks now since I first met Doctor Stein. He was a specialist in bullshit and animal porn. That crazy fascist dared to call himself a psychiatrist. I question his authority, but I think it is a little too late now. I was visiting him because I had a minor mental breakdown. I was working like everyone else in a grey office. Somehow when you work in an office you attract other antisocial office drones, although it would have broken the monotony if we had talked together during our meetings or rendezvous, you can call them whatever you want.

My breakdown happened during a ride home. I had waited patiently in my car for half an hour, one asshole after another had run across me and we were finally stuck in traffic because they had crashed in the middle of rush hour. I was on edge, I had not been eating well and sleep was for the old. Only sitting here in front of the fireplace can calm my nerves these days.

For what I have been told from the police report I had apparently snapped. I left my car and began arguing with some of the other drivers. An elderly lady had told me to calm down and I grabbed her by the coat and began screaming incoherently into her face until I puked and even though I cannot for the life of me recall it, I had continued puking into her face until we both collapsed on the pavement.

I was brought to Mercy General Hospital, strapped down and that was where I found myself hours later. I woke up to the ugliest face I had seen in a long while. Doctor Stein was a psychiatrist at Mercy General Hospital. He was a burly man that reminded me never to switch from sleeping pills to a mallet.

He was curious about my condition, but my lack of insight into my own actions soon led him to think I was either lying to avoid a lawsuit or had amnesia. I assured him it was the latter and asked him to help me interpret my sudden breakdown.

He soon concluded that I had an overactive mind and no purpose. I was prevented from finding a meaning with my life by my mundane environment. He used an hour telling me how privileged we were as humans and how we are allowed to think about our existence, where animals were only able to survive by fighting and mating. I didn’t like the way he were into animals mating. He was just that tad too vigorous in his explanation about livestock copulating. Why the hell should I care how they fuck?

He came to visit me once a day for the entire week I was hospitalized. He finally deemed me sane enough to enter society and signed the papers that would release me from their care.

I went straight home. A thought had occurred to me by his words and it was not the animal porn I was thinking about, I had puked violently once that month. I tried with all my might to forget his stupid advice, but one thing kept surfacing over and over… What is our purpose?

I have never thought about the reason why I existed. Why was I so lucky? What were the chances of me being something or someone else? Who said I was lucky? Well I did in the first question, but that would just be nitpicking.

Almost all religions agree that we were made by a god and we should test ourselves to regain entrance to the heavens, in all its sizes and shapes. Funny note would be that heaven would be rather crowded by now and with all the brilliant minds that refuse to believe in a deity, they ought to have installed air-condition in Hell by now… ha; maybe Hell has frozen over?

I digress. I began to think about the possibility of life being circular although our sense of time is linier. Time is something we created to watch the sun go down and to have tea at the right time between lunch and dinner. What if our purpose in life was not to please a God, but to create God?

Could they have been misunderstanding the oldest texts and seen the ascension into a heaven, being us working together to create new life. If time is circular and the religions should have a little credit, I would postulate that our purpose in life would be to work together to create god, so god can create us. Forever we will live with the single purpose of preserving ourselves by creating something to create us. A lovely bow tied up around an ugly present.

I was thrilled that I found this by myself. I began to research in my theory and saw that others had talked about circular time, but they had never pinned it on a purpose in life by creating God. Was I really the first to see this? Or as I know now… am I the only still alive that dares to talk about this?

I refused to believe that no one had ever thought about this theory and went to St. Francis of Assisi Paris, the local church. I inquired a talk with the minister and after reluctantly accepting my proposal for tea at 3pm we entered Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

As we sat down quietly in the corner of the shop I told him about my idea of the prophets being wrong. He smiled at first, shaking his head just slight enough for me hardly noticing. He didn’t argue or stop me, he just listened. As I talked on his smile started to fade. Something in his glance tore in my concentration and his obsession with something behind me was making me nervous. Had I stumbled onto something that could wake dormant anger?

I had talked for nearly half an hour when the minister stopped me with a subtle hand gesture. He leaned over the table, “You are not thinking my child. Shaking the core of a man’s life can bring him to the ledge of decency and hospitality. I fear that you will learn hardship if you thread the path of visionaries that came before you. Please leave this where it rests. It will not travel safe in this world!” he said to me and got up.

I could sense fear in his eyes now. He was brushing his coat and didn’t look at me when he walked out of the shop.

I contemplated on his half riddled words and knew that someone had listened in, making him nervous. I did not dare to look around. Facing the man or men that would be the core of resistance was too much for me. I bowed my head and drank my coffee, hoping they would discard me as a sad soul looking for answers like they might be?

I heard people come and go, but I had no idea if they left in the minutes it took me to finish my coffee. I got up and slowly paced out of the shop feeling every eye stare at me, everyone was ready to jump me. Their eyes were sunken and cruel, they hated me… they wanted my lying tongue taken from its forsaken vessel.

When I had entered the street and its bright light, I cheered up like a child having cake. Somehow that dark place and the fear I had been cultivating, had clouded my mind. What a cruel atmosphere, I don’t feel well.

Walking home I felt like people were following me. The shadow of that dark corner in the shop was hanging over my head like a thunder cloud. I would say it was poetic, but it fit with the noise of the street. I entered several shops to see if they kept following me, but it was someone else behind me every time. Were they that organized already? I had barely gotten home from a harmless talk with the minister and they were already organizing a reconnaissance on me. Who were they? I have seen angry mobs in TV before; I have seen news depicting manslaughter for being the wrong place at the wrong time. How would this end?

I walked a long way home. Taking shortcuts and passing my home twice without any gesture that I would enter, I finally gave up and entered. The place was smaller than I remember. Could they have moved the walls so they could survey me and make sure I didn’t cause any harm to their beliefs?

Why would they go to so great effects to watch me instead of silencing my vision? Is there someone who knows something about this? How could they keep such a thing secret? Or are they secretly working on this theory too?

I didn’t get much sleep. Everything made unnatural noises that night. I felt a quiver in my bones when the wind rustled the trees; the entire place creaked when the wind pushed against the windows. I finally gave up and walked downstairs. Sleep had eluded me and I felt the cold air grab my shoulders and rustle my body. Even the gods were trying to make me sensible.

I entered the library. That small cozy room in the middle of this humble establishment was a sanctuary. No windows. There was one strong door and a chimney that would carry the smoke from my soon to be befriended fire and into the mocking night sky. I have no reason to hate this fire. It brought me warmth and solitude.

Waking up the next morning was life confirming. The dread of being smothered in the night by my invisible assailants and their funded terror haven’t broken my spirit. I would not speak of this discovery again, before I know more about the opposition I was against.

Apparently my paranoia wasn’t all gone. I could see my silly tendency to study people would make heads turn, but it was crucial in my mind to make sure that it wasn’t the same people following me.

The public library was a good place to start. They have books galore. They actually had so many books that they would lend me some. I was pleased with their kind smiles. I had entered the library with the presumption that they would throw me out for being a primate, or possibly catching fire, or punching a moose in the face, or even for being me. There were so many reasons for them to ask me to leave, but they smiled at me. I took an interest in their library and the learned community. They were actually pleased to see me. Or were they happy to have me here so they knew where I was?

I lend books; a lot of books from their theology section of the non-fiction section. It made me chortle and the librarian gave me a quizzical look when I handed her the twenty two books. I lied to her. I told her they were for a school project. I would teach my class about the different religions and why some of them were wrong.

She was a Christian woman and I picked up on her opinion quickly. I concocted an elaborate lie about how I would tell them about creationism and show them why other religions were different for their own reasons and how it affected the ways of living in other countries. She seemed interested in my plot, but we were both mainly uninterested in the point. I kept talking after she had handed me the books. The lie had to be perfect or I would bolt.

I finally escaped my own sense of hell with a feeling of elaborate seduction. She was bedazzled by my ingenuity and wanted to know more. Did I have to give her more?

I watched people carefully as I walked a new path home. No one followed me home that day. I placed the book pile in the library. That would be the perfect place to study the deities and religions of the world. Who were they and how did they get it wrong? I am certain that there must be a clue somewhere that they have missed.

For five days I read about the various religions and their interpretation of god and heaven. What was it that was so appealing about heaven? Is leaving the mortal coil a way of pain free existence. Bliss lies in the lack of senses or pain. Wouldn’t that be limbo instead?

What if leaving our bodies to go to heaven was a euphemism of evolving beyond our bodies instead. Creating a way that we as humans could become one great life giving entity that would create a new world in our picture? They say that god created the world and man in his picture. We find ourselves rather well evolved by now. Might it be understood that technology and biology should perfect the human body or even surpass the human shape to create a being of enough wisdom that it would know not to fucking kill everything it didn’t like? Well it that had or would happen, how fast would that being lose interest in us?

We are appalling and boring. I would imagine us look like an ant farm. A slow ant farm at first I bet! Well if we created ourselves, why are we then so wrong? How can we do such a thing to ourselves and why aren’t we helping, pushing the progress along?

That doesn’t matter now. The purpose is to create the god program so it can create us!

It was yesterday I came across that accursed name. I had been using a magnifying glass on the pictures of some of the old scripts when I came across it. Exillion! That name shook me to my core. I had never heard anything like it, but there it was. Out of nowhere it was deciphered from Sanskrit into plain English. The “thing” wasn’t explained, but I started to look into the matter and its existence was scarce. A book? A single and lonely book! I searched the internet for the book. No one knew about it. The forums were teaming with suggestions about it, but no one knew what it withheld. It’s a book, just a simple tome of my desired knowledge. It consumed me instantly. Why could such a book create that magnitude of desire?

I called up my local library. They scoffed at my desperate tone and assured me that it did not exist. Someone was withholding me information. That information was crucial for my studies. Where could such a book be? The Vatican or maybe Himalayas held my tome of desire? I read and rushed through my notes over and over. The Sanskrit wasn’t lying, it said Exillion. I wanted that to mean something. I wanted that book so I could show the world what I was doing wrong! I wanted everyone to understand me and bow to the logic of my science. It was brilliant. I grabbed my notes and a pen writing everything I dreamed would be in that book. Ink splatters the pages and my coherent dreams were obscured by mortal colors.

I felt a rage surge in me as I wrote and pasted my notes into that pile of euphoric dreams and postulates. The book was beautiful; it would contain all the answers I would dream off. I sat in my chair writing the entire night. Hours passed as my hand moved tirelessly across page after page. It wasn’t until around 7 this morning when the doorbell rang I noticed I had been up all night.

Reluctant I walked out at the door and saw my neighbor stand at my yard. She greeted me good morning and apologized on behalf of the paperboy that she had received my newspaper. Did I get any newspapers anymore? The yard was littered with wet paper. I starred awkward at her for a moment before walking back inside. I don’t remember if I thanked her or not.

I walked into my kitchen to make some breakfast when I noticed her again. She was peering in my window from the yard. Was she doing reconnaissance? She could easily be around me since I would expect to see her more often. Were they still keeping an eye on me?

The place felt smaller than before. It was shrinking around me. I ran outside to look at it, but nothing had changed. I couldn’t face that place right now and walked into town. People stared at me as I trotted along, trying to blend in. Somehow they kept picking me out from the masses. They knew me now; they were waiting for the perfect time to strike.
They wouldn’t get the best of me. As I darted into a small grocery shop I asked the judgmental clerk about a place to get wood. I had a fireplace and wanted to buy more wood.

He either thought I was lying or slightly dim as he slowly said, “You should try a wood for wood!”
He was patronizing and I didn’t like it. I left his place and wanted to go home, but this place scared me. There was something in here that shouldn’t be. The walls were moving in, trying to crush the being that dwells within those walls I call home.

Walking opposite the direction of my home I came to an alley. The long passage made me stop instantly and I stared beyond the steaming vents and the wet concrete and saw a small patch of grass. That strange dark green color was out of place there. My legs carried me towards that patch of misplaced dirt and as I came nearer it resembled a grave. No one would bury someone in an alley and raise a tombstone when there are so many places more suitable.

As I came to the dirt patch I saw two granite sheets lying on the small patch of grass. I picked them up as I thought they had tumbled over. I held them in my hand as I noticed the sparse writing, “Rnzola” and “Fell here” on the rather heavy paper sized stone. The granite was black and dirty as I held it between my cold fingers. I swear that I wanted to put them back when I saw the shadow. A small shadow behind me, cast on the wall across. It looked like a person with long hair.

I turned quickly, but it was just a trashcan. Had that can stood so close behind me all the time? Or had I backed into it? A feeling of fear and paranoia overwhelmed me and I ran home. I needed a lock between that place and me. Not even an unknown spirit in my house could keep me away.

I was blacking out again. There are moments of my day I cannot account for. Trembling I walked back and forth starring at the granite I stole from that lonely grave. I can’t go back now, every time I leave the house I black out and wakes up back here in the library with more stuff I don’t need. I tried five times to leave and waking up in my warm chair for the fifth time I gave up. It was past ten now and the floor was littered with bags of spray cans. Firewood and a pie for some reason! It was a good pie, lemon if I was not mistaken.

Looking around the room I realize I had written things on the walls and door. Why can I not remember making these warnings?

A black circle with a cross everywhere I could reach. Do not leave me. You are hurting my feelings? Gibberish written in hurried letters on the door. Do you even know me? You do not see me as I am! Even my floor was painted. Damn it…
My attention was coming back to the book again. I wondered what stood in the book. What could be so important to keep secret that they would hide such a craft?

I stared blankly at the pile of papers I had written in the hopes of guessing what it contained. I picked up the notes and flipped through my ramblings. I barely remembered I wrote this. I heard the neighbors make noise again. They were playing loud music. Maybe they were making a wall of noise that would drown my inevitable end? Are they planning on stealing my dream? They want to rob me of this marvel of humanity. I found the purpose of our existence and it will never live up to the expectations of the dull masses. They will not understand me; they never understand anything other than what they were told as a child.

Blinded by tradition they live their lives ignorant of this glorious revelation!

I stare dumbstruck at my writings while it triumphantly in my mind lay a horde of stupid drones to waste. I break from that gloriously violent dream to see a short sentence I had written, half asleep less than a day ago. “You already have the book!”

I looked down at the stack of papers in my lap. Is this the fabled Exillion that is haunting my waking hours? Could I be praised in another time for creating this…?

I have now read through my entire work. I placed it between the granite plates as it lies in my lap. It resembles a book. It looked as grotesque as I felt reading it. This book is a disgrace to humanity. The things I have written would shatter me if it lingered in my mind. Now I know why they want this book. They are also seeking the answered, which is why the minister was so cryptic. He wanted me to understand the importance of this work! He sought me out and as a calling I answered his prayer of enlightenment.

No father. I came to you for you have sinned. I will help you through this and only knowing the blissful ignorance you indulge in my child, shall you understand why heaven lies in the choices you make in this life and not afterwards!
I open the grotesque book on the last page and chortle for the last time, “As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die.” The book even knows its own death. As I cast the book onto the fire I watch the flames grow dangerously. A piece of wood fell out onto the bags on the floor.

Now I know why my sanctuary feels smaller. It is the inhale before…

Dilute to Taste

Dilute to Taste

Dilute to TasteSo recently, I have been eating my way through the Kay Scarpetta novels of Patricia Cornwell. I’m on book 5 and I only started a few weeks ago. I know! Not bad for someone who can’t read.

I’ve also been watching the first series of Dexter.

Before you say it, yes…  I am on a major catch up.

I have also been watching films like 'The Woman' (with one of the most unsettling and yet satisfying ends I have seen in a long time).

I then had a thought.

Before I go on, I feel that I should point something out.  I will be discussing two genres of fiction (in whatever form they occur). But I both recognise and acknowledge that my points do not apply to all aspects of these genres.  So before you jump up and down or argue the toss…  I am only referring to the aspect of the aforementioned genres that my points do apply to.  Mainly serial killer slasher stuff.  Ooh, was that a bit of a spoiler?  Meh.

Back to my thought.

How bloody similar is Crime fiction serial killer stuff and Horror serial slasher stuff??!!  (Ok, not much of a spoiler).

In Crime fiction, the descriptions of the mutilated victims of the psychotic villain are often pretty damn graphic.  And the hypotheses of how these attacks took place and the mentality of the perpetrator, by the law enforcement types, are often quite chilling.  The slowly unfolding insights about the bad guy, and their history, can be extremely unsettling.  All in all it can produce a shocking and disturbing effect.

In Horror fiction, the descriptions of the psychotic villain’s mutilation the victim are often pretty damn graphic.  Seeing the terror of the victim, and discovering the mentality of the perpetrator, is often quite chilling.  The tension laden build up as the bad guy stalks his next victim, whilst our heroes learn more about him and get closer to discovering his identity, can be extremely unsettling.  All in all it…  Yeah, you see where I’m going.

(Both those examples refer more to the written word more than the cinematographical.  But if you replace ‘description’ with ‘scene’, it still works).

Both genres are fairly formulaic in their own ways.  But also both are so incredibly similar, that I am rather shocked that they are regarded so differently.

Patricia Cornwell has had a bunch of best sellers.  The critics have lauded her works.  People who claim to have a literary bent will admit to have read her novels.

The closest the horror community has to this level of acclaim is Stephen King.  And his works don’t slot neatly into the sub genres that I am attempting to address.  (And -IMHO- he’s not even the best horror writer… Just the most accessible.  [Read ‘The Wasp Factory’ by Iain Banks, and then try and claim that Mr Bachman is the most evocative and frightening Horror writer…or sleep again, ever]).  Ok, 'IT' was scary.  Up until he did his usual trick of not knowing how to end the book.  But (IMHO, again…  just covering my arse.  Don’t wanna get sued) he is not a patch on less (recently) acclaimed writers like Herbert, Lumley, Straub, Barker, Poe, Lovecraft…  Hell, even Hutson.  But I digress.

So what are the differences between the Crime and Horror?  The simple answer is timing.  It’s all a case of before and after.  Or rather… before and during, and after.

It seems that society is quite happy to read, or watch, the results of a rampaging nutter’s work, and the subsequent toil to chase him down.  But to see him actually doing it, and then getting his just deserts is distasteful.

Horror films are blamed for turning our kids into bad people, but Crime fiction is never mentioned.  Despite the fact that the latter covers how to do it and get away with it (and often the psychology of the perpetrator) in much greater detail than the former, which generally goes more for tension and shocks, than the mind stuff.  (Again, sub genres!  Don’t go shouting ‘Hitchcock’ at me.  I know.)

From what I have seen, both have tension.  Both have shocks.  Both have mind stuff.  Both can be upsetting and disturbing in equal measure.  Is it just down to timing?  Is it simply that people don’t want to see it happening?  But are ok that it has happened, as long as it’s all done before they find out about it?  Or is it down to marketing and social stigma?

Would a Crime fiction tale that told of the actions of the villain as he performed them, be more acceptable than a Horror tale that simply described visceral the aftermath?

But more importantly, considering their respective social acceptability…  Are they equally powerful?  Or are the Crime fiction works simply watered down versions from the Horror community?

I don’t know!  If I did I wouldn’t be asking you.

Prelude: Theft and heritage

Prelude: Theft and heritage

Six years ago I was robbed. I believe it was in November 2007 I was sitting at the breakfast table skimming the daily newspaper. I never really read it, as the journalism was either too poor or too political for me to absorb it. I only skimmed it to pass the time while eating breakfast, possibly as a distraction from the bad taste of the breakfast itself. I eventually found myself going over the middle pages. The left page had wedding ads and birthday congratulatory remarks printed on it. Silver and gold weddings galore and several 70 and 80 year birthdays were featured on the page, with a single 90's birthday as well.

On the obituary page situated on the page to the right of said cheerful wedding and birthday ads, I caught something in the corner of my eye. A name that stood out among all the other unfamiliar generic faceless names that meant nothing to me. I knew this name and that fact sent cold sweat down my spine. I read this particular obituary over and over again and there was no mistaking it: I knew him. He was dead now. For a moment, I forgot my breakfast, my morning routines and just stared blankly into the thin air above the breakfast table, as if the towering carton of milk covered in generic advertisements pointed towards something fascinating in the air. "What is it? You look like you've seen a ghost," came a comment after a while. My girlfriend had joined me at the table without me noticing her arrival.

All I could do was to point at the obituary with a single tear in my left eye. "Did you aunt die? What?," she asked with a grin in a feeble attempt to lighten my mood, but to no avail. "No," I replied as she leaned forward and looked at the tiny article I was pointing at. "Did you know him?," she asked. I nodded. "He was only 19," she exclaimed in a surprised tone. "We went to school together," I remarked.

Eventually I shook off my sadness and went to work. All day my mind lingered at my fondest memory of the kid. How he came about to meet his fate, the obituary did not spoil and that lacking piece of the puzzle bothered me more than I care to admit. All day I wondered what happened to him. When I got home, I lounged on my couch for a while, wondering how absolutely no one at work noticed my stunted behavior and even how I got home without getting riled up, as I usually do mostly for my own entertainment, over the chaotic traffic during rush hour. "Did you have a nice day at work?," asked my darling entering the living room. "No," I replied bluntly and with a gleam of excitement I looked at her: "Come sit down. I'll tell you a story about Ron." "Who's Ron? Oh, that dead guy you knew?," she asked in a cheerful tone. "Yes," I said patiently and gestured towards an open seat on the couch.

My haven was a small shack at the back of the school yard. No one but mere knew it was even there. Bushes, brambles and trees had covered any trace of a path that led to the entrance of the secluded tiny building. It was an old portable building used for construction from when the school was first built decades ago. Inside you would find a small table with two chairs, a barely working transistor radio and a flickering lamp. The lamp stood on the small table and was little more than a light bulb in an electrical socket occupying the second of two electrical outlets, the other used by the radio. I had brought the lamp myself. The shack was in its prime lit by a small window. It was dirty and punctured, but I did not care as it was also overgrown by plants. A single branch had grown through the rotten window sill and with a small knife I had burrowed from house ed classes, I had removed the flexible tip of the branch such that the remaining stump could be used as a coat hanger for my jacket in Summer. The two chairs had been situated that I might sit at a chair by the table resting my feet upon the other chair, while doing what I enjoyed the most during our frequent school recesses: sneaking in, turning on the radio ever so slightly such that no one outside the feeble shack would hear music and come investigate and then draw whatever came to mind.

The radio was old, ancient perhaps, cracking and distorting the music when it played. To me the music did not matter. I just wanted to forget why I had to retrieve to this place every recess of every day and that I had done so, again. It was noise to cancel out the sounds of happy children playing outside. I guess many would wonder what drove me to seek refuge in this safe haven several times a day. It is a fair question, but what I hate is the excessive sympathy that will inevitably follow whenever I tell anyone the reason. I was a weakling. I was the fat kid with bracers and glasses. The nerd. In the school yard such unfortunate repute will no doubt lead to endless psychological torment as children are both the most innocent, yet heartless and ruthless creatures in our society. Many have shared my reputation and situation, but few of these were treated was harshly as I.

Psychological torment is one thing. It is heart breaking to any victim at any time. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words break hearts. It was the physical torment I found hard to handle. Every day the cool kids would wait for me just outside the school property. Since we only had one exit and the rest of the school was fenced off rather well to prevent intrusion on school grounds, there was no other way to leave. I would grab my bike and head home, but just outside school the cool kids would knock me over and beat me to a bloody pulp. Often these kids would wait in a gang of six to eight bullies, just waiting for me. No one else. Whenever I could see them hanging around just off school property after class was dismissed, I knew they were waiting for me. Eventually I feared my conduct would lead to a broken bike and I stopped riding it straight away, but pulled it along with me. At least then they left my bike alone.

Every day this took place. My parents did little to help, attempting to get a 'helpful dialogue' going with the bullies' parents. Not only did this not help, but actually made things worse. My parents would attempt to do so every time I came home and complained. Occasionally they would contact our teachers, but the only effect a sanctimonious speech against bullying in class would have was a doubling of the people wanting to be beat me up that day. Eventually, I clamped up. I kept it inside, claiming my scratches and bruises came from playing sports during recesses. I am sure my parents knew this was a lie, but they understood the sentiment.

Every day this torment continued. Every day ended with my lonely being left powerless and bleeding on the sidewalk while a cluster of bastards would laughingly head home. Powerless, I was. Completely and utterly pathetic. This lead to me discovering the shack one day, when I refused to leave the school grounds and instead wandered around aimlessly in the hopes my parents would eventually come looking for me and take me home, or the bullies would leave, but as they could see me wandering around, the latter was an unlikely scenario at best. I was fed up that day, since it was that night when… never mind. I was wandering aimlessly looking for a gap in the fence imprisoning me, sentencing me to violence every day, when I came upon the shack. I closed the door and turned on the radio. And waited. Nothing happened for what felt like hours, but was only 45 minutes. I eventually came to the conclusion no one would get me, no one cared, and might as well take my punishment for my presence at school today that I might get home and try to immerse myself in worlds foreign to this. Books and movies were very useful in this regard.

Upon leaving the shack I saw one of the bullies, Ron, wander around searching. I knew he was looking for me. As he turned my way and approached my position, I quickly retracted back into the thick plantation. He was alone. Looking back at this, I am sure fighting fire with fire was a bad idea, but then again the adult approach of dealing with bullies has yet to show any positive results for the victims. I back further and further up, eventually finding myself with my back against the fence. I looked around in desperation. I needed a weapon. I could defend myself against one. I had to be to able to. I knew it. I grabbed a heavy branch on the ground and as Ron passed by the shrubbery, I slowly walked out behind him. I was foolish to do so, as they other bullies would yell and turn his attention towards me. Too late. Exhausted I looked at an unconscious Ron lying face down on the ground. "What have you done?," burst a familiar voice. It was my father looking for me.

Days passed where the bullies left me alone. Best days of my life! Ron was absent from school recovering from a major concussion and after a meeting with both my parents and the principal I was suspended for a week. Second best days of my life. My parents were none too happy with my solution to the problem and retrospectively, I get their point of view on the matter. It was barbaric, but to me, at the time at least, that blow had given me more peace than any 'diplomatic intervention' ever did. At the time I returned to school all my gashes and wounds were healed completely and gone. The same was true for Ron. And so everything returned to status quo, well almost. Ron was never present to attempt to beat me up after school. Still five to seven children against one was equally terrible as they still had to take turns reducing the healthy condition of my appearance to that of a pound of flesh from a butcher shop.

One day I was drawing as usual in my haven and the door opened. I started to my feet when I saw Ron entered. "Sit down," he barked. I did so with a morose face. "Are you here for revenge?," I asked after a while. "If so, you've already had it," I continued. "I'm sorry," he said meeting my gaze. "I am sorry," he repeated saying each word separately and slowly to convey his earnestness. "For what?," I asked. "For–," he started as I interrupted him: "Rhetorical question." He chuckled and smiled. "I don't wanna be a part of this anymore," he said and his smile vanished: "I hate it." I did not know how to respond to this. Moments passed in tattered silence, tattered by the noise from the radio. "What are you drawing?," he asked and attended to my craft. "Wh– these are just shapes," he added after a brief examination. Indeed. "Yes," I answered hesitantly expecting to be mocked: "They're how I feel." After catching my gaze briefly he chuckled. His chuckled slowly evolved into a laugh after which he looked embarrassed at me without saying a word.

Every day since then me and Ron would sit in that safe shed every recess and talk about our– "That is such a cliché," protested the fair girl besides me. "Maybe," I replied attempting to contain my contempt and continued: "But it mattered to me." She got up: "What are we making for dinner?" Hesitantly I got up and followed her: "Oy, I am not done narrating." "I am hungry," she added but meeting my disapproving expression she confessed: "I know sweetie, but it is a boring story and I am hungry." "Do you want me to make it more interesting?," I remarked briefly. "Don't bother," came the response.

For the longest time I did not bother. Her title was appended not long thereafter by "ex" and I left the story in my mind, but it has taken a small toll from me every day, reminding me that I never did get around to telling the story, to make sure Ron is not forgotten, but I do have to agree in hindsight, that story was boring and quite often a good story is not necessarily a true story and vice versa, hence what follows here in several chapters, one each month, will be a narrative loosely based on a real story. How loosely, the critical reader might wonder. I will not settle that doubt.

To Ron