I have never liked horror stories. As an overly empathetic person, it is impossible for me to watch slasher films or read about the brusque removal of entrails. I have never understood the point of gratuitous violence, of being purposefully revolting, nor have I ever sought to understand.
With Issue 36’s prompt though, I have begun to consider the appeal. With horror stories, death and gore are expected. The only happy ending is escape. Horror stories address, very boldly in most cases, the senselessness, the obscene viciousness of this life. In dramatic stories, death usually occurs to emphasise life while in horror stories, it is the opposite: life emphasises death. Horror stories give us a safe (albeit offensive) space to examine our human condition along with all its heinous possibilities while (not-so-gently) reminding us that death is part of life (and vice versa).
My dearly departed friend Alan, the one to whom this issue is dedicated, died at the age of 33, just a week shy of his birthday. His death was horribly simple, shocking in how quickly and quietly his existence was snuffed out. There was no gore, no chainsaw or blade, no pool of blood to step around.
And this is the true horror story: it is incredibly easy to die. An absolute cruelty when you consider how very hard it can be to live.
The fifteen stories in this week’s issue lead readers in an exploration of fear and fright, using every possible route.
(2) The Crawly Space by Dawn DeBraal
(3) The Auditorium by Kelli J Gavin
(4) Messy by Annalie Kleinloog
(5) Stick Figure Family by Sonora Taylor
(6) The House with Secrets by Sunil Sharma
(7) Madhukar’s Wife by Debjani Mukherjee
(8) Failed Attempt at Prompt #36 by Copper Rose
(9) Inside the Caravan at the Mexican-American Border (or Seasons Greetings) by Karen Petersen
(10) ISLAND by Lauretta Kaplan
(11) All Hail the Printing Press by Lesley Crigger
(12) Final Lot by Christy Kunin
(13) Masked and Relentless by Kathy Sanford
(14) Don’t Look by Olivia Wagner