It’s…All…My…Fault…

It was a dark and stormy night is a horrible way to begin any story, but that’s exactly what type of night it was; the darkness oppressive and the rain torrential. I did not let the flashes of light nor the shadows on the wall distract me from the fact that my soul was forfeit. I knew something was coming to collect and if I didn’t pay it would torture me forever. I am only writing this in hope that it will be read by someone and used to save a life. I feel the evil surrounding this place, so I’ll start at the proper place for this tale, the beginning.

It was an uncomfortable day outside the small town of Blythe, Louisiana. I don’t just mean the temperature was high, but the air was thick and hard to breathe. It was interesting to watch the dragonflies as they chased the mosquitoes through the haze. I didn’t think much of the house when the cab dropped me off. I stood on a semi-manicured lawn and stared at a plantation house. The house looked like a mini castle against the wooded backdrop.

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The tenants of Castle Bayou were Mr. Franklin “Frank” Landry and his wife Elisabeth, who insisted from day one I call her Lizzy. They were both in their mid-seventies and assisted by a live-in caretaker Emeric Chauvet, (the correct pronunciation of his last name will forever escape me). He lived in a modest guest home detached from the main house. The Landry’s, as it turned out, were very capable people taking care of things inside the house, while Emeric’s responsibilities fell more towards driving, handy-work, and outside maintenance.

Dinner was served promptly at 6:30. Lizzy made a shrimp gumbo, that to be honest, filled my mouth with flavors I never experienced before. Cornbread made up the side dish. At 7:30 I helped clear the dishes, there were no leftovers. By 8:45 I was in my room that was straight out of a late 1800’s Sears and Roebuck catalog. Everything in the space looked like an antique right down to the books on the shelf.

The sounds of night filled the air. A soft breeze flowed in driving out the heat. I saw the front door to the guest house open and Emeric step out onto the porch. He took a seat in a rocking chair and sipped a drink. He looked like he could help begin my story. My inquisitive nature took over and I went downstairs to join him.

“Evening Mr Chauvet. Mind if I sit out here with you for a bit?”

“It’s a free country. Have at it.”

I chose a worn, but steady looking wooden chair. Emeric sat back in the rocker, and we watched the fireflies dance across the expanse of the backyard.

“You missed a good dinner tonight.”

“Miss Lizzy’s gumbo is good, but I managed all right.”

“Do the Landrys get many house guests?”

“A ways back they used to throw big parties, but now everyone is too old or moved away.”

“How long you been working for the Landrys?”

“I started out ere’ with my daddy about 25 years ago. He passed some time back and I took over after that.”

“You always lived in the guest house?”

“You sure ask a lot of questions.”

“I’m a writer it’s kinda what I do.”

“Oh yeah, what you write?”

“Mostly stories. Fiction. Urban legends and stuff.”

“Hmm.” Emeric took a long pull from his drink.

“You got another one of those? I’ve had a long day travelin.”

“Well Mister Writer, I hope you have a tough stomach. This ere’ is local to Blythe. We call it Homebrew.”

Emeric disappeared into the house and brought me a half full glass of something that smelled closer to gasoline than alcohol. The first sip brought fire to my lips, throat, and belly. A fit of coughing followed.

“I would suggest sippin,” Emeric said with a low chuckle.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said and took a smaller drink.

“What can you tell me about a devil tree Mr Chauvet?”

“Emeric.”

“What?”

“You can call me Emeric. No need to be formal.”

“Alrighty then, Emeric, I’m Chris. What can you tell me about a haunted tree some where round here?”

“It’s not too far.” He pointed off into the wooded distance and continued. “Bout 50 years ago my daddy told me that the Landrys and a few others chased some hoodoo woman off into the woods. Somethin’ about er’ killin miss Lizzy’s baby. When they caught up to her they strung er’ up in a tree and left er’ to die. The police didn’t investigate too hard because Frank’s dad was the police chief at the time.”

“Dead children and lynching? Sounds like a rough time.”

“Yeah. I wouldn’t bring it up to em’ though. It’s a touchy subject.”

“They think I’m here to write a story on life in the bayou.”

“You be careful Writer Man or you might become the next story round here.”

“Duly noted. Do you know exactly where this tree is or what it looks like?”

“Oh… It’s probably about a half mile back into the woods near the swamp. Just follow the trail. Trust me when I say, you won’t miss it.”

I drank and talked with Emeric late into the night. I don’t really remember going back to my room, but that is where my pounding head woke me up the next morning.

“Good Morning Chris,” Lizzy said from the hallway. “Coffee?”

I could barely mumble a response that resembled a yes. Breakfast was grits, biscuits, and black coffee. It helped to mute the bass drum beat in my head, but only slightly. I sat at the table and watched Emeric through a window as he landscaped the lawn.

“You and Emeric have a good time last night?” Frank asked from behind a newspaper.

“I think he enjoyed watching me sample the Homebrew.”

Lizzy let out a small laugh and Franklin chuckled.

“Yeah,” Franklin began, “it can be rough the first go around, but I think it grows on ya.”

I managed a half smile and nursed myself back towards health.

“You got a busy day planned?” Lizzy asked.

“Figured I would take a walk around the place. Get a feel for it.”

“Well if you need anything be sure to ask. Keep an eye out for any critters that may want to make you a snack. Frank and I may go in to town later. Be sure to be back before supper.”

Lizzy’s bony hand patted mine for emphasis.

I finished the breakfast and retrieved a small digital camera from my bag. Sometimes taking a picture helps me to remember when words fail. The day was already sweltering and the time on my watch didn’t even read noon yet. Clouds, at least in this part of Louisiana, seemed to be in short supply. Soon I was in the middle of the woods surrounded by sounds of birds, bugs, and creatures unknown.

The worn path was easy enough to follow. It looked like an old animal trail that led in the direction I wanted to go. I gave little thought as to what kind of animal would need to forge a trail in the bayou. I counted off what I believed to be a half mile in my head and began to look around. The air had grown humid the closer I got to the swamp, but when I saw the tree my blood ran cold.

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It was tall and gray; a stark contrast to the lush greens and browns around it. It had thick gnarled branches with no leaves. The roots reached out of the ground like hands reaching out to drag me to hell. I couldn’t even see where any other plants had grown within ten feet of the living statue. I felt like I was staring into an ancient living obelisk ready to summon forth Lovecraftian horrors from the aether. I did not realize at the time how close that thought was to the truth.

I pulled my camera out and began to take photos. Something caught my eye in the lens and I zoomed in to take a closer look. Around the lowest, thickest branch I noticed groove marks where ropes had once hung. I could almost hear the whispers and cries of the dead. The sudden appearance of a cloud hid the sun from my eyes and cast long shadows on this tree of woe. It seemed to come alive; angry at me for having life. I took one last picture and headed in the direction towards the house. Being near that tree was akin to walking over someones grave. I found the trail again and followed it back to the Landry’s house sweat dripping from every pour.

It was a past 4:00 when I made it back to my room. I showered and changed eager to get started on my story. The smells coming from the kitchen were distracting and filled the whole house.

Dinner was served once again at 6:30. The spread was incredible ham hocks, rice and beans, and collard greens. I don’t know what a rhubarb is, but it makes a wonderful tasting pie. Emeric shared the meal with us this time. By 8:00 I was enjoying scotch that was definitely older than I was.

My next memory was of me in bed fully clothed with the world around me slowed to a crawl. It was still night out and my watch indicated that it was about 2:45 in the morning. A soft glow and noise from outside drew my interest. I approached the window cautiously. The world spun slightly beneath my feet.

I saw a young girl, dressed in a sheer white dress, lead a group of people carrying torches into the woods. She was hauntingly framed by the torchlight and I couldn’t make out what the noise was exactly, but it sounded like chanting. I sobered up quickly, grabbed my camera, and took off after them.

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It was a dark new moon night, but there were plenty of stars out. I could barely keep my eyes on the path. The path seemed wider, but the trees closer. A pure black circle could be seen in the sky even though there was no visible moon. The sounds of the woods grew silent and then I heard it; a soft rhythmic chant up ahead.

“Kalu-li-Ra-Noh… Kalu-li-Ra-Noh…”

The words themselves were unknown, but carried pure evil intentions by their tone. It sounded like something other-worldly, ancient. My steps were softer once the fire was in view. I wasn’t sure what I saw at the time, and knowing what I know now I should have just ran away.

The young girl was under the tree swaying back and forth to the chant. Emeric was out front and had white runes painted on his face. He was the main source of the eerie chant. His clothes looked out of place for any century. There were about ten others present with faces painted in white. I was surprised to see Frank and Lizzy as part of the motley group that stood by with torches in hands. Their eyes were long gone. My gaze was drawn to the tree. It looked alive.

The branches moved and swayed to the same rhythmic chant as the young girl. The roots were reaching, clawing in the flame’s shadow. I made sure the flash was off on the camera and took as many pictures as I could.

“Kalu-li-Ra-Noh… Kalu-li-Ra-Noh…”

Emeric’s chanting grew louder and louder. That was when I noticed the girl float off the ground. Only she wasn’t floating. A rope was around her neck, and she was being lifted towards the branch of the tree. She reached for her neck trying to scream. It seemed that sanity returned at the wrong moment.

Emeric held a curved knife up in the air, lost within his own spell. I dropped my camera and bowled him over before he could finish whatever he was doing. The knife hit the ground and the tree twisted towards me. I didn’t see any movement from the young lady hanging from the thick branch.

“No! I must complete the spell, or he’ll destroy us all!” Emeric shouted.

I picked up the knife and drove it deep into Emeric’s chest. A large gust of wind blew the remainder of the fire into the swamp; only the torchlights remained. The tree seemed more alive now than ever. I ran over to one of the torch-bearers and took the flame. I threw the fire at the base of the tree; to my surprise it caught fire quickly. An otherworldly scream echoed in my head and the rest of the zombie party turned their heads towards me. The tree writhed in agony. The chase through the woods left me breathless by the time I reached the house. I heard them near; the closer they were the louder the screams in my head.

I was too scared to notice at first, but when my foot hit the back porch I noticed something was very off. The pristine house that I had stayed in the night before was now run down and falling apart. The paint was old and faded; the dust inches thick. I ran up the dilapidated stairs to my room. It looked the same, but everything was in tatters, covered in dust and mold. I grabbed my travel bag and made my way down the stairs.

The backyard looked dead and patchy; Emeric’s house was nothing more than a ramshackled pile of wood. The pursuit finally caught up with me. A growing darkness seemed to swallow the woods as the first of the torch wielding zombies appeared. Lightning flashed in the sky and the rain began to pour down. The outside door to the cellar looked to be the only thing that had not succumbed to the ravages of time. I quickly opened and shut the heavy doors behind me. I put a solid wooden board in between the handles to buy me some time. To my surprise soft candles burned below.

A book was open on the table written in a language I could not understand. In fact, most of the books around the cellar space I could not read or understand. That was when I came across Emeric’s personal journal. I scanned the last few entries and my blood ran cold. It told the story of KaluLi RaNoh, an ancient deity from Africa. Emeric’s ancestors had kept the ancient one trapped in a tree for quite a few generations through the use of magic handed down from father to son.

Emeric was the last of his line, but he was also a chosen. He was a seventh son of a seventh son; the one who could finally send KaluLi RaNoh back to the void. Tonight, it seemed, a once every thousand year occurrence happened; an eclipse during a new moon. I regretted his death almost immediately.

That brings us to the present. I am a hack writer who was just trying to make a name for himself. The door can’t take much more now. I don’t even know if anyone will ever read any of this. What I do know is that life as we know it is over and it’s all my fault. I only hope that the universe forgives me before I’m torn…

Shrub-Niggurath-MStarbuck

Authors Notes: This story is 2588 words set in the fictional town of Blythe, Louisiana. It should be noted I love a story where the bad guy wins in the end, not that I have anything against good triumphing over evil. It felt good to write a story just for the fans and myself. No prompts just, me and my imagination. The story took 2 days to write and 4 to edit. I welcome any comments, criticisms, and concerns.

Photo Credits: (1) (2) (3) (4)

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Tell Me How You Feel

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(Photo Credit HERE)

“I need to watch things die from a good safe distance / Vicariously I live while the whole world dies / You all need it too. Don’t lie.” – From the Song Vicarious by Tool (Listen HERE)

Keep in mind this blog is a product of my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. You are more than welcome to agree or disagree with anything I write. That’s what makes life on this spinning mud ball worth it.

I am of the opinion that if you are a lover of reading/books you are innately gifted to living a little vicariously. It’s not unusual for me to get caught up in whatever story I am currently reading. I remember the day when my wife handed me the book Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. It took me half a day to read and I cried for the other half. I warned my wife never to give me a book like that again; too many emotions attached.

That book was written purposefully to hit the reader in right in the feels. It is a different experience when it hits you unexpectedly. In the totally awesome, and definitely worth the read, Homeland by R.A. Salvatore the main character is forced to fight his own family, to include his father, to the death. This a story to me of a person that was born in the wrong place, time, and is in a constant moral conflict between what he feels and what he is told. It illustrates the struggle of defying your own family to do what you believe to be correct.

A good story will transport me away from reality and put me into a new one. A great story also makes me feel what the characters feel: a family that loses a child; a soldier trapped in a war; falling in love for the first time; facing a fear. For a short time I become someone else; I am able to travel to places I will never go; I can do things that are otherwise impossible.

One of my goals is to write, as my heroes do (which include song writers), and make the reader feel something. However, this type of empathy writing comes at a price. I have to evoke feelings from situations I’ve never experienced. I love writing horror and suspense, but I’m not about to become a serial killer. I want to write about a failed marriage, but I’m not divorcing my wife for the experience. I have to rely on the things experienced vicariously through others balanced with my own personal experiences to get me through these situations.

“So give me a song and I swear I’ll sing it / Like never before / All of my life I’ve watched this moment / Go right through the door / So don’t you save a single breath / For me when I’m gone / Cause there will be no lungs inside my chest / And nothing inside my heart” – from the song If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves by Arcane Roots (Listen HERE)

It has been my personal experience that vicarious living needs to be balanced by real world experience. It is rare that anyone can write an emotional love story without having the real world experience of love and loss. The result of such attempts often come across as amateur, fake, or disconnected. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

Unfortunately, there are some who cannot turn off their empathy and become trapped by emotions they cannot control. I remember reading and watching news stories about people that could not cope with the tragedy of September 11th. The unusual part of the story for me was the fact that these people lived miles away from the actual event (Read article HERE). Collective trauma is what psychologists called it.

One of the many things that upsets me about the state of the world today is the number of people who cannot tune out reality television. I do not care who gets kicked off the island; I don’t care if Samantha gets a rose; I definitely don’t care about whatever Kim Kardashian has to say about anything at any time. Time and time again I am told that I am in the minority on this opinion. For once, I am glad to be a black sheep. There are people out there that actually believe that they are a part of these contrived stories. They try to emulate what they see the characters on television doing: things they wear, the things they buy, where they eat, and the producers of these show know how to take advantage of this trend.

My advice, get off the couch, get out of your home/parents basement, and go experience life. Tell that guy or girl you love her, punch the bully in the face, do something you have always wanted to, but were too afraid. Have a shared experience. Then write about it. The leverage gained through actual experiences and vicarious living will be abundantly clear to the reader.

Good luck and happy writing.

Arthur Unk

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The Musical Drug

The only thing that takes up more space in my brain than movie quotes is music lyrics. I do not have a regular physical happy place where I write all my tales of horror, romance, and bad puns. I am a semi-regular at a local coffee shop here in town where I have written quite a few tales whilst sipping a very large chi latte. The library is my second choice. The ladies who work there always greet me with a smile and friendly conversation. The very last place I write is at home, sitting on the couch with kids, wife, animals, television, and video games all calling for attention. The music on my iPod is how I tune the real world out and reach my safe writing space.

There have been so many great songs and albums created that I have listened to during my short time on this planet. Fantastic artists have taken me on journeys to places I thought I would never go, or would never go willingly, and they have enhanced the experiences of my life first-hand.

I incorporate music into many of the stories I tell. I often write yarns veiled in the lyrics of the Beatles, Clutch, Tool, Ray Stevens, Megadeth, commercial jingles, and many others. It helps get my creative juices flowing and lubricates the process with emotion.

I labor under the delusion that there are three things can touch your soul “in person” per say: the spoken word, a great book, and music (I know there are paintings and sculptures out there, but I personally have never been moved emotionally by one. Also, I don’t like the theater/plays. I respect the art form, I just don’t go).

I have had many lengthy discussions with various people about music and I have come up with my top 5 albums that in addition to being perfect from beginning to end, aid in my daily writing. Keep in mind this is what works for me. As a writer or someone who aspires to be a writer, we all have different muses. I’m not trying to convince anyone that my way is right or wrong, but I will say that you are missing out if you don’t have something in your life that inspires the way music does me.

#5 Album — Like Swimming by Morphine (1997)

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Photo credit HERE

Listen to the whole album HERE

Favorite Track: Empty Box

Morphine is classified as an alternative rock group hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts. This album is one of my ultimate “chill” albums. On many of the tracks there are often only two instruments playing, much like the White Stripes, but it is not always a voice, guitar, and drum. Sometimes it’s a saxophone and a drum, or just a voice and a guitar, or a bass and an organ. Every song has a story to tell and takes you to a different place. This album delivered me through many tough times growing up and its creativity never ceases to amaze me even over twenty years after its release. Interesting side note, I was dating a hippie who gave me my first copy of this album.

#4 Album — Frizzle Fry by Primus (1990)

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Photo credit HERE

Listen to the whole album HERE

Favorite Track(s): A tie between Too Many Puppies and John the Fisherman

The first time I ever heard of the band Primus was on the movie Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey during the battle of the bands scene. The next time I heard them was this album. My friends in high school all had unique tastes in music and thankfully Primus was one of the bands they listened to nonstop. We would all laugh and marvel at this amazing album. Years later, after gaining a larger appreciation for music, I am still able to be continually impressed by this album. It is wonderfully weird and complex in the best of ways. Les Claypool is a bass god, contrary to what the latest dub step DJ or rapper might claim. Les is a once in a lifetime talent on that instrument, and he puts in work on this album. I challenge anyone to find a group that is more uniquely creative than Primus.

#3 Album — American Standard by Seven Mary Three (1995)

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Photo credit HERE

Listen to the whole album HERE

Favorite Track: Lame

This is probably the most pure of all my musical picks. No gimmicks, outside of one song that is just drums and vocals, and just straight up great music. The vocal style of Jason Ross is unique to this band and is worth more than its weight in gold. Every song on this album should only be played a max volume. Each song tells its own story in an outstanding display of both hard hitting sound and lyrics. American Standard just makes me feel good when I listen to it. It stands alone among the other music of its time.

#2 Album(s) — Blue Lines (1991) and Mezzanine (1998) by Massive Attack

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Photo credit HERE 

Listen to the whole album Blue Lines HERE

Favorite Track Blue Lines: Hymn of the Big Wheel

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Photo credit HERE

Listen to the whole album Mezzanine HERE

Favorite Track Mezzanine: Teardrop

Words cannot describe the void that Massive Attack fills in my musical life. Massive Attack is one of the few groups that can be playing as background white noise and still instantly send me to another head space. I have almost their entire discography, but these two albums, in my opinion, define what the band is all about. These two albums are probably the most listened to when I want to do an extended writing session. Someone usually has to make physical contact with me before I even notice they are there if I am listening any of their tracks.

#1 Ænima by Tool (1996)

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Photo credit HERE

Listen to the whole album HERE

Favorite Track: Pushit

This was the album that changed my life forever, and I am grateful. I first saw Tool in concert in Dayton, Ohio in 1996. The opening song was Third Eye, and I was addicted for life by the end of the set. This band is the reason I love music. Maynard has a gifted voice, Danny has been voted drummer of the year numerous times, Paul and Justin’s bass tones perfectly complements Adams guitar-work. This album touches on a wide variety of subjects from science, to magic, to Scientology, to a love of comedy, and so much more. I could probably write a research paper on the various topics and influences that this band touches on in a near 80-minute experience. This band is deeply connected to every aspect of the art of music and showmanship.

Honorable Mention for an Individual Song: Jidenna — Hail to the Chief (listen HERE)

Favorite Line / Lyric: Now they say “Jidenna why you dressing so classic?” / I don’t want my best dress day in a casket

Is it a coincidence that all my favorite albums were released in the 90s? Absolutely not. The 90s had one of the biggest influence on my life and played a crucial role shaping who I am today. It was a musical awaking for me, and I am forever grateful for it. I could fill up twenty more pages writing about all my musical influences and favorites, but it felt right listing just the top 5. My musical tastes currently number over 20,000 individual songs from all genres of music and that number grows daily.

I hardly ever shy away from talking about anything musical. I enjoy hearing about how other lives are affected by music. My writing is better because I have music in my life. Much like books, music helps to take me to places I would not be able to reach on my own. It is, for lack of a better term, my drug of choice.

Good luck and happy writing!

Arthur Unk

Where’d You Find This Guy…?

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Picture credit here.

I know you well. / You are a part of me. / I know you better than I know myself. / I know you best,
better than anyone. / I know you better than I know myself.” from the song
Part of Me by Tool listen here.


Writing, for me, is the ultimate chance to be someone else; to walk a mile in different shoes. As a child, I would fantasize and emulate characters from novels, comic books, and television. These stories provided a much needed escape from the reality of everyday life. It led to a lifetime of reading, Dungeons and Dragons, and playing video games. I still do all of these things, even as an adult well into middle age. I currently hear the sirens call of my latest PlayStation adventure, Monster Hunter World.

There is one thing that trumps all of them, writing. My world grew exponentially once I realized that I could put thoughts to paper. I have a confession to make. I cannot sing, dance, play an instrument, paint, draw, sculpt, and a hundred other things. The only thing I have ever felt comfortable doing was listening to music, talking in front of people (my largest crowd was +3000), and writing.

My first taste of how good the writing life could be came in the form of winning a Young Authors award in the third grade. The poem was no “There was once a man from Nantucket…”, but it provided the spark that would continue to smolder for the rest of my life. I felt a little like Doctor Frankenstein; I had created life!

My first exposure to Dungeons and Dragons happened in the third grade as well. The one friend I had, Rick, invited me over to his house and said, “Hey check this out”. He was my fantasy dealer and we adventured just about every weekend for the next three years. I played and created stories that I still use for inspiration today. Now that I reflect on it, the third grade truly changed my life.

Fast forward many, many years later and you find me developed into a semi-functioning adult. I have a regular job, wife, a kid, animals, bills, responsibilities, blah, blah, blah. I am only now discovering what I really want to do with the rest of my life and my place in this world. I took the path less traveled and hit every bump in that path. I also have had a whole lifetime of experiences done in half the time. Something was building up inside me, wanting to be released. Until one day, the dam broke and everything came pouring out; raw, undefined, passionate.

Every character I put on a page is a part of me. The mess that is me is displayed for all to see through my writing. My fears, my pain, my struggles; my successes, my passions, my heart’s desire all spread across a story. I am lucky that I can channel my thoughts and feelings. There are several people in this world who walk around a miserable mess with no outlets. I don’t know how they can function and stay sane at the same time.

Underneath the skin and jewelry, / hidden in her words and eyes / is a wall that’s cold and ugly / and she’s scared as hell. / Trembling at the thought of feeling. / Wide awake and keeping distance. /
Nothing seems to penetrate her. / cause She’s scared as hell.” from the song
Cold and Ugly by Tool listen here.

My characters take on different aspects of my personality and emotions. Often, due to my vicarious nature, the stars of the show take on aspects of the people I hang out with during the day or the people from my past that have stuck out to me over the years. Everyone I know is well aware that anything they say or do around me can and will be used in a future story. It’s too good not to be!

I fear for those who stay sheltered and do not go experience life. I am not saying that if you have not traveled the world and partied at the pyramids that you don’t have a good story to tell. Stay true to yourself. The people who have come to me with writing struggles (lord help them) often just have a case of not being able to conceptualize what they are trying to write. Something is missing from their story and they can’t put a finger on it. 99% of the time it comes down to just one thing, life experience. There is no shame in writing while living vicariously through others, if you know how to translate that experience in to your own.

For example, I received a comment on a story the other day where I had a character in a hot room covered with blood and I used phrasing along the lines of, “…her mouth tasted like it was full of pennies…” This one detail stuck out to the reader. I was asked how I chose that particular phrasing for the description. My response to them was I have personally been in a hot room filled with blood and burnt bodies. I was a medic deployed to Iraq from 2003-04 in Ramadi and participated in a few mass casualty events. There is no substitute for life experience.

A side note concerning my horror stories, I have never murdered anyone or experienced the supernatural, but I have conversed with murderers and seen things I cannot explain.

Thank you for walking on this journey with me. Until I see you all next week.

Good luck and happy writing!

Arthur Unk

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The Outsider In Me, The Outsider In Us

“Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness.” — H.P. Lovecraft from the story The Outsider, Weird Tales, 7, No. 4 (April 1926), 449-53

H.P. Lovecraft and his wonderful tales have had a huge influence on how I approach writing, reading horror, and life. There is no other author I can think of who paints a story picture with words better. This tale in particular, The Outsider, holds a special place in my heart. On the surface, it is a narrative about a being who wants to expand the edges of its known universe. The story evolves into the overcoming of the unknown and the ultimate realization of where you belong in the world. It is a discovery of self. Vivid descriptions abound are not found in any other writings of this era.

Nearly mad, I found myself yet able to throw out a hand to ward off the foetid apparition which pressed so close; when in one cataclysmic second of cosmic nighmarishness and hellish accident my fingers touched the rotting outstretched paw of the monster beneath the golden arch.

The story is told in the first person, a personal favorite of mine. The reader gets only the perspective of the main character; a truly personal experience. All feelings are filtered through a single pair of eyes. This is a common theme among many of Lovecraft’s writings. An explorer telling a story, a scientist’s journal, an otherworldly narrator are all commonly found.

I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable.

I went to 13 different schools from kindergarten through high school. The feeling of being an “outsider” is definitely one known to me. I would often spend hours of my childhood in my own fantasy worlds, isolated from all that was normal. I was never abused, that I can remember, I was not exposed to any horrible situations that my young mind couldn’t comprehend. I was left alone, ignored.

Over time, I was able to master the art of being the new kid at school, the new guy in the office, and because of all my reading and fantasizing, I learned to adapt to a wide variety of situations. I learned the art of conversation; how to blend into any social setting. Popularity never found me, but everyone knew who I was. I carried these skills with me into adulthood. I learned to live vicariously through others and developed an empathic connection to the world as I experienced it.

Now I am closer to 40 than 30 with a family and responsibilities of my own. I never imagined a world where someone would want to share it with me. I never saw myself as a part of a world to be shared. I always felt like the “Outsider” from this story, but much like the main character, I have been blessed to learn my purpose in this world. Life truly begins once you find that.

Good luck and happy writing.

Arthur Unk

outsider

Picture credit here.

Read H.P. Lovecraft’s The Outsider

A Source of Inspiration

I often get asked by family and friends, “Why do you write so many flash / micro stories? Don’t writers write books, novels, articles, blah, blah, blah…?” It’s true I have been a fiend lately for all things flash. I even have recently had my first story published here.

Truth be told, it has reinvigorated me. Writing a flash story or a micro-prompt is my current drug of choice. It is a very short term goal that I always meet. I have my longer project(s) that I work on, and of course a real world job to occupy my time. My point is that everyone has to start somewhere and since it is only once in a lifetime that someone can write the perfect story out of the gate; it is necessary to have these little successes.

I use social media as my muse and sounding board. There is no greater collection of all people from all walks of life. I am surprised on a daily basis. I feel like I am reading the innermost thoughts of the world. Occasionally, I encounter opinions that differ from mine; situations that give me pause. I am young with high mileage and thankfully able to control my reactions. I follow one basic rule: Do not write anything that you would not want your grandmother to read on the cover of the New York Times.

Good luck and happy writing.

Arthur Unk

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