Sunday 11 November 2012

My Crazy Overactive Imagination and Me

I can say with complete honesty, that I'm never guilty of being away with the fairies.

I don't do fairies. The vampires, dragons, Roman legionaries, kings, knights, barbarian warriors... that's a different matter. I spend half my time away with them. Possibly a dysfunctional amount of time, but there you go.

I also have a habit of overthinking things - that's why I don't do fairies, really. I have to make things make sense. It's fine in sci-fi. It worked with dragons. Even, to an extent, with wizards. It worked an absolute treat with vampires.

And I have a tendency to lean towards the dark and creepy. Don't look for too many happy-ever-afters from me.

This adds up to quite a bit of self-inflicted cannot unsee. Sometimes I scare myself. A lot of it I'm scared to write down, let alone publish, in case people think I'm weird, and not in a good way - I'm fine with being eccentric, but I don't want to be some kind of depraved crazy psycho.

The end result is an overflowing mental filing cabinet of squick. Which has been getting to me recently, so I finally decided to inflict it on you guys, somewhere I can explain it instead of just putting it in a story as though it's nothing unusual, and where my mum won't end up reading it (hopefully. Weird, isn't it, how it can be so much easier to say something to the world than one person).
This is a sort of experiment, to see if it really is weird-creepy, or just horror story creepy and it's only my usual worrying about what people will think of me that makes me scared to show it.
Anyway, here's a little showcase of the kind of stuff that turns up in my head:

I'll start off gently, so be warned that it will get squickier.

I killed myself in a dream. To be fair, this wasn't entirely my own imagination. I watched a horror film under the mistaken impression that it was an action film, and had nightmares. I was being chased through the jungle by the appalling super-intelligent man-eating gorilla things. I tried to write this as a story for a Halloween special, but I couldn't properly express the utter, despair-inducing terror as I gradually realised that I couldn't escape. It was years ago now, but I still have a very vivid picture of struggling to wedge myself under a shelf of rock protruding from the river, trying to get far enough in to be properly underwater so that I would drown before they got me.
Fun times.

You know those times when you're racking your brains to come up with a method of execution for a made-up Mediaeval-style world? No? You've never done that? Well, here's what I came up with:
The, uh, criminal, is held down and a tube of some sort is forced down their throat into their windpipe. A pint or so of flies' eggs are poured down the tube. And you're done. You don't even need to keep them in prison, because there's now nothing they can do about it. They're already dead.
Within a day the eggs hatch and the victim starts to feel them moving inside his lungs. For four or five days the maggots grow. And eat him alive from the inside out, until he dies of... well, whatever the proper term is for having your lungs eaten. Oddly enough, I've not been able to find any information about how long it would take to kill him. Anyone know how fast maggots eat? If he's still alive after five days, the maggots turn into pupae and stop eating, but by now his lungs are badly damaged and almost certainly infected - flies' eggs aren't exactly the most hygienic of things. If he survives another week or so, he gets to experience the adult flies hatching and crawling about, eating some more, and possibly a few finding their way back up his trachea and crawling out of his mouth.
Hmm, nice.
I was trying to be slightly more original than hanging, beheading, or burning at stake.

There's the one about the seven-year-old vampire. Now, this isn't the same kind of vampire as the ones I've been talking about. This is a different story, different rules. For once I managed to just do supernatural without trying to make it work; these vampires are virtually unkillable. They'll starve if they don't have human blood to drink, but they won't die. Sunlight burns them terribly but they'll survive. Garlic, holy water, silver, a stake to the heart (or any body part), beheading... they're all painful and incapacitating, but the vampire won't die. Even burning alive will just leave them horribly burned - they will recover.
The story starts around the first half of the fifteenth century, in England, with a seven-year-old boy named Angel (which is totally a legit name). He is turned into a vampire. I'll skim over the details, but in short, within two months he was captured by humans who then attempted to kill him. I'm sure they tried all or most of the above. Since nothing worked, the only solution was to chain the child to the wall of a secret chamber in a castle and brick it up. Of course, he has superhuman strength, so to make sure he can't get free, you'll need to use silver chains which will burn him so that trying to pull free causes him too much pain to bear.
So he is left alone, starving, in constant pain and unable to move at all without causing himself even more agony. His only companion is his imaginary friend. Before the story began, whenever Angel misbehaved he would be told that angels never did things like that. So he created Devil, who could. Devil can still do all the things Angel can't, like grow up, and go outside, and stand up and walk to the other end of the cell.
Six centuries on, the chamber is rediscovered by accident and, well, I actually hope to write this one, so I won't spoil it. I'll just say it's not a happy story.

God is an author, and we're all a story. That's what I believe. If you believe in a God (which I do), it's hard to see how it can be otherwise - if for no other reason than that one of the few things a lot of religions agree on is that we are made in His image. All humans like stories; virtually everyone in the developed world is or wants to be a writer of some description, and 'as above, so below' implies 'as below, so above'.
Now that in itself is hardly disturbing, But here's a nice little corollary for you:
If you're a character in God's story, and you are self-aware, what about the characters in your stories? You know, the ones that just got eaten alive from the lungs outwards.

And then there's such a thing as being too genre savvy for your own good. A little while back, I read a book in which some people got flayed alive. One of them only had a few appendages flayed, and survived to have an internal monologue about it. Obviously, I'd never thought of being skinned as a basket of roses, but until then I'd not thought about it much, and certainly hadn't thought of it as the worst pain of any kind ever, nothing can compare to it, and this is a guy who's been tortured in all kinds of horrible ways talking. The others got made into cloaks.
From then on, I seem to be hearing about people being skinned alive everywhere. And usually they get made into cloaks.
Until my crazy overactive imagination started to get suspicious, and finally expressed the view that this if we're in a story, then Chekhov's gun applies, and this is probably foreshadowing something.
I don't really believe that. But it sure is creepy. I don't wanna be a coat.

And while we're on that subject, crazy overactive imaginations aren't limited to original work. They also do fanfic. In this particular instance, a nice juicy slice of fridge horror. This is the same book I mentioned above, and the same unfortunate individual. I should explain that his torturer (who is the worst person in the world, and in the world in question, that's saying something) flays appendages because leaving the exposed tissue to fester and dry up is much nastier than just chopping it off. And although it was never explicitly said, the fact that he castrated the guy is implicitly confirmed in the scene where he forces him to molest a young girl.
Those things are nasty enough, right?
Now put them together...

I had another original one that I was saving for last, but I chickened out of telling you about it. It's squicky in weird ways, and weird in squicky ways, and I'm embarrassed to have thought of it. Maybe I'll post it another time, depending on the response to this one.

So, the inside of my head. Not all of it is this dark, but stuff like this is not uncommon.
Any thoughts?


  1. I'd actually like to read this book... (the one you read AND the one you want to write)

    and I think this webcomic does a good modern-day faerie story:

    1. Thanks for commenting!
      The one I read is A Song of Ice and Fire. I recommend it. The bit I mentioned doesn't happen until the fifth book.
      As for the one I want to write, that might be a long time coming.

  2. Fairies are tough to pull off. Although I just finished The Raven Boys (which flirts with fairies) and I loved it. It was dark-ish but nowhere near Song of Ice and Fire. If you like really dark (and if you're pondering the practicalities of flaying alive I can safely assume you are) you should check out Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns. Darkest most wonderful world building I've ever come across. Bitter as 2 day old coffee but fantastically so.

    1. I'm not exactly pondering the practicalities of flaying alive, I just keep reading about it and it's giving me the creeps. But I do like dark stories. I'll put those on my reading list.