But my family was never really into books unless it was THE book. The good book with all the life lessons. My mother was the preacher in the family, so when she would go out of town for conferences, my dad would pop in the horror flicks. I would sit at the end of the couch with a blanket over my head, you know, to hide under during the scary parts or the nudity (but I always peeked through the little gaps in the fabric).
So in this way, horror has always held a special place in my heart. It has always felt like something forbidden, something for the grown-ups. In fact, I and my family would play this little game. My dad would pop in a VHS of The Thing (the 1982 version starring Kurt Russell), and I would hide and watch and take vivid notes for my nightmares. Before my dad started every movie, he’d say something like, “Don’t tell your mother.” And I’d agree. Nod my head and make the most solemn vow just to gain access to this world of the macabre that would seep into my subconscious and stowaway into my dream world.
Of course, as soon as my mother would get home I’d run to her and say, “Dad let me watch The Thing!” I don’t think this led to my parent’s divorce, but I guess it didn’t help. Deep down, I think she knew it was a special bond between me and my dad: the bond that only scary stories can create. We’re not supposed to want to see these horrific scenes play out in such gruesome detail, but there is something about horror that brings a reader back time after time.
Later in life, my dad showed me a book called Misery. He said it was the scariest book he’d ever read. At the time, I had to agree since I didn’t make it through 100 pages before calling it quits. I have since made the journey along with Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes, and my life is better for it. Or… at least my nightmares have more fuel. I can still feel the bed Paul was trapped in. The cold outside window as the Colorado blizzard turned the pristine landscape into a prison. The feeling of dread as Annie controlled every aspect of the situation with her demented sense of justice.
To me, that’s what great horror does. It sticks with you. It ingrains itself in that flight or fight place in our brains, that reptilian part that has been with us since the dawn, and take hold like a virus, refusing to let go because we might need that crucial information to escape an Annie Wilkes of our own someday.
This year we’ve published some great horror stories! My hope for you is that they dig into your brain, and find a home in the recesses of your subconscious where they will pop up at odd moments. Who knows… one of these tales might even save your life.
From Managing Editor, Chris Phillips.
From spectral horror to child-ghosts, the Devil Himself or a skin-changing enchantress, this volume encompasses a range of tastes. For the memento mori set, we have Nicola Belte’s macabre Victorian “Muse.” Yet our more literary-veined readers will enjoy “Green on the Inside” by Star Spider — a mother’s garden never bodes well in this genre.
These quick yet spine-tingling reads carry on Flash Fiction Online’s tradition of proving short-short stories can pack a huge punch.
Edited by Suzanne W. Vincent
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