Monday, April 4, 2011

Sneak Peak 4: Masters of Horror Damned If You Don't

Time for another sneak peak into Masters of Horror: Damned If You Don't

The phenomenon of “cutting” is more prevalent than you’d expect. Princess Diana was rumored to be a ‘cutter’, although I cannot confirm or deny this.
In the book THE ALCOHOLISM AND ADDICTION CURE, Author Chris Prentiss explains how ‘cutters’ think, as he cured one. “You feel bad before you cut yourself; you feel better AFTER you cut yourself. You’re cutting yourself to feel GOOD,” he told a woman…and that particular vice was revealed and subsequently defeated.
As New Zealand’s Master of Horror Lee Pletzers describes, it’s not always defeated…

The Seal
By Lee Pletzers

       It came out of his skin, ripping and tearing.
       Claws gripped the flayed skin, a black head the shape of a panther with a long snout and a jutted jaw, slid from the opening, surveying its surrounds. It lunged forward, forcing its thick muscular body forward, struggling, wriggling its way through, and ripping the man’s torso apart in the process. There was no pain. He watched the creature strode to and fro, claws clacked on the vinyl covered floor. Malevolent eyes, green and deep, stared at the man. Its lip curled up exposing a row of jagged teeth, tips gleamed in the fluorescent lights. Water dripped off its slick coat creating a puddle on the floor.
       The lights flickered. The creature was invisible in the darkness. With each flash of light it had moved closer like stop motion photography. Suddenly it was on the bed, growling, hungry and eyeing his destroyed chest. It eyed his exposed heart.
       “Wake up,” came a female voice with a very stern tone. “Warwick, wake up.”
      The creature eyed the woman, licked it lips, and poised on the bed.
       “Don’t make me restrain you.”
       Warwick’s eyes snapped open, momentarily startling the woman.
       “That’s better,” she said, absentmindedly brushing down her nurse apron. She grabbed his wrist and looked at her watch. “You must calm down,” she scolded. “All the machines went into alarm.”
        “Leave, now! It’s watching you!” His voice was a harsh whisper full of urgency and concern.
       “Mister James, there’s nothing there.” The nurse stared at her watch. She shook her head. “I’m going to have to give you something. Your pulse is racing.”
       The creature growled. Raising a paw, its claws snapped out like tiny curved daggers. It swung at the nurse, aiming at the face. The nurse was unaffected. The claws passed through her as if she were a ghost and nothing more. Frustrated, a roar ripped from its throat.
       Warwick laughed. The seal was cracked but not broken. All was good for now, but he knew he needed to enhance the seal, strengthen it. He smiled at the nurse. He knew how the game was played. “I think I’m fine now,” he said. “It was just a dream that seemed so real.”
       The nurse filled a hypodermic syringe.
       “Seriously--I don’t need that.”
       The nurse tapped air out of the syringe.
       “Betty, please.”
       “It’s for your own good.” She turned to face him. “Just settle down, now.”
       Warwick tried to move, but the creature had pinned his arms at his sides. Its snout was inches from his nose, its hind legs on his thighs. “She injects me, you die.”
       He stared into the creatures’ deep green eyes. He flinched at the sting of the needle. “Goodbye,” he said to the creature as it faded and its weight lifted. Looking down at his chest moments before the drug took him, he smiled. Everything was as it should be. He had 72 more hours before the creature tried to return. He worried that it was not enough time to strengthen the seal. All he could do was hope it was.

       Take a small but decent-sized American city and slaughter its entire population, over the course of a year. (Well, don’t, actually.) If a hostile country did that to one of our cities, we’d probably give them the Hiroshima treatment.
       Yet, that’s how many people alcohol kills in different methods—cirrhosis, other diseases, drunk drivers (62 victims a day from that alone!), accidents, fights, mayhem—every year. It out-kills every other drug we’ve come up with, except possibly for tobacco, while we lock up nonviolent marijuana users by the thousands. And as a society, we let it slide. The legality, prevalence and perceived ‘normality’ of alcohol—and its enormous lobby and tax income--makes it seem ‘not so bad’.
       In fact, if you were to give alcohol a human voice, it might just say so.

By K.K.

       At 11:40 AM, Deacon Blues was almost finished redecorating the room. The framed EASY DOES IT and DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF placards were still there, along with the huge posters describing the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, but he’d added some real eye-catchers.
A Corona poster had been added. A hot model in a bikini posed with a bottle of the beer, but her beautiful face had been cut out of the picture. Other poster-girls for Coors Light and Smirnoff Ice posed on other walls, equally headless. Magazine ads for Captain Morgan’s Rum, Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels were taped up at eye level here and there as well. They were all very commonplace images, but very incongruous for a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. And if Rick didn’t arrive soon, Deacon Blues would have to take down all his work before the next meeting started. “Where are you, Tusgrin?” He growled under his breath to the empty room.
       At 11:45 AM, Rick Tusgrin rolled his battle-scarred Impala to a halt next to Deacon Blues’ ancient Triumph motorcycle outside the West Side Group, and got out. As the door crunched shut with a pained metallic groan, he noticed all the damage he’d done to it over the last two years. Dented door, dented quarter-panel, dented fender, dented grille…it went on and on. Now that he was sober, he could connect each dent to a different bar or party. Funny how he hadn’t noticed before. He walked towards the building’s door, then groaned at his own malfunctioning memory and stalked back to the car to get the photos Matt had requested.
       Inside, Deacon Blues raised a hand in greeting. “Hey, Rick. Did you bring ‘em?”
       Rick nodded, holding out a manila envelope. “Right here, Mr. Bluzinski.”
       “Call me Matt, for the thirtieth time…and thanks. These are all Jane Does, right?” he asked.
       Rick nodded. “Of course. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to look at ‘em.
What the hell did you want these for, anyw—” His sentence trailed off as he saw the new      décor.             
       “Awwww, no…
       Matthew “Deacon Blues” Bluzinski raised an eyebrow. “What?” Instead of waiting for a reply, he taped an eight-by-ten photo of a female corpse’s face where the bikini model’s face should have been. “Hmmm, probably ought to cut these down to size…ah, I’ll do it later.” He repeated the process on another headless model.
       “That is freakin’ sick.” Rick grumbled.
       “That is the exact point.” Deacon Blues kept taping as he spoke. “Advertising in reverse. Haven’t you seen those TV ads for ‘The Truth’? They’re freakin’ sick, but they get their point across because they’re sick. And that’s for tobacco. Nobody stands up to alcohol, no matter how many people die. People leave these meetings, they’re right back on the street, and every billboard shows people livin’ the wild nightlife. No wonder so many people relapse.” He touched up the Captain Morgan ad with a black and white photo of a crashed car. “Yeah, these are shock tactics. I think we need shock tactics. But if anyone tells me they’re disgusted, I’ll take them down. I bet you nobody does.”

       It would probably be better for the society at large if our various vices only impacted US, and not affect our friends and families. As we all know, that usually isn’t the case. As seen on HBO’s “Intervention” series, a huge number of addicts would self-destruct if it weren’t for their friends and families.
       But perversely, often our friends or families can be hard-partying “Enablers” that can either ‘jump-start’ our addictions, and/or cheerfully match us shot-for-shot down the left-hand path. Harry Mora now poses the question: which of you will reach the end of the road first?

By Harry Louis Mora

       “I WON’T WAIT FOREVER!” he screamed after her, though he was sure the sound of the engine as Jessica drove away drowned out the pathetic threat. “I will not wait forever,” he whispered again—to himself—as the first pangs of pain began their convulsive trek from his heart to his brain. He slammed the door shut as the tears reached his eyes. Better to lock himself away then let the world know he had been torn apart—for the hundredth time—after having promised himself to never let that part of him need again.
       The winter had brought self-loathing, betrayal and ultimately, guilty love. The spring had been magical, a storybook romance. The summer brought squabble, a breach in the idyllic life he had led for one blissful season. It was the first hint of an underlying sickness in their relationship. It was the first hint that it would all end in tears, as it had time and time before.
       However, this time he would not wait forever for her to return. He had promised himself that; just as he had promised not to let himself be dragged along, clinging to the shreds of his heart when it started to go wrong. He would end his own suffering long before the world offered to end it for him this time—and he did. So why did this unbearable pain cleave his heart and close its fist around his throat?
       He cried, long, drawn-out peals of sorrow and an endless river of snot and tears. He cried until he seemed to be incapable of producing any more liquids. He cried until the sounds of his anguish would no longer come. Only then, when his ragged breath only came in stuttering gasps did he stop.
       He looked at himself in the mirror—where tears, snot and heartbreak plastered his face. He let the water run—
       I won’t…
       —washed up—
       —and looked at his reflection again as he smiled.
       Watching himself smile—a smile of victory, not of warmth or compassion--he felt something was different now. He’d turned, somehow, either toward something, or into something.
       Wearing this mask of happy contentment, he returned to his friends. He returned to the life of hard work and harder play. “Memento” memories; that was what he and his friends had termed those drunken nights when you lost minutes, sometimes hours of your life with no memory, regret or shame.
       After a while, the mask he wore for the world changed him. He grew as dark, cold, smooth and slick as the front he displayed for everyone. He smiled his mischievous grin into the mirror and patted himself on the back. How many girls had that smile bedded? How many had that look sent away crawling into the same little hell he had become master of?
       He took a broken, lonely soul and remade it in crimson and black, leather and tattoos.  He created a villain to resurrect the naive white knight that had fallen. He knew many women; but never fell in love with any. He would not allow himself to be hurt again. He would not allow himself to be loved again.                
       Without realizing it, he had become something he never would have imagined. 

Check out the new Masters of Horror: Damned If You Don't Anthology website here

© Copyright Triskaideka Books 2011. All rights reserved. 
Triskaideka Books has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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