Intestines In The Streets

Been busy this weekend and didn't come up with anything clever, and yet I don't want to just type up a batch of movie reviews, because I can always do that; I've got a godzillion of 'em. So, I figured I'd try this, fast 'n' sloppy like.

The title of the post is also the title of a short story I once wrote, about a buildup of preservatives that gave people's innards a life of their own, so they'd bust free of your abdomen and slither away. You needed them more than they needed you, y'see? It was disgusting and more than a bit stupid, but I wrote it in the 80's when "splatterpunks" were ruling horror fiction, and I was looking at guys like Skipp & Spector & David Schow and thinking, "I can be waaaay grosser than these guys!" As if being gross was really what it was all about.

So, why use that for the title of this blog entry? Because I figured I'd give you a capsule version of the plots of things I've written. At first I thought this was too self-indulgent (really, why shouldja give a damn since I'm not John Grisham?) but then I thought how curious I get if I find out somebody writes; I'm always glad to find out somebody else writes novels or stories, and always want to know what kind of stuff they write, what their plots are. Even if I don't know the person. Like, I'm still frustrated that some people I did a "write a novel in a month" exercise with a couple years back never told the rest of us what their story was going to be about. Even though most of 'em didn't finish it, they should have at least let us know the basic plot, just to scratch that curiosity itch.

So, not that you're necessarily curious, but, just in case... here goes.

I don't know how many novels I've written, actually. I know how many I've got that might actually be publishable if I tweaked 'em enough, and that's around five. But in high school I turned out a ton of 'em, all nearly-plotless crap, but novel-length. When The Road Warrior came out, it had a huge impact on me, and I was also reading a lot of Executioner-type series in study hall (I'll probably do a blog post on those somewhere down the line, 'cuz they were a pretty funny Reagan-era phenomenon, held over from the pulp days), so I figured, "I'll write an action series based around a post-apocalyptic highway mayhem scenario!"

So, I wrote about half a dozen of these halfass sumbitches, with the basic plotline being this: the Russians dropped biological weapons on the U.S. in the form of gas bombs that made anyone exposed into a homicidal lunatic, bent on killing anyone who hadn't gotten the gas. (O' course, that's yer average zombie plot, but they're not dead). Through all of this a group of teens, mostly girls who were incredibly hot, became highly-mobile mercenaries, driving around the loonie-infested highways (also full bandit biker gangs who hadn't gotten the loonie-gas but were taking advantage of all the anarchy to become warlords), delivering things from place to place and killing as many people as possible. No real plot to any of 'em, just driving, with a bunch of people to get in a gunfight with showing up every 3 pages or so. Idiotic high-school junk, but good exercise 'cuz it showed me that I could turn out something novel length. I still have them somewhere, tied up in a dusty, yellowing bunch, but I don't remember the names of any of 'em, and it's irrelevant anyway. They're juvenalia.

I also wrote a bunch of horror short stories. Like I said, I was trying to out-splatter the splatterpunks... and, since I actually was listening to punk rock (and thought I was the only person in the state doing so, since I never saw anyone else who was into the stuff until I ran into Igor in college) I was trying to out-punk them, too. As in, I was going to use my writing to upset status-quo society and spread chaos. That kinda bullshit. I tried to intentionally piss off my teacher and classmates in my college creative writing classes by writing aggressively-transgressively-nasty stories like "Soon The Frost" (in which a psycho insulates his shack for the winter by harvesting the fat from the morbidly obese people he murders), "(Inverted) Cross To Bear" (in which the re-discovery of a necklace left by a guy who ritually dismembered his girlfriend with a Ginsu knife sparks a violent Satanic possession), "Charnel Knowledge" (in which a guy finds a human molar in his yard and becomes so obsessed with death that he tries to bury himself alive), "Seeing Eyes" (a guy tries to buy hunting dogs from a crazy old blind man in the woods, only to find the guy's been interbreeding monstrosities), and "Blue Mirrors" (in which a guy wandering the beach with a hangover can't decide if he cut a girl's arms off with a broken bottle, or if someone else did it).

My literary assault worked really well; my teacher couldn't stand my stuff. He did like my writing, but he loathed the subject matter. He was so desperate to discourage me from writing it that when I mercifully wrote a crime story called "S.O.B." (which was a total Mickey Spillane pastiche) he got a visiting author to read it to the whole class and discuss how I should write more things like that instead. Didn't deter me from the horror stuff, although I did write him a biker-saves-witnessing-church-girl-stuck-on-the-wrong-side-of-town story called "Missionary Postion," just to be nice. I got a "this could be publishable in the right place!" note for that... still trying to get me off the horror track. In vain. :)

Anyway, even outside of the class I kept writing a bunch of other short stories, with titles like "Slaughterhouse Slamdance," "Embryonicus Necrovivicus," "Morbidus Rex," "Maggoty Remains," "Meathook Fuck," "Mortisectus Autopsiorium," "Somnambulus Mortuarium," (I thought I was fucking clever using faux-Latinate titles, y'see) "Night of the Living Sleaze," "Necrotic Insemination," "Sister Mary Fuck Face," "Fungod," and other such I'm-trying-so-hard-to-offend-somebody childishness (a trait which would later be picked up by death metal bands like Cannibal Corpse). Plots involved things like a guy building a god out of rotting body parts in the attic, farm kids using their dead grandpa as a scarecrow (or trying to - it didn't work 'cuz the crows kept pecking at 'im), undead anorexics eating a fashion designer who promoted the "waif" look, a guy possessed by some weird unidentifiable thing in a jar in his refrigerator (that one ended when the guy tried to carve off all his own flesh and preserve it in jars), and a guy trapped on a gravel bar in a river with hordes of starving rats. Just pleasant-ass stuff.

Then, I wrote a horror novel called Rictus Grin. It was a zombie thing in which Satanists raised demons which entered and animated corpses, which then went around killing to create more corpses to give homes to their demonic brethren. Coincidentally, a similar idea was later used by a writer named Brian Keene for a couple of pretty successful books, but his were much better written than mine was. Rictus Grin had a few good ideas in it, but it's mostly still juvenalia. I do like the title, though. I may have to re-use that someday.

Since those days I've written only a few other short stories, such as "Shrouded In Rain" (a guilty woman sees her dead boyfriend naked in the rain whenever there's a storm, and when she finally chases after him, her equally-guilty mother starts seeing her naked in the rain), "Damp Basements of Heaven" (a somewhat-unbalanced guy who does some urban exploration in a storm drain system ends up regretting it), "Up The Stairs Where The Windows Are Painted Black" (a passerby tries to save kids from a burning house, but a weirdly-deformed evil baby-thing won't let him), "Skull Punx Rule!" (a new punk rock movement takes death-rock a little too far), "Sarcastic Gods" (a guy wakes up too early and finds out the insane creator hasn't prepared that day's world for him quite yet). Mostly I've concentrated on novels, though, so I'll go into those.

Death Metal Creeps is a horror novel about a death metal band who are being followed by some overenthusiastic, degenerate fans who take the band's Satanic messages far too seriously and commit torture murders as sacrifices to Satan. When they finally learn that the band doesn't really mean all the Satanic stuff, they feel betrayed and decide to square things with Satan by killing the band members. There are some pretty harsh scenes in this that I'd probably have to tone down if I ever wanted to get it published, but several people have read it and liked it despite incidents of cannibalism, necrophilia, and razor-blade swallowing.

Orphans is kind of a sociological horror novel about a bunch of runaway kids using a vacant house as a squat. One of them is a psychotic, and when they kick him out for getting violent, he resents it. His parents had kicked him out, too, y'see, and he killed them for it. So, the other runaway kids get stalked by their crazy ex-friend, and they don't want to go to the cops for help because they'd get sent back to their abusive homes. This would need some work in the revision, but it's serviceable.

Deadhouse is another horror novel in which a small group of teens learn that their neighbors, the Spellmans, are dead in their bed upstairs. Nobody knows how they died, because there's not a mark on them. After the kids get over being creeped out, they start using the Spellman house as a place to hang out... which may be what the Spellmans planned. This is a pretty freaky, dream-logic kind of novel. A friend of mine whose husband is a prolific author liked this enough to try to market it to Tor Books, but we were half-assed about it and didn't get anywhere with that. I've never bothered trying to sell any of this stuff; I have a weird plan to have about a dozen potentially-saleable books stored up before I ever try getting any published.

Signal 30 is something I wrote for the previously-mentioned "write a novel in a month" discipline exercise a couple years back. The object was to write a novel at least 50,000 words long in a month. This one's pure pulp horror, and at first I thought it was junk, but now I kinda like it, because it's got no pretension to it, and the horror's hardcore. Basically, a bunch of college kids go urban-exploring in a storm drain (I have a weird fascination for storm drains and urban exploration in general) and end up trapped in pitch-black tunnels with a bunch of carnivorous walking dead. My goal was basically to create a bunch of nice characters, make you fall in love with them, and then have them killed off as gruesomely and unpleasantly as possible. I think I managed that much, at least, and since it moves in almost real-time, I didn't indulge in as much wank as I sometimes do.

Steve's Trailer
was another write-a-novel-in-a-month attempt. I failed to meet the deadline, but I think it'll be finished eventually; it's almost done. It'll need a lot of revision and tightening up, but I think the plot's okay; a guy leaves a party in a trailer park, drunk, and gets lost. The park's a lot bigger than it had been when he went in, and the trailers are weirder. After wandering around for hours, he starts thinking someone's stalking him, and it starts raining, so he ducks into this old trailer. The place is full of hippie stuff and there's a weird guy with a flute who's in bed with two dead girls. The guy escapes, and the next day he goes looking for the trailer so he can tell the police about it, but the trailer's nowhere to be found. When he tells a friend's wife about it, she says "You can't scare me with that story, I've been hearing that urban legend for years." And he finds out that there's an old legend about this guy, which he starts researching... and finds out that he might be a real serial killer, or maybe just a made-up story that somebody was imitating. The mix of fact and legend and his inability to get enough concrete information about it starts driving him insane.

I've also got several unfinished novels, some of which are already novel-length even though they're nowhere near done. One, Seth's Soul, is kind of like a Southern Baptist version of The Exorcist, in which a girl gets possessed by a weird deaf-mute albino guy who used to walk around the highway all night collecting roadkill. It's not quite as stupid as it sounds, but it's probably close. There's some stuff in it I really like, but overall it's a huge mess.

Then there's Blacklight Autopsy, another zombie thing, which is kind of an amalgamation of three movies: White Zombie, Romper Stomper, and Shane. It's got an evil rich guy running factories full of re-animated corpses, Nazi skinheads, and a homeless guy who's possibly a hero or maybe just a psycho.

Then there's Choir of Worms, about a barrier island that's overrun with flesh-eating worms. That was part of a failed attempt to write a novel in a week, and if I ever finish it I'll probably wrap another novel around it; I have a Pale Fire type plan for it.

And there are other incidental things, but that should be more than enough. Hopefully it'll spur some o' ya into posting the plots of anything you've written, or at least thought about writing. Everybody's got a few decent plot ideas in their heads, so, talk about 'em...

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