Friday, July 9, 2010

The Monsters Return

They are there, watching, waiting, and listening.

They have honed their craft well, remaining along the outskirts of reality. The sounds come in illusion form just as sleep and consciousness begin to weave together. During the time when the mind stands on the brink of inner oblivion, prepared for another trip into the depths until the light of day summons it back out again.

The monstrous beast glides up the street, a screeching howl accompanying it. Tendrils of sound reach my window and slide inside, wrapping around my mind as visions of it flying over the pavement precede it. It is an enormous fleeting emotion, a playful tease of the imagination. As it nears, almost upon my house and my open bedroom window, it shifts into reality.

A truck passes by, taking with it the evidence of the beasts' true form.

As I remain wake, working at my daily tasks, the beasts tuck themselves away around the sides of my vision. I see them move sometimes. They are there as a slight twitch of shadow or an odd blur of color just out of view. To look makes them fade away.

They have a mission. They always do. Everyone's monsters exist for a reason. They tie us back to ourselves. No matter how stretched the lines become, they always guide us. They help us sink or feet into old ponds, feel the cool refreshing breeze, and fear the dark things that observe from the shadows we created.

In that place sits a well of our own construction, tethered to it dangles a dented water bucket. If we do not draw from it soon, the creatures swimming within will grow and multiply. They will produce even more intense, gruesome beings to overwhelm us when we return. The large will eat the small and grow larger. The misshapen bodies will begin to spill over the bucket's rim, back into the still, rippling pool at the bottom of the well.

My monsters have been stirring and they are calling me back. The water bucket is full and I must draw from it or be overwhelmed by their images, their voices, and their realities.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dear Society,

It seems as though common sense is dead and we each took a turn twisting the knife handle.

Who am I? I’m a nobody. But I am currently observing first hand as someone I know personally is diced, sliced and neatly fed back to the public as a monster. My cousin, David Eberhardt, Jr., is currently being picked apart by the media as some kind of child thief for the alleged “kidnapping” of Kari Smith.

Did he do something wrong? Certainly, I am not arguing that point for a second. What I am arguing is what he did wrong. Both David and Kari are to blame, yet David is being handed that nasty end of the stick no one wants to touch by the media and this girl.

I watched a video interview of Kari and her family. She can’t even look at the camera as she speaks - the true sign of a liar. This girl was on her way to a youth’s home just before departing for Florida. Obviously she had some motivation to get the hell out of Dodge, yet I don’t see any of that mentioned.

I have seen many comments from people I don’t know who, I feel, got it dead on. This was a case of a pair of young, stupid teenagers doing something they shouldn’t. Certainly not the first time in human history, and certainly won't be the last. The difference here is that when they got caught, suddenly Kari is helpless and innocent. Not a girl who got kicked out of school and willingly ran away from home - again.

I won’t vouch for how well Kari and David knew each other. However I can tell you that I know David personally. He is not a violent person. He never has been. I have seen him playing with his nephew. He always seemed to genuinely enjoy spending the holidays with his family. He has certainly caused his share of trouble in his parents’ lives, but then again what teenager hasn’t?

David is a legal adult, but he’s only 19. Isn’t there supposed to be a reason we don’t allow drinking until 21? Oh that’s right, because of maturity. Perhaps David was not thinking like an adult. Perhaps he and Kari were both thinking like ignorant teenagers.

Let’s face facts. The media is hungry for a monster. So what do they do? They get to work building one. Poor little Kari gets off her plane, running to her mothers arms. She was so scared. She was such a brave little victim. She had no desire to run off just before she was to go to a youth’s home. She didn’t want to take a vacation to Florida. There is obviously more here than the news articles are telling.

I don’t know too many kidnappers who allow their victims to keep their cell phones or get on the internet to use social networking websites. Isn’t cutting off communication the number one rule in the kidnapper’s handbook?

I also don’t know too many victims who tell friends in advance that they are heading off across state lines with their kidnapper just before it happens. There is usually an element of surprise in this type of crime. Kari knew the whole time. She chose to go, they got caught and now she’s covering herself, even if it destroys someone else’s life.

I am not saying that David should not face the consequences of his actions. However, what were his actions, really? I don’t believe at any point he intended to or acted on any urges to kidnap Kari. I do believe that she went with him willingly and is now turning her story around. I believe she’s lying to all of us, and the media is urging her along, starved for a good story. As I said, lets’ call it what it is: a couple of teenagers being really, really stupid. See how it loses the media glamour when viewed with a heavy dose of reality?

Kari is just as much at fault. Her age should not change that. David did things that were wrong, but Kari was a willing accomplice, not a victim. Both should be punished, but for the right reasons.

So, all I ask is that we all let go of the knife handle and let common sense live again. Certainly we have much bigger issues to worry about than a couple of dumb teenagers running off on an impromptu vacation. They are both at fault and both should face the consequences they earned so that we can all move on with our lives instead of focusing on destroying one.

Yours Truly,

Shel Gatto

PS - Here you can read a screenshot taken from Kari Smith's MySpace profile where a friend clearly comments about Kari's trip to Florida, something she would not have known about had Kari truly been taken against her will. I added a red outline around the comment for easier viewing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Art of Writing Fear

The goal of any horror writer is to terrify the reader as much as possible through words. Those who do not read may not understand the influential power of fiction. Upon first glance, they see nothing more than ink on a page - the black and white. However, when correctly strung together these words can combine setting, characters and events in a way that requires no Hollywood special effects to make the audience's blood run cold.

It is my personal opinion that the imagination can create even more detailed and realistic images than anything a film can produce. Give it the right tools and a nudge in the desired direction and those little black and white letters may as well be thousands of tiny, fanged beasts gnawing away at the reader's mind.

As a writer, it can be difficult to find a good balance between providing information and letting the imagination do the work. If you spell it all out and get too detailed, you may delve into the realm of boring or even cheesy. On the other hand, if you leave it all up to the imagination then you are not really writing anything.

Offer the reader a well placed opening at just the right moment. Seduce them with the ominous setting, and maybe some back story. Tease them with just a glimpse of the entire situation. Then give their imagination a push and let it gain momentum!

What fang and claw-bearing beast lurks in the still forest?

While the characters wander dark forests, corridors, streets, or whatever Hell you have placed them in, drag the reader along for the ride. Just as the action creeps around the corner or we are about to view the evil beast, killer, whatever, only allow a glimpse. The description doesn't even have to be visual, it could be something heard, felt or realized.

I believe some miss the importance of imagination. A writer can create excellent fiction with the perfect combination of words and structure. Their grammar and spelling could be flawless. However, without the reader's imagination, it is nothing but words on the page.