Monday, April 15, 2013

BLOWBACK OF THE DEAD

On Composing Violent and Disturbing Literature and Its Effects Upon One Man Who Writes It


I still don’t know if I should delete that scene.

When I wrote it I was flashing back on the teenage boys who lived across the street from me in Virginia. They weren’t so bad in and of themselves but they had a legion of a skate-trash slacker friends, with enough bad actors among them to make my life miserable. I was afraid to leave my house unattended for fear of what might happen to my property in my absence. Selling the house and leaving that neighborhood was a joyous relief.  

I was thinking about those dead-eyed smirking shits when my hero Derek Grace hacked this kid’s hand off and used the arterial spray to douse a fire before pushing the kid’s body upon the smoldering ashes to smother it. Then I had my hero pick the scrawny pale little bastard up, jog the blocks between him and the advancing horde of zombies the little shit and his friends drew to the neighborhood. And I bodily threw his screaming, crying, begging remains into the horde to be ripped apart and eaten alive.

On one hand, it’s all eminently justified: these are destructive young men, who, even 50 miles away, could start a fire on the prairie to threaten survivors for hundreds of miles. Keep in mind they’ve already driven a fire truck with its air horn blasting to draw the dead into the neighborhood with the grand old houses—and that’s after setting some of those yards on fire.

On the other hand we’ve deliberately and with malice aforethought thrown teenage boys to flesh-eating predators with the intent of causing great terror and pain upon said boys. Yes, boys. Derek was just turning to get the rest of the junior arsonists when I stopped writing. He’s supposed to put them in the back of his pickup and throw them to the horde one at a time. The horde’s preoccupation with tearing and stuffing pieces of those boys into their dry dead mouths will buy the residents of the threatened neighborhood the time they need to get the fire hose hooked up to the hydrant.

I kept looking at that last sentence I’d written:
 His scream barely cuts through the “ooooooh!” and “mmmmm!” of the mob as they take his arms, his legs, and as many clawed scoops into his ghost-white belly until the packaging breaks and they can get to the good stuff.

After a while I grabbed my jacket and my hat. I left the clammy cool of the basement and ascended the stairs into the warm, sunlit house. I walked out the door and into the late afternoon light.

It was a short walk. But I resolved many things in the course of it, to wit:


  • The fact I’m bothered by what I’m writing means two very good things, one being that I haven’t degenerated into psychopathy. The other is that fans of gory, brutal fiction are in for a real treat with Bleeding Kansas. Shit gets mean in this book. Real mean.
  • I don’t believe in God but the All-Father of Zombie Apocalypses, George Romero, was onto something in his 1985 film Day of the Dead when one of his characters described zombies as God wanting “to show us what hate looks like.” That’s what zombie apocalypses are altogether, when you think about it. Showing us what hate looks like.
  • Man, it’s been some time since I’ve walked. My legs were stiff the entire way, as if I’d just swung them out of bed in the morning. I’ve really got to get out more. In fact, I’ll guaran-goddamn-tee that’s the root of all my angst right there. I’m getting sludgy spending all this time in this chair and not getting exercise.

So. Much better now. The more I think about it, it could be a supremely macabre station in my Hero’s Journey. He should recognize the rage that gave him the strength to carry a teenage boy several blocks (if only for the sake of realism, anyway). Yet he’s also making a stone cold command decision that will save a neighborhood.

It’s also a lead into a major thematic point I want to drive home at the climax. First, I’ve got to finish off those boys and get that fire hose hooked up. Then I’ve got to confront the man who gave those boys the booze and told them to burn down the Old Families’ neighborhood.

So. Back to the zombie mines, then. I’ll try to remember to schedule some exercise in the morning so I don’t get so emo over what I’m writing. I’ve got to really finesse this if  I’m going to pull it off.

Speaking of pulling things off, I’ve got this great image in my mind of one of these kids having the skin pulled from his face. Yeah, I’m gonna put that in there. Little bastard has it coming. Looking forward to making you cry when you realize you’re done for, you little piece of shit!

Yeah. Like that.
What are you lookin’ at?