Horror drinking games are easy: sip when the teenagers/friends/soldiers split up to look around the creepy old cabin/mansion/space station. Sip when someone goes outside to see what that noise was. Cat jumps out at someone seconds before the actual Big Uggy grabs the frightened idiot? Finish your drink. There are so many horror tropes and overused cliches in both horror film and fiction that for a long while the genre went through a slump that became easy to mock. Then it was mocked (“Scary Movie” et al), then came roaring back with some damned original writers. (e.g: Joe Hill, Dan Simmons, Chuck Wendig, Rick Gualtieri, tons more I haven’t had the pleasure of being scared shitless by yet!)
Yeah, this is how I react to people bugging me
while I'm researching, too.
I wish I could say I’m one of those writers. I have no such pretensions. But can I entertain you and keep it from veering into shotglass-friendly territory? Prooooobably.
Inspired a couple of weeks ago by Rick Gualtieri, Chuck Wendig, and my uberlaidback friend Derek Springer, I launched into my first horror novel: WENDIGOGO. (I'm still working on my steampunk story, but this idea captured my enthusiasm, tied it up, tossed it in the trunk of a Lincoln and drove like hell.) I’d originally intended more dark humor, perhaps equal to the grue, but my characters have other ideas. I know where it’s heading, but not precisely what route it will take. The damned thing’s a drunken badger and will go where it wants to, thankyousoveryfuckingmuch. As the Wendigo myth hasn’t yet been beat to death (and, yes, I couldn’t resist the pun since one of those inspirations has also employed it a few times), I’m playing with it. Cannibalism! Greed in a time of famine and want! A dick joke or two! (Are you happy, Derek? Yes. There will be dick jokes.) And plenty of geektastic references and humor. Some of that humor involves cannibalism. If you enjoy the series “Hannibal,” you already know that eating humans can be hilarious. So hey! Let’s take a look, shall we?
I think I'd prefer to be served au jus, but to each their own.
Mild-mannered everygeek Dave...no. Screw that. Insecure, booknerd snark cannon of ineptitude Dave Wending accompanies his wealthy girlfriend Darcy Mueller to an archaeological dig within a prehistoric burial mound. He doesn’t want to be there due to his allergies to rich assholes and oil company sponsorships, and general angst regarding his relationship status. He’s not the most balletic goob ever to tromp around a priceless Native American site. Oh, and it’s really fucking cold. This is what happens:
Darcy gave her father a plaintive look, and he turned to the archaeologist. “Is it possible we could take a peek?” Mueller asked Lightfoot. “We’ll be careful not to touch anything.” His smile was that of a man who believes himself entitled to anything he desires.
Lightfoot paused, silent, then gave one nod to the grad student. A frown scrunched up the young man’s dark brows, but he grudgingly peeled back the top sheet and turned on a large worklamp perched beside the grave. Darcy started back as if slapped. “Ugh!”
That’s gotta be good, Dave thought, and quickly moved to join her, Mueller and Lightfoot following more slowly as they crossed the maze of rectangular holes in the dark earth. Dave glanced up again at Darcy as he neared the grave; her expression was one of disgust, and she seemed unable to look straight at whatever lay there. She saw him, and suddenly cried, “David, be careful!”
His sneaker slid on what felt like a frozen slab of rock. Oh for fuck’s sake, way to go, Mr Graceful! Desperately he thrust his hands out as the slide turned into a full stumble, his feet unable to find a stopping point. Oh fuck don’t land on anything don’t land on anything don’t—His knees and elbows slammed onto the hard dirt. With a yelp of anger and pain, he scrabbled back from the edge of the grave. He banged sideways into one of the tarp walls; it gave, but not before bouncing him toward the hole again. Dave threw both hands down, trying to brake, knowing it was going to shred his palms, but better that than destroying a millennium-old set of bones. His right hand bore the brunt of his weight; he grunted as the rough-packed earth cut into his skin. The lip of the pit crumbled suddenly under his left hand, and as another jamming pain shot up his arm from the elbow, something slashed his fingers. “Oww! Motherfucker!”
Hands went under his armpits and hefted him up immediately. Dave blinked away tears, glasses askew, grimacing at the myriad of hurts competing for his attention. He bit back more curses, trying to salvage some dignity, though he knew it was a lost cause. “You all right?” Mueller asked. Dave sucked in a breath, trying to take stock of himself. The grad student was on his other side. Together, he and Mueller walked Dave back a few steps and sat him down on a trunk. Darcy approached fearfully, her eyes flicking from his knees to his face.
“David, are you okay?” she asked. He settled his glasses on his nose with smarting fingers, and looked at his left hand. Blood trickled steadily from two fingers, and the palm was scraped red.
“No, I am not.” He calmed his breathing, angry at himself. A dirt floor full of holes, so of course, you just have to rubberneck at whatever is making your chicken-little girlfriend go all squicky. “Please tell me I didn’t just obliterate a priceless archaeological discovery.”
“I think both of you will live,” Lightfoot said, a tinge of amusement in his gravelly voice.
Dave shot him a wry look; the poker face he saw in response made his appreciation of the dry old archaeologist go up a notch or two. Mueller appeared far more unhappy, and the grad student’s face said This is why we don’t let you cattle around our priceless discoveries, moron. Dismissing the kid, Dave checked his elbows and knees. His jeans had held up, though he was sure he had more scrapes and definitely bruises on his shins; red gashes marked his forearms when he gingerly rolled up his sleeves. Darcy paled, looking away. Dave squeezed his left fingers in his right hand to staunch the flow of blood, and finally peered into the grave to see what the hell had cut him.
The skull gaping sightlessly back wasn’t what he’d expected. Instead of mummified remains, or a ceremonial mask, the mud-darkened skull of a stag lay at the top of a humanoid figure. Animal-skin robes covered the stark ribcage, and a necklace similar to the one Darcy had been admiring lay heavily on its chest. More unnerving than the hybrid corpse, however, was the wet gleam of red on a pointed antler-tip. He leaned forward, squinting. “Holy shit...”
from WENDIGOGO (work in progress, KA Silva 2014)
Oh yes. There will be blood. Tasty, slather-it-down-your-beard-like-BBQ-sauce blood. And Star Wars jokes. Possibly together.
I have no projected finish date yet, but I’m determined and charging at this thing like a blind rhino with a confused egret stuck up its ass. It will be bloody, it will be funny, and with work and luck it will be fun.
Because, well, hell...life’s too short not to vicariously savor human flesh.
Keep your shot glass out. I’ll tell you the rules. And I’ll tell you when it’s fucking soup!