There is something about the ‘found’ sort of story that has always drawn me. It’s the reason I love campfire storytelling so much. The immediacy of finding someone in the middle of a horror they hadn’t seen coming is powerful and went done well can leave a chill that isn’t easily shaken. The ‘found’ story saw a resurgence with horror films, sure, but they have existed as sort of sub-genre for as long as people have told stories.

The ‘found’ aspect of the stories come from the notion that someone experienced this and passed it down but didn’t necessarily live to pass it themselves. These are cautionary tales of going to far, delving too deep, and asking too much.

Sure, there are stories told in the first person where the narrator lived to truly tell the tale but it’s in the horrific nature of discovering someone’s tale knowing or suspecting what they are about to discover about horror and its true face. There is a film that beautifully illustrates this called CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, which is considered by many to be one of the very first ‘found footage’ films ever released. It’s infamous for its gore and brutality but the crux of the story is about a group of Americans that go too far, too deep, and push too far and disappear, leaving behind the footage of what became of them. Push past the gore and atrocity and it’s a chilling film about the naivete of Americans stepping into the dark world of the unknown believing their candles can illuminate it.

The movie, as outrageous as it is, is haunting in how it plays out, the missing Americans being sought and their story playing out through footage they had filmed being found and revealed.

Now, the film is certainly not for everyone but it’s more the way the story plays out and what it says that I wanted to point out and not so much its infamous nature. It is the inevitability of what befalls the protagonists that becomes so haunting.

Of late I find myself drawn more and more to story podcasts, where someone is telling a story or reading a story and many of those are told in the ‘Creepypasta’ variety, which tend to be first person accounts of horror.

I love that.

I love that type of fiction.

Well, most of it.

There’s some really bad stuff out there but with that some great stuff also.

And the thing too is that, for someone like me, there’s a lot to learn from fiction that we don’t like or think works. It reminds us what not to do and can even jar side ideas as you are already in a state where you are thinking of stories.

Man though, there are some really bad ones.

What drives me batty are the ones that break the simple rules of found fiction.

Like…a person cannot relay a story to the reader/listener if they didn’t survive. They just…can’t.

And that bothers me that the writer/creator breaks that simple tenant.

Or there’s the suspension of disbelief and how far it is pushed.

In stories, all stories, we are asked to step outside of the real world and to believe in the tale we are being told. Even if it is a realistic fiction it is still fiction and thus requires our belief in the piece to work. If you push things too far past the point of believability then the reader/listener/watcher will just give up on the piece. Part of this is wrapped into the logic of it all also. Like, what would the average person reasonably do and how far would they reasonably go?

The further you push things the less likely people are to join you on your journey.

See, there’s an art to all of it, that’s what so many don’t get. It’s seen as sort of an easy/lazy formula that you can just plug things into but the fact is that there is a lot of subtlety to it. The art is in the details. The art is in leading you by the hand down the path with the person/people who are facing the darkness. If you don’t care about them, even if just to want them to have something awful potentially happen, then it’s a wasted effort.

The beauty of the ‘found’ story is that you can make it as simple or grand as you like and as long as you make the narrator interesting then you are willing to go into that darkness with them, curious to see what lies ahead.

There is something alluring about going hand in hand into the unknown. The magic of ‘found’ fiction of any kind is that we get to inch out on the ice further and further onto thin ice as it cracks beneath us. Done well, these stories leave you with a dread that doesn’t pass quickly after you have experienced it.

It is the What If nature of the ‘found’ fictions that give them the power because it is within those two words that horror lies, waiting for us.

Because ‘What If?’





The Edge of Truth

In this modern world we love stories, as we always have, but we love stories now told in real time more than in retrospect. We aren’t as tied to the necessity of truth so much as the novelty of emotion. We want the passion but not the impact. We want the comfort of loud voices but not the awareness of soft speech. Such is the case of Flint and the recent movie Lifetime has made about it. The fact is that no matter how accurately they want to portray things, how sincere their efforts are, and how heartfelt their wishes for the city, my city, the fact is that the film was begun over a year ago and as up to date as their information may have been, this is a tale that even we who live here won’t fully know the impact of everything for years to come. As I write this we are on the verge of an attempt to recall our mayor. A mayor that was largely elected because she was a new face not connected with the water crisis and because she promised to get us clean water and to fight for us. I can say firsthand that this is some who has earned a recall but that gets into issues that are not the point of this blog. But it’s hard to tell a full story when you’re only in the middle of it. This water crisis maybe have us looking at our third new mayor in three years. That’s insane. The story of Flint, the whole story, is not something you can put into a two hour movie. It’s not something that can be taken in in one gulp. No, this is a story that will be told over days and months and years. This isn’t something that you can look at from the ground. I can appreciate the desire for immediacy but that view is myopic, but maybe that’s why it’s so desired.

Flint is a buzzword. A flag to follow. Even if people don’t fully understand the politics, the economics, the social impact, the political impact, or a dozen other things. You could write a graduate thesis on any one of these topics so it’s hard to imagine that anything smaller could really do justice to the story but these tales will pop up. They will be told. As I said before people will get famous because of this. People will get rich. And we here in Flint will hope that this at least keeps people thinking about us, and about the issue of water in this nation, but truly, these are not getting deeper than the skin and that’s just the way it is. Such is life

That’s the way of Hollywood.
That’s the way of our culture.

We want the flash and not the picture.

The story of Flint continues to unfold just as the stories of its people. These stories are getting out, bit by bit, but the odds of anyone seeing the full tapestry are long, but if some of those stories can get out, and if a few more people can see the faces behind the headlines and the people behind the horror then that’s something. That’s a start.

The Flint Water Crisis happened. It’s happening. All we can hope now is that this helps a future tragedy and lays a foundation that stops them from happening some day.


Give A Little Scare

As anyone who knows me will attest, I love Halloween.


For real.

So naturally I am very passionate about the season, as witnessed by my many, many stories I have written in honor of the day. I have written almost as much about my opinions on the holiday, often trudging familiar ground over and over so that the ruts make the going a bit rough. The thing is though, whenever I hit a great or horrible haunt it makes me want to write. Not to light the place up but to go back and stress how easy it can be to get it right.

Not perfect, but right.

The thing is that most places either overthink the haunt or they don’t think at all.

Continue reading “Give A Little Scare”

THE BRIDES – Halloween story 2017

He punched before he even thought twice about it. It just happened. A reaction, something clicking in him and in an instant his fist shot out and returned a satisfying crunch and ‘Uh’ when it connected the idiot in the mask that had jumped out in front of him. The satisfaction was short lived though as he heard movement behind him and turned to see a short stocky guy in a mask quickly moving towards him. Tam smiled, shook his hand to get the sting out of it, and hurried out of the room. The room lead to a long hallway with flashing lights and two more idiots in ghost-sheets moving in at him. He pushed the first one into the wall and then the second he kicked in their junk before leaving the room and entering a makeshift basement. A family was huddled around a crib that had red light flashing within in.

The punchline.

Continue reading “THE BRIDES – Halloween story 2017”

Game Face – Halloween story 2017


“Ah, AH! That…that…”

The words didn’t seem to form fast enough to stem the flow of blood. He felt it pooling under the mask and couldn’t stop what came out of his mouth if he wanted to.

“…motherfucker. That goddamn motherfucker broke…”

   “Shut up, son.” The man across from the kid told him as they stood in the dimly lit room. He was older, thirties maybe, short, hands painted with red. He was a lifer at the haunt and related to one of the women that owned it. The kid forgot the guy’s name but he was a pain in the ass by the book son of a bitch if there ever was one.

“…nose. Broke my fucking nose, man. Can you dig that? Can you? And you tell me to shut up? Fuck you man. Fuck you and don’t call me son.” The kid was losing it. Careening now, losing control and heading for a steep cliff. He stepped out of position, a dark alcove where all someone would be able to see was his head and pulled the Halloween mask he was wearing up and blood poured out of it and down his face and the front of the black robe he wore. His nose was bent to the left and the blood was still coming. The kid dropped the mask and pushed his hands against his nose, wiping first left with one hand then right with the other. All it did was smear the red further up his cheeks and send more pain through his head.

“Pick up that mask. Put it on. Get back into place. Now.”

The kid was looking down at his hands and the pool of blood he was suddenly standing in. The flow from his nose had slowed to a drip but it was still coming. He looked slowly up at the man across from him and cocked his head. Continue reading “Game Face – Halloween story 2017”

Sharing the Scares

Since I was a kid I have always loved Halloween and the scarier side of life. Not the kind of scares you get from the real world of every day but more the scares of the world behind our world, lurking in the shadows, just out of view. The draw towards the dark is within all of us but different for each of us. There is something primal and beautiful about it though and for me this season brings it out more than any other. And there is no finer way to step within the dark is with other people.

Continue reading “Sharing the Scares”