I have a certain amount of admiration for those who write and read horror as it’s a genre I tend to avoid because it disturbs me too much. Consequently, when Elizabeth Suggs, one of the authors of Collective Darkness, got in touch to tell me about this new anthology my interest was stimulated and I simply had to invite Elizabeth on to Linda’s Book Bag to explain a bit more about why I might be responding to the thought of reading horror as I do!
Collective Darkness was published on 5th September 2020 and is available in bookshops and your local Amazon.
As a child, did you hide under your blankets when you were scared of the dark?
After reading some of the scariest stories from new and up-and-coming authors, we won’t blame you if you start hiding again. Take a journey with us into the twisted mind of horror.
“The Fallout” travels through the unknown, while “Feast” will make you never want to love again.
Read these and many more stories to know what it truly means to be afraid of the dark.
Collective Darkness is the first anthology published by Editing.mee. For more information visit the website.
Darkness, Horror, and the Presumption of Malevolence
A Guest Post by Elizabeth Suggs
Rod Serling famously dubbed the expanse between our greatest fears and the apex of human knowledge the dimension of imagination, the Twilight Zone. The reference to twilight (half-light, half dark) is not lost on astute readers of speculative fiction, well-acquainted with the moral symbolism of light and dark. It is the darker edge of twilight merging with night that concerns us because this is where nightmares dwell. Delving deeper into the darkness is what fuels the fearful mind.
As the narrator of “Padua’s Eyes” (by Jonathan Reddoch) wisely observed, “In the dark, anything is possible.” In theory, what we don’t see could actually be anything: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and maybe the deformed, and malnourished, beyond gruesome, starving for human flesh with deranged eyes and protruding masses of putrid exterior teeth, and bulging pink membranes, giant leech tentacles that stretch forth to suckle, drooling maws craving your skin and your sinews and your yellowed toenails… or perhaps what is unseen is glorious and beautiful or totally mundane and boring. Yawn!
We admit that the fear excites us. This is because an underlying assumption of fear is that darkness prevails where evil lurks. Angels hide not in the shadows. Demons do. But why do we believe so?
Darkness is often defined by what it isn’t: light. Light reveals all. Darkness is clandestine. Darkness thrives in the night, the woods, a secluded castle, a murky black pond (“Pond Scum” by Alex child),the abandoned structures far from the bright lights of secured society. These poorly-lit scenes are the realm of the unseen. Fear of the unknown is formed by ignorance, blindness, and mystery.
The creaking floorboard in the old attic, what caused it? It could be a horrendous beast with razor-sharp claws. Or simply a harmless tabby cat. Until the curtain is pulled, it is both tabby and tiger. Yet it is only the possibility of the tiger that raises the hairs on our arms.
Point of fact: if Schrödinger’s Cat were a short story written by a horror author, we might foolishly predict that a blissful cat remains warmly nestled within the rigid dimensions of the experimental container, very much alive. Instead, our scientifically-minded protagonist would open the box to find the feline subject missing, unexpectantly neither alive nor dead! The scientist stands sheepishly, mouth agape, only for the mutated creature to spring upon us all from the rafters, consuming all with its irradiated mandibles. Meow!
Darkness is often conceived of as cold, or in scientific terms, it represents the lack of heat (or motion/energy). Unfeeling, uncaring, and unfriendly are just a few ways to describe coldness. This only lends additional negative connotation to our perceptions.
The presumption of malevolence of the unknown is precisely what makes darkness an integral element of the horror genre, or rather what darkness represents as the undefined variable. We fear, they say, what we don’t understand, precisely because we assume the worst. If fantasy represents naïve nostalgia, and science fiction responsible if hesitant optimism, horror is the pessimistic know-it-all triplet of the group, solemnly/gleefully whispering “I told you so” to the devoured sibling reckless enough to venture down the basement while mother is away.
Eek Elizabeth. Thank you so much for a fascinating guest post. I’m not sure how far you’ve allayed my reluctance to read horror, but I’ll be checking under the bed before I go to sleep tonight!
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