“Reality… What a Concept!” is the title of the 1979 comedy recording from the late, always great Robin Williams. Williams was also quoted as having said, “Reality is just a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs.”
Edgar Allen Poe expressed, “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”
C. S. Lewis stated, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.”
And finally Albert Einstein stated, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
Although there are natural rules, which govern the world in which we exist, in truth, everyone’s personal impression of their reality is somewhat different. By natural rules, I don’t mean regulations made by man but factors dictated by our surroundings. For example, the existence of the force we call gravity. You may choose to not believe in the law of gravity. Nevertheless, your personal beliefs are of little consequence if you are plummeting toward the earth at full speed without a parachute.
Every one of us has a slightly different take on what we perceive our individual realities to be. You may see a busker standing on the street corner dressed in old worn clothing playing a beat up guitar and singing for a few tips tossed into a tattered open guitar case. You might feel sorry for him. You may assume he must have fallen on hard times. You might even feel guilty because you have a job, which earns you a great deal of money and allows you to afford the finer things in life. You guess that he had some sort of breakdown, which caused him to lose touch with reality and has put him in this dire situation.
On the contrary, the busker may see you rushing by in a hurry to make your first meeting of the day. He sees your fine clothing and the permanent scowl of tension creased on your face. He may feel sorry for you because you are still part of in the proverbial rat race, the same rat race he managed to escape several years earlier. He is happy now because he has shed all of the so-called trappings of the world and now feels he is freer than he has ever been in his life. He may even feel guilty because he has so much freedom while you remain chained to your false sense of reality. Same situation but seen from two different perspectives. Neither one is either correct or incorrect. Neither view changes the scene in any way. It’s all just a matter of perception. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “perception is reality.”
However, personal interpretations aside, what would happen if reality, actual reality, those concrete natural laws somehow became so twisted and so malformed that reality as we knew it no longer could be thought of as reality at all? Such a realm is one in which we horror writers tend to exist. For a time, while we are creating our stories that unreality is our reality. Our job is to make the impossible seem possible, the unreal real, and this often takes us to places even we would prefer not to go. The trick is always to leave enough breadcrumbs so we can make it safely back from those horrifying places with our souls and minds intact.
History tells us that on October 3, 1849 the great master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe, was found wandering the streets of Baltimore, Maryland delirious and in grave distress. He was taken immediately to the Washington College Hospital, where he died at 5a.m. on Sunday, October 7. Poe never became coherent enough to explain how he wound up in such an abysmal condition. There are a lot of theories about his death but no concrete evidence. Maybe he simply lost his way back from those incredibly dark places his writing took him.
I can only hope that my own numerous journeys into that land of darkness will not someday take its toll on me. I would hate to think of myself thirty years from now in some home for the aged and infirm, cowering in bed with the covers tucked tightly to my chin. Would I be too afraid to leave the safety of my covers because the demons, which once only lived inside my mind, had since become as real to me as flesh and bone in my addled condition? I suppose we will have to wait and see.
In the meantime, please enjoy yet another journey into the darkest corners of my mind. This collection is called Malaformed Realities not just as a clever play on my last name, but because distorting and twisting reality into something it was never intended to be is what I enjoy doing best. And if in the process, I manage to disturb and frighten you along the way then all the better.
Stories included in this volume:
- When They Come For You
- A Love Best Served Cold
- MegaSynth RP-1
- Inspector 17
- Hear No Evil
- Big Frankie
- Dinner With Andy And Meg
- Cold, Cold Women
- If Thine Eye Offend Thee
- Passageways To Perniciousness
- Cutaneous Horns
- Single Panel
- The Brands
- Tools Of The Trade
- Zombie Party
- And The Scales Fell From My Eyes (A Novella)
5.5 x 8.5