Welcome to the ninth blog in this series, where we'll explore the stories behind the stories in ID Press' inaugural anthology, Purgatorium - The Element of Horror.
The anthology will be released on January 22nd at the Copper Branch Restaurant in Brooklin (see the invite here), and is currently available for purchase through Amazon (in both hard copy and e-copy formats), as well as Kobo.
In this series, we'll be talking about the stories in the order in which they appear in the anthology. Today, we tackle Pat Flewwelling and her story, Mule...
Where did it come from?
If you’d asked me a year ago if I would ever write a horror story about a severely disabled man trapped in a drug-running scheme, I’d have snorted and said I would never write something so exploitative.
But after speaking with Connie about writing a story about fear, I’d asked myself, what’s the scariest situation I would ever see myself in? The answer was easy: being in a situation where someone else had full control over me, my physical self. Being helpless. Being utterly dependent on someone else for my life and mobility. And then I thought, what’s the worst that could happen in that case? I crossed out the first three thoughts that came to mind, since they were too predictable and overdone, but kept the drug-smuggling angle.
I couldn’t just write some “oh-woe-is-he”, though. I needed a character who was superhuman inside, someone brilliantly alive inside their body.
Sometimes you don’t even know the full plot until you write it – kind of like navigating a maze as you build it. Likewise, sometimes you just need to start writing a character before you can know their motivations. In this case, while the first draft plot needed some work, Joshua came out fully formed, with his own personality, anger, irony, and dark sense of humour. He knew exactly what three things he wanted: dignity, revenge, and above all, a voice.
The more I wrote from his perspective, the more I actually grew to admire this guy. This was a fellow who was intelligent, fierce, funny, and extremely aware. So, in a way, I felt I owed it to Joshua to fulfill all three of his wishes. This turned out to be one of the easiest stories I ever wrote, while also being one of the darkest and…well…goriest. Hey, I write horror, what can I say?
But the most unexpected outcome of the story wasn’t the “WTF Left Turn Out of Nowhere” ending, as Colum called it. It’s the fact that the story changed the way I look at people, especially if they’re non-verbal. People with Parkinson’s, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis…they’re still 100% whole inside their bodies. Look past the fatigue, look past the drugs and their side effects, look past the mask of their disease, and you’ll see a frustrated, intelligent, brilliant human being looking back at you.
It is rumoured that Pat Flewwelling hatched from a rooster’s egg during a lunar eclipse on the night of the Spring Equinox. On her seventh birthday, following a run-in with an ill-tempered strigoi, she was cursed with the ability to see into frightening parallel dimensions, leaving her often unable to discern one world from the other.