Friday, December 17, 2010

Be afraid

Last night I had my first nightmare in a good long while. Like all of my nightmares, there was nothing particularly horrifying or scary about the imagery of the dream, just a terrible sense of foreboding that lingered upon awaking - when the sound of my cat forcibly assaulting the Christmas tree made me literally jump at something bumping in the night.

I basically never have nightmares, and I attribute the nightmarish episode of last night entirely to spending a good deal of time yesterday reading Apex and ChiZine. Curiously, I don't normally read dark fiction, but those two 'zines are, at least for the moment, the only short fiction markets I can tolerate. (Tolerate reading, that is. I have absolutely no scruples, principles, or reservations when it comes to trying to be published in a 'zine).

Alas, reading dark and spooky stuff is typically not a good course of action for me. This one time, I read an entire book of H. P. Lovecraft's tales on a trip down to New Jersey to visit my girlfriend's family. She lived in this old (*cough* circa 1970) house in the middle of the woods, with a really creepy upper story involving not one but two attics attached directly to the bedrooms and hallway. Suffice to say, I slept little, too worried about cosmic ventricles and interdimensional tentacles to do anything but stare wide-eyed at the closet door...

Anyway, long story short, reading dark fiction made me decide to pony-up and finish a darkly-inspired short story called "The Revenant." The Revenant isn't really very dark, actually; it's kind of more of a tongue-in-cheek story about a zombie-desperado.

That's right. A zombie-desperado.

But it's still working outside my normal parameters, especially since the characters that the story focuses on - since the revenant him/it-self is more of a ghostly menace than an actual protagonist - are just normal human beings (barring variously cosmic malignities and gross perversions). This means that I'm dwelling a lot more on character, and in particular creating characters that have a lot of vices - since dark fiction tends to take its darkness from human traits and weaknesses, even more than vicious or evil creatures.

tuberculoid most severe
Try as I might, I couldn't find a copy of the revenant picture from the 2nd edition AD&D Monstrous Manual - which was what inspired me to play on the zombie trope with a more purposeful, intelligent undead monster (cf. zombie-desperado). However, my repeated Google searches did bring up this cropped version of the cover of Death's album "Leprosy," apparently abused on another blog to represent a revenant from the Dark Sun campaign.

Close inspection reveals that the skin colour of this poor fellow has been altered from its originally bilious orange (on the album cover) to a more pugnacious green. My revenant, on the other hand, doesn't look quite so... leprous. Rather, he has a six-gun and a ten-gallon hat (metaphorically speaking, at least).


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