Steven Marshall Horror
"Stephen King is the emperor of horror, Marshall is the law!"
-New Blood Magazine
- Horror Scope -
by Steven Marshall
We may hide from horror only in the heart of horror.
As soon as we delve into the very topic of horror and see it manifesting in our everyday culture, certain truths are painfully realized. Horror is ever present and can be found anywhere you look, even in beauty. Itís a fragile balance indeed, but wherever you find one, you can always find the other. For example, a rose may lavish you with its sweet sight and smell, but then prick your finger with its thorns, resulting in blood and pain. Greedy hands may seek its mystique and selfishly pluck it from the earth. With its last breath it struggles so we can momentarily admire its beauty, before we discard it to the ground. Indeed where there is beauty lies a greed that grows. In fact, horror is most realized in the purity of beauty and fear of its loss.
So where are some places we can find horror? How about in the police blotters and coroner reports from gruesome murder sites? Or perhaps looming in the killing fields in the middle of a raging war? Maybe right at home watching the news as they tally the death toll of another natural disaster or hurricane. Letís not forget about the latest suicide bombings. These are the tangible earthly fears that are present in our everyday lives and which linger in the back of our mind and haunt our being. No scary monsters, vampires, demons or ghouls need apply; these characters are already portrayed right here in reality.
Horror is wallowing in the prison cells and on death row.
Itís breathing in the veins of a strung out heroin addict.
Itís nestling in our schoolyards and abducting our children.
Itís commiserating in bitter divorce and love long lost.
Itís in the tears of poverty and starvation and money lost.
It manifests in the forms of terminal disease and aging.
It hides in our nightmares and secret dark fantasies.
It courses through the body and its fragile mortality.
It seethes in the decaying mind and its brittle sanity.
It lingers within the soul and its questioned continuum.
We live in a world which has fallen into a departure of faith and hope, one where death is certain yet life is not. We seem to take a morbid comfort in our own fascination with death and suffering, where people we donít know personally and only hear about on the news, become far away fictional characters on a statistical stage. Does it empower us somehow to have a sense of control over forces that threaten our global population? Or are we simply overwhelming ourselves with the nuclear pyre thatís burning down our culture? Perhaps a little bit of both I suspect.
The human mind is a strange mechanism indeed; the human heart even more complex and mysterious. Sometimes the most trivial events that haunt us, whether by daydream or nightmare, continue with us through the years as if they had a life all their own. We donít know why these insignificant moments revisit us but they do seem to give us some kind of comfort and resolve within. But experiences of extreme emotion are forever marked indelibly upon us as they recede into shadows of the past, mute and motionless to todayís relevance, until a ray of mental light reawakens them. At times they are more than memories, more than ancillary storage space in our brain. They are a lifeís moment realized and redefined in time through retrospect. They ultimately become a part of you and you a part of it until it becomes one seamless memory. Yet of all our memories we recollect trauma and loss more vividly than even the most pleasurable of experiences.
In the end, the degree of horror is measured by human understanding. It can shame us into recognizing our own capacity for human cruelty. It is a part of our psyche that is imposed on us from childhood all the way to the grave. It is enshrined in a multitude of tales of heartbreak and woe and helps us better understand the nature of our battles ahead. Horror can define us in what we despise and shape our opinions of the world around us. It can remind us of how close we come to our most forbidden thoughtsÖand how we are a mere relapse away from indulging them. In short, itís a fundamental part of the human story, one that many generations will embrace in pursuit of a more meaningful truth, no matter how dark.
Whether itís found in writing, screenplay or reality, real horror is what dwells in our imagination and resides in our internal self. It is a dark and uncertain lingering within that is screaming and resounding, haunting and lasting. The swift bludgeoning of someone out of rage (or out of fulfillment) is exclusive only to gore. Once a person is dead they can suffer no more physical pain. But the act of horror is the inward impact within the cozy confines of our mind when our once sunny world becomes tainted with corruption. True horror lives in the mind and is ongoing and forever, darkening your daydreams and illuminating your nightmares in ways that crawl under your skin and course through your veins.
So if this psychological approach to horror offends, outrages, decimates your spiritual complacencies, then read no further and go placate yourself. However, if this approach intrigues, fascinates, gluttonizes your already masochistic, tortured bleeding soul, then indulge in some mental stimuli and be prepared to better understand the darker nature of yourself.
When you hear my voice softly exploding in your imagination, tempting your fragile sanity, youíll know you have just opened the door to your living nightmareÖthat is where I will be waiting to torture you some more.
© Copyright Steven Marshall 2005.
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or republished by any means without the prior permission of the author. This is an original work protected under U.S. law.