This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you’ve read some of my other teasers, and especially especially if you’ve read drafts of my other books (oh, you people know who you are), but I don’t think of myself as a horror writer. And I don’t necessarily think of my writing as particularly horrific. And yet…
Well, take the teaser below for example. It is based around an image that I’d had in mind for a while, ever since introducing The Lantern as the head of the gardeners, establishing that the gardeners had hollow bodies that are open from the back, and presenting The Lantern as somewhat of a suspicious figure. Also, context: Joseph, Cindy, and Michiko have returned to The Lantern with the message from the chorus, but he’s acting a little strange.
I’d admit that what I’m going for below is horror.
But equal to the physical horror, I’m interested in the mental horror, the betrayal by one who you thought you knew. For me, that mental reflection of the physical horror is the most important. It’s the only kind of horror that the character really experiences, that stays with them, and that changes them.
p.s. If writing continues as planned, there’ll probably only be one more teaser from this book before it’s no longer a work in progress. Wish me luck!
“If only The Lantern had actually sent you to your death,” The Lantern said. “Then there wouldn’t be a problem now. If only you had died like he’d hoped.” The man took another step towards Joseph. “If only you were dead.”
Joseph backed away, torn between wanting to run and trying to figure out what this man was talking about. Despite his threats, he was the only one who even pretended to know what was going on. Joseph took his drill in hand and held it before him like a gun. With his other hand he propped the broom at his feet like a spear, its wide head a physical barrier between himself and The Lantern.
“Don’t take another step,” he said.
The Lantern’s didn’t step forward. He fell, his stiff body dropping straight forward so suddenly that none of them moved. And what they saw next kept them motionless with surprise and fear.
Underneath The Lantern’s body was another body like a magician’s trick, the curtain dropped from the magician’s hand to reveal an awesome transformation, a woman into a tiger, a swan into a man. In this case, standing where The Lantern had been, removing its own feet from the slippers he’d made of The Lantern’s feet, was a creature made completely of muscle. Where its eyes should have been were tiny pockets of muscle and its mouth was a muscular gash without teeth. Its skin glistened like snot. He could see the individual threads making up the muscles, all tensing now as the creature slipped between Joseph and Cindy and locked the only exit from the room.
With the click of the lock, the wave of horror that had kept them all motionless broke and they fled as far as they could from the creature. Cindy held her hammer in both hands. Michiko had climbed to the top of a bookcase. Joseph had his back to the wall, the desk on his left, and The Lantern’s corpse at his feet.
The creature smiled. It leaned back against the door. It waved its hand as though to shoo all their troubles away.
“So, Joseph Wunderkind,” the creature said, rolling the name in his mouth as though it were the funniest he’d ever heard. “Now you’re going to tell me what you’re doing back.”