Tag Archives: Monster

The Office Party

It’s a new year and here’s a new short story. I intend to write more fiction on Horror Every Day, with more of my articles and reviews are going up on UK Horror Scene. This is another of my Dice stories. Dice stories are randomised, a list of 20 starting emotions and 20 horror sub-genres, decided upon by rolling two D20s. This story is “Drunk” and “Monster”.

The Office Party

It has become a bit of a tradition to get recklessly drunk around the holidays. I’m not sure if it’s just because everyone else uses the same excuse, or that I’d rather be drunk when dealing with all the damn social obligations, but I still ended up wasted. I was on the spirits, a vodka here, a whiskey there, and not a care to be found. It’s so much easier getting fucked up when you don’t have to pay for your drinks so the company party wasn’t as hellish as I thought it might be. They had booked out the function room of a moderately fancy hotel, and we were getting reimbursed for our rooms, they were expecting things to get a little wild. My double vision glared around the room, the office drama unfolding. Petty squabbles slowly boiling over into booze-fuelled feuds. Unrequited love becoming less the subtle hand movements under the tables. I had stationed myself by the bar, knocking them back, content with watching my co-workers like the animals at the zoo. My solitude was in danger as my drunken anthropology was being noticed. Janice, a girl I vaguely remembered from reception, had staggered over to me. Her glazed eyes were similar to my own, but there was something else. She wanted something.

“You’re looking lonely Dan” she mumbled. I felt her hand on my arm. She gripped at my bicep a little too tightly. I assumed she was trying to be seductive but I felt more trapped than seduced. “I know how that feels…”

“I’m okay, really. Just getting my buzz on. Tis the season, right?” I looked around to see if there was anyone I could pawn her off on but the crowd was getting sparse. People were sneaking off to hotel rooms or heading outside to air their grievances with their fists.

“How about you buy me a drink and we can get a buzz on together?” Janice tried to punctuate this proposal with a wink but it was more of an awkward blink. I weighed my options in my head. Janice is attractive but I wasn’t drunk enough to ignore the fact that there would be repercussions. The workplace gossip, the discussions of what the night really meant between us. It would be a hassle I just didn’t want.

“Let me just go to the bathroom for a sec, and I’ll be back for that drink.” I prayed that she would buy this little white lie.

“I think I’d get lonely here by the bar, how about I come with you?” She attempted the wink again. I forced a smile but I worried about encouraging her.

“I’ll be right back…” I edged away from the bar and walked towards the door of the function room, grabbing my suit jacket from the table I’d been sat at earlier in the night. Time to call it a night. I headed for the elevator but looking at the lights, it was at the top floor and the stair well seemed more suited for a quick escape. My room was on the fourth floor and it didn’t seem that far at first, but I was wobbly on my feet. I swayed a little, gripping the hand rail tight in case I fell backwards. I had reached the second floor when I heard the door to the stair well creak open on the ground floor.

“Daaaaaaaan…” I had been sussed out. I heard the clicking of her heels as she entered the stair well. I quickened my pace. Janice’s flirting wasn’t too bad but I had no intention of feeling her drunken wrath for ditching her. I stumbled up the stairs up to third, trying to take two steps at a time, occasionally missing. I exited into the hall on the third floor. I thought there might be another stair well at the end of the hall that I might be able to use to get to my room on the fourth. I staggered down the hall. I followed it down to the end but it came to a corner, no stair well in sight. I turned the corner to continue my search. I heard Janice calling again back the way I came. “Hold on big boy!” She slurred her words.

The hall was just door after door, but no escape. I felt eyes peering at me through spy holes. I was no longer the watcher. It made my skin itch to feel like a spectacle. I just wanted the safety of my room. That’s when I heard a loud thud from behind. I turned round to look back. Janice lay there in a heap. She must have tripped, The way she landed looked painful and while I had been trying to avoid her I couldn’t help but feel pity. She just wanted a little fun and I felt kind of selfish. I went back to help her up, to get her back to her own room before she hurt herself more. I offered my hand to her. She grabbed my wrist, that too tight grip again. Way too tight. It felt like my hand was falling asleep, the circulation cut off entirely. I tried to shake her off but she clenched on with obscene strength. I panicked and kicked her in the chest, knocking her back to the floor. I looked at my wrist where she had gripped me and there was a large circular welt. A suction mark where her palm had been. My fingers were still numb. I looked back at Janice slumped on the ground, she looked broken.

My brain was working over-time. I was drunk, too drunk and this whole thing was getting too weird to comprehend. I wanted to help her, she was just this flirty women from reception. I couldn’t compel myself to get near her, my fight or flight instincts kicking in. The audience of eyes from behind the spy holes were burning into me. Had I just got drunk and hit some girl? Was I going to get fired? Was she going to sue me? My head spun. Janice got back to her feet, her joints clicking as she stood. It wasn’t her though.

Janice’s skin hung loose, sagging from her arms and legs. Her head was tilted towards the ground and her face followed gravity. Her eyes peered out from the sagging skin, hidden in shadow but still piercing.

“Janice… I’m so sorry…” I stammered. I turned on my heels and ran down the hallway, around the corner. It lead to more and more rooms but still no stair well in sight. I didn’t dare look behind me but I could hear her chasing me, the slap of sagging skin against the floor with every step. The hallway lead to another corner. As I followed it I thought that maybe it would at least loop around and I could get back to where I was before and get up to the fourth floor from there. The slapping foot steps behind me were getting a little fainter so I hoped that I was creating a big enough gap that I could escape up the stairs to safety. The hall was long but even with my blurry vision I was sure I could see the next corner. My breathing was heavy and my legs were burning but I pushed myself harder, the end was in sight. As I rounded the corner I could see the elevator, and the door to the stair well. As the distance between me and the door shortened, that sickly slapping noise grew louder. Sweat was pouring from me as I swung the door open. I tried to keep my composure as I took the first step but I was going too fast, I was way too drunk, my foot slipped. I tumbled in slow motion, my head hurtling towards the concrete steps and the slapping steps just behind me. There was a crunch as my head collided with the steps and the room went black.

I woke up to the sound of bubbling water. The room was dark, the curtains drawn. The hotel room kettle boiled by the TV. I could see my pale skin reflected in the blackness of the TV screen. Naked in a hotel room bed, definitely not the way I planned to end the night. I had vague memories of the party, I expected to hear the worst of it on Monday. I looked towards the door, following the trail of clothes that led towards the bed. A dress, my trousers, some underwear… Some skin. Memories flooded back to me as the bathroom door creaked open.

Monsters of Love

Last night I finally watched Spring, a film that I’ve heard nothing but positive ravings about. “One of the best horror films of the year so far” and I’m not here to say that I disagree, it’s a beautiful film both in plot and cinematography. However I do struggle with the idea that it is a horror film, in the sense that it is not a scary movie (Although a film doesn’t need to scare me for it to be considered a horror film) but it is a monster movie, a romantic monster movie. That in itself is not groundbreaking. Yet I feel like the response, or the response that I’m aware of, is. Why is Spring getting such praise when films like the Twilight series have been heralded as the horror-genre end of days?

spring-toronto-film-festival-3

I feel like I should admit at this point that I have never watched a Twilight movie or read any of the books so any points that I make on them should be taken from the point of view that I’m not well educated on the series. What I do know is the vague plot that a teenage girl falls in love with a vampire and that there’s a werewolf who also loves the girl. There’s also something about vampire baseball but I’ll stop before I embarrass myself with my lack of knowledge. Girl loves monster. Monster loves girl. Forbidden love is abound. Spring, as much as I can say without spoilers, also features forbidden love between a human and a monster. After watching it, I must admit that I feel pretty hypocritical about any shit I gave Twilight when it first arrived on the scene. I wasn’t as bad as some but I had strong enough opinions to reject seeing those films.

Twilight_(film)_24

Twilight has received harsh criticism in the past due to the nature of the relationship between Edward and Bella, that it is sexist and abusive. Edward is controlling, manipulative and generally a threat to Bella’s safety. These are the sort of criticisms I can understand why people would respond negatively to the Twilight movies. Spring’s romantic elements don’t seem to have these problems, but the relationship between Evan and Louise doesn’t get to that a relationship status where that might become a problem. It’s more of the chase up to the commitment that is seen in Spring and any danger that Evan is in because of Louise, it’s his choice.

hqdefault

So Spring doesn’t focus on an abusive relationship, which is a step up from Twilight. I have to ask the next question though, do the audience take Spring more seriously because it’s a man romantically involved with a monster rather than a girl? Does having Evan, a young man in his 20s, as the main protagonist rather than a teenage girl like Bella make it harder to dismiss his romantic intentions as foolish? He’s choosing to get into a potentially danger relationship with a creature who could easily kill him. Some might consider him brave and romantic, but he’s in a vulnerable state. He’s drifting in the world. He’s lost and this girl/monster is something he has chosen to love and commit to. If he was a teenage girl I’m sure there would be plenty people willing to point out there are plenty of potential partners out there who won’t accidentally monster-out and eat her. I can understand that a 20 year old has more life experience than a teenager when it comes to making romantic decisions but I don’t think that Evan is making any less risky a decision than Bella when it comes to settling down with a supernatural partner.

Twilight-Movie-720p-Download

Another reason that the choice of a male protagonist effects the audience response to this film is that there seems to be less of an obvious target demographic. Twilight was definitely marketed towards a female audience, mainly teenagers. I wouldn’t say I’m far off when I say that teenage girls are often stereotyped as being vapid, and that the films that marketed towards them are inconsequential and shallow. It’s an unfair generalisation that is based more on badly written characters written by men than actual teen girls. The marketing for Spring is much more focused on suspense and danger based on the tone of the trailer rather than the romantic story that dominates most of the plot. It’s like they were trying to avoid the romance in fears that it might discredit them in the eyes of a male audience.

Spring

Lastly, I think the loudest argument I heard against Twilight, particularly after the first film came out was that it was ruining vampire movies. That the image of a vampire that sparkled was the most repulsively stupid addition to vampire mythology ever conceived. Okay the sparkling was a bit much but it was a minor thing, Sunlight still kills them (right?) but it’s just a bit of imagery that people who dislike the general idea of romantic monsters have latched onto as their major criticism of Twilight. Vampires have been seducing people forever so I don’t know why it’s such a big deal here. Sure some of those vampires seduced their prey, drank them and moved on, but it’s still part of the mythos. Spring is a lot more vague when it comes to it’s monster of choice. Louise isn’t a particular monster, she’s some kind of shape-shifter. She isn’t a reinvention of some classic movie monster. It’s her ambiguity that makes her a new kind of creature so there isn’t some backlash of monster fans screaming that her sappy romantic sentiments are ruining shape-shifters.

Overall I think that Spring is a great film, and if you haven’t seen it already you should go check it out. It’s a romantic creature feature that shows that supernatural inter-species romance isn’t dead. The monster imagery may just be metaphor for Louise’s baggage, be that emotional baggage or living with illness, and that everyone deserves love regardless of what life has thrown at them. Whether you choose to enjoy this film literally or metaphorically, I hope that you think twice about monsters in love.