Flash Non-Fiction, Essay, Horror, Love Note to the Dark
I scare myself. Call it a talent, call it a curse. You may do it too. I’m not so full of myself that I believe I’m the only one. I’m sure Stephen King or Dean Koontz or Clive Barker do it all the time. Mostly at night. When I’m by myself. When it’s quiet. I live by a highly trafficked street now, down the center of Fresno, so it happens a lot less than it used to.
But I scare myself. I think myself silly. When I was a child, I thought about how big the universe is, I tried including heaven and hell and I would give myself anxiety attacks. I would think if All That Is is surrounded by a wall, how thick might that wall be? Would it go on forever? And if not, what might be beyond that wall? Now I know there are theoretical physics that deal with those questions, that there are membranes between dimensions, and just—oh, it makes my head hurt and my stomach ache.
My family lived in a tiny house, and sometimes I would sleep in my parents’ bedroom and stare at the pattern in the couch sandwiched next to the bed. I would see a witch or a face and it would stare back at me and scowl at me. I was afraid to close my eyes for fear it would tear itself out of the fabric and come at me.
When I got older and we moved across town and I finally got my own room, there was one night I stared at the window so hard I convinced myself that any minute I was going to see a shadowy shape on the other side of the curtains. Years later that moment inspired the scifi prose poem “She Is Not Herself” published in Prelude to Spiral Legion.
One night, I awoke to my own X-Files moment when that same window was bathed in light and a terrific booming noise, the curtains billowing madly from air being blown through the screen. My first thought was, “They’re here! The aliens are here! I knew it!” Only to have my hopes/fears dashed when I ran to the window and discovered that it was a helicopter landing in the field next to my house. After that night, emergency medical choppers landed with regularity there. Unfortunately, car accidents happened a lot in Orange Cove and that field was centrally located. Eventually a clinic was built in the spot. I don’t know where the choppers land now.
My nightmares are, well, the stuff of nightmares. Fueled by science-fiction epics, the slasher films Friday the 13th and Halloween, they involve a lot of running, a lot of pulse-pounding fear and the worst, waking up within a dream. With the advent of Computer Generated Images and films like the Abyss and Terminator 2, the killers in my dreams have become fluid and damn near indestructible. In my youth I trained myself to achieve dream control, but these days, working in retail with a constantly changing schedule, I have no steady sleep-waking cycle, so it’s tough to recall my dreams, let alone control them while I’m in them. It’s also rare for me to realize I’m dreaming until it’s too late.
And yes, I have been killed in dreams. It’s not fun.
I don’t consider myself to be superstitious, but I do believe in the psychology of self-fulfilling prophecy and to a certain extent karma, so as much as I dismiss those kiddie emo chain letters or posts that start off, “okay, you’ve started reading this so you have to finish it or such and such bad will happen to you,” I can’t help but avoid them at all costs because I don’t like the (f)ear worm affect those things have on my subconscious. Especially when I come across them at night.
Recently, while stalling from going to sleep, I read a “scariest stories in two sentences” list on one of those buzzfeed/reddit type sites and scared myself shitless. I didn’t want to look up, down or sideways. I didn’t want to listen for my non-existent kid’s voice down the hall or up the stairwell I don’t have. And I certainly didn’t want to look under my bed.
And what the fuck is up with the Thin Man?
Yeah, I scare myself. I love Supernatural and Ghost Hunters. I’m a sucker for the Paranormal Activity films. I really loved Insidious and The Conjuring and Dark Skies spoke to me. My fiancée tells me that when we get together I usually steer our viewing choices to scifi and horror films. And now that I know that she’s a little tired of them, I watch the smaller, more indie horror films like WER, the Signal (Really Good!) or found footage films like Afflicted and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones when she’s not around.
Alisha is moving in this weekend. This may be the last night I spend alone for awhile. I’m in the living room on the laptop and I gave up trying to watch movies or listen to a podcast as I wrote this.
I let the silence envelop me. The cars aren’t whizzing by as often as they were, say, an hour ago.
The blinds covering the sliding glass door occasionally flutter. They shouldn’t, as there is no open window and I don’t have the central heating on. But occasionally they flutter. Maybe air still shifts through the ventilation or through the crack between the door to the apartment and the doorframe.
My imagination is a powerful one, though. Sometimes, I think, powerful enough to manifest something. Something dark, evil even.
I can almost imagine the figure coming down the hallway, having coalesced from the darkness coming from the bedrooms, or stranger, from the bathroom. Next to the darkened bedroom, I have started to consider that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. I have slipped in that shower before. I’m sure at least a couple people have fallen in there and hit their heads, maybe even died.
Fresno is a dangerous place. A violent place. There have to be lots of ghosts here, trapped between the membranes.
God, my eyes hurt now. Maybe if I take my glasses off, I can last another few minutes or so. Long enough to post this. Long enough to get this to you.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll live through the night to see your comments in the morning.
Good night. Get some sleep. If you dream, dream of lovely things.
Unless, of course, you prefer the dark.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Sorry I got swallowed up by my day/night job the last month, and what little free time I had I spent it with family. My time is still being taken up by work, but I am moving the fiancée into my apartment and with her, finally, finally, internet, so that means, if I get a spare hour here or there I can hop on the laptop and at least get some blogging done. And the more blogging I do, eventually the more art and hopefully webcomicking…that’s right, a return to Forsaken Stars the comic is in the works!
For now, I’m looking to connect back with my local community and continue to promote Prelude to Spiral Legion, which I hope will include reading some excerpts at local libraries or open mics, but until I set those things up, here are a few events I plan to attend in the next few weeks:
The Last Unicorn Tour
View The Last Unicorn, the 1982 Rankin/Bass animated film the way it was meant to be seen! On the Big Screen!
Sunday, January 18, 1:00 PM
Sierra Vista Cinemas 16 in CLOVIS, CA
Sierra Vista Mall, 1300 Shaw Avenue, Clovis, CA 93612.
Novelist and Screenwriter Peter S. Beagle will be present!
For more info, visit lastunicorntour.com
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Fresno Scifi and Fantasy Writers Meeting
Tuesday, January 20, 6:30PM
Local writers review latest films, novels, short stories and comics in speculative fiction as well as each other’s works! If you would like to join us, message me by clicking on the email button on the menu bar above! Visit our website at fsfw.net and like us on facebook at fresnoscifi!
Okay, so it’s not Aaron Eckhart’s I, Frankenstein, shown above, which I thought was actually pretty cool. I’m not sure what to expect from the Woodward Shakespeare Festival’s Director Greg Taber, other than Intense Dramatic Goodness, so I am NOT missing this staged reading!
Wednesday, January 28, 6:30-8 pm
Fig Garden Library
THE BARD INSIDE / LIBRARY SERIES
A staged reading. Directed by Greg Taber.
For more info on the Woodward Shakespeare Festival and its performances, visit www.woodwardshakespeare.org
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If you know of anything cool happening this month or the next that you think we should know about, or if you’re interested in having me at one of your events, let me know! Again, just click on the email button in the menu bar above! Thanks and hopefully I’ll see you at one of these local happenings!
Hey, gang, we all could use a little extra money around the holidays, so I’m taking my shot here and now:
You all know I just published a book, and it would be a big help and honor if you pick it up for kindle or paperback on amazon.com. A Big Thank You to those who have already done so! I’ve also got other titles, and you can see them all on my author page. http://www.amazon.com/Rob-Lopez/e/B0081FEZSO
If you’re local (Fresno, County area, California, USA), or you’re willing to pay a little extra for shipping and handling, and if you would like a signed copy with an exclusive print of art inspired by one of the stories in the collection, message me and we’ll set you up!
Finally, for those who live in Fresno County, if you’re interested in “A Night of Terror with Rob Lopez,” I will make myself available to come to your home, soiree or venue and perform selected readings, some improvisation and likely do a jig, for a nominal fee–or Free with purchase of five or more books!
That’s my spiel. Thank you for your time and have a Happy Holiday Season!
Saturday night, November 15, 2014, I went down to Full Circle Brewing Company and joined the Central Valley Horror Club at the Premiere viewing of Micheal S. Rodriguez’ Lamb Feed, an MSR STUDIOS and DeepMurder Productions L.L.C. horror short.
Here’s the description off the facebook page:
When overconfident businessman Mitchell Barnes gets a blowout in a quaint sleepy town all seems normal until he asks the community for a helping hand…What Mitchell gets instead is an invite to the darkest realm of his own fears…An invite to the LAMB FEED!!!
The night began with a mix and mingle and I quickly made my way to the horror club’s founder, Kaci Hansen (little did I know she is in the movie! I might have been more nervous had I known). I’d been meaning to check out the group for years, but kept missing opportunities–it usually meets in Visalia–so when this premiere popped up in my feed, I knew I had to make the effort to get out to Downtown and introduce myself. Having long nurtured the sci-fi side of the local genre community, I thought it was time I reached out to more horror fans. Kaci, a local celebrity in her own right as the Homicidal Homemaker, couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming–and in fact, everyone I met that night was really open, friendly and kind, which greatly amped up the juxtaposition of the club’s reason for being–horror! Oh, and Death! And Guts!
I grabbed myself a High Speed Rail Ale–cold, a little bitter, but nice and hoppy–and found a seat to enjoy Michael’s first film, Night of the Sea Monkey (2011). It was good, quirky, creepy and fun, made all the more enjoyable by watching it with a room packed with horror aficionados, a distillation of campy B movies, with some brilliant surprising moments and lots of raw talent. The grandma stole the show!
After a brief intermission, Lamb Feed began–it started simply enough, with our protagonist, Mitchell Barnes (played haplessly and fervently by Luke Church) driving along a valley road, breaking up with his girlfriend on his cell phone, when he gets a blow out and then sets out to find help when his cell comes up with no service. As he makes his way through an eerily deserted town, we are treated to glimpses of disturbing images superimposed into the shadows, no doubt a foreshadowing of things to come. He “meats” Michael Wainwright’s insidious Rev Wicker, who draws him to the Lamb Feed. Once there, Barnes is enticed by the lovely Kaci Hansen’s barmaid and the sultry Meghan Chadeayne’s Lana. Without giving too much away, we are served an escalation of disturbing images, both real and imagined, until, by movies end, we are both shocked and awed by the things we have seen and heard. Luis Javier Obregon’s music is a visceral feast for the ears and skin and gut, adding tension and punch to the visuals, and Grace Cash Ortiz and Kalie Reed did a phenomenal job with Robert Allen Muke’s makeup for the Butcher. All in all, the Wicker family is a wildly welcome (unwelcome?) addition to the pantheon of horror film families, and I would love to see a full feature version of Lamb Feed. As it stands, it’s a deliciously wicked morsel of a short film. Do not miss it if/when you get a chance to catch it!
After the film, came a Q and A with most of the cast, a few of the key crew and writer/director Rodriguez. Kaci Hansen wanted to help promote the movie, so Rodgriguez just went ahead and put her in it (brilliant!). Rodriguez explained that Lamb Feed was inspired by the fact that communities often get together for no reason other than to eat, whether it be a crab feed, lamb feed, etc., and he wanted to create a twisted version of that. Michael Wainwright was excited, I mean really excited to be a part of Lamb Feed, and hoped this would be the start of more [acting] and encouraged the audience to pursue their dreams.
I was lucky enough to chat with Michael S. Rodriguez himself, briefly, and got a few tantalizing tidbits about what he’s working on next. I wholeheartedly offered my services, so who knows, maybe I’ll get to act again sometime in the future. Or do some concept art. Or some co-writing. Man, working with any of these talented folks in any capacity, well, that would be AWESOME.
For more on Lamb Feed, click on any of the above links, or check out the Blood Brothers Podcast Special Edition: Lamb Feed!
Thirteen Stories of Mind-Expanding Science-Fiction and Horror
Fresno, CA – Rob Lopez, creator of the sci-fi, horror and fantasy webcomic and blog Forsaken Stars (http://forsakenstars.com) is self-publishing Prelude to Spiral Legion, a short story collection that serves as a primer to his Spiral Legion Universe. Spiral Legion begins in 2589 AD, when our colonization of the galaxy becomes threatened by the Shrekar, a reptilian alien race that can render all technology on a planet useless. Prelude to Spiral Legion covers the time between now and then, not just with the epic moments of future history—new technology, war, traveling to new frontiers–but with more intimate explorations of human, robot and enhanced human interactions. Prelude to Spiral Legion is now available for kindle and kindle for smartphone, tablet or pc at http://amzn.com/B00NRI61QY
Three stories from the collection were released over the last two years to create buzz for the collection, including:
“Cleaner than Spotless” takes place in 2150 in Locus New Jersey, where Jovey CR-1477, an android-robot hybrid designed by Doctor Aryo Caredeñas, cleans up the unfortunate accidents for the family. Jovey must deal with Officer Dominic Serposa, the violent Metrofane Catalano, and his own Emotion Controls to keep his family safe.
“Ko Maua Ia Moana Male ‘ana (Our Ocean Wedding Day)” takes place in 2176 off the coast of the California Islands, fifty years after “The Great Quake.” Coast Guardsman Lieutenant Derrick “Dee” Keyes, first mate of the Cutter Zyrfass is about to marry the love of his life, marine agriculture technician Anjaneia Nui Waikamali`i, a third generation mermaid, homo sapiens aquarius. Their obstacles? A tsunami and Dee’s disapproving mother, Gladadale.
“The Skies of Mars” takes place in 2265, on Mars, where Agent Raaf Krusen, the last UFOlogist, interviews retired Sheriff Gerald Corbett about his personal experiences with unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) over the skies of Viking Colony at Terra Meridiani over a span of fifty years. Together they connect the dots between a paranoid miner, a mecha test pilot, and Krusen’s own daughter.
Other stories in the collection include:
“Time to Put the Toys Away” –circa 2230s- A telepath, a clairvoyant and a telekinetic play a game only one can win.
“Preyer Jar” –circa 2300- Wherein a religious man undergoes a radical genetic make-over to forget his sins.
“Future Vagrant” –circa 2513- A vignette about a homeless man and his robot doll.
“A German Shepherd, His Lord Magician and the Chippendale Arm Chair” –circa 2572- Wherein a blind agent of the Vatican and his guide dog are dispatched to the planet Altar to investigate the claims of a possessed arm chair!
…and, as they say, much, much more.
Kyle Aisteach, fellow Fresno Scifi and Fantasy Writer, said of this collection, “Rob Lopez is one of my generation’s successors to the greats of the Golden Age. From the hilarious to the darkly disturbing, these are the kind of stories that made you fall in love with science fiction in the first
About Rob Lopez:
Raised in rural Orange Cove, Rob Lopez was influenced most by the Star Wars films, Spider-Man and X-Men comics and the works of H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov. While in high school Lopez created the comic strip “Nucleon” for the Reedley Exponent, Foreign Affairs, an original play performed by his peers, and his short story “Magdalaine” was published in Symmetry, the Reedley College literary magazine. In his twenties Rob designed Spiral Legion, the sci-fi/horror roleplaying game. In 2009, he created the webcomic and blog Forsaken Stars and in 2010 he joined the Fresno Scifi & Fantasy Writers. He is a fan of his parents, his fiancée, his fiancée’s parents, Sarah McLachlan and the Fresno music and art scene.