Behind Incident on Miller Church Road
It’s that time again horror fans and f[r]iends to take a look behind some of the things behind the fiction I write. On Saturday I released Incident on Miller Church Road, the first story in the Biblia Noctis collection on this website. If you have not read it yet, I suggest you do as the following posts contains spoilers about the plot. It is available for free by clicking here.
The Woes of Writers
The protagonist of this story, Ellison, is a writer and, in the world of horror, writers are often the most abused. Stephen King has written several writers into horrifying situations, from Jack Torrence and Paul Sheldon to Thaddeus Beaumont and Mike Noonan. The reason I attribute for this is that horror writers want their readers to be scared and so they write to frighten themselves. And what better way to frighten themselves than to cast themselves, or someone like them, into the role of protagonist? Incident on Miller Church Road is no different.
The inspiration for this story came from the fact that I would often take walks late at night down a lonely country road to get my imagination going. The road is, in fact, lined by cornfields and thickets of woods and is a very quiet and ominous setting when walking alone at night. I can not begin to count the times that I would walk down that road and that uneasy sensation of being watched crept its way up my back. It never deterred me from taking anymore walks and, in fact, I came to invite the feeling knowing that it would bring some idea or another for a story.
Miller Church Road
This lonely dark road I would wonder down late at night was called Lehman’s Mill Road. Not exactly what I thought of as being a frightening sounding place. However, it intersects with another two lane highway called Miller Church Road. For me, the name carries the feel of old world, superstitious America. It sounds like the kind of place where people still believe black cats are bad luck and the devil waits at the crossroads. It does indeed run right through Mennonite farmland too. These roads, though quite scenic during the day, are absolutely ominous late at night. I invite you all to walk down them if you are in the area of Hagerstown, MD. If not, try finding similar ones in your area and give it a try.
I absolutely love the snake scenes in this story. What would give me chills? What would give my readers chills? How about a snake slithering its way up your spine and devouring you from the inside out?
My beloved KDR is absolutely terrified of snakes and, even I had to admit, that the thought of a snake coiling around my spine gives me chills. It was this element of the story that delayed the release of this story for so long. The first draft only contained the first sentence about the snake, the one that opens the story. I like that line so much though that I wanted more of that snake in it. Eventually, I decided on having the snake devour more and more of poor Ellison’s insides as the writer became more and more frightened.
It’s All in Your Head
We’ve all heard the saying that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Incident on Miller Church Road takes this to the extreme. Growing up we have all let our imaginations get the better of us, screaming for our parents to come rescue us from some imagined monster hiding in our room. This is something we horror writers never grow out of. Only, instead of crying for our mommies, we take our wild imaginations and put them down on paper. In the end, it is imagined fear that kills Ellison.
My soon-to-be mother-in-law, a gentle soul at heart asked why Ellison had to die. My answer to this was that everything in fiction needs to have consequences. If there was going to be no actual monster for the protagonist to run away from then something needed to happen to him. It was nothing personal, I liked Ellison and still do, but I wasn’t going to give readers the cliche and lame “it was all a dream” ending.
It All Started with A Little Bunny
Believe it or not, the childrens book pictured to the right was not only the inspiration behind this story, but behind me getting into the horror genre as well. My parents had damn near the entire Serendipity book set for me while I was growing up, but it was Buttermilk that I read repeatedly. This is the story of a little bunny who is outside playing and happens to wonder too far from home. As a result, Buttermilk gets lost outside late at night and goes searching for mommy. Along the way, Buttermilk encounters three separate monsters in the forest, frightening the hell out of the poor little bunny.
In the book Buttermilk eventually finds mommy who reveals that the encountered monsters were nothing more than normal things you find in the woods. It was my first encounter with the psychological effect of the brain playing tricks on us through imagination and I found it completely fascinating. Of course, my story had a much different ending, but I’m sure Buttermilk grew up to be four little good luck charms too.
I hope you have enjoyed this little peek behind Incident on Miller Church Road. Be sure to check out the new story coming to the site this Saturday, Amputation, in the Briefly Bizarre section of this site. If you liked the post, please use the buttons below to let me know and comment with any questions you may have. Remember, you can also follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, and like Rune Morgan Horror.