Rachel lives in constant fear that she will burst into flames. She can feel the heat building in her gut. She keeps buckets of water under the bed. She keeps them to fend off the flames that her body may create.
Autocombustophobia. That's what they say she has.
No one will believe Rachel when she explains that she spontaneously combusted once before. That's why her body is covered in burns.
Rachel's mother is the only one who knows what really happened to her. All she said was that it was an accident, before she disappeared leaving Rachel to live with her grandparents.
When Rachel becomes reunited with her estranged mother, she struggles to uncover the truth behind her injuries. As Rachel spends time with the mother she has never known, she is thrown into a strange world of paranormal obsession, spells, and sage burning.
Long buried family secrets are revealed and Rachel's fear of Spontaneous Human Combustion becomes unmanageable.
There are some terrifying truths to uncover and a man on fire. He stands burning at the foot of her bed.
Strange images filled her mind. Rachel was not producing them. They were simply appearing there, placed there by something else. Delivered from outer space.
Faces. Flames. A centipede ripping apart. She saw it writhing, as it spontaneously split down its center. It was filled with eggs. Millions of centipede eggs. And then Rachel felt sure that she was filled with centipede eggs, and her belly burned and a crazed itching feeling danced over her, and with that, Rachel was finally able to rip her eyelids apart.
The sight of the darkened room met her. And in that darkness, a creature.
Somehow her eye was able to widen, as she realized the sight before her, but she could not close it. She also could not move. She could not scream. She willed her mouth to open and couldn't. Her vocal cords did respond weakly, and with a mouth shut tight, she heard the broken squeaks creaking from her throat.
Her body frozen in place, imprisoned in a cage of her own muscles and bone, she stared up at him helplessly. The man on fire at the foot of her bed.
She had to scream and wake her sleeping friend. She had to cry out for her grandmother to come. But no matter how she thrashed about internally, her body remained paralyzed. All she could do was look up at the man engulfed in flames.
His mouth opened. A slit appeared in the smoke and crisping redness of burning flesh. And his mouth froze in a wide circle of suffering.
Fear rippled through her body. Rachel fought to move and felt the same resistance that she felt whenever she tried to run in a nightmare where she was being chased. She felt the same tugging on her body, the same alteration of physics.
It opened its mouth then, as if it were going to speak.
Her brain burned. It melted. It scorched. Terror seized her, and it was so strong she was unsure how her body could contain it. It felt too large, too strong to be held within her. She knew that the man on fire was going to speak and she had no idea what she’d do when he did.
But it was then that the episode ended, and finally, miraculously, her fingers twitched and her body jerked upright. The moment her body moved, the man vanished, taking all of his flames and fright with him.
She was left staring at the shadowy scene of an empty room.
Rachel ripped the covers over her head and lay on her side with a thumping heart, pressing her body frantically into the body of her sleeping friend.
She tried to tell herself that it had only been a dream. She repeated it in her mind again and again. It wasn’t real. I’m not going to spontaneously combust. I am NOT going to spontaneously combust.
But she couldn’t believe it. Because the man on fire had opened his mouth to speak, and she could sense the words he’d been about to say. He’d been about to tell her that her time was limited, that if she didn’t figure out how she spontaneously combusted the first time, it was sure to happen again.
She moaned into her pillow, imagining what his awful voice would sound like. You burned once. You’ll burn again.
Jyvur Entropy writes horror and romance. She is a pessimist, a chaotic neutral, and a massive fan of Die Antwoord.
Combustion is her most well known work. It premiered on wattpad in 2016, where it went on to collect over 94,000 views, was featured twice by wattpad and longlisted for the 2018 Watty’s.
Jyvur knows everything about the Columbine massacre and buys a new bodice ripper every time she goes to the supermarket.
She is never seen without an iced coffee or yoga pants, because she’s about as basic as it gets.
She runs a moderately successful book blog and she has a baby youtube channel. You can find all her content and socials here: https://linktr.ee/jyvurentropy
Why Spontaneous Human Combustion was the Perfect Motif for My Very Personal Horror Story
I’m Jyvur Entropy and I wrote the horror novel ‘Combustion.’ My book premiered on wattpad in 2016 and it went on to acquire over 94,000 reads. It was also featured twice by wattpad and was longlisted for the 2018 Watty’s. I’m so excited to see my book in print!
I chose to center the plot around the main character’s phobia. Rachel has autocombustophobia, which means the fear that she will spontaneously burst into flames and burn to death consumes her every waking hour.
I drew from my own experiences with delusions and fixations to bring this phobia to life. I suffer with a myriad of mental health issues and over the course of my life have had several delusional episodes. They are awful.
Everybody wants to be so woke for mental health until we’re talking about actual delusions. When you have a delusion, people often become angry and frustrated with you. Sometimes they laugh at you. Then you have to deal with the intense fear and also the angry frustration of the lucid people around you.
For me, the more stressed I am due to external factors, the more my delusions act up. So for this book, I wanted to show how the internal conflict mirrors the external conflict. Rachel’s family is hiding many secrets from her. Helene, her mother, has abandoned her, only to come back years later and plant all kinds of weird ideas in her head-like the notion that Rachel is a victim of an attachment haunting.
This is something I experienced as a kid. My mom is very interested in the paranormal and all that woo-woo new age stuff, and she spent years telling me that a malicious spirit had attached itself to me. I often believe this is why, as an adult, I can’t always tell what’s fantasy and what’s reality. Reality was a warped, disturbing place for me during my formative years. Children believe everything adults tell them, and the adult I most looked up to, my mother, constantly berated me for bringing an evil force into the house with my “disturbed energy.” I would feel this thing that she successfully convinced me was attached to me. I would feel it at school, at home, as I lay awake in the dark, hoping hoping I was safe.
I never felt safe.
Aside from the emotional abuse of being told I was haunted by a nefarious spirit, something that I believe has left me profoundly disturbed to this day, there was also a great deal of physical abuse in my house. Without going into any of the gory details, my younger sister was taken to the hospital twice with injuries she received by my mom.
‘Combustion’ is not an accurate account of my childhood. It is a highly-abstracted highly-fictionalized account. But the way that Rachel feels so alone and afraid, the way her thoughts ruminate on the most disturbing of events-bodies melting from the inside, a charred armchair slicked with the grease of human fat, creatures with gaping black eye sockets creeping in the night-all of this is an abstraction of how my formative years felt. Frightening, disturbing, and lonely.
Horror isn’t monsters and ghosts and demons. Horror is the way that human beings treat each other. Horror is being victim to the monsters created by your own mind. And nobody believes you, and they never go away. Years later, they don’t go away.
My trauma echoes. No matter how far away I get from it, it’s still inside of me, echoing.
I often feel absurd and pathetic that I can’t get over it all.
Writing this story is the closest I ever came to working through it.
Spontaneous Human Combustion is not real. When Rachel panics over this phobia and does strange things like put buckets of water in her closet before bed, her grandparents are angry and frustrated. You shouldn’t be afraid of it, because it isn’t real.
SHC isn’t real, but the fear is real. The fear is a real emotional experience that Rachel has. And she is alone in it. No matter how many people are around us or how many connections we make, we are all truly alone. Inside of our brains, we are alone. Imprisoned in skulls, we are alone. I can tell you what it’s like in here for me, but you can’t feel it. You can’t experience it, and when all is said and done, you might just say to me, ‘That isn’t real. Stop being afraid, because it isn’t real.’
The trauma that put that fear in me is real.
Just as Rachel’s trauma put autocombustophobia into her.
I don’t suffer from autocombustophobia. Truth be told, I doubt I could write a book about any of my actual phobias or fixations, because doing so would require me to think about them for far too long. There are certain things I can’t allow any space in my brain, because then they take me over. They drown me. They push me down into a really deep, dark part of myself and nobody can help me once I’m in there.
So I chose autocombustophobia to abstract the fear and pain of my formative years. I liked using autocombustophobia for a few reasons. For one, it is a very internal death. The fire starts inside of a person and the body burns itself to death from the inside out. The body’s own fat and organs act as fuel for the fire. Not only does it come from inside of a person, but it leads to the body destroying itself. I loved how that visceral death mirrors the experience of fear and trauma. Like Spontaneous Human Combustion, with unchecked fear and trauma, the pain is coming from within the person and they are destroying themselves.
I love books that dig into the more horrifying aspects of the human experience. We are all truly alone. We are all trapped within ourselves, no matter how disturbing the experience of being with oneself might be. We all have the ability to destroy ourselves.
I hope this book will be cathartic to read, just as it was cathartic for me to write.
Sometimes families sweep the darkest of deeds under the rug, and squeaky wheels have to burn.
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