The Half That You See
Genre: Horror Anthology Edited by Rebecca Rowland
“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”
-The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether by Edgar Allan Poe (1845)
Poe’s classic tale told of a state of the art hospital boasting a curiously experimental treatment, but things were not as they seemed. In The Half That You See, twenty-six writers from around the globe share their literary optical illusions in never before seen stories of portentous visions and haunting memories, altered consciousness and virulent nightmares, disordered thinking and descents into madness. Take a walk down the paths of perception that these dark fiction raconteurs have tunneled for you, but keep a tight grip on your flashlight: the course twists and turns, and once you’re on route to your destination, there is no turning back. That which creeps about in the poorly lit corners of the human mind has teeth, and it’s waiting for you.
"Chalk" by Elin Olausson
A young man rents a room at a bed & breakfast and meets a girl who sleepwalks during the day and is only herself at night.
"Winnebago Indian Motorhome by Tonka" by Eddie Generous
Chasing down nostalgia, Josh Dolan buys a vintage Tonka Winnebago, but it isn't quite like the toy he'd had as a kid; this Winnebago knows the future, and it knows Claire Dolan's secrets.
"Sepia Grass" by Sam Hicks
A young man begins to question the recurrent visions he has always believed to be flashbacks to a childhood drug overdose.
"Prisoner "by T.M. Starnes
Kidnapped prisoners sometimes survive, but that's when their terror truly begins.
"Turn a Blind Eye" by Kelly Griffiths
An explosion leaves an ornery pharmacist with shards of mortar in his eyes and disturbing changes to his vision, especially when he looks in the mirror.
"Falling Asleep in the Rain" by Robert P. Ottone
A man recounts his youth through a dream, revealing as a young boy his experiments with love for another boy, only to face the ire of his murderous father.
"Black Dog Blues" by Luciano Marano
In a story inspired by an actual urban legend popular among American truckers about a spectral black dog that appears to drivers just before a lethal crash, a haunted man recounts his own devastating encounter with the creature and sets out for revenge with a hapless hitchhiker reluctantly in tow.
"Imaginary Friends" by Nicole Wolverton
Julie Strawbridge is called in to see the principal of her nephew Augie's school after he is expelled for selling imaginary friends to his classmates for a dollar.
"Boogeyman" by Susie Schwartz
One boogeyman; two perspectives, and the horror of mental illness that torments them both.
"Safe as Houses" by Alex Giannini
Carrie and Will moved into a new home, into a new phase of their lives. But every love story is a ghost story, and theirs is no different.
"The New Daddy" by Scotty Milder
A crumbling marriage and a new home is filtered through the eyes of its smallest witness.
"Cauterization" by Mack Moyer
A woman on a methamphetamine binge harbors a dark secret from her past that begins to manifest in vivid waking nightmares that may, or may not, be real.
"The Tapping at Cranburgh Grange" by Felice Picano
When an American couple leases and then buys a manse in England, they become aware of a strange noise only some people can hear.
"Elsewhere" by Bill Davidson
Colin lives a stressful life in an overcrowded flat with a sick daughter and a mother with dementia, in the middle of crammed and noisy London. More and more, however, he is elsewhere.
"Daughters of the Sun" by Matt Masucci
A retired homicide detective living in Florida finds that a past case investigating a dark nature cult twists into his reality.
"The Coffin" by Victoria Dalpe
A young woman still grieving a recent loss discovers an exhumed coffin on the street.
"Old Times" by Mark Towse
A man suspects his wife is cheating on him, and when she leaves for the evening, he considers the possibility over a bottle with an old friend.
"Lonely is the Starfish" by Lena Ng
Many people have pets, but one lonely young man becomes too close to his pet starfish.
"Hagride" by Justine Gardner
A cormorant speaks, and Josie tries not to listen as it begins to resemble ghosts from her past.
"Raven O’Clock" by Holley Cornetto
A man seeking shelter from the tragedies of his life finds more than he bargained for in a mysterious cabin.
"Officer Baby Boy Blue" by Douglas Ford
An eye injury and a grotesque gift from a police officer in a hospital emergency room ultimately leads a young man to special properties of sight.
"The Intruder" by Lamont A. Turner
Suspecting someone has invaded her home and the homes of those close to her, a woman struggles with delusions that may not have originated with her.
"Alone in the Woods in the Deep Dark Night" by Edward R. Rosick
Trapped in his cabin by a howling snowstorm in the desolate wildness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Gary Chandler finds that freezing isolation is only the beginning of a descent into bloody madness.
"Mesh" by Michael W. Clark
A regular guy wants too much control in the modern global community: over both his home and his wives.
"Der Hölle Racht" by Laura Saint Martin
A victim of domestic violence embarks on a drug-fueled journey and rampage.
"The Red Portrait" by Mahlon Smoke
A frustrated artist spies a forgotten portrait in a shop and finds himself consumed by its beauty.
**Get the anthology for $5 off or get $10 off the book/candle set HERE!**
The Half That You See is written by twenty-six authors from five different countries, including Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalist Felice Picano, Feature Writer of the Year recipient Luciano Marano, and honorees from Ellen Datlow’s most recent Best Horror of the Year, Bill Davidson and Sam Hicks. Editor Rebecca Rowland is a dark fiction writer whose previous Dark Ink anthology curation work includes Ghosts, Goblins, Murder, and Madness and Shadowy Natures: Stories of Psychological Horror. Dark Ink Books is the proud home of UnMasked, the best-selling memoir of horror legend Kane Hodder, and Savini, the special effects icon’s coffee table biography.
Most writers of horror and weird fiction probably know what I mean when I say that parents present a problem. No matter how old you get, their approval still means something. On some level, you’d love to offer them a chance to read your work, especially when they ask that dreaded question, “What’ve you been working on lately?” But you hesitate, dreading what they might say about that graphic scene of necrophilia that ends in genital mutilation, no matter how much the editor of Cthulhu Sex liked it. You don’t want to hear their disapproval, but their approval will make you cringe, too.
In much of my fiction, parents stand at the source of whatever problem faces the protagonist, and sometimes I worry that people might get the wrong idea. I really like my folks. Truly. In fact, my mom gives me the best ideas. She doesn’t mean to do that, but once she starts talking, she says the damnedest things, causing me to reach for a pen and whatever scrap of paper I can find. She doesn’t understand why the things she tells me ends up in my stories. In fact, when she tries to give me a story idea, it usually doesn’t work. It has to occur by accident, mainly because she doesn’t get horror.
At least not consciously. She does understand body horror, though, on some intuitive level.
It turns out that she needed a hip replacement, along with two knee replacements, all thanks to the ways in which our bodies betray us as we age. Something to look forward to, of course. In any case, she called to discuss this with me, along with some of her “concerns.”
“Remind me what kind of writer you are,” she said. “A creepy writer?”
“Sure,” I said, “that works.”
“Ok, well, I’m wondering if you could do me a favor.”
It turned out that my mom had a fascinating concern. Already, she and my father have made their own post-mortem arrangements, deciding that they wanted their bodies cremated. However, this raises an interesting scenario, as the artificial parts of our bodies get cremated along with the rest of us. In the event that something artificial with a battery, like a pacemaker, goes into a crematorium oven, it would even result in a pretty hefty explosion. However, what about something more mundane, like the metal parts that constitute an artificial knee? Mom needed to know, and she wanted to me to call someone like a funeral director or an undertaker to get the answer.
“Tell them that you’re doing research, and you need to know,” Mom said.
“But why don’t you ask someone yourself?” I said.
“I did. I asked the doctor who wants to do the surgery. I said, ‘They need to take that stuff out of you before they put you in the oven, right?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ So I said, ‘Well, how do they do it? Do they just chop off your leg off first?’”
“What was the answer?” My writer senses began to tingle, and I started fumbling for a pen. This was getting good.
Mom said, “There was just quiet. I thought I lost the connection. I said, ‘Hello?’ and finally he answered. He said he was still there. He just didn’t know what to say. So you see why I need you to do this? Call someone. Make it sound like research so you’ll get a real answer. Say that you’re writing one of your creepy stories.”
I already knew I would do what she asked. But I had to get her to say more. “But why do you care, Mom? You’ll be dead.”
She said, “It’s still my leg. I need to know if they’ll just chop it off, or what.”
I did get mom her answers. It turns out that they don’t amputate your leg first, which admittedly disappointed me. I really wanted that to be the answer. Instead, they put you into the oven intact, and after the fire has done its work, they scrape out the resulting mess, removing whatever metal doesn’t melt for recycling. Even in death, we can be good stewards of the environment.
Once I tell Mom about this, she’ll hopefully get her knees and hip replaced. She needs it, and I want her to have a comfortable life.
But I can’t answer the black heart of the question she couldn’t put into words. Will I really be dead, and even if I am, will I still feel things? Am I really my body, despite what centuries of religious teaching tries to make us believe—that once we die, the real us, the actual person, departs the body, floating away from what amounted to an empty shell all along?
Good body horror, the kind of we might find in works like “The Autopsy” by Michael Shea or the films of David Cronenberg, teaches us that our bodies constitute more than just a shell of our being. They are our being, our one reality, the total sum of who we are, despite the fact that we desperately want to become, as Cronenberg puts it in one interview, “disembodied.”
As I said, Mom knows body horror on an intuitive level. She knows her body is her, and she has every right to worry about what will happen to her after the life signs stop. Will she feel anything if they decided they have to chop off her legs anyway? Eventually, she will find out.
We all will.
In Douglas Ford’s story in The Half That You See, "Office Baby Boy Blue," an eye injury and a grotesque gift from a police officer in a hospital emergency room ultimately leads a young man to special properties of sight. Follow him on Instagram @author_douglas_ford.
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