It's louder now. / by Josh Stricklin

“I just don’t like it. Oh, no. There’s a place for all the scary stuff you write though.”

A horror writer’s mind is a lonely, dark room. It waits at the end of a long, wet tunnel in the cold. The heavy door to the room creaks and muffles the sounds of scratches and groans from the other side. Most people avoid that noisy staircase that leads down into the dark, the one with the blown light bulb.

There are people who do go down into the dark though.

The door to the lonely, dark room is eerie and unsettling to look at, and at the right angle it seems to be covered in an unnerving, dark liquid, but for those who walk the cold passageway, those who dare to open the heavy door and peek inside, there is magic. Infinite, beautiful magic. There are toys and trinkets, robes and gowns. There are pianos and sheets of music. And of course, there are monsters and madmen.

When a horror writer goes into the room, he isn’t going to just poke around and leave everything the way it is. No. A horror writer is looking to bring something back up with him. To decorate his home with it.

People ask me why I write vulgar, nasty stories, why I write horror. The answer is simple. Because when I go down the stairway and open the heavy, creaky door to that room, I fall in love with everything inside. All the creatures and playthings excite me, and I want to take them all out and display them. I don’t see a room filled with shadows, and harmful boogeymen. I see a mom-and-pop antique shop of weird lamps and garden decorations, and knickknacks for my living room. When I go into the room, I know what children in toy stores feel like. I want to take everything home.

Unfortunately I can’t bring everything up at once. So I take it up one at a time. And right now there is only one piece of bric-a-brac sitting on the table between us. It’s a dirty statue of a man in a tee shirt and jeans, wearing a baseball cap. There’s a logo on the front that you may even recognize. By itself, maybe you find it uninteresting. Maybe you don’t want to look at it. You find it vulgar. And I’m OK with that. Because I’m coming back up with a fancy top hat. Maybe you’ll like that. Maybe you won’t. The pressure isn’t on you to like it. I’m going to keep going down to that room anyway, because as I said, I love everything in that room. I’m decorating my home with the things in there. Not yours. Besides, I saw some flowers down there you might like. There are a few things in front of them though.

Don’t worry. They won’t die before you get a chance to see them.

The wonderful thing about the room is that I can’t get a good look at that back wall—too many chests and cloaks blocking my view. I have to go. I can hear it calling. It’s louder now.