Around Halloween, when the shops fill up with plastic fangs and pumpkins, I am led to wonder what the point of it all is nowadays. What is the role of horror in modern life? One aspect of it is, for me, being reminded that no matter how much we feel safe and in control with all our gadgetry and sophistication, the dark is just outside. I find powerful horror stories to be the ones which remind me of just how fragile this sense of control is, by offering up scenarios that believably transform mundane life into a nightmare.
Here is one such scenario that came to me through real life inspiration, with a small added embellishment for effect!
Thanks to Claire W. for sending me this poem of hers. I hope you enjoy reading it as well.
The snake sloughs off old age
– his skin, gleaming like a jewelled cloth
slips into the silver stream.
Ornate. Eyes, teeth and flickering tongue
make him an elegant trickster, a rich-clad thief.
No need of petty thefts –
his frauds are greater
(though his sibilant tongue will whisper a conman’s words).
Beware – he will drink deep of your immortality,
will drain the dregs of death,
each coil its own eternity.
And as he slinks in the dewy grass,
you will walk the straight path, the slow path
(all magic herbs now lost, all sorceries unlearnt,
the gifts of ancient gods squandered like common coins).
There is no need for his red venom.
The poison has set in.
Even the trees are treacherous now – the lakes, the streams,
Zen at the bus stop
The sun moves across the sky
Only passengers should board
Migration of souls