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One of my cats died recently: the one named ‘California’ by my youngest son, the evil cat. She was the cat that would roll over as if begging the grandkids to pet her, only to deliver a swift smack on the cheek when they got close enough. She was the one who did the unconsciousable on my 1850s Westmoreland settee. She was the cat who chased my dog around the apartment, clawing at my small border collie simply because she could, or jumping on the dog while he slept. You know the type – the evil betraying the innocent.
For almost two weeks things around the homestead were unnerved, as if somehow her royal wickedness would make it back from the grave to renew her reign of terror. There was a strange scratching at the basement door at night, odd shadows moving in the dark, even a mysterious cat that made a nest of sorts on top of her grave.
Perhaps that’s one precedence to a good horror story – the innocent person who seems to be doing the right thing when wham! - evil jumps on them.
Offered for your inspection: Dr. Frankenstein, a man of science who is working to cure the ultimate disease - death. A nice upstanding innocent type of scientist whose project (eventually referred to as the Creature, It, the Monster) gets out of control and becomes evil – throwing little girls down wells and all that sort of unseemly behavior. Some have said this novel should be acclaimed as the first science fiction novel, as Dr. Frankenstein makes a deliberate decision to enter the laboratory to produce the abomination…something made of dead material which will be given new life. This story helped to solidify the idea that science itself could be something that, although innocent in its intentions, could get out of control. As it has been said, however, bad decisions make good stories.
Even the monster created is an innocent of sorts who calls himself “the Adam of your labors”. The Creature is led astray by impulses to kill that he doesn’t understand and cannot control. Obviously the evil that is done to a person (like being resurrected against ones will) can eventually transform their innocence into evil.
Or how about that fellow Dracula? Once again there’s a nice guy who desires to serve his country Transylvania by volunteering for military service, only to become a shell of a man through tragic events surrounding his return from battle. His wish becomes to avoid death so he can live long enough to see his dead wife again through reincarnation. However, in spite of his simple, innocent desires for justice and love - wham – evil rears its ugly head and he ends up running amuck through the moonlit streets of London ripping out throats.
Even a child’s sincere prayer to bring his cat back to life is answered with evil’s foul hand in Pet Cemetery by Stephen King. First the cat is brought back, then the dog, then a child, then the mother…yeah, it does get pretty silly. The innocent the most betrayed, I’m afraid, becomes the reader as the novel turns comical. There it is again, innocence betrayed.
Perhaps that is why the horror genre is such an efficient teacher. You and I, dear reader, can learn to be wary of a seemingly harmless deal with the devil, or a witch, or an aging priest gone astray. And to that end, we here at Quantum Muse invite you to enter that dark realm of horror this October, reminding yourselves that soon the dawn will break and all will be back to normal. All the reader need do is continue to repeat these magic words: ‘It’s only a story…it’s only a story…’ Rest in Peace, Evil California, rest in peace.
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