by William Becker
Roman Toguri finds himself burying the body of a nun in Boone, North Carolina. As the skies darken and it begins to storm, he is forced to shove the corpse into his trunk and take it home for the night, unaware of the torment that playing God will bestow upon him.
Enter Hell with two bonus short stories: The White Shade, an ultra-violent look into the mind of a mass shooter, and The Black Box, a psychedelic dive into weird horror.
When I came close enough, I grabbed one of the wooden planks and hoisted myself into the next room. Gazing around, this room immediately seemed fairly ‘cozy.’ The entire room was constructed from the worn wooden planks that were around the edge of the hole. Several feet across from the entrance to the tunnel was a lamp whose shade had turned an ancient shade of brown, filling the room with the orange light that I had seen from the underground, signalling that I had returned to civilization, or at least somewhere with working electricity.
Perhaps the most important feature of the room was a red velvet couch right next to the map, on which sat my familiar friend, the homeless man. A blank, soulless expression covered his face, his eyes unblinking in his focus, or lack thereof.
This was the first time I had seen him in clear lighting, and the black spots on his face resembled a growth or a scab, seeming to extend and pile up over the top of his skin like mold. It was truly disgusting.
I slowly moved to a wooden door near the couch, waiting for him to stop me, but he stared off in the distance, as if he was watching something behind me. I took another step towards the door when my foot planted down on top of something with a gentle crunch, and seemed to stick to the sole of my shoe as I bent down to examine in; hundreds of black specks scurried away from my feet. Each of these specks hurried past me in a large pack, then crawled underneath the couch where the man was sitting, disappearing from sight. My body locked up and I was forced to cringe when I realized that these specks were baby spiders, and I had just stepped on a large sac.
“Don’t step on those,” the man muttered, his voice sounding hazy and distant, as if the two of us were miles apart.
“What?” I asked, unsure if I had heard him correctly.
“Don’t stomp the eggs,” he replied. His eyes were still locked on something behind me. I glared back, half expecting something to be standing there.
“Because I like them, and they like the cold.”
I watched several of the baby spiders move through the holes in his clothes, crawling into them and creating tiny bulges beneath the fabric. I shuddered, and then his head began to turn. It was a painfully slow motion that seemed to last decades, until finally, his eyes rested on me.
“I’m finally free, you know.”
There was a ticking noise, as if the second hand on a clock was moving, then the orange glow of the lamp was replaced with darkness. The light had been turned off. I wasn’t sure how the man had turned it off, or if the light had simply given out, but despite this, more light leaked into the room from the cracks in the wooden door leading outside, giving a dimmed view of the man on the couch. I glanced back to the floor to see that dozens of the eggs had appeared all across the ground. Had I not seem them earlier? They were a milky white color and about the size of baseballs. A handful of the eggs seemed to wriggle every few seconds, as if they were about to hatch. The light reflected off of them, giving them a shiny appearance in the light.
I looked around, shrugged, then decided it was time to leave. I tiptoed to the door in a state of horrified confusion, leaving the man and his eggs behind.
William Becker is an 18-year-old horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jumpscares of the popular modern horror.
His first novel, WEEPING OF THE CAVERNS, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, GREY SKIES.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I throw myself into it. I set up a decent schedule to write at a certain time each day, which obviously changes with each novel and each year that I pass through. If I disobey this schedule, it’s going to take me a very long time to get anything done. If I start getting stuck, setting up an outline really speeds it up. As long as you have a good hook, you can probably take your book pretty far. Most writers I know that are just starting off suck at making a good hook that doesn’t feel forced, always saying they never know how to start it. Either that or they get to a part of the writing process where they get a little bored or don’t have the spark anymore, so they give up without just stomaching it to the end.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I hate having to write the passage of time between two scenes. For example, if I have a chapter end with two characters going home from a party, I always ask myself if I need to throw in a scene where something happens on the ride home, or should I just skip it? Just opening the next section with “when we got home” always feels pretty hamfisted. So I would definitely say that.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Well, considering Grey Skies has an [light-spoiler] open ending and it is considered experimental horror, I don’t think that I could be considered someone who delivers people what they want. Sure, I love to excite my readers and have those scenes that make people go, “holy hell, what was that??” But if I wanted to deliver to readers, I’d be writing romance, something dystopian, or something with magic in it; those ship copies, horror doesn’t, much less the antithesis of James Wan’s brand of horror.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Writing is an evolution and you will always have room to improve, but that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you are a bad writer or that you should give up. Take your time and you’ll certainly get there.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Longer than three months, but less than six months. If I know exactly what I’m doing, I can write extremely fast. I re-wrote Grey Skies from scratch in August of 2018, it took me exactly 21 days to pump out 55,000 words. I have been paid decent sums of money to work on peoples’ english papers, just because I can pump out a six-page paper out in an hour or so with miminal editing required.
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