• Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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Entries in humour (3)



God, or someone like him, decides to tell a joke. 

Here's how it goes. 

It's wintertime on the great plains. We're huddled at a giant gas station—ten islands each with five pumps, like little solar systems—and we're alone there in that cold dome of artificial light amid an encroaching, encompassing darkness, like all of space itself has encircled us.

Us being Doris, Blake, and me.

And the winds. The winds on all sides sing no human melody, just a fluctuating galactic plainsong, like abandoned sheets berserked by a gale. Blurs of snow like the flung arms of colliding starfields.

Doris says, "You think she made it?"

Given I watched Sylvie die with my own anguished two eyes, I'm gonna pass on that. 

I stomp my feet, Doris hugs herself, and Blake ignores us.

Our exhalations hang in the air like tiny frozen organ pipes.  

In the gloom beyond the lights, a pale gathering of rigs lie still, accumulating snow like the corpses of buffalo. I wonder where the drivers are, but again I keep my thoughts inside, for warmth.

And speaking of inside, not a soul moves within the chill fluorescence of the great hangar around which the gas bars orbit. An inconvenience store, I think. Not funny. The place looks like a forsaken terrarium. 

Blake hasn't spoken in hours, but he does now. "So this is hell," he says, quietly.

"More like hell's briefing room," says Doris, which makes me look at her and nearly smile. She nearly smiles back. And I try not to think about Sylvie. 

How do things go so wrong so quickly? Twenty-four hours seems barely enough time for such a one-eighty. Everything had gone to plan; against the odds, we'd pulled it off; we were superstars; life was about to begin in earnest. But now…

It's all a risk, every step of it. You can tell a joke, even a bunch of jokes, but no one's obliged to laugh.

Out there in the dark, beyond the dizzying supercluster whorls, we watch shapes move like slow behemoths; real or imagined, who knows? All we know is we'll never reach them, on this day or the next, but if they reach us they will end us. 

Blake says, "After we soar, how come there's this rule we gotta come down?"

"That's God’s punchline," I say.


The Criteria: Horror Stripped of Humour

So, thinking more about the criteria of these films. In order to reduce the near endless possibilities, I immediately excluded any horror movies that leaned too heavily on humour. Not because I believe humour is inappropriate in horror films—in fact, I've often said there's a direct kinship between the two emotions, laughter and terror, both of them allied in the release of tension, both so reliant on mood and timing, and both at heart so utterly serious—but because humour by its nature will leach away some of the more disturbing elements I'm attempting to privilege here.

Think of it like this: the horror/humour/jump scare alliance is akin to the funhouse at the carnival, and there's nothing wrong with that if that's your goal at the time, in the moment. Everyone loves the carny. But the movies I'm trying to find a common thread for here belong in the killing field, the charnel house, the autopsy room, the psych ward, the torture chamber, the impromptu pit dug by a human freak—real places breeding with infection and immersed in dread. I want disquiet, distress, despair, wretchedness, the bleak certainty of approaching desolation. Horror, in other words. Unadorned, pure, essential horror. Yet somehow artful or honest, at least. Even beautiful on occasion. Certainly something that stays with you, that you worry at, and turn over in your mind like some arcane puzzle. 

Sadly, the no-humour criteria immediately eliminates some of my favourites in the genre, including "the original Evil Dead films; the incredible, insane Reanimator; zombie parodies as tenuously related as Return of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead; and the stone-cold classic, An American Werewolf in London," as I put it in my inaugural Facebook post on this (albeit without the more grammatically pleasing semicolons). And many more besides. 

Anyway, let's get started. I'll post around four capsules at a time, beginning at number 40, and try to include clips and images as I go. Feel free to comment if you stumble on any of this in your travels through the brackish backwaters of the interwebs, but it's okay if you don't, as I'm doing this primarily for myself, to freeze in time a very personal, even idiosyncratic sensibility I don't expect a single other human to share, quite honestly.


Screw You Guys

I just want to clarify something about my modus operandi as a blogger and as a person. I am not a mean guy. I really do try to avoid hurting others. But I also have a wicked sense of humour, and like many of my original compatriots (the Brits), it is based on a kind of sardonic mockery with lashings of wordplay. Plus, it runs pretty gallows, too. Sorry, not gonna apologise for that. I just want to put it on record that, if I poke fun at something you feel is uncomfortably close to a personal attack, please please approach me privately and ask. I do not bite, other than playfully, and 99 times out of 100, you'll find I am just messing around, nothing unkind or offensive meant. If I have a problem with an individual, I will approach that individual. At risk of sounding complacent, this is what grown-ups are supposed to do, yeah?

Now, when a controversial issue crosses my radar and I recognise a bunch of folks are getting butthurt over it—legitimately or not—sometimes I will parody or satirize the entire topic in a blog post. To kind of blow it up, make it transparent. This doesn't mean I'm taking a position, necessarily. It means I am acknowledging it as a point of contention and using humour to defuse the tension a little. It's how I play. Test how it feels to be on either side of the fence. Or simply on the fence, splinters and all. Which is how I learn. Splinters in one's glutei work wonders that way.

To be honest, it feels kind of weird that I'm having to spell this out, but it seems there are some fellow interwebizens (yes, I just made that word up) who missed the memo that by employing enough snarkology we can sometimes illuminate or otherwise get to grips with a hot issue. I mean, do they live in a world somehow scrubbed of all traces of Jon Stewart? Or Eric Cartman, for that matter? As an example, I mentioned recently a post I wrote for Indies Unlimited that mocked internet collectives who scam writers and set themselves up as phony "experts". Well, yeah. And I still stand by that, of course. Snake oil salesmen deserve all the censure and ridicule we can muster. Unfortunately, those who are not selling snake oil can also feel they're being targeted. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you're not exploiting my fellow writers and are offering a reasonable service, fair play to you. Because look, although I am not even decided on the issue of whether these new "gatekeepers" can have any positive impact, I'm also not convinced they won't.

So, given my ambivalence, when I am able to take advantage of a free promotional opportunity to use one of these ventures for my own book, it is not hypocritical. And even if it were, so what? Show me someone who hasn't accepted his or her contradictions and I'll show you a very restricted and binary thinker. Cut me some slack here and I'll promise to return the favour.

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also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.