I remember the worst scare of my young life. It's probably even why I became a writer: Stephen King's It. Specifically the serial.
Okay, I've seen it as an adult, and I have no idea why it got to me the way it did. But I was eight, and staying at my great grandmother Effie's house. Somehow, I talked her into staying up to watch It with me.
And as a kid, it scared the crap out of me. Tim Curry's teeth are frightening enough at the best of times, but the titular It was an entirely different kind of monster, and the overtones of molestation made it even more disturbing, in ways my undeveloped mind couldn't articulate, but understood enough to fear.
I made it all the way to the halfway mark before my great grandmother realized what she'd allowed me to start watching and ordered me to go to bed. The first part ends with Stan, to my brain the story’s affable everyman, dead in a bathtub. My child mind knew that meant one of two things: either that no one was safe, not even grown-ups, or that he'd seen something so horrible that he couldn't live through it again. That is the definition of horror, distilled into its purest form.
And that was what my grandmother made my go to bed thinking was still alive, and stalking the night for children to eat/molest. And not only that, but she made me sleep in her attic. An attic filled with creepy, creepy dolls, some of which were clowns, but all of which were soulless, dead-eyed little monsters just waiting for an opportunity to murder unsuspecting children. And It could have been any one of them- or even all of them- and not just some lame spider with an easily removed and crushed heart (um, spoilers?).
It was a long time before I finally got an opportunity to watch It the whole way through- and yeah, the miniseries is uneven as hell. The first half is kids being terrified of bullies and monsters. The second half is... forgettable. Or maybe that's just because it didn't scar me the same way the first half did. But It haunted, to a point where I'm only now realizing that a horror novel I'm planning to write in 2014 is basically It for grownups, intended to scare adult me the same way that It did for child me.
I feel silly admitting it, but the nightmares that It birthed stuck with me for years. I didn't know what exactly the monster was, or what it wanted to do to me. I don't know if I would have been able to comprehend it if I had.
And that only made it more terrifying. The best horror involves the things that are just beyond reach, defying description and definition while driving men to madness with their sheer possibility. That's is probably why I enjoy Lovecraft's writing. More so than anybody, he seemed to understand that the terror is at its best when it's chasing you, and you can't risk seeing it clearly, for fear that the full measure of it will rob you of your sanity.
Or at least drag you into a sewer to murder you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nic has written eight novels. E-reader and Paperback editions of Whores: not intended to be a factual account of the gender war, and Dag are available. A paperback edition of Nexus is coming soon. The Necromancer's Gambit, Banksters, Homeless, The Singularity, and Lunacy are all due for publication in the next two years, as well as several short story collections.
Nic's work spans a variety of genres, from political thriller to science fiction and urban fantasy.
For information on Nic's books, and behind-the-scenes looks at his writing, visit nicolaswilson.com.
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THE NECROMANCER'S GAMBIT