Sunday 27 March 2011

Writing in the Dark

James Barker wrote down his unhealthy urges. Years ago his psychiatrist told him to keep a dream diary, as a way of purging his thoughts, a way of getting them out of his head. And it worked.

He had been, in a way, a daydreamer; though every dream had been a nightmare. Not actually wanting to kill anyone, he took those murderous inclinations to a professional. Those thoughts became words, became separate from him. It was blissful release.

Slowly, diaries became stories. He put his thoughts in other people’s heads, imaginary people, anywhere but his own head. And eventually, he published his first novel.

It was the first time his wife read his writing.

She asked him to stop. Poor Marjorie didn’t understand, couldn’t understand, how such vile things, such vicious inhumanity, came from his sweet head. Calm, rational, loving James. She begged him to stop.

James loved Marjorie, there wasn’t a thing he wouldn’t do for her, and maybe, he thought, maybe his penance was done. The thoughts were well and truly out there now, disseminated, spread so thin in so many people’s heads (the book had fast become a bestseller).

So he stopped writing. For Marjorie.

The first week was fine. The words itched, but he could ignore that.

A month in and the words were scrabbling at the inside of his skull, clawing and scratching, biting, gouging, slashing and screaming.

He had to let them out.

So he found a job that, unsuspecting, let him conceal the bloodthirsty thoughts, phrases and paragraphs of his malignant imagination. The words had their regular release, and Marjorie was happy.

For most of a decade he hid them.

Then came a twist that James might once have written, but never saw coming. The police needed a grave dug up, a body exhumed; part of an unrelated investigation. What they found was not what they were looking for. What they found were words, reams of words over every piece of skin that would be out of sight of the grieving family. Angry black ink on decaying flesh, where no one would look, only the undertaker. Only James Barker.

Recommended Reading:

Living in a Box by Lily Childs
Beautiful in places, twisted and dark throughout.

Soul Acquisitions by Zaiure
Something a little lighter. Great piece of anthropomorphic personification.


  1. A beautifully dark tale. It draws you in and got me caring for James. I expected this to end poorly for Marjorie, but like the clever way he compromised.

  2. Thanks, Aidan. =)

    I was trying to avoid the obvious, and I spent ages trying to think of the creepiest place someone could hide words.

  3. Like Aidan, I was half expecting that James would do something to Marjorie. I love that the end surprised me. I definitely would not have thought to do that. :)

    Thank you for the link!

  4. Thank you, =)

    and no worries, I really like that piece. =)

  5. Certain macabre, John. Buried in his own repressed words? That could describe many of we the living.

  6. Oh, I did enjoy that! I wondered if he was perhaps writing up crime scene reports or something but this is far better. Reminded me in a fleeting way of The Haunting in Connecticut, but done much better.

  7. Great ending. Totally thrown off the scent there.

  8. Thanks John, they do say to write what you know... ;)

    Thank you, Icy, I've been really trying to work on my twists to keep them appropriate but really unexpected. I remember that trailer now I look, but I never saw the film.

    And thank you, Juliet. =)

  9. A very unusual, and quite eerie short John. A nice touch is that Marjorie couldn't understand how such vileness could come from such a sweet person, It's strange but in reality some people do believe that a writer is capable of, or guilty of the acts that they write about, if it were true the prisons would be overflowing with writers. :)

  10. Yeah, same as how psychiatrists have all the illnesses they understand... ;)

    Thanks, Steve. =)

  11. Having Marjorie react to all that horror was a very effective way of communicating just how bad it was. I like that unusual hiding place and his being caught out in the twist. Nicely done.


  12. Thank you, Stephen. =) Poor Marjorie didn't understand that James was so sweet -because- he'd found a way to get all of that bad stuff out of his head... ;)

  13. John Xero you write stuff I love to read, I wish my book club read your delicious insights, knock their freakin' socks off... Eat Pray Love... oh please, can I have something that registers (sorry Eat Pray Love author, but you don't need me, my allegiances are elsewhere, somewhere darker perhaps) keep it coming John ;)

  14. Ha, more like Meat, Prey, Leave the remains where no one will find them... ;D

    Thank you so much, Shelle. =)

  15. Oh John....this was just deliciously twisted. I am a fan. Oma Linda