THE EXORCIST SCARRED ME, AND I’M OKAY WITH THAT

By Katrina Monroe

 

When it comes to horror films, my worst fears are many and specific: creepy kids (and now that I have my own, this goes double), sharp objects near or around a person’s neck, demonic possession (I’m a recovering Catholic, so, duh), and jump scares (because I’m gullible as hell). In spite of ALL THAT, when theaters re-released The Exorcist in 2000, at the maddening age of fourteen, I gladly went along with my step-father and my two brothers (aged thirteen and twelve at the time) to see it.

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Don’t ask me what possessed (har-har) my step-father to bring a trio of barely teenaged kids to an R-rated film guaranteed to scare the pants off us. Maybe he thought it would be funny. He’d only just married my mother a year before (and she subsequently popped out child number six), so the dynamic between my siblings and Raul were in the “testing” stage. We tested him, he stared at us like we’d grown a second head, and we moved on to the next experiment. To my memory, he’d never tested back; Raul was (and still is) the calm-headed type. Experience and retrospect, though, have proved that the calm-headed ones are the craftiest.

So with what I can only assume was a blessing from my mother, I, my brothers, my step-father, and his best friend, Harley, went to the movies.

It was a disaster from the beginning.

I sat on the end next to an aisle with burned-out floor illumination, and the shadows played tricks on my already rattled mind. It didn’t slip my notice that my brothers and I were the only under-eighteens in the theater, though, and it was my first clue that something was amiss.

“So this has devils and stuff?” My brother, Danny, asked.

Harley chuckled. “Yeah. Stuff.”

Raul shushed him as the lights dimmed and the movie started.

By the scene in which Regan was being “treated” by having needles plunged multiple times into her neck, I was dry-heaving in the aisle. The world spun and I dripped coke-soaked ice down the back of my neck to keep from passing out. Once the feeling passed, I figured all would be well. If I could live through that, I could handle anything.

Four words—Let Jesus fuck you—and I was so wrong.

The End couldn’t come quick enough.

My brothers and I ran from the theater and waited by the car for Harley and Raul. We didn’t look at each other. Didn’t talk to each other. But I’m sure we all shared the same thought—it’ll be dark soon.

Danny—either in a show of bravado or stubbornness—slept in his room that night as usual, while my other brother, Buddy, and I slept in the living room.

We spent the night watching Disney movies—our favorite, Hercules, played no less than three times—while battling over who would risk getting off the couch to rewind the VHS (yes, we still had those, and no, there was no remote).

“I did it last time,” Buddy said.

“And you were fine. Obviously, you’ve got some kind of luck on your side.”

“That’s stupid.”

“You’re stupid.”

“I’m telling Mom.”

“Go ahead. Hit the rewind button on your way to her room.”

I have no proof, but I firmly believe Raul sat by the bedroom door and listened to all of this, snickering like Snidely Whiplash.

By the next day, Buddy had gotten over it.

Daniel, however, had gotten worse.

My mother paced the kitchen while on the phone with my grandfather, a devout Catholic. “Can you just come over and, I don’t know, talk to him?”

See, Danny believed that since he and Regan were the same age, it was only a matter of time before HE would become possessed, too. Despite my still lingering fear over the film, I found the notion of Danny spewing pea soup all over his Power Ranger bed sheets funny.

My grandfather spent the next several days quoting scripture and comforting Danny in the fact that, yes, the Devil was real, but no he wouldn’t possess Danny because the Devil had more pressing things to deal with like plagues and the End of Times.

I did mention I am a recovering Catholic, yes?

Anyway, I dealt with my fear the only way I knew how. I made deals.

If I didn’t move all night, The Exorcist (because I had to name my fear and, though it made no sense, I went with the movie title) wouldn’t get me.

[I’m sure there’s a twisted Freudian reason that, in naming my fear, it was a name that associated more with the religion side than the horror side of the experience. I’ll jot it down for my therapist, but we won’t be discussing it here.]

Then a week passed.

If I didn’t move all night, except moving my feet out of the blanket when it got too hot, The Exorcist wouldn’t get me.

Then another week passed.

If I didn’t move all night, except moving my feet and getting up to pee, The Exorcist wouldn’t get me.

This continued for months. Years.

Now, I’m allowed to move all I want, but The Exorcist will probably get me if I go into the bathroom before turning on the hall lights, or get into bed without a running start.

I’m thirty and, if I were to watch the movie again, I’m sure I would find it enlightening, compelling, and revel in the scare-factor. But there’s something about childhood trauma that drives me. Without it, I’d have no stories to tell and you’d be stuck playing Pokemon Go for the fourth hour in a row.

There is a moral to this tale, though.

They don’t give an R rating for fun, guys. Maybe don’t plop your twelve year old in front of Pennywise and expect to get her a clown for her next birthday, yeah? Glad we had this talk.

 

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of our new anthology, ECHOES & BONES, which is dark, like Halloween, and sometime funny.

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You can also enter to win a copy on Amazon. ‘Muricans only, because them’s the rules. Folks from other countries can go to our Facebook page for chances to win book goodies.

 

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Five (More) Thoughts with Katrina Monroe

by Katrina Monroe

  1. I can’t science.

I like science. Science makes things blow up and makes my phone cooler and takes care of animals. I appreciate science. I do. I just can’t do it. I started going back to school this year to finish up an English degree I’ve been drooling over for over a decade, and part of it is taking an environmental science class. I read the chapters and cry when I can’t make them stick in my head. I take quizzes that don’t make sense. But, at the end of it, I’m coming for you climate change denying mother-fuckers, so WATCH OUT.

 

  1. Academic writing bores me to tears.

Okay, yes, more school stuff. If I have to obsess about it, you have to hear about it. My required writing class is led by a professor who thinks stylized writing is “confusing.” (I can’t wait to see what he thinks of my rogue italics and one-word paragraphs in our first paper. *eyeroll*). At the beginning of the semester, he emphasized that we would be reading non-fiction. That’s fine. I read A LOT of great non-fiction. Except, in this class, it’ll be academic essays from the medical field, to appeal to the eleventy-billion nursing students in my class. Gag me.

 

  1. You’d think momming got easier once the kids started becoming independent. Guess what, losers. It doesn’t.

When my kids (now ages 9 and 10) were smaller, it was easy to write off their little eccentricities and forgetfulness as a result of their being little. Of course she won’t remember to pick up after herself, Katrina, she’s a toddler for fuckssakes. Now, they still don’t clean their room; they still forget things at school; they still leave behind little trails of pizza cheese and homemade slime, except NOW it’s willful. I have no point other than I’m losing my god-damned mind. Send help.

 

  1. Get your flu shot.

Otherwise you’ll be stuck chain-sucking sugar-free cough drops so you don’t hack up a lung in the middle of class. Oh, and those cough-drops? They give you the runs. Your PSA for the week, kids.

 

  1. Sometimes strangers will sniff your furniture.

This week, I sold our old recliner on the Facebook market because I figured it’d be safer than throwing it up on Facebook and attracting creepers. Facebook users have pictures, right? And you can totally tell a creeper from a non-creeper by their photo (yeah, I’m laughing too). After dodging a few bullshit offers—“I’ll give you twenty bucks and that’s being generous,” fuck off, bro—a legit offer came through and someone showed up to pick up the recliner. Which he sniffed. Allllllll over it. The seat. The back. He said he was looking for mold, but he paid cash so I didn’t ask questions. The chair’s gone now, and so is the sniffer.

Weird Writerly Things

Every writer has a process. Even if it’s only that they write in a specific room or at a certain time of day, we all have something that helps get us in the mood. I (Renee) forced everyone to tell me one weird thing they do to get in the zone for writing. Some of the Dolls didn’t disappoint. Liam, you need to get weirder. Just saying.

Anyway, here’s what they told me. Now they know the confidentiality thing I made them sign is useless.

Liam: Just daydream and type what happens.

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Hanna: Being in nature. I usually write best outside too.

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Oh yeah, sounds great, Hanna.

Steve: Smoking cigarettes and staring at the sky was a great way to zone out and run a chapter through my head. Unfortunately it’s not a good habit, lung-wise, so I can’t recommend it in good faith.

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(right?)

Michael: Cleaning the toilets usually does it, followed by strong coffee. Either that or a tomato sandwich.

(Did you say tomato sandwich?)

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Renee: Candy Crush. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Playing a few rounds of that empties my brain of other things. I just play until I’m ready and then I write. If that doesn’t work, I take a nap, because naps are awesome.

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Katrina: Coffee and a swift kicking of everyone the hell away from me.

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(We had such high hopes for yours, Kat.)

Christian: I don’t have a weird thing that helps me get in the zone. Is that weird?

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(Yes, Christian. It’s weird. You’re weird.)

Five Thoughts with Katrina Monroe

by Katrina

  1. I have no thoughts. All thoughts are darkness. Except for doughnuts. Those are perfect, circular happiness. I probably shouldn’t have eaten it though. My dentist is going to give me the look when I come in with the cavity she knew was going to happen if I kept up with the whole eating sweets thing. Screw her. Dentists are the devil, anyway.

Thought 1

  1. Legitimacy is bullshit but we all need it. Crave it. It’s a confidence booster. You know why people who succeed seem to keep succeeding? Someone told them they could, and they believed. Clap your hands if you believe in fairies and all that. Same principle. Mostly. We could get into whether legitimacy is legitimate (HA), or whether a person can ever reach a plane of legitimacy nirvana where they never stop craving more, but my children need dinner. More soon.

Thought 2

  1. Who was the first person to decide seaweed was something they ought to put in their mouths? What was that story? Probably had something to do with dicks. A lot of weird innovations tend to begin that way. I bet that first seaweed eater was related to the guy who first applied for funding to research what would later become Viagra. Picture it: a family reunion that’s all little blue pills and crunchy seaweed snacks (olive oil and salt, because they’re watching their cholesterol).

Thought 3

  1. I’m probably hungry. Definitely hungry. What’s for dinner tonight? The whitest white-girl quesadillas ever to grace the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota: rotisserie chicken (work smart, not hard), cheese (not sure what kind it is, but it’s yellow, whatever), half-stale tortillas (they’re going to be toasted for fucksakes, no one will notice), avocado (look at me being all HEALTHY), salsa (Mmmm), more cheese (because duh), and probably some other vegetable (whatever is the least wilty in the crisper drawer). You know you want some of this.

Thought 4

    1. Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackey are an incredible Doctor/companion duo. Pearl isn’t immediately taken in with the doctor (and for FUCKSAKES people it took making her a lesbian to dispel the whole doe-eyed lover thing every other companion except Donna had), and wants from the beginning to keep living her own life outside the TARDIS. She’s fun and funny with sarcastic chops to match Capaldi’s bitter, mid-life Doctor. It’s a fucking tragedy they won’t get more than this season. Thought 5

 

    Fight me.

Shrink Wrapped: Katrina Monroe Edition

As we’ve already explained in previous interviews, this is not a meet the author and find out all the writerly yawn-fest things she does kind of thing. Instead, we took questions a doctor or cop searching for a serial killer might ask and tweaked them a little. It’s been enlightening… and disturbing.

katrinaKatrina Monroe (Saete) is hilarious. Let’s just get that out of the way so I can get paid. Her most recent book, ALL DARLING CHILDREN, is possibly THE BEST THING EVER, so you should pick it up. If you’re a pussy who can’t handle some darkness, I have to ask what you’re doing here. Seriously, get out.

Now, she helped compile these questions, but had no control over what ones she got. She doesn’t like big surprises, so we had to do it that way or there’d be another “incident.”

Let’s see what we scraped out of her head.

What would you do if you found a dead body in your lover’s freezer?

Since my lover’s freezer is also my freezer, I would probably wonder if I’d been sleepwalking again. A person can only take so much Ambien before the dreams start showing up in the daytime. Wait. Is this a dream?

*Yes. Shouldn’t you be naked? *

Tom Hiddleston or Tom Cruise? Explain your answer

TOM CRUISE IS A BASTARD. YOU TELL HIM THAT. YOU TELL HIM AND THAT ASSHOLE ATTORNEY OF HIS THAT I WON’T BE BOUGHT, YOU HEAR ME?

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*Still upset about the “Tom” thing. Noted. *

 You’re stranded. Maybe it’s the end of the world. Who knows. What matters is the food situation is pretty damn sketchy. You’re starving. Your friends (no family survived. Sorry about your loss) are starving. Through a few heated rounds of rock, paper, scissors, it’s been decided you’re the first to be eaten. Would you rather they eat you piece by piece, keeping you alive, so you can also eat, thus ensuring everyone has a better chance at survival, even though you’ll have to eat yourself and watch others eating you, and probably lose a few limbs, or do you want them to just kill you and do what they must with your body?

You’re a sick fuck, Miller. Kill me and get it over with.

*We promised no judgments here, didn’t we? THIS IS A SAFE PLACE TO TALK ABOUT HARD THINGS. REMEMBER?! *

Have you ever lied about something just because you knew you could get away with it? Care to elaborate?

When I was in college, I decided to see how long I could get away with pretending to be British. Turns out the answer is a long fucking time, because I went to college in Florida, where high IQs are about as plentiful as snowfall.

*I love British accents. I bet they were all blinded by your sexiness. *

Tomorrow you wake up and you’re the opposite gender. What’s the first thought that comes to your mind and the first thing you do?

“Does this mean I get paid more now?” And, I’d probably pee on something. Because, duh.

*I’d pee on EVERYTHING. *

Now, tell me what you see in this picture:

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The ink blot is obviously two pigs, snouts thrust up in the air, fighting over an ugly dress.

I can’t believe you guessed what it was. Amazing.

Thanks for coming out. The dwarf has your meds. No, you may not have the knives back. They’re community property now. Maybe next time you’ll respect boundaries.

Check Out Our New Member

by Renee Miller

 

How’s your Sunday going? Lazy, I hope. Before I can get on with the lazy, there are updates to be posted. So, what’s up with the dolls? Well, we’re being disgustingly neglectful of this blog, but with good reason. We’re busy little bees. Also, everyone but me is kind of a jerk. (I’M JOKING FORBES. PUT THE MATCHES AWAY.)

First, say hello to the newest Deviant Doll, Frank E. Bittinger. Frank writes horror mostly, and he’s a tad eccentric. That’s how we like our dolls, right? Of course it is. Make sure to check out Frank’s book and stalk him a little. He likes that. He likes a lot of strange things, apparently.

What else? Well, Katrina Monroe (also known as Katrina Saete, because she got – ugh – married) FINALLY released her haunting Neverland re-telling, ALL DARLING CHILDREN in October via Red Adept Publishing. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. Get your ass and gear and do it.

Speaking of must-reads, Tony Bertauski has added another science fiction adventure to his list of only the best books ever. Humbug (the Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge) will be released on November 15th, BUT if you pre-0rder it, you’ll get it at the low price of just 99 cents. So what are you waiting for?

And Forbes West has also been doing things. Writerly things.  Like re-releasing his weird, but wonderful tale NIGHTHAWKS AT THE MISSION, via Auspicious Apparatus Press. Not only is his original story reworked, but there is bonus material you don’t want to miss. If you don’t buy it, he’s going to bitch and moan. We’ll have to tell him pretty things and hold him for a bit. Please, help us.

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Hanna Elizabeth has been quiet the past few months, but while being so, she’s released a haunting tale originally published in the FLYING TOASTERS anthology, titled THE MAN UPSTAIRS. A haunting little ghost story that’s perfect for a cold, dark night, as most are this time of year.

What’s what? Oh, that. It’s just Steve sobbing. He does that sometimes.

Speaking of Steve, I see you over there eagerly awaiting news about him, you frigging weirdo. If you haven’t already yet, check out his  Authors & Dragon’s podcast. HIL-ARIOUS. Steve is also working on new bookish things, but he hasn’t told us much about them yet. Stay tuned. Don’t worry, he’s only crying because he’s happy. Promise.

*Katrina, do something about him.*

The other funny-talking Doll, Christian Saunders, has a few short stories coming soon. Keep your eye on DeadMan’s Tome, because they’ll be publishing Christian’s SOMETHING BAD in mid-November. He tells us there is significant emphasis on black goo, so that’s intriguing.

And finally, there’s me. Well, I have a few novels “in progress,” such as a follow-up to Mind Fuck, called “Small’s Soldiers.” I know you’re all used to me publishing those rather quickly, but I’ve slowed down the past few months. Not because I’ve stopped writing. I’m just taking it easy and shit. By shit I mean I’m working on short fiction as well. Look for my latest, THE FRIDAY SPECIAL, on November 11th over at DarkFuse Magazine. It’s delicious, I promise.

I guess that’s all for now. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page for news, events and the occasional free goodies. We’re also planning a Christmas thing. It’ll involve festive days filled with little contests, freebies, new books, and possibly a virtual party. We know how you enjoy those. Stay tuned.