Viva le Macabre
Posted by World Weaver Press Guest Blogger
So, autumn is upon us again. It’s the season I’ve always held the most affection for, because it’s the season most identified with dying. Not death, mind you; that would be winter, when the world is blanketed under a killing carpet of ice and cold. Autumn is defiance: a flare of noise and color and celebration preceding the monochrome silence of the snowbound months. It’s no accident that Halloween, that holiday conceived for honoring the dead, takes place on the last day of October.
If this perspective sounds macabre—great! That’s the very idea I wish to make the theme of this essay. You see, I fear the true spirit of the season (no pun intended, honestly!) has recently been undermined by the merely gory. I have no love for the recent trends in horror movies where the audience plays peekaboo with the horrible thing hiding in the closet. These stories paint a predictable canvas of red, white, and black. The payoff is a few screams and a carnival of writhing intestines.
The macabre, in contrast, exults that moment when the living meet the gaze of the dead and the dead grin back. I was once as you are now, their fleshless mouths say. We who are alive sense the bones beneath our warm wrapping of skin. As you are now, we shall one day be, we whisper in response. Fear prickles the backs of our necks, but also a kind of joy, joy at finding ourselves still alive, smelling the crisp cool autumn air laced with the bonfire’s smoke and the butter toffee sweetness of caramelized popcorn.
The macabre is moonlight falling on a tombstone. It is the scent of moss on a damp cool night; it is the dusty purple skin of a rotting plum. It laughs quietly to itself; the sound barely carries to our ears over the howl of the wind raking the treetops and the rustle of bats’ wings. The macabre is that cold ripple of terror that runs down our backs, that frisson—another splendid word—as we sense the unseen eyes upon our backs as we wend our ways homeward through darkness. Beyond all that, it is the knowledge that we will reach that home, that there will be hot cider to drink, a crackling fire, and friends to laugh away your fears.
Enjoy your cider. Breathe in the scents of cinnamon, apple, and clove. Savor every spicy-tangy sip. For the eyes are still there, watching. You might glimpse them in the shadows this Halloween. Was that diaphanous trail of white you spotted walking home this evening a wisp of mist, or something more…significant? Pay no mind to that rattling in the basement. I’m sure it’s just the cat.
The dead are watching. As they are now, so shall we be. So sip your cider and laugh with your friends. Appreciate the leaves’ vivid shades of burgundy, orange, ochre, vermillion, and wine. They fall in glory.
Autumn has returned; the season of dying. Time once again to celebrate being alive.
Viva le macabre.
A. E. Decker, whose story “Death and Taxes” appears in the anthology Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales, is a former ESL tutor, doll-maker, and historian determined to build a career as a full-time writer. She holds degrees in English and History and is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. At present she is editing an anthology for the Bethlehem Writers’ Group, writing the occasional short story, and working on a novel about a tomato-obsessed hit man of the supernatural
About World Weaver Press Guest BloggerWorld Weaver Press invites many guest bloggers to join us in our discussion of fantasy and science fiction. Opinions expressed by guest bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of World Weaver Press, its staff, or authors.
Posted on October 2, 2012, in from the authors of WWP, ghosts, horror, World Weaver Press and tagged autumn, fall, Haunted October, horror, Specter Spectacular, World Weaver Press. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.