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Bloody Standards, Bionic Madness

Sam Mortimer

Horror is a heavy word. It distorts the image of safety in your mind, invades your mental and physical barriers, and everything you believe will protect you melts. We’re reminded of how fragile life is, how vulnerable our minds can be. Horror is everything dangerous and painful about being human.

Authors of classics like The Exorcist, Hell House, The Hellbound Heart, executed horror stories with an assassin’s skill and grace. The tales were well-wrought and proved sacred ground isn’t always safe, and there’s nothing on the planet that can’t be harmed or desecrated. Nothing is safe. These books raised the bar, and helped horror become a force to be reckoned with. It’s always good to keep the classics’ standards and expectations in mind, but obviously not to copy them. There’s still some bloody terra incognita to uncover.

Technology is great. I love it. It’s always developing, which means there’s always a playing field. Benefiting a horror writer, technology is relevant to the point of great and terrible awe. What was considered science fiction has become (or can become) actualized in the real world. For example, take the circa 1902 silent film, A Trip to the Moon. In the movie, folks are shot to the moon.  Over a century later, we have an international space station. Quantum computing is around the corner, and the Chinese have teleported a photon to outer space.

We have profoundly interesting breakthroughs with artificial intelligence, and we have learned that Facebook’s AI had created its own shorthand form of English, communicating in way humans couldn’t understand. That raised major concerns, and Facebook had to shut the AI down. We also have mass surveillance, and algorithms predicting human behavior with more precision than humans. Bionic limbs. Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality. To boot, I’ve also read about a pending head transplant.

Many developments are fantastic and can be beneficial, but alas, it’s horror’s job to point out what ‘could’ go wrong, what we don’t want to happen, and what would genuinely horrify us if it does happen. Technology is the cornucopia of ideas, and a dark fiction writer’s dream—speaking for myself at least.

A blend of science fiction and horror resounds on a realistic level. Highlighting subjects that are culturally relevant, and developments that might impact humanity’s future, can be steered in deeply horrifying directions.

Many of us grew up with love and respect for science fiction and horror. The genres remain to be the most important styles to me, and I hope my love burns hot in Screams The Machine. Of course, throw some dark fantasy in there as well and the deal is sealed.

Science fiction and horror can wreak serious havoc in the best way possible. The two unleash some bionic madness, expanding the readers mind and hurling them for a strange flight through the phantasmagoric and macabre. I hope Screams The Machine does a fraction of what great books like Richard K. Morgan’s Woken Furies, Steve Nile’s comic Criminal Macabre, and so many more have done for me: Tap ‘dat brain.

Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.

Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.

The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.

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About the Author:

Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven.

He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.