Every Sunday during October, Sci-Fi & Scary will be bringing you a fresh article from an indie horror author. They’ll be talking about everything from why they love horror, to their favorite parts, and everything in between. Our fourth guest post comes from Richard Schiver. You can find more information about Richard at the end of this article.
by Richard Schiver
We’re all familiar with the old gods of Greek and Egyptian mythology. The Sumerian tribes of Mesopotamia who worshiped crude clay figures that represented the fertility of woman. But what about the elder gods, not the old ones H.P. Lovecraft spoke of in his voluminous writings? Those of primitive man.
Deities whose names have been lost to the ages.
Old or forgotten gods are found throughout modern horror fiction, from the Norse myths present in Adam Nevill’s The Ritual, to Graham Masterson’s exploration of Native American beliefs in The Manitou. Even the Wendigo puts in an appearance in Stephen King’s novel Pet Semetary, that in itself explored the Native American beliefs of death and rebirth in a more modern setting. These are all deities that were once worshipped, or avoided at all costs.
The next time you’re in a thunderstorm, pause for a moment and give a thought to how our ancestors must have felt as they huddled in their cave while the thunder rumbled across the land. The skies had grown dark as voluminous black clouds rolled in, flashes of lightning illuminating their depths, sparking fear within their hearts as unknown entities spoke with rumbling voices that rolled across the landscape. Even the animals sought refuge from the voices of these airborne gods.
We know thunder is caused by lightning, which is a stream of electrons flowing between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. The air around this electron stream becomes superheated and as the air cools it creates a partial vacuum around the path of the lightning that becomes a resonating tube. The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts making the column vibrate like a drumhead, and producing a tremendous crack.
Source: Scientific American
Our ancestors did not know what caused that sky bound rumbling. To them the lightning with its accompanying thunder was an unknown entity, and into that vacuum of the unknown they created superior beings, gods, to account for what they could not readily understand. Nor was it restricted to just thunder and lightning. Every event in their lives could in some way be attributed to the work of supernatural beings that existed behind the curtain of reality. Working behind the scenes so to speak.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” – H.P. Lovecraft
There were gods for the sky, the earth, and the water. Gods that lived in the fires that kept them warm, this fire God was an angry God, who sometimes devoured the world around them in a raging conflagration. Primal gods of the ground and underground, of fertility and death, of decay and rebirth. The natural order of the world was controlled by beings they could not see, or touch, who spoke in tongues they could not understand.
Even the animals they hunted for food were inhabited by beings that they understood required a degree of worship. Be it with a raging bonfire around which the primitives danced in wild abandon. Or offerings of the bounty the world provided them, or even at times, the blood sacrifice of a virgin.
For every writer the world of what ifs offers a wealth of possibilities. The horror writer especially as they use the unknown to widen the gulf between what we know is true, and what we imagine. That lost world of ancient gods provides us with a fertile playground to let our imagination soar. There is no right or wrong, no primitive texts that must be adhered to. There is only the writer, his imagination, and the blank page yet to be filled with terror.
Note from Sci-Fi & Scary: This one made me happy, even if Richard somehow managed to avoid talking about Cthulhu by name! Seriously, though, the Ancient/Elder Gods are so interesting. Even though I’m decidedly not religious, the concept of gods is a fascinating one. As he points out, it’s easy to see where religion came from. Even just staring up at the sky on a clear night is enough to make you wistfully wonder how it was all made. To think perhaps that there was at least the tiniest nudge from a creator’s finger out there somewhere. If the stars can do that now, imagine what a thunderstorm did back then!
On the day of his birth the dead walked and society crumbled. His mother took one look at him and pronounced him Meat. He survived, she didn’t.
Fourteen years have passed and obscurity means survival in an increasingly dangerous world. For the survivors compound at Bremo Bluff that obscurity is threatened when a savage band abducts a group of children from the compound. Accompanied by his three friends Window, Einstein, and Billie-Bob, Meat embarks on a quest to rescue the children. A journey that will lead them into adulthood, with a brief detour through the Dreadlands, as they come face to face with the harsh reality of a brutal world beyond the barriers that had served to protect them.
In the dead city of Richmond they will confront a savage cult of children who worship a creature of the night. These creatures once lived along the mysterious edge of a well lit world, in that shadowy realm between night and day, between dreams and nightmares. They are now awake in a world where the population that once served as their food source has been reduced.
Awake and very, very, hungry.
All Roads Lead to Terror is FREE here on Sci-Fi & Scary. Just go here, fill out the form, and within hours you’ll hear back from me about getting a copy of the book.
A voracious reader, he believes writing is the most intimate form of communication possible. The reader permits the writer access to their mind, and the readers reality dissolves as they focus on the narrative of the tale being spun. During his life he has played a series of roles, husband, father, son, and lover, but his favorite by far is grandfather. He and his wife of twenty plus years have raised four children, and helped raise eight grandchildren. They provide a secure home to a yellow lab named Max and a cat who will answer to either Flame or Furball. His loving wife, Dena has experienced first hand the exasperation of living with a writer whose mind has a tendency to wander at the most inappropriate times. Yet she manages to keep his feet firmly planted on terra firma.
Richard can be found online at:
- Facebook: http://www.facebook/RichardSchiver
- Follow Richard on Twitter: @RichardSchiver
- Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/richard-schiver
- Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006MF80VI
- Written in Blood is Richard’s personal blog where he shares his thoughts on writing, and whatever else might strike his fancy. http://www.richardschiver.com
- He can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and would be delighted to hear from you.