O3. The Arms Race

As they climbed the mountain the terrain grew steeper and more rough. They left the fruit trees behind and clambered over boulders, approaching the barren peak. Only one plant grew at this elevation. Nemo had never seen it before.

The bush’s spines were an inch long and barely distinguishable from the slender black leaves. They protected a tangled black ball of fruits. The black ball had thousands of tiny orange legs.

“Think you can get it?” The arm pulled a branch aside. Nemo folded his arms defiantly. “Come on, get it!” The mouth licked its lips. “Yum, yum! Centipedes! Gotta eat centipedes!”

I2. Ten Thousand Earthworms

The man-sized amoeba bleated and struggled on the Mountainside. Its orange musculature boiled with the movement of teeth underneath. Molars mashed the amoeba’s guts. Canines spun sadistically through its insides. Triangular teeth split skin like shark fins at sea. Saber-tooth fangs stuck out like porcupine quills. Blood spilled and pooled but soaked back into the amoeba’s mass to bleed again, for it was a creature of pure concept, and that concept was agony.

I2 Commentary: Body Horror

In I2: Ten Thousand Earthworms Dan gives the reader a closer look at the Teeth that Shriek. The last time we saw the teeth, I explained that they represent panic and anxiety. Today Dan consumes himself with terrible teeth in some sort of psychotic breakdown. On psychoactive, hallucinogenic centipede-dust, this breakdown manifests as a living nightmare.

I have a history with horror. As a kid I watched horror movies knowing that the scary images would be burned into my mind. I knew I’d lie awake imagining monsters in my closet. And yet, I couldn’t look away. Nowadays I enjoy watching horror movies, especially surreal flicks like David Lynch’s Eraserhead and practical-effect masterpieces like John Carpenter’s The Thing. If a scene lingers in my mind, that’s just the mark of a well-made movie. 

I1 Commentary: Breaking Bad

In I1. Salt and Alcohol Dan cleans a bong. We’ve gone full circle: the bong named Leo from C3 has now been properly introduced. I didn’t think I had much to talk about as commentary to this section, but I’m watching Breaking Bad right now and I realized that Dan’s downward spiral is worth reviewing.

Breaking Bad was a TV show about a high-school chemistry teacher who starts cooking meth when he’s diagnosed with cancer. It was and still is highly regarded, not least for its grim depiction of an ordinary man whose decisions drag him deeper and deeper into a life of darkness.

Dan’s experimentation with drugs is totally different (in fact, I only mention Breaking Bad because I feel like mentioning titles of popular things will catch people’s interest). But Dan’s still an ordinary-ish person, and his path from normalcy to a horrifying drug-trip is illuminating.

A Bump in the Night

“…and they all lived happily ever after. The end.”

“Wait! Don’t leave yet!”

“I’m still here, Julia. Do you want me to read you another story?”

“No! I want you to check under my bed. For monsters.”