A Remake Chronicles Halloween Extra by Adam-Troy Castro
A few words of explanation which will be far longer than the actual story, the first piece of reprinted fiction being offered as an extra for The Remake Chronicles.
A bunch of years ago, early in my authorial career, I belonged to a writer’s workshop in Manhattan. Among the members was a young lady who was intensely intimidated the scares and gross-outs of my regular horror submissions. Make no mistake: she was never less than encouraging about my writerly aspirations, but she also said that she dreaded picking up my stories, which were then far more driven by disgusting detail than they are now. She told me that when she began one of my scary stories she endured the early deceptively quiet notes in steadily increasing fear over just when something moist and pustulent and squamous showed up on the page.
One week I had a rather gentle little tale of the sort that wouldn’t have bothered her one bit, and decided to play a little joke on her, in the form of a fake first page that would get right into the bodily fluids in sentence one and get steadily worse as it approached the bottom of the first page, with any luck at all trailing off in the middle of a sentence that would promise all sorts of gooey nastiness on page two. Of course, there would be no “page two”;” instead of any further incursions on her prissy sensibilities, there’d be another page one, the first of what would be my actual submission for the week.
Deprived of any need to concoct a sensible narrative, I came up with a suitably disgusting title and an even more disgusting first sentence and typed away, intent on nothing but upping the glistening ante.
Imagine my surprise when I got to the bottom of the page, only about a hundred words into the text, and discovered that I’d come to a perfectly acceptable punch line. I had never intended to actually write a story but had accomplished that feat despite myself. It was for many years the shortest story I had ever written, though I did just a couple of years sell a 25-worder.
Though a favorite of convention readings, and the recipient of many pained if enthusiastic rejection letters – editors loved it, but wouldn’t print it — the story went unpublished for many years until I slipped it into my short story collection, A Desperate Decaying Darkness. It is of course, copyright myself.
Ladies and gentlemen, the accidental story.
C U R S E
T H E
P H L E G M P I R E
The Plegmpire lived in an ancient castle overlooking the Beth Israel Rest Home, natural habitat of the dozens of retired cigar-smoking tailors whose rheumy lungs provided him with his nightly sustenance.
On one particular evening, he paused by his window, and listened to the distant sounds of one Ben Wasserstein, age eighty-three, incessantly clearing his throat. “Hocccchhh!” said Wasserstein. “Coff! Coff! Coff! Oy! Hoccccchhh! Coff! Coff! Coff! Oy!”
“Ahhhhhhh,” the Count said portentously. “The Hebrews of the Night. What Mucus they make.”