Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Open House Day 50 - Tracie McBride

I used to think that everybody thought like me. I used to think that everybody had dark, twisted, or just plain weird thoughts, and that they simply chose not to discuss them in polite society.

Then I started writing down my weird thoughts. I showed my work to some of my family and friends. Some backed slowly away from me with a funny look on their faces. My husband says that after reading one of my earlier stories, he was afraid to fall asleep in case I stabbed him in the night. My daughters never get to read my stories, as they are still too young, but occasionally I’ll let my twelve year old son, a budding horror aficionado, read a work in progress. The last time I did that, he responded with the kind of bluntness that only the very young or very old can get away with – “What the hell is wrong with you?!?”

What the hell is wrong with me, indeed…

These weird ideas don’t spring up out of nowhere, although sometimes it seems like it; Life itself is weird, and dishes up sights, sounds and experiences to be noted, forgotten, processed by the subconscious and filtered back up through layers of more formal thought until the origins of the concept are nigh-on impossible to identify. By way of example, here is a series of snapshots from a recent family holiday that may or may not end up in a story or two:

Driving past a sign post that says “Deception Bay”. What’s so deceptive about it? Is it not a bay at all? Was some heinous act of deception committed there in the past? Are all the residents masters of dishonesty? Or is it like some modern day Land of the Lotus Eaters, where the very environment beguiles visitors into losing all sense of time, location or common sense?

Listening to a cover of Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” on the radio. Twelve year old son starts giggling. “I was just thinking of that game,” he says, “where you change the word ‘heart’ in a song to ‘arse’.” I sing along in my head. “La la la la la...you exploded in my...” Oh. Cue series of deeply disturbing mental images (and I really hope my subconscious keeps that one to itself).

At Sea World, perched in a gondola thirty-odd feet above the dolphin pools. Below me, a couple of dickheads throw rocks at the dolphins. With their tormentors safely on land, the dolphins’ only means of retaliation is to splash them with their tails. Rocks vs. water – hardly a fair fight. I indulge in a little revenge fantasy on their behalf, wondering how different the picture would look if the dolphins were genetically engineered to sprout opposable thumbs on the ends of their flippers, and equipped with waterproof semi-automatic weapons…

Our fifteen year old niece tells us of some of her classmates’ (pardon the pun) misconceptions about sex. No, if sperm fails to unite with egg, it does not hang around in the womb for months afterwards waiting for another shot, nor does it turn around and swim back to where it came from. Which got me thinking – but what if it did? And what if the nearest appendage was not the one from which it originated?

We return from our holiday. We’d asked a neighbour’s teenaged daughter to look after our cat while we were away, but it appears our definition of ‘look after’ and hers is somewhat different; the cat has one front leg hooked through her flea collar, and by the looks of the bloody, pus-riddled mess across her chest and under her leg where the collar has rubbed, she’s been tangled up like that the entire ten days we were away. And the stench…she gives off a foetid, oddly fishy odour that has me gagging. Once I get past the initial “Panic, panic, panic, oh I can’t look, oh I have to look, ewww gross, you poor cat, holy crap do you stink….”, then a little further past the vet’s “it looks worse than it is, although she’ll be left with a scar, here’s some antibiotics and antiseptic spray, that’ll be $90 thanks”, then that little deviant voice in my head starts up. “Hmmm…what would a similar injury look like on a human? Smell like? How would it happen? Why would it happen? Self inflicted? A product of ignorance and neglect? Or even more sinister reasons?”
By the way, if any of you happen to know what the hell is wrong with me, stop by at http://traciemcbridewriter.wordpress.com/ and let me know.

Tracie McBride is a New Zealander who lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 70 print and electronic publications, including Horror Library Vol 4, Abyss and Apex, Space & Time, Dead Red Heart and Electric Velocipede. She won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent for 2007. Her short story and poetry collection “Ghosts Can Bleed” was released in April 2011 by the writer's co-operative Dark Continents Publishing, of which she is vice president.

1 comment:

  1. We all knew there was something wrong with you, Tracie, but I think you've been outdone by a teenager who doesn't realise that gross should remain, as much as possible, within the confines of fantasy.