Friday, May 29, 2015

Guest post: Skip Novak

I've known Skip for about five or six years now, maybe a little longer but time flies when you're drunk and writhing in the throes of debauchery. Not that Skip would know anything about that. He's a good friend of mine, not just on Facebook but in real life as well. We've drank together, smoked cigars, and wandered drunkenly through the quiet halls of hotels. We've talked about motorcycles, books, and our lives. He's a good man with a good heart and a twisted mind. I asked him to slice open his veins and bleed on the page for me. As always, Skip has come through. Read on to find out what he thinks:

What is Horror?

May 1, 2015

  Honestly? I don’t know. I wish I did. Some people are afraid of snakes, some spiders, others are afraid of the boogeyman. Me? I’m not really afraid of much. Truth be told, I’m afraid of failure, but, recent events in my life have redefined what failure is.

            However; you have to ask yourself “Is horror a scary book? A Troma film? A slasher flick? Or is horror something that lives deep inside of your ID? A horror that you don’t understand why you have it?

            I know several people that are extremely afraid of being buried alive. So afraid in fact that they can’t watch a movie about it or even read a story that involves someone being buried alive. This horror is quite frightening to me yet not a real threat to my psyche. Simply because I would be put in a position where being in a dark, oxygen lacking position where I’d eventually suffocate in a preferably euphoric state. Hell, I’d get to sleep.

            Others are afraid of home invasions and serial killers invading their lives. I’d like to think I’m experienced enough with handguns and weapons where I’d be able to at least inflict serious bodily injury on the S.O.B. before he took me and my family out.

  I thought about a lot of different types of horror and I came to one simple conclusion. Horror is unique to each individual and what they feel is a fault in their nature. A fault that stops them from acting upon the basic “Fight or Flight” nature in our lives. It’s true. I have friends who are extremely afraid of mice and rats but have no fear whatsoever of snakes. I also have friends who are totally frozen with fear of reptiles but not of rodents. Hell, I even have a person in my life who is deathly afraid of cats. Yes, cats. Those cute, cuddly and rambunctious balls of fur that seem to break the internet every time someone posts a video about them on the web.

            I used to be afraid of heights. It’s true. Then one day, in 1976, I was forced against my will to the top of the Washington Monument. When I finally worked up enough courage to look out the windows and observe our Nations Capitol, I was astonished. I was flabbergasted and I became hungry for more. I wanted to see what everything looked like from a birds eye view. After all, everything looks different from a distance and everything looks planned and natural when viewed from afar.

            Like a prom queen. Remember prom? Where boys and girls dressed up in finery and pretended to be adults and then experimented with the emotions and physical awareness of being an adult? Yeah, I thought you would.

            That is what horror is to me. It is a complete and utter lack of knowing and the ability to act. I suppose that is why I read so much. I learn so much. I try to understand so much. So that when I’m faced with the unknown, I am prepared. Like a boyscout or a girlscout.

            For example, I spent six years working for a law enforcement agency and five years working for a government law enforcement agency and I’ve always had a knack for going through the shooting range and the obstacle course on the shooting range. So much so that some my actions were used in training films. When asked by the instructors where and when I learned how to do what I did, I simply answered “I did what I had to do to survive.”

            Fear is a tangible substance. It manifests itself in different ways for different people. Some freeze up. Some act. Some just give up and accept their fate, not truly understanding they control their own fate. After all, we are all just here for a short time and what we do influences and affects others in our lives. In other words… it’s all relative.

            Your fear, what makes you freeze up and accept the unacceptable is not what defines you as a person. It is an obstacle in your life. An obstacle that you can overcome and not be chained to. Whether psychological or physical, you can overcome it. I can’t tell you how to overcome it, but I can tell you that it can be overcome. You just need the tools and equipment to overcome it.

   As for why there are people drawn to horror and all its insanity… I can’t answer. I can only say that I enjoy the fantastic minds that create it. Be the stories about werewolves, vampires, zombies, unfettered power of a government or even another person who has nothing but ill intent towards another, I find grossly entertaining.

            Horror to me falls in the same file folder as religion. We each have our own and we each believe in our own saviors and monsters. When you realize that fact then you realize you have the power and the choice to pick your own path in belief and life. You can act and live or you can freeze up and die. I choose to act. I choose to live. I choose to confront my fears head on and read, watch, and listen to what others have to say and then, when confronted with something I have not been aware of… educate myself and find out how to survive it.

            I used to be afraid of spiders. Deadly spiders. Like the Recluse spider and a nest of Black Widows. Then I spent a summer working as a “Heating and Air Conditioning” installer. I quickly found out that if you don’t fuck with them, they won’t fuck with you. Not to mention the fact that there are great bug killer sprays on the market. I did my job. I encountered the bugs and I survived. Even though I was in a two foot tall space, lying on my back and with no real defense against the unknown under four tons of brick and motor, I survived.

            I survived because I taught myself how to act and what to expect. I believe that is the root of all horror. A person not knowing what to do and when to do it. If you look at all the films and books for the past one-hundred years it is all about people who don’t know what to do when the shit hits the fan. Yet the books who have survivors and are fighting the good fight are about people who have some knowledge and some experience with the end of days working together to survive.

            That is what I’d like to think about. That maybe I am one of the survivors of whatever apocalypse befalls the human race. That I’d be prepared, not in a crazy sort of way but in a normal, I go to work every day and try to do what is right sort of way. That my family, my progeny and my basic knowledge of life would help me continue my existence.

            Yet, I can’t help but believe that there are people out there, people who have been so damaged that they will never be able to act in the best interest of themselves or their family. People who have so much to offer to the world but will never be able to say it. Their voices have been stifled by negativity that they have lost the truth of who they are.

            This is my fear. You will never know how to overcome your own fears and I have the answers which will only fall upon deaf ears. Because your fears prevent you from hearing my voice and the voices of reason in your life.

            Have a great week.

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