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TRUTH IS SCARIER THAN FICTION

Written by Lucy Leitner

 The best horror stories reflect the fears of our times. Trust me, I learned that in school.

The cool thing about horror is that it lets you experience the fears of a bygone era. When taken in historical context, these books and movies explain why certain events and ideas occurred in an emotional way that textbooks can never do. Yes, I would advocate for watching “he Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to explain the lack of trust the German people had in their authorities in the 1920s as a way to get an idea of why certain elections turned out the way they did. The even cooler thing about horror is that all these fears are timeless.

We can still be afraid of that psycho killer who targets promiscuous teens even though the panic of the AIDS epidemic is behind us.

My new dystopian horror-satire novel, Outrage: Level 10 (February 2021 from Necro Publications), deals with several fears, contemporary and eternal, but they all have their roots in one timeless fear. Can you guess what it is?

Fear of Death:
The Stoics have a saying they call the “memento mori.” Usually depicted over an image of a skull, it says, “I was what you are. What I am, you shall be.” It’s a daily reminder of our mortality that most of us don’t want to acknowledge. In the near future world of Outrage: Level 10, medical science has delayed death to the point where we won’t even notice it’s happening. There’s a cure for everything; stage four cancer and broken hips are no longer death sentences. The only thing they haven’t figured out how to cure is the brain, and it deteriorates while the rest of your body is replaced by newer, better parts.

Fear of Being Left Behind:
There’s a reason why this novel, released during Women in Horror Month, features an alpha male protagonist. Alex Malone is 6’5 and made of muscle. He was the most feared enforcer in the National Hockey League before the sport was banned due to its glorification of violence. Like Tony Soprano and others of the great TV anti-hero era, Malone has demons. His are in the form of brain damage sustained from years of ice brawling that makes him prone to debilitating headaches, bouts of unfettered rage, memory lapses, and suicidal tendencies. It’s all exacerbated by the fact that he’s a cop, another bygone symbol of masculinity that’s had its power stripped in this near future.

Fear of Technology:
It doesn’t appear we’ll ever stop fearing scientific progress. In movies, we see it as lab leaks causing zombie/ape apocalypses, the rise of human-made robots, and Frankenstein’s Monsters created anew in every generation. In 2020, we see panics about vaccines, 5G, and even social media networks. We see articles in the most revered newspapers in the claiming that Facebook’s algorithm radicalizes people, a machine inhabiting ordinary people like BOB from Twin Peaks or body snatchers are invading from your own smartphone.

The opioid epidemic and massive side effects of overprescribed prescription drugs did no favors for assuaging fear of medicine. That’s why the injection Alex Malone receives to alleviate his symptoms comes with someone else’s memories.

Fear of Being Cast Out:
A common critique of today’s discourse is the speed at which the rules of socially acceptable speech change. Words used five years ago are enough to get you cancelled today. Whether the consequences for breaking the new speech rules are real or imagined is irrelevant; the fear exists.

The mandatory social network Chatter is the first truly democratic justice system America has ever had. Any citizen is empowered to report any offense on the platform, and if enough fellow citizens express outrage, to the Tribunal you go.

...it’s all just fear of change

Every concept explored in the near-future dystopia of Outrage: Level 10 is a manifestation of the fear of change.

Of course, change is scariest to people who like the way things are. The more you have, the more you have to lose. Alex Malone doesn’t have much, so why not investigate those strange visions he’s been having since the injection, even if they may disrupt the status quo?

On behalf of the Outrage: Level 10 antihero, I leave you with this quote from the always insightful Nick Cave:

“People often talk about being scared of change,
But for me I'm more afraid of things staying the same,
Cause the game is never won by standing in any one place for too long.”

Lucy Leitner is the author of horror-satire novel Outrage: Level 10. We'd like to thank her for sharing this with us! Make sure to buy her latest novel by clicking one of the links below!

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