CONSEQUENCE by C. R. Langille

CR Langille_Consequence_Kindle What started as a hunting trip for Tobias Evard Warner II and his friends turns into a fight for survival during a supernatural storm which kicks off the apocalypse. The storm awakens and frees seven powerful creatures who were locked away at the beginning of the world’s creation. The Seven turn nightmares into reality and leave nothing but chaos and death in their wake.

Tobias fights his way through a nightmare infested wilderness to get back home to his family. With the unleashed terrors come newfound magical powers for Tobias, but at a cost. Will he sacrifice everything to ensure his family’s safety, even if it means his own soul?

Angels, demons, ancient cosmic beings, and even a dimensional-traveler clad in a trench coat made of duct tape come together in this fast-paced novel of magic, darkness, and consequences.

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C.R.Langille C.R. Langille spent many a Saturday afternoon watching monster movies with his mother. It wasn’t long before he started crafting nightmares to share with his readers. An avid hunter and amateur survivalist, C.R. Langille incorporates the Utah outdoors in many of his tales. He is the Organizer for the Utah Chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association, and received his MFA: Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

The Yattering and Jack

Clive Barker’s “The Yattering and Jack,” from The Books of Blood–the tale of a man, a demon, and a turkey.

OK, it’s not really about the turkey. But that is one of the most memorable scenes in a story that is equal parts a horror parody and a comedy of manners. Jack’s wife has an affair, and his lack of emotion drives her to suicide. He finds himself afflicted by a demon and his daughters, witnessing the Christmas chaos for themselves, cannot understand his calm demeanor, nor can the demon whose job it is to break him. At times I was reminded of Restoration comedies I had read (and very much enjoyed) in undergrad. What does it take before that famous British stoicism begins to crack?

When Clive Barker burst onto the scene in the 80s, he rose to fame for a number of reasons, humor not generally being one of them. Barker pushed the boundaries of sex and violence in horror, and intertwined the two in new and disturbing ways. It’s what I love about him and what influenced me in my early days. He also wrote “The Yattering and Jack,” whose set-up certainly sounds like a horror story: Beelzebub, thanks to Jack’s family, has a claim on Jack’s soul. He sends a minor demon called the Yattering to torment Jack into insanity and thus take what is rightfully his. But even in Hell there are laws; should the Yattering ever leave the house or lay a hand on Jack, Beelzebub’s claim is forfeit, and the Yattering will become Jack’s slave. The Yattering takes great delight in inflicting all sorts of terrible things upon Jack, including the murder of his cat(s), yet Jack refuses to surrender his sanity.

It is not, we learn, because Jack has the stiffest upper lip of any Brit to ever live, but because he is fully aware of the Yattering’s existence and intent. By the time Christmas descends into a maelstrom of turkey attacks and spinning Christmas trees, the Yattering is so frustrated by Jack’s unflappability that it commits its greatest error, just as Jack knows it will. It not only follows Jack outside but touches him, and Jack’s soul will thus never be in Beelzebub’s possession. Neither, as it turns out, will Jack ever enter Heaven. Enslaving a demon is frowned upon. Go figure.

If there are still people out there who haven’t read Clive Barker’s earlier work because of his reputation (you’re missing out, but to each their own), at least give this one a shot. You’ll think twice about having turkey for Christmas dinner.

Paranormal Activity

12 years ago, a little film called The Blair Witch Project polarized both the horror community and the movie-going public. You either loved it or hated it; there appeared to be no middle ground. 8 years after its release, the inevitable comparisons began when Paranormal Activity made its debut. Hand-held cameras, allegedly based on a true story…you get the idea. Hailed as “the scariest movie ever,” Paranormal Activity proved once again that you don’t need a lot of special effects to sell a horror movie. And no, you do NOT always need to see the monster. What you need more than anything is a decent story–this is not bias just because I’m a writer. No amount of CGI wizardry is going to impress me if the story is, and I quote, “a steaming pile of gopher shit.” Because I’m also an editor–it’s my job to recognize crap when I see it. Any writer needs to make sure that they maintain the internal logic of their story; once readers/viewers start to question a character’s actions or reactions, you have a problem.

Katie is likeable and believable. Her escalating fear makes her very sympathetic. Micah, on the other hand, is a flaming douchewhistle. Occupational hazard, perhaps, since he’s a day trader. Anyway, it’s his macho bullshit and complete disregard for Katie’s feelings that escalate the activity, but it’s completely in character for him. Let’s be honest, he got what was coming to him. The activity itself, and Katie’s response to it, works well to create a sense of terror that keeps building as the attacks become more intense. The final scene, in which Katie comes back upstairs with the heavy, thudding steps of the demon, is frightening because you know it’s Katie, but you also know that those are the same footsteps Katie and Micah have heard for several weeks. The idea that Katie and the demon have merged at last is especially terrifying when you consider that this entity has plagued Katie since she was 8 years old and, unlike in a traditional haunting, she cannot run from it.   

Paranormal Activity almost succeeded (and yes, I’ve seen it before). But you, gentle reader, know by now that I am a curmudgeonly and cantankerous old woman when it comes to horror, and so you surely know that something about this film pissed me off (aside from the fact that it was overly-hyped and generally overrated). And so it is this: if your girlfriend is nearly catatonic, bleeding profusely from having clutched a cross with all her strength, TURN THE DAMNED CAMERA OFF AND DRIVE HER TO THE HOSPITAL. Especially when she does a complete 180 from begging that the two of you get in the car and leave, to insisting that everything will be fine if you just stay. There is no justification for Micah’s inaction. He had been convinced enough to leave–this doesn’t convince him that things are way beyond his control and she needs to be under some sort of professional supervision?

It’s really only in those last 10 or so minutes that the film collapses. This happened in another recent and otherwise excellent film, The Last Exorcism. In truth, Paranormal Activity could have ended with the shot of Katie lying in bed, having convinced Micah that she doesn’t want to leave after all, with that chilling smile on her face. Let the audience imagine what will happen. It’s probably scarier than anything the director could have committed to film. On the other hand, I’ve seen the alternate ending, which in my opinion was far creepier than the theatrical one due to the fact that you never see Micah’s body, nor Katie’s “demonic” face. The demon takes what it wants–Katie’s soul, one can assume–by forcing Katie to slit her own throat. It’s simultaneously more subtle and more shocking than the theatrical ending. At this point I could launch into a tirade about test screenings and, as Roger Ebert has noted, how many endings they have ruined as a result. Another time, perhaps. Ignoring the ending, Paranormal Activity is a good horror film, and we could use more like it.