Well, now I can enjoy both my love of horror and a love of the Brits with this new collection of shorts from Horrific Tales Publishing.
You can find it here for free!
To help celebrate the release of this fine collection, I have Graeme Reynolds with a guest blog post for us.
So without further ado, here is Mr. Reynolds with, What Scares Me.
What Scares Me
by Graeme Reynolds
I generally consider myself to be a fairly brave individual, or at least I did until I was asked to write this and had to sit down and think about it.
I started a few times. I'm not a fan of spiders, for example, ever since I woke up as a child one morning and found the crushed remains of a really big one in the bed with me (where had that BEEN during the night? WTF had it been DOING??). Heights also make me pretty nervous, and I do worry about gangs of chav teenagers with no moral values whatsoever breaking into my house and going all Clockwork Orange on me and my other half, which stems, oddly enough from a gang of chav kids beating me senseless and carving me up with a knife when I was 12 years old.
But then, the other day, while crawling around in the deepest, darkest part of my attic, I realised that there is one thing above all others that brings me out in a cold sweat and a barely contained wave of blind panic. Enclosed spaces. My name is Graeme Reynolds and I am claustrophobic.
The kernel of this fear may have begun as a child, when I got trapped while messing about in the elevators of the local concrete multi-storey flats, but I was 19 years old when I first realised that enclosed spaces and I really did not get on.
I was in the military at the time, and my squad were off on what could loosely be termed "an outward bound" weekend. Of course, because we were in the military, a fairly large amount of macho stupid shit occurred alongside the regular activities, such as jumping off large bridges into rivers when we were supposed to be kayaking under them. You get the idea.
Anyway, one of the weeks activities was caving. I'd never done it before, and I was quite looking forward to it. This was mostly because I thought it would be wandering around in large caverns, looking at interesting rock formations and the like. And that's exactly what it was for the first half an hour or so. Then we were brought to a halt before a small vertical hole in the rock and were told to get inside.
Now, I'm a fairly big bloke. At 19 I didn't have the beer belly, but I was still over six foot tall with broad shoulders, and getting into this little hole was a bit of a squeeze. Once inside it didn't get any better. I only just fit into the dark passage. There was not enough headroom for me to do anything but crawl forward. I couldn't lift my head, my shoulders were brushing against both side walls at the same time, and there were places that were narrower than that, where I had to try and wriggle through the gap. Two feet in front of my face were the boots of the man that went before me. Two feet behind me was the guy who came after. I started to think about the millions of tons of rock above my head, and how there didn't seem to be quite enough air. It started to occur to me that if I got stuck, then there would be no way out. There were twenty other blokes behind me, blocking that escape route. I could be trapped down there, unable to move, entombed in the earth forever. I started to hyperventilate, which made me feel dizzy and the air seemed even thinner as a result. There was no going back. I'd been in that tunnel for ten minutes. It took another hour before I finally emerged into a large cavern, pale, shaking with fear and absolutely relieved to be out of there.
Then the guide told us that we were going to do a harder one next. You can imagine my response to that, just as you can imagine how sympathetic my squad mates were to my new-found phobia.
The guide relented after I politely pointed out that I'd inflict bodily harm on anyone that tried to make me go down there. So I sat the next tunnel out, in the dark, on my own for another two hours before the squad emerged and we went back outside into the glorious open air. I swore never to go near another cave again, and hoped that would be the end of it.
The next day, we were at a training base in the Welsh mountains, doing an assault course. In the middle of the course there was a body of water. And by water I mean a five foot deep pool that every squadie that passed through that camp seemed to have used as a toilet at one point or another. In the middle of that rank, stinking pond was a submerged corrugated metal tunnel that ran for about ten feet. There was just enough headroom to keep your eyes and nose above the water. I got into the pool, steeled myself and got into the tunnel. About half way through my newly acquired claustrophobia kicked in. And yes. I started hyperventilating.
Not one of my happiest memories, I have to say.
So, ever since then, I can't stand enclosed spaces or feeling trapped. When I watched The Descent it wasn't the cannibalistic mutant cave dwellers that freaked me out. It was the bloody cave. Even large crowds of people can bring on a wave of panic that takes every inch of my willpower to fight.
Let's just say that I'm one of the last people that you'd want to be trapped in an elevator with, and leave it at that.
Graeme Reynolds has been called many things over the years, most of which are unprintable. By day, he breaks computers for a living, but when the sun goes down he hunches over a laptop and thinks of new and interesting ways to offend people with delicate sensibilities. He lives somewhere in the wilds of Wales with an ever increasing menagerie of lunatic animals and a girlfriend that is beginning to suspect that there is something deeply wrong with him. He has over thirty short story publications to his name, and is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the British Fantasy Society. His werewolf series, High Moor and it's sequel Moonstruck have received critical acclaim, a fact that still surprises him.