This City Loves You
This City Loves You is a story written and illustrated by Iron Eater. It ran in Issue 69 at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/this-city-loves-you.
It seems like everyone's getting into the real estate business these days.
The problem with Fox, aside from him existing, was that he didn't leave Their house. He was a living, breathing man, Rabbit assured William, which meant it'd be possible to stab those personality problems away, but if you were dealing with Them you had to go by Their rules, and by Rabbit's reckoning the Greenbriar location had been one of Theirs for a pretty long while. Their kind technically owned everything that had been built, and ultimately abandoned, by human hands, but there was a difference between your average under-maintained building and someplace They actively used as a nest. It was why William and Rabbit were always very careful with the measurements: you had to be absolutely sure you didn't miss one of Their tell-tale fingerprints and end up ripping a hole in everything.
Getting Fox out of the house wasn't an option because it might not have even been possible, given how Rabbit had never seen him outside beyond the borders of the porch. Rabbit had first noticed this when Fox refused to go outside and talk to the men from the power company about where the gas lines were buried in the event they needed to break ground for renovations: Fox had tried to play it off as coolly as always, but there'd been something in his eyes that yearned for freedom. It was another thing Rabbit kept bringing up about him. Why agree to be a pet if you couldn't stand the press of the cage?
Of course, if Fox was going to stay inside, that meant working by the ever-protean rules of the place, and there was no way to prepare for whatever those would be save for having the right equipment and an open mind. William had only done this sort of thing once before and it had very nearly gone badly for him at the last minute. The event had taught him some very important lessons about when it was acceptable to rely on others for help. It also gave him much more personal experience than Rabbit had which was why he was going to lead things. William was good at leading. It would be a shame to lose working time on Knox Property Solutions' current project, really, but ever since his eyes scanned the blueprints with Fox's handwriting on them the sands in the metaphorical hourglass had started hissing down to nothing. They usually budgeted extra time in their renovations just in case unexpected circumstances like these cropped up.
William did his best to ignore any future portents that tried to get his attention.
This story is based, in an extremely roundabout manner, on the Burke and Hare murders of the 1800s. Extremely roundabout.
This story has no related links.
More found-footage horror? With people who are varying levels of monstrous? And casual handling of supernatural details? And there's an element of people making sacrifices to otherworldly beings in it? And I wrote it? Say it ain't so!
I had the title for this story before I knew what on earth I was going to do with it. It was inspired in part by a conversation with my husband in which either someone misspoke, someone misheard, or both, which yielded the phrase "psychic cities"; My original concept was someone slowly walking towards a city where they'd been born, eager to reunite with the spirit of the place. While They are no longer as key a component of the plot, I still think "cities are sentient and have a weird relationship with people" is a fun concept.
A separate conversation from the aforementioned introduced the concept of "Michigan horror," which I imagined would be best expressed as a "something in the water but people won't help" scenario, though this ended up getting downgraded across a few drafts into a one-off detail. Other abandoned concepts were someone being eaten alive with tumors that ultimately escaped their body (possibly in the form of a new boyfriend, or at least a "boyfriend"), a mortal partner being dumped for a supernatural one, and someone being pursued by television static despite regular power outages. My ideas file for October tends to be a real mess!
I wasn't really sure where I was going with this until I read Transfigured Night by Richard Bowes (my copy being in the excellent Hauntings anthology from Ellen Datlow) and remembered an old poem about Burke and Hare that, while I can't recall the name, was in Sebastian Wolfe's Little Book of Horrors anthology, which itself is a book that's a lot nastier than you'd think for something a 12-year-old got her hands on. The former was important for figuring out who my characters were and what they were doing, the latter helped me get a feel for the level of callousness I wanted my leads to have. It's tricky for me to write characters who aren't just stupidly in love so it was an interesting exercise!
Knox Property Solutions is a reference to Dr. Knox from the original murders situation. Mel isn't really based on anyone, but almost certainly was in a related business as William and Rabbit before signing on with Knox; she's the only character with a set ethnicity, having a Korean heritage. Greenbriar as a whole is expected to have a nice influx of missable people in the near future.
Thanks as always to the editing team for piecing together why the first draft of this story didn't snap quite as much as it could've, and for giving me the opportunity to take an extra day to ratchet up the stakes while tying together more parts of the narrative.