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As I write this week’s Bottle Post, the world around me stands in stark contrast to the words spinning in my head. Outside my window, the autumn leaves are falling. My PA has put a huge pumpkin in my room. Friends and family are getting all excited about höstfester, Halloween parties, Bonfire Night, Diwali and Thanksgiving. Gatherings I will not be able to attend.
October is a time when horror and spook take a whimsical, almost endearing form. We’re inundated with ghostly decorations, monster-themed parties, haunted house tours and, in this case, invitations to virtual spookfestivities on imaginary pirate ships and real-life websites. It’s all in good fun. A way of taking the darkness that inevitably exists in the world and making it more bearable on some level.
Personally, I don’t like horror. I don’t read it, I don’t watch it and I don’t write it. (Unless my shockingly bad poetry counts.) For over a year now, I have even had my news intake restricted to keep horror at arm’s length. Yet, for all Sir Bear’s attempts to remove things that ruin my sleep and darken my thoughts, the realities of life have been pretty dang grim for the past three-and-a-half years.
Today, my heart aches for all the souls taken in moments of senseless violence over the past three weeks. Whether the terror was in Israel, Palestine, Brussels, Arras, Pul-i-Khumri or a school corridor somewhere in America, these events – as varied in scale and geopolitical significance as they may be – have one thing in common: they are all human tragedies. They are unspeakable horrors of which we must speak, no matter what we think, no matter what we believe to be true.
You might wonder why, at a time like this, we’re still celebrating the season of horror. For me, the answer is resilience. I abhor horror. I don’t revel in the macabre and find no joy in suffering. In fact, I don’t think any sane person does. No, if anything, I believe the reason we celebrate or observe this season is because it helps us cope with the terror around us. It helps us process the senseless and that which we cannot control.
Spooktober also gives us an opportunity to honour the memory of our loved ones in the best ways we know. This is not to say we have to carve a scary face on a bell pepper, turnip or pumpkin before the end of the month lest we forget them. Our dead are always with us, their legacies interwoven with our own, but in a normal working week, we rarely take the time to think about our roots. Of those who paved the way for us. Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Saints, Allhelgona, Day of the Dead – no matter by what name we call the observance – grants us that time.
While this season encourages us to imagine horrors in the form of vampires, oversized spiders and zombies, let’s not forget the real ones that impact our lives every day. Maybe, just maybe, as we go about our autumnal traditions, we can infuse them with a deeper sense of purpose. Then we can see them as a reminder to cherish the life we have and to hold our loved ones a little closer.
Because life, as we’ve been harshly reminded this month, is fragile.
ABOUT LINNEA LUCIFER
Linnea Lucifer is the Captain of the imaginary, yet very real, pirate ship Resilience and her merry crew of indie authors and omnivorous readers. But that is not all – amateur liar, weaver of stories, peddler of merch, lifelong spoonie, ancient dragon lady and Maddox Rhinehart’s irreverent pet are a few more words often used to describe the bearer of many names.
The Captain was named after a delicate little flower that grows in mossy, Swedish pine forests, and a certain fiery fallen angel. She spends most of her days daydreaming and writing fantasy, smut and painfully crappy poems. A diva of delight, she takes great pleasure in everything that tickles the senses and adds a sprinkle of magic and spice to our world.
Linnea writes fantasy rooted in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore under the pen name Saga Linnea Söderberg. She also writes Sweet’n’Spicy Spoonie romance together with Leto Armitage under their joint pen name Linn Rhinehart.