Welcome back! It is time to experience a different fear. When most of us think or read or watch horror, we think about things in our surroundings and how those things we know intimately can play into something dreadful. The mundane can have the a chilling effect. But what if we lived in a different time? What if basic things we take for granted were the things striking fear into hearts at night?
Tonight I welcome Maynard Blackoak to share some fears we might not think about in our modern world. In his new collection, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, he weaves a dusty tapestry of fear in the Old West.
And now, Maynard Blackoak…
Fear in the Wild Weird West
Fear. We have all experienced it. Each of us has had to stare directly into its bone chilling face. As a child, my experience with it came in the form of a recurring nightmare. My number was up, and I fled using any and all means at my disposal. I do not recall it ever catching up to me, just waking up in a cold, hard sweat.
My fears as a teenager turned more toward the opposite sex. It was not a fear of bodily harm that held me firmly in its grip—that I might have been able to overcome with a little effort. It was a fear of rejection crushing me in its grasp. I felt like a fragile piece of origami they could easily crumple in their hands, and then drop kick into the nearest trash can.
By the time I reached adulthood, my fears turned toward those of a financial nature. Losing a job, wrecking a vehicle, theft, or a storm demolishing my home seemed to trickle into my thoughts on many occasions. With a wife and children depending upon me for all their needs, there were times when those fears haunted my nights.
As the world turned, so too did my fears. With increasing age, the things that began to find their way into my thoughts were violence, diseases, natural disasters, and a fear of death. Every twinge of pain had me thinking heart attack or of some deadly malady. Walking down a dimly lit street in the dead of night created horrendous beings with murderous intentions lurking around every corner. Every storm cloud brought the promise of being swept up in a cataclysmic cyclone or deluge that would drown me in its murky depths.
Basically, all those dreaded situations were fodder for a fear of the unknown. When people are not sure of what lurks beyond the range of vision, the mind tends to dwell on worst-case scenarios. Despite the extremely low percentage of catastrophe, the unknown remains a possibility that refuses to be ignored.
Those fears were seldom entertained for more than a brief instant. Nevertheless, they were always lingering in a dark corner of my mind, waiting to dust off the cobwebs and make an appearance in my thoughts. No matter how often they are laughed away or logically set aside, they always seem to find a way into the forefront of my brain.
These same simple, everyday fears find a way into my storylines. Though the shape they take might not in the form of something as common as a heart attack or a street corner thug, they are present. For instance, in The Jonah Herd, one of the stories in, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, a fear of drowning filters its way into the story.
During the days of long cattle drives, drowning was one of the many dangers those cowboys faced quite often. Torrential rains turned lazy rivers and creeks into wide bodies of rapidly flowing waters. Downed trees floated unseen just under the surface of the swift moving currents, becoming deadly projectiles. Regardless of the danger, those men still had a herd to get to the other side.
Many of the cattle drivers were also superstitious. Many of them firmly believed stepping outside the norm or plodding along in the tracks of a past disaster was sure to bring misfortune. Their fear of the unknown skulked in every inch of the long journey. The threat of rustlers, Indian raids, swollen rivers and creeks, and twisters waited for them all along the cattle trail.
The Jonah Herd touches on cowboys coming face to face with the unknown. They find themselves challenging their fears and the supernatural. So saddle up, partners and grab a copy of Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West. My horses and I will greatly appreciate it.
Eerie Trails… of the Wild Weird West
In this collection of fourteen strange tales from the wild west, Cowboys and Indians face down supernatural beings of all varieties – from vampires and werewolves; to ghosts and vengeful spirits; to mythological creatures.
Saddle up cowboys and ladies alike, once the journey begins, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West will take you down a strange and bizarre path though the old west that you’ve never been on before.
About the Author — Maynard Blackoak is a freelance writer living in the backwoods of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. He draws upon the sights of neglect and unusual sounds around him for inspiration. A bit of a recluse, he can often be found strolling through an old, forgotten cemetery or in the woods among the twisted black oaks and native elms under the light of the moon.
Facebook: Maynard Blackoak