Those of you who tuned in yesterday for Rapino’s blog stop will recognise this fellow. He brews his own pumpkin beer, hates Mondays, he has a wish to have his body parts to be ‘repurposed’ & would like his teeth & nails to be refashioned as necklaces…oh yes, & he loves to write damn good horror!
I asked him if he’d like to join in with my ‘What Scares You?’ series & he jumped at the chance, sending me this rather unique set of fears. So settle back with a cup of werewolf blood & a big fat slice of zombie brain cake & delve into Anthony’s rather strange world…
By Anthony J. Rapino
I recently taped a video interview in which I answered the question, “What is your most irrational fear?” In said interview, I responded that my greatest fear is being alone in the middle of the ocean at night. I went on to explain that it’s really the fear of the unknown, because so many strange, slippery things lurk under that black mat of water, and I can’t see any of them.
Okay, so that wasn’t a lie. But it was a bit of a cop-out, because it’s an easy answer. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would be afraid of being left in the middle of an expansive ocean at night, and if not afraid, then certainly nervous. So I went back to the old drawing board to consider what really scares me.
What I came up with is this: me. I scare myself. I don’t mean to say I have tentacles growing from my torso, or that I freak out when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Rather, the only times I’m scared—like really scared, like my mouth goes completely dry scared—is when I allow my mind to roam the darker corners of itself. When I’m out in the woods at night (I like to take what I call “night-walks” without a flashlight), and I hear something in the woods. It’s a squirrel. I know it’s a squirrel, and yet, my mind suggests, maybe not.
There. Right there, I’m thinking like a horror writer. So I ask myself, “If not a squirrel, then what?”
Someone else, anyone else, would respond, “Oh, maybe a chipmunk,” or, “probably just a deer.”
Not me. I think, “There was something off about the way it sounds in the underbrush. It’s not the normal, quick scurrying of a tiny mammal. It sounds slower. Deliberate.” Okay, why’d I have to go and think of that word: deliberate. It suggests I’m being watched. It suggests I’m being hunted.
Come on! Why’d I have to go and think that word! Hunted? Really, Tony?
No biggie. It’s all good. I’ll just start home now. Only I make another big mistake, and I start walking a little too fast. Like a speed walker, I’m pumping my arms and swinging my hips. I try to slow myself down; walking fast, it’s a bad idea. It’s one step away from running, and if I do that, it’s all over.
But these last thoughts are lost, because behind me—too close behind me—something grunts.
My mouth goes completely dry. I’m scared spitless.
I run. No more prissy little speed-walking steps. I’m full-on sprinting through the woods, coming within inches of knocking myself out on a tree, nearly sprawling over a branch. I run and I run, not daring to look behind me, knowing the grunting, deliberate hunter is there, steps away, reaching out with blood-stained talons.
A scream builds in my chest, expanding like a balloon, until something brushes my neck and the scream explodes from my mouth while I flail my arms as if fending off a swarm of bees.
Next thing I know I’m home, gasping for breath, laughing at myself, and feeling totally exhilarated. It’s all too clear there was nothing out there except that silly old squirrel. The grunt was in my mind, the thing brushing my neck only a twig.
I’m scared silly, and I love every stinking second of it. Until my next night-walk, it’s off to the computer to let my mind continue this dark trek.
What scares you?’
I am very proud to announce the release of my debut novel, Soundtrack to the End of the World. Pre-orders are currently available for a signed limited hardcover, and trade paperback.
Who knew the end could sound so good.
A suicidal nudist strolls into traffic. An eccentric Buddhist claims he can occupy other people’s bodies. All the while, whispers of a new form of entertainment blow through town. Prompted by these strange occurrences, Marty Raft, a not-so-gentle giant, investigates and discovers underground clubs peddling music that induces an out-of-body experience. Marty and a wannabe comedian, Corey, set out to prove these special frequencies are nothing more than a hoax, or at worst, a mass-drugging. Instead, they uncover a secret with world-ending possibilities.
If you can hear the music, it’s already too late.
Anthony J. Rapino resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania, somewhere between the concrete of the city and the trees of the forest. On occasion, you’ll find him moderating the feverish battles between the creatures of these two arenas. Whose side he’s on is anyone’s guess.
His newest fiction can be found in Black Ink Horror, On Spec, Arcane Anthology, Electric Spec, A cappella Zoo, Space Squid, TQR Stories, and carved inside a variety of autumn gourds. His short story collection, Welcome to Moon Hill, is currently available, as is his first novel Soundtrack to the End of the World. Proof of his psychosis can be found on his website: