It's summertime, which means it's camping season. That's pure heaven for some, but it can be a bit hellish for others. Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows, House of Skin, and the new serial novel, Savage Species, has a bit of a summer-themed horror story to share. Enjoy.
The Horrors of Being a Tall Man in a Little RV
by Jonathan Janz
My wife’s parents own an RV. We live on a hill, which means they can’t park the RV out in front of our house when they visit and instead have to park on the nearest flat street. That means it’s some other poor bastard’s house that gets the sunlight blotted out by the RV rather than mine. So my neighbors look like Cousin Eddie has come to visit, while I enjoy my untrammeled front window view. It works out nicely.
Most of the time when they come they stay at the nearby state park. Now this state park, with a few important variations, is the setting for my new serial horror novel Savage Species, and it’s a great place to visit. However, on occasion it gets really hot there and we have to shelter inside the RV. You know, because eighty-eight degrees and muggy is a whole lot more comfortable than ninety-one degrees and muggy.
It was during one of these sweltering July afternoons that I found myself stuck, along with my wife and three small children, inside the RV with my in-laws. To be totally honest, I love my in-laws. Sometimes I wish I didn’t because then I could make the same jokes that every other guy gets to make about his in-laws. But mine are really nice.
I just wish their RV was bigger. Not just bigger, mind you, but taller. I go about six-foot-four, and my in-laws are little folk. Not quite Shire-sized, but not far from it either. A couple times I’ve noticed how furry my father-in-law’s feet are. I haven’t gotten the chance to examine my mother-in-law’s feet. She’s sort of modest. Plus, that’d be a hard thing to ask without having her call the police.
So maybe because my in-laws are so little, the RV can only accommodate little folk comfortably. They bustle about happily, navigate the ten-inch-wide main aisle, and behave like it’s perfectly normal. I, on the other hand, bump into things like a college freshman during rush week and bang my head on every random outcropping until my kids finally tell me to sit down before I trample someone. And the bathroom? Forget it. If you’ve read Poe’s story “The Premature Burial” you have a good idea about how I feel when trying to do my business in that vertical coffin. After I’m done and go stumbling out of there, I fall to my knees with my arms upraised like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption and give thanks for allowing me breathe clean air again.
So what’s my point?
That RV is a place of horrors for me, a sinister environ where anything might happen. And sinister things do happen in Part Two of Savage Species (The Children), which happened to go on sale this week. The first installment (Night Terrors, which is linked below) can still be downloaded for free. It ended with a very special character (Emma) trapped inside an RV by carnivorous, sadistic, nine-foot-tall monsters. Part Two begins with one of our heroes (a newspaper photographer named Jesse) trying to save her. She’s in the bathroom, hiding from the monsters. Jesse has to enter the RV, do battle with several of the beasts, and try to rescue Emma. When I wrote that scene, I was able to reference every bad experience I’d ever had in my in-laws’ RV: the stifling heat, the enclosed spaces, and perhaps especially the wonky physics. You see, the RV in Savage Species has been overturned, which makes things even harder for Jesse. But since Emma is the girl of Jesse’s dreams, Jesse is willing to face those monsters. And the tiny bathroom.
I hope you download Parts One and Two today. I hope you experience the serialized event of the summer about which Mark Justice (Pod of Horror) says, “Reading Savage Species by Jonathan Janz is like discovering a lost Richard Laymon novel. And that’s a good thing.”
I happen to agree, but I’ll let you discover it for yourselves.
I hope you have a great day. And may all your enemies have to spend the day in an explosively hot RV that was engineered for hobbits.