Enjoy an exclusive guest post from Evan M. Elgin, author of “Eugene,” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
The story of Eugene is more than a short horror piece about some young kid using his alter-ego to get back at his bullies and tormentors. The acts of revenge are blatantly gruesome and dark, but I’ve always felt that it’s the hinted twist ending that gives the main character more depth. He’s more than just that of another killer kid trope and it’s that depth that I’ve always felt brought the most dread.
When I began this piece, I wanted to chronicle a horror that was more than just a standard villain, monster, spirit, or masked killer. I wanted it to be something that seems like it could happen, especially to anyone, and that’s the horror of encountering someone with neglected and undiagnosed severe mental illness.
Although what the seven-year-old narrator Bobby-Jay exactly has is left rather ominous. His alter-ego Eugene can be described as ‘a voice that never leaves from behind him toward’ the end. But that is more creative prose narration. If anything, the narrator seemed to be suffering from an illness that softly resembled Dissociative Identity Disorder (formally multiple personality).
I’m no doctor on the means of psychology, but from the research I did for this story, this illness is rather debilitating. It can mess with your memory; give you hallucinations, and pretty much make you have little-to-no connection to your feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
That’s frightening enough when as adult has it, but for a seven-year-old who doesn’t know better? To me, the horror comes in the tragedy of realizing that neither he nor anyone else knows he’s sick. And even more in the bad luck of the draw, one of his personalities—Eugene—just happens to have violent and sociopathic tendencies.
I’d like to point out that real and legit Dissociative Identity Disorder does not make a sufferer violent or dangerous—then again this is a piece of horror fiction, and should be treated as such.
But whatever Bobby-Jay truly is suffering from, I wanted to see if that after all the heinous crimes his imaginary friend Eugene commits, if empathy from the reader for Bobby-Jay as a person could still be warranted.
If they can understand that he’s not some spawn of Satan and he’s not some manipulative spoiled brat who can get away with murder. If they can see that Bobby-Jay is merely a bullied seven-year-old kid who watches in both innocence and naiveté as his “friend” Eugene enacts revenge on his tormentors, and realize that Eugene is just another personality within himself, created unknowingly from his broken mind. A broken mind that no one older around him, not even his own mother, can see is wrong.
If the reader can come from this story with more empathy than shock knowing that assertion, than I feel I did my work as a horror writer.
Evan M. Elgin is a writer of both published and self-published fiction. He has been previously published in SERIAL magazine, while his debut novel Vive La Superior! is available on Amazon. He currently lives and works in a void of “suburban weirdness” that makes up Greater Chicago.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.