Monday, March 4, 2013

Story of the Week: Beyond the Veil

Horror stories often talk of hideous beings coming from hell. In Beyond the Veil, we go to hell, literally, and ultimately encounter something worse.

The story centers on Sir Richard of Aquitaine. Yes, that's Richard the Lionheart. He's spent over seven hundred years in hell when Yoshi, a man from modern-day Japan, drops into the midst of a battle. Richard drags Yoshi to safety and immediately though unintentionally insults the newcomer, calling him an Oriental.

“Yoshi,” [the newcomer] said finally. “An Oriental, really? What century are you from? And how come you speak perfect Japanese?”

Richard sighed. Oh well, better to get it over with as quickly as possible.

“We normally let one of the more experienced and empathic women do this, but, unfortunately, we never know when—or where—a new penitent will arrive. I really hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’re dead.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Yoshi replied, indignantly. “First you beat me to a pulp, and now this. I want to know what’s going on!”

Yoshi learns that Richard leads a band of people from various ethnic groups and time periods who are struggling to break through the wall of a huge black cone from under which new land emerges. Richard is convinced that heaven, or something better than their current situation, awaits them on the other side. Richard's "people" (he can't stop being a king) are opposed by an army of zombie-like creatures who used to be people but have given up their individuality to submit to a mob mentality. They are huge, hulking creatures but not very smart individually. Somehow they know of Richard's plans to punch a hole in the cone wall and are desperate to stop him. Plenty of zombie-style hacking awaits as the two groups come to blows in battles of ever increasing numbers (on the zombie side) and ferocity.

Richard I the Lionheart, King of
England
by Merry-Joseph Blondel
To their credit, Bondoni and Perry manage to convey the humor and ridiculousness of this horrible situation. The newcomer Yoshi acts as a foil to Richard and gives him an opportunity to explain their plight and answer questions the reader (also a stranger to this version of hell) might ask. My favorite scene comes when Yoshi sees Richard run through with a spear in one of the battles, but Richard appears none the worse for wear. Yoshi has a difficult time with the dissonance this scene creates and protests that "if somebody decides to poke me with a spear, I would most certainly feel it, and would probably have the decency to die." Richard explains with all the patience he can muster that their bodies in hell are like flesh and blood but are not. As Yoshi discovers, it takes time to wrap your head around the idea of being "dead."

Beyond the Veil comments on the human condition, which after death is not all that much different than during life. There's a ferocious war between us and them; a maniacal single-minded leader convinced beyond a doubt in the truth and ultimate success of his campaign; and a celebration of what can be achieved when vastly different people come together. But, Beyond the Veil is a horror story, and it works on an inversion. What if the dumb herd is right? What if all that Richard celebrates and represents leads to a horror beyond hell?

To learn more about Gustavo Bondoni, check out his website Gustavo Bondoni Writer.

To learn more about Lyndon Perry, head over to Bloggin' Outloud.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great analysis and comments. We were wondering if Richard was too "cloaked" or if readers would catch the reference. Fun story, poignant horror.

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    1. I very much enjoyed Richard's character. His confidence was so infectious. I guess that's what you need in a leader who's leading his troops to their doom.

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