Horror Writers Association

MHI: THE ULTIMATE QUESTION by Tony LaMalfa

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Trigger Warning: This piece addresses mental health

The HWA is pleased to launch its Mental Health Initiative, a coordinated roll-out of events, resources, and activities intended to promote positive mental health, foster the concept of hope, and challenge the stigma of mental illness in the horror genre. The initiative, run by the organization’s Wellness Committee, launches in June, and includes the following blog posts from Of Horror and Hope, a downloadable anthology of poems, flash fiction, and personal reflections on mental health by HWA members.

 

THE ULTIMATE QUESTION
by Tony LaMalfa

With strained yet still youthful anticipation, I place my poison-tipped pen upon another blank page—a veritable canvas virgin to the potentiality of those markings about to alter its existence. An unsuspecting quarry, it readily receives strokes made in hopes of stoking even an ember of suspense. What will I write today?

Once more, I petition for participation in a pastime which evokes bygone wisdom from an invisible, knowing force. And if I fan this ember enough to invite a generous conflagration, let it help me cope with that which I cannot know in absolute certainty. May it befriend we silent rogues who burn to create, nay, to connect with any so sympathetic a soul who might wander astray for a single thought, hour, or afternoon. What will I write today?

As my pen slashes at the pearl paper before me, I unwittingly surrender myself to desolate winds guiding dark nebulae past deep causeways of chaos, reaching places the conventional dare not trespass. I try to make sense of a world that breeds nightmares of the innocent and lifts the tarnished, silver veil of our imaginations so we might visit great vistas of fear and forgetfulness. But I am a lens to the camera focused on the flipside of life’s lucky coin. On tragedy over comedy—the funeral, not the wedding. What will I write today?

Were I an orchestral instrument, I would surely sing a swansong worthy of the lowly oboe or haunted violin. However, therein lies my salvation, for I see beauty in madness and madness in beauty, like the bittersweet smell of gasoline or antiquity of autumn as another year passes. I am a writer of horror, and wearing a wicked smile of delight, I wonder again thusly:

What will I write today?

 

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