Every time that Sirens Call Publications releases an anthology, we ask each of the authors to provide us with a guest post; something that speaks to the inspiration for their story that you will read. With the release of Carnage: After the End – Volume 1 &Volume 2, our inspiration series may run a little longer than our other anthologies. But that’s okay, we love Post-Apocalyptic Horror and both volumes have a fantastic mix of tales. Continuing on with our inspiration series, today we feature Christopher Nigro, author of The Scurrying in Carnage: After the End – Volume 1.
Christofer Nigro is a published author who specializes in the genres of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and pulp fiction. He has stories published in the anthologies Tales of the Shadowmen: Agents Provocateurs and Night of the Nyctalope, both from Black Coat Press. He will also have his stories featured in the upcoming anthologies Rigorous Mortis: A Morticians Tales by Scarlett River Press; Aliens Among Us by Metahuman Press; and Tales of the Shadowmen: La Vie en Noir; No Place Like Home: Tales from a Fractured Future by Angelic Knight Press. He is presently working on his first novel for Metahuman Press. He also acts as webmaster of three sites dealing with the above genres of fiction: The Godzilla Saga; The Warrenverse; and MONSTAAH. You can connect with Christofer on Twitter, or on his blog.
And without further ado, here’s Christofer…
The Inspiration Behind The Scurrying
My major inspiration for “The Scurrying” was the mega-creepy 1970s film version of H.G. Wells’ classic novel Food of the Gods. I saw the movie as a young child, and the impact the film had on me was immense. The extended plot sequence of a small group of humans on a secluded island struggling to survive against a relentless assault of giant rats who hunted everything in sight—rather than being content as scavengers of detritus like their normal-sized brethren—was chilling in the extreme, as was the graphic depiction of what befell the people who failed to evade the jaws of the giant rats (and this despite the PG rating the movie received! Ah, the ‘70s…).
I remember thinking there could be few fates worse than being devoured alive by a horde of giant rats, and few adversaries more formidable for human beings to contend with, including vampires, werewolves, zombies, slashers, daikaiju, and any other number of popular monstrous threats that human beings routinely faced in the realm of fantastic fiction. Other films and stories featuring humans vs. giant rats have followed (including a sequel to the above film during the 1980s), but none had the effect on me that the 1970s cinematic version of Food of the Gods did. Maybe it was because I was so young when I saw the film, or maybe it was something about the type of sheltered location and the way this small group of people had to work together and fight like few groups of cinematic folks ever have before. Or, maybe it was the excellent direction and photography of this often forgotten little gem of a flick…or perhaps it was a combination of all of the above. It’s also likely that this movie reminded me of the plot of another classic film I saw when I was a young child, this one a memorable relic of the 1950s, known as Attack of the Killer Shrews.
Nevertheless, I have always had a great degree of both fear and respect for wild rats, as they are amongst the ultimate survivors in the animal kingdom. I have always wondered what would happen if a particularly large species of these rodents emerged, and decided they had enough of living off of the scraps left behind by humans and instead decided to directly vie with us for the alpha spot on the planet’s food chain. If they could reproduce to the same extent as their smaller cousins, and had a comparable degree of cunning and survival capacity coupled with their natural physical might enhanced to a considerable degree, imagine what a force to be reckoned with they could become. Now extrapolate off of that highly nightmarish scenario and imagine that the entire planet, not just a specific isolated location, was overrun by such a species of rats, and they were cunning enough to initiate a simultaneous surprise attack on humanity all across the globe, without allowing the human race the time to mount an effective defense. These rats didn’t emerge as a result of an apocalypse, as was the case in other stories, but were the actual cause of the fall of humanity And since I’m a major fan of H.G. Wells, I took a variant of his infamous ‘boom food’ as introduced in the eponymous novel that inspired the movie as the source of this mutant species of rat, and the road towards the Apocalypse on this particular timeline was good to go.
This story was not all about the rats, of course. The film also showed me a depiction of human beings who were forced to become the best they could possibly be, against a foe of savage power and relentless fervor, and the hope and determination to survive against all odds displayed by those people is embodied in my main protagonist Alexandra Pella, the leader of the tribe of humans highlighted in my story. The temptation to just give up and embrace despair when facing tremendous odds is great, and I wanted to have a main human character who personified perseverance and the positive side of stubbornness when placed in the incredibly difficult position of inspiring morale in such a trying environment. Part of my inspiration for Alexandra Pella also came from one of my greatest fictional heroes, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the TV series Star Trek: Voyager.
The ten stories in Carnage: After the End – Volume 1 are the terrifyingly harsh and brutal realities those survivors must face. Each one takes us to a place where humanity’s stragglers are forced to battle with enemies outside of their control; mutant beasts, groups of depraved and desperate people, and the terrifying threat of a dwindling food supply. Their fight for survival gets even more difficult as they search among the tatters of civilization for the will to carry on.
In a world where society has collapsed and terror lurks around every corner, no one can be trusted and nothing can be taken for granted.
Hell has invaded and happy endings are a thing of the past…
Contributing Authors in Volume 1 include:
Kimberly A. Bettes, Shane Cashman, Shane R. Collins, Laura Diamond, Rodney James Galley, Michael Griffin, Russell Linton, Adam Millard, Christofer Nigro, and Julianne Snow.
Contributing Authors in Volume 2 include
Angel D. Callido, Charlie Fish, Harper Hull, Magda Knight, Jason Lairamore, Harry Manners, Zachary O’Shea, Wednesday Silverwood, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and L.E. White.
Interested in picking up a copy of both volumes?
Here is an excerpt from Christofer’s The Scurrying…
Despite repeated contemplation, Alexandra cannot remember how long it’s been since humanity fell to the rats. History books and discs are difficult to come by since the remaining handful of human beings on the planet were forced to stop writing them, and spending the lion’s share of their time simply trying to survive. What is left of the world’s once proud cities stand like sprawling concrete ghost towns, having fallen into extreme disrepair since the concepts of big business and urbanization fell, along with human domination of the planet. Unfortunately, the rats have as much use for what was left of these homes and skyscrapers as human beings, for just as the latter require shelter from the elements, the former—being the new rulers of the Earth—need nesting places.
Alexandra stood outside of the rotting human shelter that was once upon a time a tenement building before The Fall. Her binoculars in hand, she scanned the local vicinity to make certain that the immediate area was devoid of any rats. Her tribe of human survivors may prefer to call them “the rodents” to lessen the horror of what they actually are, but Alexandra has always been a supreme realist, and she prefers not to sugarcoat the exact species of humanity’s successor–rats. Only these rats happen to be rats the size of a mastiff. They aren’t scavengers like their far smaller predecessors who co-inhabited the human cities and towns prior to The Fall, scrounging for refuse discarded by humans. This ascendant race of rats are hunters. They took control of the planet from the once dominant human race not via superior technology, or any technology at all; they did so with pure animalistic savagery and cunning, coupled with an unerring ability to survive and reproduce with tremendous speed. These survival capacities are similar to the characteristics of their small scavenging predecessors, but amplified to the tenth degree. And their tendency to target human beings as one of their main food sources by working in packs is thoroughly unlike their far smaller precursor species.
As Alexandra continued to scan the horizon, her second-in-command, a young woman with light brown hair and crystal blue eyes named Elizabeth, whose soft appearance belied her skills as a soldier and staunch survivalist, strolled out of the shelter’s main entrance and put her hand on Alexandra’s shoulder…
Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow when we’ll feature Wednesday Silverwood and her inspiration for The Silence of the Dead in Carnage: After the End – Volume 2!