Who doesn’t love a good urban legend told around the campfire?
Sirens Call Publications recently released Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me and as a special treat for each of you, we’ve asked the authors to provide us with a few words on the inspirations to their tales. First up is Sean Keller who contributed his story Bunnyman to the anthology of ten fantastically chilling stories.
Sean Keller is a singer-songwriter, actor and screenwriter who has written for both John Carpenter and Dario Argento. He has performed on Broadway, acted in film & television and played in bands in various dive bars and theaters across the USofA. He even lost big on Jeopardy. Keller drinks too much, swears too much and takes deep delight in corrupting the morals of America’s youth. When not at the keyboard he is most likely found singing and raising hell at a karaoke bar. You can find him on Twitter at @danke_sean.
And now for Sean’s inspiration…
It was 1982 when I first heard of the Bunnyman. I was in the eighth grade and living a bland suburban existence in McLean, Virginia when my neighbor, John Drane told me how his big sister and her boyfriend saw the Bunnyman one night while driving home from a party. That one word “Bunnyman” sent my mind reeling, conjuring up images of a murderous, mutant hybrid of man and rabbit. I was rapt as John continued the tale. The Bunnyman was supposed to be an escaped lunatic who dressed up in a dingy rabbit suit and murdered anyone who wandered down Colchester Road near the Bunnyman Bridge too late at night. By my friend’s account, the man in the bunny suit had razor-sharp teeth and no eyes. NO EYES!
Being a young Catholic boy and already obsessed with folklore, mythology and the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, this story burrowed deep into my psyche. Who was he? What was he? Did he eat his victims? Was he tortured by the Easter Bunny? Why the hell didn’t he have any eyes? Instead of looking to the newspapers or teachers or any reputable source, my friends and I simply retold tales we’d never heard, layering details of unknown origin over the story until it barely resembled the original (second-hand) account. The Bunnyman became the bogeyman of my teens and often popped up in my periphery when I’d stayed out a little too late or was driving home from a friend’s house in the ever-present woods that connect each Northern Virginia subdivision.
Several decades later, I was writing horror films for the likes of Dario Argento and John Carpenter and found myself in need of a break from the screenwriting routine. I made a New Year’s resolution to write a one short horror story a month for a year as a story-generating exercise and in hopes of creating a viable short story collection for publication. Being a screenwriter, I was never certain that I was a “real” writer (whatever that means) until I was published, so I threw myself headlong into the work and the second tale created for this collection was BUNNYMAN. Filtering my childhood fears through a prism of empowered immorality and religious hypocrisy, I crafted a tale that struck me as the possible beginning of a series of folkloric re-interpretations of local legend through the eyes of my flawed and dangerous, yet still oddly sympathetic protagonist, Daniel.
I couldn’t quite figure out how to depict the Bunnyman without eyes, so that element will have to wait for another tale. The resulting short story owes a tremendous debt to David Stieve & Scott Glosserman’s fantastic slasher film “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” which inspired me to weave a grander myth from my pubescent fears.
I don’t know exactly where Daniel is headed, or how long it will take him to get there, but I’m certain it is a dark and wonderful place in which the line between legend and reality blur. I’ll be seeing him again soon. In truth I see Daniel often, if only in that shadowy part of my subconscious where monsters and men share the same flesh.
Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me
We’ve all come across them. The warnings told by a friend of a friend – don’t go in there, I wouldn’t if I were you, did you hear about…? Or perhaps your mind leaps to the cryptozoological realm – creatures barely glimpsed, and yet to be identified. Other spheres of existence – they can’t be real… certainly not until you’ve experienced one!
Maybe the real horror lies in the minds and hearts of others just like you. People with a slightly bent perspective that feed on the fear in others. Twisted souls that would take advantage of the weak, or vulnerable. Those who believe they are doing good for a higher power, or to gain power simply for themselves. Petty vengeance that breathes a life of its own once unleashed.
Whatever your poison, the ten stories in Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me are sure to intrigue, and perhaps bring back fears long forgotten.
Run, don’t look back… or should you?
Contributing Authors include:
Morgan Bauman, Kimberly A, Bettes, Matthew Borgard, Alex Chase, Austin Fikac, K. Trap Jones, Sean Keller, Lisamarie Lamb, Jon Olson, C.M. Saunders
Interested in Purchasing a copy?
And now for a quick excerpt from Sean’s story Bunnyman in Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me…
Claire’s feet kicked wildly, nearly toppling the end table and floor lamp, but Daniel reined her in, yanking her back to the center of the room. Her hips twisted and writhed in a desperate, animal attempt to spin free from what the both of them knew was the moment of her death. Daniel thought he heard the bone in her heel shatter against the concrete floor, and a slight smile crossed his full lips. The lips that parted in a warm smile while convincing Claire and the others before her to forget inhibitions, to throw caution to the wind and simply give into hedonism and whimsy. He promised Claire a night of passion and he delivered. He delivered in spades. As Daniel tightened his grip and squeezed the young woman’s airway, he could feel her emotions erupting through the flesh in violent paroxysms. Fear. Betrayal. Rage. He was quite certain that he had honored his word. What more passionate state could a human reach than struggling for very survival and finally succumbing to the great unknown?
It was this more than the end result that drove him. The fact that he had to kill Claire was a regrettable result of the process. It wasn’t as if he could bring the girl to the brink of death and then just let her go… it wouldn’t be real. That would be a cheat. He had tried it once and when the poor girl had awakened, she was in such a state of hysteria that he had to finish the job more quickly, which was messy… and Daniel hated messy.
Her feet still kicked, but with less ferocity, less vigor. Claire’s life was draining away and soon would be gone. The moment was always heart-breakingly brief. It was time to rise. Daniel was lying on his back on the cold concrete floor with Claire atop him. His left arm was clamped tightly into the soft flesh under Claire’s chin and he gripped his left wrist with his right hand… the position had been perfected, but it prohibited him from seeing her eyes, seeing the life leave her body. Now that she was weaker and fading fast he sat upright, straining his tightly-trained abdominal muscles to lift the girl against her will.
He sat the dying woman upright and caught her expression in the dressing mirror. He stared deeply into her eyes and prepared himself for the spasm he knew would come. Claire’s eyes fluttered, trapped between consciousness and oblivion, but in a sudden flash, the former won out and she caught sight of her reflection. The reality of her own impending death shot a fight-or-flight rush of adrenalin through her body. She kicked. She clawed. She twisted and tried to cry out, tried to suck in a breath, just one breath. This was what Daniel lived for. His breathing quickened and his heart raced. He could feel a rush of blood as his cock stiffened against her writhing body. It would be over soon and he would miss this moment, this high. He stared deep into Claire’s eyes as the life drained away, seeing her in that final, hyper-aware state, knowing her better than any lover, better than her parents. Daniel stared deep into Claire’s eyes and saw it… inevitability. She was not yet dead, but had given in. Her body went limp in his arms…
Don’t forget to come back next time when we discuss inspiration with Lisamarie Lamb!