Three Possible Reasons Why Famous Horror Authors Write Non-Horror Books

One of the interesting things about famous horror authors is that many of them have either written non-horror novels or they’ve moved into other genres. These non-horror stories can be really good, but this happens surprisingly often.

Whether it is Clive Barker writing several splatterpunk classics like “The Books Of Blood” and “Cabal” during the 1980s and then moving more towards fantasy and/or YA fiction (eg: the excellent “Abarat” books), whether it is when Shaun Hutson took occasional breaks from splatterpunk horror fiction during the 1990s/early 2000s to write several action/thriller novels (eg: “White Ghost”, “Exit Wounds” etc..) or whether it is when Billy Martin went from writing gothic horror and splatterpunk novels during the 1990s to writing comedy/drama/romance/food-based novels (the amazing “Liqour” series) during the 2000s, this seems to happen a lot with horror authors. Even Stephen King has apparently written several non-horror novels in various genres.

So, I thought that I’d offer some theories about possible reasons why this happens. These are just theories, based on my experiences with other types of creativity and limited experiences with writing horror fiction, but hopefully they’re at least vaguely interesting.

[Edit: Between preparing the first draft of this article and posting it, I’ve read up a bit more on the history of the horror genre and, apparently, one of the major reasons why horror authors wrote stuff in other genres during the 1990s was due to the mainstream publishing industry losing interest in the genre at the time. Still, there are other reasons why horror authors might write non-horror fiction and this article covers some of them.]

1) Inspiration: Simply put, making the same types of things too long can get dull after a while. Sometimes, in order to stay inspired, you have to make different things.

To use an art-based example, I made quite a bit of cyberpunk art last year and earlier this year. When I was making it, it was really fun to make, I felt super-inspired and produced some of what I consider to be my best paintings – like these:

“Architecture” By C. A. Brown

“Backstreets” By C. A. Brown

But, after a while, I found myself drifting away from making cyberpunk art. I felt, for want of a better description, slightly bored with it. Yes, I still make cyberpunk art every now and then, and it’s still one of my favourite genres. But, if I’d have just stuck to only making cyberpunk art, then I’d probably have run out of enthusiasm for making art.

And, my guess is that the same sort of thing is probably true for famous horror authors too. As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life.

2) Emotional factors: Although I’ve dabbled with writing shorter, milder and/or more light-hearted works of horror fiction during the past few years (like these sci-fi horror stories, or this comedy horror interactive story), I once wanted to be a “proper” horror writer. And, it’s more difficult than it looks!

Simply put, writing proper genuinely scary/disturbing horror fiction can be quite hard on you emotionally if you’re doing it properly. Since you actually have to vividly imagine and plan what you write in a story, the horror is magnified considerably compared to just reading horror fiction. I mean, I remember leaving a short splatterpunk story I tried to write in 2009/10 called “Pulch” (where the narrator is slowly dissolved by a giant carnivorous plant) unfinished because I was just too grossed out by it to continue writing.

Likewise, when I wrote an unpublished horror novella in 2009 (mostly as an unofficial attempt at the “3 Day Novel” challenge), I actually found myself pulling back during one of the more grim scenes and implying, rather than showing, something horrific because I was just too horrified to keep writing the scene in question in any other way.

The thing to remember about horror fiction is that, if you’re feeling scared or grossed out when reading it, then the author probably felt those emotions even more strongly whilst writing it. As such, I can easily see why horror authors might take a break from the horror genre for the sake of their sanity.

3) Other interests: Simply put, most people have multiple interests. In fact, in order to create truly original things, you need to have multiple inspirations (and the more different they are, the more original your work will be). As such, a good horror author is probably a fan of other genres too.

So, horror authors that move away from writing horror fiction to write other types of fiction might just do this because they’re just as much of a fan of another genre as they are of the horror genre, and want to be part of that genre too. To see what their own unique interpretation of the genre would look like, and to have fun writing stories that they enjoy.

So, a horror writer moving away from horror fiction might happen because they’re also a fan of other genres too.

————–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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Today’s Art (4th December 2018)

Well, due to feeling slightly uninspired, today’s digitally-edited painting ended up being a somewhat random horror movie-style painting.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“The Creepy Cupboard” By C. A. Brown

“Remnants” By C. A. Brown (Short Story)

There was half an hour to spare and the rain had picked up. Steve thought about ducking into a cafe and passing the time there, but there wasn’t a good wi-fi signal and it was four quid for a cup of coffee. The wind howled and gnawed at him. He scanned the high street. Betting shop. Cafe. Clothes shop. Cafe. Abandoned shell. Cafe.

Then, salvation. The bright expanse of the chain bookshop beckoned to him. Fond memories flashed through Steve’s mind. Those halcyon days where he’d lose himself in these temples to literature every couple of weeks. With a stifled laugh and a whisky-warm glow of nostalgia, he rushed inside.

The new book smell hung heavy in the air. Row upon row of pristine covers stared back at him. Each one featured either a muted neutral design that would go well with modern interior design trends or a single striking image that would look good in a tiny online thumbnail.

Whatever. He thought. Don’t judge a book by its cover. There were, after all, better things to judge a book by. Genre for starters. So, with that wisdom in mind, he slid past a shelf of literary novels – all of which proudly carried stickers proclaiming them winners of various awards. For half a second, he wondered if there were more awards than authors. A book with three stickers on it confirmed his theory.

As he turned the corner, the shelf shook. A 900-page boulder crashed down mere inches from his head, clipping his shoulder and fluttering to the ground like a wounded bat. Ignoring the throbbing ache in his shoulder, Steve glanced around. No-one had seen it. Good. He knelt down and picked up the doorstopper. Winner of Britain’s foremost literary award. Figures.

Carefully sliding the book back onto the shelf, Steve resumed his search. A grey cliff face of gritty crime thrillers stared back at him. The crushing uniformity of it was only broken up by the occasional moody blue rectangle. He continued his quest.

The garish primary colours of the childrens’ section told him that he’d drifted off course. As Steve turned away, his eyes fixed on a multicoloured mosaic of spines. The titles sounded suitably dramatic. Steve’s eyes lit up. He reached for one of them. Sci-fi & Fantasy? He looked at the book cover. It contained a picture of a sullen teenager staring into the distance. Nope. Young Adult fiction.

He continued his search, giving the “Travel” and “Mind, Body & Spirit” sections a wide berth. His eyes fixed on three bookshelves wedged into a tiny corner. Above them, the words “Sci-fi & Fantasy” smiled at him. He rushed over to them. There were interesting books here – an assortment of classics, both past and present. After ten minutes of searching, he selected a couple of interesting titles. But, there was more to find. Where was it?

Steve kept walking. He passed a pastel rampart of romance novels before almost crashing into a random table of books. When he glanced down, he saw that it was filled with popular bestsellers. 3 for the price of 2! 70% off! He didn’t recognise a single title on the table. He kept looking.

For a second, Steve’s eyes lit up again. In a forgotten corner, a single sliver of darkness stood out. A solitary rectangle of gloomy, heavy spines. With a smile spreading across his face, he rushed over to it. Finally.

As he got closer, his heart sank. Above the shelves, the word “History” glowered at him. He turned away. It had to be somewhere.

The voice startled him: ‘Are you looking for something?’

Steve spun around. A bearded guy in a staff T-shirt stared back at him. Steve smiled: ‘Yes, I’m looking for the “Horror” section.’

The guy stared at him blankly: ‘Er… There might be a few Stephen King books in the general fiction section.’

Steve’s face went pale. He should have expected it. But, when he trawled his memories, there was always a horror shelf. Even when it was just a token row of books that was one-third Stephen King, one-third paranormal romance and one-third Victorian classics, it had always been there.

It wasn’t right. A bookshop without a horror shelf. Something in Steve’s mind began to come loose. Had he been gone too long? Was there no place in this trendy modern age for the simple joy of a blood-spattered paperback about giant flesh-eating rats? It wasn’t right! Steve started hyperventilating. His eyes bulged. His head ached. The guy took a step backwards and shielded his face.

What happened next never made the papers. It was overshadowed by the cataclysmic shock of an offensive celebrity tweet. Within days, the cleaning staff had finally managed to scrub Steve’s stubborn brain matter out of the carpets. The manager had returned the damaged books to the publisher. The police had issued an incident number. Life went on.

“Limelight” By C. A. Brown (Short Story)

‘It’s like Christmas, but better.’ Jane grinned. ‘Think about it. There are horror movies in the cinema, there’s cool-looking stuff in the shops and there are even horror movies on the telly too.’

Rachel sipped her coffee: ‘It’s better than nothing, I guess. But, look, it’s a ghost.’

‘A ghost?’ Jane glanced around the coffee shop. Her eyes fixed on a bearded man wearing an ironic Scooby Doo T-shirt. He tapped away at a smartphone, oblivious to the world around him. ‘I’d have thought zombies, or maybe robots? I don’t know what ghosts have to do with it.’

‘Think about it. When we were teenagers, a new remake of a Japanese horror movie would come out every few months. Then, in 2004, there were the “Saw” movies. Every Halloween, there would be a new one.’

Jane’s eyes widened: ‘Oh god, I remember those. Did you know, some people actually fainted during the third one?’

‘That’s exactly the point!’ Rachel took another sip of coffee. ‘People talked about them. They were popular. Horror movies were alive in those days. These days, it’s all superhero movies. And, every Halloween, they’ll trot out a remake of an old horror classic, a couple of horror-themed kids movies or a slightly edgier superhero movie. It’s like cinemas are haunted by the ghost of what horror movies once were.’

‘I never really thought of it that way before. I didn’t even notice. I mean, there are still horror movies.’

Rachel shook her head: ‘Yeah, but they’re like horror novels or heavy metal music. I mean, they’re there if you look for them. But, if you go back to the ’80s, they used to be mainstream. From everything I’ve heard, people who didn’t understand them used to moan about them all the time.’

Jane sipped her tea: ‘Well, at least people are moaning about other stuff these days. Although, does that mean no-one cares about the horror genre any more? Is it even still rebellious?

Rachel shrugged: ‘It used to be with comics. I mean, did you know that horror comics used to be a thing?’

‘Horror comics?‘ Jane laughed.

Rachel finished her coffee ‘Yeah, read some history. Back in the forties and fifties, they were the most popular type of comics. You know, Tales From The Crypt and all that.’

‘No, I don’t. Hey, wasn’t that a movie?’

‘Anyway, there was a big fuss about it back then. People howled about how they were corrupting the youth and all that nonsense. In the mid-fifties, the American comics industry introduced strict censorship rules. There were actual laws passed about it over here. And, of course, the only popular genre of comics that could survive were superhero comics.’ Rachel’s expression darkened. ‘They’ve been gloating about it ever since.’

Jane said nothing. Finally, she stuttered: ‘That’s… terrible.’

Rachel laughed: ‘You were right about Christmas though. Halloween is just like Christmas. A collection of mindless rituals that people go through just because something used to be more popular in the past.’

‘You mean, we’re like those miserable people who write to the papers every year moaning about how people have forgotten the traditional meaning of Christmas?’

‘Pretty much.’

Jane’s eyes widened. An icy chill shot down her spine. A silent scream died on her lips. Around her, no-one looked away from their smartphones.

“Pop Up” By C. A. Brown (Short Story)

Dan stared at the towering ossuary, a vast structure of jumbled bones reaching towards the slate sky like the grasping hands of a thousand undead. The only thing he could think to say was: ‘How the bloody hell did this get planning permission?’

Beside him, Tina laughed: ‘It’s a pop-up, it’ll probably be gone in a couple of weeks. Makes a change from the usual.’ She gestured at the sad-looking rows of shuttered shops surrounding it like gravel around a grave.

‘Yeah, but what is it supposed to be? I mean, you’d think there would be a sign or something.’

‘It’s probably a restaurant. They always are. Best case scenario, it’s an ironic homage to Halloween-themed breakfast cereals from the ’80s. Worst case scenario, it’s something political or, even worse, it’s a work of conceptual art.’ Tina raised her phone and took a photo.

‘I don’t know how they expect anyone to visit it. It isn’t like they’ve rolled out the welcome mat.’ Dan put on a silly voice: ‘Welcome, welcome to the house of bones. All the fun of the graveyard in one easy-to-reach location.

The skies darkened. Tina laughed. She tapped her phone a couple of times: ‘Maybe it’s got a website?’ She tapped a few more times and raised an eyebrow: ‘Apparently not.’

Quelle surprise. It looks like it hasn’t even discovered the telegraph, let alone the internet.’

‘No, it’s modern. It’s some underground thing that’s probably shared by word of mouth. On social media, of course. Do people have actual conversations any more?’

‘Aren’t we?’

Tina shook her head: ‘This is more of a discussion than a conversation, I think.’

Amongst the matchstick sculpture of femurs, tibias and scapulas, a single skull stared down at them. Slowly, its hollow sockets began to glow bright orange. Two rows of weathered teeth chattered eagerly, the noise skittering through the air like crickets in a campsite.

Tina’s laughter howled along the deserted street. Dan was about to make a sarcastic comment when the air rumbled. The sky flashed like a selfie and then the rain started to pour. The kind of heavy, opaque rain that Hollywood film-makers like to think that they invented. Gasping, Tina gestured towards the ossuary’s yawning mouth: ‘Come on, let’s get inside!’

As another lightning flash stabbed the sky, Dan pointed his thumb over his shoulder: ‘The bus shelter is closer.’

‘Fair enough.’ Tina said. They ran towards it. According to the parts of the timetable that poked out from behind the burnt and graffiti-stained glass, the 41 bus would arrive in five minutes. More like ten, Dan thought.

Tina huddled close to Dan on the cold plastic bench. Behind the sheets of rain, the other side of the road wasn’t even visible. Then, a pair of lights appeared in the distance. Tina smiled. It’s on time! For half a second, she thought about getting her phone out and documenting this unprecedented occurrence.

The lights got closer. It was only when they were the size of footballs that something began to feel wrong. Neither Dan nor Tina could place what it was. Perhaps it was because the light was a subtly different hue than standard bus headlights? Perhaps the two orbs were a centimetre off from their remembered models of what a bus looked like? They didn’t know. Both of them just stared.

As the lights got closer, they separated. A silhouette appeared against the rain, like a preliminary sketch. With slopping footsteps, the skeleton stepped out of the rain. It raised a large iron lantern and fixed two hollow sockets on the dumbfounded couple.

Dan regained the power of speech: ‘Nice cos…’ His voice broke off as he realised that the skeleton’s neck was too thin to be a costume. Tina gasped.

Seconds later, another lantern-bearing skeleton appeared. In a voice like teeth on a blackboard, it said: ‘Sorry folks, we don’t usually do outreach but the roof is leaking. Any donations will be very much appreciated.’

The other one rattled its head: ‘Yeah, we’re already on our final warning with the health and safety people. Give us a hand. Or maybe a leg?’

Dan laughed and fumbled for his wallet. The skeletons shook their heads. Tina’s eyes widened. They didn’t want money, they wanted…

But, before she could scream, the skeletons said: ‘We’ve got wi-fi and free coffee. Artisanal cupcakes too.’

Who could argue with that?

First Impressions: “Clive Barker’s Undying” (Retro Computer Game)

Well, with Halloween approaching, I thought that I’d take a look at an old horror game called “Clive Barker’s Undying” (which I bought for £1.19 during a sale on GOG last year).

Before I go any further, I should probably point out that this is more of a “first impressions” article than a full review. I’d planned to finish this game before I posted this review but, after getting somewhere between one-third and halfway through the game, I realised that I’d never finish it before Halloween without falling massively behind on my article schedule. Plus, I also found myself abandoning the game for other reasons that I’ll explain later.

I should probably also warn you that this review may contain a couple of (unrealistic) GRUESOME IMAGES. Likewise, the game itself contains FLICKERING lightning effects at the beginning.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Clive Barker’s Undying”:

“Clive Barker’s Undying” is a first-person shooter game from 2001. Set in the 1920s, you play as an occultist and ex- soldier called Patrick Galloway who has been living in exile from his native Ireland until he is summoned back by a letter from his old friend Jeremiah Covenant.

When he arrives at Jeremiah’s remote mansion, he finds that Jeremiah has been taken ill. Not only that, there seems to be some kind of family curse that has filled the creepy old mansion with ghosts and monsters…..

Well, it would be a very boring game if there weren’t ghosts and monsters….

My very first impressions of this game were extremely good. Even the main menu not only looked really cool, but also had ominously dramatic background music and some amazing flame animations for the mouse cursor.

Plus, for the elitists amongst you, there’s actually a framerate slider in the options menu. A framerate slider!

Not only was this a game that Clive Barker helped to make but it was also an EA game from the early 2000s. As much as EA deserve all of the criticism they get these days, there’s no denying that for a very brief period during the early 2000s they seemed to be the best for gothic horror games. I mean, they published the amazing “American McGee’s Alice” a year before this game! So, my expectations were sky-high.

And, for the early parts of the game, they were more than met. You begin the game by exploring a gloriously gloomy old mansion and it is still creepy to this day. Although there are a few scripted moments, a lot of the horror here comes from the frantic, claustrophobic combat and the general atmosphere of the place. Seriously, the early segments set in the mansion are how to make a horror game properly.

I LOVE the lighting here too 🙂

Seriously, I got a real “Silent Hill 3“/ “Realms Of The Haunting” vibe in this area!

Seriously, I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that this location is still creepy to this day

Everything here is designed to ramp up the suspense. Whether it’s the fact that the lighting is dark enough to be creepy, but not dark enough that you get totally lost (eg: usually there is at least one lit area visible at any one time) or the constant sense of ominous suspense that gradually builds as you creep around the gloomy corridors in fear of your next monster encounter, this part of the game is scary.

This constant fear is amplified by the fact that you are occasionally attacked by powerful fast-moving monsters who will leap at you furiously.

Usually, your best bet is to get a headshot with your revolver in the few seconds you have whilst they are scampering towards you. But, of course, there’s usually more than one of them around at any one moment and you only have six bullets in your gun (and not enough time to reload if you miss too often..). This is how to add tension to an action-horror game!

Of course, once you see THIS, it’s almost too late…

In addition to this, Patrick also has several magical abilities that he can use (which use a recharging “mana” counter). The one you will be using most often is the “Scrye” ability – not only does this highlight enemies and allow you to see in the dark for a short time (with cool purple-tinted night vision no less 🙂 ), but it will also allow you to see things that you can’t ordinarily see.

Often, you will hear an ominous whisper telling you to use the ability and then, for example, a nearby painting will be transformed into a grotesque vision of hell:

Well, the game does have the words “Clive Barker” in the title. What did you expect? Unicorns and puppies?

However, as utterly awesome as the earlier parts of the game are – it doesn’t stay this way for too long. Even though there are some really cool locations after you initially explore the mansion, don’t get too used to them…

Seriously, this ominous floating building reminded me a bit of “American McGee’s Alice” 🙂

And just take a look at this gloriously gothic mausoleum 🙂

After a while, you will find yourself beneath an old monastery, and this is where I started to lose interest in the game. Not only do you have to trudge through endless dark underground catacombs (using the scrye ability every twenty seconds or so is practically mandatory…), but the game’s difficulty level goes from “enjoyably challenging” to “keyboard-smashingly cheap“. On “normal” difficulty, no less!

I’ve got six health points and skeletons have started spawning from this pile of bones. Skeletons that require expert marksmanship to defeat…

Not only does the game get more and more stingy with health packs and ammunition, but it also has a habit of spawning in lots of powerful monsters too. Many of these monsters require lightning-fast reflexes and/or precision aiming. Now, this would be ok if the game had a fast iteration time. But it doesn’t.

Every time you are killed, and it will happen a lot, you often have to sit through an unskippable 10-15 second death animation. Needless to say, this gets very old very fast. Other retro games like “Blood” can get away with being ultra-challenging because you can be back in the action about 1-5 seconds after you’ve died. Not so with this game…

This is a death animation from earlier in the game. Yes, these unskippable animations are creepy when you see them for the first time. Less so when you see them for the thirtieth time…

Eventually, this cheap difficulty and the sheer boredom of dingy catacomb after dingy catacomb just got the better of me and, whilst I’d planned to play more of this game before writing this article, I found myself skiving off and re-playing part of “Doom: The Golden Souls” instead. It seemed fifty times more fun than spending another hour of frustration in the catacombs….

What can I say? Fun wins every time…

Anyway, one strange feature of “Clive Barker’s Undying” is that it was designed for a future console port that was never actually made.

What this means is that there are short “loading” screens between some areas, and there’s also a spell/weapon wheel feature, which is actually quicker than cycling through your weapons and spells using the keyboard. Although these things are a little bit annoying, they’re hardly game-breaking problems. However, I noticed a fair amount of screen tearing whilst playing some parts of the game, but this might just be my computer.

From what I’ve seen, the game’s weapons are actually fairly good. In addition to a revolver and double-barelled shotgun (both of which require frequent reloading, which ramps up the tension), you can also find a “Tibetan War Cannon” which serves as an infinite-ammo freeze gun. Plus, I found sticks of dynamite and molotov cocktails too.

Of course, having played “Left4Dead2” quite a bit during my early twenties, I kept expecting Patrick to shout “throwing a molotov!“.

The “Tibetan War Cannon” is a golden dragon that spits chunks of ice! Seriously, I love how creative FPS game weapons used to be 🙂

In addition to this, you can find alternate ammo types for the pistol and shotgun (eg: silver bullets and incendiary shells) which can be very useful. Plus, one of the game’s spells allows you to shoot energy from your palms, and there’s a green stone you can use to repeal monsters. Seriously, I love how creative FPS game weapon design used to be.

The game’s monster designs are surprisingly good, with many of the monsters presenting a formidable threat to the player.

There are fast-moving “Howlers”, teleporting Lovecraftian horrors, invisible guards, powerful skeletons etc… Many of these monsters are vulnerable to different tactics and/or weapons. If they were used more sparingly, these monsters would be brilliant! However, the game will occasionally just spam these monsters at you sometimes. And, given how challenging they are, this quickly borders on unfair.

Seriously, if there were one or two Howlers here, it would be really fun! But, there are at least four….

In terms of voice-acting and sound design, this game is variable. Whilst the game’s music is brilliantly suspensful, the voice-acting can vary in quality somewhat – although this just adds to the vintage charm of the game. Likewise, the sound effects are all reasonably ok too.

All in all, wait until this game is on sale and then play the earlier parts of it. This game has a timelessly brilliant beginning, which is still utterly creepy to this day. The earlier parts of this game are atmospheric, suspenseful and a perfect example of a horror game. However, as soon as you start finding yourself in dingy underground catacombs, then save yourself the frustration and play something else instead….

If I had to give what I’ve played so far a rating out of five, it would probably get a three.

“Update” By C. A. Brown (Short Story)

The first thing that tipped Sally off to the fact that the date wasn’t going well were Tom’s bookshelves. The books were the wrong way round. Two uniform rows of beige pages stared out, blending in perfectly with the magnolia wall behind them. She thought about leaning in and taking a closer look, but decided against it. Instead, she said: ‘It’s so good to find someone with books these days.’

Tom laughed and reached for a slender electronic device, the plastic a slightly brighter shade of magnolia than the walls: ‘Oh, those. They came with the flat. I rent books electronically with this.’

‘Ah, cool.’ Sally tried to smile. ‘I’m probably kind of old-fashioned. I don’t know, I always worry that those things might crash or run out of battery or become obsolete.’

Tom’s voice was confident, like someone from an advert: ‘Ah, but that’s all part of the premium plan. You see, I rent the device too. So, it gets updated every year or so with the latest model. Plus, all of my books are kept in the cloud too.’

‘But, what if the wi-fi goes out? Or the cloud servers crash? Or what if…’ Sally stopped. ‘Oh god, I sound like one of those doomsday preppers.’

Tom looked puzzled. A second later, he raised his voice: ‘Bub, what are doomsday preppers?’

On top of the beige bookshelves, a small white sphere glowed blue. An electronic voice said: ‘Doomsday preppers. People who believe that the collapse of civilisation is imminent. Common preparations include a “bug-out bag” of essential supplies and detailed emergency plans. Those who fear a zombie apocalypse often also stockpile weapons too. In jurisdictions, like this one, where firearms are restricted by law 86% of forum posts suggest that a shovel is the best defensive tool. Do you want to learn more?

Tom shook his head. Sally grinned: ‘Oh god, it’s like the computer from Star Trek.’

‘I’ll queue a few episodes up to stream later. I’ve always meant to watch it.’

‘You’ve never seen Star Trek? Don’t worry, your first time is always the best. Anyway, I got you this.’ Sally fumbled through her bag and pulled out a small wrapped parcel. She handed it to Tom. Wrapping paper rustled quietly in the silent room. Tom stared at the little box of chocolates.

A second later, he smiled and said: ‘I got you something too.’ Tom reached for his phone. It was the latest model. After tapping it a couple of times, he held the screen up. It read: ‘Immersive cinema. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Admit two.

‘Oh, wow! Thanks.’

Tom nodded: ‘I prefer experiences, you know. You should see some of the selfies from the last screening of it. People look like they’re enjoying themselves.’

‘I’m sure they are. Hey, do you want to get dinner?’ Sally was about to suggest a restaurant when she stopped and said: ‘I’m sure you’ve got an app for it. Crowd-sourced takeaways or something like that.’

Tom shook his head: ‘No. I was thinking something more local. In fact, I was thinking of preparing it myself.’

Sally smiled: ‘Awesome. And I thought that I was old-school. What did you have in mind?’

As final words went, they wouldn’t go down in history. Whilst Tom chomped and guzzled merrily, the last thoughts to go through the gnawed remnants of Sally’s brain were that zombie movies had lied to her. That was, she thought, the problem with all of them being inspired by one movie from the sixties. They were stuck in the past. Stuck in the days when hollow, soulless beings stood out amongst the crowd. But, of course, everything gets updates these days.