The Terror of Knowing
What This World Is About
Thanks to Nightworms for letting me say a few words about Let Me Out I’ve Had Enough, my first published collection of shorts. Most of these stories are published here for the first time. The few which have been published before have been given some nips and tucks and a bit more shine.
Inside you’ll find dark works with speculative elements. A couple of stories could be labeled sci-fi, most that would be labeled horror. Despite their differences, certain things unite them all. In each of work, there is a clear sense of desperation, and when this desperation gets too much, a cry out for help, a plea for relief, a Let Me Out I’ve Had Enough.
This line was partly inspired from that Queen and David Bowie collaborative song, Under Pressure, and the lyric: “It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about, watching some good friend scream let me out”
Consider this a content warning, for in each story, suicide is portrayed in some fashion. Sometimes it’s in the first sentence, sometimes it’s at the end, sometimes it’s a primary theme, other times it’s only a minor element, but you’ll find someone wanting to take their own life in every tale. This collection is certainly not meant as some treatise on suicide, but perhaps more for my own therapy. In my profession as a licensed professional counselor, I am exposed to suicide daily, and I think it affects me more than I realize. I estimate I hear of 20 suicide attempts a week, which adds up to over a thousand a year. The idea of life being so terrifying, depressing, debilitating that it becomes unbearable is one of the greatest terrors. Lack of meaning, lack of hope. To want to die.
Dark stuff, right?
I’ve always felt that talking about our worst fears and most hidden thoughts actually makes us feel lighter, more understood, and therefore eases the weight we all carry. Not being afraid to go there is true in both fiction and counseling. Not being afraid to go there is true for both writers and therapists. When working with someone who has suicidal ideation, if the mental health clinician is afraid to use the word suicide or talk about it openly, this actually can make those who suffer feel more isolated. There’s a sense of, “My God, what I’m experiencing is so damn scary my therapist can’t even talk about it? Well, I better not talk about it either. I’m so troubled, my darkness can’t be penetrated by the healing light of therapy.”
This fiction tries to showcase some of that darkness. To shine the light on it and present things we know are there but don’t often see. Of course, this work is not for everybody, and I would hate for someone’s world to be made more difficult to navigate by reading, so therefore the content warning.
While most of my stories, both within and outside this collection, are considered dark, this is certainly not how I feel about my life. I think others would agree that I’m generally happy, cheerful, perhaps too sarcastic, perhaps too many dad jokes that fall flat, but imagine if I couldn’t stick a knife in my heart and spill it all over the page? It’s a fantastic outlet.
I find that dark fiction unites us, understands us. Or at least, it understands me, when it’s at its best and not afraid to talk about anything, take me to any dark place. Fiction holds my hand while I have a look, and returns me back in a more understood place.
There have been moments in my most despondent days of addiction where I felt, as the title suggests, Let me out I’ve had enough. Well, I’ve stayed in, and I’m so happy I did, for I’ve felt moments of joy that I never thought possible. I wish that upon everybody who has experienced such hopelessness and helplessness, for I like to believe everyone has better days that await, but damn does it require superpowers of patience and perseverance.
Fiction by itself, either writing or reading, is certainly no substitute for real therapy, of which I am an advocate of. I have seen a therapist for many years off and on. It’s been said that there are two primary groups who are in therapy—those most mentally fit, (for they are not afraid to deal with their issues) and those most mentally ill—for without therapy, something more disastrous would happen. Sometimes you go from one group to the other.
For free and confidential support for people in distress, or their loved ones, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741, or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
This has been a unique project for me. I’ve always felt writing shorter works is harder than writing longer pieces. To paraphrase a quote, perhaps misattributed to Mark Twain: “I’m sorry this letter is so long, if I had more time, it would be shorter”
I certainly could not have done it alone.
Thanks to the folks at Shock Totem, Corpus Press, thanks to folks like John FD Taff and Julie Hutchings, and Kealan Patrick Burke who’ve helped me tremendously
Huge thanks to beta readers and proof readers, Beth Griffith, Hayla Richards, Michael Fowler, and Sharry Bronson. Thanks to cover artist Kiren Bagchee for rights to use his fantastic work of art.
Lastly, thanks to every reader who ever picked up any of my works. My hope is, if nothing else, you’ve never been bored.
Check out Let Me Out I’ve Had Enough at the links below
About the Author
Mark Matthews is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a licensed professional counselor who has worked in behavioral health for over 20 years. He is the author of novels such as On the Lips of Children, All Smoke Rises, and Milk-Blood, as well as the editor of Lullabies for Suffering and Garden of Fiends. In June of 2021, he was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. Reach him at WickedRunPress@gmail