cut, Familiarity Does, fingertips, Wiswell

13 Days of Horror: John Wiswell – Familiarity Does


Our Halloween howls are sadly coming to a close, but my next guest in the 13 Days of Horror is a talent of incredible imagination, bona fide horror, and a seasoned humor that staves off the challenges of adversity. His outstanding story, The Nearest Thing, placed top 40 in the 2009 Editor Unleashed Flash Fiction 40 Contest, and another piece of his, The Thief of the Night Wind, soon to be published in Harbinger*33, is sure to be another smash hit. Not afraid to discuss politics…in the bathroom, he also has an impressive blog roll that I guarantee you will learn something valuable from, and is now the talk at Editor Unleashed in his article, How To Let Your Imagination Take Flight.

It is a pleasure to announce my next guest on the 13 Days of Horror, John Wiswell and his wonderfully, disturbing story, Familiarity Does.

Familiarity Does

by John Wiswell

Matvey stood under the 40-watt bulb in the garage, sizing up the body. He pulled on some latex gloves and picked up the wire cutters, nodding like a lumberjack sizing up a young tree. He took the cadaver’s left hand and began snipping off the fingertips so that the authorities wouldn’t be able to run prints if they found it after he dumped it in the river. The fingers swished into the wastebasket as responded to Nikola’s assertion.

“They may say familiarity breeds contempt, but I’ve always considered that glib. Sure, you’ve got to know what something is to hate it, but that isn’t always why you hate it. Sometimes you hate something because you can’t figure it out.”

He dropped the left hand to start on the right. It lolled off the side of the workbench, brushing against Matvey’s knee. He kicked it aside and continued.

“Now your country’s Mark Twain said familiarity breeds children, which is funnier. Also less true, I think. I am mighty familiar with my siblings, but unless I blacked out one holiday, I never fathered a baby by them.”

He dropped the wire cutters into the basket along with the fingers and the last of his low mien. Prying open the mouth, he squinted, angling the head so the garage’s dim bulb could illuminate inside.

“No, Nikola. I think familiarity breeds ability. The more familiar you get, the easier it is to do something. You get on a unicycle enough and you don’t even have to think about pedaling.”

Matvey grunted at Nikola’s bridgework and reached for the pliers.

John Wiswell blogs here: Bathroom Monologues

21 thoughts on “13 Days of Horror: John Wiswell – Familiarity Does”

  1. Very unsettling. I kept thinking about that picture up top as I was reading. It's a good scare,even outside of October. Very cool work with one-sided diaglogue.Laurel


  2. Dear Evil John ~ whatever do your laughs sound like on dark creepy nights? Dry wit and finger droppings line after line after . . . Sharper than what cuts through the titallation of your tales, Mr Wiswell is always wanting to get to the next line. They just beckon to creep you out. They're that good.Erin, your intros have been as dramatic as your writers' showcase of terror-talent. Ah this harbingers well. ~ Absolutely*Kate


  3. Executed with precision. You make it seem effortless, John. This is now one of my examples on how to write great flash. I like that it has a subtle mental shift running through it rather than the more common twist at the end.


  4. Erin, I really appreciated getting the Mischief Night spot. I'm even more flattered by Jodi's comments, but I swear this is just fictional evil! I do not do things like this in my garage.There'd be no room for the car.This is really the total opposite of today's Bathroom Monologue, isn't it? Maybe Matvey needs to meet Aisling.


  5. I think it is the voice in this that makes it so dark – the dry humor combined with his act of violence is the ultimate, creepy horror. Excellent characterization and flash fiction.


  6. Ouch and Yikes and Crystal Clear. Pure terror at its horribleness.For heaven's sake, I read 'dropped the wire cutters' as drop 'the WIFE cutters'….Fictional Evil? OMG. The words fictional evil doesn't seem to sweet to cover this story. Definatley the scariest and sickest of them all. Well done, John.


  7. Eeeeewwwww — I shuddered as he was snipping off the fingers! I still can't even write that without cringing! Great way to weave familiarity and Mark Twain in with killing. Awesome!


  8. Violent goodness, John. I feared using my fingers to type this. Irrational, I know. But I kept picturing my fingertips tumbling loosely over the keys…yikes!


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