Thursday, November 13, 2008


OK, it's been 2 days since I ended Octane, and so far I've received one -- ONE -- comment about it, and that one was undecided as to if it was good or bad.

I am astounded that a story that everyone seemed to love until the end was posted has generated so little commentary.

When I have gotten an opinion out of people -- usually by tackling them and saying "Give me your opinion on this, or else" -- they seem to say the same things:
  1. Uh, what happened?
  2. Kind of abrupt.
  3. Hate the last lines.
So, fine. I'm going to address these concerns.

What happened?
The car ate the Eucharistic bread and wine, which, according to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, is the transubstantiated flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Since the Yellow Peril thirsted for the blood of the innocent, it stands to reason that the divine blood of the Son of God would really fix that problem.

Is the car permanently cured or does it need to go back periodically?

I deliberately left that up to the viewer, mainly because I didn't want to lie down at the intersection of Faith and Story Demands. If I said that the car was permanently cured, that leaves all the horror aficionados going "Well, that's awful convenient." If I say that the car needed constant tending, then I am suggesting that a curse is stronger than God, which is something that really makes me uncomfortable, and I'm certainly not the only one who feels that way.

If you want the curse permanently removed, it is.

If you want it a constant labor, it is. Perhaps the narrator sells it to the priest, and the church gets a really efficient vehicle for the next 20+ years.

This isn't rocket science, people. I don't have to spell everything out for you.

It seems abrupt.
Really? It seems to me like it's a desperate race against time as the narrator, at his wit's end, tries to do an end-run around the curse before he loses control and someone else dies.

Some people have said that the ending is a bit too cute, or tidy, or needs foreshadowing. Fine. These are valid points. Now just kindly tell me what you suggest I do to fix it? Simply flailing your arms and saying "Ugh, foreshadow more" helps me not one whit. A suggestion like, "Maybe he hears a sermon on the radio" is better.

The ending is happy. There are no happy endings in ghost stories.
I direct your attention to the first paragraph of chapter 1, and say "Your expectations are not my problem, as I clearly noted from the beginning that this was an unconventional tale."

The explanatory paragraph at the end is unneeded.
I'll pass that along to all my Jewish, Hindu, Pagan, and Atheist friends. We don't all come from the same religious and cultural background, and I wanted my readers to understand the ending.

The ending is too preachy.
Really, at this point, all I have to say is "Fuck your hypocritical double standard." If you can accept a magically haunted car that eats people and uses blood for fuel, then you can damn well accept that Roman Catholicism has it right. (Full disclosure: I'm not Catholic.) I think it's ridiculous to claim that curses are all right in horror but religion isn't. Case in point: The Exorcist, one of the scariest fucking movies of all time and one that takes religion completely seriously.

Now, with that out of my system, I will be more than happy to address whatever valid points or criticisms you wish to make. Please show your work.


  1. I liked the story, but I have to agree that the ending seemed a bit abrupt. Think of most horror movies, you don't usually get a "We solved the problem and... Done!" ending. There's usually some catch, or price to pay. If, for example, the main character had to themselves take Communion and then feed *themselves* to the car - then you're cooking with gas.

  2. But don't lose heart about the lack of comments, it can take people a while to catch up - I know I went about a week without checking my blogroll, and all of a sudden I found I had like 4 Octane installments to read! Took me a bit to process through 'em.

  3. Hey Erin,
    I have had limited internet access the last few weeks but here is commentary now.

    The ending did seem a bit abrupt in that the character had the brainwave, went to fulfill it and managed to do so fairly easily but that got me thinking about the themes you've been covering and led me to go back and re-read the story from the start which was no bad thing.

    At the end of that I come back with (apart from long sentences) I still like the tempo, neither the language nor the plot need any padding in the body but I would like to throw my vote behind the 'character eats Eucharist, car eats character but character survives' alternate ending because even though it keeps the essential elements of the existing ending it gives it that sting at the end with some extra suspense for the reader and some extra physical danger thrown at the protagonist along with the hefty doses of menace.
    Plus it would scare the heck out of the priest.

    When you refer to the eucharist as the 'remainder of the sacrament' that might not be clear to all readers. Would you want to replace the first use of 'elements' with something like 'the wine and the wafers' as that way you still get to use the term but get to explain a little more for non-Christians and lapsed folk alike? Or maybe that's covered enough in the 'blood and body' reference in the last paragraph. Author's choice :-D


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