Halloween Extravaganza: William Becker: STORY: The Secret Goldfish

“Mom,” the daughter called as her mother entered into the Louisiana homestead, “did you get anything that isn’t shit?”

Her mother had been at the supermarket for the majority of the day, leaving the daughter alone at home, forcing her to lie under the tin roof and listen to the sounds of the rain pattering against the roof of the shack. After the death of the Husband, it was just the two of them deep in the murky swamp among the mosquitos, alligators, copperheads, and bears. They lived in a messily strewn together shack that only had one room. Mother usually slept on a blowup mattress on the floor, while Daughter had the luxury of using their couch as a bed. Other than that, they had a record player, a bug zapping lamp, an ancient wood stove, some rusted silverware, and a refrigerator. Filling their yard was a sea of trash, that would have smelled hideously, but blended in with the scent of the mold, mud, and still water of the swamp. Mother was far too lazy to clean up or take any of the trash to the landfill when she went out to the supermarket. It wasn’t like she was a hard worker or anything, seeing as they lived off of welfare checks that were sent to the family for Mother’s “injuries.”

“Watch your language, please,” Mother quipped back at her, stepping over a mountain of cigarette cartons, fast food boxes, soda boxes, and laundry. She held the groceries tightly in her hands: more cigarettes and a giant box of Goldfish. She set one of the bags full of dozens of cigarette cartons on the floor, then started to shake the Goldfish box, as if she was jiggling a present to see what was inside. It was easy to hear them sloshing around on the inside. The smiling fish on the front cover seemed to mock the rest that would soon meet their fate. In a way, it was disturbing that Pepperidge Farms could be so egregious by killing millions without a second thought, but then again, it was all for the greater good.

“Goldfish for dinner again?” Daughter whined. Mother frowned at her ungratefulness, but shrugged it off; she wasn’t at all in the mood to get in a fight that night.

“A nice man gave me a discount,” Mother retorted, “we actually talked awhile. His name was Mark. He even gave me his telephone number!”

Daughter sighed, rolling her eyes back.

“I’m not rushing it again, you know that! Mommy has just been… really lonely. I asked him if he wanted to get dinner sometime.”

“What did he say?”

“He was such a nice man, really! He said he would love to do something with me. He even asked asked me if I wanted to go over to his house to watch some movies this weekend! He was just splendid!” There was that word again. Every time that Mother found a male interesting, she seemed to describe everything with him as splendid. She would often bring one of them over for a night or two, and Daughter would usually go for long walks when this happened, only for a new man to be in Mother’s Life within a month or so.

“That’s great, ma, that really is.” In the dim candlelight of the shack, Mother’s operculum looked smaller than usual. Daughter almost wanted to compliment her, but she didn’t have the energy.

“Are you hungry, baby? I bet you’ve been so bored all day,” she asked her child with a slow blink of her eye. Mother’s skin almost looked like a rainbow of colors, looking entrancingly beautiful in the light. How Daughter wished that skin would shed like that of a copperhead. Maybe if she was able to have Mother’s skin, the kids at school would make fun of her less. She wondered if Mother knew how jealous she was.”

“Starving! Let’s eat!” Daughter begged.

The two sat down in the sludge on top of the mattress, their unnaturally skinny legs crossed over each other. Mother sat the Goldfish in between them, letting the screams from the inside howl into the shack. She pulled two rusty forks from under the mattress, taking one for herself and giving the other to Daughter, who nervously eyed Mother’s red, gelatin-like eggs in one of the corners of the shack.

“Mother, you never told me, who is the father of them?”

“That isn’t your business, now is it?”

“Yes, it is. It’s pretty moist out here, Mother, so most of them will probably survive till adulthood. I wanna know who made my siblings. Why are they red?”

“We can’t support all of them, you know that. We’ll probably have to eat some to stay alive.”

Daughter kept her mouth shut. She knew how disturbing and vile the suggestion was. Even still, her gills flared up in anger. She watched as Mother pried open the cardboard container in front of them, then they both took a good whiff of the contents. Inside of the box was a gallon and a half of water, and dozens of meatball sized fish were rushing from side to side, urging for some kind of escape. Unfortunately, the fish were too small to leave the box, and even if they somehow scaled the walls the two would happily be able to devour them.

“Are you going to eat?” Mother asked, noticing that she was staring off into space.

“You said you were hungry! So you better eat! I spent good money on these!” Mother practically screamed, then jammed her fork into the box, piercing one of the fish like Poseidon’s trident. The blood of the fish instantly began to float through the water, making the rest of them violently rush into the walls to escape, but to no avail. Mother yanked the fork from the murky water but had only grazed the fish, poking through its stomach and piercing through its intestines. The scales easily crumbled away for the might of the rusty fork, forcing the intestines to leave the flapping body of the creature and wrap around the silver, like a macabre rope. The fish dangled in the air, violently convulsing and gasping for water. Daughter watched in horror at the amusement Mother found in the creature’s torture. After a few more agonizing moments that sent blood splattering onto the mattress, she brought the fork above her head, letting the fish dangle above her mouth. With a quick chomp of her teeth, which were some of the only parts of her that were still human, she swallowed the creature and separated it from the intestines wrapped around the fork, sending the black grime of its digested food splattered against her face. Mother gleefully giggled, running her fins over his lips and letting the fluid slowly drip into her mouth.

Daughter’s stomach grumbled, and suddenly, she found herself craving the salty taste of their scales, the irony taste of their blood, and the cool rubbery texture of their insides.

“Do you think my eggs will taste this good?” Mother finally asked after the two spent nearly ten minutes feasting on the squirming animals.

“I think they will, Ma,” Daughter replied, rubbing her stomach, “but I ate too much.”

“Maybe we can have them tomorrow,” Mother responded.

“Sure.”

“They don’t have to know that their mommy got a little hungry, do they? After all, I made them with love,” she said, softly purring, eyeing her children. They were puny inside of the translucent red eggs as they wobbled around. If only they could understand what the two were talking about. Would they be happy if the same woman who created them would be devouring them? Would they embrace death, or they would be afraid of their mother?

William Becker is an 18-year-old horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jumpscares of the popular modern horror.

His first novel, Weeping of the Caverns, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, Grey Skies.

Weeping of the Caverns

A man is arrested after a strange series of barbaric animal killings in the Rocky Mountains. He is taken away from his family, and then placed behind bars, but not even the solid confines of prison can save him from the hellish nightmare that begins to unfold.

Grey Skies

Roman Toguri finds himself burying the body of a nun in Boone, North Carolina. As the skies darken and it begins to storm, he is forced to shove the corpse into his trunk and take it home for the night, unaware of the torment that playing God will bestow upon him.

Enter Hell with two bonus short stories: The White Shade, an ultra-violent look into the mind of a mass shooter, and The Black Box, a psychedelic dive into weird horror.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: William Becker

Meghan: Hi, William. Welcome to Halloween Extravaganza. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

William Becker: My name is William Becker. I currently live in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. My second novel, Grey Skies, released on June 9th, 2019. I was adopted from Saint Petersburg, Russia when I was only eight months old. Outside of writing, I produce and direct film with my best friend,Travis Hill, and together we have formed Becker Hill Films, our first work being the music video for Bury Me In Black’s song Pharaoh, which can be found on YouTube currently. I listen to a ton of really experimental music, which partially inspired Grey Skies. I read semi-regularly, kind of dabbling in whatever book happens to catch my interest. Beyond that, I practice meditation nightly.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

William Becker: I enjoy Stephen King, but he is in no way an inspiration to me stylistically or with what I write about. When I tell people that I don’t know that I’m a horror writer, they always immediately jump to, “so like Stephen King?” No, not really, sorry.

I love studying religion. A lot of people say that and just focus on one, but any religion is pretty interesting to me. While I’m not personally very religious, I find any religion fascinating. I’ve made it a goal to go through the holy books of a lot of the major religions and just try and learn as much as I possibly can. I think if there’s one thing that can be expected from me in the future, it’s that I’ll write about the concepts of religion.

People assume I only listen to metal, but my music taste is really varied. I can go from listening to something like Dillinger Escape Plan or Behemoth, back into bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, then into stuff like Colter Wall, Johnny Cash, or Eric Church, then flip on some Tyler, The Creator, Śuicide Boys, or Ghostemane

I love poetry that isn’t by Robert Frost.

I’m really passionate politically but I have no desire to shove my positions down anyone’s throat.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

William Becker: Oh gosh, probably Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. I didn’t read it, but my mom read it to me every night and would get me to read a long. I remember reading Goosebumps at a pretty decently young age.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

William Becker: I just finished Midnight by Dean Koontz.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

William Becker: I LOATHE self-help books but I really enjoyed The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I think it’s basically eastern philosophies dressed up for millennials and with lots of swearing and modern examples. I think a lot of people who are younger/very stressed out by life should check it out at some point. It’s certainly not for everyone, because some people find the book obnoxious, but there are some valuable lessons about how many fucks one should give.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

William Becker: I think the first dive into writing is when I was 12 years old. I had a really big crush on this girl I had just met. I wrote really angsty stuff that I didn’t entirely feel to impress her. In a classic way, she didn’t like me back and ended up with some asshole that I hated and was really awful to her. My work became more depressing and something that I felt more, and I quickly stopped liking her. Not long after, she became one of my best friends.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

William Becker: Adaptability is everything. I love to write in school, probably more than I like writing at home. Just the chaos of everything kind of prevents distractions in a strange way. I’m not likely to dick around and end up reading threads about Donald Trump on reddit if I don’t have too much flexibility. Anywhere that’s busy always works well for me.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

William Becker: I stop every few paragraphs, re-examine them, send them to a friend or two, often rewriting sentences and doing research on tiny details that probably don’t matter. It can sometimes take obnoxious amounts of time for me to write a page.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

William Becker: My answer to this will change almost every time I write something new, but Grey Skies gets that title. The symbolism, the subtle details, the ciphers, the ending, and the buildup make the story really interesting to re-read. It wears its influences on its sleeve, but in a way, is completely able to stand on its own. I remember posting the story on Wattpad way back when and watching everyone struggle to comprehend each new chapter, as if people were gazing upon a newborn child. I recognize how pretentious that sounds, but people’s reactions to the novel have always been so interesting to me. It’s a confusing, complex, and weird piece of work, but it’s currently my favorite thing that I’ve ever done

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

William Becker: Of Mice and Men really influenced my writing style. The way that John Steinbeck writes each scene has been my basis for a while. He writes his work like a movie, describing the setting at the beginning of each scene and rarely interrupting the action with description that doesn’t matter. Of course, some people find that overwhelming, which is completely understandable, but it’s always kept things organized for me.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

William Becker: A good story is like any other piece of good art: it must either provoke or entertain the audience. A great story can do both.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

William Becker: It’s always more realistic to have characters be in a morally grey area. People who are evil for the sake of being evil or are overtly good for no reason are boring. I don’t have to be in love with the main character to love the story. Walter White is a fantastic example. He has good motivations in the beginning, but he’s inherently selfish and kind of a manipulative jackass to Jesse. I think that to truly love a character, they have to be relatable in some way to the audience, or at least interesting. James Carver from THE WHITE SHADE, which is one of the two stories attached to Grey Skies is relatable, even though he isn’t considered a good person by the end of the novel.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

William Becker: Answering this will put me in jail.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

William Becker: I personally can’t stand covers that just feature some person standing in front of a backdrop or some abstract symbol. There was so much potential in books like A Game of Thrones to have a great, really interesting looking cover, but they always seem to cheap out and use something that isn’t very interesting. Maybe I shouldn’t talk, considering my first novel is just a picture of a house edited to look like Texas Chainsaw, and it’s shallow to judge a book by its cover, but still, there’s so much potential with covers. It won’t put me off from reading a book, but it’s certainly pretty lame. There are very few books that I look at and think, “wow, what a nice cover!” However, The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge has one of my favorite book covers of all time.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

William Becker: That not everyone is going to like your work, especially as you go in a more experimental direction. Don’t do it to please others, do it because you love it.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

William Becker: Very few scenes are hard to write. Sometimes, making complex description interesting is nearly impossible, especially considering a lot of people tend to skip over description that they find overwhelming.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

William Becker: It’s weirder, more complex, and more confusing. It’s a lot less straightforward than most horror and has a lot more symbolism.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

William Becker: The name is both literal and figurative. I’ll try and make it as condensed as possible. Most of the book features rain, Grey Skies bring rain. Rain is more of a metaphor for torment. Drowning and asphyxiation are important to the central idea of the novel. As is the whole “fingerprints don’t show well in the rain” idea.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

William Becker: Short stories are more fun and way easier to do, but I always feel more proud of my novels. Life is so short and it takes a lot of dedication to write a full piece of work. It always feels like I achieved something great whenever I finish a novel. They’re much longer, more packed full of characterization, etc. Don’t get me wrong I love my short stories (most of them can be found on Wattpad) but there’s something that feels amazing about finishing a novel.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

William Becker: Anyone who has an open mind or just wants to read a good story. I would love to say that no one under 18 should read my story, but I worked on most of my first novel when I was 14, so you can honestly do whatever the Fuck you want.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

William Becker: I am such a perfectionist that I never write anything that I can’t even attempt to use. Usually, the “deleted scenes” get scrapped before they’re written.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

William Becker: There’s a few hints in Grey Skies (cough, cough, the only picture in the entire novel).

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

William Becker: Expect nothing, then you’ll be always pleasantly surprised. I have no plans to stick with any genre. My only consistency is that my work will stay dark and close to the heart.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

William Becker: I have two Instagram accounts (one and two), and I have a Goodreads account which is just my name.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

William Becker: Don’t do drugs.

William Becker is an 18-year-old horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jumpscares of the popular modern horror.

His first novel, Weeping of the Caverns, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, Grey Skies.

Weeping of the Caverns

A man is arrested after a strange series of barbaric animal killings in the Rocky Mountains. He is taken away from his family, and then placed behind bars, but not even the solid confines of prison can save him from the hellish nightmare that begins to unfold.

Grey Skies

Roman Toguri finds himself burying the body of a nun in Boone, North Carolina. As the skies darken and it begins to storm, he is forced to shove the corpse into his trunk and take it home for the night, unaware of the torment that playing God will bestow upon him.

Enter Hell with two bonus short stories: The White Shade, an ultra-violent look into the mind of a mass shooter, and The Black Box, a psychedelic dive into weird horror.