By John Palisano
When I set out to transcribe the many fleeting images from within my mind’s eye it’s more often than not a difficult task. My usual method involves a pad, a pen, and rather blunt usage of my primitive drawing skills. These images, so often captured from dreams, fade quickly. For years I tried to transcribe them into writing. Problem was by the time I thought of the proper descriptive words details were lost and my time wasted. Using a quick sketch method remains the closest to taking a snapshot of the subconscious.
Just such a daydream brought the Tennatrick to life. I’d been reading about a rather terrible fire season in Southern California. Which made me curious: how could there be so many fires? It felt unnatural, as though someone or some-thing quite diabolical were purposely starting the hillside infernos.
I fell asleep in my childhood bedroom; I was visiting my parent’s house on the East Coast. My dreams filled with a strange monster combing the California mountains after having pushed its way through the earth. Its hibernation over, the creature broke free from its shell. Preservative oils within spilled to the ground and caught fire.
In my mind’s eye I crouched behind a tree. Was it in vain to hope the creature wouldn’t find me? Unfortunately the creatures had many eyes, each much more advanced than my own. It spotted my hiding pace and charged toward me. The burrs on the end of its arms swung threateningly. It screeched and clicked, producing a sound similar to its name.
The monster towered over me and I realized then there were bodies near the foot of the beast, torn in two, oozing gut and gore. I was toast.
Staring into the monster’s face and getting a whiff of its oily breath, I knew I’d soon be another pile on the ground. I shut my eyes, because in dreams, it seems impossible to move or run.
A greater noise, deafening in volume, made me bend lower. It continued and I waited for the killing blow. It did not come, but the noise continued. I looked up to discover a second creature fighting the first. A classic monster movie distraction played out right in front of me. A cliché, sure, but who was I to complain?
Waking with that scene in my head, I sketched the creature, the environment, and the fire behind. I also wrote some key words that would help me remember details. Oily breath. Flesh colored guts. White ash like snow.
From there I was able to assemble the story now published in MIDNIGHT WALK. It went through several draft. My strange dream crossed over from the mysterious world of imagination to a printed page.
Picturing myself as a kind of explorer, I’m constantly searching for strange monsters among dark frontier borders. There are many new uncharted species out there, but it’s likely they’d choose to remain hidden.
I’m just starting to explore, so if you’d like to get a backpack, I’d be grateful for company. Just do yourself a favor and bring along a reliable pen and a good notepad. You never know what you may stumble upon.