Saturday, January 22, 2022

Nesting — Free Poetry Reprint

 Nesting originally appeared in Multiverse, an anthology of science fiction poetry.


Nesting

I didn't say anything when you started hoarding marbles

when I found Christmas baubles in my shoes

or glass eyes in the silverware drawer.

I know you have a need to decorate our home like a bower bird

That's how your species says

"I love you"


I kept my mouth shut when you escalated to beach balls

and filling the bathroom with balloons

Earth boys show their love with candy and flowers

You put a human hamster ball in the kitchen

I was okay with that because

I love you


But this has simply gone too far

What will the neighbors say?

I will not have the dwarf planet Pluto in my backyard

Put it back where you found it

Bring chocolate instead

I love you

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Personal Reflections On Bloody Mary

My story Personal Reflections On Bloody Mary is now available to read for free in Trembling With Fear, on The Horror Tree.

 For best results, please imagine this story being read by Owen Wilson.

I tried to write this story several times. I knew the basic plot and the twist at the end, I even knew I didn't really want to develop the characters much, I just wanted to have the story describe what is happening to them.

But it just wasn't working out… until I decided to write it as if it was narrated by Owen Wilson.

I have no idea why this idea even came into my head. I mean, I do. It's because I absolutely loved his character in Loki, and his unique way of talking just kind of found a place in my heart. But I have no idea why I decided I needed to write a horror story in his voice.

But I did anyway. And it was so much easier to write in a really colloquial and folksy style (my phone tried to dictate that as foxy, and… I mean, that's not wrong I guess) if I stopped thinking about "how should I write this" and started thinking about "if Owen Wilson was sitting on a porch in a rocking chair, telling a spooky story in his really casual, Southern way, how would he say this?"

So that's my writing advice for the day. If the story is good but writing it isn't working out, pick an actor with a unique way of speaking and pretend you are writing the story for them to narrate.

About the actual story:

It's atmospherically spooky but nothing too terrifying happens. Kind of a psychological horror more than anything. And Bloody Mary. But besides a sort of psychological and existential horror, I don't think I need to put any content warnings. Nothing bad happens to the dog, blood is mentioned hypothetically but not actually in the story.

I'm really excited to be published on The Horror Tree. I've been going to that site for years to find submission calls and it's been a great resource.

So I hope you enjoy Personal Reflections On Bloody Mary, and I especially hope you read it in the voice of Owen Wilson.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Santa Claws Is Comin' To Town

 Happy holidays, dear readers! I've got a little gift for you, in the form of a free story that can only be read right here on my blog.

You've probably heard the debate about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It obviously is, but what if it was also a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie about a big city advertising executive who doesn't have time for Christmas—or love—until she goes back to her hometown and reconnects with her childhood crush?

And what if it was really gay?

And what if Hans Gruber was a giant cat from Icelandic mythology that eats children?

Yes, really.

I don't remember why all of those particular elements came together in my brain to form this story, but I kind of love it.

So welcome to Gennaro, where it’s not Christmas without a few missing children but we Absolutely Do Not discuss the fact that a giant cat terrorizes our sleepy little town every year. Make sure to stop by and see the Christmas pageant, as long as we have enough children left to perform it!

Content warnings: kidnapped children in danger, mentions of dead children in the past, PTSD about being attacked by a giant cat, (no one actually dies in this story though), every adult in town just totally not being concerned about the crisis, way too many Die Hard references.

Don't take this story too seriously. It is ridiculous on purpose. Hopefully that's half the charm.


Santa Claws is Coming to Town

By Jennifer Lee Rossman


An increasingly unnerving sensation settled on me with every falling snowflake. I tried to convince myself that it was nothing more than the anxiety that comes with a looming reunion with the girl I had a crush on all through high school, but I knew I was lying to myself.

"Same as always," I muttered, wrapping my arms around myself; despite my disgustingly cute new sweater with the little kitty and Christmas tree pattern, the cold wind managed to seep all the way to my bones as I rode in the back of the horse-drawn carriage.

"What's that?" the driver asked. A different driver than the last time I was home, but the horse was the same auburn and white paint. Good old Argyle.

"Nothing," I said, because the longest-standing Christmas tradition in Gennaro—besides the pageant, anyway—was pretending everything was perfectly fine even when we knew it wasn't. "I'm just looking forward to the pageant. They haven't changed anything, have they?"

"No," the driver said with a laugh. "The three wise men still follow the star, not GPS on their phones."

That reminded me… My hand went to my pocket, wanting to check for messages from the office, but they still hadn't made a proper road from town to the highway so I don't know why I expected cell service. "I hear Holly's oldest is acting this year?"

"Oh, yes. Currently the innkeeper, but a few more kids and he might work his way up to Joseph."

It took a couple of seconds for his meaning to sink in, my mind lost out among the pines and bare birches, instinctively searching for shadows that I didn't want to find. "What?" I asked quietly, all of my childhood fears and traumas and holly jolly PTSD smothering me like an avalanche.

"Oh, nothing," the driver said.


***


The sound of children's laughter carried through the propped-open doorway of the school, and I paused to let a man carrying a fiberglass donkey go ahead of me. Because feminism means the lady can let the man go first. Especially if she's looking for any reason to stall.

This was why I never had children. This, and my incredibly important advertising career which left me no time for Christmas, let alone love. But mostly this, the knowledge of how quickly laughter could turn to screaming without anyone noticing right away.

I stood there for a while, willing myself to go back to the city, work on the Johnson account through the holiday. Work. Work would fix things.

But then another sound cut through the laughter. A voice I hadn't heard since that silent night turned to holy hell all those years ago, at least until receiving that voicemail last week. "Come out to the pageant, we'll get together, have a few hot cocoas."

Holly.

I went inside, memory guiding my feet down the halls decked in merriment and cheer and missing children posters printed on seasonally appropriate red and green paper.

The auditorium looked exactly as it had always looked come December, with the anachronistic backdrop depicting Christmas trees in the year zero desert. In the center of the stage stood the manger, crooked as ever and currently empty save for the holy infant so plastic and mild.

His parents, the angel, and other various characters ran around in costume, playing tag and having candy cane sword fights. The gold and silver accents on their outfits glistened in the winter sunbeams streaming through the skylights. Cheerful, festive.

Just like last time.

"Beth!"

I turned at the sound of my name to see Holly, arms outstretched, and I fell into her hug. For a moment, the rest of my worries melted away. The screams, my workload, the disappearances… the cat. All of that existed outside the perfect little snow globe in which I was hugging Holly. She still smelled like peppermint and strawberries.

We finally, reluctantly, broke the embrace, but held hands as we looked at each other at arms' length, exchanging "good to see yous" and "it's been so longs."

"So, Ms. Bigwig Advertising Exec finally came home," Holly said a little while later, the promised hot cocoas swirling with sweet steam as we sat across from one another at Noel's Café. "It's a Christmas miracle."

"I could say the same about the hottest girl in school finally noticing me," I murmured into my mini marshmallows, only half hoping she wouldn't hear me.

She did, and blushed a deep red for a moment. "I… um. Yeah."

There was more to her invitation than romance—if romance was even part of it—but I wanted to ignore that for as long as I could.

"You're a cop," I said, because maybe I hadn't been too busy to check her Facebook every so often.

"I am." Pride shone in her evergreen eyes, but we both knew why she had gone into that line of work. It had nothing to do with the practically nonexistent crime rate, and everything to do with being the person with the gun who people called when local legends made kids go missing. "And divorced. Two kids. Eve and Gabriel."

The kids. I knew we'd have to talk about it eventually, but couldn't we stall a little longer? Just until the bottom of the mug? "What are you doing in your spare time?"

She gave a dismissive wave. "Oh, nothing important."

Noel, the café owner, overheard this and called out from behind the counter, "Don't you lie to her. Show her what you've been making. I see the crochet hook in your bag."

Holly shook her head, sheepishly closing her purse. "Really, it's just a little craft project. And I need more yarn to finish it before I show anyone." She sighed. "Beth, I don't know what to do, and I think you're the only one willing to admit that something weird happens here every Christmas." She looked at me for a long while, scared and vulnerable in a way I had never seen her. "You're the only one with the scars."

It took a little more hot cocoa, but I said yes. Of course I did; not only was the girl of my dreams asking me to help take down the beast of our nightmares, but it was about the closest thing I could think of to work, and I was itching for productivity.


***


Nobody wanted to talk about the disappearances. They put up posters just in case, but like one resident explained before excusing herself from the conversation, "It's not really Christmas in Gennaro without a few missing children."

"I get it," I told Holly as we walked down Main Street, disinterestedly peeking in shop windows packed with gingerbread villages and Christmas ornaments. I tried not to mentally rewrite all of the ad copy, but failed. "Every year, something attacks the children and they can't stop it. It's scary as hell, and it's easier to pretend it isn't happening since there's nothing you can do anyway. But it is happening and—"

There was a meow. We both froze, but nothing showed itself so we pretended it was just some ordinary cat hiding somewhere nearby. Holly linked arms with me, pulling me close and stopping me from anxiously unraveling the loose thread on the bottom of my sweater.

"And you can't just run away to the city to escape the cat," she said, simultaneously completing my thought and getting in a subtle dig at me for leaving.

I nodded, but another meow sent prickles of cold up and down my arms and effectively stole the words from my breath. No, not a meow. This was more of a yowl, low and angry. It was a warning, such as you might hear if you pet a cat's belly five times instead of four and therefore needed to incur the wrath of Mittens.

Except it was loud. Maybe not a jet engine taking off, but louder than any cat had a right to be, and it came from seemingly every direction at once.

We grabbed each other's hands. Christmas Eve wasn't even until tomorrow, and the cat rarely made itself known to this degree. Hell, it was usually so good at hiding, most people in town hadn't even believed in it until my senior year, the fateful year with so many disappearances that I found myself playing Mary when I should have been directing the younger kids.

I turned and led Holly back to the school I never wanted to see again. "We need to protect the kids."


***


Claw marks revealed fresh wood near the handle of the auditorium door. Short, shallow gouges, probably made by something small and pitiful.

I froze. I couldn't go in, couldn't face the memories again.

Holly did not share that particular problem. She burst through the door, more like a big city police officer than a small town cop whose biggest problem eleven months out of the year was stopping people from taking extra free samples at the fudge shop.

I know I had more important things to worry about, like stopping a mythological cat from stealing the town's children, but damn. I wanted to design an entire advertising campaign around her confidence. If nothing else, it would be more exciting than the pet clothing designers I had been working with recently.

Inside, the rehearsal was going on as expected, the little drummer boy playing for the baby Jesus, the wise men arriving with their gifts, everyone carrying on through tears and looking like they had just gone through something traumatic.

Like I said, as expected.

"Gabriel," Holly said, her voice little more than a frightened whisper. "He's gone."

Damn it. "Get your daughter," I told her, and marched up to Mr. Rudolph, who hadn't changed much since he was my history teacher. A little less hair, a few more broken blood vessels in his nose. I didn't blame him; I would drink too, if my students kept coming up missing. "Which way did the cat go?"

He shook his head. Of course he did. Nobody ever talked about the cat.

"You know what, screw it." I went up on stage, gently moving the little drummer boy out of my spotlight, and started fussing with the loose strings on my sweater again. I never did well with anxiety, and it was starting to noticeably unravel. "Listen up, people. I don't like being on stage. Last time I was on stage, a giant cat tried to drag me back to its lair and play with me like a mouse until it got tired and devoured me."

"Miss Nicolas," said one of the adults who I recognized from school way back when, frowning in annoyance. "Could you kindly tell us what this is all about?"

"Sure, Charlotte Browne, I can tell you what this is all about." I cleared my throat, spotted Holly and her daughter, and gave them a quick smile before continuing. "And there were in the same small town, people trying to put on a Christmas pageant. And lo, a big ass cat from Icelandic mythology came down, and the hissing of the cat surrounded them and they were freaking terrified. And the overworked ad exec who actually read about folklore said unto them, 'Fear the damn cat—'"

"Beth," Holly prompted, making a "get on with your point" gesture.

I nodded, tried to get myself under control. Not the time for a Peanuts Christmas Special pastiche. "Look, people. I love this town. I didn't want to leave it. But every year, a giant cat that can change its size comes down from the mountains, kidnaps our children, and leaves the bodies on our doorsteps on Christmas morning. And you know what? I didn't really question it because, you know, tradition. But denying that it happens is only making it worse because we can't talk about our grief, I can't show anyone my scars, and the girl I've had a crush on since I was in pigtails can't save her child."

Holly blushed and looked at her feet.

"Do you know why I am a workaholic who doesn't have time for love and Christmas? Because I actually researched giant cats that eat children on Christmas. Which is another reason this town needs Internet access, but I will save that speech for Arbor Day. There's a cat from Icelandic mythology that eats children who are lazy and who didn't get a new article of clothing that year. And maybe that's not this cat's deal, but the possibility of that scared me into working so much that I didn't have time for Christmas, and we won't know why the cat is doing this until we actually acknowledge that it exists." I paused for dramatic effect. "So who's with me?"


***


Holly. Holly was with me. No one else, but then do you really need anyone else when you've just fallen in love, especially when it's true love that is absolutely not just a panic response to a crisis?

But at least the others pointed us in the direction the cat had taken Gabriel. That was something, I guess.

"You really had a crush on me all that time?" Holly asked, her voice soft as the snow gently crunching beneath our feet.

I shrugged, huddled close to her for warmth. By then, anxiety had turned my sweater to a crop top, leaving only a tank top to guard my abdomen against the cold. "Yeah."

"I think if I realized I was gay sooner, it would have been mutual. But then I wouldn't have my kids." She didn't say anything for a long while. "Gabriel has new clothes. He's not lazy. Neither were you."

"Look, I don't know. Maybe they need to be handmade clothes, maybe the cat is a hypocrite who hates people who take naps. I don't know—"

There was another awful yowl, and a black cat crossed our path through the forest outside town. Just a little thing. Hardly bigger than a kitten.

That is, until it passed by again, this time full grown.

"What do we do?" Holly asked, the cat slowly sauntering back and forth, staying as far away as possible while still being seen, and getting bigger every time.

"You're assuming I had a plan."

Somewhere in the woods, there came the sound of cracking tree limbs as if something unfathomably large was moving about. The tops of the pines swayed, bending under the pressure of the cat forcing its way through.

I knew how big it could get. The memory of its shadow eclipsing the auditorium skylights still showed up in the occasional nightmare. How could we possibly hope to fight it?

When the cat appeared again, it was the size of a large dog, and it stood in the middle of the path and stared straight at me. Did it recognize me?

Holly's breath warmed my ear as she whispered, "Beth. It wants you."

I knew it did. I was the only one who had escaped its lair; the only one who knew the way out. I needed to go with it, do whatever I could to save the kids, assuming the cat hadn't tired of having them as playthings yet. But I couldn't move. My shivering had nothing to do with the shredded state of my sweater.

Images filled my mind, children discarded like mice that had stopped squeaking and ceased to be fun. Claws and teeth. Blood.

And I had run away. From the others, from the town. Run away to the big city and got so busy that I didn't have time to worry about the people I left behind.

I couldn't fix any of that, but maybe I could prevent anyone else from ever feeling this very merry misery again.

In a surge of adrenaline, I kissed Holly like every branch overhead was mistletoe, then I locked eyes with the cat.

"Here, kitty kitty."


***


They were all alive. Thank the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future, all of the children were alive. Scratched, bitten, bearing the injuries from having been batted around like a catnip mouse, but alive.

My eyes struggled to adapt to the gloom of the cave where the cat brought us, and the idea that the cat could see us in perfect definition sent a new pang of panic to my heart. But I didn't need to see to remember the location of the crevice I'd escaped through last time.

Or to tell the children about it.

I stood between them and the cat, barefoot and wearing only my tank top and jeans. Holly had asked for the remnants of my sweater, for reasons I did not question, and one of the kids' shoes had been shredded and I wasn't about to let her go out in the cold without proper footwear. Besides, if I couldn't defeat the cat, I wouldn't need my shoes because I couldn't fit through the crevice anymore.

The cat paced, its mouth turned up in a cruel facsimile of a smile, eyes shining in the darkness.

It filled the cavern, ears flicking in irritation as they encountered stalactites two stories above me. One word echoed on loop in my head like that Mariah Carey song in a department store: doomed.

But as long as I could save these kids, as long as I could prove that the kids could be saved…

I lunged toward the cat, trying to do a cool duck and roll under its legs and failing utterly. Momentum only brought me so far, and I found my face directly in front of a giant paw.

A single retractable claw longer than my arm extended from its sheath while a rumbling purr vibrated the cave and sent bits of dust and debris filtering down like snowflakes.

Doomed. Doomed. All I want for Christmas is doomed.

And then we heard it. A soft little sound, like "Psstpsstpsst."

The cat's eyes became entirely pupils, it crouched slightly and its hind end wiggled in anticipation of pouncing.

We both stared toward the cave entrance. My breath caught in my throat when I saw Holly.

"What are you doing?" I asked, pleading. "Go!"

"Saving the woman I should have had a crush on since I was in pigtails," she said. "I didn't realize it until now, but it broke my heart when you went away and didn't have time for Christmas or love. Mostly the love part."

The cat's wiggling increased in speed. The cat didn't care about love anymore than it cared about Christmas. It just wanted to feed, and Holly looked as delicious as one of Mrs. Winterbourne's chocolate meringue pies. Or whatever the cat food equivalent is.

Holly gave a nervous chuckle. "This is kind of embarrassing, but I've bought everything you ever advertised, Bethlehem. That's why I didn't want to talk about my new hobby at Noel's." As she spoke, I noticed her hands moving rapidly, a flash of metal. "I thought you might recognize the crochet pattern."

Was she holding the loose yarn from my sweater?

"What pattern?"

And then she held it up. A tiny sweater with four sleeves.

"The ad for 101 Quick And Easy Winter Crochet Projects For Your Pet was really cute. And now I'm kind of obsessed with making them."

I opened my mouth to ask what this had to do with anything, but the cat began to shrink before my eyes and padded over to Holly, mewing sweetly.

Propping myself up on my elbow, I watched Holly pick up the kitten that had terrorized our town for centuries, and slip the sweater over its head. The cat purred, booped noses with Holly.

In response to my stunned silence, she said simply, "I thought maybe he was jealous that no one ever gave him new clothes."


***


For the first time since anyone could remember, the Christmas pageant in Gennaro didn't need to use understudies. In fact, we had kids to spare, and had to invent a few more wise men so everyone could be on stage.

Holly and I sat in the front row with her daughter on her lap and the cat on mine, cheering embarrassingly loud for her son, even though he made a horrible wise man and insisted on also being a cowboy. But the Bible has been translated so many times; who's to say Balthazar didn't actually say "Yippie-ky-ai, Mother Mary"?

Whatever happened next, whether I went back to the city or stayed here and tried to get them Wi-Fi so I could work remotely, it didn't matter. There would be time for all that eventually; right now, it was time for Christmas and love.

…and figuring out who stole the plastic baby from the nativity.

On my lap, the kitten purred smugly.


END





Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Keys To The Murder Castle

 My story Keys To The Murder Castle is now available at HyphenPunk! And I would like to direct your attention to my author bio for that particular story, because it mentions a little bit of news… Don Queerxote, my first story published with HyphenPunk, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

This is my first nomination for anything (on my own; Nothing Without Us was nominated for an Aurora), and even though it's very statistically unlikely for me to win seeing as thousands of people get nominated every year, I don't care. I'm excited.

So, onto the story!

Keys To The Murder Castle is… well, it's sort of queer Frankenstein and the fairytale Bluebeard, but with historical serial killers? But it's also about female empowerment and moving on from grief? But also murder?

I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say this much: HH Holmes was a real person, and so was his hotel where he murdered people during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. My story diverges from the real story, and involves my own personal theory about who was behind the Jack the Ripper killings in 1888 London, and Mary Jane Kelly was also a real person.

HH Holmes apparently named his pseudonym after Sherlock Holmes, so I named my main character after Irene Adler, the only woman to outsmart Holmes.

It's a dark story. The main character has done some things she really regrets, and plans to do more in the pursuit of her good intentions. Such as working with HH Holmes. But at its heart, it's a story about moving on from grief, doing the right thing (or at least, the least bad thing), and not getting so lost in the past that you lose sight of your future.

And I hope you enjoy it.

Giftmas 2021

Hello and happy holidays!

Once again, I'm teaming up with Rhonda Parrish to raise money for Edmonton's Food Bank and bring some holiday cheer and yummy food to people in need.

If you can, please consider donating to this fundraiser. Every dollar provides three meals, so any amount helps a lot.

This year, a bunch of authors have gotten together to tell you a story. Read the first part here, by Rhonda Parrish, and follow along every day as the next author adds their twist to the tale!



"Nope," Cherie said, reaching to close the door that no longer existed and therefore could not be closed.

She crossed her arms and glared at this most inconvenient magical doorway. Portal fantasies are all well and good when you're a child with no responsibilities, but she was in her 30s. If she went into another world, she wouldn't be traipsing around with magical creatures. (For one thing, she didn't think traipsing would be good for her knees.) She would probably be doing something, like taxes or… yeah, probably taxes.

So until she found a way to make the doorway stop being a doorway again, she would have to hang a quilt or something over the opening. Keep out the cold and otherworldly birds.

But as Cherie started for the linen closet, she heard a distant yet unmistakable voice that chilled her even more than the swirling wind coming through the doorway.

No. It couldn't be—

"You used to enjoy adventure," the voice teased.

Great Aunt Agnes. Her late Great Aunt Agnes. Who had passed away and should not be capable of talking.

Cherie peered into the other world again, squinting at a figure standing on the bridge, perfectly illuminated by a lamp post.

She couldn't be sure, or so she tried to convince herself. That could be any 6 foot tall octogenarian. And bright blue hair. And only one hand. It's not like the figure was distinctive or anything…

"Oh fine, I'll go through the portal, but I won't enjoy it," she grumbled as she went to put on her coat.

She came back and stood at the threshold between worlds, pretending the feeling in her stomach was indigestion instead of excitement. And there she hesitated. She was an adult. Adults didn't go through portals. They called scientists to study things like that.

"What are you waiting for?" Great Aunt Agnes asked.

"Will the door stay open after I go through?" Cherie shouted, squinting against the snowflakes blowing in her face.

"Of course!"

She stepped through.

"As long as you have the second doorknob!"

The… second doorknob? Slowly, Cherie turned, a knot of dread forming in her stomach.

The portal was gone, replaced by a snowy field dotted with smiling snowmen. Because of course it was. Because nothing was ever easy once you're an adult. Not finding comfortable shoes, not sneezing without hurting your back, and definitely not magic.

"Oh, hurry up," Great Aunt Agnes called out cheerfully. "He's waiting!"

"Who is?"


What happens next? That’s up to the next author, Iseult Murphy. Read the next part here!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Queerano de Bergerac

 Sometimes I write stories just because the title makes me giggle. Sometimes I write stories based on books and plays I've never read that were featured on episodes of Wishbone.

Sometimes both of these things happen and I end up with Queerano de Bergerac. It’s like Cyrano de Bergerac but it’s queer, and it’s available now in Queer Blades anthology!

My version of the story takes place on the moon during an uneasy period of peace between the native moon people and the colonizers from earth, and features a noseless, overly eloquent alien who falls in love with the human Roxanne but helps her awkward friend woo her instead when she becomes convinced that Roxanne will never love her back.

It is very not scientific. It’s really inspired by the  science fiction stories from the early 1900s where every planet has a breathable atmosphere and gravity comparable to earth, and there are rayguns and swords and European colonization allegories all smooshed together. But from the point of view of the aliens and the few good earthlings that want to help their peoples live in peace.

And also it is very gay.

Queerano de Bergerac is now available in PDF (e-book and paperback editions coming soon) in Queer Blades!

Epicenter

 I am happy to announce that my story Epicenter has been published by Hexagon Speculative Fiction Magazine!

Epicenter is about a crypto-seismologist (and if you don't know what that is, that's okay because she made up that title anyway) who gets in over her head investigating mysterious earthquakes she thinks are the result of the mythical Mongolian death worm.

With plenty of Tremors references and a horse named Rhonda, Epicenter is the answer to the question we've all been asking: "What if they let Jennifer Lee Rossman produce a really dorky and cute Syfy Channel Original Movie?"

(Hint hint, SyFy Channel. I'm totally available and have tons of weird ideas.)

Even though it has the general plot of a monster movie, Epicenter isn't very violent. One person gets eaten, but it isn’t graphic and nobody really liked them very much.

I love monster movies. I was watching Tremors when I was five. And while I can appreciate the surface fear—oh no, big scary thing is going to eat me—and enjoy that plot for what it is, I’ve always seen monster movies another way: they are allegories about how people are the real monsters.

(I wrote about this through the lens of the Jurassic Park franchise here)

Yeah, the monsters eat people and destroy things. But most of the time, it's because of bad decisions the people make. Jaws was only a problem shark because people were invading his waters, the dinosaurs only ate people because people decided to mess with nature and create dinosaurs.

So Epicenter is kind of my love letter to monster movies, just… much less metaphorical.