Short Stories 366:289 — “each thing i show you is a piece of my death,” by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer

Okay, then. Recently, I was chatting with some friends about a book, House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski, and the two of us who’d read it were trying to explain it to the three who hadn’t, and it was kind of amusing because we were more animate than coherent. This brings me to “each thing i show you is a piece of my death,” which almost immediately reminded me of House of Leaves, but in an internet-meme way, rather than, uh, a house-bigger-on-the-inside-than-the-outside way. Both stories start with a single kernel, then build layers of story on top and around, until you realize you’re not only “up” through those layers of stories into wider tales all affected by the kernel of the initial creepy thing, but also that creepy thing is also rising up with you, spreading and reaching out to all these new participants in the greater narrative.

What I’m saying, basically, is this is creepy-as-hell.

So, the kernel in this case is a pair of filmmakers who are trying to put together a new project (and get a grant for it) around the idea of connecting snippits of footage from multiple people into a sum-greater-than kind of whole. One of the footage pieces they get is supremely disturbing: a video of an apparent suicide, the quality of the footage of which seems “off” and dated. It couldn’t be real, certainly. Right?

Right?

What follows is a kind of slow spread: the man in the film seems to show up elsewhere, in the background of other clips, of other movies, even on things completely unrelated to the project these two filmmakers put together, and the spread of it is interspersed with interviews, e-mails, investigations and the like, jacking up the tension notch by notch throughout, and leaving a nice “hey, how about a nightmare tonight?” package right in the middle of the subconscious for later delivery. I’m sure I’ll be signing for that particular package in the future. Gah. Anyway, don’t take it from me, you can go read it yourself over on Apex.

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