The Atrocity Exhibitionists

 

Brian Hodge, "The Atrocity Exhibitionists" in Screams From the Dark, ed. Ellen Datlow (Tor Publishing Group: 2022).

This story is packed with monsters! With that said, there aren't any fangs, shaggy fur, or shambling gaits here. In fact, some aren't even individuals but are constituted by large groups of people that come together in specific patterns. This activity creates social monsters and monstrous movements that aren't reducible to the individuals that comprise them. Regarding this kind of monster, it isn't necessarily the case that any person who is part of the social creature is a monster in and of themselves or at an individual level. But the behemoth comes alive (often online) due to the spontaneous activity of individuals fueled by passion. This all ends up making the monster nearly impossible to bring down.

Many of the monsters in Hodge's story can create other monsters in reaction. One example of this is the atrocity exhibitionist, who is very good at spinning off monsters of various kinds (both individual monsters and social monsters). It is an attention addict, and it doesn't matter whether you like and support them or hate and combat them一they are strengthened by either action. This makes the monster nearly invulnerable. 


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