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Brett Caron's picture

We Called It God

By Brett Caron in Scare Us

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When ancient words are spoken by a prayer group in Canadian suburbia, the pious and impious alike may soon face the wrath of God.


tcaron's picture
tcaron July 30, 2012 - 10:40am

Gave me goosebumps!

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 30, 2012 - 11:02am

Really fascinating, and really well done.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland July 31, 2012 - 9:45am

Probably the most original and definitely one of the most well crafted monsters in the challenge. The story really opens well and draws you right in. It ends well too. I think I would like to know the child's charachtr a little more and a better description of what her purpose for the monsters cause is. I know that the narrarator is confused but think he can better assume what her purpose is. Also i was confused if some of the others in the circle that fell dead also became what he did. Other than that you.get a big thumbs up from me. Thanks for sharing.

Sancho LeStache's picture
Sancho LeStache from El Paso is reading Hunger July 31, 2012 - 5:01pm

One of my favorite stories in this contest thing for sure. You can carry a creeping sense of dread pretty fantastically. It sucked me in from the get go.

trainman's picture
trainman July 31, 2012 - 5:30pm


There's a reason this is one of the 'hot stories' on the front page. Excellent work.

Ian's picture
Ian from Texas is reading Low Down Death Right Easy by J. David Osborne July 31, 2012 - 7:35pm

Brilliant story. Your pacing is excellent, you build tension perfectly throughout the story, and the "return home" had me squirming in my chair. Your closing lines are some of the best I've read in any story thus far. I especially like what you did with dropping the full name. Simple but terribly illustrative.

For what it's worth, I didn't have any problem with the daughter or her ultimate purpose. I thought you handled her exactly right. 

This is incredibly minor and probably more personal preference than anything else, but... The word "biomass" struck me as wrong somehow. It didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story. Maybe because it's too specific or clinical? That's how good this is... I can't even properly articulate my only marginal (very marginal) criticism.

Really, really well done. 

Brett Caron's picture
Brett Caron from Toronto, Canada is reading The Abolition of Man August 1, 2012 - 4:33pm

Wow, Ian.  You're going to make me blush.  

I'm amazed and gladdened by all of the positive feedback so far.  The word 'biomass' is indeed somewhat clinical or even detached; my reason for this being that the word is the only way that the narrator can begin to comprehend the idea being communicated (perhaps indirectly) to him by the abomination. 

At any rate, thanks again for such great feedback everybody!




MacReady's picture
MacReady July 31, 2012 - 11:52pm

Unique, creepy, descriptive writing, that sets itself an overall amazing imagination scaffolding to create the mental image that really allows the horror to dig in. Keep it up man!

Pengie's picture
Pengie August 1, 2012 - 5:35pm

I was entralled just reading it!

throwaway11's picture
throwaway11 August 1, 2012 - 6:10pm

I was compelled. I had to finish it. Well paced and vivid. It gives you the idea that it would be absolutely horrifying to be engulfed by an omnipotent being. To truly be "one with god" would be overwhelming, uncomfortable and absolutely out of your control. Well done. 

Pushpaw's picture
Pushpaw from Canada is reading Building Stories by Chris Ware August 2, 2012 - 7:59am

This is probably my favourite story so far. Just a well-written story full of beautiful, creative, specific imagery expressing something incomprehensible. Some examples I picked out:

I was seeing colours that don’t exist within our rainbow, and it physically hurt me to see them.

Incisions slowly but methodically appeared all over them, like a video of surgery on fast-forward.

I think the creepiest thing about this story is that by the end, the reader isn't sure if God is good or evil (just as you say your character isn't). But God certainly is powerful, so what are the ants supposed to do but worship it? Love the way you have taken the idea of religious oneness (which is usually imagined as some kind of union of immaterial soul only) and expressed it as material oneness (a much more disgusting image).

Inspired, creative story.

Thanks for sharing.

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson August 2, 2012 - 8:49am

Lovely opening really drew me in and made me want more. 

The description of the town is vivid, I particularly liked the "glacier of consumerism" visual.

Some run-on sentences and a few overused words (perfect, beautiful), and occasionally the narrative gets bogged down in descriptions.

Overall a good story about how a search for peace and salvation becomes terribly twisted.  


cecedockins's picture
cecedockins from R'lyeh is reading Stephen King's Bag of Bones; The Century's Best Horror Fiction edited by John Pelan; August 2, 2012 - 4:03pm

Interesting. I enjoyed the classical god/monster complex. Really enjoyed that it was in 1st person POV. You are very good at description.  

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts August 13, 2012 - 6:17pm

This is one creepy story! Quite terrifying and original, it had me twitching, particularly when the narrator is hoping his daughter went to a sleepover and discovers she didn't. Yikes! Nice work!

jmo125's picture
jmo125 from Plainview, NY is reading Short Story submissions From class 'Between the Sheets' August 13, 2012 - 7:35pm

Fantastic story!  Well played and well ended.  As everyone keeps saying, it drags you in and holds on for dear life until you finish it!

Anna Ellena Manguera's picture
Anna Ellena Manguera August 15, 2012 - 3:21am

It was well-described but I wasn't really that excited about the plot.

Brett Caron's picture
Brett Caron from Toronto, Canada is reading The Abolition of Man August 18, 2012 - 6:22am

Hi everybody,

As the rating window comes to a close, I want to thank everyone who read and rated my story, and especially those who contributed such terrific feedback.  It's amazing to see what people took away from my story; both what was intentional and not. 

I really regret not having as much time as I would have liked, in order to read and rate more stories myself. Next time, Gadget.  

Thanks again.


shanonco's picture
shanonco from SE WIsconsin, USA is reading Taiko August 18, 2012 - 5:16pm

Yes, I know it's after the contest, and such. I just read your story, having downloaded a few to read when I could.

Your description of God entering this realm was an assault on the senses. I think one of the things I forget to write about when I compose something is the battery of senses that characters would be using. Sight is easy, but sounds, tastes and touch are not items that I regularly remember. The sounds emanating from the rift were well described, and made the moment more impressive on the reader.

I'm not trying to draw on a specific scene to not compliment the rest of your work (I enjoyed it quite a bit), but instead wanted to relay that this was what stayed with me well after the story had been digested.

I wrote about a creature coming into this world, and I forgot those elements. Of course, the narrator wouldn't have felt them, at the point that it happened, but truly, the thought never crossed my mind. Lesson learned.

Suzy Vitello's picture
Suzy Vitello September 5, 2012 - 11:20am

Hi Brett,

I love the zombie-esque conceit of this piece. True to the trope, you have worked in a catalyzing event that changes a routine everyday world into a nightmare.

What works best in this story is the sensual transformation experienced by the narrator. The foreshadowing in particular, where you offer "I did. I gave everything" and then plunge the reader into the dark abyss.

You'll see my comments and suggestions in the margins of the attached, but I think you could add some muscle and make this piece stronger with a rewrite that chops abstract language away in favor of specificity and detail.

For instance. Here is a passage that sets up the idea of an intense sensual experience: "All of my senses were assaulted – it was as if I had never seen before, never smelled or heard anything in my life. I was exposed to this force, this elemental power, and every inch of my body and soul was raw nerve endings."

Versus a place where you deliver a unique experience: "...bulged and split like rotten fruit."

The former is a sort of topic sentence, throat clearing. The latter injects a specific image. Former is abstract. Latter is specific. Get granular. Smaller. Closer.

Another meta-comment: consider adding more scene-setting devices in the front of the piece. Show us a regular prayer meeting. A paper plate of tater tot casserole on a fat guy's lap, his greasy fingers entwined with those of his neighbor. For instance. And add some dialogue! Establish more concretely the normative world of the various "basements" before hell (or God) breaks loose.

And watch the past/present tense flip-flops.

I think you have a lot to work with here!

Very best,


Chuck Palahniuk's picture
Chuck Palahniuk from Portland, OR October 9, 2012 - 11:20am

*Note: This is a placeholder profile for Chuck Palahniuk we are maintining on the site.  While the below review was originally emailed to us by Chuck Palahniuk, it is being pasted here by the moderators of the site.*

'We Called It God' - Feedback by Chuck Palahniuk

This story starts out with a great premise, but takes a long time to settle into a physical scene.  The opening, for example, could end on the words “…my name is Patrick Ellis.”  The next paragraph begins with “I was part…”  That way, it would flow so quickly.  Likewise, the second paragraph could do without everything between “… where I grew up” through “farmland used to begin.”

Consider that putting a lot of general backstory in the beginning works against building your tension.  So much of the first paragraphs is generalized information, and we don’t need to know about the farmland or the increasingly secular country.  Instead, consider unpacking other details, specific details, that support the story.  Did these meals occur as potlucks?  Who brought what?  Frito Pie?  What salads?  All of that on-the-body stuff will help hook us because we all love food, especially comfort foods, and later those eaters will be ‘eaten’ by the antagonist.  All the characters become food.

I know, I know, the narrator has a damaged memory, but that’s no excuse for vague writing.  Show us a couple very specific particulars and build on those.  Create tension by claiming not to recall the host’s name, but later resolve that tension in an odd aside, a tiny victory, perhaps near the bleak ending, when the narrator does remember that name.  The reader will feel a sense of relief when even the smallest detail is resolved.

Likewise, by page three, when the praying is described as an addiction – don’t say it.  Demonstrate it.  Show the narrator behaving like an addict, getting high on prayers at work.  Getting fired.  Getting in a car accident because he was praying and high.  His bills going unpaid.  His hair getting long.  All because he’s praying compulsively.

We need very specific physical details:  food, people talking, kneeling, etc. to ground us.  If you make us believe those real-world things you’ll build your authority to the point that we’ll believe the extraordinary stuff.  Again, avoid abstracts and generalities:  a perfect little Canadian city, a glacier of consumerism, a beautiful house, her perfect little face.  Make each unique. 

Again, it’s a wonderful premise.  Really terrific.  Consider replacing every “is” and “thought” verb with some more-concrete verb.  Instead of “told me” or “telling me” create a small scene of the mother and son placing the tooth for the tooth fairy to find.  The first paragraph uses only those weaker verbs, we don’t get any better verbs until “lived” and “meet” late in the second paragraph.  How could you rework the opening with more active, physical verbs?  The entire reality of the remarkable story relies on the believability of those first few paragraphs.