The Horror Genre, Goth Subculture, and Friday the 13th
So, there’s already a post about superstitions and bad luck, but what about the people who take negative superstitions and it make their aesthetic?
Like, Planetary Cruiser XJ9-7 - known as “Adventure” - gets a new human crew member, a scientist of the highest order, a particle physicist calculating their engine thrust. Her name is Amber and she is the living embodiment of lace goth, wears a frilly black dresses with skull accessories, carries around a voodoo doll seemingly for the fun of it. She walks into the ship and starts the allowed personalization of her work and sleeping spaces by adding a skull to her workspace, hanging pentacles over her bed, laying crystals on her shelves and ordering them not to be moved, and putting gruesome posters of movie and book monsters over her walls.
The non-humans onboard Adventure are immediately concerned, and the captain consults the ship’s human sociologist, on staff for just such situations.
“Gah'veen,” Kathro'o warbles. Xe drops xerself in the chair-like pedestal that stood in the front of Gavin’s desk. “There have been …. comments about our new engineer.”
“What sort of comments?” Gavin asks. He hasn’t seen the new engineer and knows next to nothing about her except her credentials for the position. But he’s never encountered someone who shook up a crew so badly that there were complains before they even left the port.
“This human appears to worship misfortune and death. She dressed in the garb of mourning when outside her uniform. She placed a replica of a human skull on her workstation. Her quarters are filled with images referencing death and … and … I do not have the word for them, those imaginary predators that stalk humans in your traditional story-telling.”
“Monsters,” Gavin chuckles.
“Monsters! Yes! With mouths wet with human blood, standing over the mangled bodies of their unfortunate prey!”
Gavin snorts in a bad attempt to swallow laughter. “You really don’t have the concept of monsters on Eilu'ublen.”
“Of course not!” Kathro'o shouts, xer warble suddenly loud enough to hurt Gavin’s ears. Xe clicks xer mandibles in a sign of embarrassment before going on at a more reasonable volume. “There is plenty in the galaxy that can kill you in horrible ways. Only humans make up fictitious ones to add to the list.”
“Many humans find it fun,” Gavin answered casually.
“Fun?” Kathro'o face become pinched and sunken - no doubt because the blood was draining from xer face.
“It’s just … how do I put this? Aesthetic. It simply looks interesting to her, I’m sure. Some people even find stuff like that comforting.”
“Her omens and images of misfortune and death are meant to bring emotional comfort?” Kathro'o voice rattles hollowly behind xer chest plate, and xer eyes are tiny pinpoints of red set deep in xer face.
Gavin clears his throat. “Look, captain, I’ll tell the new girl to go easy on the Addams Family stuff until we can pass around some material on goth culture. In the meantime, I’m going to call the infirmary to come get you. You’re in mid-stage shock, and any longer without medical care and there might be long-term damage.”
“I … yes. That sounds … nice. Thanks to you, Gah'veen.”
They have to haul the captain to the infirmary for anti-shock treatment. Xe and the rest of crew give Amber a wide breadth, and she seems to allow that for a while. Then one day she sends Kathro'o back into the infirmary for more shock treatment by passing out treats from each crewmen’s homeland with little culturally appropriate symbols of bad luck om them. Xe’s halfway through a cycle of anti-shock drugs when Amber, in a floor-length black gown trimmed with black lace, and miniature top hat adorned with a tiny skull-and-crossbones, comes sweeping up to his bed and sits down next to him.
“Hello, Captain!” she chirps, and her cheerfulness is as bright as her chosen ensemble is dark. “I came with a gift for you!” She reaches into the black wicker basket hanging off her arm and pulls out a tiny paper bag.
The bag is a dark purple, the same eerie shade that Eilu'ublese’s exoskeletons turn when they die. On the front is Kathro’o’s name - written in careful, almost juvenile, Eilu'ublese - in powder pink lines, xe’s favorite color. Xe looks from the offering to the offeror and back again, then reluctantly reaches out xer hand for it.
Inside the bag is another, smaller, clear plastic bag filled to bursting with ifora, small cookie-like treats that are as delicious – especially to Eilu’ublese – as they are difficult to make. They’re an expensive treat around the galaxy because it takes years of culinary training to make them correctly. They’re Kathro’o single favorite thing to eat.
“How did you …?”
“They were the most expensive thing I bought, but the look on your face right now is well worth the money!” Amber beams.
They sit a while, chatting as Kathro’o finishes his treatments and gets through half the bag of ifora. As they’re walking away from the infirmary, xe finally just asks the question that’s been bothering xer.
“Am’burr. You are a great scientific mind, and very charming, and even I can see how beautiful you are.”
“You think I’m beautiful!?” Amber squeaks and turns red.
“Yes! Of course. But I don’t understand why you surround yourself with omens and death and evil.”
“Oh. The goth thing. Gavin told me it was freaking people out. That’s why I’ve been taking today to explain it. For me, it’s power. I wasn’t well liked in high school; I felt like an outcast. For me, it felt powerful to take my undesirableness and make it an amour. To feel proud of being different and strange instead of being ashamed of it. It felt cool to be badass.”
“I know this human term, “badass.” It evokes the power to control and live in situations and activates that the weaker of your peers could not handle.”
“Exactly. I wasn’t pretty, or popular, or cool. But I was strong, and scary, and not to be messed with. Besides, there is power in taking what scares you and making it something to seek out. It robs that things of its control over you, and lets you control it.”
“I understand. On Eilu'ublen, we have a similar concept called aurceth, meaning thriving on what kills others. Traveling between the stars, living one’s life in a ship jettisoning through the cold hostile blackness, living among people with almost nothing in common with oneself, even their biology, it takes aurceth.”
“Yep. You and me, Kathro’o, we’re badasses.”
“That we are, Am’burr. By the way, why today? Why all the work, the money spent, the effort?”
“I have a clock that tells me the date and time of my hometown, where my parents still live. Back there, it’s a Friday, and the thirteenth day of the month.”
“I have heard of Fur’eyday the 13th! There’s movie based on the lore!”
“Yep. What better day than the unluckiest of them, to make rounds and spread some cheer?!”
Kathro’o laughs deep in xer chest plate, an excited rumble that bounces off the walls of the hallway. “Excellent! Let us spread cheer, on this inauspicious of days so that the bad luck cannot touch us.”
Amber links her arm through xers and grins, and off they go.
After that, Kathro’o and Amber are best friends. Kathro’o is the first Eilu’ublese goth. Xe introduces the concept of monsters and the horror genre to the Eilu’ublese mainstream as his ship gains renown in its travels, and he and his unique Eilu’ublese take on goth culture become more well know. A Terran decade after that first Friday the 13th, Amber and Kathro’o marry on the observation deck of Adventure. They and their entire wedding party wear black with powder pink accents.