When Good Deeds Turn Deadly

We’re at the halfway point in our ongoing series chronicling the stories in Cutting Block Books’ upcoming anthology, The Seven Deadliest. So far we’ve been lucky enough to host John C. Foster, Bracken MacLeod, and Kasey Lansdale and share their insights into what inspired their stories. Today we welcome Brian Kirk to Ink Heist and he talks about the way he uses Envy in his story, “Chisel and Stone”. If you’re unfamiliar with Brian’s work, definitely seek out his two novels We are Monsters and Will Haunt You. He has a bold, imaginative writing style and utilizes psychological horror to stretch the boundaries of what we come to expect from horror fiction. In his article, Brian talks about the different facets of envy and what can happen when a good deed is born out of something sinister. Be sure to keep coming back to Ink Heist in the coming weeks as we plan to feature guest articles from the authors involved with The Seven Deadliest each week leading up to the anthology’s release.

Brian Kirk Tackles Envy in “Chisel and Stone”

His story in The Seven Deadliest, coming in May from Cutting Block Books

Society places moral judgments on behavior when the underlying problem is often intent. The same goes for sin. Good intentions pave the pathway to hell? No, I believe bad ones do.

Let’s look at Envy, the sin I was given for my story “Chisel and Stone”. What’s really so bad about wanting what someone else has? The nice house, the sophisticated lifestyle, the exotic animal caged in the backyard. That last one is for my eccentric friends in Florida. Holla!

Couldn’t envying another person’s success help inspire one to attain the same lofty position? Don’t we need models of success to show us what it looks like? Isn’t that what all those glossy magazine covers that I see while buying groceries are for?

Envy doesn’t work that way, though, does it? It doesn’t inspire us to improve our own lives. No, instead it acts like a carnival mirror, presenting a warped and distorted self-reflection. Envy doesn’t beautify the object of our desire, it makes us feel ugly in comparison. It reinforces that deep-seated belief that us lowly mortals—us average Joes—will never attain the esteemed status that we seek. So rather than reach for that elevated place, let’s grab whoever is perched above us and bring them crashing down to our level where they belong.

Green with envy? How about wrecked with envy. Shattered by it.

Envy doesn’t inspire, it destroys.

Back to intent for a minute. I’m not sure I believe in karma, but I try and act like I do. All I know is that being kind to others, and helping people out, makes me feel good. So, for me, being helpful to others is a form of self-care.

There have been times, however, when I’ve done something nice for someone with the expectation that the gesture will be reciprocated at some point in time. Hey, isn’t that how karma is supposed to work?! I help you move a couch into your house and I collect a karmic IOU. And on those occasions when my expectation of reciprocation wasn’t met, rather than feeling good about doing an act of kindness, I have felt a corrosive sense of injustice that borderlines on rage. How about I take that filthy couch and throw it out the window you ungrateful….!

If someone is about to starve to death, and stealing a muffin from Starbucks is the only thing that will save their life (we’re broke in this hypothetical situation), then stealing that muffin is the morally right thing to do, even if society condemns the act.

If the only reason you help someone out is that you expect something in return, then lending help is morally corrupt, and likely to produce a poor outcome. Many so-called acts of kindness have ultimately ended in murder.

My story Chisel and Stone takes a look at what happens when virtuous acts are based on bad intentions and shows how envy can deform the prettiest face.  

Remember, this book doesn’t deal with the Seven Minor Sins. We’re talking about the deadly ones. Envy will poison your soul.

get the better of us.

Follow along with the series:

About Brian Kirk

Brian Kirk is an author of psychological horror. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. And his short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies alongside several New York Times best selling authors. His latest novel Will Haunt You has been called one of the most anticipated horror novels of 2019, although reading it comes with a dire warning. Connect with him through his website at briankirkfiction.com. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters. 

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