We Are All Completely Fine

We Are All Completely Fine

Daryl Gregory

World Fantasy Award Winner
Shirley Jackson Award Winner
Nebula Award Nominee

Locus Award Nominee
Theodore Sturgeon Award Nominee

What happens when five seemingly-insane outcasts—survivors of horror movie scenarios—form a support group?  Together they must discover which monsters they face are within…and which are lurking in plain sight.

Clear

We Are All Completely Fine

by Daryl Gregory

ISBN: 9781616961718

Published: August 2014

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and eBooks

Harrison was the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time popping pills and not sleeping. Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by unreadable messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. Martin never takes off his sunglasses. Never. No one believes the extent of their horrific tales, not until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these seemingly-insane outcasts form a support group?  Together they must discover which monsters they face are within—and which are lurking in plain sight.

Praise for We Are All Completely Fine

“[STARRED REVIEW] This complex novel—scathingly funny, horrific yet oddly inspiring—constructs a seductive puzzle from torn identities, focusing on both the value and peril of fear. When enigmatic Dr. Jan Sayer gathers survivors of supernatural violence for therapy, she unwittingly unlocks evil from the prison of consciousness. Harrison, a cynical monster-hunter, wallows in lethargy. Suicidal Barbara burns to read the secret messages inscribed on her bones. Cantankerous Stan is the lone survivor of a cannibal feast. After paranoid Martin sees slithery spirits lingering around volatile Greta, a powerful young woman decorated with mystically charged scars, ancient evils usher the rag-tag survivors to a battle with the Hidden Ones, exiled deities trapped in prisons of flesh. Gregory’s beautiful imagery and metaphors bring bittersweet intimacy and tenderness to the primal wonder of star-lit legends. Isolated people, both victims and victimizers, are ghosts in a waking world, blind to their encounters with living nightmares. Blending the stark realism of pain and isolation with the liberating force of the fantastic, Gregory (Afterparty) makes it easy to believe that the world is an illusion, behind which lurks an alternative truth—dark, degenerate, and sublime.”
Publishers Weekly

“…a clever and creepy horror tale…”
Library Journal

“Clever, and filled with the creeping dread of what’s in the flickering shadow next to you and what’s just around the corner that suffuses the best horror. I loved it.”
—Ellen Datlow, Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, and International Horror Guild award-winning editor of The Best Horror of the Year series

Selected as the Horror After Dark Top Horror Read for 2014
“[Gregory’s] plotting, characterisations, and yes, the writing itself, is all that good. In short, this one completely blew me away….”
Horror After Dark

“Charming and horrifying—you won’t be able to stop reading it.”
—Tim Powers, award-winning author of Declare and The Stress of Her Regard

“Daryl Gregory’s We Are All Completely Fine is bitchin’ fun and as wicked and strange as a motorcycle leap through a ring of fire without your pants on. Loved it.”
—Joe R. Lansdale, author of Cold in July and the Hap and Leonard series

“Daryl Gregory is a writer I would happily follow into any dark place he wanted me to go. This is a labyrinth of a story, intricate as a spider’s web—and like a spider’s web, each piece informs the whole. Beautiful.”
—Seanan McGuire, author of the October Daye series and Half-Off Ragnarok

“A superb, haunting tale by one of our very best writers. Gregory’s characters are already in therapy; you may want to join them after reading this spicy, disturbing mélange.”
—Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

“[Gregory] is a truly gifted writer and We Are All Completely Fine is just more evidence to the fact.”
SFRevu

“Lovecraft meets Cabin in the Woods in this tale of survivors of various supernatural horrors who come together in a support group to try to heal….fascinating”
Fantastic Reads

“Gregory (PandemoniumThe Devil’s Alphabet, et. al.) has done it again with yet another singularly unique, genre-blending masterwork about a support group of victims of paranormal violence who realize that their nightmarish traumas are all related. This creepy concoction of supernatural fiction, mystery, and horror is a dark little literary gem that readers will absolutely cherish.”
Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble.com

“[Gregory’s] most tightly constructed and compulsively readable novel to date, and a small gem of what we might call post-horror horror.”
—Locus 

“I read this book in two hours on the plane home from Loncon and just holy shit. It is gripping from start to finish.”
The Book Smugglers

“. . . funny in that dark and sarcastic way only people faced with unstoppable horror can be funny, and when you’re finished you’ll wish there was more.”
Daytona Beach News Journal

We Are All Completely Fine is something refreshing and unique—a short horror novel that is as much about relationships and people learning from one another as it is about the horrors that they are ultimately facing. . . .”
—LitReactor 

“…a little horrific, quite deep, and plenty surprising.”
—Bookworm Blues

We Are All Completely Fine is a remarkably seductive piece of supernatural horror, drawing the innocent reader into the web by dealing with a familiar situation. . . .fascinating and engrossing. . . ”
Thinking About Books

“This book is fast-paced, creepy, suspenseful, and yet surprisingly uplifting, with fleshed out characters I genuinely cared about. . . . This book is seriously awesome. Someone chain [Gregory] to a desk so he stops doing anything other than write.”
SF Book Reviews

“I’ve not encountered many authors in the horror genre who flex literary muscle as well as Gregory. His approach was perfect for the story vehicle.”
Out of My Mind

Intriguing world building, characters tinged in tragedy, a history of darkness and things on the periphery…. this is an awesome novella….”
Read or Dead

“Not for the faint of heart, We Are All Completely Fine is a great read!”
Bibliophilic

“Gregory does a masterful storytelling job here….”
MT Void

“A must read”
—Buzz Feed

“This novella is mindboggling in it’s scope, a too brief glimpse into a ‘mythos’ as staggering as Lovecraft’s. The seed from which a thousand nightmares can spring, an unexplored jungle of imagination that bodes well for stalwart explorers of horror!  Highly recommended!”
Horror After Dark

“This is a scary, funny, bittersweet, fantastic book, and Gregory’s imagination is twisted and wonderful.”
My Bookish Ways

“…creepy paranormal elements and wonderful writing…”
Not Yet Read

“…brilliant, creepy….”
Relentless Reading

“We Are All Completely Fine is not your typical horror novella. Yes, it is dark and creeping with mysterious dread, but it is also charming, clever, and even hilarious at times. Released by Tachyon Publications, We Are All Completely Fine is an intricate story that uses metafiction as a way to self-reflect on the horror genre tropes we have all come to love, while paralleling them with a stark realism.

“The premise of the novel is a fresh take on the horror genre and speaks to our society’s fascination with wanting to know, from a safe distance, what it is really like for survivors of such trauma as we empathize with their pain. The novella is a quick read that both casual horror fans and hardcore horror fans alike will enjoy.”
The Shed

“What this all comes down to is that if you’re a fan of horror, or of anything Daryl Gregory has written elsewhere, or just of fantastic novellas that demonstrate exemplary storytelling, then you ought to read We Are All Completely Fine.”
Bibliotropic

About the Author

Daryl Gregory is the award-winning author of We Are All Completely Fine, Pandemonium, The Devil’s Alphabet, Harrison Squared, and Raising Stony Mayhall, which was named one of Library Journal‘s best books of the year. His comics work includes Planet of the Apes and Dracula: The Company of Monsters (with Kurt Busiek). His forthcoming novel, Spoonbenders, is a comedic tour de force starring a family of misfit psychics. Gregory lives in Oakland, California.

Praise for Daryl Gregory

“A bright new voice of the twenty-first century…”
Library Journal

“Wickedly clever entertainment.”
San Francisco Chronicle on Pandemonium

“A quietly brilliant second novel…. A wide variety of believable characters, a well-developed sense of place and some fascinating scientific speculation.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review, on The Devil’s Alphabet

“Richly textured settings and nuanced characters mark this introspective novel.”
Publishers Weekly on Raising Stony Mayhall

“Compelling and creepy…evokes the best of Stephen King.”
Kirkus on The Devil’s Alphabet

“Part superhero fiction, part zombie horror story, and part supernatural thriller, this luminous and compelling tale deserves a wide readership beyond genre fans.”
Library Journal, starred review, on Raising Stony Mayhall

Raising Stony Mayhall, like all of Daryl Gregory’s stories and novels I’ve read, is so good that I grieved when I got to the last page, because I wanted it to just go on and on.”
Chris Roberson, New York Times bestselling author of iZombie

“Daryl Gregory has emerged as one of the most consistently interesting and yet least predictable writers of the last decade…. A writer of startling depth and sensitivity, whose understanding of the delicate machinations of the heart trumps his need for superheroes, or even for neurology.”
—Locus

“More than many novelists, Gregory’s work not only withstands but grows richer with re-readings and sustained attention.”
—SF Signal

Visit the Daryl Gregory website.

Chapter 1

There were six of us in the beginning. Three men and two women, and Dr. Sayer. Jan, though some of us never learned to call her by her first name. She was the psychologist who found us, then persuaded us that a group experience could prove useful in ways that one-on-one counseling could not. After all, one of the issues we had in common was that we each thought we were unique. Not just survivors, but sole survivors. We wore our scars like badges.

Consider Harrison. Once upon a time he’d been the Boy Hero of Dunnsmouth. The Monster Detective. Now he was in his mid-thirties and spent most of his time not sleeping. On the patient information form he’d filled out for Dr. Sayer, under job title he had written "nightmarist." He thought that would be an amusing conversation starter. He told the doctor that his primary reason for joining the group was to maintain his access to a variety of antidepressants and sleep aids. His psychiatrist would not renew his prescriptions unless he went into therapy.

And yet: Harrison was one of the first to arrive at the building for the first meeting. Dr. Sayer’s office was in a two-story, Craft-style house on the north side of the city, on a woodsy block that could look sinister or comforting depending on the light. A decade before, this family home had been rezoned and colonized by shrinks; they converted the bedrooms to offices, made the living room into a lobby, and planted a sign out front declaring its name to be "The Elms." Maybe not the best name, Harrison thought. He would have suggested a species of tree that wasn’t constantly in danger of being wiped out.

Today, the street did not look sinister. It was a sunny spring day, one of the few tolerable days the city would get before the heat and humidity rolled in for the summer. So why ruin it with ninety minutes of self-pity and communal humiliation?

He was suspicious of the very premise of therapy.

The idea that people could change themselves, he told Dr. Sayer in their pre-group interview, was a self-serving delusion. She believed that people were captains of their own destiny. He agreed, as long as it was understood that every captain was destined to go down with the ship, and there wasn’t a damned thing you could do about it. If you want to stand there with the wheel in your hand and pretend you were steering, he told her, knock yourself out.

She’d said, “Yet you’re here.”

He shrugged. “I have trouble sleeping. My psychiatrist said he wouldn’t renew my prescriptions unless I tried therapy.”

“Is that all?”

“Also, I might be entertaining the idea of tamping down my nihilism. Just a bit. Not because life is not meaningless—I think that’s inarguable. It’s just that the constant awareness of its pointlessness is exhausting. I wouldn’t mind being oblivious again.

I’d love to feel the wind in my face and think, just for minute, that I’m not going to crash into the rocks.”

“You’re saying you’d like to be happy.”

“Yeah. That.”

She smiled. He liked that smile. “Promise me you’ll try one meeting,” she said. “Just give me one.”

Now he was having second thoughts. It wasn’t too late to drive away. He could always find a new psychiatrist to fork over the meds.

A blue and white transit van pulled into the handicap parking spot in front of the house. The

driver hopped out. He was a hefty white kid, over six feet tall with a scruffy beard, dressed in the halfass uniform of the retail class: colored polo over Gap khakis. He opened the rearmost door of the van to reveal an old man waiting in a wheelchair.

The driver thumbed a control box, and the lift lowered the chair and occupant to the ground with the robotic slow motion of a space shuttle arm. The old man was already half astronaut, with his breathing mask and plastic tubes and tanks of onboard oxygen. His hands seemed to be covered by mittens.

Was this geezer part of the group, Harrison wondered, or visiting some other shrink in the building? Just how damaged were the people that Dr. Sayer had recruited? He had no desire to spend hours with the last people voted off Victim Island.

The driver seemed to have no patience for his patient. Instead of going the long way around to the ramp, he pushed the old man to the curb, then roughly tilted him back—too far back—and bounced the front wheels down on the sidewalk. The old man pressed his mittened hands to his face, trying to keep the mask in place. Another series of heaves and jerks got the man up the short stairs and into the house.

Then Harrison noticed the girl. Eighteen, maybe nineteen years old, sitting on a bench across from the house, watching the old man and the driver intently. She wore a black, long-sleeved T-shirt, black jeans, black Chuck Taylors: the Standard Goth Burka. Her short white hair looked like it had been not so much styled as attacked. Her hands gripped the edge of the bench and she did not relax even after the pair had gone inside. She was like a feral cat: skinny, glinteyed, shock-haired. Ready to bolt.

For the next few minutes he watched the girl as she watched the front of the house. A few people passed by on the sidewalk, and then a tall white woman stepped up to the door. Fortyish, with careful hair and a Hillary Clinton pantsuit. She moved with an air of concentration; when she climbed the steps, she placed each foot carefully, as if testing the solidity of each surface.

A black guy in flannels and thick work boots clumped up the stairs behind the woman. She stopped, turned. The guy looked up at the roof of the porch. An odd thing. He carried a backpack and wore thick black sunglasses, and Harrison couldn’t imagine what he saw up there. The white woman said something to him, holding open the door, and he nodded. They went inside together.

It was almost six o’clock, so Harrison assumed that everyone who’d gone in was part of the group. The girl, though, still hadn’t made a move toward the door.

“Fuck it,” Harrison said. He got out of the car before he could change his mind, and then walked toward the house. When he reached the front sidewalk he glanced behind him—casually, casually. The girl noticed him and looked away. He was certain that she’d been invited to the group too. He was willing to bet that she might be the craziest one of all.