I have received an alarming number of e-mails claiming that Ed Kann is not a real person. Not that 'Ed Kann' is a pseudonym, mind you, or that I simply got his name wrong, but that the entire concept of the author Ed Kann and his story The Noise Coming from Inside Children was a blatant, intentional fabrication. On my part.
Let me just say that we have not yet reached the age where a simple Google search can prove (or disprove) the existence of a person. I will admit that, after some prompting, it has become clear that there is no mention of the author Ed Kann anywhere on the internet, at least the parts that are publicly accessible. A search now turns up other Ed Kanns', or discussions pertaining to my initial mention of the Ed Kann in question, but no prior mentions of an Ed Kann who wrote short horror stories exists.
This does not prove that he never existed. A lot of people have used the internet their entire lives, myself included, and it may come as a surprise to these people that any person, especially someone who attained 'temporary cult status', could entirely avoid an online mention.
I first saw the name Ed Kann around age eight to ten. The small library near my house would often have local authors come in and read their material. I never went, of course; the only reason I knew about it was because someone decided to hang fliers for these events all over our neighborhood. This was strange, because no one ever hung up fliers for anything else around our neighborhood, but I hadn't really figured any of that out at the time.
All I knew, and all I remember, is always seeing these fliers for the 'One Stop Shop'. That was the name of the event, I guess. It must have at least been a monthly event because new fliers were always showing up without the old ones ever getting taken down. I don't think I ever really read one, and if I did I failed to comprehend or remember whatever it said. They were just something I got used to seeing, but they always seemed to be around.
I only ever noticed one. It was a flier hung for the month of October, and it had a Halloween theme. In previous years I remembered seeing Jack-O-Lanterns an all the fliers so it must have been some sort of annual event. This flier didn't have pumpkins or any kind of cheesey pictures, though. What it did have was a picture of a basement window, covered by rusty bars. The shot was taken at a strong tilt, and I remember it being a very creepy picture, even from far away. It caught my eye every time I saw it and before long it grew quite frightening to me, and so it wasn't long before I read one.
It wasn't much, just a list of authors and story names. The names, to me, were scary enough, and I read the list many times, almost every time I saw that same flier. One story name in particular sat with me: it was called In Concrete Basements. It stuck with me. Months and even years later I would think of it sometimes, and let myself imagine what it was about. What exactly did happen in concrete basements?
For a few years the only bit of information I retained was this story's name alone. This certainly didn't bother me. In Concrete Basements was just a name, a shred of a memory, not a tangible thing I ever desired to find or understand.
Still, the shred wanted otherwise. One day in 7th grade a disgruntled me grabbed a random magazine off of a rack so I could pretend to read during our 'read anything' period. I stared at an article on teen fashion for 30 minutes before deciding to swap it out for something else in order to look busy. As I put it back, I noticed the particularly crappy looking magazine behind it. It was made from the cheap paper used in newspapers, was entirely black and white, and even to my middle school eyes it looked like an amateurish publication. I cannot remember the title exactly, but it was something like 'Seattle Regional Horror Quarterly'. My eyes grazed it, and I gave it a longer than usual stare until my eyes glided over the words In Concrete Basements. I physically flinched.
The fragments of childhood memories are strange. They are essentially memories of what it felt like to be highly ignorant. It's so easy as a child to find things familiar and to feel like you know about them, when in fact you know nothing about them at all. Names of politicians or celebrities or events get drilled into us from an early age, well before we have the desire or capacity to understand them, so we pretend to understand them instead. These fragments of knowledge stay with us into adulthood, but I believe the most important part of maturing is when you stand back and actually wonder what these things are.
"Why exactly is the sky blue?" I might have finally asked around age 15.
"What was the deal with that whole Bill Clinton thing?" I finally solved by looking on Wikipedia at age 21.
"Is that actor the same guy as that rapper from the 90s?" Yes, usually.
So I stood looking at the large title on the front of this cheap magazine. In Concrete Basements. I knew what that was! What a coincidence! But did I really know what it was? I had only heard the name somewhere else at an earlier time. That wasn't the same as knowledge. As my young brain was just beginning to understand this, the bell rang and class ended.
I asked the librarian if I could check it out, but they don't check out magazines, so I simply stuffed it into my backpack when the person I asked wasn't looking and nobody else cared.
Like most things I intended to read at that age or any age it ended up forgotten, mashed up and slightly torn at the bottom of my backpack, a loose bunch of papers unable to fend for themselves against the larger contents of my bag. Eventually I cleaned out my backpack, took note of it again and tossed it in a drawer, again intending to read it.
Many years later, having recently graduated college, I finally cleaned out that cabinet. I was out of school, unemployed and had more free time than I'd ever had before in my life. This is probably why I was cleaning out cabinets in the first place. It's also why I finally ended up reading that magazine.
Instead of a story I found an article written on the up and coming author Ed Kann, who had 'exploded on to the horror scene' with his 'smash hit' In Concrete Basements which 'is not reprinted in full here because of its numerous apperances in other publications'. All I got were a few small excerpts.
The second half of the article is dedicated almost entirely to discussing Kann's recently released work, The Noises Coming from Inside Children. This section seemed to be written with extra caution to avoid spoiling any parts of the book, and if the reviewer read it he failed spectacularly to articulate both what it was about and his response to it.
And now a confession: this is the entirety of my exposure to Ed Kann, or his stories. When his name came up again I deemed it evidence enough to declare he had 'temporary cult status'. I suppose I was secretly hoping someone out there would know more about him or have at least heard the name. I suppose I still need to learn the difference between familiarity and knowledge.
I will finish with a plea. If anyone knows anything about the author Ed Kann, please forward that information to me, no matter how small. If you don't, don't bother trying to research him online. Dozens, possibly hundreds of people have already tried, and have proved well beyond my satisfaction that literally no evidence of him exists on the internet. Anyone's best bet will be going to the Seattle area themselves and searching through old piles of local publications. I may do just that.