There is a growing consensus that evil laughter doesn’t belong in films. People call it ‘cartoonish’ and ‘overdramatic.’ I never understood why people complained about the maniacal laughter of villains. To me, it was the most normal detail of a fantastical story. You see, like dozens of people around the world, I possess the Cackle.

The Cackle is a lifelong, incurable condition, and should not be criticized as a sign of overacting. It is not genetic, though it’s often found in families. It is not a side effect of head trauma or mental illness. It’s much more insidious than that.

The Cackle is a parasite.

One day, you may be sitting in your living room while a baby plays on the floor. You’ll glance down and notice that she’s giggling to herself while she adds another block to a tower. That is the first sign. No matter how fast you rush her into the hospital, you’ll be told it’s too late. The Cackle has taken hold.

The Cackle grows in strength over time. It begins as a light chuckle that bubbles out of the chest when accomplishing something particularly tricky. Over time, the pitch heightens, and it takes on a sinister tone. By early adulthood, I found maniacal laughter erupting from my chest every time I submitted a college essay. On one memorable occasion, another student quickly pulled his dalmatian away from my study table, lest I start eyeing him for a new fur coat.

My mother has it much worse. Once, after finding the perfect shoes in her size and on sale, a random passerby asked if she were my stepmother, or possibly a relative of the directionally obsessed witches of Oz.

These stereotypes are hurtful and unfair. I love dogs, and I’ve only ever rode a broom during the peak of the Harry Potter craze. Sure, I love to bake with apples, but regardless of the cackling coming from the kitchen, I’ve never poisoned anyone. I’m simply pleased by my success. Yes, I want to own a castle one day, but the tower will be used as a personal library. I’d never lock my future beautiful stepdaughter inside!

Well, maybe just once. She’ll need a reason to be in therapy after all. Besides, kids these days are too glued to their smartphones. They need to broaden their imaginations, and what does that better than imprisonment in a tower? You know who didn’t become a social influencer? Rapunzel. The European, fairytale princess was too busy marveling at the feel of grass to track down her selfie stick.

Regardless of towers and their hypothetical inhabitants, the average Cackle will continue to worsen until the host reaches their mid-eighties. If I live that long, I’ll sound like I’m welcoming prisoners into my Death Star. There’s really no way to top that. Legend has it, the Cackle will take on a sweet, jolly tone if the poor host lives long enough. Santa Claus is held up as a shining example of a man who outlived his horrifying parasite.

Few people are able to recover like Saint Nick, but all hope is not lost. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, take action NOW! Don’t wait for your neighbors to start collecting pitchforks and torches. Below are a few helpful hints collected from fellow Cackle strugglers.

Self-isolation: This brings several positives, like the increased time to write and the decrease in social anxiety, but it can actually worsen the Cackle over time. As a hermit living inside a cabin in the woods, you may occasionally see hikers run screaming from your porch.

Be sure to avoid exotic locations. Don’t try to live on an uninhabited island or on top of a volcano. An uninhabited island formed by an active volcano is a massive no-no. Do-gooders won’t give you a chance to explain before they start ransacking your lair for crimes against humanity.

Pfft. As if any Cackle-struggler would be stupid enough to leave evidence out in the open.

Mouth taped shut: If the lips can’t move, maniacal laughter can’t erupt, right? Wrong. The Cackle laughs in the face of physics. This may work in early cases, but is not a long-term solution. On the bright-side, cackle strugglers are a hit on the circus scene.

Laugh Therapy: Pretend you’re a sultry nightclub singer from the Jazz era. And you smoke. You’ll sound ridiculous, but this technique is clinically proven to lower the pitch of the Cackle over time.

Turn it into a craze: You know what’s cool? The Cackle. Oh, so you don’t have your own parasite? Wow. Some people are born losers. Repeat these phrases often, and you might convince the world that they’re the one with the problem. It hasn’t worked for me, but many hands make light work.

Finally, an increase in media attention would make a world of difference for me and my fellow Cackle strugglers. Instead of perpetuating harmful stereotypes, we need more protagonists bursting into maniacal laughter. Evil laughter absolutely belongs in films.

Just remember: It could be worse. You could have the Snort.

I also have the Snort.

Note: The proper term is Cackle-struggler. To call someone a Cackler is an insult.

Author: Louise Rainey

Louise Rainey is an author and apocalypse enthusiast. Although she primarily writes in the fantasy and science fiction genres, she’s been preparing for a myriad of untimely disasters since childhood. It’s possible she might’ve read a few too many survivalist books at an impressionable age. Regardless, she’s ready to rock n’ roll at the first sign of zombies, and a Yellowstone eruption will never take her by surprise. When she’s not preparing for the demise of her Texas home, she’s baking, listening to the same song on repeat, or playing with her gorgeous cat, Robin and her monster-dog Percy.

Louise has a degree in psychology and neuroscience and an unofficial doctorate in Random Ridiculous Knowledge. As a child, she won several writing contests, and she’s been trying to top her blue ribbon at the state fair ever since. Her latest published books include Benevolent Keepers and The Frog Eater.


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