Daily Short Story Diary - Week 9
Day 57: February 24, 2019
CRAWLSPACE by Stephen Graham Jones
The Ones That Got Away – 2010
Horror – 31 Pages
The atmosphere and smoldering suspense in this one is really something. At different times through the story, you’re worried about different things and then it comes back around and is biting you on the ass with the first creepy feeling. Really a special story. Ominous. Scary. Suspenseful. Human.
Day 58: February 25, 2019
THE SEVENTEEN-YEAR-ITCH by Garth Nix
Haunted Nights – 2017
Horror – 17 Pages
This one used the built-in ominous vibe of the criminal insane asylum to carry much of the vibe. There’s also a bit of a countdown and everyone telling each other to watch out, with one bull-headed Nurse Ratchet type setting the rules. The ending becomes clear by the midway point, so there’s not much suspense, despite the tools used to build it.
Day 59: February 26, 2019
THE POWERS OF DARKNESS by Richard Lee Byers
Fear Itself – 1995
Horror – 14 Pages
Dude moves his family to small Christian town and everyone calls him a devil worshipper. That’s about it. Guy tries to convince people otherwise, but it doesn’t work. There’s no suspense, no humor, not a lot of anything. The pacing is pretty wack too, goes from zero to a gang slaughter in about a paragraph. Readable, though.
Day 60: February 27, 2019
DEATH IN THE TIME MACHINE by Barbara Nadel
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine July 2012
Mystery – 9 Pages
A dead body in grandad’s backyard, now that’s a fun premise. There’s layers to this one that go a long way to make the end reveal impactful. I’d guessed the ending, sort of, very early on but wrote myself off because it didn’t really fit in Ellery Queen, more fit in something like...Unnerving Magazine maybe. Which is why I say sort of, there’s a bit more tangibility than exactly what I was predicting in this one, and that makes it work. Really cool story about some family secrets.
Day 61: February 28, 2019
MY LIFE WITH R.H. MACY by Shirley Jackson
The Lottery and Other Stories – 1949 (story originally published in New Republic, 1941)
General – 4 Pages
This story packs a good number of layers into four pages. It opens on something that feels like a concentration camp and then twists it into more of a this-is-your-life kind of vibe. Herded like a mouse through the stages of the maze, the POV harbors fear, confusion, anxiety, and finally uncaring before she releases herself and is immediately something like nostalgic. Really a cool story.
Day 62: March 1, 2019
FAT by Raymond Carver
Where I’m Calling From – Selected Stories 1989 (story originally published in 1968)
General – 5 Pages
This story carries the emotion of the waitress right through the page. All along, you can’t put your finger on something, and neither can the waitress involved. An interesting carry through in a story where not much happens but a fat man eats a lot of food and uses the royal WE to describe himself.
Day 63: March 2, 2019
SNAKES by Jack Ketchum
Fear Itself – 1995
Horror – 17 Pages
A snake invades a woman’s life and keeps coming back, okay premise, but the action of it relies on this woman not knowing what the weather’s going to be because she missed the TV broadcast, and really does want to know, but is driving around in her car a bunch and could’ve turned on the radio, even in her home before that...if this were a new story, it would be kind of like the author forgetting to do away with the cellphone signal. I also didn’t care much for the character, so that killed most of the suspense. Well-written as far as the prose and dialogue went, but lacking.
Favorite of the week was Stephen Graham Jones’ CRAWLSPACE, that one was fantastic (probably pretty close to not being a short story at all...at least a novelette).