Daily Short Story Diary - Week 37

September 15, 2019

Day 253 Sep 8, 2019

AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF by Stephen Graham Jones

After the People Lights Have Gone Off – 2014 (story originally published in Phantasmagoria, 20??)

Horror – 40 Pages

Talk about building an atmosphere. I thought maybe I was getting lost in this one, following along with the point of view, but it’s all in the recipe, I think. SGJ does this thing, Cormac McCarthy does it masterfully, too, where he spells stuff out in a roundabout way without saying it exactly. Like the message is cursed so it has to be talked around or its name is Betelguise but it can’t tell you that directly but it still wants you to say it in the end. And to speak on the end of this one, ho-lee-shit. Creepy. Ominous. Beautifully written.

*****

 

Day 254 Sep 9, 2019

THORNS by J.P. Hutsell

Cemetery Dance Issue #77 – 2019

Horror – 3 Pages

I just don’t know about Cemetery Dance anymore. I could’ve skipped the last two stories I read in this issue and really could’ve skipped this one as well. This story uses the everyday to build a sense of normalcy that pivots off a release with hopes of an impactful finish. And it has to work because the writing is wildly pedestrian (not painfully so, but still…). There’s no texture or atmosphere, there’s a bit of coloration when describing the weather, but meh. Unfortunately, the end isn’t all that impactful and mostly I wondered so what? when the pistol went into the mouth.

**

 

Day 255 Sep 10, 2019

EVERY MOTHER’S SON by Rick Hautala

Glimpses – 2013 (story originally appeared in Maine Impressions Volume 1 Issue 2, 1987)

Horror – 16 Pages

Now this one doesn’t strictly fall into the horror category, but the horrific implications…you know. Anyway, so this one starts off slow, with a fully formed (from a short story standing) point of view, a character with flaws and insecurities, and a job. The way it’s done here lulls you, it promises a great shift in the beginning, but uses life to take a reader, this one anyhow, right to the cusp of boredom. Then blam! The reveal isn’t the obvious conclusion and you’re feeling the holy shit, and then it’s ove—blam! Again, double tap conclusion. Exactly how I like my short stories served.

*****

 

Day 256 Sep 11, 2019

MONOTONE by Lawrence Greenberg

Borderlands 4 – 1994

Nonsense – 8 Pages

This was an experimental story. Every sentence was incomplete and mostly a single word or phrase. A few sentences had two phrases. It was supposed to be thoughts, dished out frantically, even the dialogue was like this, despite that dialogue, no matter the style of the story, should be realistic. The dialogue could’ve moored this thing, grounded it, instead it was more of the same nonsense. A story going nowhere and meaning nothing.

*

 

Day 257 Sep 12, 2019

EL CHAPPIE: THE WORLD’S SECOND GREATEST CRIMINAL by T.L. Huchu

Mystery Weekly Magazine August 2019

Crime – 7 Pages (about, digital)

A one-sided conversation. A man who looks like El Chapo is arrested and is explaining himself. This is one where telling’s done right, no showing at all. It’s by no means perfect (what story is? Maybe there’s a few), but it’s engaging and once the crime becomes clearer (for me, right around when Trump was indirectly mentioned) the meat of the meaning sets in. Cool story. Cool reveal.

****

 

Day 258 Sep 13, 2019

CONJOINED by Jane Yolen

Mad Hatters and March Hares – 2017

Fantasy – 12 Pages

Another fun one from this anthology. This story relies on only the slightest Wonderland knowledge, which allowed me to enjoy it solely on the merits of an ape, on a foray from the circus, fighting a lizard for the queen’s pleasure. Pure fun and lightning pacing, no bogging down of the limitless descriptors that could go on when introducing a fantastical landscape. Which, again, let me enjoy it more (I can’t stomach reading over-described fantasy). Well-written. Silly. Entertaining.

*****

 

Day 259 Sep 14, 2019

DARK INTERLUDE by Fredric Brown and Mack Reynolds

Nightmares and Geezenstacks – 1961

Science Fiction – 8 Pages

Holy shit, what a punch in the gut. This one’s about a time traveller who goes back and marries a woman, who happens to have a brother. It’s told along parallel lines—one being the traveller and the other being the brother of the woman, he happens to be on the telephone with a sheriff. The ending is…holy shit.

*****

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