Friday, September 29, 2017

The Boy by Bentley Little

"The Boy" by Bentley Little 

This story was from "Dark Screams: Vol 8" edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.  Published by Hydra and imprint of Random House. 

This was an interesting story.  There were quite a few subtle layers built into this short story.  They were layered very nicely together to really make an impact at the end of the story. 
A couple, Kent and Christine, moved into a new house in a nice little neighborhood.  Kent worked while Christine stayed at home.  She was supposed to be unpacking the boxes and settling into the house, but she just couldn’t get into unpacking.  She decided to go outside and plant and water some flowers in the front yard.  That’s when she saw her neighbors across the street, two women, Jenna and Sam. 
Going across the street Christine introduces herself to the ladies.  They fall into a comfortable friendship quickly.  While they were standing on the front porch talking school children began to come down the street on their way to school.  That’s when the smell of raw sewage assaulted Christine’s nose. 
Christine looked around, but couldn’t find the source of the smell.  Turning she asked Jenna and Sam about the smell.  They tell her the smell comes from a boy that walked to school down their street. 
Christine couldn’t believe that smell came from one person, let alone one small boy.  Sure enough, as the boy came down the street towards them the smell grew stronger and stronger.  The smell was horrid and made Christine want to puke. 
When Christine inquired to Jenna and Sam as to why no one has talked to his parents, or made some sort of complaint at school, they just told her that no one has ever said anything about the boy smelling.  No one has ever complained about the boy despite the smell he carried with him.  
As the days passed, the boy walked down Christine’s street each day to school.  And each day Christine would be assaulted by the smell of raw sewage.  The smell of the boy was making Christine red with anger at having to put up with the smell every day.  She thought that somebody should do something about the boy.  Someone ought to talk his parents.  The more days that passed the more common-sense reasoning was being replaced with odd thoughts and behaviors.  What was Christine going to do about the boy?  She could no longer stand the sight of him, let alone the smell of him.  Something had to be done, once and for all. 

This story was subtle in its horror.  I didn't see things coming until they showed up in front of me.  There was a subtle undercurrent of anger, hatred, and how these emotions can affect thought processes.  There were also some influences in play that I didn't pick up on until the very end. 

This story dealt with prejudices and judging a book by the cover.  Things may be what they appeared to be, but often they are not.  To assume just makes an ass out of you (u) and me.  Christine found out that she held prejudices she didn't know she had in her.  They fanned the flames of hatred and anger and gave her thoughts that she thought not possible of herself. 

Another layer of this story was how we are affected by our sphere of influence.  To be careful of what we hear and are told.  To judge for ourselves and hold to our principles and not just go along with the popular belief.  How the popular belief could cause things that are not real to become reality. 

This multi-faceted story was definitely a good read.  The story seemed like a quick read because I was constantly turning the page to see what happened next.  Not just because it was a short story.  I think this story would do well in a bigger more widely published anthology.   

The author's potential was there.  Great language and storytelling abilities.  I would definitely look forward to reading more work by Bentley Little. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Walpuski's Typewriter by Frank Darabont

"Walpuski's Typewriter" by Frank Darabont 

This was the opening story for "Dark Screams: Vol 8" edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.  Published by Hydra and imprint of Random House. 

This story was about a man named Howard Walpuski and you guessed it... his typewriter.  This wasn't a bad opening story for a new horror anthology.  For an opening story I would of hoped for something just a little bit more.  The story was strong and stood well, but I just didn't have that wow factor that I usually associate with an opening story. 

Like I said though, the story itself was a strong story.  It even had me laughing at a few points during the story.  I like horror that has some comedy throughout. 

Howard Walpuski entered some sort of typewriter, or computer, store with his old dilapidated IBM Selectric II word processor.  Soon off he spotted an old man who introduced himself as Cyril Pratt.  There was something off about this old man, but Howard couldn't quite figure out what made him feel that way about Cyril Pratt. 

Howard had only 5 bucks and a bus pass to his name.  He was broke and so was his word processor.  Howard couldn't afford to buy a new one and hoped that Cyril Pratt would be able to fix his old one.  There was a sign on the window indicating that credit could be extended.  Alas, the old man seemed to know exactly what Howard was thinking and offered to repair the broken word processor.  That is if Howard would put 5 dollars and 10% of his book sales as a down payment. 

Howard was flabbergasted at how the old man knew he had 5 dollars to his name.  Even more so that he wanted 10% of his book sales since he hadn't written a single book.  Things progressed and got weirder as their time together went on.   

Cyril Pratt took the word processor and asked Howard to follow him.  They descended down a flight of stairs into the basement.  Howard watched as the old man then started to prepare the room with various things and drawing a pentagram into the center of the room.  Howard just stared unsure of what to do. 

Soon Cyril Pratt was chanting faster and faster.  Howard was ready to bolt but couldn't make his feet move.  Then he saw a wall of light circle the pentagram and something materialize inside the circle.  It started to twist and turn moving faster and faster as the chanting increased.  Soon it disappeared into his typewriter and everything went back to normal.  Howard bolted for the door. 

That's when the story really started to pick up steam.  The story revolved around, as the story suggested, Howard and his typewriter.  His quest to write novels and what he had to go through to accomplish what he always wanted.  To be famous and rich.  To be a true writer. 

This story I felt would have done better later in the anthology, but definitely belongs in the book.  It was a fun read and a clever plot to the story.  Reminded me a little bit of Stephen King in the plotting. 

A worthwhile read for sure.  I enjoyed it. 

All That Robot Shit by Rich Larson

"All That Robot Shit" by Rich Larson   All That Robot Shit was first published in Asimov Magazine, August 2016,  issue  ...