Oh, what a shitty day. Now, now, don't panic, I'm fine. Or fine enough, at least. The only way my day (and tomorrow, if I'm being honest) will affect us at the moment is how my day relates to my posting-energy levels. And today has really done a number on those levels. The bad news is that, even though I finished reading enough substantial, interesting fiction for a full-length post, I'm not going to. That will come tomorrow. Or the next day. The good news, though, is that I own a book called 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories, which is a 500-page anthology filled with horror stories no longer than about eight pages. I've read three of those, so that I could put up this half-assed post.
First up is Steve Rasnic Tem's "The Giveaway". This one's about four pages, and deals with the stories children make up to threaten each other with, and what it might be like if those threats turned out to be true, and/or how those threats work on the children who receive them. This is a sad little story that is unfortunately marred, in my view, by clanging dialogue. I've read a little Tem before (and more on him next week, by the way), and I'm very intrigued by his work. This one just jars the ear.
Next is "He Kilt It With a Stick", by William F. Nolan. It deals with a man who has spent his life keeping one part of his life hidden from everyone he knows, and that is his passion for killing cats. What is it with horror writers and cat-murder? I can't tell if these writes particularly hate cats -- they always describe the animals as cold, cruel, and dishonest -- or they particularly love cats, and want to purge their anger against those who would hurt them. After all, the bad qualities being attributed to cats always comes from the point of view of their attackers. Anyway. The cat-murderer also has a severe heart condition. God only knows if that'll come into play.
It's not a bad story, really. I just feel like I've already read it a few times this month. And several more times in all the years previous.
Lastly, we have Chet Williamson's "The Assembly of the Dead". It's a bit of a stretch to call this one a "horror" story, but if you cast your net wide enough to include the idea of "existential dread" in your definition of the genre, then it fits nicely. And it's a terrific story. Really. It's about an American Congressman who has traveled to a corrupt and unnamed country in order to recover the body of one of his constituents. That's pretty much it, as far as plot. As I said, it's a wonderful story. It reminded me a little of Tobias Wolff. I know, but shut up, because it did. If you can get your hands on this one, do so. Williamson's story really caught me of guard -- it's both chilling and moving.
That's it for now. More tomorrow.