Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Genres: , ,

Escape Pod 674: And Yet

And Yet

A. T. Greenblatt

Only idiots go back to the haunted houses of their childhood. And yet.

Here you are. Standing on the sagging, weed-strangled front porch that hasn’t changed in twenty years. Every dip in the floorboards, every peeling strip of paint is exactly as you remember it. Time seems to have ricocheted off this place.

Except not everything has stayed the same. You have your doctorate in theoretical physics now, the ink’s still fresh on the diploma. Your prospects look good. You’re going start teaching next month, your first steps on the path to tenure. You have a grant for a research project you’ve been waiting for years to start. The secrets of the universe are a locked door and you might have the key. That is, if the house doesn’t kill you first.

You’re lingering on the doorstep, not quite ready to commit. There’s an early morning hush to the neighborhood, but it’s already ungodly humid and warm. The backs of your calves stick to your leg braces, your backpack is heavy on your shoulders, and your walking cane is slick from your sweaty palm, though you’re not sure if that’s because of the heat or because being back on this porch is doing terrible things to your heart rate. Even the dragonflies are smart enough to linger at the property line.

This is a terrible idea. Your hand is clenched around the doorknob and you’re listing all the valid reasons you should walk away.

And yet. (Continue Reading…)

Movie Review: Apollo 18

It’s been a long time since America has been to the moon. Hell, at this point even the Chinese have sent a lander there, if not actual taikonauts yet. The last moon mission was Apollo 17, back in 1972.

Or was it?

The found-footage film Apollo 18 aims to show why we haven’t been back. And if this film is to be believed, there’s a damn good reason.

(Continue Reading…)

EP415: The Nightmare Lights of Mars

The Nightmare Lights of Mars

by Brian Trent

Before discovering the moths, Clarissa Lang stumbled blind in the Martian sandstorm and admitted she was about to die because of a painting.

Granules of sand flew past her head at 90 kph and crunched between her teeth. The storm hissed around her ears, a terrible insistence that she hush forever. There was no excuse for this death, Clarissa thought. Weather advisories had been in place for an hour. Her death would become a digital footnote, filed under foolishness, for all time.

She staggered blind and tacked through the needle-spray. Red sand piled around her neck and shoulders, grew around her mouth like exaggerated lipstick.
“Overlay!” she shouted — tried to shout — but her mouth instantly filled with gritty particulate. She panicked then, the first moment of true mindless panic. But the Martian Positioning Satellite had heard her cry: Maureen’s property map sprang up in her left eye, drawn scarlet against each blink.

The house was thirty meters northwest. Upwind.

Clarissa tucked herself into a protective ball and scuttled sideways, like a crab. The sand struck her exposed hands and face in a shifting, relentless wave.

I’ll never make it.

Clarissa could no longer breathe. A recent story from the Japanese colony in Cydonia leapt to her mind, in which a grandmother had been caught outside in a sandstorm, wandered around in circles for ten minutes in the hissing tempest, and finally suffocated an arm’s length from her front door. When they found her, her stomach, throat, and mouth were bulging with sand.

The toolshed! I can make the tool shed!

Clarissa turned away from her house and the full brunt of the sandstorm slammed into her back, tearing the jacket, spraying around her body in silhouette. For a fleeting instant, she was able to suck clean air into her lungs. Then the sand closed around her again.
(Continue Reading…)

Review: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Cover of "I Am Not a Serial Killer"I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells is the story of a fifteen-year-old sociopath. It’s the sort of young adult book that gets shelved in with adult novels, because the experiences of a fifteen-year-old white boy are the sort of thing that everyone is supposed to be able to relate to. (Where this particular book ends up in the bookstore is governed by some arcane system that I do not fully understand. It took two Borders employees the better part of a quarter-hour to find my copy, and not for lack of trying – what I will miss most when my local Borders closes are the people who worked there.)

Our hero, young John Wayne Cleaver, is trying very hard not to become a serial killer. He’s a lonely sociopath who has been obsessed with serial killers ever since he saw a picture of John Wayne Gacy in the newspaper when he was eight. He is smart and self-aware enough to be terrified by all the things in his life that seem to be pushing him down that road. He believes that the strict system of self-imposed rules which he lives under will keep his dark impulses in check. Like a lot of sociopaths, he’s capable of pretending to be an ordinary human being, until he is put under stress — in this case, by the appearance of what might be a real serial killer in his quiet town.

This is Dan Wells’s first novel, a fact that is in no way borne out by the quality of the writing. His prose is clear and direct, with an edge of sardonic humor that keeps the reader from getting too wrapped up in all the terrible things that are happening until the author decides to go for the big scare. Staying inside his young sociopath’s head lets him avoid some of the more obvious cliches. John Wayne Cleaver is not inclined to guilt. He is capable of operating with scary precision at times when an ordinary character would be curled up and gibbering on the floor. He likes dead bodies.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a fast read. Dan Wells does a superb job of using suspense to keep the reader interested, without hording all the secrets for a dramatic reveal at the end. The beginning, which is devoted to the trials of a fifteen-year-old boy’s life, is saved by his humor and the mental-whiplash-inducing mentions of the supernatural element that drives the rest of the book. Watching that supernatural horror stalking the townsfolk is only slightly scarier than watching John Wayne Cleaver’s self-control crumble.

Whether or not this book lives up to the standards of the horror genre is not something I feel that I can fairly judge. I am not a horror reader. I will say that I Am Not A Serial Killer is a fun book and a nice change from my usual fare. It’s always nice to find a stand-alone novel with a satisfying ending that also has sequels. I will be interested to read those sequels – if Mr. Wells continues to improve his writing, they should be very strong books indeed. I recommending tracking down I Am Not A Serial Killer in your local bookstore — finding it may be an adventure, but the effort will be worth it.