The Power Of A Short Story
Short fiction can be a powerful thing–an incredible thing. In fact, I have a confession: My name is Lindsey, and I’m addicted to short stories!! Horror anthologies and story collections fit my lifestyle to a tee (the lifestyle of a mommy who’s lucky to experience ten solid minutes of peace). If I can be transported to another place and experience the beginning, middle, and end of a tale in one sitting, what beats that?
Even for the light reader, or those who don’t read at all, you might be surprised how many episodes of Tales From The Crypt, Masters Of Horror, and Twilight Zone started out as short stories. Or how about Creepshow… Fear Itself… Tales From The Darkside… I could go on and on.
I’ve had this blog since March, and it suddenly dawned on me…. I need to make a list of short stories that have stuck with me long after reading. Maybe I’ll get some of you non-readers out there to pick up a book. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that you don’t have to invest two weeks in a novel to enjoy the written word. Short scares pack major punch.
Some of the stories below can be found in more than one publication. I’ve simply referenced the book where *I* encountered each story. Let us begin…
FOET by F. Paul Wilson (book: Aftershock & Others: 19 Oddities)
This collection is full of great stories, but the story that stands out most in my mind is entitled “Foet”. It deals with the issue of abortion, and what makes it such an effective and well-executed tale is that no matter what your stance is–pro-life or pro-choice–you’re going to feel an unsettling stir of emotion. Completely enthralling.
WHEN IT IS DECIDED THAT THE WAR IS OVER by Gary Braunbeck (book: Rose Of Sharon)
There were two stories in this Gary Braunbeck collection that affected me deeply. “Need” is the story of a struggling mother whose harrowing decision for her children will leave you speechless.
“When It Is Decided That The War Is Over” shows the author’s ability to capture the tragedy of war like no other. I own another book from ’96 with a Braunbeck story that blew me away. It starred character James Ryan, president of the United States, who struggles with the hopelessness of war. “When It Is Decided That The War Is Over” revisits this character but with a new narrator, an end of the world account that will send a chill straight to your core, believe me.
SEX, DEATH, AND STARSHINE by Clive Barker (Books Of Blood Volume One)
This story has Broadway flair, a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes drama of live theater actors, as well as the drama of…well… the undead. 🙂
CALL FIRST by Ramsey Campbell (book: Alone With The Horrors)
In Ramsey Campbell’s “Call First”, library worker, Ned, lets curiosity get the best of him. There is an older gentlemen who visits the library daily. This man always asks to use the phone before leaving, and he always delivers the same emotionless message into the receiver before hanging up: “I’m coming home now.” Ned is beyond curious about the mysterious daily phone call and decides to find out more about the man… but soon regrets it.
SPARKS FLY UPWARD by Lisa Morton (book: The Living Dead)
Sparks Fly Upward by Lisa Morton is one of those horror stories that makes you ponder some pretty heavy issues. The subject matter is controversial, but the story will knock your socks off.
THE THINGS THEY LEFT BEHIND by Stephen King (book: Just After Sunset)
Strange things are happening to Scott Staley almost a year after 9/11. Scott is unable to get rid of his survivor’s guilt, and things belonging to his deceased colleagues start appearing in his apartment. He tries throwing them away, yet they reappear. What can he do to cope with the deaths of his friends and co-workers on 9/11 that still haunt him a year after the tragedy?
LOVER, COME BACK TO ME by Tim Waggoner (book: Tales From The Lake Vol. One)
The opening story in Tales From The Lake Volume One scared me for the simple reason that water creeps me out… BIG TIME! Not bath water, pool water, or drinking water, of course, but those murky natural bodies of water where the depths are unknown and anything could be swimming beneath you. Tim Waggoner nailed my fear in this one. I had to take a deep breath after reading.
So there you have it. Just a FEW short story suggestions from this fiction lover to all of you horror fans. Now… get reading!!