Monday, October 21, 2019

Quick Sips - Nightmare #85

Art by Elena Schweitzer / Adobe Stock Image
The stories in October’s Nightmare Magazine a quite different, though both are definitely horrifying in their own way. In one, a woman deals with being the final girl, the one left to the end of the massacres. The one who has survived twice but is now considered cursed, and has to figure out where to go from there. The other story looks a different kind of random horror, though not the kind that stalks or targets its victims specifically. This one lies in wait for a person to pass along and open themselves unknowingly to…something. It’s an interesting one-two punch, and I’ll get right to the reviews!


“Some Kind of Blood-Soaked Future” by Carlie St. George (4296 words)

No Spoilers: Taking horror movie (and specifically slasher movie) tropes head on, this piece is told in second person, where you are the survivor of a slumber party massacre. And then a field trip massacre. And all around you people have decided that you’re cursed. That you’re doing something to bring this on yourself. That you need to be avoided and shunned. Which doesn’t leave you with a lot of options. At the same time, though, it gets you to learn that you have one thing going for you—the very thing that makes you vulnerable—you have a lot of experience with masked killers. Which means that you might be the best equipped to find the massacres before they get too bad and put a stop to them. It’s a visceral and bloody story, as the title might imply, but it’s also one that focuses on family and loneliness, on the burden of being a final girl, and how that burden might someday be eased some.
Keywords: Final Girls, Serial Killers, Horror Movies, Family, CW- Gore, Asexual MC
Review: I like how this story twists expectations when it comes to Final Girl narratives. You are aware of your place as a Final Girl, as someone who has a sort of target on their back. Not just to have people trying to kill you, but wanting you to be the last one killed. It makes being anywhere in a group a danger, but you’ve also managed to turn that into a job. Where you can find and kill the killers before they get too many people. Or that’s the goal. And then pick up some extra money and keep moving. Only it’s not like it pays that well, and eventually the exhaustion and the strain lead you to a situation that you might not really be ready for. A situation where you want to stay. Where you want to be with people who seem to understand you and want to help you. Not that it really goes well. The story is a bit of a splatterfest, but one that points out the impact of that violence, the way that it keeps these girls isolated, alone, and vulnerable. Cutting away their support, their friends, their family. But that really only happens to the extent that people ignore the warning signs and operate without knowledge of the tropes and cliches. The best defense here is a group of people who all trust each other, who all look out for each other, and who do not dismiss the idea that there are masked killers out there who are going to be aiming specifically toward a certain kind of person. It’s a wonderful read, not exactly funny but also nicely flippant with these hyper-violent tropes, and aware of the greater, emotional damage that is happened. It’s powerful and shocking and the ending is heartwarming and so worth getting to. A great read!

“Growing and Growing” by Rich Larson (1453 words)

No Spoilers: This story finds two brothers, Ignacio and Hector, walking home after a night out drinking to celebrate their business ventures. The brothers are close, working together, but the two have rather different reactions when they come across what seems like an abandoned infant in the middle of the street. It’s no ordinary infant, though, and the piece traces how this...thing ends up communicating and touching them, and what comes of it. It’s short and seems designed primarily to be creepy. In that it checks the right boxes (something that’s almost a baby but isn’t, an uncertainty that lingers with fear, a desire to remain ignorant of something obviously wrong) and manages a definite creepy feel of something from the outside...reaching in.
Keywords: Family, Brothers, Drinking, Babies, Growth, Teeth
Review: Well the story is definitely appropriate for the month, which is often thought of as the spookiest of the year. It’s a creepy story, about two men finding this not-really-a-baby and then dealing with what happens next. And I like the different ways the men at first deal with and react to the thing. How the one brother recoils immediately while the other reaches out in compassion. How the first tries to make amends for that by carrying the burden for a while, and how the thing...grows. It really is a mysteriously terrifying piece, reveling the horror that arises from things not being clear, not being certain. The men are not only drunk, it’s dark, and there’s a general sense that maybe the borders between things are thin. That maybe something...comes through. Part of a chain that the brothers unwittingly become a part of just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The random nature of the horror is something I like too, the feeling that this might happen at any point, in any place, and the result will be something messed up. That something is trying to find purchase in our world and in some ways needs that invitation to invade and so pretends to be something innocent, something that one of these men might reach to in comfort and kindness. Which ends up fucking everything up, preying on the very impulse that allows humans to try and help each other. It’s a nice short bit of horror, not too complicated but certain worth checking out. A creepy experience!


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