25. Thirteen – T. Pines, ed.
While we wait for climate change enhanced hurricanes or nukes to kill us all, I’m keeping in theme with short stories – for the summer! It’s YA Megamix Summer V: The Revenge, now featuring short story collections and a lot more art promos because I’m taking to the other states this summer and bringing my guinea pig art and generally melancholic demeanor to SUPERCON in Fort Lauderdale, July 12-15th and the Geekcraft Expo St. Louis July 28-29. If you want to come tell me how little you enjoy my longer posts in person, be sure to buy a postcard or threeve while you’re at it. Yay!
So, Point Horror, best imprint ever, did three short story collections of thirteen stories each and the first one is called Thirteen…yep. It features such Point luminaries as Lael Littke, D.E. Athkins (to me, it will always be Deathkins), A. Bates, and, um, some dude who wrote about a painting called Jay Bennett. Yes, Jay, paintings can be terrifying but the process of painting is the true source of horror.
We begin with the first in a set of bookend stories by Christopher Pike which may be the best work of his I’ve read. It weirds me out when short stories are better than novels; even though it shouldn’t *cough* Stephen King. In this case, it might have to do with the phone being involved so much. I’m very nostalgic for a time when we didn’t have the ability to constantly get a hold of each other and I like handset and answering machine-based intrigue. Yes, I’ve seen Bells, apparently known in the U.S. as Murder by Phone, a way too obvious title. I think there could’ve been a happy medium between “Bells” which says nothing and “Murder by Phone” which says too much.
Pike did a great job of making the annoying girls competing over some greaser-dressing new dude with his own mixtape both fun and really bitchy, so I was all for “Collect Call.”
The second story in the collection is by author of Prom Dress, The Watcher, and like nothing else, Lael Littke. “Lucinda” involves a sunken town, some graduation day regrets, and a love triangle. It was decent and a little murky.
“The Guiccioli Miniature” by the aforementioned Jay Bennett reminded me a lot of the movie version of Don’t Look Now. It’s set in Venice and involves some weird dude accosting the main character on the street, so that might be why. It is an extremely short entry, and was just, well, not very much in the usual vein of Point Horror, also like Don’t Look Now. I didn’t manage to get mad about the mention of painting theft, which tells you a lot about how engaging this was. As a painter, if someone stole any of my paintings, I’d consult some psychic sisters staying nearby, put on a red hooded coat, and stalk through all those canals until I got it back…
“Blood Kiss” – Deathkins! – Well, sometimes people give vampires bad names. This one’s name is Ken. This story was fun and I know Deathkins could’ve done better than to name a vampire Ken. The immortal Ken. Yeesh.
“A Little Taste of Death” – Patricia Windsor – Bizarre little tale about a bad girl staying with her grandmother. When I stayed with my grandmother during many summers, I did not take candy that would seal my fate from strangers. Granted, on a farm the strangers are mostly cows, so it was easy to accomplish this. We also played the Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines game. And Smess.
“The Doll” – Carol Ellis – Little hands killing people in your dreams…that’s exactly what I’d expect if a doll just randomly showed up in my house. Especially one of those porcelain numbers with the blank facial expressions. Give me Ginny with her gorgeous pout or give me her pony! Or death, I think that’s how that was supposed to go, but I love my Ginny pony and now my secret is out. It’s really cute.
“House of Horrors” – J.B. Stamper – Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to not have friends at work. Especially if your “friends” are really just locking you in a horror house overnight to be dicks. If your making friends story seems like it might have any chance of ending with “and they were never seen again after hanging out with wax figures,” avoid that. Friends who just want to scare you are not real friends, they’re insecure jackasses.
“Where the Deer Are” – Caroline B. Cooney – A trippy kind of subdivision horror.
“The Spell” – R.L. Stine – “I hypnotized all three of you that day at the Pizza Palace.” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
“Dedicated to the One I Love” – Diane Hoh – Another thing that used to cause so much heart fluttering – having a song dedicated to you on the radio. While your friends were totally listening. So they knew. And then like, the whole school would know. Because everyone who was anyone listened to certain shows on the radio. But like with anything that can cause heart fluttering or public humiliation, watch out for when the dead start doing it.
“Hacker” – Sinclair Smith – Sometimes I feel like Sinclair Smith is a bit of a hack, so, I wasn’t surprised by anything in this story other than the ingenious use of plants. My problem is that once the villain is found out, they tend to get really loud and crazy, like they’ were holding back until this teenager found them and they have no clue about being arrested or not admitting how obvious your evil plan was even though you were all covert and smart throughout the rest of the story… The typing in all caps is really the kicker here, though. Quit yelling at everyone. Quit.
“Deathflash” – A. Bates – I like A. Bates. I feel like when I’m reading an A. Bates story, some level of control is being exercised over the concept. Even in this weirdo entry about an amorphous thing. I’m glad the main character was concerned for the cats, and it is unfortunately realistic to name them “Sunshine” and “Sparkle.” My guinea pigs are lucky my disposition is not so light. Danger Crumples totally would’ve ended up being “Star Beast.”
“They Boy Next Door” – Ellen Emerson White – This was a pretty kickass story and I liked it a lot. I’ve been around the kind of guy who thinks taking out their insecurities on you is a good idea and as I told one of them, “Don’t powertrip at me, I’m not going to do anything you tell me to and you chose the wrong lady to be insecure at.” It did not go over well, but then again it didn’t go over well to me when he tried to tell me I’m supposed to tell him when I’m going to desensitize a book. Not even, son. I will do what I have to when I need to. Don’t take your shit out on other people. Especially women.
And the other bookend, “Collect Call II: The Black Walker” (slash missed opportunity for a way better subtitle). Quit trying to get girls to tell you you’re such a great musician! Let them come to you and tell you. If you’re good, they will. I never directly lie about what I think about someone’s music. If I don’t like it, I’ll say it’s interesting and not explain why. I had to do that once when a song without words or anything resembling musical form was played for me by my drunk boyfriend and he told me it was “for me.” I wish that hadn’t been for me. But I said it was “interesting” because it was interesting to me that he would make something “for me” that involved nothing about music I actually enjoyed. I should’ve taken it as a bigger omen.
1. “The Otherworld” – All of Them Witches
2. “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” – Queens of the Stone Age
3. “Tales of Mystery & Isolation” – Wolfmen of Mars
4. “Electric” – Boris
5. “Diabolos ’88” – Samhain
6. “Ghosts of Victims Past” – Terrortron
7. “You Don’t Own Me” – Lesley Gore
8. “Wind up Toys” – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” – Chelsea Wolfe
10. “Holy Christos” – King Dude
11. “Hamlet Pow Pow Pow” – The Birthday Party
12. “Age of Oil & Wax” – Live Skull
13. “Kiva” – Burning Tapes
14. “Dance with Dark Forces” – Electric Six
15. “Killer in the Streets” – The Raveonettes
16. “The Trouble with Being Born” – The Great Tyrant
17. “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun” – Samhain