The Necessary Evils & Sick Girl
Reviewed By A.S. MacKenzie
- Print Length: 48 pages
- Publisher: Demain Publishing (31 Oct. 2019)
In the #34 edition of Demain Publishing’s series of ‘A Short Sharp Shocks! Book’ we have two short stories of quite considerable difference by Dan Weatherer.
The first story, “Necessary Evils”, shows what happens when we don’t listen to Grandma and go into the shed she expressly said not to go into. Nathan, an inquisitive young boy, is staying with his Grandmother who has a quaint little country cottage with a warm home and full garden. The shed, which Nathan had asked about many times, was sitting alone with a small stone path leading up to it. Each time he’d ask about it, she’d mumble something about “nosy little boys and their inevitable comeuppance,” but she never really gave an answer other than to not answer.
One day, he tricked her into not paying attention while he snuck out to the garden, creaked open the dusty door, and saw that it was only a floor with stone steps leading down. Realizing he would never get another chance to see what was here, he decides to head down. The journey down the steps takes an incredibly long time until he reaches a wall with a seam of bright, orange light glowing through, with something waiting next to it. Coming out of the shadows, in what wasn’t his real form, an old and impossibly thin man with sharp teeth told the boy he didn’t belong here. Being a precocious, and apparently fearless, boy Nathan decided to stay and ask questions. This gatekeeper tells the boy what he wants while not revealing the true nature of this place, which is a doorway to Hell and the torment beyond.
While this story is short, it’s also fair to say it didn’t need to be longer. The action, characters, and plot all fit as a neat stand-alone story but have the ability to grow into a full universe of characters, situations, worlds, and stories should the author so choose. Even using the tried-and-true staple of a gateway to Hell, just by giving it this location and circumstance created a fresh approach which could be a stepping off point to much more. I for one want to know what Grandmother’s real intention is for having this shed in the first place.
The second story, “Sick Girl”, is decidedly different than the first. While not a horror story, it was instead a deep psychologically dark story. Mona, a thirty-something young woman receives the devastating news that she only has a few weeks to live as cancer ravages her body. She refuses to accept this answer, storms out the doctor’s office, and head to her work. There, realizing that she has led a life of quiet desperation and next to no highlights or good times, she quits her job, and decides to go see if she can salvage some life left. She visits her mom (a drunk she has a strained relationship with), a church with a priest named Luke (even though she’s never believed in any religion and mocks those with faith), and to her flat with her abusive boyfriend (who she leaves after he hits her for saying she has cancer).
All in all, not an uplifting story per se, but one that still carries with it a defiance that we can see in Mona. In spite of her illness, we can see her in the last few pages decide that her life can be worth attempting to live.
Dan Weatherer’s work is a decent mix of character development, dialogue, atmosphere, and emotion. Whether it be a young boy discovering the gates to Hell or a young woman deciding that she does need to live, Dan is able to convey what really may happen in those situations, while giving you the reader a chance to develop the story further in your mind.
The Necessary Evils & Sick Girl
From award-winning writer Dan Weatherer comes two new stories ‘The Necessary Evils’ and ‘Sick Girl’.
Talking about both stories Dan said: “Where to start…they are different…they explore the themes of religion pressed upon me from an early age…they incorporate family. They are deeply personal tales. [In particular in ‘The Necessary Evils’] The two characters are based on (and named after) my two children. As a parent I’ve often looked at the world and worried as to the horrors they will inevitably be exposed to at some point in their lives. This tale is how I see them now, innocent and protected from evil. It is how (like many a parent, I imagine) I’d like them to remain.”
A. S. MacKenzie
A. S. MacKenzie is an Atlanta based author who loves all things books, movies, games, and comics. He lives with his wife, spoiled dogs, and an unhealthy obsession with building things. He can be found building worlds in books, building plastic models, or building with wood. Check out his website at asmackenzie.com for ways to join his newsletter and read free stories. Also, he’s been known to frequent Twitter (@a_s_mackenzie) to say something vaguely interesting and Instagram (a.s.mackenzie) for food, travel, and random pics.
Ice Where There Was None
A block of ice in a Florida park. A victim posed inside.
The first officers on the scene struggle to maintain the melting evidence.
Then it happens again.
…and again….and again…
While the officers wonder why they are always the first on scene, their department begins to wonder the same.
You can claim a copy of Ice Where There Was None via A.S. MacKenzie’s library