I‘m laboring through one of the Book of Throne tomes, those massive cinderblock-sized efforts that require weeks to get through. And this is a problem for someone who hosts a weekly book blog.
As I’ve been thinking of just this thing (for marketing myself), I went onto Amazon and looked for free fiction, something short and sharp and clever that I could read in a setting or two, and was reviewable and enjoyable. Happily I found this in Free 5, a collection you can locate on Amazon without too much trouble.
Paul Dail went after flash fiction here, very very short pieces, as restrictive as haikus. He stuck to 1000 word short stories, more an exercise in tight writing than satisfying storytelling. But still, it works here.
The five stories are short horror / supernatural stories, all thoughtfully creepy in their own rights. I enjoyed them all. We’ve got the morticians’ daughter with the strange power in her tears, the man in pursuit of a timeless box, a fellow who hates jackrabbits and finds an Indian curse (or something of the sort). Then there is the group of boys creeping around an Indian burial ground on a mesatop at night (who are not alone, it seems). And then there is the old woman in the nursing home who has one final mission she needs to perform.
Of them, I really enjoyed the one about the box – to me, that was perfect. Interesting characters, buckets of implied backstory, a post-action setting (where did all these corpses come from?). And the mystery of the sealed strongbox with runes and letters from all the races of men. It ended – in my humble opinion – just a little weak (but he’s only got 1000 words, right?). In this, I agree with the author’s own assessment – this should have been a longer story (it is, in the hints it provides). One could get lost in characters such as these, ones who stand in the shadow of what is normal.
But I like the story and like the idea – what writer doesn’t have a bunch of short stories dangling about his neck, rejected by the world? As I said, I’ve been thinking of posting a set of my own. After all. It’s marketing, just like the line immediately following this one.