Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review1: The Second Coming ( A Horror Short Story ) by Griffin Hayes

The linearity of time is the very essence of all human judgment. Think about it. Whenever something happens which requires our judgment, the first thing we ask is: what past information do I have ? What evidence can I gather? Is there any similar past occurrence to which I can compare the current predicament?  How did this start in the first place? Being completely ignorant of the future, the past is all we have to go by. This little, big feature about our life is the very essence of the horror in Griffin's "The Second Coming". How can I convince someone of my innocence based not on past evidence, but on a future occurrence. It was refreshing to see the author masterfully combining the intricacies of time travel with the horror of murder. Yes, I know, it's not a new idea ( Minority Report comes to mind) but kudos to the writer for making it feel fresh, intriguing and somehow credible.

This story takes place in an office and it follows an ice-cold conversation between a doctor and his patient. Of course, the doctor is cynical. Of course, the patient goes into all the gory details to prove his point. What I liked about the story is that all the gory detail is justified. The main character, Jack, is extremely reluctant to  recount all the events in sequence again. The author emphasizes this with the very first line of the story" Now I'd like to go over this one more time." Jack hates it because it's too damn painful for him, and he compares retelling his dreaded story to Chinese water torture. I felt that all of this gave a sense of authenticity to the conversation. Maybe it's me, but I've always had a thing for stories carried through conversation. Somehow it seems to remind me of the campfire horror-storytelling that we used to practice during boy-scout camps. 

The writing is what holds everything in place: there is a deceiving simplicity to it, but every word is measured, ever pause calculated. The dialogue is the best aspect by far. With every quotation mark you can feel the temperature drop by a notch. 

The only problem I had with this story is that I felt it was underdeveloped. I do understand that with such a story you need a quickfire, WTF-just-happened ending, just to let your readers attempt a second reading, but then you run into the risk of leaving your characters underdeveloped. And that is what I am afraid happened here. The thing is that you really take an interest in Jack and his tragic circumstances, so the story does leave you with that craving of wanting to know just a little bit more. It seemed that the author's priority here was revealing the truth, as it should be of course, but no author should underestimate the reader's willingness to embrace the characters and desiring to experience their fate. I know that it is very very very difficult to strike this kind of balance in a short story because the opportunity for elaboration is very limited, but there are always little things you can do to make sure that all loose ends are tied. 
Having said all this, this little 3000 word horror story delivered everything it promised. For all lovers of the craft of writing I wholeheartedly recommend this author and will definitely check out more of his work in the future. 
And that's the first hidden horror-gem I uncovered for you on Amazon. More to come soon. 

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