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The Year's Best Horror 21 by Karl Edward…
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The Year's Best Horror 21

by Karl Edward Wagner (Editor)

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These 26 tales of horror were edited by Karl E. Wagner, whose writings some of you may be familiar with.

I've picked only a couple of stories from the collection to digress on, the first of which is Michael A. Arnzen's "Spring Ahead, Fall Back".

I often found myself laughing aloud at Arnzen's peculiar sense of humor. Indeed, I was grinning throughout the entirety of the timely tale, or tale of the timely. It was the dark line "Ol' Chuck...with some serious mental problems." that initially got me tickled, and I remained a bit dementedly tickled throughout.

The main character, Mr. Bus Driver, intrigued me because my grandfather was a bus driver, somewhat of an alcoholic, and the owner of many pocket watches. It is quite logical that bus drivers do spend a lot of time pondering time...

What I liked best about "Spring Ahead, Fall Back" is that it leaves you in a contemplative state. Does anybody understand daylight savings or time zones or time even? I want to posit theories as to what the hell The Watcher was actually up to—besides slow murdering. Was he even human? Mr. Bus Driver said of The Watcher's motives "It's too irrational—like time and space itself. I suppose—abstract and senseless." On second thought, mayhaps I do not want to glimpse into the reality-tunnel of The Watcher...

The Watcher talking about time changes affecting his metabolism and then going into the bathroom to fetch some sort of proof for the bus driver nearly killed me with tittering suspense.

A clue to note in theorizing upon the motivations of The Watcher: The wet paper bag (contents of which I will keep a surprise) smelt fishy, as did The Watchers breath... Hm...

Another of my favorite stories in this collection is Jeffrey Osier's "Sanctuary". I was a bit disappointed with the impromptu ending.

Imagine a place in which mites are the parasitical in-dwellers of humans. The infested humans have gray-brown hives—much like chimney-clusters—rising from their skulls. Some of these are over a foot high with bases that swell in gruesome brick patterns over their hosts' brow ridges. The mites crawl in and out over black gaping holes at the top of the encrusted crowns (brains are down there some where), crawling over the faces and entire bodies of their hosts.

This is the world in which Paul lives, and this infested state has become the fate of his father. A stranger to their small village, Kate—who is cursed or blessed with a perpetual rain of Angel Hair that gathers around her in piles when she is still—has come down from the mountains. The mites will not go into the mountains (Paul thinks he may wish to leave mite-ville), but other more malevolent creatures do lurk there.

Thus begins the wonderous and horrific tale! It ended too soon!

TYBHS 21 has 24 other stories as well! Overall, a very decent collection! ( )
  endersreads | Apr 24, 2008 |
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