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Women in Horror Month Author Rena Mason – The Evolutionist

Spreading the Writer's Word

The Evolutionist
by Rena Mason

RenaMason_TheEvolutionistLas Vegas suburbanite, Stacy Troy, dreams that everyone is dead. She dismembers the bodies of loved ones, stuffs them into a shopping cart, then takes them two at a time to the pile where she will burn their remains and say her last goodbyes.

Waking nightly to her own screams, Stacy is convinced she’s on the brink of a mid-life crisis and begins secretly seeing a psychiatrist. Dr. Light and his methods seem strange and unconventional, but his treatments work, and her circumstances improve. Until the nightmares return with a vengeance, taking on a life of their own.

Uncertain what to believe, Stacy carries on living the only life she remembers. Nosebleeds and head-splitting alarms only she can hear, become a regular occurrence. In physical and mental decline, the nocturnal world in her mind refuses to die. The images it reveals hold clues that lead…

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Nine more stories from Night Shift

Nine more stories from Night Shift.

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Nine more stories from Night Shift

Here are my thoughts on Nine more short stories from Night Shift:

I Am the Doorway – I really liked the pacing of this one, the  story really comes to you, you think you know what’s going on but you’re not sure then it comes at you fast and furious. Plays on fear of the unknown, outer space, and losing control of your own body/mind. A good read.

The Mangler – Not one of my favorites, starts out ok, Mr. King does a great job of building the fear you have of this machine but the story get lost in my opinion when the main characters try to explain the possession and the final image of this 30+ foot machine running around the city is ridiculous, not scary. I can’t believe this story spawned a movie with two sequels.  

The Boogeyman – Another very well paced story that builds suspense as it goes along. it also takes me back to what looks like will be one of my main themes as I go through Mr. Kings work, there are no heroes here. We find out that Lester’s family has been terrorized by this boogeyman and his three children have been murdered. Do we feel sorry for him, not at all. He is portrayed in such a way that in the end after we learned that he let son be killed rather than face his own fears we are glad the Dr. Harper is the Boogeyman and are not sure if we hope he is killed or left to live we his cowardice and fear.  

Grey Matter  – This is one of those stories that produces images in my head that I wish I could unsee, and unsmell for that matter. Unlike a lot of Mr. King’s stories this one has a hero or at least someone acting heroically, though as usual his reward for his heroic behavior is probably death by giant grey fungus man. The image created as we hear about Ritchie’s transformation is truly horrific. On a personal note Grey Matter will always bring to mind the Ongio Boingo song before this story.

Battleground – Fun little story about an assassin who gets attacked by a box of toy soldiers sent to him by the mother of a toy maker he had just killed. In true King style just as the assassin thinks he has won everyone is killed by a tiny thermonuclear weapon.

Trucks – The short story was much more enjoyable than the movie it spawned. Maximum Overdrive is in my opinion the worst of many horrible movies based on Mr. King writing. The story paints a more convincing picture than the movie of a world taken over by truck and tractors. The logic still has some major holes but you can see how these six characters are trapped and horrified by the machines that have them trapped. At least no one was killed by a coke machine in the story.

Sometimes They Come Back – Story of a High School teacher who is forced to face his past as the ghosts(?) of the “greasers”, who killed his brother when he was a kid start showing up in his classroom. He puts the pieces together with the help of the retired cop who had worked the original case. the greasers had died in a car accident not long after they killed his brother. He is not sure what to do but once they kill his wife he is driven to drastic measures and summons a demon who brings his brother back to avenge his death. I typical King fashion the book ends with Jim wondering if the demon he has just brought forth will be worse than the ghosts he just vanquished.

Strawberry Spring – Good story about a series of murders at a small college. Great play on “are you the monster that you fear” as the narrator begins to believe he is the killer.

The Ledge – Moral for Stan, never sleep with, then fall in love with a crime overlord’s wife. Stan is forced to walk around a penthouse apartment by way of a 5 inch ledge or go to jail for 40 years for heroin possession. When he makes it, despite having to deal with an ankle peaking pigeon, god I hate pigeon’s) he finds out that while he has won 20K and his freedom but the woman he loves has been murdered. With nothing left to live for he overpowers the bodyguard and sends the overlord out on the same bet he had – The ledge for his life. We do not get to see if the overlord makes it but we are told if he does he is going to die anyway. Moral for the overlord, no matter how powerful and protected you think you are never push a man to his breaking point. Once he has nothing to lose you never know what he might be capable of.

Next are eight more stories in Night Shift (Has any collection of short stories ever produced so many films?) than on to the epic The Stand.

 

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Jerusalem’s Lot

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I really enjoyed this “prequel” to Salem’s Lot. Mr. King does a great job of taking us back in time to the Jerusalem’s Lot of 1850. It continues a theme seen so far in Salem’s Lot & The Shining of tainted ground. It will become a reoccurring theme in Mr. King’s work going forward in Pet Sematary, Black House and of coarse Dr Sleep just to name a few. This of coarse is a theme that runs all through the horror genre, the thought that a house, a town or the ground itself can become tainted with evil. I think this appeals to Mr. King because there is no victory over this kind of threat only escape hopefully with your sanity.  It also leaves the door open for this evil to be there ready for victim after victim for all time.

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Night Surf

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Interesting little story about the end of mankind, this time by flu. Basically said to me that people are people and no matter what the earth is going to keep going round the sun.

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Graveyard Shift

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Probably one of my least favorite stories. Giant Mutant Rats/Bats and an asshole boss lead to his death for being an asshole. I just saw no reason to care about anyone in this story. Can’t believe they made a movie out of this.

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The Shining

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I am very happy that I revisited this story. In my opinion this is one of Mr. King’s great works. I wish I would have taken the time read it again before reading Dr. Sleep, though I think Dr. Sleep stands on its own. 

I was amazed at how much the movie had seeped in to my memory of the book. I respect Kubrick’s version, it’s hard to argue with the visual impact of the maze and “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” was brilliant. I would love to see it re-done closer to book and I think with today’s special effects and the right casting it would stand up to Kubrick’s version. 

As I mentioned in my last post as with most of Mr. Kings books there are no hero’s in this book. Almost all the main characters are heroic at times but they are all human, They all have their faults and their strengths. 

The closest thing to a hero is Danny whose biggest fault is that he is only 5 and dealing with things no five year old should have to deal with. Even before they get to the overlook he is dealing being tapped into adult emotions with no capacity to understand or deal with them.

There is really when you look at it no real villains either. Some people would point to Jack Torrance but when you look at it he is just a deeply flawed man dealing with alcoholism and really trying to do the right thing.  

I guess if you really had to find a bad guy it would be the Overlook itself but it really didn’t have the power to do much of anything without someone with “The Shine” to power it. 

We haven’t even talked about the complex characters of Wendy and Dick and all their failings and triumphs. 

Part of the brilliance of this book is isolating the characters so we could really dig into them and there relationships. The pressure of their isolation and the “ghosts” in the overlook made the perfect setting to bring them to the surface. 

I may come back to this one, there is so much going on here and we have Dr Sleep to look forward to.

For now on the Night Shift – to be honest I’m not a big fan of short stories but I’ll dig in and let you know my thoughts as I go along.