A short story a day review

Month: February, 2012

Pocket Money by John M. Floyd

by Barb Goffman

60/366 from the Summer 2011 issue of Mysterical-E.

Poor Sheriff Lucy Valentine has to put up with her mother, Fran, who is the consummate amateur sleuth. This time, Fran is certain she’s discovered a pickpocket at the county fair. Lucy, as usual, is skeptical. Why, I’m not sure, because Fran seems to be very good at this sleuthing business.

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Oversight by John M. Floyd

by Barb Goffman

59/366 from the spring 2011 issue of Mysterical-E.

A dead, battered woman is found in the middle of a muddy field. Based on the weather, whoever dumped her there should have left tracks. But there are none …

Another nice story from Floyd.

A New Game, Kyle Minor, DISCOUNT NOIR

by Patti Abbott

A new husband is bored to tears with his new life in a small town, unhappy with how country things now define him. His pregnant wife is needy but the trip to Megamart to get her what she craves gives him some ideas about how he can liven things up. This is one of my favorite stories in the collection. #62 Patti Abbott

The Man in The Morgue by Robert Arthur

by Arun

Source: 20 Tales of Murder

Story Number: 60

Mildred Wilson has a violent temper and each of her tempers leads to a seizure and the doctor has strictly warned her not to get excited or shocked or lose temper. She has also been prescribed a special medicine which she can take whenever she encounters such an attack, failing to do so would definitely lead to her death. The story starts off with her husband Herbert declaring that he has taken an insurance policy against his death and might come in handy if he meets with an accident due to a weak break on his automobile.

On a rough day when the people have been asked to stay indoors and not to venture out in the icy conditions, Herbert declares to his wife that his firm is not doing good, that he needs to file for bankruptcy and they might have to let go of the house that they are leaving in. Remembering the insurance policy, she thinks that he is better off dead than alive and thinks of a not so foolproof way of killing him. She breaks the bottle and spills her medication and requests Herbert to fetch the medicine immediately. She is hoping that he will meet with an accident when already 7 people have been killed due to the rough weather.

He does meet with an accident but is not killed; a passerby helps him to the nearest destination which happens to be a Morgue. The caretaker of the morgue attends to him and while he is still unconscious, he decides to call the injured man’s wife and update the status to her. Over a choppy telephone connection and with the thick accent of the caretaker, all Mildred hears is that her husband has met with an accident and that he is in the morgue – from which she is able to reach only one conclusion!

What happens next? An eventful and a surprise ending await the reader!

“The Enemy of All the World” by Jack London

by kattomic

“The Enemy of All the World” by Jack London
02.29.12
Story 60/366

Who knew Jack London once wrote a super-villain story? This is the story that should be taught in high school, not “To Build a Fire.” TBAF is a fine story of course but … so sad. “The Enemy of All the World” could be a gateway story for readers who are still mostly reading comic books. Something to think about. London wrote commercial fiction and he made a fortune doing it. “The Enemy of All the World” was written in 1908. You can read the story here.

See you tomorrow!

A Composer and His Parakeets, Ha Jin, A GOOD FALL

by Patti Abbott

This collection is set in Flushing, NY. In this story, an opera composer takes on the care of his girlfriend’s parakeet when she goes on the road. The parakeet comes to dominate the man’s life and affect his work. In fact, his grief after the bird’s death produces a greater second half to a work in progress. Simple, touching, honest. #61 Patti Abbott

House of Mirrors by Kurt Vonnegut

by Arun

Source: Look At the Birdie: Unpublished Fiction by Kurt Vonnegut

Story Number: 59

Detectives Carney and Foltz are on a mission to confront and question the hypnotic therapy specialist Hollomon Weems. Many wealthy women(widows) have disappeared without a trace but all of them were seen entering the therapist’s house before they disappeared. A cat and mouse conversation ensues among the three men. It looks as though Weems is successful in hypnotizing the men just by his conversation and finally he reveals that his main aim in life is to find suitable solutions for the troubled souls – elimination of undesirable habits or unreasonable fears. And for those who don’t see a good future, he makes them pass through the mirrors to go into a better life – and that’s how the women have all disappeared into those mirrors.

Weems takes the detectives to the big upper floor circular room which is full of mirrors and tells them that all the women (and many people the police aren’t looking for) entered a new life in that room. The detectives request for a demonstration from the doctor but he politely declines. What then follows is a series of revelations and surprises when the detectives try to arrest him – the detectives reveal that they themselves are hypnotists but they still find it hard to arrest Weems as he is controlling them through hypnosis, the third detective who has been hiding is summoned in but in a very short amount of time even the third one is hypnotized. A flurry of activity, crisp dialogue and mounting suspense leads the reader to the final twist, ending the story on a high note!

“Letter from an Understudy” by Kathryn Simmonds

by kattomic

“Letter from an Understudy” by Kathryn Simmonds
02.28.12
Story 59/366

Kathryn Simmonds is an award-winning poet and short story writer based in London. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with an MA in Creative Writing. A number of her short stories are available online and it looks like she does a lot of flash fiction. This story is a letter from the understudy to the director of a play he’s doing, complaining about the leading man and apologizing for his actions in regards to the narcissistic twit. It’s funny and tragic at the same time and the writer (Gavin) is You can read “Letter from an Understudy” here. You can read or listen to some of her poetry here.

See you tomorrow!

“The Shell of Sense” by Olivia Howard Dunbar

by kattomic

“The Shell of Sense” by Olivia Howard Dunbar
02.27.12
Story58/366

Perhaps now best known for “The Long Chamber” and “The Dream Baby,” supernaturalist works with feminist elements, Dunbar was an important influence on and contributor to the tradition of the psychological ghost story in the opening decades of the twentieth century. (Source: The Literary Gothic)

I’d never heard of Olivia Howard Dunbar until today, but when I ran across this blurb about her short stories, I knew I had to sample her work. This story reminded me a lot of Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House.” The title phrase is hauntingly evocative and a fitting title for a ghost story. You can read it here.

See you tomorrow!

“the Shell of Sense” by Olivia Howard Dunbar

by kattomic

“The Shell of Sense” by Olivia Howard Dunbar
02.27.12
Story58/366

Perhaps now best known for “The Long Chamber” and “The Dream Baby,” supernaturalist works with feminist elements, Dunbar was an important influence on and contributor to the tradition of the psychological ghost story in the opening decades of the twentieth century. (Source: The Literary Gothic)

I’d never heard of Olivia Howard Dunbar until today, but when I ran across this blurb about her short stories, I knew I had to sample her work. This story reminded me a lot of Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House.” The title phrase is hauntingly evocative and a fitting title for a ghost story.

See you tomorrow!