The final two short stories I read this week were “Old Ones”, by Tim Pratt, and “All the Sounds of Fear”, by Harlan Ellison. Both were dark, disturbing tales that I enjoyed very much.
I became interested in Tim Pratt when, via Endicott Studio, I found a reference to his story “Little Gods”, which quickly became one of my all-time favourite short stories. Then I read “Jubilee”, which I also enjoyed a lot.
Tim Pratt says that he’s putting up this story for free in his journal because he tried to get it published in several markets, but it was always rejected. I honestly can’t see why. I liked it better than many stories I see in print. The story starts out realistically enough: there’s an old woman, her daughter and her son-in-law, and they’re at he couple’s child’s birthday party. But soon it morphs into a Lovecraftian tale, and the ending is quite disturbing. Being a big H. P. Lovecraft fan, and loving stories like Neil Gaiman’s "Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar" and "A Study in Emerald", there was no way I would not enjoy this one.
The other story, “All the Sounds of Fear”, was, shamefully enough, my first contact with Harlan Ellison. I’ve been meaning to read his work for a long time, and this story gave me the motivation I needed. It’s the story of an actor who gets a little too involved in the roles he’s playing, and, like “Old Ones”, it has an interestingly disturbing ending.
I will definitely read more of both of these author’s work in the future.
And with this, I successfully finished my Short Story Quest of the Week. It was an interesting and satisfying experience, and one I definitely will try to repeat when I find myself facing quiet weeks in which I have a bit of time for myself.