Nightmares & Dreamscapes: four stories that don’t quite make it


In an anthology as long as “Nightmares & Dreamscape”, you’re bound to get a few that don’t do it for you. Unfortunately, I ‘ve just had four in a row.

What frustrates me most is that each story has something in it that was pretty good, making me think that it was going to fly, right up until the moment when it didn’t.


“Home Delivery” has everything, which is pretty much my problem with it.

It tells the story of a woman so cowed by her abusive father that she struggles to make choices from a restaurant menu but who becomes calm and competent when she discovers three things: she’s pregnant, the world is ending in a zombie apocalypse on the mainland and she’s going to have the birth at home.

I loved the way the islanders were described, with quick, sure strokes that distilled their personality and displayed their culture. The scene between the pregnant woman and her husband was a brilliant mix of horror and pragmatism and the description of the local militia forming up to prevent a local zombie apocalypse was appalling and completely believable.

If the focus has stayed on the island, i’d have been going, “yep, that’s a pretty good zombie story.” But the story embraced the origins of the zombie scourge in a comic tone with a global geopolitical scope that made the story feel too much like a mash-up to me.

“Rainy Season” is almost a classic horror story of the naive city folk versus the savvy but mostly silent country people.

The opening conversation between the young couple with VICTIM stamped on their foreheads and the old-timer on the porch of the general store who is rocking in a chair that never quite touches the tail of the old, farting dog at his feet, is wonderfully vivid.

He delivers a warning and good advice with air of a man who has done so many times before and never been believed.

The young couple, who apparently have never read any horror stories and think that the local are just messing with them, are vapid enough that I didn’t care what happened to them. The violence in the middle is bloody, fast, ferocious and unpredictable.

I found the ending of the story, which I think was meant to be filled with mournful resignation, dragged a little and left a lot of loose ends.

My main problem with the story is that writing so far surpassed the plot that I found the outcome disappointing.

“M

“My Pretty Pony” is not a horror story but an instruction from the old to the young.

It captures an old farmer’s advice to his grandson on the tricks time plays on us and how to combat them.

The ideas are interesting. The depiction of that generation of farmer seems authentic in its spirit and its detail.

The text is perhaps a little longer than it needs to be. My main problem with this one was that the narrator seemed to have no sympathy for what he was reading. He threw away some of the best lines and gabbled anything that wasn’t dialogue as if worried I’d get bored is someone wasn’t talking.

“Sorry, Right Number” hadn’t been published anywhere before “Nightmares & Dreamscapes” and I think it’s easy to see why.

It’s a nice screenplay about a well-known horror writer and his family.

I liked the moments of tension when the writer and his wife went off to investigate an emergency, triggered by a telephone call.

Unfortunately, the story depends heavily on a single idea, referred to in the title. You see it coming a long way off and when it gets there it doesn’t seem worth the wait.

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