Tuesday Terror! The Things He Said by Michael Marshall Smith

Along with reading some of the classic horror stories (and let’s be honest, so far they’ve left me pretty chill-free on the whole) it seems only fair to try some of the writers currently working in the field of horror. Where better to start then than The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. There are 23 volumes of this series of anthologies so far – my choice of no. 19 was scientifically selected on the basis of its being the cheapest available for Kindle at the time. So here goes with the first story in the book for this week’s…

Tuesday Terror!

“Either way, you go past Noqualmi cemetery now, or the one in Elum, and the ground there looks like Swiss cheese. A lot of empty holes, though there are some sites yet to burst out, later waves in waiting.”

BESTnewHORROR_F2Did I hear you groan ‘Oh, no, not zombies!’? Fear not (or rather, fear differently), although zombies do play a part in this story, believe me, they’re not half as scary as our human narrator! The story is told in the first person with our narrator describing his daily routine. Holed up in a cabin in the woods, he starts his day by checking the tripwires he has laid all round to alert him if anyone has approached his territory overnight. He leads a simple existence, trying not to draw attention to himself, and living by the lesson his father taught him – ‘Look after Number One’.

The story is told very matter-of-factly, so that the horror elements appear without warning – no fiery crosses, screaming women or clanking chains here. The zombies have been released on earth as a result of an unspecified event that the narrator refers to simply as the thing. Society has broken down and human survivors seem to be few and far between. Our narrator still has enough bullets to deal with any zombies that head his way…

“Afterwards I had a good look, though I didn’t touch it. Poked it with a stick, turned it over. It really did smell awful bad, and they’re not something you’re going to consider eating – even if there wasn’t a possibility you could catch something off the flesh.”

Zombie-Analogues

Our narrator has two main concerns that worry him much more than random zombie attacks – finishing the odd sculpture he is building in the grounds of the cabin, and finding enough food to eat. Wildlife seems to be in short supply after the thing so, having scavenged what he can from the nearest towns, he now must fall back on any way he can of topping up the supply of meat that he keeps hanging in the shed…

* * * * * * * * *

The story is very well written and is actually more blackly comic than really scary though there are a couple of chilling moments. It’s not particularly gruesome – the horrors are hinted at rather than described. And there’s a great little twist at the end that made me both gasp and laugh. This may not have made my hair stand on end, but I enjoyed it a lot – it’s cleverly done and very effective. I’d certainly look out for more of the author’s work, and am hoping that the rest of the stories in the book match up to the standard of this one.

Fretful porpentine rating: 😯 😆 😆 😯

Overall story rating:         😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

26 thoughts on “Tuesday Terror! The Things He Said by Michael Marshall Smith

  1. FictionFan – Sometimes horror stories can be like that. They’re clever and well-done and very much worth reading, but not exactly terror-inducing. Well, no matter – still good. And I do like that inky-black humour from time to time. Thanks for sharing.

    • To be honest, I think I enjoy black humour more than straight horror. And I paticularly enjoyed that he managed to tell a fairly gruesome story without being in any way graphic.

  2. First off, the professor loves the scientifically selected part! 😆

    The professor doesn’t mind Zombies at all. Is it a bit like “I am Legend”? It sounds great. I love twists at the end. (Always loved Twilight Zone–particularly just on the radio.)

    Your laughing rating alone makes this professor want to read it! Excellent review. Great Tuesday Terror.

    • 😆 Cheap, that’s me

      Yes, it did remind me quite a lot of ‘I am Legend’ but it was much less serious, and more about the man than the zombies. The first half of the story was similar but then it went off at a tangent…

      There were a few bits that made me laugh – he just slipped wee bits of horror in as if they were part of normal life. Good fun!

      Thank you, C-W-W!

      (Re Google +, I don’t use it and don’t know quite what I did that opened my profile up to WordPress, but I think I’ve closed it again now. Sorry, didn’t want you to think that I was just ignoring the invite.)

      • And the professor admittedly.

        Must tell more!

        I love laughing at horror. Tried watching SK’s It… Hilarious!

        (No problem. The professor is completely confused by it too. In fact, I wouldn’t have won if the dadblameries would have given me an option. The professor isn’t even sure how to add friends.)

        • Well, OK – at first it was all about hiding from zombies, but then one day while he was out foraging for food he came across a strange building with a creaking sign over the door. He rubbed off the dust and could just make out the words ‘Ruber’s Cafe’. Turns out they weren’t zombies at all – just poor people who’d tried the fish! So…he ate Ruber and buried the bones under the sculpture in his garden…

          I love black humour – don’t quite know what that says about me, though… 😯

          • 😆 😆 I think the professor got half truth there, or maybe a third of it. 😆 How creative! But the part about eating Ruber definitely speaks to your gnomeness, for sure. I bet BigSister wouldn’t approve of that part.

            Well…it just says that the darker the funnier. So, you mustn’t take dark things seriously.

  3. Good review. I don’t really read horror – I find quite enough in “real life” not to want it in fiction, but I do think it is hard to bring off well. Short stories do work in this genre I think – much easier to sustain than a full-lengther.

  4. As a kid, I always had nightmares about zombies, although I didn’t have a name for them at the time. I would see these images of people with their faces melting and wrapped like mummies in rags. Ugh. It still gives me the chills. Must be why I’m not a diehard fan of horror.

    • Scary! I had a recurring nightmare about a witchy old woman for a while when I was a teenager, but don’t really remember bad dreams from when I was really young. Can’t say my efforts at finding terror in books is being hugely successful so far, though I’ve enjoyed some of the stories.

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