Memorial Day is over, June has begun, and summer is upon us. Temperatures are climbing, and people are beginning to seek relief from the heat by heading to the water.
After reading the stories in this short collection, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Christopher Fulbright offers four reasons to stay well on shore. Three of the selections here have appeared elsewhere, but the fourth is original to this volume.
“Black Thorn” visits that annual excuse of excess on the beach, Spring Break. In this one, a young woman watches helplessly as her boyfriend succumbs to an infection he gets when he steps on something in the water. Their relationship was troubled to begin with, but now it takes a turn for the worst. A nice piece of subdued Lovecraftian horror.
A man looking to break away from his life of crime on the high seas finds it much harder than he realizes in “Dead in the Water.” But there’s more than one way to leave a life of crime. It all depends on whether you survive what you find on that derelict ship.
“Sapphire Kingdoms” is the original story. It’s about a man who gets a second chance when his lost love calls him up from out of nowhere. There’s a lesson in this one, and it’s that sometimes when you’re given a gift from the sea, the sea will want it back. With interest.
The final story is “The Daughters of Persephone”. It’s a toss-up between this one and “Sapphire Kingdoms” as to which one I liked most. There’s a lesson in this one as well: If you’re paid an outrageous amount of money to sail as far offshore as you can and dump a small box overboard, just do what you’re paid to do. Don’t open the box. One of the reasons this one works as well as it does is that Fulbright doesn’t tell us everything. Instead he leaves us with questions. He also goes in directions you’re not expecting.
Fulbright’s prose is crisp and clean, without unnecessary flourishes. The characters in these tales are dealing with loss, regret, and looking for second chances. They’ve all made mistakes, carry deep grief, and look for redemption. Sometimes they find it, sometimes they don’t.
Christopher Fulbright is best known as a writer of short horror fiction. Personally, that’s how I like my horror stories: short and sharp, with a bite at the end. He’s got a whole series of Tales of Terror, each with a different theme. This little volume is only a buck. It would be a bargain at twice that price or more. I suggest you buy and read this one or one of the others before he comes to his senses and raises his prices. Coming from Smashwords, you can expect it to be free of formatting problems, and you would be correct.
So if you’re looking for relief from the heat, stay away from the water. (Why take chances?) Instead enjoy the shivers you’ll get from the chills Tales of Terror: Dark Waters contains.