Stung by Alec John Johnson is a 35-page short horror story. Either Amazon or the author helpfully pointed out that the story is about 10 000 words so for readers who pay attention to their reading speed like a runner pays attention to pace and stride this story is a helpful measuring device. Unfortunately, that is the best feature of this short story. The writing is good and keeps the reader going to the next page, and then the next. There is a suspenseful build up and then it is as if the writer were interrupted, went away to do something else, and never returned. There are three parts, called chapters, with a character name that identifies each chapter.
Emilio works on the docks. Each morning he must empty trucks of their containers so arriving carriers could take the pallets of goods to their final destination. He wasn’t sure where the low buzzing sound came from; he wasn’t even sure if it was real. It might just be another gift of last night’s alcohol binge. But the buzzing got louder and something landed on his arm. The small insect was amazingly colorful. As Emilio looked at it, he saw indications of an imminent sting. When he swept the insect off his arm before being stung, the air around him seemed to erupt with buzzing which became louder and louder. Emilio decided to make a break for his car and get out of the area. Did he make it? The answer would be a spoiler and this is a no spoiler review.
Chapter Oil introduces James Roth, an unwilling helper for an extremely attractive neighbor whose husband was gone a lot and whose kids were in school. There were hints of possible playtime if he would just do one small favor. It seems he was asked favors on a weekly basis and there had yet to be a reward. This time he would change the oil in the neighbor’s car. But it was a difficult job with a car that had all its component parts placed very close together. When James severely scraped one of his fingers and pulled back in pain, he dislodged the oil pan cover and was drenched in hot oil. He scrubbed so vigorously to remove the oil that he didn’t see the amazingly colorful insect that landed on his arm. While under the car he had heard a low buzzing. Now he met its creator. Will James survive the meeting? See the last sentence of the paragraph above.
Chapter Amanda & Tony find the mother and son in a small apartment with outside temperatures so hot that Amanda had to leave a patio door and kitchen window open to catch the occasional breeze. Because she was listening to her favorite radio show, she didn’t hear the buzzing. But she heard the screams. The screaming seemed to be far away at first; it also seemed to be heading her way as the screams became more numerous and intense. At the same time, the radio broadcast an emergency message, something about foreign insects arriving in the US. Everyone was told to stay at home or place of employment. That was fine with Amanda; she had already closed the patio door and kitchen window. The noise of the screaming decreased. The buzzing decreased except for the one that was in her house. She could only hide in Tony’s room for so long. She knows she must grab her child, get to her car, and flee to a safer area. Does she succeed? See the end of paragraphs two and three.
I can safely say that I would never write a spoiler for the end of this short story. I can’t find it. The writing carries the reader along and then flees. I feel like suing for writer abandonment. I do not recommend this short story to anyone except to those who want to see some fairly good writing that goes nowhere. Maybe the author will feel the urge to continue this nice beginning in the future.