Blood and Beauty and Other Weird Tales by Jeff Chapman is a collection of six allegedly weird tales. The first one, Blood and Beauty,* comes with an adult material warning. The asterisk was supplied by the author to indicate adult material. I am a big fan of short stories so I will comment on each of the six.
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Blood and Beauty For me to appreciate this story, I had to look up the word “bole” and “dyad.” The story deserves the label of “weird,” but I believe the adult material warning was applied due to an author’s abundance of caution; I felt it was not needed. Salton, a satyr, is in love with Feena, a dyad. Feena’s father does not approve of Salton so initially, Salton spends a lot of time pining over Feena. (Really, no pun intended). Lerhem is not the only potential obstacle to a successful relationship between Salton and Feena; there are also woodcutters to deal with. They are the reason the reader must know what a dyad is. This is an entertaining story about a quest for love that turns into a search for revenge that further turns into a … surprise ending.
Sutter’s Well Tom and Hank just wanted to go fishing. When they arrived at the creek the boys spotted an unusually shaped rock with what looked like Indian symbols carved or written on the rock. Hank entered the water to get a closer look and seemed to fall under the spell of the rock’s symbols. Which is why he didn’t see the beast that wrapped its tentacles around his legs and tried to drag Hank toward the pit, a place in the creek with water of undetermined depth. Tom managed to save him but also was injured during the rescue attempt. Now Hank can neither walk nor speak and no one believes Tom about the beast. Tom returned to the area with the sheriff but he won’t go back alone ever again. The beast is calling Tom.
Morphine and Chocolate Abram was determined to find his daughter Pearl who had disappeared a few years before. All search attempts had failed but he was determined to make one final attempt with the help of the recently arrived Mr. Dire. But Mr. Dire seemed more aligned with the forces of Darkness. The search failed. But then another helper appeared. She seemed to be aligned with the powers of Light. But this search had limited success. It seems Abram didn’t really know what he was searching for.
The Facts in the Case of M. Hussman Professor Hussman was determined hat his wife would not die. When her fatal illness reduced her vital signs to a level that could not be measured, Professor Hussman along with his assistant and another doctor, Dr.Dunbarton, forced life into the corpse artificially. They hoped an eventual cure to the “wasting disease” could be found. But Cordelia had made her desires plain. She wanted to die. Professor Hussman should have listened.
Shafts to Hell Melvin and Elmore were gold miners. They worked in cramped places and sometimes that kind of places can make a man snap. Just ask Melvin.
Good King David This is a drama along the lines of “Game of Thrones” or “House of Cards.” It is a very enjoyable tale of justice, revenge, and betrayal. For me, it is the best in this collection. Although after reading it, I might doubt the value of a “close” family. Sometimes a close family is difficult to survive.
For each of the short stories, there is a surprise somewhere in the story that might be reported as a “spoiler.” I didn’t reveal any spoilers (really) except in the case of Sutter’s Well. That account is interesting but it is more in the way one friend might tell another one about an unusual event one day. The listener friend is not expecting a surprise but is seeking information.