A first feature I questioned about The Grunge Narratives: A Rare Horror Collection by Nick Younker was, why Grunge? What does it mean? In his introduction, the author gives us this: “Grunge Narrative is a writing style that usually starts in the middle of the story and works its way to the end without losing the reader.” (Kindle location 12). Younker gives us examples with ten short stories in 344 pages. As I read the stories, I kept this in mind. Was it easy to see that each story started in the middle or near the end of a situation?
The Birth of an American Demon ***** George Green was an elderly senior citizen of Lucy, Indiana. He wanted to help Mikey settle in and become part of the community by passing on an urban legend of a local demon. Nothing had happened for several years, but it seemed like actions by a couple of hunters woke the demon up. George, Mikey and several hunters from Lucy went into the woods to investigate strange noises. They were successful. Mikey left Lucy and vowed never to return as a result of what he had seen. George Green never left Lucy.
Legacy Mausoleums, Inc. ***** Duncan Criss ran a website for profit, at least that was his intention. But profit was not coming in. He needed a job to pay for daily necessities. A job at Legacy Mausoleums, Inc. seemed ideal. Watching over a set of corpses at night seemed perfect. Duncan would be able to progress in work on his website. Duncan had not allowed for the time that would be taken up by unexpected visitors.
Cry Little Sister ***** This is a vampire story and I am a reader who finds vampire stories boring. This story is great, original, and an excellent example of an author creating an alternative world. It is two stories in one. The first describes the world of vampires, one which contains three distinct types. The story goes on to destroy several myths. Vampires can’t fly, they just jump for great distances. People can be turned into vampires by saliva, not blood. Blood is food. Then the story turns to one of personal experience, how this vampire, Joseph, almost destroyed himself by recruiting a beautiful woman as his aide. Best story of the collection.
Obey! ***** This story creates a world of Zombies. A central idea is that they are harmless; the only thing they can do is Obey. This view would greatly damage a popular television series. Clayton Grant is a human living in a world increasingly changing into one populated only by Germs, his name for zombies. Grant feels that sometime soon the world will cease to exist because Germs can only do one thing, obey, so there can be no innovation. If a new problem were to come up, there could be no appropriate, problem-solving response. With the threat of world extinction imminent, Grant decides to act. He will kill the Germs and their food supply, Viruses. This is another excellent world-building story.
State Island ***** At first it was only two small boys playing on a frozen lake. Each was trying to create a small hole in the ice. Andy was the first to succeed but then fell into the frozen water. It seemed as if the lake was trying to claim him. Jimmy went for help but before he could return, residents of the island could all feel small tremors. The hole was not in the ice; it was in the earth below the lake. The hole was getting bigger, eating more. The entire town was in danger of being consumed. Charlie Denton, the island’s only police officer, knew it was his duty to fix the problem. He hoped he could get someone to watch Gracie, an elderly woman he often rescued from sitting for hours at the old cemetery in which her husband was buried, the cemetery next to the Stone Cone. The Cone was a pile of carefully connected stones built by an Indian tribe. Some thought it was a curse on the island. Now, in addition to a large sinkhole threatening the entire island, Charlie was supposed to be concerned about the topmost stone on the Cone. Someone had stolen it.
Am I Evil? ***** Martin Knight was in custody but in his case, it did not mean others, such as investigator Linton, controlled him. Instead, Martin had set up the entire situation to get a free trip to where he wanted to go, State Island. This story is one in which the author begins to weave a connection between all prior stories. In case readers didn’t get that while reading the story, Younker provides a list at the end of the story informing the reader where each character previously appeared.
Ride the Lightning ***** Some people run from weird, supernatural, unexplained events but not Brandon and Scott. They sneaked into State Island after reading articles by the disappeared Duncan Criss and determining that State Island held clues to the origin of all types of urban legends. Several years before Brandon had begun his cyclical changes into a werewolf but was losing elements of his humanity at each change. Scott had to either kill Brandon or the two had to return to State Island for a cure.
Don’t Bury Me ***** This more a novella than a short story. It appears as such on the Amazon website where I reviewed it separately. It is an excellent story which I rated as five stars.
Nocturnal Pods ***** Not quite a first line favorite because it appears in the second paragraph, here is one that will keep a reader interested: “Before her parents died three years prior to the tragic events that led to the presidency of Donald Trump, Charlie Knox was beginning to show signs of strength.” (Kindle location 3170). Charlie felt so much pain in this world as a result of the election that she joined another one. But she would return in 2020.
Raw Nerves ***** Jamie is hungry, and she is hungry now. It is not good to tell Jamie to wait. She won’t.
This is a five-star Amazon read. Other than the author’s unique take on the supernatural, his use of language is creative. I have never heard a library described as a Tower of Trees. A small example, but cool. This novel can be purchased for USD 0.99 on Amazon or read free through Kindle Unlimited.