I just finished reading the writing submission guidelines for a spec fiction magazine which detailed that they do not wish to receive submissions that use conventional horror tropes or rely overmuch on overdone themes, and then they listed what they were talking about. One such “overdone theme” was: protagonist sits around doing not much of anything and then we discover that the protagonist is actually dead. Well, that’s kind of what “Willa” was about – but I guess if your name is Stephen King, you can get away with what one magazine calls “overdone themes.” The story itself was pretty good and it was an enjoyable read. The beginning was a little strange because the characters were acting in some pretty bizarre ways, but that became easily explainable once you knew they were all ghosts. However, after that, the tale became a bit predictable. And yet, King managed to make it both enjoyable and fun. He is a master of the short form and with just a few short sentences can make you love or hate his characters, whichever he prefers. I’m hoping the rest of the stories in this collection – Just After Sunset – are as well written, but far more scary.
Summary: Man is involved in a minor train derailment and his wife decides to leave the site of the accident to go into town. Man follows wife – some bizarre behavior ensues. She finally makes him realize what he has not wanted to admit to himself, that the train accident was not minor and that they are not ok. They are dead and now they have to make all the other passengers see that, lest they get too tied to the place of the accident and are never able to leave it. (Note: It can be hard to move on after a traumatic experience, and this story shows us that. We need the help of friends and loved ones to see what is right in front of our faces sometimes, even if it is an ugly truth.)
Personal Fright: 1/10
General Horror/Oppressiveness: 3/10