As my second foray into the series, but as my first foray into reading work by writer David Charlesworth, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But the series is a strong one, offering a chance for indie horror writers to get their work out there and in the public domain. In a saturated market, Demain Publishing is a welcome break from the norm – and perhaps more importantly, a break from the same writers.
To ‘Dark Corners’ then. Paddy is our protagonist for the fairly short story. We find him in dire circumstances – addicted to drugs, he’s is on the hunt for ‘another shot of smack’. Unfortunately for Paddy, the main supplier, quite brilliantly named Balloon-Ed, is on his tail. Paddy owes him one hundred pounds. It’s one hundred pounds he doesn’t have. This is the catalyst for the tale, and for a large chunk of the piece we follow Paddy as he searches and searches amongst Field View, a dead-end estate.
But there’s a twist. Of course. In his searching, Paddy comes across an old man who he robs, thinking, incorrectly, that he’s nicking a laptop to sell. Turns out, he’s nicked ‘two solid gold tablets, bound together with plain iron casts.’ He tries to flog them to no avail, eventually melting down the tablets to unleash, unwittingly, a demon. It spells a gruesome end for Paddy, and for the lady next door (unlucky).
Told through the lens of dark comedy, ‘Dark Corners’ has the right amount of intrigue interlaced into the narrative to keep you invested. Short though it is – the whole piece takes place in a small amount of time, Charlesworth keeps you guessing, though truth be told, by the time Paddy picked up the gold, I knew it was never going to end well.
Perhaps, given that Paddy does in fact unleash a demon, there could have been more room to expand on that plot line. The end is the only dedicated airtime the demon gets, and even then, it’s not for long. The old man Paddy robs clearly knows something too – after Paddy robs him, the old man returns to the garage where he dies. Strangely, the garage is home to an altar, carved text and five candles. Something’s going on there, something that I want to more about. (Clearly, it’s attached to the demon.)
It’s never easy with short fiction (in my humble opinion) to balance between telling too much, thus over-doing the piece, and leaving the reader wondering what could have been. I think Charlesworth could maybe have expanded a little more. Then again, the piece works well in that it’s tightly packed.
Fused with comedy and gory detail – Paddy’s ending is quite something, ‘Dark Corners’ is a neat work of horror that delivers a punchy conclusion and spells another good piece for the Short Sharp Shocks! series.
Dark Corners is published by Demain Publishing and is available here.
You can find out more about David via www.hellboundmedia.co.uk
You can follow David on Twitter @lennylasher
Reviewed by Emily Harrison
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