Joseph Sale has three short stories in this dark anthology.
The first story, Choke on This, is about Stephen, a depressed man stuck in the drudgery of a call centre job. Lonely, picked on by his supervisor, Janey, and shouted at by customers all day long, Stephen’s only comfort is his nightly takeaway pizza.
I knew pizza would save the day!
This darkly humorous story captures the horrors of working customer service perfectly. I like the almost fairy tale resolution to the story, and the descriptions of pizza are mouth watering, even if it’s a flavor I wouldn’t like to try.
It’s a dark, violent story full of despair, but there is also an air of frustrated wish fulfillment to it.
The next story’s rather lengthy title is Violent Homomorphic Slasher (VHS), a Shallow Creek Tale.
Shallow Creek is a shared story universe where different writers have added to the characters and history of the town of Shallow Creek.
At age ten, Zsofia stole a video nasty, and what she saw on the tape rendered her catatonic for years. Now an adult and working as a park ranger in Shallow Creek, it appears the terror from her childhood has returned.
There’s a lot packed into this short story, and while I question why Zsofia’s parents didn’t view the video that resulted in their daughter being institutionalized for years, it’s beside the point.
The terror is creeping, the atmosphere tense, and the denouement chilling.
Sale’s final story of the anthology is The Tongue, Worm & Drum.
A tale of torture, Wolsey is a member of an esoteric sect that use the tongue, the worm and the drum to purify.
There is little I can say about this story without spoiling it. It was my favorite of the three. Unexpected, original, layered and deeply disturbing.
I award Joseph Sale’s stories in Lost Voices…
Win a selection of Joseph Sale’s books, including the Black Gate Omnibus.