Monday, May 16, 2011

A Couple Free Short Stories

Back in March, Iread and reviewed John Brinling's novel, The Watcher. While it didn't resonate with me all that much, there were pieces of it I did like, so John offered me the chance to read and review a short story, "His First Kill," released this year through Smashwords.

It's a thriller, like The Watcher in some regards, though it avoids any supernatural trappings and sticks strictly to the tension of a teenage would-be assassin's first attempted kill.

The boy whose name is not known--"better you don't know"--is a bit frazzled in the brain, from what I took from the story, but I suppose that's to be expected when the kid is looking to take up killing people for a living. He's not a terribly mature killer, enamored momentarily by a brand new bicycle while scouting for his mark.

The real tension of the story comes in the latter half as the boy lurks through the small town during their Fourth of July parade, only to discover the mark is someone he knows, and he has to decide if he's going to go through with it and get his first big score, or if he'll spare the life of someone he cares about.

It's an okay story, bolstered by what I thought was an entertaining second half with a tense will-he-or-won't-he scenario.

I think it was Harry Shannon who announced on his Twitter page that he was offering up this short story, "Jailbreak", for free via Smashwords. Now, if you know me, you know it's pretty damned hard for me to resist free stories.

As it stands, it's a gritty, southern-fried zombie tale about a sheriff, her deputies, and her prisoners holed up in the jail while zombies have risen up all around town and ravaged the place. If you're into zombies at all, then this is some pretty easy stuff to hop into, even if it is--at least to me--fairly familiar territory.

The characters are portrayed through some good dialogue and tense action, but the story itself didn't seem to have anything terribly unique going for it, and it felt like a run-of-the-mill zombie fest with some colorfully drawn characters to prevent it from feeling utterly mundane.

It actually felt like a precursor to a larger story wanting to be told involving Sheriff Penny Miller. If it is, I'd certainly like to read that, because this is a decent teaser.