Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Don't Move, by Dennis Etchison

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2015; 3,520 words
Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story  Recommended By:  Locus SFRevu:4

Surreal tale of a young man who gets off a bus in the middle of nowhere and the mysterious girl who follows him.

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

I have to know! Did I wipe my ass the wrong way? Try to kill myself because I couldn't take it any more?

No. You didn't try. You succeeded.
This is the story of the soul of a young man who committed suicide who gets off the bus to Hell and spends a few minutes in a small town along the way. A couple of folks try to help him, but the police catch him and make him move along.

Almost everything in the story appears to mean something, but much of it is obscure and difficult to figure out. For example, it's clear why he flinches when he hears the carpenters making the coffin, but it's not clear why they're making the coffin in the first place. The clothes people are carrying are probably what they were buried in, but it's not clear what the rest of their stuff is for. etc.

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Agreed.

    I really liked the ghostly presence of the girl, but it took me a reread to make anything of the ending (the "Takeaway,") and even then, it was vague and unclear. Particularly, the element of living under the overbearing "rule-makers" seemed critical to the ending, but it had almost no expression at all until then. I think that's part of why I felt the ending didn't explain anything or make much sense.

    1. I reexamined the story and rewrote the minireview. I'm ashamed to admit that on the first read I failed to realize that the young man was a suicide. That does give the story a proper ending, even though it still has a lot of loose ends. (Or, at least, lots of other things we couldn't figure out.)

      For example, I THINK the girl was supposed to be his guardian angel. She's upset because she's failed him. She's overwhelmed when he wants to buy her a meal.

      But who is "Red?" What's the "Yo-Elev" room? I see why the hotel is called "The Trail's End" but what's with "The Plush Monkey?" Etc.