Friday, November 15, 2019

Shucked, by Sam J. Miller

★★★★★ Perfectly Chilling

(Horror) A young American couple in Italy gets a proposition from an older man: $10,000 for an hour of the young man’s time. They do need the money, but . . . (4,181 words; Time: 13m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RHorton.r+1 (Q&A)

"Shucked," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 11-12|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.654 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The best part of this story is the way all the little details work together. Adney and Teek haven’t been together very long, so she can’t be sure she knows him well enough to confident this isn’t really him. But the boy who came down the stairs slouches like the old man who went up. And whereas Teek rarely took pictures, now he takes them one after another. And he uses words he never used before.

It teases us by not letting us know exactly what happened up in that room. Did they swap bodies? Or did the man “shuck” Teek out of his body and into nothingness, leaving his own empty husk lying there? Each is horrifying for different reasons.

It also teases us by not quite letting Adney be sure. In its own way, that’s horrifying as well, since she’ll never be able to tell this to anyone, and even if she dumps him when they get home, it’ll haunt her for the rest of her life.

Finally, we know that Adney and Teek had been pulling apart anyway; her decision to just live with this—to conspire with the new occupant of his beautiful body—adds yet another layer of horror on top of it. And yet her relative indifference to “selling” Teek for an hour makes it completely plausible.

Con: If they don’t have any money, how can they afford two weeks together in Italy?

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Sam J. Miller Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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