Review: “The Water Tower” by John Mantooth

The Water Tower: Short StoryThe Water Tower: Short Story by John Mantooth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stand By Me and Super 8 and both great coming-of-age films in which a group of teens set off to find or do one rather macabre thing and end up learning harder, unexpected truths. This tale manages that same scope of daring and learning without feeling like a copycat of either of these flicks.

Big-hearted, but simple, Jeremy enthusiastically talks 13 y.o. Heather into a journey through the woods and abandoned ramshackle houses to a distant abandoned ghost settlement where his older brother and friends have found an “alien” floating in the old water tower. They are in a race to get there to take photos before Jer’s older brother and his friends get there and defile the scene.

Heather laments life in the trailer park where her single mother doesn’t bother noting her comings and goings. While Jeremy’s home situation becomes more clear on the journey as the duo find a not-quite-abandoned derelict house with naked junkies including Jer’s father who doesn’t recognize his son. Jeremy, traumatized by confronting his junkie father, breaks his glasses rendering him effectively blind and totally reliant upon Heather.

These kids are trying to survive despite a lack of support from parents and a larger community that have largely checked out. This tale is recommended.

This short story was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran. I’ve previously read this author’s excellent post-apocalyptic tale, “The Cecilia Paradox”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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