Short Story Review: “Skoptsy” by Jonathan Sharp

4 of 5 stars.

This horror vignette, told in the first person, starts at the ending and then flashes back through the preceding hours until caught up with its opening lines of terrified horror. And then it cuts off . . . One could almost hope that this was the script for a movie preview to snag an audience. With luck, a longer version will emerge but even in its abbreviated state, it works.

Jess, the narrator, and Mitch are hired killers, no questions asked. The opening lines set a high bar for expectations, if one promises madness, one had better deliver:

It’s fucked. It’s all gone to fuck. Mitch is dead and I’m running. Running for my life. Running away from, from total fucking madness . . .

However, often in Lovecraft inspired horror the madness is not described as it’s ineffectually described as “indescribable.” That’s not the case here. The ethically-challenged duo are sent to clean some squatters out of a deeply rural farm in northern England. Their opening observations on the farm are of mutilated naked teens, sans genitals and breasts, marching from the farmhouse to the barn. Yup, that qualifies as sufficiently effed up. The scene properly devolves from there . . .

The creature and farmyard setting is reminiscent of Charles Stross’ highly enjoyable and yet disturbing Equoid which starts with a feared unicorn infestation . . .

This tale appears in Whispers of the Abyss 2: The Horrors That Were and Shall Be edited by Kat Rocha. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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