Short Story Review: “Snow” by Dale Bailey

5 of 5 stars.

Apocalypses, by definition, show the ending to civilization, the tales usually focus in on the survivors and beyond showing their survival skills, or lack thereof, tend to spotlight the degrade of civility itself. Social convention can only outrun the apocalypse for so long.

This haunting tale carries the tone of a campfire ghost story. More than not, the horror is in the unseen and the imagined. When electricity fails and weather is shelling out its worst, the psychological games triggered by the fevered, sleep-deprived mind are enough to make adults do reckless things.

Four friends–or rather a guy, his wife of 17 years, his best friend, and his best friend’s current half-witted female companion–head up into the mountains from Boulder for a get away with the ridiculously best supplies in tents, sleeping bags and camping stoves that money can buy. And they have a gun. The satellite radio starts to warn of a virus–the Red Death–that’s mowing through the populous quickly. And then after 3 days, the radio falls silent.

The group decides to find an abandoned summer cabin and hole up until things clear up. Snowstorms move in. For days, things are fine until wife Felicia slips on loose scree badly breaking her leg. After much arguing, they decide to descend into Boulder to find antibiotics, painkillers and other supplies. In the howling snow, they take refuge in a suburban house left unlocked and stocked. Without electricity, the freezing house and white-filled windows play havoc with the mind. And then noises emerge from the white. Shrieks. Rattles. Knocking. And then, a window breaks . . .

This tale appears in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2016 edited by Paula Guran, which I received directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “The Crevasse” and “The End of the End of Everything”



[Check out my other reviews here.]

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