Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. This time, we’re doing something different and reviewing horror short stories all month long. Some of these might be scary and inappropriate, so caution is advised. Today, I review The Weirdo by Davide Camparsi.
Fiction Friday Spook-a-thon: The Weirdo
Warning: This story contains language, dark moments and isn’t entirely appropriate for young audiences. Caution is advised.
Today’s short story is The Weirdo by Italian author, Davide Camparsi, translated by Michael Colbert, appearing in The Dark Magazine. You can find it here. It’s a genuinely creepy tale that makes you think twice about the strange old man within your neighborhood. To start, I should mention that my neighborhood has one of these strange people too. He would hang out by our 7-11 and watch the world go by. He was friendly, even if he was a little odd. I’m sure many of you have that one strange fellow lurking by some shops or towns. That old guy who isn’t doing anything wrong, but you’d like to think that, wouldn’t you?
I should also mention that these horror stories this month are going to be on the adult end. It’s hard to find a horror magazine that is kid appropriate that isn’t Goosebumps. So just a word of warning. I promise I’ll have cleaner stuff in November.
Anyway, on with the story, because this was a good one for me.
The plot is one we’re somewhat familiar with. A bunch of kids listen to a creepy old man’s stories and since they’re kids, they don’t believe him. He speaks of a monster in the woods. Those who go in, never come back. One character, who’s a would-be author, ventures inside and never returns. The monster is depicted as creepy as it gets. “Thorns and talons. Many Teeth. Eyes like scars.” It’s what a man like him would tell to scare off little children.
And he is extremely creepy. In fact, he’s so creepy, you’re straight up expecting the guy to be the antagonist.
But just because the man is creepy and weird, doesn’t mean he’s evil. I learned that the hard way.
This story was sinister the whole way through. It had that sense of uneasiness that I want in a horror story. The last review was a fun, scary story told on a college campus, but this is the kind of story you’d tell at a campfire to your friends. And I really don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s a genuine twist. It’s a nasty ending fitting for the genre and I hope those that read it get a kick out of it as I did.
I’ll only point out the notable ones. The first is the Weirdo himself. He’s a strange old drunk who tells stories about monsters up in the mountains. But considering he’s a drunk and strange to boot, you almost don’t expect to believe him. He added to the creepiness and was the highlight of the story. After all, you don’t know what to expect from the strange man in the neighborhood. Is he good? Bad? Who knows? One thing I know is he was right about monsters being in the mountains.
The second is Rudy and the unnamed “I” character. They’re the kids who listen to his story and end up being the main protagonists. These two are involved in the twist, but I won’t say anymore. You follow them on an emotional whirlwind that goes from one end to the other. I felt sorry for them, but towards the end, it took a dark turn for them.
The last is the Vanti family. These consist of Mr. Vanti and their son, Tommy. They’re basically the fodder in this story. Their fate played a role in the plot twist and their fear struck a chord with me.
It’s really hard to discuss these sort of things without giving away the ending (and with a story like this, I really don’t want to), but as far as the characters are concerned, I thought they were well made and had life to them. They had genuine fear and that’s what I look for in a horror story.
The writing really shines here. Each line had that sense of foreboding from the very beginning, all the way to the last line. The atmosphere is present and appropriate for a horror story. The display of the weirdo’s actions made him genuinely terrifying and I keep imagining sounds of a creepy violin playing in my head when he would scare the kids. Good writing from start to finish.
This is a wonderful short story that’s sure to give you a scare this Halloween. While I hesitate on revealing the plot twist, it makes the story that much more enjoyable. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good scare.
That’s all for today. Take care, beware the full moon, and remember, the inn is always open.