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 Case of the Mysterious Meat by Kate Ingram.
Fiction Friday Spook-a-thon: The Case of the Mysterious Meat
Finally, a tame story. Granted, this is from a dark magazine, but it’s simple enough that I’ll let it slide. Besides, I want tame stuff here. No offense, but I gotta keep a PG-13 mood here. Anyway, today’s story is The Case of the Mysterious Meat by Kate Ingram, as featured in Apex Magazine. You can find it here. This is a quirky story about a totally-not-suspicious restaurant/petting zoo featuring strange animals. Before I go further, this was a writing assignment for Winton Woods City School District in Cincinnati, Ohio. The students had to craft a short story in one hour with a surprise prompt (“The Salisbury Steak wasn’t from Salisbury and it certainly wasn’t steak”).
So while this isn’t explicitly horror, I wanted to find something lighter and softer and more enjoyable to most of my audience. So was this story worth it? I think so.
The story revolves around a wannabe detective seeking out a suspicious restaurant that doubles as a petting zoo. The owners are all animals and one, in particular, is a llama. The main character is a washed up has-been who is trying his hand as a detective. Turns out, being a detective is harder than he had thought, but a case involving bad food and a missing goat leads him into a suspicious restaurant.
It’s short, only 1200 words or so, but it’s a fun read throughout. I could probably spoil the entire story in one sitting. In any case, for what little there is, this story is goofy fun. Though published, I honestly want to see more of this. Perhaps expanding upon it a bit more, because I feel there should be more than what is already here. This is too fun to be so short, which was the only downside. I understand this was for a contest, so I’m probably expecting a little too much, but it’s a thought nonetheless.
It’s honestly impressive knowing how much can be done in such a short period of time. One hour for a story like this is nothing to scoff at. I can see how this story got published. It’s quirky, reads well, and has all of the elements you’d expect in a story. For what it’s worth, I like it.
The petting zoo vibe is off the wall for a magazine like Apex, who publishes darker stories, and this one was surprisingly tame for them. Even so, it’s nice to see stories like this in pro markets.
One character was of importance and that was the detective, Mauve. I like his set up. He’s not an ace detective or a private eye type character. He’s a nobody with a failed career in YouTubing that decided to be a detective because hey, why not. It’s a hilarious backstory in such a short piece that I got a kick out of how much of a loveable loser he is. He’s a failed YouTube celebrity who decided to be a detective and even that isn’t going as planned.
For how short the story is, he was enjoyable just seeing what it takes for him to be decent in society. It was fun following him through the story, even if things might be worse for him now.
Considering how short the story is, I thought the writing was very good. It’s very easy to follow and nothing unusual stood out. I’d be willing to bet that the author spent a little more time on this to make it good, but it’s pretty impressive. Writing something this short isn’t easy, but I’m impressed with how this author wrote the story.
Overall, it’s a simple, yet fun tale, and while I don’t know if it’s scary enough for this blog, I’ll let it slide. It’s good for what it is, a wonderful contest story well deserving of being a winner.
That’s all for today. Take care, beware the full moon, and remember, the inn is always open.