Fiction Friday: Scavenge, Rustic Hounds!

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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. Today, I review Scavenge, Rustic Hounds! by Manuel Gonzales.


Fiction Friday: Scavenge, Rustic Hounds!

We’re getting spooky today. Just because 🙂

Today, we’re reviewing Scavenge, Rustic Hounds! By Manuel Gonzales, as featured in Lightspeed Magazine. You can find it here. This is a fantasy story and a little on the creepy side. Not recommended if you can’t handle this sort of thing. Anyway, let’s begin.

I have no eyes and I must see

The story revolves around the main character and their husband who endure a haunting moment when mysterious creatures with blue eyes come to steal things from their apartment complex. One of them visits the husband and steals his own eyes. Now they must find a hope for their future, lest these scavengers come back.

This is an interesting story in that it tells so little, but it’s enough to leave the reader guessing. Between the mysterious creatures, the missing body parts, and the twist at the end (I’ll get to that), I found it enjoyable to read. There are short, brief scenes that give a sense of urgency and alertness knowing that they will be coming at any moment.

And of course, the husband doesn’t believe her. To be fair, people stealing eyeballs isn’t exactly a common thing in this world, so the skepticism is warranted. But his punishment and acceptance is interesting since he doesn’t die, but becomes permanently handicapped through blindness.

Rather than go through murder after murder, he ends up suffering. I like this take on horror because there truly are fates worse than death. I wish I could see more of this so that the audience would be genuinely feared. I doubt anyone likes being handicapped like this and wishes they could be a normal person like everyone else, but going from having it all to having nothing, I feel, is what real people have to go through.

My grandmother had to remove her leg due to diabetes. Now, I’m pretty rotund, but I’m in decent shape overall. Blood pressure’s okay, weight isn’t that extreme (around the 260-270 range), and I’m slowly changing my habits by eating healthier foods. Even so, I do think back to what happened and feared that one day, I’d be next. To be permanently handicapped for the rest of my life. On top of going through a rough time at the nursing home (spent a little under a year there, no joke), she’s become miserable even today.

This story made me think that this is just a metaphor for what’s to come one day if you’re not careful enough. One day, you could end up paralyzed, or disabled, or worse. It’s not fun, but no one is immune in the end.

Sorry for being so dark, but we’re far from done.

Who are these creatures

The underlying mystery here is who these creatures are. They could be some form of a doppelganger, a copy of someone else. This is suggested that one of them resembled someone the husband knew. Which suggests that they’re human, but they could also be a beast. It’s not entirely clear what they are, but that’s the point.

Not knowing what these things are is scarier than knowing them. If they knew what exactly they’d look like, the heroes could plan accordingly, assuming they could be handled at all. But not only are they hidden, they could possibly take the shape of someone they’re familiar with. Imagine finding out your daughter or son is stealing people’s body parts, knowing full well they’ll never return to what they once were. What would you do?

I feel some plot points should be left to the imagination because it’s more fun that way. Would you be happy knowing what these things were, even if they ended up different from your imagination? Lightspeed shows a bunch of model eyes, not even what these creatures could look like.

The title might give a clue. Rustic hounds suggest they might be akin to werewolves, or maybe the mythical kitsune, which can mimic others. Granted, they might not be either, but it’s fun to guess and think. I’m sure there are plenty of legends and myths from numerous cultures to draw upon in inspiration.

The ending

I figured since it’s so short, I’d talk about the ending. I won’t go into too much detail, but it’s super insidious. Basically, how far would you go to help your loved one? That’s what this ending is about. Since it’s so short, I don’t think it’ll take long to figure it out, but the main character and her dog succumb to the same fate as her husband. How they do it is the twist, and it’s insidious and I love it.

How far would you go, indeed? I had suspicions, but I didn’t think it’d go that route. Again, I wish more horror stories did this. Having the character do something so crazy and outlandish that it works. This needs to be a movie of some kind. Too many horror films rely on jump scares and it becomes predictable and samey. Give me some true horror without shoving it in my face.

Fear through action and not the antagonist. That’s the ideal horror story. I don’t want to be frightened, but I do want the impact to be nightmarish and memorable. That’s true horror for me. Seeing a creepy face pop up out of nowhere with high pitched violin screeching is getting old fast. I like my horror slow and unnerving, not fast-paced and quick. Some might feel differently, but that’s just me.

Final Thoughts

This is a creepy, but satisfying story. It’s what I look for in horror. Being scary through actions than trying to force the fear out of me. I prefer the slow to the quick jumpiness and want to know if the person is going to do anything bonkers to survive. I’ve read a few stories like that, but I want more. Especially in media, because I don’t think there’s enough of it.

A great story overall. Would definitely recommend it for some real horror.

That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.

If you have any suggestions for future topics and reviews, hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond. Your feedback is what keeps me going, so thank you for supporting me.
My Japanese Mythology-inspired short story, Do Not Stare Into The Eyes Of A Kitsune, is finally available. You can buy it on Amazon or wherever ebooks are sold. Help a debut author make his debut worth it.
My next work will be titled “City of Kaiju,” a tale about an unlikely alliance between a young girl and her gigantic dog-dragon monster, as they survive chaos and disaster from a gigantic kaiju invasion. Part of a new Short Novel initiative, intended to fill in the gap between releases. Set for release within the Fall 2018/Winter 2019 period. Read more about it here.

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