Short Stories by Helen Marshall

by Chris Buzelli

by Chris Buzelli

Title: The Hanging Game

Published: March 2013, which you can read for free at Tor.com

Genre: fantasy

Length: 9 pages

Setting: Lawford (somewhere up north), recent past

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: The kids of Lawford play a game where they give themselves to Old Hangjaw by nearly strangling themselves hanging from an ash tree. In return, Old Hangjaw gives them a vision they repeat to the Priest (one of the kids’ roles in the game). That vision is a true seeing of their future luck, but the person who said it doesn’t remember it and you’re not allowed to repeat it back. Their game stops when one kid dies (Old Hangjaw claimed his blood price). However, the repercussions of their actions continue throughout their adult lives.

Final thoughts: A creepy story. It was more than just the kids nearly suffocating themselves. It was the thread of the blood price required by Old Hangjaw and his bears that the kids often had to pay for the sins of the fathers.

Title comes from: The game the kids played drove the plot of the story


 

Title: I’m the Lady of Good Times, She Said

Published: 2013 in End of the Road

Genre: ghost story

Length: 14 pages

Setting: Ash Fork (the American southwest), present day

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: The narrator has made a mistake. He got caught cheating on his wife, Juney, by his Juney’s crazy-mean brother, Carl. It’s no use protesting that the woman he was caught with was a ghost. Carl’s not looking for excuses. Instead, he forces the narrator to drive into the desert to shoot him on the side of the road.

Final thoughts: Again, creepy. We get some back story of the narrator’s life with Juney (not all good) and Carl’s behavior (mean for the sake of it) while he’s driving himself into the desert to be killed. He’s trying to come up with a good spin on his situation. She was a ghost after all! But, in the end, he realizes the futility of trying to rationalize himself to Carl. Then, when he comes back to be with Juney after he’s dead and lays down with her in bed – what’s going to happen there? That can’t end well, can it?

Title comes from: It was a line the woman he slept with used in a movie. (She was his high school, movie star, wet dream source.)

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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