I first became aware of Kevin Lucia when he used to host his excellent Horror 101 segments on The Tales To Terrify podcast. I loved his indepth analysis of macabre literature from the past and present. I especially loved its focus on classic haunted house stories. I was even lucky enough to share Tales To Terrify episode #90 with him which also featured my short story, “The Collective of Blaque Reach”. After following Kevin on social media, I realize he and I have similar views on many things from our horror preferences to our overall world outlook. This led me to pick up Things Slip Through, his collection of short stories which ties together to form an overall, longer narrative. I’m glad I did. The book is a great read. There’s a strong focus on Bassler House, Lucia’s contribution to the proud legacy of haunted houses throughout the genre. Here’s a closer look at the book.
When a police officer starts asking questions about the bizarre events which keep happening in Clifton Heights, New York, a town to which he only recently moved, his author friend Gavin reluctantly fills him in unveiling some of the bizarre things that have happened there. Each story is presented as another case in the long history of supernatural occurances in Clifton Heights with brief interludes between them linking them all together. My favorite stories were “Way Station”, “The Sliding”, “Bassler Road” and “On A Midnight Black Chessie”.
1. “Lament” – Gavin relates the terrible events that took place at his school resulting from racial tensions between some Muslim students and a few local bullies following 9-11. Things end badly for all involved as the conflict escalates.
2. “Way Station” – Gavin gives the details of something that happened to him years ago that changed the coarse of his life. It began after he leaves a convention one winter night, despite being very drunk, after learning his publisher who’s fed up with his constant, public complaints are going to drop him. After hitting a patch of ice on the road, he crashes. Managing to limp away from the wreck, he hears a voice coming from nowhere calling out words he doesn’t understand. He then comes across a familiar diner where he he finds himself confronted by something terrible and is forced to make a life altering decision.
3. “The Water God of Clarke Street” – After discovering a mystic book, a lonely girl gains a water sprit as a companion that she names Bob. Bob is devious, however, and wants her to recite a spell from the book that would release him to take over her body. He makes many promises of how things would improve for her if she carries out this desire. Bob is hungry and likes to feed on the guts of humans, so freeing him would not be good.
4. “The Gate and the Key” – Two teenage brothers go to an abandoned house called Bassler House situated in a secluded section of a nearby forest. They ignore its spooky reputation in order to collect cans and bottles in hopes of profiting off a recent recycling law requiring a 5 cents per bottle pay out. The presence they stumble upon in the basement exacts a terrible toll on them instead.
5. “The Sliding” – Here Gavin tells the terrifying story of his own visit to Basler House with two friends as teenagers in the late 80’s. The place is mostly empty, but they do find a room where bricks have been laid to form a perfect pentagram. Flies hover around its edges, and the smell of death wafts up from it. They decided to destroy it which sets in motion a bizarre loop as they begin to hear something sliding down a hallway toward them. This is an excellent and unique haunted house story.
6. “Monster” – An alternate, less supernatural view of the events that took place between the two brothers in “The Gate and The Key”.
7. “Bassler Road” – A man finds himself driving down the remote Bassler Road because his GPS says it’s the fastest way to the interstate. He stops to pick up an attractive, young hitchhiker standing at the overgrown driveway entrance to haunted Bassler House. The hitchhiker proves not to be as she appears.
8. “A Brother’s Keeper” – Craig meets with Dr. Stanley Jeffers who claims he needs a transfusion from him to try and save his twin brother Buddy after he’s horribly burned in an accident. The two brothers were born conjoined at their heads and had to be separated. In order for them both to survive, one would suffer a limited mental capacity the rest of his life. Buddy was the one chosen. Dr. Jeffers does far more than he initially led Craig to believe. This story is in firmly in the body horror vein.
9. “Lonely Places” – After discovering a strange totem, a down-on-his-luck man is horribly transformed as a ravenous hunger overwhelms him.
10. “On A Midnight Black Chessie” – A lonely college professor who spends his off hours building a meticulous recreation of Clifton Heights for his model train track becomes enamoured with a vivacious young colleague only to later discover she’s dating another teacher at the college. In despaire, he throws himself into his model building only to discover he’s built a road which doesn’t exist in the real town that leads to an incredibly detailed church adorned with strange symbols. While traveling home another night, he finds the road suddenly does exist in the real world, but only at night. This is a fantastic story. Highly recommended!
11. “Mr. Nobody” – A woman recounts the eerie events that preceded her son’s mysterious disappearance involving an imaginary friend he called Mr. Nobody. Mr. Nobody had promised he was coming to see the boy shortly beforehand.
Things Slip Through on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Things-Slip-Through-Clifton-Heights-ebook/dp/B00GIOAXU4
Article by Matt Cowan