DENNIS ETCHISON ARTICLE

Writer and editor Dennis Etchison passed away on May 28th this year following a long, storied career writing and editing in the horror genre. I first discovered him as the editor of the Masters of Darkness anthologies. Tonight, we’re going to look at several of his own short stories. My favorite of these would be “It Only Comes Out at Night”,“Somebody Like You” and “The Woman In Black”.

THE STORIES:

1. “Today’s Special” (1972) – A local butcher begins to lose customers after he fires his talented but dishonest partner. He takes drastic measures to bring him back.

2. “It Only Comes Out at Night” (1976) – A man drives from L.A. to San Bernardino by way of Route 66 to avoid the scalding heat of the day with his sleeping wife. The description of this endless, monotonous trek is well-described. When he pulls into a rest-stop along the way, he notices all the cars parked there are covered with a strange film. This stop will prove to have been a bad choice.

3. “You Can Go Now” (1980) – A man moves through a disjointed mental haze as he slowly comes to remember the devastating event which caused it. This is a difficult story to describe, but it’s effective at presenting the protagonist’s traumatized mental state.

4. “The Pitch” (1982) – A talented salesman, who always wears white gloves, demonstrates how his line of food preparation tools works to a group of women in a department store, but he has a secret which isn’t revealed until the story’s end. 

5. “The Dead Line” (1982) – A husband goes to the hospital everyday to visit his comatose wife. She’s being kept alive there against his wishes so they can endlessly harvest her body. He wants to find a way to free her from this horrible existence.

6. “Somebody Like You” (1984) – A man obsesses over a woman who he loves. She sees him sometimes but sleeps a lot and occasionally talks in her sleep. When she talks about her dreams, she says they are always about a mysterious man who’s visiting her. This tale does a good job evocking a feel as though you’re just waking up from a deep sleep and can’t quite differentiate what’s real and isn’t. I liked the ending as well.

7. “The Woman In Black” (1984) – After a young boy’s mother is taken away by government officials following the untimely death of his father who had worked at one of their plants, he goes to live with his bedridden grandmother. Her house is next door to that very same government compound. He’s very curious to know what lies inside its high gates, as he sees a strange, black-veiled woman around it.

8.“Call 666” (1988) – A newly single man answers a call ringing in a public phone booth. The person on the other end of the line, who obviously thinks someone different has answered, mentions an address which the listener soon learns was the site of a murder. This causes him to begin his own investigation into the matter.

Article by Matt Cowan

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