Selected story summaries by billborre [WorldCat.org]
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Dark and distant voices : a story collection

by Tim Waggoner

  Print book : Fiction  |  First trade paperback edition

Selected story summaries   (2019-07-23)

Excellent

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by billborre

"Weeper" - Fifteen years after Glen divorces Rachel he becomes stuck in a cycle of murdering versions of himself who show up in the house garage he used to live in with Rachel and their daughter Jessie. He's killed seven so far and to hold on to this life consisting of a slice out of the past he is desperate to come up with a way to stop the cycle of new Glens getting curious about the old house and showing up in the garage at night. He thinks if he travels to the one bedroom apartment he moved into after Rachel asked him to leave and kills the Glen there before he travels to the old house perhaps he can break the cycle. He carries out his plan by hitting the alternate Glen with a baseball bat and dumping the body in the house shed. What he doesn't anticipate is that both Rachel and Jessie resent being locked eternally in a past moment and they're waiting for one of Glens to do something different which he's just done so that they can break the cycle. Rachel hits him with the baseball bat and dumps his body in the shed next to the other Glen. He knows he doesn't have long because it's getting late and the seven previous bodies have all disappeared from the shed at a preordained time.

"The Goggen" - Daniel searches out a creature which lives behind a waterfall that can foretell the future. He wants to know what happens to his ex-friend Beth when she gets pregnant with his child and dumps him. The Goggen tells him that if he sees her once more she will flee into a rainstorm and both she and the unborn child will be killed. If Daniel remains in the cave and allows the Goggen to eat him Beth will give birth to a girl named Ann Catherine who will become a marine biologist and live ninety-four years. Daniel is glad to know what would have happened to his child but is so filled with anger at Beth that he plans to kill the Goggen with a knife and see that Beth gets what's coming to her. After the Goggen lies dead on the floor of the cave Daniel looks at his wrist where the Goggen held it for so long and the creature's spines begin to erupt from his skin. Daniel's transformation into the new Goggen is complete by sunset and he scuttles over to devour the corpse of his predecessor. 

"The Trespasser" - When Duncan is fourteen he tries to sneak over to his neighbor Valerie's open window at night but their dog Louie comes out and begins to growl at him. Duncan is terrified of being found out as a peeping Tom so he picks Louie up and strangles him. Thirty years later Duncan is married and living across from an abandoned house. At four in the morning during a thunderstorm he sees a figure enter the house. His wife thinks he dreamed it but the following day he resolves to investigate before he heads off to work. He is lured into the house by a creature which feeds off negative emotions attracted by the guilt and self-loathing associated with his old crime. 

"The Talking Dead" - This story is a different kind of zombie apocalypse. Dead people begin communicating their hatred of the living through technology. Cell phones are discarded but the dead adapt to whatever's available. When Alan's dead daughter Alicia comes on a deserted store's overhead speaker and informs him his father used to pay her to give him blowjobs he takes a pair of scissors and plunges it into his left ear. When Alan regains consciousness his hearing is gone but he sees Alicia's face on tv sets and then unspeakable images. Alan realizes that life's only purpose is to create death and he gathers murderous implements to begin his crusade.

"What Once Was Flesh" - This story postulates that vampires must do battle with their outcast soul, referred to as an 'Animus', otherwise the Animus will destroy them like a spiritual antibody. Al is an old vampire mentoring Dylan who is newly turned. Al gives Dylan advice for defeating his Animus by digging a pit trap for it and biting it once it falls in. When the Animus arrives and falls into the pit Dylan attacks it but Al betrays him. Al doesn't mention once Dylan begins sucking the ambrosia out of the Animus he is helpless to stop so the older vampire takes advantage to bite Dylan and suck the tasty stuff right out of him.

"Blood and Bone" - This story uses Katy's performance review with her supervisor Shannon as a backdrop to discuss the animal fight or flight responses that everyone must face in the course of their daily lives. The story's characters can morph their teeth into fangs and their fingernails into claws as they perform threat gestures and prepare for possible conflict. The story ends when Katy reflects on her mother's advice to get tough to avoid being eaten and she springs over Shannon's desk to tear out her throat with her extended claws.

"Cleaning Up" - A woman who runs a cleaning service goes to a house where cleaning ladies have been disappearing. Cheryl acquires food for her monstrous parents but she is unaware that her intended victim has had personal experience cleaning up the messes of her husband and son before disposing of them and considers herself to be something of a monster hunter. She kills the creature in the basement with a feather duster and stabs Cheryl with a butcher knife before setting the home on fire immolating the mother upstairs.

"Doozer is a Happy Cancer" - Doozer is a homeless man camping in a tent city when he meets Karen and her daughter Rose who are infected by an organism Rose refers to as the "Canker". Karen considers the disease a spiritual entity and invites Doozer to join them but he wants no part of it and leaves them in the underpass to return to the tent city. While he sleeps he is infected and, realizing he has become a carrier, makes his way to the nearest town to spread the gospel.

"Day 12" - The final passenger on a plane that has somehow gained a life of its own by draining the passengers and crew attempts to disrupt its hungry designs upon a smaller plane.

"Sun Hungry" - Rick attempts to talk his brother Jake out of his belief the sun is a cosmic vampire sucking the life force out of the solar system.

"This is Not A Horror Story" - A nineteen year-old girl has a bizarre encounter with a DMV clerk when she attempts to register her vehicle.

"Sky Watching" - Tim writes a story where he is the protagonist exploring an abandoned observatory haunted by star ghosts.

"Exit Strategy" - This is an infinite regress story where the protagonist is trapped within his own stomach. 

"None So Empty" - Pete has a drink with his neighbor Renee who is missing a head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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