Sam Berlitz wanted to prove he could do the impossible. He joined a British long distance swim team and is in the process of swimming across the Atlantic Ocean. Each member of the team takes a turn in the ocean while the rest stay on the ship. On Sam’s latest turn he looks up from his swimming and is surprised to see that his ship and teammates have disappeared without a trace. He is now alone in the ocean without food or fresh water. Or is he? Something large is stalking him in the water and Sam can’t escape it. Sam slowly starts to lose his sanity as he realizes that he will soon become dinner to whatever creature lurks in the ocean below.
Midway by Nathan Robinson is a thriller about survival in a desperate situation. This book is a journey into a man’s mind as he realizes that he has little hope for a happy ending. He thinks of things such as who will attend his funeral, what exactly happened to his crew and he also thinks about the beauty he sees around him. He describes the water around him, the sunset and the sunrise and he goes through a wealth of emotions. The best way to describe this book is as a psychological horror novella that reminded me a lot of the movie Open Water.
In addition to the horror of what’s going on in Sam’s mind, there is a very real monster stalking him, which added another level of suspense to the story. I loved how the monster is revealed slowly. You catch glimpses of it before the big reveal and then you are left to wonder if he will die from the monster eating him or from being lost at sea. We also have the mystery as to what really happened to his ship. Is the monster strong enough to pull the ship down? For this being a short read there is a lot going on and it’s all told from the thoughts of one man who has little hope left.
This is the second book I’ve read by Nathan Robinson and one thing I like about his work is that the story starts to go in one direction and then at some point it takes a turn and goes somewhere totally different. What impressed me about Midway is that I felt like this is really what someone who is about to die would feel. In the beginning you don’t really like Sam much, he seems kind of shallow and egotistical but as you get into his fearful thoughts on dying you start to feel for him. Midway is a good horror novella that may scare you out of swimming in the ocean.
Another short story I read recently is Mooner by Selah Janel. This is a historical horror story set in an 1800’s saloon and centers on a worker in a logging camp named Bill. Bill is trying to make enough money to start a new life and his path to doing that is a hard job that many men can’t handle. His role model is Big John and after a hard day’s work they head up to the bar, but what they don’t know is that someone else has plans for them. The setting really comes to life in this one, as the story begins you really feel like you are in an 1800’s bar. The description of it and the language used really adds to the atmosphere and you feel like you are in a different time. To show how much research went into this little vampire tale, there is even a little glossary of terms in the back. It amazes me how much research went into this little tale and the payoff is a horror story that sticks with you.
You really feel for Bill in this story as you get the impression he doesn’t fit in at the bar and he is the only one that pays for his drinks. Even without the vampire element you get the impression that this would be good historical fiction and it has some great characters. There is a sense of building dread as a stranger comes into the bar and only three people seem to understand what’s happening as the other patrons get the stranger to perform tasks for drinks. This is a masterfully told story that had me thinking of the old Tales From The Crypt comic. The vampire is terrifying and sympathetic and for a short story it still has a couple of great twists, this is a must read for horror fans. Considering how good Mooner is I would love to read a longer historical horror novel from Selah Janel.