Terror, murder and madness are all part of the human condition. We try to hide the fact that we have evil thoughts inside us and we don’t speak about the things that scare us the most. Like what bad things a person can do to another or even to themselves in a desperate situation. The Human Condition by Mark Taylor is a collection of 17 stories that have to do with the dark side of life, such as what happens when a person is driven to madness or faced with their worst nightmare.
The first story in this collection and one of my favorites is Christmas At The Mill. The story is about a man named Jimmy who gets trapped in a room at his work over the holidays. He wanted some peace and quiet and got much more than he bargained for. I love the simplicity of this story, it’s just one character and his struggle to escape his situation. I loved how the tension builds in this story and how everything was described. Mark proves here that you don’t need a lot of elements to tell a great story.
Another good one was Bobo. This was about a man named Tim who works as a clown on a famous children’s TV show. Things start to go bad for Tim as he starts having visions of everyone in the studio audience dying. Is Tim going insane or is his subconscious trying to tell him something? Once again I loved the storytelling here, I liked how Tim sees himself as crazy, but as the story moves along you see that’s not the case. I especially liked the ending to this one.
Each story in this book is well written and focuses on characters that are just average people put in gruesome, horrifying situations. I love character driven fiction so I enjoyed all the stories in this anthology. Mark Taylor made me like every person in this book, which made it that much scarier when they were put in danger. When I finished reading this I wondered if Mark Taylor can make short stories this good, then his novels must be excellent.