[Complete at 2k words] When a sickness infects the world, Paul and his dog are left to endure the aftermath, locked away in Paul’s apartment.
Living a simple life, Paul finds solace in the company of his next door neighbor. But when another healthy person shows up at his door, Paul’s simple life is unmasked, revealing an awful truth he refused to admit until it was too late.
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Initially I didn't know the meaning of the title, before reading the story. It's actually a question for a crossword puzzle. A hint I can give you though, it ain't "HAPPY".
The story is gripping and the author seems to be experienced with writing thrilling stories. Thank you for sharing the story with us! I enjoyed the read. I hope you'll be willing to share more with us
Since there's two of us running this account, I'd like to open this by saying that it's Blackbird writing this review. Hi. :)
OVERALL: I have already read this story elsewhere before finding it here. I reread it and I knew I needed to write this review. There is so much contained into just 2k words and it packs such a powerful punch that even though I've read it before, it still left me completely rattled. I can't recommend this story or this author enough.
Style: The narrative forms a wonderfully bleak picture of what the main character's world has become and it's extremely effective.
Grammar: I'm not a grammar expert by any means, but it reads extremely well to me.
Story: I'm not usually a fan of zombie stories, but I am an absolute sucker for the psychological and emotional effects a tragic event can have on a person, or a family, or a community, and this defintiely does the trick. From the very beginning there is an unforgiving bleakness to Paul's situation. So much so that watching him struggle to maintain some semblance of normality feels almost humorously tragic.
Character: Paul is an extremely sympathetic character. Part of me wants to be mad at him for his apathy and denial, but another part of me knows pretty damn well clinging to any form of normality and hiding behind a wall of denial is the realistic response to this situation. It's not a hopeful take and it's not nice to watch, but it's true.
In summary: Great stuff. Five Stars. Must read if you like things that make you feel existencially depressed. I suggest watching cat videos afterwards over a pint of ice cream. :)
I liked very much the subtitle - Five Letter Word for "Reality" . An excellent title for this story. I enjoyed your writing style. It's smooth, understandable, simple but effective. There are some really nice paragraphs, which give a strong impact, starting with the first sentence of the story, and then continuing with the setting descriptions which are very effctive and vivid. The premise of the story, although used many times before, is perhaps in these times scarily "disturbing" in the sense of how adequately some of the concepts fit the present day situation - with emphasis on "alone" and closing away from the world and other people.
There's a good tension throughout the story, with rumblings of the siclkings outside, his neighbour and the woman that comes knocking on the door. In all this solving of the puzzle is like that one last resort toward experiencing some normality.As a reader I felt the distress and anguish of your MC, but I really liked how he deals with it. Perhaps some additional, small detail about the MC might make the reader feel even closer to him. The dog certainly adds a lot to the story, the whole setting and even to how we feel about the MC. Both the neighbour and the woman are presented perfectly.
It's an impactful story, especially considering its actuality, it has a great flow and I loved the ending - the punchline of the story defined and realized through solving the puzzle. Great writing!
I love a good short as they require a lot of skill to set up a good world and story, not to mention a satisfying ending. This story managed to do it all. I really enjoyed how it took 2 things to create the monstrous beings instead of the more standard 1. It was refreshing that the story skipped the more standard "oh no, I need resources" plot device and went for a more thrilling approach, in my opinion at least.
Several moments that I really loved:
The neighbour walking around. I suspected the changing, but it was still a good scare. Was he going to break through that wall or not?
The earplugs. Dear lord, earplugs 😱 It made me question if the MC wanted it all to end without knowing it was coming or if he truly trusted he was safe. That was well done 👌😩