“A short story is something that you can hold in your mind. You can really analyze how the entire thing works, like a machine.” Chuck Palahniuk
Satisfaction of a Full Story (but with fewer words)
Despite fewer words, the journey into the imagination is complete, as is the satisfying story arc and memorable characters. For the curiosity tempted, no longer the slow slog to reach a story’s end—within a dozen pages or so the final twist in the tale awaits. Repeat. With a short story, no advance peeking at the ‘The End” page required as gratification is almost instantly satisfied.
Consider this tempting proposition—countless more stories enjoyed in less time by you, the voracious reader. Vibrant stories. Scary stories. Dreamy stories. Sexy stories. Smart stories. Provocative stories. Personal stories. Funny stories. All these tales—a collective of the human experience—uniquely told in vignette literary packages.
Ultimate Sampler of Exciting, Talented Authors
Eager to meet great writers? Well, the short story is the ideal medium to discover new favorites. A single folio of short stories is the perfect platform to display the literary craft of intriguing authors—as displayed here, in this deceitfully delicious Crooked Tales collection—where the unexpected happens, the crooked are wronged, and wrongs are righted.
Julie M. Brown has taken a contemporary issue and built a fictional short story around, creating a stunning tale of revenge in “Confessions”. Focusing on a controversial subject she pulls back the curtain on a heinous crime and the subsequent actions of those involved. Many times I have watched news stories of child sexual abuse and wondered what I would have done as either a survivor or the relative of an abused child. Brown has taken a look at both sides of that experience; a survivor of abuse as well as the brother of the abused.
Faced by one of his victim’s and the justice Anthony seeks to mete out Father O’Neal protests his lack of responsibility for the death of Anthony’s brother Jimmy. Anthony’s view is very different and he wastes no time informing Father O’Neal that his sexual abuse of young Jimmy drove him to suicide. As the story progresses it becomes apparent that Jimmy was not the only one abused by the pedophile; Anthony was also abused and bargained with the priest in order to protect his younger brother. By offering himself as a sacrifice he hoped to save Jimmy from the same monstrous assaults. However Father O’Neal did not stand by his word and wasted no time in exploiting Jimmy’s innocence.
Little by little Brown reveals the history of the warped relationships of the priest with the fatherless boys and as she does the reader will undoubtedly become more repulsed by the twisted priest.
Even as the reader may question what Anthony should do and if he has the right to take justice into his own hands, she may be driven to hope he will take revenge for himself and his brother.
This is a tension building story of vengeance with no real satisfaction for Jimmy is still dead and Anthony still carries the scars of his tormented youth. It is Anthony’s final resolution that brings some closure to a painful tale of guilt, repentance, and self forgiveness.
Invasions from space, other planets or solar systems, have provided colorful fodder for science fiction stories for many years. That being said, “Terrestrial Traitor” by Jeremy Croston turns the subject on its head with his unique approach. While it isn’t unusual for a “human” to fall in love with an “alien” it is far from common for a human to become a traitor to his own race. Croston lays out the path Jeremiah Collins has followed to arrive at this point. After the fall of his home city and the deaths of his wife and two children he meets an invading female alien, a Centari, who resembles his late wife. Although he describes Eliah as a twin for his spouse Cassandra, he goes on to describe the differences between the two. Eliah seems to return his feelings of affection and the two form a peculiar relationship; a romance.
Eliah makes use of his love for her; she encourages him to become a turncoat to his own people. As a Captain in the Fifth Guard, “a resistance force based in what used to be Washington, D.C.”, he is well placed for this type of treachery. Little by little he betrays his fellow humans by taking on assignments for the Centari. Deeper and deeper he is drawn into intrigue and away from his own humanity.
Croston skillfully develops the conflicting emotions Collins experiences. Unable to resist the beautiful Eliah and tormented by his disloyalty to his own people he struggles to keep his dishonesty secret from his commanding officers.
It’s impossible not to feel disgusted by Collins. No one likes a traitor. And a man who would betray his entire race, allow his planet to be devastated, is about as reprehensible as a man can be. Yet it is heartbreaking to think he lost so much he has been reduced to a tool of an alien species. As much as Collins is torn by the two sides of his nature, the reader is also divided between loathing and sympathy.
Well written with a wonderfully shocking conclusion, Croston has once again shown himself to be a master of science fiction.