Thursday, November 27, 2014

State of Horror: New Jersey

I enjoyed State of Horror: Illinois so much that I decided to pick up the other book offered- State of Horror: New Jersey.

Pork Roll, Egg, and Sleaze: Frank J. Elder introduces us to Egg, a Jersey boy who loves horror movies, greasy sandwiches and a chick named Cleo. An afternoon jaunt to get a record winds up with mass murder in Trenton and an ending anyone could see coming (slasher film logic? cannibalism? really? really?!). Bon Jovi is pop, My Chemical Romance is emo and I guess because I'm from the Midwest, I fail to understand why keeping it Jersey is a battle cry.

American Gargoyle: Scott M. Goriscak starts us off with a woman in labor with her 13th child and screaming it must be the devil. She must have had a glimpse of the future, as shortly after her child enters the world, it sheds the mortal skin it was born in for a demonic form. Once in full demon form, the child takes out the midwives and leaves the mother alive. Thus, we have witnessed the birth of the Jersey Devil. The story then takes us through a few encounters of murder, mayhem and friendship. And death. Lots and lots of squishy death.

Dying Days: Charon: Armand Rosamilia catches us back up with Jack (who I've determined is a complete douchenozzle surviving solely on dumb luck and overly nice people), now drifting through life in New Jersey with a new companion, Kendall. After ditching some undead (ha ha, broomstick) Kendall leads Jack to a safe place- the home of people he knew growing up. The man, Big Russ, has become apathetic and no longer wishes to participate in life (or as it's really described- he's in denial about the zombpocalypse). Attempts are made to form a merry bunch of travelers, but soon we lose sight of Kendall, Big Russ comes around on the idea of survival and Jack is somewhere in the woods of New Jersey headed north. And there's a murder house.

Evacuation: C.I. Kemp brings us a story that centers around the evacuation of a small town, presumably due to the weather. Arrival at the facility that's supposed to keep them safe arouses suspicion from some of the town folk and they begin to question what's going on around them. A little boy goes missing and in the end, we learn the answer to his question- yes, there will be no school tomorrow and congratulations, there is life on other planets. Oh and the town drunk will get mistaken for a shooting star.

Doctor Nightshade Comes to Ocean City, NJ: T. Fox Dunham's story is about the Jersey Devil, but not in the squishy murder way that American Gargoyle had been. In this case, the Jersey Devil is a businessman so afraid of failure that he did what he thought was necessary to save a town and his livelihood. The cost? The lives of twenty-one in twenty-five. When you dance with the devil, you have to pay your dues. Have fun running in the streets!

Sweets For My Sweet: Margaret L. Colton introduces us to Aggie, an older woman living near the Boardwalk who loves the ocean, swimming and frolicking like a mermaid. Aggie is a widow, having lost her great love, Charlie, a decade before. Aggie is going about her life when she starts getting haunted by visions of Charlie that just aren't quite right. Memories become twisted versions of themselves and finally, the little mermaid realizes it's time to return to her great love.

Under the Boardwalk: Julianne Snow's story starts off with Josie and Paul enjoying some alone time on the beach. A noise stops their fun and soon they're trapped in their own nightmare. The story picks back up with Josie's sister trying to find out what happened to her. She meets up with a local cop while putting up fliers. They go on a date. They wind up on the beach. They wind up in Josie and Paul's nightmare.

Monster: Christian Jensen's take on the Jersey Devil starts off with the squishy death of a homophobe and continues with two boys off to sneak a smoke. They find the squishy death scene, realize something is horribly wrong and take off to avoid the same fate. The Jersey Devil isn't too keen on losing prey and manages to take out one of the boys just as they thought they had made it safely home. Time passes and soon the boy who survived (no, not Harry Potter. wrong book and shame on you) has trained to take on the devil. The story leaves us just as he attacks fueled by bourbon.

Road Wearier: Tim Baker presents a road story that take place in the Twilight Jersey Turnpike. Mac passes through some fog to find himself alone on the road until he encounters someone broken down on the road, out of gas. It take a little doing, but Mac manages to convince the guy to get into the car to take him to a gas station. What follows is a classic case of deja vu followed by vuja de with a touch of lather, rinse, repeat.

Rudetown Road: Blaze McRob tells a tale of revenge. A creature living in the woods loses his family to a biker gang, so the creature sets out to avenge his wife and child. Unexpectedly, he gets help from a local doctor out to find out what caused the death of one of the bikers. Leave no witnesses doesn't take on the meaning the rest of the biker gang had, but the creature gets his revenge and makes a new friend in the doctor.

A Friend of the Family: Diane Arrelle gives us another take on the Jersey Devil. This time he's the friend of a local witch, Starlynne. Starlynne has the ability to heal others, something she demonstrates when her friend Ronny visits his parent's cabin with a friend from school, Dennis (using the term friend loosely). After spending some time together, Starlynne catches on to the evil that resides in Dennis and soon that evil comes to the surface in several acts of violence. That's when the devil makes his a friend of the family........

Red Eyes: Nathanael Gass presents his take on the Jersey Devil in the form of the Jersey Devil vs Forest Rangers. Doug Willins and his fellow rangers are out and about when they meet up with the devil in a forest. Squishy mayhem ensues and Doug is left holding the bag for arson and the deaths of his fellow rangers.

Memories Of Her Are Dead: Eli Constant gives us an ill fated trip to a zoo. Shawn takes his children to a zoo the family had been to before the loss of his wife, in the hopes of recapturing some happy family memories. While walking around the zoo, they realize things don't look right, which is soon confirmed by the oldest child when she finds articles related to things going horribly wrong at the zoo- sick animals and deaths of zoo patrons when the animals go batshit crazy. Sadly, the animals have another batshit crazy moment and the lone survivor is the tiniest member of the family.

Overall, this is another collection of great short stories that thankfully aren't full of jump scares like so many horror things tend to be right now. It was also nice to get a take on the Jersey culture, which is apparently full of pork and devils (it's a rather simplistic view, but it beats the idiots MTV had on for a while).

And just like my take on State of Horror: Illinois, anything I say is my opinion and I'm not getting anything out of posting this, except maybe getting someone else to download and read a copy of the anthology themselves.

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