Short Take: I’ll be sending the author my therapist’s bill.
**Note: I was given an advance copy of this story for review purposes.
Allison M. Dickson must be stopped. I’ve followed her works for nearly two years now, and her powers are only growing. Sooner or later, world domination is inevitable, and I shudder to think of what she will do then.
Tumble is the perfect example. It’s a short story. Oh, you may ask, how much damage can an author do in 8500 words? The answer, my friends, is PLENTY. Bah, you scoff (that is how you scoff, right?), it’s only a story, and not a very big one at that, surely it can’t inflict much damage to your psyche or emotions. And you would be so very, very wrong.
Miranda is a housewife who is going through a quiet kind of hell. It’s coming up on the 1-year anniversary of the death of her son, Aaron, who died of a hideous, prolonged illness when he was thirteen. Her husband, Tru, has dealt with the loss mainly by avoidance. He’s always at work or some community activity, leaving her alone with their two-year-old son, Sam much of the time.
It’s bad enough, trying to be a mother to a child who’s still mostly a baby, while dealing with crushing grief. But then something very strange begins to happen when Miranda is doing laundry. Some of Aaron’s things start coming out of the dryer with the rest of the clean clothes, despite the fact that she had long since packed away, donated, or thrown out everything of Aaron’s.
Knowing that Tru will never believe her, Miranda begins obsessively watching the washer and dryer, documenting every item that goes in and comes out, even buying a Nanny Cam to make sure that every bit of evidence is saved.
And it is.
Tumble is a genre-buster. It’s a horror story, no question, and the ending is as terrifying, sick, and shocking as anything I’ve read before. But it’s also a story of a family collapsing in on its grief, of the black hole of loss that sucks in everything that matters. When I read the part about the comic book artist, I actually teared up.
And that’s why Allison M. Dickson can not be allowed to continue writing. I’m sorry, I understand that she’s immensely talented, and that not having any new AMD stories would probably leave a hole in the world of literature. But my heart just can’t take the trauma she can inflict when she chooses.
Eventually, everyone will read her works, and we’ll all be crushed into emotionless shells of the people we were. There will be hushed conversations by people with pale faces and watery eyes.
“Hey, did you read the new – “
“Yeah, man. Yeah. It was intense.”
“And the part where she….”
“Dude, don’t talk about it, ok? It was rough.”
“Yeah, I hear you. I don’t know if I can sleep tonight.”
“Me either. Call me if it gets too bad. We can watch The Exorcist or something to calm down.”
I fear for the future if she continues. Horror is one thing, bring on the ghosts and gore, but when you take a scary story and use it to utterly break the reader’s heart, nothing good can come of it. That kind of power can’t go unchecked. Mark my words, this is the beginning of the end of life as we know it.
The Nerd’s Rating: FIVE HAPPY NEURONS (and a Valium)