Disturbed Digest # 19 December 2017 (emag review).

January 9, 2018 | By | Reply More

‘Disturbed Digest’, as the name suggests, contains horror and weird fantasy stories or paranormal or whatever you want to call them. It’s a wide field with plenty of scope.

The first story is ‘Her’ by Nohan Meza. Tristan is on a plane feeling alone and claustrophobic. It seems his girlfriend has left him and it’s his fault. Everyone else on the plane is asleep and won’t wake up or is Tristan dreaming? God only knows. I read the whole thing and still wasn’t sure by the end. The story is intense and emotional but not very clear but that is a modern trend called the ‘new weird’ and some people like it.

After this, things got better. ‘Alger’s Dimension’ by Mandy Hines is about a vanished Professor. Doctor Clayton Kazmarack is missing, presumed dead, and his loyal former pupil, Declan, goes in search of him. Kazmarack, Declan knew, believed it was possible to travel between the dimensions. Had he done so? There’s a big blood stain under his office rug and a mysterious dagger with strange writing on it. This was a well-written semi-Lovecraftian horror story and I enjoyed it.

‘Fighter And The Phantom’ by Jason Lairamor is scary and brutal. Doctor Leister Dreal has hired a gangster to kill a female martial artist named Haley Jarn so that she can be used for ghost-hunting. A car accident is the means to change her status from living to not. Obviously, there are complications. There’s some point of view switches, unusual for a short, but if that’s the best way to put the story across clearly I’m not against it. I think sticking to Haley’s point of view might have been better. This is an enjoyable yarn with an admirable female hero. Heroine? I don’t know anymore.

If you want to be ‘Disturbed’ then there’s no better venue than Dachau. In ‘They’re Pretending’ by Joseph Cusumano, Ernst, a guard at that institution, finds he has a long blonde hair growing out of his nostril that scissors will not cut. The end of it pricks his finger. He thinks it might be the work of an attractive Jewish girl who refused his affections. Odd but well told.

There seems to be an ancient South American setting for ‘Flightless Bird’ by Beverly A. Black. The suffering protagonist is Valeria Gorrian and her time with The People is coming to an end. The People drink blood and stay young or at least alive. She’s one of a group of women in the temple but seems to be the only one who wants to leave. Bad decision. The story went off at odd tangents and the ending was not as expected. Pretty good.

This issue finishes with two ghost stories. ‘When The Midnight Bell Tolls’ by Linda Tyler is about a woman visiting her mother’s grave and taking shelter in a little country church. This routine spooky yarn was well handled.

Longer and more dramatic was ‘The Williams’ House’ by Scott Pippin in which city girl Jillian goes to visit an old friend in Iowa who has bought a house where a famous mass murder took place. The entire Williams family was slaughtered, including two little girls, and the only possible suspect had a solid alibi. Jillian’s old friend Veronica is definitely weird and the scares build up nicely. I liked this one a lot.

‘Disturbed Digest’ also features lots of poetry which isn’t really my thing but sometimes strikes a chord. It struck more of a chord when I finally realised how kindle messes it up. For a long time now I have disliked the modern poetic habit of breaking things into very short lines:-

Shall I

Compare thee to

A Summer’s day.

This does happen but not as frequently as I thought. If your text is set too large on kindle the lines are broken up because they won’t fit. I enjoyed ‘The Maniac’s Dream’ by Matthew Wilson, an A-Z of horror, but wondered why he had broken it up so much. Then I adjusted my screen and realised he hadn’t. (Yes, I am dumb.) Vonnie Winslow Crist gives us ‘Omen’ a nice poem about vulture’s waiting for food but I believe, in India, the shoe is on the other foot and Zoroastrians are waiting for vultures because the birds are getting rare and their traditional method of dead body disposition no longer works as well. Real life can be weirder than weird fiction.

I wouldn’t want to be ‘Disturbed’ every week but the magazine is only quarterly and I can cope with that. A mixed bag but most of it was interesting and all of it was well written. I’d certainly recommend it for weird/paranormal/horror fans. Small presses like Alban Lake have problems with distribution but this is available at their own website and several ebook retailers.

Eamonn Murphy

January 2018

(pub: Alban Lake Publishing, 2017. 33,180 words. Price: Paperback: $ 9.00 (US), ebook US $ 3.99. ISBN: 978-1-37092-598-8)

check out website: http://store.albanlake.com/product/disturbed-19/

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Category: Fantasy, Horror, Magazines

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About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction and fantasy writer and reviewer who lives in the south west of England. If you want to know more visit his website: https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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