Samhain Publishing, $2.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-088-0
Reading Jeremy Essex’s The Sound of Time makes it obvious that none of the characters have watched those annoying footage found horror movies in which idiots who thought it’d be fun to go poking around in haunted buildings ended up screaming, shrieking, and generally making a lot of noise before being dragged off-camera by some underpaid camera crew members (who would be blurred out to resemble fuzzy ghosts in the editing room), no doubt to meet a grisly end.
When a bunch of folks get stranded in a creepy, dark old factory, they bring up stories of how people who work late – when the factory was still operating – would hear a sound.
“Like a sort of creeping noise, like something moving ever so softly through the halls. They said if you listened really hard you could hear it brushing against the walls.”
Naturally, our protagonist Charles thinks it’d be a great idea to conduct an experiment on everyone.
“I am making sense.” Charles sat up defensively. “We’ve covered this exact thing on my psychology course. A person is working all alone, late at night, cut off from the outside world. He’s tired, trying to stay awake. His mind enters a semi-hypnotic state, a blurring of the conscious and unconscious. When the mind is in that half-awake state it can sense things the normal waking mind can’t.”
He would show everyone how he can alter their sense of reality with the power of psychology! Ooh. He thinks he’s showing off his skills at hypnosis, but he ends up slipping into his personal hell where time twists and turns unnaturally. If he’s not careful, he’d probably go mad. Oops.
There is a pretty good concept here, although I admit I’ve come across similar concepts before in both horror and sci-fi stories. Still, originality is overrated, it’s how the author serves the story that matters. Here, however, I get an uneven story peppered with way too many italics and screaming. This is one story where, after reading the ending, things end up clicking into place and making some sense, but there is probably no explaining the annoying overuse of those things. Sure, I’d be screaming if I were stuck in Charles’s shoes too, but it’s the author’s job to have all that screaming happen in a manner that doesn’t feel monotonous and repetitive to the point that it’s like listening to the piercing ringing of an alarm clock for thirty minutes.
Anyway, this is a pretty interesting story, but the author’s narrative quirks can grate on me to such a point that I’m terrified for all the wrong reasons.