WE ARE THE MONSTERS
by Aaron Polson
Background: Published just a few short months ago in 2011, this free Kindle novella is worth snatching up while it’s still available for no charge. At 35,000 words, the story keeps up a quick pace and allows the reader to devour it in about one sitting (as I did). I’m starting to think the novella, an oft-overlooked story length, is really the bread and butter of the horror genre.
What it’s about: A 17-year-old boy (curiously named Aaron) who lives in Kansas (curiously where Aaron Polson lives) is haunted by the darkness of his hungry town. While driving around at night, he and his friends accidentally-on-purpose end up killing a man, whose body they dump in the river. Shortly after, Aaron begins seeing the man’s ghost everywhere, especially when he is near the new girl, Megan, who he develops a crush on.
He and his friends can lie to themselves for only so long about what happened that night, and soon, one by one, the hungry town takes them. Aaron sees bodies everywhere, and there’s a horrible presence at the old shack by The Pond.
His mind begins to unravel as the darkness looms closer, until the terrible secret about The Pond, The Shack, and Megan is revealed.
Why it will keep you up at night: The prose is of the eloquent roll-off-the-tongue variety which I love to see in horror writing: atmospheric descriptions comparing tree branches to old bones remind us how horror writers can make even the most mundane things into agents of the macabre. (Though there were a few typos here and there… makes me think I should be a professional copyeditor so things like that don’t slide by in the publishing process).
The story takes you down a dark road, both with the physical gruesomeness of dead bodies and the psychological horror of the haunting. The ending, I will warn you, is as bleak as you might expect from a horror story. But don’t let that deter you; I was enthralled by the story from start to finish, and I plan on checking out more of Polson’s work.