Bedtime Story by James Sallis, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, July/August 2018

This is a very short piece. Only 5 pages. But what Mr. Sallis achieves in such a short time should be commended.

Plot: A man, after some terrible event, returns to his hometown to claim a body from a doctor who has set up shop in a house. Much of the piece centers on the descriptions of people and animals who have been killed–by what isn’t frankly stated. The protagonist/narrator visits a diner where he is told where the doctor is keeping the bodies. The narrator goes and claims the body.

cov1807lg-250Character: This has a lot of character background for such a small piece. Jack, the protagonist, was once part of the resistance with his friend–now the body he has come to claim. The doctor is also the same doctor who delivered Jack. It’s all come full circle to this doctor. Having seen someone who he’d helped birth come back to claim his dead friend’s body.

Setting: The setting is the real intriguing aspect of this piece. Readers are constantly getting clues about what happened here. We don’t know if it’s a zombie plague, disease or what. But the events shape the setting of the piece, which is super clever and a lesson I must remember for my own writing. Events change spaces. Events make people perceive spaces in different ways. (C-)

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