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Cold Chills for Hot Summers

Here's three short stories to provide quick doses of horror during the summer months:

The Yellow Wallpaper” is a diary chronicle of a woman experiencing postpartum depression in a time when it was not recognized as an illness. Due to her constant isolation and lack of treatment, she begins to have hallucinations of a woman living in her wallpaper. “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin” follows Rudy as he tries to get his girlfriend back and lead a normal life. Instead he falls victim to the house she lives in and the drugs she uses, leading him to view the house and its inhabitants as grotesque monsters. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” tells the story of Connie and her desire to be older. When adulthood comes to her door, though, she finds the idea of leaving her house terrifying. With the temperature climbing higher and higher each day, it’s going to start being a challenge to keep yourself cool without blasting the air

conditioning. Thankfully, some authors have taken it upon themselves to give you some tales that will causecold sweats and chills to cool you off from the summer’s heat. These three short stories will give you a quick break from the heat with the thrill of terror packed into just a few pages.

The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Gilman’s story takes place back in a time when medical knowledge concluded that any time a woman acted “abnormal” with no physical symptoms of illness the best medicine was locking them away for mandated bed rest. This the treatment the narrator finds herself under along with taking antidotes she’s not sure of the name of. Through a series of journal entries, readers can now identify the narrator’s beginning illness as postpartum depression, but as the narrative continues it is obvious the narrator suffers from something more. Since she has been cut off from any social interaction, the narrator occupies her time with objects in the room and her own mind. Gilman skillfully builds up the hallucinations until you begin to worry about the images your own mind sees in wallpaper.

Shattered Like a Glass Goblin, Harlan Ellison: Ellison, too, explores the mind and how it can deceive us, but he adds in the consequences of drugs. The main character, Rudy, is coming home from the military and is looking for his girlfriend, Kris. While Rudy was away, Kris moved in a large, run-down house with a few other, essentially, degenerates. Everyone in the house, Rudy notices, is strung out and look like they’re wasting away, including Kris. Rudy tries to convince her to leave but fails, so he stays in the house with her. From there, the house and the lifestyle of the occupants begin to effect Rudy and he himself wasting way and soon everything begins to become contorted and grotesque. What sets you on edge is how pervasive the darkness of the house becomes and how nothing and no one is recognizable in the end.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, Joyce Carol Oats: Oats takes you out of the mind and into the real world. Connie is a typical 15 year-old: self-absorbed and knows much more than her parents. While her parents think she’s spending her Friday nights at her friends, they’re actually out in town trying to pick up boys. One afternoon, Connie is left alone at home when one of the guys she has seen in town come by his house. He introduces himself as Arnold Friend the 18 year-old tries charming Connie into coming along with him and his friend. As he gets closer to the door, though, Connie is able to tell he is much older and begins to feel afraid. Connie’s backed into a corner and you feel like you’re beside. The reality of the situation is what gets you, and you can easily find yourself in Connie’s place – this narrative was inspired by four real murders.

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