“The Zombissager” by Colleen Chin from Queer Fish: An Eclectic Anthology of Gay Fiction (Volume One), Pink Narcissus Press (2011). Edited by Margarita Bezdomnya and Rose Mambert.
I’ve never been much interested in zombie stories, save for a brief stint watching The Walking Dead (before they killed off one too many main characters and I let my boots do the walking, away from the television). The problem is, there’s nothing appealing about zombies, the way there is about vampires, or stories about evil scientists, or other forms of intelligent life making contact with humanity and trying to take over Earth. Zombies have no redeeming qualities. What’s worse, they’re too close to reality for me. Like illness, aging, and death, they’re an approaching, unstoppable sadness. I don’t want more of that sort of thing, for pete’s sake, I want less.
Not that this story is too deeply concerned with reality, mind you. This is a humorous, dare I say zany story about comic book-style superheroes and villains (Awesomeman, Coolman and Sir Zombalot). It’s goofy and over the top to the point that I was rolling my eyes and chuckling at the absurdity of it. I’d summarize the plot, but you’d never, ever believe me.
“Bakery Boy” by Thomas Fuchs from Queer Fish: An Eclectic Anthology of Gay Fiction (Volume One), Pink Narcissus Press (2011). Edited by Margarita Bezdomnya and Rose Mambert.
What a wildly inventive story. I loved this. It was like a kinder, gentler version of a classic trope: the narrator who happens upon a curiosity shop that’s never been there before. Wedged between two more prominent businesses, it calls to him, and he ends up buying something odd without fully thinking through the consequences. Of course, the item nearly destroys him, but when he goes back to the site of the shop, intending to complain? It’s gone. As if it never was.
This story is one of that ilk, only the shop in question is not an antique store, it’s a bakery. Yes, that’s right. This is another one for our potential anthology.
“Welcome to Anteaterland” by Nathaniel Fuller from Queer Fish: An Eclectic Anthology of Gay Fiction (Volume One), Pink Narcissus Press (2011). Edited by Margarita Bezdomnya and Rose Mambert.
This story got off to a great start. The narrator‘s twelve year old son Samuel has just arrived home after a summer spent living with his mother, the narrator’s ex-wife. All should be right with the world, only the narrator and his partner Brian, who has been on the scene for nine years, had a fight a few days earlier. Brian stormed out and hasn’t returned. We’re told they do this sort of thing at least once every summer, but they’ve always managed to keep it from Samuel. It’s not like Brian to stay mad, especially when it impacts Samuel. And naturally, Samuel is upset and wants to find him. So father and son go looking in the one place they suspect Brian went: a theme park down the road called Anteaterland.
I like the concept of a theme park where you can be morphed into an animal and experience life as another species, but this species? Not so much. The area where the three reside is depicted as being chock full of oddly-themed parks. The first of the immersion style was called Jungleland. In it, guests get to live as a tiger. I realize it would be more cliche and not as funky, but I wish this story was about that park. I also wish it went somewhere, and the characters were changed by the experience, instead of the reader just being introduced to an interesting premise.
If there is a deeper meaning here I’m not too proud to admit it went over my head.
There were a lot of hallways. This former orphanage is actually four or five buildings cobbled together around a courtyard. There are doors, hallways, and stairwells galore. More often than not, at night these were revealed to be poorly illuminated or not illuminated at all.
Imagine using your cellphone as a flashlight to carefully pick your way up these stairs: