“Room Nine” by Felice Picano from Night Shadows: Queer Horror (Bold Strokes Books, 2012). Edited by Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann.

By page two of this story I’d almost forgotten who penned it, and by the end I found myself asking “Who wrote this???” because it’s much darker than previous stories of his that I have read. I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, this being a horror anthology.

As with the last story I reviewed, this doesn’t have a nice, tidy ending. The good guys don’t rush in and save the day. A growing menace threatens the character throughout, and even when he isn’t in immediate danger he’s encountering things for which there are no good explanations, things that hamper his enjoyment of day-to-day life, and all the while there are aspects of his own psyche that he seems only dimly aware of, which never get any resolution.

Which is to say, this is one of the most realistic stories I’ve ever read. Horrific, indeed.