After is a new chapbook out from Dim Shores Press, one of the leading Weird Fiction publishers. In After, by author Scott Nicolay, we are presented with a woman whose life is in a kind of free fall and only getting worse. An abusive boyfriend, kids gone to live their own lives, the death of a close friend. And then Superstorm Sandy hits. The story centers around her going to check out the damage of her house while the town is still considered a disaster area and evacuated. She, maybe strangely, decides to stay in the deserted house to get away from her abusive boyfriend. The story then descends into a Ballardian exploration of psychological landscapes and unconscious fears and desires. The story examines cycles of abuse and how someone who is abused will seek out another abuser to get rid of the current abuser and just keep being trapped in that cycle. But at the same time After pays homage to pulpy monster stories and has a lot of fun with the “unknown creature” plot. NIcolay also uses some siege dramatics ala George Romero. And like in a Romero film… not everything ends in a happy ending. All in all another masterwork from one of the most interesting writers in the Weird Horror field. Definitely recommended.
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