The fourth story in The Things That Grow With Us by Jordan Anderson confirms my suspicion that he is much better at mainstream horror than the genre-spanning stuff (i.e. sci-fi- or fantasy-horror). 'The Gore Hole' is the story of a spooky abandoned house in small-town America, the kind of place where kids go for a dare. So of course some do. The twist is that one of the kids has been there already. He didn't exactly get the tee-shirt, either...
Young Sam and his floppy, lovable dog Isabelle visited the old house. When he is half-cajoled, half-bullied into going back he finds that in the clearing where the house once stood is a tree stump. It seems harmless enough, but then a strange force starts to exert itself. One by one the boys are forced to move up to the stump, to kneel, and to put their heads into a hole in the trunk. What happens then is lurid yet bleak. Sam's mother, we learn, warned him that it's always okay to run away from a threat. Unfortunately by the time he thinks of this sage advice it is too late.
'The Gore Hole' is somewhat over long, and it's never spelled out why what happens happens. A somewhat haphazard series of images tumble over one another, and perhaps the author over-eggs the pudding. That said, the ending is convincingly bleak. In a way this is a coming-of-age story, if one accepts that the end of childhood is the beginning of death, or perhaps death-in-life.
And on that cheery note, enjoy the rest of your weekend!