Tuesday, 7 August 2018

'Tour Guide'

The next short story from Rosalie Parker's Sparks from the Fire is a strange one. As in strange story. No, it's not a tribute to Aickman, exactly. But the set up does recall much of his work. Set on one of the Scilly Isles, the eponymous  tour guide is Fabian. He has an admirer, twelve-year-old Millicent, who is on holiday with her mother. Fabian takes a typical mixed party to some botanical gardens. The day is hot, the walk is tiring, and by the time the tourists get to the plants they are hot and sweaty.

Then things get weird. Fabian slopes off for a smoke, where he is joined shortly after by Millicent. The girl is appalled by some of the things going on in the garden. Later, the party is in a subdued mood when Fabian rejoins them for the walk back. This is not a horror story, as such, but there is a touch of madness - perhaps Pan-ic - about what happens. The fact that no facile explanation is offered makes it stick in the mind, rather like some of L.P. Hartley's or Walter de la Mare's trickier tales.

So far, so entertaining. More from this handsome little volume in a day or so.

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