Johnny Apple: Dark Tales

| April 9, 2014

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Johnny Apple: Dark Tales

Johnny Apple: Dark Tales is a collection of forty tales of horror and suspense.

In “Goddesses,” American college student Tara Brewer experiences the first icy drops of fear as soldiers in black hoods accost her and her friends on a beach on the Arabian Sea and spirit them away.

Set against a backdrop of civil unrest in India, “Rasha” is the story of an acid attack on a young woman.

In “Witherpools,” Walt Gill knows that most people do not see Witherpools the way he sees them. To the average person, a Witherpool looks like any normal human being, but to the discerning eye of Walt, a Witherpool is a butchered being, a mass of raw, festering, uncared-for wounds. Witherpools are the curse of humanity. They prey insidiously on humans, watching for vulnerability, arranging catastrophes whenever they can. Night after night, city after city, Walt tracks them down and kills them. But Witherpools are changing, and Walt no longer has the edge he once had.

In “Johnny Apple,” Johnny is going to gun down four people, two in Phoenix, two in San Diego. But Johnny never seems to get past the California desert town of Malta. “You never get past Malta, Johnny,” his psychiatrist tells him. “There seems to be a barrier there.” But Johnny feels he’s about to experience a breakthrough. He feels Phoenix is within his reach. And San Diego, too. Then he’ll send a message to the man whose life intersected with Johnny’s a while back, leaving Johnny in desperate straits.

In “Human,” a strange vehicle cruises the main drag of Pacific Terrace, California. Three children—so tiny they seem unreal—peer from inside. They ping the crowd, select victims, and reveal every quirk, every nuance, of thought, of behavior. They enlighten. They enrage. If you have the temerity to disagree with them, you find yourself suddenly possessed of a primitive mind, one that belonged to your ancestors millions of years ago. As the night progresses, the qualities that make us human seem to reside more so inside the vehicle than out on the street.

In “Yellowstone,” a psychologist and his disturbed patient head into backcountry for an impromptu counseling session only to be stalked by a grizzly bear.

In “Dark Running,” it’s dusk in the Wyoming high country, a time when animals come out to eat and be eaten. Sam Franklin stands at his cabin door and hears the sounds of a fresh kill. A wolf or bear or something is feeding nearby. A voice inside Sam’s head warns him, but he heads into the wilderness, a loaded .45 in hand.

In “Jennifer Candlestick,” trouble is brewing in the museum’s artifacts room. Fat, dumpy Doris Hemlock has her sights set on beautiful Jennifer Candlestick. Fat Doris is an expert controller, an expert intimidator, a woman with no conscience, a woman with no moral principles. Her aim is to keep Jennifer all to herself. To do this, fat Doris must chase away all potential suitors. When Jennifer confides in her mentor, Jack Majors, Jack decides Doris is going to run naked through the artifacts room and get herself fired. Will Jack be able to bring about Doris’s end? Therein lies the moral of the tale.

In “Magical Elk,” Jim Lasher picks up a strange philosopher-hitchhiker named Horse. Horse wants Jim to get him his Magical Elk. But what exactly is a Magical Elk? This begins a journey of terror for Jim, for he can’t even be sure that Horse exists. “I am you, you are me,” Jim says, thinking that Horse might be a fragment of his own mind. But that’s an awfully big knife that Horse is holding. And it’s awfully sharp. And it’s got Jim’s blood on it.

In “Blind Clyde,” a blind man in a wheelchair, residing within impregnable darkness, counsels an eleven-year-old orphan named Junelle. Junelle sees Blind Clyde as her salvation. But a frightened American government thinks otherwise. Blind Clyde, godlike in the extreme, might be everyone’s salvation, or the final destruction of the human race.

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