Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair

Title: The Gate 2
Authors: Listed Below
Published: February 2012
Synopsis from

...a young man tries to build a better life while trapped in a mall after a plague has killed off most of humanity...

...zombies overrun a world gone mad, leaving a boy with no choice but to rely on possibly mystical means of escape...

...Halloween night brings out a darkness so threatening that a young couple’s only hope of survival may be a procession of strange, ghostly children...

...when the world is given a brief glimpse of divinity, a formerly disabled man must come to grips with the fact that not everything is as good as it seems...

These tales and many more await in The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, the new collection edited by Robert J. Duperre. Thirteen talented authors have been assembled, bringing with them the best they have to offer in a wide range of horror, be it slice-of-life or paranormal in nature.

Also included are two bonus stories by the editor.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

15 short stories that focus on themes of ISOLATION and DESPAIR. 13 authors gather together to tell the tales of what they believe best suits this theme. Each tale is also accompanied by a illustration which I felt was very unique.

Below are my views on each tale. Some are great, some I didn't quite understand, and a few were just plane awesome.

If you love short stories with a mix of tragedy, sci-fi, paranormal, apocalyptic, and contemporary then this book is for you. There is something for everyone!

- J.L. Bryan

Jeremy is a 34 year old Gamestop employee from California. He's wondering the world because some sort of illness called "THE COUGH" is killing the mankind.

Stopping at a mall in Ohio he finds himself in the lap of luxary. What a place to be!! IT has all the things a man could need. Food, water, camping supplies, and babes!

You heard me... BABES!!

But these babes are plastic... and they don't tend to talk back.

Apparently, since the COUGHPACOLYPSE, Jeremy is kind of loosing it or perhaps was never right in the head to begin with. I say this because he still lived with his mom until she died. Can you say looser? *cough cough.

I found this story quite imaginative. There were times when I was reminded of WIll Smith's role in "I Am Legend" (remember how her talked to mannequins) but otherwise that it totally kept my attention.

While sci-fi this story didn't scare me or keep me on the edge of my seat. It did however make me laugh due to Jeremy's relationship with a Magic 8-ball. Think WILSON from Castaway.

A great and easy light read!


The Indian Rope Trick
-D.P. Prior

9 year old English boy WES is in big trouble! His Mom is a zombie! Problem is, he doesn't really understand that it's not ok to let her back into the house. That's where Dad came to the rescue and told the boy that was a big NO NO!

I have to admit... this part kind of reminded me of the first episode of the WALKING DEAD where that MOM/WIFE kept trying to get into her house.

Apparently, there is a zombie outbreak and it's so new that we aren't sure what caused it.

Bad thing is... animals might be carriers.

Once Watson the cat comes into the house he just goes BONKERS!! and Dad is about to have a fit because omg... the cat drew blood!

Dad takes Wes up into the attack where he locks him in and tells him to hang tight.

From there, we get to see just how skillful a nine year old is at survival.

Full of HOBBIT LINGO, I found this story pretty easy to follow (with the language barrier. Jolly good show!). I did, however, wonder what year this was taking place. THe reason is because WES found a STAR TREK PHASER toy he got for xmas one year and kept talking about DR. Who stuff. I'm assuming that Dr. Who is big in Hobbitland but is Star Trek? Now, my son would know who the BORG is but I'm not sure if it's common for most kids. Still, I thought the mention of the BORG in a zombie story was quite amusing.

If the cussing was cut I think that this would have made a great episode of "Are you Afraid of the Dark" or "Goosebumps". Dad tends to have a potty mouth, but who wouldn't with zombies outside?

All in all, this was a great story with a really cool ending.


Night Night
-Daniel Pyle

There's been a murder. The opening paragraph tells of Henry killing his brother Jerry with a steak knife. It is unclear why in the beginning but makes sense at the end.

I found this story to be kind of boring. It didn't excite me nor did it give me chills when I found out the ending's twist. While clever I feel this story tried too hard with shock value. While I'm a big fan of gore sometimes moderation of blood is best or a big fountain of gore at the end can be a real show stopper.

I also had a hard time remembering who was who because both brothers' names ended in Y.

Definitely original but not my favorite. Maybe if it was longer I could have liked it more.


Dead Things
-Michael Crane

Dwight's neighbor, Old Lady Mrs. Hendrickson, swears up and down that she sees zombies. That they are out there ready to chow down on our brains.

Dwight's seven year old son Jimmy believes her. Why wouldn't he? SHe's an adult!

Dwight explains to his son that she's just an old woman who doesn't understand.

But there are zombies out there.

In this modern zombie tale we take a look at how a person can change from being full of life to becoming a walking corpse.

An awesome short story that kept me very interested in what would happen next.


Does Laura Like Elephants?
-Steve Pirie
A tragic story about a motionless woman living a wheelchair. The world around Laura keeps going forward while she tries to remember if she likes elephants. Left in a state where she can not function her 'so-called' friends only choose to ignore her.

I found this story to be a bit confusing. It was like watching one of those indie movies that is just about REAL LIFE. The kind that really don't have a point.

While there were some interesting parts in this story, I have to admit that it didn't thrill me. Nor was there much suspense. But don't take my word for it, I can't sit through movies like that so that's probably why the story was difficult.


39 Days
Robert J. Duperre

Remember that movie, "Waterworld"?

Remember how everyone said it was lame?

I'm one of the few that enjoyed that movie.

But what happened before the world became nothing but ocean? We're about to find out.

Tommy and Angella are trapped on their apartment building. Acid rain falls from the sky, the ocean is rising, and an asteroid has fallen to the ground. It's not good.

Food is gone, the water is poison, and there's no where to sleep but outside.

The world has become a living nightmare.

I definately felt that this story was intersting. There was a modern hurricane/tsunami feel to it. I did think at one point that maybe the moon was falling and that was cause for the ocean rising, but the asteroid was a nice touch. I also enjoyed the lesions on Angella's skin from the acid rain but I was really hoping she would become a leppar.

The ending was definately very clever and this would have made a great "TWILIGHT ZONE" episode.


The Candle Eaters
-K. Allen Wood

Halloween night and Katie is ready for a bit of normalcy. Her Dad died of diabetes not too long ago, sending her mom into a deep depression, and Katie just wants to be a 17 year old kid for the night. No harm in that.

She heads over to Matt's house who is dressed up like a punk-rock werewolf. She made a joke about Team Jacob sending him in a "Don't GO there" comment.

Off they go to fill up their goody bags when all of the sudden they see this freaky kid glowing like a jack-o-latern. What the heck is that?

Then it speaks in Katie's head! Oh snap!

Matt thinks that Katie is just pranking him but Katie knows there is more going on than meets the eye.

I had a hard time following this story. I liked that it centered around Halloween, and I'm sure it would be a great ghost story, but I just wasn't smart enough to keep up. Katie kept me wondering with all the things she 'figured' out and all the things she 'didn't know'.

I understood the ending but was lost throughout the middle. Maybe if I read it again I could enjoy it more.


Black Mary
-Mercedes M. Yardley

Mary isn't allowed to chop wood.
Or own a pair of shoes that fit.
Mary isn't allowed to do a lot of things.
Mary was abducted.
He took her
A long time ago.
Mary wants to escape.
Black Mary tells her she can.
Black Mary tells her a lot of things.

This story was most awesome. A glimpse into the life of an abducted child that in a way reminded me of "Living Dead Girl" but with an even more awesome twist.


Exhibit C
-David McAfee

Was that a rat? Of course it was!

An emotionally scarred and possibly criminally insane serial killer finds his ex-wife and tells her just what he's going to do to her in this very original and unique tale of a lover scorned.

Talking into a camera you only hear his side of the story while his gagged ex endures Merle the rat nibbling on her ear, toe, and possibly more.

Truely horrific, modern, and creative. Loved every page.


-Joel Arnold

Tab and his teenage son Carl lived in the big city until Carl started acting out. Trying to join a gang, getting drug home by the police, acting like everyone else was doing it. Tab decided it was time for a change. They moved to the country to live in a cabin. In a small town where there isn't much going on. Not much you can get into if there aren't any distractions.

They live on the river. Sometimes they fish. One day they found a canoe. Carl wants to keep it but Tab says someone is probably looking for it. They push it back into the water.

Not long after that the canoe shows back up. Again, Carl wants to keep it. Tab gives in and says they'll see if anyone claims it. Carl want to go for a ride in it. Tab isn't fond of boats but his son doesn't know that. Carl gets in and paddles. Tab just waits.

Carl goes canoeing every day. Tab thinks this has to be good for him. Being outside. Away from video games and junk food. What's not good about being outside?

That is until he realizes that's all Carl does.

I really liked this story. It reminded me of one of those old ougia board ghost stories I used to hear when I was kid. Extremely clever it never lost my interest and this would (in my opinion) make a fantastic movie.


-Benjamin X. Wretlind

Norahc is to wake Bruce up to take over his post. Bruce is a killer but Company feels he is a good choice to give Norahc a much needed rest. In space between planets, Norahc busses people from there to Destination.

Norahc shows Bruce the ropes. It's pretty easy. Push a button. Open the doors.

The people sleep in tubes (kind of like Demolition Man) until they have arrived. It might not be the destination they are expecting but it's where they are destined to go.

This story was great! It definitely has a Star Trek vibe to it and from reading the author's mini-biography I can see why. If you are a fan of Sci-fi or Ray Bradbury then this is a story for you. I was right when I guessed the ending but it was still amazing. This totally would have made a great "Twilight Zone" or "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episode.


-Dawn McCullough-White

Jules is on a mission. As an assassin he has a job to do. Tonight's job is to kill the jailer. But it's not going to be easy as it sounds. There is a rough road ahead as he delivers the body to it's destination.

This is a bit too much of a historic piece for my taste. I do believe more of a male audience would dig this because it is very straight to the point and very very full of action. Another thing is that I believe this would be a most awesome video game that I could definitely see my son playing.


-David Dalglish

Jake's knee blew out a long time ago. He's been living in pain until one day it was just gone. That's odd. But it wasn't just him. It's a worldwide event. Everyone from arthritic patients to cancer victims seem to be getting better. But how? Is it God? Aliens? Is the Rapture around the corner?

I really really enjoyed this story. I was reminded a bit of HOUSE when his leg got better for a couple episodes but the ending is what is truly phenomenal. Totally worthwhile and is one of my favorites in this series of short stories. The author hit the emotional mentality of disabled person dead on. And I really enjoyed all the tv snippets and the SSI letter. That was indeed clever.


-Robert J. Duperre

Once I read the word -howling- I automatically assumed that this story would be about werewolves. Well, kids, let that be a lesson to me not to judge a story by it's howls. Also, if I would have paid attention to the picture before this story then I would have probably not assumed such a thing. But you know me and my one track mind.

Abigail lives on her own at a farm. Not just any farm. This farm has mutated cows with extra legs and tails. I'm not sure if she is on earth. It's possible. She survived the 'Sickness' but did it wipe out the planet? Either way, she hears howls at night. They surround her farm and frighten her.

The local store clerk tells her that nobody has lived or stuck around to really explain quite what the howlers are. But Abigail is about to find out.

I really enjoyed this bit of sci-fi. I think it would be great to have more pictures attached. And I definitely didn't expect the ending. That always makes a story good if I can't figure it out.


-Robert J. Duperre

It finally happened. The supervolcano that is Yellowstone has erupted. No one was ready. Well, not many. Guido was.

He built a bomb shelter and stocked it full of food and other amenities before the explosion. He prepared for everything. Except for Alyssa.

This story should have been longer! It has such a great plot that I hungered for more and screamed "DAMN IT! That's how he's going to end it?!! NOES!"

I am now threatening the author to write me more of this or I will have to do something like moon people at Wal-mart. Now, we don't want that now do we? Of course not? Why should those innocent people see my naked rump when they did nothing wrong?

Get to writing, ROB!! Save the world from that dastardly sight!

As I was saying, "The One that Matters" was excellent. I think it now has become my favorite in this whole book. This is the story that is the cover of the book. And it's brilliant! Even though it reminded me a bit of "THE ROAD" in some ways, it was so super awesome because it was like following a different family.

Totally an awesome story of isolation and horror. I loved every word.

1 comment:

  1. Wow...awesome review and it sounds like most of the tales were good..of course you had me at zombies.