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Fiction Vortex 2014 Horror Issue

Horror 2014 3rd Place: The Things We Carry

The Things We Carry by Amanda Crum is a personal and pervasive psychological horror. A dark character sketch of the lonely and numbed, the boy next door. — Johnny Worthen
By Amanda Crum

When the storm rolled through, Jason Krauss was still sitting in the ambulance, safe and dry. The bubble lights threw strobes of red and white across the passing landscape, illuminating the pines in brief flashes. Their shadows were still too deep for the lights to puncture, and so all he got was a momentary glimpse of branches before the night stole them away again.

He was out with Bobby tonight, his least favorite coworker. Brenda was his usual partner but she was out with the flu. Brenda was a nice older lady. She never made Jason uncomfortable, unlike Bobby, who told the most disgusting jokes about having sex with dead bodies. It was disrespectful, Jason felt, and unprofessional. He hadn’t gone to school for as long as he did and gone into debt to pay for it just to listen to an ignorant ass make off-color jokes about the dead. And they weren’t even funny. Somehow that was just as insulting. Jason had a great sense of humor and it really pissed him off when people thought they were funny but weren’t. Also — and Jason tried really hard to overlook this fact, since it was unkind to think such things — Bobby was really overweight and had body odor. Sometimes, when they were working closely together, Jason had to hold his breath to keep from gagging.

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