TRIAGE

 

 

 

A whacko walking into a workplace after first making a threatening phone call ("I'm gonna get you") serves as the premise for each of the three novellas in this grisly anthology. Fans of the late Richard Laymon will revel in his characteristic mix of horror and sadism in the title story, in which a shotgun-toting psycho wreaks havoc in a law office. A secretary named Sharon flees, gains help from a stranger and returns to the office, where she discovers a heap of bodies, the killer beneath. The killer pops out, shoots Sharon's rescuer, sexually assaults her and escapes the police but not her ultimate revenge. Just another day in the office. In Edward Lee's "In the Year of Our Lord: 2202," his heroine, also named Sharon, lives in a Christianized future world. When the threatening message comes, she reacts quickly enough to call in the securitechs, who blast the intruder away, along with the story, which abruptly shifts into another theme. After an explanation of how things got so religious, with outbursts of four-star profanity by the less godly characters and gobs of SF babble by the sardonic author, the plot plows along to a predictable ending. Jack Ketchum's "Sheep Meadow Story," the best and the shortest of the three contributions, opens with the by-now-familiar bloody scenario, but it proves to be the dream of a disgruntled editor paid to critique and encourage the work of talentless would-be authors. The story is a funny riff on literary ambition, while the inevitable gunplay surprises hero and reader alike.

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