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The Winged Things – Caleb Casey

Meagan is holed up in a house with her neighbors, trapped as creatures scuttle across the roof, climb up the sides of the house, and scratch against the windows, peering in malevolently.  She had been watching a late-night movie, enduring the unseasonable heat, when a freak power outage brought her into the street with her neighbors.  They watched as a swarm of winged monsters descended on them, then ran to refuge in a nearby house.  The owner was snatched before their eyes, torn apart as they watched in horror.  Should they stay and wait?  Should they try to fight back?  Should they try to race for refuge in a nearby church?  Should they let in the stranger outside who is fighting off the creatures with a makeshift spear?

The Winged Things is a short story, and I wish it had gone on longer – maybe into a novella.  The creatures are horrifying on a visceral level, and even at the very end I wondered how things would eventually shake out.  It really felt like one of those hopeless, apocalyptic battles, where the body count is high and there is a good chance your hero will wind up bleeding out on the floor on the last page.  There are a lot of flashbacks in the beginning, and they were a bit much.  In a longer book, the author would have been able to spread these out, and keep the tension at that unbearable breaking point.  Still, a great premise, and a wonderful buildup of that gut-level fear a good horror brings.  An awesome, quick story for a moonless night, when summer’s heat gives way into autumn.  Four stars.

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