Short Stories 366:299 — “The Creep,” by Michael S. Chong

This shudder-worthy story from Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories is a psychologically dark entry in the anthology, and definitely worthy of an October entry. It starts with what could be a moment of a man realizing he has a power and could use it for good, but the good he could do starts to shift by short steps, and, well. He has the ability to hold onto time for brief moments—to everyone else, it’s like he moves as a blur, if they see him at all—making the world stop and letting him move around and do as he wishes. He calls it his “creep.” This power starts smaller, taking a lot of effort, but as he practices, he gets better at it, being able to hold onto a moment for longer and longer.

And there’s a woman. A woman he knows is in a bad relationship. At first, he just watches, but when it becomes clear that the man she’s with isn’t going to leave her alone, and that she doesn’t have a way out herself (or the inclination to leave), he… deals with it. Then he realizes that she needs time to get over it, but there are other people who care about her and he doesn’t want them interfering, so… Well. It’s a downward spiral, and the woman has no idea who is the architect of so much going on in her life, and the whole thing is one-hundred-percent creep factor, allowing for the punny title.

One of the few tales in the collection to leave the reader in a hopeless sort of place, “The Creep” is wholly effective. You are definitely inside the mind of a really disturbed man who believes he’s doing a good thing, and the glimpses you get of the woman involved notch up the tension bit by bit. The final moment of the story left me with a shudder. This is the kind of “horror” I find the most effective as a reader: broken people doing things they think are right. It’s probably so effective because I can imagine it so easily, and then adding in a super power on top nudges just adds to the bleakness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s