Short Stories 366:300 — “The Fixation,” by Mark Morris

The second story in Hammer Chillers from Bafflegab, “The Fixation,” had exactly the right level of creep-factor for me. Mark Morris brings us a typical insular British family in a part of the city where things are maybe going a bit to pot, and especially a father who is just Fed Up with the trash people are leaving around everywhere. So, he organizes a couple of friends, and they set about trying to tidy up a bit. No biggie, right?

Wrong.

It’s starts out slow: a teen in a hoodie is rude to the fellow when he asks him not to dump stuff in his front yard. At their clean-up efforts, people stare. Then throw things. Then threaten. Someone sets fire to their van… And if it wasn’t for the sheer pig-headedness of the father of the family determined that no, he will not be bullied, they might have given up. The threats escalate further, they involve the police and…

Well.

As horror stories go, “litter” isn’t an in I’d ever considered before, but every time Morris twists the tension up a little further, I was definitely buying the whole “something really creepy is going on” vibe, and the escalation—and the ultimate reveals—were on point. It’s not a tied-up-with-a-ribbon ending, but rather a cumulation story that ends in a horror fashion without a whole lot of explanation, but the result is effective.

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