James has been having recurring dreams involving six-eyed monsters and his death. These freak him out. He doesn’t know why. Dreams can’t kill, and six-eyed monsters don’t exist. He attributes the nightmares and their effect on him to childhood memories of bullies beating him nearly to death.
He tells himself he needs to see a shrink. He wishes he had someone to talk to and reflects on the recent losses his short fuse has caused him. The kid upstairs likes to practice his electric guitar at full volume. James protested the other day by banging a broom against the ceiling. Now there’s a hole in the ceiling.
“It hit him that,” the reader is told, “at thirty-three, he’d become the crabby old man he used to loath[e] when he was younger.”
(Been there, brother. Yeah, and get off my lawn, you goddamn kids.) But James resolves to buy earplugs. It’s the adult thing to do.
And then he hears scratches in the ceiling. Oh, great. Now cockroaches are moving into the apartment.
James is a jerk. He didn’t deserve the beating he got when he was a kid. He probably deserved his dearly beloved leaving him and losing his job. Just the same, when the boom is lowered (you weren’t expecting a happy ending, now, were you?) the reader can’t help wondering what the poor sap did to deserve his fate.
Add to this that the ending is not a surprise, and this story is something of a disappointment. It gets the horror-story formula right, but there is, at least for me, nothing beyond that. This is not a bad story by any stretch. It’s just been told so many times before.
According to his author’s blub, K. N. George attended the Art Institute of Washington for Animation, but found his creative writing classes to be the most rewarding part of the experience. He lives in Northern Virginia, where he enjoys his hobbies of writing, reading, drawing, and drumming. He was an award-winning stage actor as a child.
The story can be read here.
Title: ”The Hole”
Author: K. N. George
First published: Theme of Absence, February 14, 2020