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What Gets Left Behind by Mark West

In 1981, Gaffney was terrorised by the Rainy Day Abductor. Local girls went missing. And two boys made a terrifying discovery. Now one of them has come home, to try and lay the past to rest.

I read Mark West’s novelette, The Mill, last year and I was impressed by the author’s skill when it came to effectively conveying a sense of loss in his writing. What Gets Left Behind treads similar ground to The Mill, but rather than focusing on family this story is all about the bonds of friendship.

West is part of a small group of authors that I’ve come across who are particularly gifted when it comes to capturing the sights and sounds of childhood. Part of the narrative is set in the early 1980’s and West’s writing certainly raises a knowing smile when he describes the boredom of a rainy afternoon when you were stuck indoors during the summer holidays.

The other half of the tale plays out in the present day. The stories main protagonist, Mike Bergen, has spent many years trying to reconcile a horrific event from his childhood. He has purposefully stayed away from the town where he grew up. Circumstances draw him home and he is forced to confront what he has been running from for so long.

This story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I rather like the idea that the reader can draw his or her own conclusions from the events that occur. Mike may be experiencing a supernatural event, or may be finally facing up to a life wracked with guilt, either premise brings it’s own unique sense of horror.

Spectral Press was recently short-listed at the British Fantasy Society Awards. By continuing to produce short fiction of this quality I reckon it will only be a matter of time before they win. Check out Spectral’s website for details of this and other publications.

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