The Shack of Old Jack (The Skull's Grin #1) by C.M. Allen
Skulls smile in the most unusual ways. And this short story finds all kinds of smiles... Deep in the hot and humid atmosphere of a Louisiana swamp, near a bayou of stagnant evil and lurking gators, and far from any road or path that's safe to walk at night, there stands a Shack. A Shack of unimaginable power. She is a silent presence: four walls and a sloped roof, a wood porch, and bone decorations hanging from her rafters, yet she draws all in with sheer force of will. The song of the Shack brings the worst of people to her glade. the Sat beside the shack is a man named Sam, a storyteller and lonesome soul that finds comfort in the flames that he stokes and the skull that sits beside him on a log. A skull called Jack. Yet loneliness is not for Sam forever, for another man wanders into his midst, following the song of the Shack. As he sits down to drink with Sam, the man begins his tales. And when Sam tells his tales, the Shack becomes hungry. And Jack thirsts for blood. This short story is written in an unusual style, placing all of the tale's trust in Sam's good hands. The Shack of Old Jack travels roads never seen before, rewriting horror into the creeping dread of human frailties and joining philosophy, blood, psychological fear, and the disturbing nature of an eternal skull in one tightly woven short story.
"The Shack of Old Jack" is my first taste of Charles's cooking, and OMG, it's so tasty!!. It's like a Sunday roast with all the trimmings and loads of gravy. Delicious!!.
It's a slow-burner horror tale about human behaviour and how you go through life; if you are good/kind and generous good things will come to you.
If you are hateful/abusive and evil, then my friend, you are destined to burn in hell and suffer for all eternity.
Although it's short, it deserves a second read, maybe three, because it's a story with so many layers that you need time to peel every single one.
The writing is witty, with touches of humour and a good splash of horror. I can't wait to savour more in the future.
About C. M. Allen
This is not going to be pleasant. You've chosen to read this, and I can only apologise for your evidently poor choice. You have been warned. It's a bit self-indulgent, so I will switch tot eh third-person to save face...
A summary is always an odd beast. It must capture the spirit of somebody without indulgence, intrigue without rambling, present an acceptable façade without revealing the picture's whole. Unfortunately, summaries can also tend towards sycophantic rants, and in this, Charles will most likely tread that fine line and objective truth and subjective nonsense. Charles is him, a man, a married man with three children and a house, a dog, a car, a job, many passions, a peculiar fascination with the human psyche and how it seeks to operate and undo itself, and a hobby for creative writing that evolved and spun out of control, evolutions within revolutions.
Charles enjoys finding simplicity within complexity, yet he is intrigued by the chaos in structure. Charles is someone that sees the normality within paranormality, the details within the vastness, and the enormity of the microscopic. Charles is not what one might call 'typical' or 'average', and perhaps, in this, there is a nugget of interest, a speck of personality cut from his own cloth, honed by his own hand, self-taught in many respects yet wholly dependent on the educations provided by others.
Charles is just the right amount of egotistically self-aware. Charles is keenly interested by the facets of the mind linked to emotive reasoning, finding everything homo sapiens do balanced and guided by how they feel. Every action they perform, everything they say, everything they think...secretly guided by the limbic systems in their brain squelches. Humans are not solely logical beings, and in accepting, hey emotive resonances, they begin to understand who they are as people, not just humans. And they, as people, however small they are as a microcosm in the face of an almighty, expanding universe, can only strive to find a reason against the overwhelming vastness of eternity.
Reason is purpose, and purpose makes everyone feel better. And so, to summarise: Charles is simply he, a dedicated and loving father and husband, responsible dog, house and car owner, and cultivator of the very small fragments of the mind humans do not necessarily concern themselves with. All great things start from the smallest of ideas. I did warn you. Wasn't that just a completely unnecessary word salad of nonsensical farce? Shared with Public