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  • Writer's pictureDouglas James Troxell

The Book of the Macabre

My latest short story, Epidemic, appears in the newly released collection of unsettling stories, The Book of the Macabre.

I always enjoy seeing my work in print. Most of my stories have appeared in e-zines, which is cool to be able to access the story whenever I feel the urge, but there is something about pulling a magazine off a shelf and seeing your story among the pages. Opportunities to appear in print magazines are dwindling by the day so I try to appreciate it when I sneak a story into a paper magazine.

I wish I was prouder of Epidemic, but it's a depressing piece (which is kind of the theme for the magazine focusing on the macabre and all). It's about a mother coming home during an epidemic and finding that her husband has taken their children into hiding out of fear she's infected. She must wait the three-day incubation period until her family returns. It's a literary piece that's heavy on mood and tension.

My inspiration for this story came about while my wife and I were playing through worst-case scenarios. Cindy is a night nurse so we were discussing what I would do if there was an epidemic at the hospital where she works. I thought about it and the answer was tough but pretty simple: I would take the kids and leave if I thought that was the best way to keep them safe. That's easy to say from the perspective of the parent taking the kids, but it would be much more difficult being on the other end of that scenario. So that's the position I put myself in for the story. There's nothing more terrifying for a parent than to be powerless to help your children or keep them safe. That's where the horror element comes into play in my story.

If you're interested in reading the story, check out the ordering information here.

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