I bought this last year when I visited Amazon.com to download Countdown: A Novella (review LJ || WP), and happened to notice this short story lurking around too. My brain said, “Hell, yeah!” and downloaded it immediately, and then I promptly forgot about both. Bad me.
Especially since this short story is so short. I could’ve read it in less than ten minutes if I’d just sat down and read “Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box” when I’d downloaded it. It’s barely 4000 words, and Grant’s style, for those of you familiar with, is straight forward and to the point. A fast, quick, and entertaining read.
“Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box” is not part of the Newsflesh universe. But it is that nice blend of horror/science fiction that comes from Grant’s obsession with virology. The set-up is simple: a group of friends have been meeting once a week since high school (they’re now well into adulthood) and played the Apocalypse Game, in which a designated player would come up with an apocalypse scenario and the rest of the players would poke holes in it, trying to figure out how it would work and how it would be solved. Neat premise, and of course, in the story, this is the one time their game doesn’t go as planned.
If I had any complaint about the story itself, I do wish we could’ve seen a normal version of the game before seeing this one, just to see the characters in action. Because this Game isn’t normal, and as such, the small cast isn’t acting like they normally would. Still though, it’s fun to watch the dawning horror when you the reader are already a step ahead of them and have a good idea of what’s happening. I liked the ending too: it reminds me of those some old X-Files episodes, where after Mulder and Scully (and the viewers) thought a case was closed, the camera would show something quiet and haunting to make the viewer realize it wasn’t closed at all. In this story, you don’t get that case closed feeling. But you do get the haunted, quiet feeling that all of this is just the beginning.
It’s a fun story. My downloaded copy came with a preview to Feed, which I didn’t personally need, but if you haven’t read it yet, it might be fun. My only other complaint is the price tag: I wish this story was $0.99 instead of a $1.99. It’s not that I believe in getting something for nothing either. The novella, Countdown was $2.99 for nearly 20K words. That makes all the sense in the world to me. This story, however is far shorter at 4K, and tacking on a preview to Feed at the end isn’t enough to justify the extra dollar in my mind.
That being said, I don’t regret what I paid for the story. It’s fun, I enjoyed it, and if you’re a fan of Grant, you’ll enjoy it too.