Johnny Worthen’s What Immortal Hand (Omnium Gatherum, October 2017) is one hell of a weird story. It’s the darkest horror I’ve read in a long time.
Michael Oswald stares into the Abyss. He’s already lost his wife, his home, his kids, and now he’s about to lose his job. He feels himself on a slippery slope sliding into nothingness. His self-destruction is nearly complete. He feels as if he has no past, no future. It’s as if time itself plays tricks on him. He loses hours, days, weeks, maybe even years.
He can’t remember his early childhood the way other people can. He can’t even remember half of what happened yesterday. To the world, Michael Oswald is a loser because he values none of the trappings of civilized society. Michael has always been different than others. He believes it’s because he was raised within the foster care system, a ward of the state. He’s had many names, a different last name each time he entered a new foster home, and he has no idea at all who he truly is, who his real parents are, or who raised him during those influential years from three to seven.
Who is he? Where is he? When is he?
What is he?
All his life, it seems, Michael has been aware that there is a caste system—a natural order—at work in the world, even in democratic America. There’s always been haves and have-nots. There’s always been thugs who prey on Travelers. Some people deserve to die and need to be killed as a public service. But, in the end, all living things must die.
If God gives you lemons, get another god. Everyone is born of a Mother, isn’t he or she? And isn’t everyone reborn again and again?
One hell of a weird story! Surreal and spellbinding. Johnny Worthen’s What Immortal Hand is the darkest tale I’ve read in a long time.