First published back in November of 2012, British horror author G.R . Yeates’ short flash fiction collection ‘Night Residue’ was another ebook only release aiming to set an eerie and nightmarish atmosphere through hauntingly surreal horror fiction - of which the young author had already established an early presence.

DLS Synopsis:
‘Loess’ In a room of timber walls and a hard-packed clay floor, he enters the room, and begins to dig his hands through the floor – creating strange figures from the clay scavenged from the ground.  Figures that come to life and form three separate tribes.  Three separate groups of blind worshipers.  And their existence is in waiting for their god to return…

‘The Dolls In The Window’She had grown up in the house directly across the street from the shop on the corner.  The shop that she had always known as abandoned.  The shop with the boarded-up windows and empty darkness inside.  Empty other than for the mannequins which she could just about make out through the grime-covered windows.  The dolls that would later draw her back to the shop and the house opposite.  The house she would she would once again return to and dream of dancing with her doll-like partners…

‘The Church In The Trees’
Down the fog-ridden and overgrown pathway, through the neglected cemetery, he now found himself standing before the old church that had been hidden away amongst the trees and overgrowth.  And in front of the open doorway, the strange and silent clergyman beacons him into the shadowy confines of the old church where the writhing forms of the congregation are waiting to hear the words of their sermon spoken to them.  Words that he will learn will last an eternity…

‘There Was A Hole Here, It’s Gone Now’
He remembers when he first came to the house as a wandering nomad.  And as he approached the porch, reaching out to knock on the door, he recalls a withered face with gaping black pits for eyes was there in the gloom before him.  A face that saw through him.  A face that saw into him.  A face that he would become…

‘Rotten’ It had been a long time since he’d been to the pier.  And now that he’d come back to the old seaside town, he found it deserted, abandoned and desolate.  He’d come to get away from the world – and now he was here, the world seemed a long way from him.  But as he approaches the old pier he sees a child’s hand behind a grime-covered window.  A child that he realises must be trapped in the abandoned old buildings.  A glimpse of a child that draws him into the abandoned building, and into the rot…

‘…And These Pale Pictures Still Flicker Softly In The Abandoned Cinema’ She cowered under the dilapidated cover of the old abandoned cinema as the rain poured down from above.  And as she stood there waiting, a strange thump-bump-crash could be heard coming from inside.  A repetitive sound that draws her into the deteriorating old building and into the main auditorium where fluid shapes can be seen writhing around on the huge cinema screen…

‘Talking To God’Down a narrow alleyway in the bohemian districts of Paris she finds a small theatre that was hidden away from any possible custom it could surely have.  And as she enters the building, drawn into its secretive charm, she witnesses strange long-limbed dancers performing the tragic ballet - Thamar.  And a man with his back to her, endlessly keeping time with his middle-finger on the palm of his hand.  Endlessly keeping time….

BONUS STORIES:
‘Ghost Of The Demeter’ - Upon the broken tombstone she could see a dead blackbird rotting away on the cold stone surface.  And as she gazed into the gaping visceral mess of the insect infested carcass, she glimpsed the dead ship riding the waves of the nightmare storm.  A vision that would swallow her up with the writhing blackness inside.  And within the swirling black mess, Renfield could be seen waiting for her on board The Demeter…

‘View Of A Desolate Landscape’ - Each day he walked past the gallery-cum-shop on his route home from work, and wallowed in the depressive bleakness of the artwork on show.  Paintings and pictures that truly encapsulated the very essence of the inner-city misery.  Images that were more a reflection of each and every one of their souls, than anything else.  However one painting in particular reached out at him from the many.  One bleak and desolate landscape that seemed to perfectly mirror his own inner and outer existence.  One painting that he had to own, and that may very well one day own him…

‘The Tell-Tale Eye’It was late at night, whilst returning to the hostel where he currently lived, that he catches a glimpse of what appeared to be a black and starring eye looking back at him from a damaged old building window.  An image that would haunt him afterwards, and draw him back to the building, back to the window and back to the dark abyss that lurks behind…

DLS Review:
Yeates starts out with his short collection of nightmarish flash-fiction with the line “Amongst the dreams are these…” which within just five words, introduces the stories and overall binding concept of the collection.  Indeed, the idea behind the collection involves the lingering residue that remains after waking from a nightmare.  Strange and eerie settings with little to no decipherable meaning.  Often with strong symbolic elements that suggest something of meaning behind the lurking-dark madness – very much like with David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead’ (1977).  And in his seven shorts (along with the three bonus stories), the very essence of this idea is undoubtedly achieved.

The first short in the collection – ‘Loess’ - is a strange and unnerving read.  From the very first couple of sentences, the short shows an increasingly ritualistic side to it; almost voodoo-like in its weird premise.  There’s no real goal, nothing for the reader to latch on to, other than to simply follow the progression of these strange clay creations as they are born from the dirt and then await their fate from their mysterious creator.

Equally unsettling and surreal (which it must be said is the constant theme throughout the short collection) is the much more tranquil story of ‘The Dolls In The Window’.  Here the sad and downcast story floats around in a dreamlike fashion; seemingly longing for romance, whilst it quietly builds upon the subtleties of the haunted-shop premise.

‘The Church In The Trees’ is perhaps the story that is most akin to that of an actual nightmare.  It’s surreal and isolated setting provides the perfect backdrop for the Algernon Blackwood-esque story developing on towards a slightly Lovecraftian ending.  It builds on from its weird and creepy setting within a matter of just a few pages, until it’s ripe for hitting the reader with the final horror of the piece.  Surreal and horrific – the stuff of real nightmares.

‘There Was A Hole Here, It’s Gone Now’ reads like something Ambrose Bierce or indeed Algernon Blackwood could have penned together.  It’s strange and not-altogether-easy-to-follow decent into a nightmare sequence leaves a lasting impression of a horror that crept up on you without you being altogether aware of its presence.  Probably the weakest story of the selection, it nevertheless holds a chilling charm to its dreamlike delivery which is certainly difficult to get rid of afterwards.

‘Rotten’ like with ‘…And These Pale Pictures Still Flicker Softly In The Abandoned Cinema’ read like something akin to a condensed story from Clive Barker’s ‘Books Of Blood’ (1984-85).  The abandoned and decaying settings utilised in both shorts are portrayed to absolute perfection – sending a chill down the spine of the reader, even before the lurking horror that undoubtedly lies within is unveiled.

And finally, ‘Talking To God’ is another such short tale that owes much to Clive Barker’s ‘Books Of Blood’ (1984-85).  The culmination of an out-of-the-way setting combined with a corrupted theatrical element makes for probably the most Barker-esque piece of the collection.  And it has to be said that it works perfectly.  Think horror, think nightmares, think weeeeird.

As a collection (minus the three additional bonus stories) ‘Night Residue’ maintains the tight theme of lingering nightmarish elements which successfully binds all seven stories.  Together the utterly surreal miniature tales paint decidedly warped and twisted pictures; bubbling with symbolism that never quite reveals itself.  And it’s with this clever ploy that Yeates has truly achieved his goal.  The shorts do feel like they are the after-effects of nightmares.  The lingering memories of strange and unnerving events without any decipherable meaning.

The first of the bonus stories ‘Ghost Of The Demeter’ is an odd nightmare vision - itself seen from within a nightmare vision.  From within the mess of the dead blackbird - I can’t help but think of the Satyricon track ‘Black Crow On A Tombstone
(2008) – we are given the swirling vision of a nightmare sea like something skin to the ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ (2003) films.

The next short story - ‘View Of A Desolate Landscape’ (2012) – was originally published as free flash fiction back in June of 2012 on the ‘This Is Horror’ website.  Very possibly the most accomplished of the pieces of fiction in the collection, the story is an absolute triumph of atmospheric mood setting.

Finally, ‘The Tell-Tale Eye’ is a weirdly Lovecraftian style story that has strong similarities to aspects of both ‘The Thing Behind The Door’ (2012) and ‘This Darkness Mine’ (2012).  Indeed, the story reads as if it is a visual representation of Nietsche’s classic quote “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you”, with a concrete-jungle angle that feels perfectly in tune with the gradually decaying soul of the entire collection.

The short collection runs for a total of 37 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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