First published back in June of 1985, Richard Laymon’s short story ‘Night Ride’ was released as a stand-alone story for the ‘Fastback’ series.  The Fastback series were designed to encourage reluctant-readers to take up reading, keeping the stories short, sharp and exciting.  ‘Night Ride’ fulfilled these criteria perfectly.

DLS Synopsis:
It was the first Friday night of the month and Phil Archer was once again waiting for the bus that would inevitably be late again.  Also waiting at the stop was a young blond haired girl.  Looking at his wristwatch Phil decides to break the silence with some idle chitchat.  It doesn’t take much before the young girl, Wendy, is chatting happily away with Phil.  But when the night bus eventually arrives, the pleasant atmosphere is instantly shattered by a rude and aggressive bus driver with one hell of a chip on his shoulder.  However the bus ride up the winding mountain side is about to turn into a journey that nightmares are made of…

DLS Review:
Out of the Fastbacks from Richard Laymon, this is undoubtedly one of the better ones.  The scene’s quickly set, the two main characters of the short tale (Phil and Wendy) are established within the first couple of pages, and from that moment on it’s just a speedy escalation in snow-balling tension and nail-biting horror.

Indeed, as soon as the bus turns up and we’re given our first introduction to the psychotic bus driver, the whole atmosphere instantly shifts to one of smothering unease.  And of course Laymon gets straight in with painting the picture of a complete nutjob who’s got more attitude than a tightly-wound Rottweiler.

The escalating pace and heart-in-mouth suspense that’s achieved in such a short page count is undoubtedly a testament to Laymon’s writing ability.   Within the space of a couple of minutes (quite literally) you’re on the edge of your seat and completely gripped by this speeding terror.

The story ends with a heart-attack-inducing jolt before signing off in classic Laymon style.  For its page count and the relative limitations set down by the scope of a Fastback – it’s quite simply an excellent piece of fast-paced horror to get the pulse racing at a mile-a-minute.

The Fastback runs for a total of 27 pages (which are just 4” x 5.5” with an average word count of around 100 words per page).

© DLS Reviews

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