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

DLS Synopsis:
Nora was getting tired.  She’d been driving along the dark rural roads for a while, on her way to her friend’s cabin that she had out in the veritable wilderness.  Nora was very conscious that she’d not seen another living soul for a while.  No petrol stations.  No roadside restaurants or motels.  Not even another vehicle.

And then she hit a tree branch that was lying spread across the road.  Grinding to a halt Nora realised she now had two punctures.  And she only had one spare.  With very few options left Nora decided the best course of action was to start walking.

Which is when she saw the lights of the cabin.  With any luck it would be her ticket to get help.  Although as she knocked on the cabin door she asked herself – why would anyone want to live all alone out her in the wilderness, so isolated from the rest of the world?  Nora would soon find out the answer…

DLS Review:
Like with so many of Laymon’s Fastback stories the tale starts off with a pretty standard, almost clichéd horror story setting.  We’ve got a lonesome lass who’s driving her car through an eerie wilderness.  Her car inevitably gets a puncture (two in fact) and then she’s stranded, with seemingly no one about to help – until she sees a cabin out in the woodlands.  Yeah, it’s all pretty textbook stuff so far.

But it’s where Laymon goes from here that makes the story an absolute beauty….for a quick-fire Fastback that is!  Even as young Nora’s knocking on the cabin door we know the occupant’s going to be bad news.  This is a horror story after all.  And quelle surprise, the fella that opens the door is a fucking nutjob of the highest proportions.

In fact the depth of the guy’s lunacy is the first thing that really gets your juices going.  He’s an artist who uses his victims as the models for his sadistic oil paintings.  Oh yes, you’re going to love it!  But Laymon doesn’t leave it at that.  Not by a long shot my friends.  You see, our artist friend hasn’t revealed his “masterpiece” yet.  And trust me, it’s a game changer.  You’ll not see this one coming.

It’s ‘Wrong Turn’ (2003) meets ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’ (1991) meets…ahem…H.P. Lovecraft!

The Fastback runs for a total of 26 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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