First published back in June of 1985, Richard Laymon’s short tale ‘Night Games’ was released as a stand-alone story for the Fearon Education ‘Fastback’ series.  The Fastback series were designed to encourage reluctant readers to take up reading, keeping the stories short, sharp and thrilling. This one was published as part of the Fastback ‘Horror’ series.

The story was later published within the ‘After Midnight’ (1989) Fastback Anthology.

DLS Synopsis:
Lyle had a game to play. He’d dared Janice to spend the night alone in the old Creekmoss house. If she stayed there until sunrise, he’d pay her five-hundred dollars. However, if she left any time before first light, then she got nothing.

Being a student, Janice knew she could really do with the money. Although the idea of spending the night in that old, abandoned house creeped the hell out of her. Since old man Creekmoss had died there some thirteen-years ago, the property had remained empty. Derelict and abandoned.

There was a reason why no one in their right mind wanted to live in the property. There were rumours of what caused the old man’s demise. Terrible, nightmarish stories. Something unnatural. Something horrific. Something that could still linger on there in that old building.

But surely, they were just rumours. There was nothing really to be afraid of, lurking within the old Creekmoss house. At least, Janice hoped so…

DLS Review:
Here we have a classic haunted house style plot with a somewhat cliched premise behind the storyline – a bet to stay the whole night in this abandoned old property, alone. It’s probably been done a million times in books as well as in real life. Pretty standard supernatural horror stuff!

In fact, the story bares a heck of a lot of similarities to the latter chapters of Laymon’s ‘Halloween Hunt’ (1986) Fastback. The two books aren’t actually connected, but jeez is the ending similar in many respects!

Furthermore, there’s also more than a passing resemblance to Laymon’s ‘Beast House’ series within the premise here. Almost a blueprint for the setting of the Beast House. Again, there’s no actual connection between the stories, other than what probably amounts to a sharing of ideas.

Anyway, the story doesn’t throw in many surprises for the reader. It kind of chugs along as you’d expect, a kind of paint-by-numbers horror story. That said, the character of Janice, does throw down a couple of clever little twists. But otherwise, it’s relatively run-of-the-mill haunted house horror shenanigans.

Nevertheless, it’s still an entertaining read. Laymon manages to build up some much-needed tension whilst Janice is huddled away in her sleeping bag, unable to sleep and listening to the thunder and rain outside.

The ending is enough to pull the story to a satisfying 80’s horror conclusion without it feeling detrimentally cheesy. Nothing spectacular, but good fun for a short read.

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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