First published back in June of 1985, Richard Laymon’s short story ‘The Caller’ 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.  ‘The Caller’ fulfilled these criteria perfectly.

DLS Synopsis:
Cora had only just moved into her brand new apartment when the phone started to ring.  At first she just stared at it in confusion, not sure what to do.  Cora had only just had the phone line connected and she’d not yet had chance to give out her new number.  No one she knew had this number.  Not even Frank.  So why was the phone ringing?

Apprehensively Cora answered the phone expecting it to be a wrong number.  What she got was far worse…

DLS Review:
Crank callers’ are more than just a nuisance – for some they can be very intimidating, dangerous even.  Laymon knows this and has used the idea of receiving a persistent crank caller to create this fast-paced, straight-to-the-point horror/thriller.

Cora is your typical 80s horror film hapless victim.  Laymon doesn’t bother investing in building up her character or providing any sort of backstory for her.  All we need to know is that she’s young(ish) and alone in her new apartment.  In a nutshell that’s everything we need.  The rest is all about the caller.  About his intentions, what he knows, and what he can see.

For the most part, the suspense-filled pages of the first two-thirds of the story are pretty much textbook 80s horror.  Crank caller torments the timid young female whose home alone and whose becoming increasingly concerned.  Escalation’s the absolute key here – and Laymon cranks up the tension perfectly.  Of course you’ll think you have the big “twist” sussed from the outset.  Arrogantly I did.  But I was wrong…and I bet you’ll be too.

That’s ultimately what makes the story work.  It’s deviation from predictability.  This ain’t a thriller.  It might seem like it at first, but this my friends, is horror!

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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