First published back in June of 1985, Richard Laymon’s short tale ‘The Lonely One’ 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 Books.

The story was later published within the ‘Descendants of Eve’ (1989) Fastback Anthology.

DLS Synopsis:
Doreen had gone to the Santa Monica pier fair alone. These days she did everything alone. She had no choice. Those who had tried to get close to her invariably ended up dead.

She wished it wasn’t this way, but Doreen had accepted her fate. She was forever destined to be lonely.

However, as she mounted the merry-go-round, a handsome, sandy-haired young man started talking to her. Despite Dorren’s best efforts to put him off, he wouldn’t give up. She looked lonely and he didn’t want her to stay that way.

He introduced himself as Ron. And eventually, despite her repeated warnings, his persistence paid off. Dorren let him walk with her, buy cotton candy together, and he promised to try his best at winning her a stuffed cuddly bear.

Although Doreen didn’t plan on hanging around for long. She knew she was bad news. That every minute Ron was with her, his life was in danger. It’s how it’s always been for Doreen. She was a walking curse…

DLS Review:
Here we have a classic Laymon style short story. A quick-fire tale involving a couple of key characters whose interaction with each other forms the thrust of the story. First off you have Doreen. A young woman who Laymon immediately paints as vulnerable, lonely, and downright miserable. Someone who has thrown in the towel with life and accepted her lot.

This is of course due to the curse she says she’s been inflicted with. Anyone who spends any time with her ends up dead. Laymon purposefully leaves it there…lingering in the air.

Of course, this Ron fella doesn’t believe any of it. He’s adamant it’s all in her head and down to a series of unfortunate coincidences. That, however, would make for a somewhat dull story, so we all know there’s going to be more to it than that.

Of course, there is…and  when Laymon starts to reveal the dramatic twist-ending, he does so in a handful of pages which deliver an almost unrelenting assault of fast-paced action and horror. This action-rich finale is absolute textbook Laymon, bringing the tale to a swift and wonderfully entertaining conclusion.

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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