‘The Eleventh Day’ is a perfectly nasty little story, and one I urge you to track down immediately. I first read it just before Christmas, and it has festered at the back of my mind for half a year. I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely rid of it…
In terms of setup, it’s one of the more sparse that we’ve looked at in this series. Two people get stuck in a lift. That’s it. It does, however, what all good horror should do, in that it takes an awful situation, and makes you feel the reality of it right down to your marrow. This isn’t two people stuck in a lift. This is you stuck in a lift.
The horror is ratcheted up with expert precision. As days pass without help appearing, Fowler takes us on gut-wrenching journey through hope, disgust, and despair. All in the space of a few thousand words.
As well as a trip through a horrible situation, the story also contains meditations on loneliness, the isolations of urban living, and love. It ends with a moment that comes like a kick to the abdomen, and one I hadn’t anticipated at all. It will leave you drained, spent, probably not in the mood for any more short stories for a little while… Until you read it back, knowing what you do at the end.
‘The Eleventh Day’ is a terrible, awful, wicked story, but it is also a desperately romantic one. Along with the cynicism and weariness of the modern world is a hope, a belief in true love, and a wonder at humanity (although no faith in it). It’s a wonderful story, and another to add to my collection of ones I would love to adapt for In The Gloaming.
With his story ‘The Stretch’ being one of the highlights of the BFS Yearbook, Christopher Fowler has given us two great stories in the last year. ‘The Eleventh Day’ can be found in Black Static #14, a back issue that can be ordered from their website. Black Static is a great magazine: do consider taking out a subscription, the fiction is almost uniformly excellent (and the same is true of its sister science-fiction magazine, Interzone).
If you do buy issue #14, you’ll find the first-ever mention of In The Gloaming in print, as we got a namecheck in the ‘White Noise’ news section of the magazine.
(Christopher Fowler’s blog is also well-worth reading. Add it to your RSS feeds now…)