“Gotcha!”, “Occultation”, and “The Bedroom Light”

Gotcha!

So:

You’re in bed with your significant other, someone you care for very much.

Scary?

Most likely not. But Ray Bradbury, Laird Barron, and Jeffrey Ford take this ordinary scenario and create something truly horrifying. These are three of the creepiest short stories I have ever read.

I don’t want to give too much away, but consider the following quotes:

From Ray Bradbury’s “Gotcha!”:

They were incredibly in love. They said it. They knew it. They lived it. When they weren’t staring at each other they were hugging. When they weren’t hugging they were kissing. When they weren’t kissing they were a dozen scrambled eggs in bed. When they were finished with the amazing omelet they went back to staring and making noises.

Later in the story:

And then… Something happened.

At breakfast about one year into the conniption fits Beth said, half under her breath: “Gotcha.” He looked up and said, “What?” “Gotcha,” she said. “A game. You never played Gotcha?”

Still later:

…and the face peering down at him so full of evil glee, so brimful of malevolence, so beyond this world and in another, so alien, so strange, so never seen before, that he had to shriek again…

From Laird Barron’s “Occultation”:

He was studying the shadow again. —You know, that thing does resemble an insect. Thought it had wings earlier, but I dunno. Can’t see shit in here. Wait a minute… It’s a water stain.

Later:

The night remained preternaturally quiet there on the edge of the highway, absent the burr of distant engines or blatting horns, or the stark sweep of rushing headlights. The world had descended into a primeval well while she’d been partying in their motel room; it had slipped backward and now the desert truly was an ancient and haunted place.

And from Jeffrey Ford’s “The Bedroom Light”:

They kissed and then lay quiet, both listening to the sound of the leaves blowing outside. She began to doze off, but before her eyes closed all the way, she said, “Who’s getting the light?”

“You,” said Bill.

“Come on,” she said. “I’ve got an early shift tomorrow.”

“Come on? I’ve gotten the damn light every night for the past two weeks.”

“That’s ’cause it’s your job,” she said.

“Fuck that,” he said but started to get up.

Just then the light went out.

I hope I’ve convinced you to read these three tales. You can find “Gotcha!” in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, “Occultation” in Occultation, and “The Bedroom Light” in The Drowned Life, by Ray Bradbury, Laird Barron, and Jeffrey Ford, respectively.

(Did I miss any other stories with this premise? Comment below!)

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