LIVING NIGHTMARES by Christopher Kai is a collection of five short stories, some of which were previously featured at AstraDaemon's Lair.
THE HEART COLLECTOR is a solid horror short filled with suspense and desperation. Janine is a waitress who gets creeped out during her work shift, but still stupidly walks down a dark alley after the bar closes, by herself. I expected a vampire, but Kai delivers something more terrifying.
THE PERUVIAN DOLL is a frightening piece of flash fiction. Bryan's friend is a cop, but nothing in his career could've prepared him for the horror he finds in Bryan's bedroom. The descriptions are grotesque and the action is surreal. In the end, a life-altering decision must be made. Not the doll story one might expect.
CRUEL MERCY is a heart-breaking short story. Kai creates a connection between reader and mother by reflecting on all the things she did in order to keep her son alive. One has to wonder if she really felt she made difficult decisions or if, in fact, she continually chose the easy way out of every bad situation.
A TASTE OF DEATH centers on a Roman general who would make Caligula look like a nice guy. The supernatural element added a surprising level of intensity. Once again, Kai fooled me with misdirection. I never know what kind of ending the author will deliver, but it's what I enjoy about his short stories.
FRESH MEAT is a horror story about a young man named Joseph, who takes an ill-fated road trip with his friends, Angela and Charles. Most of the story is told from Joseph's POV, until the very ending, which is revealed through a news clipping.
At first, I thought I was reading yet another story with a Wrong Turn theme, and I was very nearly disappointed with Kai, as I've come to expect more from his storytelling. However, the author delivered one hell of a surprise which left me floored. A great way to end this collection.
I think horror fans will enjoy all of the stories in this collection, especially the ones who don't have much free time for reading. Unfortunately, the author hasn't written anything new in a few years, but I'm hoping he will return the genre with more wicked creations.