Diabolical Plots #57, November 2019
“Consider the Monsters” by Beth Cato
Reviewed by Alex Granados
“Consider the Monsters” by Beth Cato is a strangely sweet story about a child tryng to save the lives of all the monsters in her life. You know, the closet monster, the monster that lives in the trash bag on the lawn, the gargoyles down the street: All the mysterious creatures we believe lurk around every corner when we’re young. The story mixes that childhood believe in the reality of fantasy with that innocent love and care that children sometimes exhibit. In this case, a disaster is heading Jakayla’s way, and her town is in the middle of the “red zone.” She doesn’t know exactly what that means, but she and her family are going to wait it out in the basement. But she wants to make sure all the monsters she knows have a safe place to ride out the disaster, too. So she’s running around trying to warn them about the impending crisis and invite them to join her family in the basement. It’s a sweet story, though short, and brings up memories of how I used to think about the world when I was a kid.
“The Train to Wednesday” by Steven Fischer is a decent time-travel story about regret and the passage of time, but it has some logical inconsistencies that made it a bit of a tougher read for me. It’s an intriguing story, set more or less in our world, except there is a train system that can jump people into the future. In this case, the main character Charlie is trying to take a train to Wednesday, the day of his father’s funeral. He wants to skip all the mourning in between and go straight to the main event. But the train’s not on time and Charlie has to help get things moving again with results that are a bit more sweet than I would have liked. The bigger problem with the story, however, is that the time-traveling premise seems to be one that the main character is very familiar with, and yet there are moments in the story when he seems to have no clue how it works at all. That posed a problem for me as I was trying to figure out whether time travel was novel or commonplace in this reality, and sometimes the story seemed to be trying to have it both ways.