Thursday, February 19, 2009

"The Dead Kid" by Darrel Schweitzer

Author: Darrel Schweitzer
Title: “The Dead Kid”
Anthology: "The Living Dead" [Title Post]
Position: 8
Length: 12 pages

Author Info: Darrell Schweitzer is the author of the novels The Shattered Goddess and The Mask of the Sorcerer, as well as numerous short stories, which have been collected in Transients, Nightscapes, Refugees from an Imaginary Country, and Necromancies and Netherworlds. Well-known as an editor and critic, he co-edited the magazine Weird Tales for several years, and is currently co-editing anthologies with Martin H. Greenberg for DAW Books, such as The Secret History of Vampires.

Summary: The story develops in the summer of 1957, when two brothers David and Albert make a strange connection to a dead boy. It all begins with a dare and a trip to bad boy’s Luke Bradley’s fort in the outskirts of Rednor, Pennsylvania, where both boys see a dead boy in a box. After their first meeting the boys are changed and have a connection with the corpse and are later to liberate him and let him have a good time.

Favorite Snip: We carried the dead kid between us. We took him back across the golf course, under the bushes, to our special places. We showed him the secret signs. Then we took him into town. We showed him the storefronts, Wayne Toy Town where I bought models, where there were always neat displays of miniature battlefields or of monsters in the windows. We showed him where the pet store was and the ice cream store, and where you got comic books.
Albert sat down on the merry-go-round in the playground, holding the dead kid’s box securely beside him. I pushed them around slowly. Metal creaked.
We stood in front of our school for a while, and Albert and the dead kid were holding hands, but it seemed natural and right.

Analysis: “The Dead Kid” is one of the most bizarre short stories I have encountered so far and not much of a typical zombie tale. I think I can classify it as zombie tale for teens in love with horror with a moral. Aesop oughta be real proud. But if you do look for the background and reason, why Schweitzer wrote this story, it is to give closure to one killed boy in real life, who never had the chance to experience life or get a happy ending.

“The Dead Kid” is maybe a message meant for minors about peer pressure being a negative force in one’s development and how somewhere someone loves you for who you are. But in a twisted kind of way. Unlike other zombies this dead kid doesn’t seem from the flesh eating ones. Perhaps he is a vegan or I guess mad scientist zombies are flawed in that department and it with the two brothers have a great time together in the ending, which is even endearing.

The strongest trait in the story and the factor that turns into the most disturbing 12 pages to read in your life, is the yet again proved maxima: “Children are cruel.” Yes, kids are cuddly and laugh and are the sunshine in your life, but you don’t remember grade school and high school very fondly. Yes, kids from your childhood formed packs and stalked you ready to pounce and make you feel miserable. In “The Dead Kid” we revisit the dare devil dominative bully to see how a bunch of 12 year olds defile a walking body pretty much in the same fashion sunny days, a magnifying glass and insects make one great blast. As much as I never would want to admit that a modern kid these days can go as far, it is pretty plausible child violence to get out of hand.

1 comment:

Elora said...

Such an amazing and creepy short story, it was so well written and the way he describes the dead kid totally freaked me out! I loved it.

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