Epeolatry Book Review: Infected 2: Tales to Read Alone – Charity Anthology
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Title: Infected 2: Tales to Read Alone
Author: ed. Steve Dillon
Publisher: Things in the Well
Release Date: 17th April, 2020
Synopsis: Our second collection of terrifying tales set in the very near future… or perhaps it’s already here? It’s an infected apocalypse and we’re all (alone) in it together! 100% of proceeds will go the Save the Children Response. Features short stories by: F. Paul Wilson | John Palisano | Mark Towse | R.J. Meldrum | Rebecca Fraser | Tabby Stirling | Pochassi | Patrick J. Gallagher | Paul Alex Gray | Claire Fitzpatrick | Tom Prince | Louise Zedda-Sampson | Brianna Courtney Bullen | T.C. Phillips | Edward Ahern | Calvin Demmer | Chris Mason | Catherine McCarthy | Brian Bowyer | Eugene Johnson | Shaun Taylor | Noel Osualdini | Irene Punti | Gerri Leen | Tracy Fahey | Eric J. Guignard | Yash Seyedbagheri | Steve Dillon
Infected 2: Tales to Read Alone is an anthology of pandemic proportions. It’s a competitive collection with a focus on the fearful spread of contagion. The book is also a fundraiser for Save the Children’s Coronavirus Response, and I can assure donors that they will be treated to adventures of the mind with their generous contributions. There is something in these tales for every horror reader’s preference. Although the title is Tales to Read Alone, the lasting effect of the book is that we’re not alone in this unprecedented time of lockdown with no toilet paper.
The stories dare to explore possible outcomes like cannibalism, military control, and body scanners. “The Obscenity Carrier Pigeon” by Brianna Courtney Bullen suggested mandatory execution of Terms and Conditions in order to be released from quarantine. I’ve already had to put my name to a disclaimer acknowledging that masks will be worn by all who enter my place of employment. Who’s to say that more intrusive demands won’t happen?
I felt the helplessness and hopelessness and sometimes, the resolve to conquer the invisible antagonist. Intense migraine headaches, flesh-eating diseases, and maddening itchiness paved the road to insanity. Cloud contamination, deliberate infection of holy water – there were no boundaries in this anthology. The shock value wasn’t as powerful for me as it would have been during another time when I wasn’t smack in the middle of this incredible coronavirus crisis that’s begun to desensitize me.
There were a few stories that fell short of leaving an impact with me, but the majority were compelling, thought-provoking, and even educational. I was presented with the what-if of comets and tidal waves in “Numb” by John Palisano. Calvin Demmer took the phrase “seeing red” to another level in “Red.” The surgical procedure in “Head Womb” by Brian Bowyer fascinated me, partly because I’ve survived a decompressive craniotomy. I swear I heard the squishes and suctions during Dr. Singh’s operation.
I relished the historical aspect of “The Music from the Rue de l’Eglise” by Claire Fitzpatrick. There were other stories in the book meant to take place in a previous time period, but they missed the mark as far as creating setting, characters or dialogue that kept me there. “The Music from the Rue de l’Eglise” entrenched me in 1794 Paris.
“The Plague Doctor” by T. C. Phillips was one of my favorites in this collection. The main character, Doctor Sait accurately described the Apathy Virus, which reduced intense emotional reactions, as an enemy. Its threat manifested not in nuclear weapons, but in the house next door, and inside riders on the bus. The doctor found herself locked out of her own laboratory. Does she find a cure for the pestilence, or will she lose her ability to care?
My top pick in Infected 2 is “Lysing Toward Bethlehem” by F. Paul Wilson. The point of view was that of a contagion that the reader followed throughout a body. I had flashbacks of an exhibit I once toured called “The Human Body” that amazed me with all of the inner workings under the skin. Wilson’s words roared through the pages, swirling and tumbling inside the human structure.
As my bibliophilic journey of Infected 2 came to an end, unexpected and insightful poetry escorted me quietly out of its uncontrolled chaos. The authors spoke their minds about pandemic captivity and the dark places it took them. I bonded with the honesty in the poems, which helped tip the 4 rating into a 4.5.