Countdown: The Top 31 Norman Partridge Works of Short Fiction–#28

[For the previous countdown post, click here.]


28. “Red Rover, Red Rover” (2001)

Bill and Jason are a couple of Clue-loving adolescents who fancy themselves ace detectives and have staked out a lakeshore scene where the ghost of a drowned girl is rumored to appear. But their adventure grows unusually haunting when they witness a man toss into the lake a bag tied off with gift ribbon and containing a live dog (Red Rover of the title). Once confronted about his heinous act, the man proves a frightfully relentless stalker of Bill and Jason through the desolate lakeside. There’s a basic campfire-story quality to the tale (its orality is accentuated by the repetition of descriptive phrases), and Partridge trades on traditional ghostly lore here. What makes “Red Rover, Red Rover” so satisfying, though, is that the expected supernatural twist is given an additional turn of the screw in another unsettling direction.


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