[For the previous countdown post, click here.]
19. “10/31: Bloody Mary” (2013)
Serendipity would have landed this post-apocalyptic holiday story as the 31st’s countdown post, but today also seems an apropos slotting of a piece first published in October ’13. Within the narrative, the date 10/31 has the same tragic associations as 9/11, but references a whole other order of terrorizing: one fateful Halloween, for no known reason, the monsters of lore overrun the earth. The macabre marauders include witches, werewolves, mummies, gargoyles, bat-riding goblins, and zombies, but the sentient, sirening jack-o’-lanterns might be the most seasonally sinister of all. There’s a certain Dark Tower aura here, with the title character (who has a complicated relationship with the teenage boy she mentors) forming a female version of Stephen King’s itinerant gunslinger Roland Deschain. By Partridge’s own admission (in the Author Spotlight interview appended to “10/31”), he was testing out the premise with this story, and it’s clear that he has plenty more territory to explore in this strange, Halloween-eclipsed world. A novel-length development has been in the making for over a decade now, and promises to be the ultimate dark treat when it finally drops into readers’ begging hands.