Countdown: The Top 31 Norman Partridge Works of Short Fiction–#16

[For the previous countdown post, click here.]


16. “The Pack” (1995)

Here at the pivot point of the countdown (fifteen previous entries, fifteen more to follow) is a story whose interpretation can be taken in opposite directions. Is the prisoner (arrested for eating the banker’s wife’s pet chihuahua raw) at a small-town jail an actual werewolf like he claims, or is this leather-jacketed, pentagram-tattooed kid just some hoodlum who has seen too many movies? The prisoner warns the sheriff that if he’s not liberated before tomorrow night’s full moon, his motorcycle-gang cohorts (also alleged to be a pack of shapeshifters) will spread slaughter throughout this California equivalent of Mayberry. The gnawed bones dug up in the cemetery (and then arranged to form the message “LET HIM GO”) point to unnatural appetites, but the ambiguity concerning lycanthropy is never resolved. Either way, “the Pack” entertains with its 50’s setting and sensibility. While the climactic showdown between the local law and outlaw bikers never occurs, there’s a witty battle of the sexes running throughout, and the gun-toting women of “The Pack” prove to be a whole other bunch of wild ones.


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