[For the previous countdown post, click here.]
14. “Treats” (1990)
Here’s a piece that’s short and anything but sweet. It’s also another Partridge effort that builds suspense through narrative uncertainty (the reader can’t quite grasp the situation at first). At the start of the story, why is Maddie dreading her son Jimmy’s preparation for “Operation Trojan Horse”? Why does she scream a warning to children at a supermarket on Halloween, “Eat your candy! Eat it now! Don’t let them come after it!”? The subsequent explanations are surely unnerving; Jimmy is an Evil Little Kid to rival Anthony in “It’s a Good Life,” and his invasive army (which exerts control over its alleged General) forms the ultimate holiday nightmare. This fiendish twist on the candy-tampering motif makes Maddie’s skin crawl within the story, and mine follows suit every time I treat myself to a read.