Wednesday, June 20, 2012

THE LAZARUS STONE, by Xircon

      The body they carried with them was starting to smell. The sickly-sweet, cloying stench of rotting meat wafted through the sun-baked air and the weaker-stomached members of their group covered their faces with scented scarves.

So opens The Lazarus Stone, a cool little novelette by Xircon, otherwise known as Author Suzi M. Now, let me digress for a moment or two.

Back when I was a kid, anthologies shows on television were extremely popular. Shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Boris Karloff's Thriller, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits, my personal favorites, often featured "teleplays" of novellas and short stories that had been published in a wide variety of popular magazines. (They also featured original scripts written by people like Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont.) Many of these stories ended with some sort of twist, usually ironic, sometimes humorous, sometimes shocking, more often than not quite unexpected. If these shows were still around today, especially Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, "Xircon's" grim little tale of The Lazarus Stone would be a perfect fit.

The Lazarus Stone is a post-Apocalyptic tale of a devastated world, a dying world. It's the story of a small group of soldiers,led by a nameless, and battle-hardened ex-soldier, and their quest to find the Lazarus Stone. Now, not wanting to give away what this stone and this story are all about, let me just say that the "clue" is in the artifact's name. The ex-soldier has a plan, a mission to save the world, if he can, though his men are unaware of what that plan might be; they are on a need-to-know basis. And the whole plan spins on finding the Lazarus Stone and the one man responsible for the disaster that has all but destroyed the earth. And that's all I'm going to tell you, because the final scene is one of those neat little twists worthy of a Thriller, The Outer Limits, or any of the other anthology shows. You'll just have to read this tale for yourself.

The prose is clean and stark, conjuring dark images of "a world gone strange . . . in the aftermath of disaster." The author has fashioned a taut and unique little drama etched in gloom and painted with the color of despair. And yet, there may be a glimmer of hope if the former soldier can survive to complete his mission.

I like this tale, I like the way Author Suzi M writes, and I'm sure you will, too. Check her out at www.SmilingGoth.com