This was another short story from the Light brothers that was waiting patiently, percolating in my inbox since December, 2015.
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Welcome to Normal, America, where the most exciting things to occur are the inevitable argument with your siblings, or the nostalgia of Halloween; of going out with some friends, collecting candy, or–if you’re like Adam’s protagonist, Travis Raines– hazing the uninitiated. In Normal, America, the working-class is more than a mentality; blue collar is a way of life. In Normal, most things (barring situations beyond their control,) go as planned. Their clothes and demeanor match societal cues. Nothing defies those expectations.
”It was your hatred for them that fueled your creativity when you made me. I am born of your rage. You know that this is what you want.
And yet, nothing was as it seemed. The convincing veneer could not last. Eventually, something had to give. It had to shatter. And given the rise of mental illness, teenage angst, and physical, escalating violence splashed across the media daily, it’s no wonder the world didn’t break before then.
Normalcy no longer exists. Maybe it never did.
Trick ‘Em All was much darker and diabolical than I’d ever expected and, as the previous paragraphs should indicate, much more serious. It was more than mere horror. Adam had plenty to say, with almost more emphasis on theme than death and gore. Almost. Even more surprising and impressive was the amount of pathos and other emotions he was able to convey. I felt for Travis. My heart goes out to him. In the throes of the resolution, I physically felt his indecision; his fear and anxiety. He brought some of the acrimony of youth back.
He wished more than anything that he could trade places with one of those kids. He longed to know their innocence, for his was lost.
Aside from a few typos, character development (the reader never saw the fairly frequently mentioned twins,) and a simultaneously rip-roaring and slightly disappointing ending, that’s really the only constructive criticism I have to give.