Komedia’s place as one of Brighton’s most interesting and varied venues is reinforced at the Halloween special of long-running fiction event ‘Short Fuse’. The audience was presented with a variety of short horror stories from some of Brighton’s best writing talent, which ranged from the sinister to the downright surreal.

The first offering of the evening is a tale of a young daughter, stowed away in a suitcase and then lost on the London Underground. The story quickly moves from merely strange to completely dreamlike, when the protagonists are surfing atop a stream of ball-bearings through the underground tunnels. Darkly funny and utterly surreal, it is lent character by the author’s serious reading style.

Next, the talented Tara Gould’s ‘Sirens’ is imaginative and witty, with an engaging narrator and a lively reading peppered with regional accents. Her inventive metaphors and rich imagery make her story vivid and real. More comedic than frightening, the humorous and at times poignant narrative holds the audience’s attention entirely.

Of the following four stories, Nathaniel Matthew’s ambiguous story of death watch beetles with a sinister, slightly omniscient exterminator is by far the best. The narrative of the mysterious central character- whose shady past is revealed only in teasing fragments- is compelling and descriptive. Enough hints to the increasing heat of his surroundings are dropped to plant the seeds of an idea into the audience’s heads, but it is left up to the imagination to decide whether the narrator is, indeed, in ‘hell.’

Komedia’s evening showcased an excellent range of horror stories and demonstrated how much life there is still to be found in a genre which is so often lacking in originality. Neither too pretentious for anyone not doing a literature degree, nor so artless as to bore those who are, Short Fuse is perfect for anybody interested in hearing some of the best new short fiction around.

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