Of course, I might be a bit biased since Doug wrote the tale for me when I was editing Campus Chills, an anthology of horror stories set on campuses across Canada.
Doug's story "Radio Nowhere" (yes, the title is borrowed from a Bruce Springsteen song) takes place at Doug's Alma Mater, University of Waterloo and is a very fine and moving tale.
Part science-fiction, part Twilight Zone, this story is a wonderful example of what good horror can be -- quiet, slightly disturbing and about true human foibles and frailties. The "horror" in the tale is more about the internal feelings of loss and despair, the tail-spin a person can find themselves in when unable to move on after the loss of a dear loved-one, and the depths a person might go to in order to reclaim that loved-one. (IE, the true horror in Stephen King's Pet Semetary wasn't the cat or child coming back after having been buried in the special "resurrecting" earth of an ancient Micmac burial ground, but in the decisions Louis Creed makes in the depths of his overwhelming loss and grief) The same thing is true in Doug's very fine and moving tale.
The story opens with the following text. Hopefully this teaser will make you want to read the full story.
"On the anniversary of the worst night of his life, Liam stood outside the darkened control room of the campus radio station. Over the speakers, the Tragically Hip's "Boots and Hearts" was just winding down. Behind the glass in the studio, Ziggy's small triangular face glowed like some night angel, lit from below by her laptop screen. She looked up, her eyes finding Liam's in the darkness. Smiling, she wrinkled her nose at him. His own smile slid away, falling into the dark place inside him, the place that was always darker on this night.
Ziggy turned back to the mike as the song ended. "I'm closing with a request from an old friend, to an old friend. This one's for Jackie, from Liam. A hurtin' song, cuz he's still hurtin'. Fifteen years ago tonight . . ." She looked at him through the glass.
Fifteen years. He closed his eyes. Fifteen years and it still hurt this much."
- Excerpt from "Radio Nowhere" copyright 2009 by Douglas Smith. Originally appeared in Campus Chills (October 2009)
Should you read the full story, (and how could you not after that incredible opening?) feel free to nominate Doug's tale for an Aurora Award for Best Short-Form Work. The ballot for nomination is online and anyone who is a Canadian citizen can nominate a work for the Auroras. (Also feel free to nominate Campus Chills in the category of Other Works)
And just a quick note about Campus Chills, since I can't resist a chance to talk about cool projects I was recently a part of) -- Campus Chills was an anthology put together by University of Waterloo, University of Alberta and McMaster bookstores. The three stores pooled funding together to produce an anthology on the Espresso Book Machines that each of these three stores own and they paid professional rates to 13 contributors for original stories of horror set on campuses across Canada. The book features fantastic fiction from some of Canada's top authors of speculative fiction. I had the very fine honour of selecting and editing the work of these fine writers.
The book was launched simultaneously on October 22, 2009 at McMaster, University of Waterloo, University of Alberta and Dalhousie University bookstores as well as at the Algonquin College Bookstore. (Within a week all 13 contributors appeared at 5 different bookstores in 3 different provinces)
Below are a couple of shots of Doug from the Waterloo launch, hosted by the University of Waterloo bookstore.