Rick Hautala was one of the better selling horror writers in the 1980s—a decade of horror that I mostly missed. I was still a wee lad, and most of my reading reflected my age—The Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, Wilson Rawls, and others that I can’t seem to recall just now.
The point? I haven’t read much of Rick Hautala’s work, and when I stumbled across Bedbugs, a collection of his short stories, I was curious. The first story I flipped to—I almost always read anthologies and collections out of order—was “Tunnels.” It is the story of a young graffiti artist named Ace. The story opens with Ace making a run down into a subway station trying to elude the police. He doesn’t stop until he’s actually in the subway tunnels—he dodges trains, stumbles around in the dark, and as he’s scouting for a good location to tag Ace meets a stranger who seems to know more than he should, and Ace’s world quickly changes forever.
“Tunnels” isn’t a story that slams you with a surprise ending. It doesn’t give you chills long into the night. “Tunnels” is, however, the kind of story that keeps the reader thinking about it long after it’s been read. It is also the kind of story that is written well, involving, and difficult to put down—it doesn’t hurt that it’s only fifteen pages. The plotting is snappy, the characters are developed well within the confines of the story, and the ending, while not surprising, fits the story perfectly. I liked this one a lot, and I bet I find a few more just as good in this collection.