Published by JournalStone on November 18, 2016
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Psychological Horror, Suspense
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When a savage earthquake rocks Los Angeles, buildings crumble and highways fall apart. Matthew Calvert, a young family man on the job interview of his life, finds himself at ground zero of the destruction - his building collapses beneath him and he wakes to find himself buried under a mountain of rubble, badly injured, trapped in the dark.
As his injuries worsen with each passing hour, he clings to memories to fight off the fear of impending death, the hope for salvation. Soon, however, the memories turn dark and his terror escalates.
There are things with him in the dark.
Trying desperately to hold onto his sanity, Matthew clings to the barrier between this life and the next, his mind flipping between reality and delusion, before confronting a final horrifying truth:
Sometimes the hallucinations are real.
FRAGILE DREAMS, by Philip Fracassi, is a novella of psychological and visceral horror that had me questioning “reality” all along the way. This is the third book I have read by this author, and his unique “voice” in writing has yet to disappoint me.
The synopsis tells of a man, Matthew Calvert, going for an important job interview, when the entire building is hit by a massive earthquake. The precise pictures that Fracassi painted in my mind were almost surreal! As the structure begins to collapse, I felt as if I were watching things occur in slow motion as everything and everyone descended into the hidden depths of purgatory.
“. . . the kind of scream that was created from way deep down, in the abyss of absolute terror that opened with the knowledge that your life was about to end . . . “
Well, maybe more like hell.
“There are a million ways to suffer . . .”
Coming back to consciousness, trapped beneath the remnants of what was once the large multi-storied office building, Matthew realizes that while he may still be alive, he is completely incapacitated.
What follows is a psychological journey into Matthew’s every thought and dream. Sensations that he feels–but can’t quite identify–take their place between the memories of his life before this fateful day. Alternating with his physical pain are likewise visions–but are they merely dark delusions caused by his body’s predicament, or true sights and imaginings?
“. . . his phone likely vibrating stupidly underneath a hundred pounds of rock and steel, the “smart” technology inside too stupid to know how useless it was.”
We are taken on this journey with Matthew as he tries to hold onto both his life and sanity. The scenes we are witnesses to are as conflicting as they can possibly be. What is the reality for a man slowly dying under a mountainous pile of what was once part of Los Angeles? Fracassi takes you there with such sure and powerful writing–almost poetic one moment, and terror-filled the next–as you find yourself mentally spiraling down along with Matthew.
“. . . The rats are REAL, oh yes, boy-o, they’re very real . . . “
When the very fabric of all you hold to be true starts to unravel, what do you chose to believe? And exactly how accurate are those memories of long-ago that only now come back with such newfound clarity?
This is a novella with no easy answers, and one in which you won’t want to turn away from even for a moment.
Who knows just what might follow you up from the depths if you do?
**Following this story is a bonus one entitled “Death, My Old Friend”. Part comedic, part all too emotionally potent, this tale is one with an entirely different mental feel to it, yet very engrossing in its own way.**
I am greatly looking forward to reading more from this talented author.