And now for a story I have read before, because I published it in ‘Horror Without Victims’ in 2013… and this is what I wrote about it then…
The Cure – John Travis
“By thinking these thoughts you will be bringing your illness to the surface, which will make it easier to remove.”
This ever-growing-on-you story presents a pilgrimage like those earlier ones to the Cabin or the Red House – but here the pilgrimage (of a businessman with terminal cancer) is an accompanied journey by plane to an unknown island (like the one in ‘Lost’?) and seems a mission more contrived by others for their own purposes rather than a pilgrimage that is ‘driven’ by the protagonist’s dream or personal impulse – or is it by ‘fluke’ or ‘destiny’? We are never sure. And that is perhaps how life and death proceed in any event, as a mixture of faith and fate jostled by others’ intentions. Here, involving a form of Rennie’s and Wilkinson’s constructive torture mixed with a religious assumption, a remarkable open-ended Cure ensues with a climax which, outside of this context, would have otherwise made a memorable finale to any tale in the Pan Book of Horror Stories. The paradox somehow invites you to start the story again…
“Overhead the sky was almost painfully blue.”
And it struck me today in 2022 even more powerfully than it did then, particularly as I was diagnosed in 2015 with an illness (that was probably already inside my body when writing the above comments in 2013 and is still recurring, subject to treatment, today), indeed an illness perhaps similar to that of the businessman in THE CURE. And I now see for the first time that the mention of the word ‘leather’ at the start of the story possibly prefigured the nature of this story’s cure itself… and perhaps, in some strange absurd way, I am still alive simply because I was once the First Mover cause (if indeed I was) of this excellent story to have been written in the first place by my setting its theme of ‘Horror Without Victims’? Whatever the case, I see now it may have helped me feel myself to be a Victim without Horror.
The full context of this review: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/12/17/gaseous-clay-and-other-ambivalent-tales-john-travis/