Short Story Review: “Through the Cracks” by Gary McMahon



Featured in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, #20, “Through the Cracks” by Gary McMahon is, in a way, about what can be described as an idea virus. However, it's much more than that. Prentiss is a man that knows about the cracks, knows about the evil that lives there. And whether anyone believes him or not, the things in the cracks are real – and they want out.

His ex-girlfriend, Emma, is one who does not believe him. But she listens and she cares. And, despite what appears to be insanity and decrepitude on his part, she is drawn to him. Shortly before a visit to her sister's place, she gets a call. He wants her to visit. Even though her sister protests, she does.

What she finds is a man that has completely lost his grasp on the world in order to—as he believes—save it. Emma wants nothing to do with this. She wants him to seek professional help. Before she leaves, he gives her a scrap book. She discovers that it contains news articles about different types of monsters crawling from cracks in the earth and causing death and destruction. Of course, she thinks all of it is nonsense.

Before she finishes her stay at her sibling's home, she decides to visit Prentiss one last time, just to see if he's okay. What Emma sees changes her view on reality nearly as much as it changed his.

“Through the Cracks” is an interesting horror story, with just enough suspense to make you wonder about the dark crevices and the things that lurk just beneath the surface. 

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Nancy O. Greene started writing at the age of nine. Her short story collection, Portraits in the Dark, received a brief mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007. Other works have appeared or will appear in ChiZine; Lovecraft eZine; Cemetery Dance; Tales of Blood and Roses; Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror; Shroud Publishing's The Terror at Miskatonic Falls; Dark Recesses; Flames Rising; Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! and others. She has a BA in Cinema (Critical Studies) and a minor in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southern California, and is a Fellow of Film Independent's Project: Involve.