The film, horror and publishing communities, and fans everywhere, were saddened to learn of Richard Matheson's passing last week. Known for his extensive work in both publishing and film, he was a voice of many generations, creating timeless works that people of various ages and cultures identified with and enjoyed. Matheson is legend and will be deeply missed. [FEARnet's Alyse Wax goes into detail about Matheson and his works in this article.]
Richard Matheson was as much of a master of short fiction as he was with longer tales. In his story “Venturi,” which first appeared in He is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson and was later republished in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 by Stephen Jones, he deftly details a man's surreal experiences as he tries to stay vigilant against real or imagined hungry blazes. Pulling from his own experience of losing his home in Malibu to fire, Matheson creates a dreamlike world in a short span of time.
The tale opens with the main character, David, being prodded by his doctor. David has not slept in days. A mysterious lump has appeared on his shoulder. His doctor orders him to get some rest. But, in David's mind, sleep means death, death by fire. And so he will not rest.
What follows is a fast-paced but luxuriously hypnotic journey through one man's perception of a world that is dangerous because it can be engulfed at any second. It leads to an ending that is both terrifying for the reader and oddly comforting for the main character.
“Venturi” is only one small example of Richard Matheson's talent and skill as a storyteller, and is a fine read sure to leave the reader craving even more Matheson tales.
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.