This week I decided to dig into something quick, and unnerving, and settled in for Joe Hill, and his father, Stephen King’s short novella, In the Tall Grass. And it’s wonderfully unnerving, bloody, and frightening. The concept of the story is so simple, and that is where some of the true horror lies.
Cal and his pregnant sister, Becky, are on a cross-country journey to California, with Rush as their soundtrack, they travel the back roads of America, and see some questionable tourist traps, until they come to a quick stop near an old church, The Black Rock of the Redeemer.
The church is in disrepair, with a gorgeous spire, and borders on a large field of tall grass. As the pair prepare to head on their way, they hear voices calling to them from the field. It sounds like a child, and her mother calling for help.
The voices claim they are lost in the tall grass, and the pair quickly pass on the idea of not helping, and plunge into the field. Promptly becoming separated and, somehow, impossibly, lost.
In the field, space and sound work differently, it seems bigger than it can possibly be, and nothing is ever in the same place. It all seems to be in some strange motion, pulled by unseen currents, or manipulated by a dark power.
And that brings us to the really frightening realization… do we really want to find the people who sound like they are lost in the tall grass?
And what will be found there?
It’s a really unnerving story, and the authors don’t pull any punches, because that climax is horrifying, and troubling as you realize what the ending means…
It’s a captivating story, and I was totally swept up in it, alternately terrified and shocked out what befalls Cal and Becky, and the things that are discovered within the field.
I don’t want to give too much away, because there are nice little details layered throughout the novella that make the story all that more unnerving, and we are left to wonder what exactly is at the center of that field of grass… and what it means for any traveler who gets caught up in exploring it, and answering the call for aid.
I like how King and Hill write together. They are both great storytellers on their own, and seeing, with this story, what they can do when they collaborate, one can’t help but wonder if there is a larger, scarier story out there that they are going to tell.
Check it out, this one will definitely get to you! And if you’ve only been reading King, this will make a nice transition to Hill who has his own collection of novels that are well worth exploring.
But stay out of the tall grass!