Trucker horror? Yes, please!
The big rig with skull and crossbones on the cover of this book and its play-on-words title had me – I wanted to get a copy and find out what it was about. Halloween/All Souls seemed the perfect time of year to read it. Frightliner and Other Tales of the Supernatural by Colleen Drippe and Karina Fabian is a short story compilation. My favorite two stories were, not surprisingly for me, the trucker stories: Frightliner and Accidental Undeath.
Frightliner is the first and longest tale in the book and was excellent. The protagonist, a truck driver named Jay, is an average guy who believes in God but doesn’t put much thought or effort into it. When he finds himself pursued by another truck that few people can see, the reader sees his weak will and the feeble efforts he makes against what I can only presume to be a demon or even the devil himself. He is fortunate to meet a couple of friends along his drive, Miguel and LeRoy, who help him fight in the spiritual attack. Catholic elements come into play, including a rosary, stained glass, and holy water. A great line from this story: “And maybe even if he didn’t have faith in God, God could have faith in him,” followed soon after by Jay’s declaration of, “I didn’t do anything. It was all God.” The diversity of the characters in this story also serves as a reminder to how universal the Church is and how demonic attack doesn’t discriminate – all are subject to it, all can have weak wills which need fortification. This story reminds us why Christ left us his Church – to wage war against sin and the devil and to lead us to reliance on him so we can one day be in heaven.
Accidental Undeath, while much shorter, packed a powerful punch in its message. A trucker-turned-vampire has to make a sudden and heart-wrenching decision. Told in first-person, we don’t even get his name, but his struggles to do what is right despite his condition come across as very real. Maybe that sounds funny since he’s a vampire, but his self-talk, his attempts to justify what his vampire instinct is telling him to do, seems very human, and ultimately, we are left with a cliffhanger as to his decision, which I thought was the best way to end this story. Showing his decision, no matter which he chose, would not have left a satisfying ending, in my opinion.
I am not going to detail the other three short stories since I wanted to focus on my favorites. Be aware that there is some crass humor, especially in the last story which was a bit too much for my personal taste (although some still had me laughing out loud) – but then, the idea of zombies really bothers me already, so I am probably not the best one to comment on a zombie story. There is a little gore and some profanity throughout the stories, but I think it was well-placed, personally, and I don’t flinch easily at that sort of thing anyway.
I never thought that Catholic trucker horror fiction could be a subgenre, but this reader sure hopes there’s more of it out there!