Author Matt Shuck opens Safety in Numbers with a series of connected stories titled Encounters with the Beast. This set of stories follows the character of Hank Miller through various stages of his life where he experiences strange and horrifying otherworldly events which shaped his life. These stories are an excellent introduction to how the rest of the collection reads and feels. The stories are short and to the point, no filler and all killer.
Some of my favorites include:
Lessons I Learned from the Eagle Creek Fire, where the living embodiment of fire hunts down an unfortunate group of locals hanging out at a bar.
I Met a Deity, and That’s Where Things got Complicated, a story where the protagonist introduces his boss to the aforementioned deity. All doesn’t go according to plan. Or does it?
Bad Luck Buck is a story about a pooch which brings devastatingly terrible luck to the young family who moved in across the street.
Corn Mazes are Supposed to be Fun is my favorite of the collection. A group of college kids decide to explore a corn maze after closing time. What happens to them is unworldly.
As with all collections and anthologies, some stories are stronger than others. While the majority of the stories are gripping, many of them feel as if they’re the synopsis for what should be larger bodies of work. I would recommend Shuck take the ideas written in this collection and fully flesh them out as they feel a bit incomplete.
If you want a quick read from an author whose work will stay with you long after you’ve finished, Safety in Numbers is the collection for you.