57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides by Sam J. Miller
Being a teenager is a tough business. I’m only six years removed from that shit show, but what a shit show it was. There are times when I wonder how any of us get out alive. Sure, being a teenager takes practice and most of us have it figured out by the time we hit 17, 18, or 19, but that’s not a guarantee. Maybe that’s why a lot of really great horror stories are written about high schoolers. Because egads, who doesn’t have a horror story from that time of their life?
Sam J. Miller’s 57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides is one of those horror stories. While its unusual structure might be off-putting for some, I think it works really well for the story. Written in list-form, with every item beginning with ‘Because,’ Miller achieves an almost hypnotic rhythm that pushes the story forward faster and faster with an unrelenting momentum.
Also, there’s a Carrie reference.
Because of that, it goes without saying that this is a story about bullying at its heart. Our hero is a young gay student trying to find his way through life when he discovers he possesses an unusual power. He and his outcast friend, Anchal, fantasize about killing the bullies that make their lives, well, miserable. I may have had similar fantasies at one point in my life. We probably all did. Only none of us ever planned on following through. Anchal, on the other hand, has other ideas.
This story packs an extra punch for me because I grew up playing in a quarry. Our local public pool was in the flooded remains of an old limestone pit. The cliffs are high, rocky, and a little terrifying under the right circumstance. At night, the place is absolutely creepy. So of course I spent a lot of my early teens poking around there with my friends. Obviously.