Have you ever said, ‘Nothing Will Hurt You, Not While I’m Around’, to your children?
I like to read. Whether it be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, etc., it doesn’t matter. Sometimes a fact will stick or I will learn something new. Sometimes a story might remind me of something else, or cause me to write my own short story or poem. But, every now and again, a novel, or in this case a novella, can play on my mind, for years to come.
This is what happened with a novella called Nothing Will Hurt You, by David Morrell, creator of Rambo. It was originally written in 1992, having been commissioned by writer/anthologist Dennis Etchison, to appear in the anthology MetaHorror. It was also nominated for the 1992 Horror Writers of America best novella award. I didn’t get to read it until 2005, when David Morrell published his second collection of novella, entitled Nightscape. His first collection, entitled Black Evening, had been published in 1999.
Chad had always said, “Nothing will hurt you, not while I’m around.” to his daughter, Stephanie. Unfortunately, while Chad and Linda are at the theatre, watching Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, they lose their only daughter, Stephanie, to a serial-killer known as The Biter. After dealing with the police and sorting the funeral, Chad and Linda gradually separate, more from Chad’s demeanour and obsession with finding his daughter’s murderer, than from any falling out of love with his wife. As Chad’s downward spiral continues, he begins to hear Stephanie’s voice coming from a soft speck of light, normally in his kitchen in the early hours. She tells him to, get on with his life, as she is worried for him. Finally, The Biter is apprehended and Stephanie tells her father that he can finally let go and rebuild his life, as she is safe and soaring brilliantly in the brightness. But, Chad wants vengeance and does as much as he can to ensure his daughter’s killer gets what’s coming to him, all the while ignoring Stephanie’s pleas and growing panic, to leave it alone. Chad doesn’t realise what Stephanie is trying to tell him until it is too late, leaving Chad with only one option…
When I first read Nothing Will Hurt You, my daughter, Alysha, was just 10-years-old, and I can remember that there was nothing that I wouldn’t do to keep her safe. I still feel the same now, towards her and her two sisters, Erin and Keilyn. But, what can I realistically do? I can only hope that what I do is enough. I know, actually I hope, that nothing like this story will ever happen to my family, but this novella planted the seed. The seed that got me worried about my daughters’ future. The seed that got me wondering if there was truly anything that I could do to protect them, without stifling their own lives. Nothing Will Hurt You is an upsetting read, for me, because I just think about my girls, each time. I end up putting myself in Chad’s shoes, wondering if I would self-destruct or whether I would survive. Whether I would have the fortitude to follow in Chad’s footsteps, or find my own path.
I suppose I shouldn’t keep rereading it but, in all honesty, I have read it less than five times. It just stays with me.
Nightscape, is a collection of short horror stories. Not your vampire/werewolf kind of horror, but a more psychological terror, while Black Evening is a collection of tales of dark suspense. But, both books are equally as good.
For anyone that has not read David Morrell’s short stories, preferring to keep to his novels, you are missing out.