Hum Drum

by Gary McMahon

[rating:4/5]

The short story “Hum Drum” turned out to be a really intriguing horror/psychic/ghost mystery with a truly chilling nemesis and a very interesting psychic protagonist Thomas Usher. This short story can be found in The Years Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 and The First Humdrumming Book of Horror Stories.

In it Thomas Usher works as a psychic detective, he can see and communicate with the dead and helps people unfortunate enough to be in dangerous circumstances with these ghosts. His job is to try and find out what they want, why they are there, and get them what they need to go back to where they came from. In this story a man purchases a sinister toy drum from an antique shop and feels compelled to drum it. Doing so summons the ghost and results in him having to find Thomas Usher as the ghost is even more sinister than the drum. What does the ghost want? Why is the ghost bothering this man? Why is the drum still sounding on and on and what will it take to make the beat of the drum finally stop?

This short story would have made a terrifying TV Show. I could just picture the drum, innocent at first, but slowly resembling more and more an ancient relic made of human bone and flesh. The ghost was at times truly terrifying and the ending was, well not totally unexpected, but what happened after certainly was. Thomas Usher was fascinating to read about and I loved how the ending showed so much about him and who he was and that there were more stories to tell. In fact the author is writing more about him and is publishing a book with further tales in To Usher, The Dead which is coming out later this year, but isn’t on Amazon yet.

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