How the Day Runs Down: 12/20/08
The last Fantasy & Science Fiction story for 2008 is "How the Day Runs Down " by John Langan. It was first published in The Living Dead earlier this year. The title of the anthology pretty much gives away the subject matter.
Zombies, take them or leave them. They're not an instant win for me. My enjoyment of Langan's story was tainted by a very funny Zero Punctuation! review of Left 4 Dead. Had I not just watched and giggled along to his take on Zombies, I might have enjoyed the story more.
There are two things that save the "How the Day Runs Down " from a negative review: its format and its ending. Langan's choice to write the story as a play with included stage directions. I think this is my first zombie (or eater as the Stage Manager calls them) play. It reminded me a bit of the F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and the Damned. If Fitzgerald were to have written a zombie story, it might have been something like "How the Day Runs Down. "
The ending, while not a complete surprise (there are very rarely surprises in zombie stories) is an interesting twist. The ending reveals the truth behind the zombie play and the Stage Manager's role in the play and beyond. Like a good Twilight Zone episode, the ending leaves more questions asked than answered.
"How the Day Runs Down " is one of the best zombie stories I've read but it's sill a zombie story. If I were a fan of zombies, I would have loved the story. As I'm not, it liked the story for Langan's skill in telling it.