Animals is a self-published short story by Lauren Shain-Raque that I found on smashwords.com by searching for “apocalypse”. The story follows Dania and Gil through some awkward interactions and deep revelations on the military base they and many others must live on to keep themselves safe from “Animals.”
The apocalypse event in this story was definitely unique and interesting. I’m considering if I’d go as far as saying it was refreshing. Unfortunately, the explanation of the event was sequestered off at the end of the story like a big reveal. This was strange because after a while I’d just assumed the author had named the creatures in the story something different to be unique and felt no sense of mystery about it.
What was a mystery to me though, was why the characters were behaving the way they were. There’s this sexual tension between the main characters that’s completely acknowledged but unrelated to the plot. It’s strangeness is exacerbated by the fact that Gil is clearly older than Dania but it’s not clear by how much or how old either of them are. She acts kind of childish and flirtatious making me think she could be anywhere from 12 to twenty-something. Gil is extremely serious and seems to be in charge of everyone on this military base, therefore he can’t be younger than his late twenties.
The story of Dania and Gil and the Animals is interesting as a glimpse of a version of a post-apocalyptic scene. Although, I felt a bit confused as to why I was being shown this particular scene. There was glimpse of this relationship and its complications but no real explanation of why it was so complicated. The conclusion was delivered in a way that made me reread a few parts to see if I’d missed something. Nope. It seems it was just a case of all the wrong details. Details about Dania being an attention whore, about Gil lusting after her, about creatures being drawn to Dania and about the officers on the base not really liking her, none of these things were relevant to the conclusion.
As with all self-published pieces, the quality of not only the storytelling but also the quality of the writing is a factor in rating a story. There were typos. Not advanced grammatical errors that only a professional editor would have caught but simple typos that could have been caught on a read through. There weren’t enough of these to make me put the story down, but there were enough to make me sad about it.
The story is free if you’re interested in checking it out.
My rating: 2.5 killer robots out of 5