No-Injury Policy by C.M. Humphries: A collection of stories exploring the dark corners of humanity

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When expectations are high, money is tight, love is tainted and stress is ubiquitous, the citizens of Chase County will do anything to make sure they survive. From the deconstruction of a town to frivolous intercourse with strangers, No-Injury Policy explores the dark depths of human nature when social pressures peak. No sooner than the meek taste retribution, however, they encounter the demons that have aided authority figures to the top – demons that refuse to lose control no matter what it takes. (synopsis from Amazon).

A little while ago, an author contacted me about taking a look at his anthology of dark tales. I sat down with my Kindle and lost myself in a word of deep despair, twisted humanity, and basically hell-on-earth. I became totally immersed in these tales and continued to turn the page, waiting to see what kind horror was contained in the next story.

Anthologies are both a blessing and a curse to me. I love that you are able to catch a quick glimpse into a variety of world’s, but sometimes I’m saddened by the fact that the stories end so quick. There were several stories in Humphries’ book that I would love to see expanded into a novel or even a novella. I ended up identifying with his characters or wondering where they ended up after the story ended.

Humphries’ writing is detailed (but you don’t drown in the details which is a failure of many authors today), but it also has very engaging interactions between the characters. The discussions in all of the stories flow naturally, without any awkward feeling when the story is being read. The characters directly engage each other, and we are left feeling like we are standing in this setting, observing the characters as they met and interact.

The author’s website provides a summary of a few of the stories in this anthology. Take a peak at them here:

Façade”

There isn’t a single character in No-Injury Policy who doesn’t have a problem. In the case of Mike from ” Façade”: After his brother Ray moves in, Mike finds difficulty in relating to people, which ultimately leads him down a road where only roulette-styled monogamy connects him to another human being, or more specifically, generative rendezvous.  It’s not just the sexual encounters that keep him going, he also has several other vices. Mike can’t be considered to be a hedonist without first realizing the commonplace of such social engagements.

“Sleep”

In this story, a character named Adam Hope is a recent graduate/writer (how creative of me, right?) who is pressed by the norm of finding a “real” job.

Hope is sickened by the expectation of having a great career right off the bat. The thing is, he’s not alone. The rest of Long Brooke can’t sleep, and soon they’ll all going to show society just what they think.

“All Things Beautiful” is a tale of a young boy who is locked in his room during a game of hide n’ seek with his younger sister. Little does he know his parents have left him to fend for himself.

Although this story is about the dark upbringings of a child, it is a depiction how strong someone’s will can be. No matter what happens to the boy, each day is better than the last. 

Highlighting the book is the tale “No-Injury Policy”, a story set in Raven’s Crook’s darkest beginnings. Nicholas Tanner finds himself working for the infamous Douglas Lumber Mill in an effort to support his new family.

Despite the horrific tales he’s heard from the locals, he tries to earn a living and ignore all the demonic signs around him. As a union begins to form, the owner resorts to violent efforts to make sure his company is not controlled by any outsiders. He reveals his more sinister side as Nick is roped into the clandestine group.

If you enjoy reading about the darker paths of reality and the supernatural, I highly recommend this collection of stories to you. I am very excited to read more from this author and I thank Mr. Humphries for reaching out to me.

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