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Side Step by Ronald R. Van Stockum, Jr.
Art by Steven P. Eilers
“Picture a bar in Red Hook, a dangerous port in Brooklyn across the river from New York City. A horrible scene begins between Rebecca who serves beer and a customer, Lawrence, who looks with one eye on Rebecca, and one on the door. ‘I am pregnant,’ she says. We, the other bar patrons, listen while she explains to Lawrence. ‘I am being watched by a creature and it knew of the man I was with…the creature is a Monster and facilitates such sexual recombinations.’ What is the reader to think as the action unfolds? Is it the effect of too much beer? Some B-movie horror playing out on the TV screen above our heads? Or is it an attack on Rebecca’s cellular ribosomes by the growth of a wasp egg that would feed on her innards unless her brother Lawrence’s antibodies can defend against her enemies? Again, the scientific mind of Ronald R. Van Stockum, Jr. serves up a mixed genre story that repulses the sense with images of wasp stings, pimples leaking streams of pus, and Lawrence’s suction of cancerous RNA strands, while also imparting a microscopic textbook explanation of processes we never think about. ‘Side Step’ is connected to two other of the author’s stories, ‘Ollie Deaton & the Breathitt County Silver Mine’ and ‘The Manure Pit.’ Van Stockum is always educational, always entertaining.” – Mary Popham