I don’t really consider myself a Weird Tales reader, but I happened across the magazine at the Nebulas. I ended up really enjoying a story called “Faraji” by Will Ludwigsen. It focuses on a very foolish American languishing in African prison and does a number of things right. It opens:
In case you are writing a Master’s thesis in psychology about the emotional timelines of hostages, let me give you a summary.
From day 1 to day 10, you think it’s all a mistake and the United States embassy will retrieve you at any moment.
From day 10 to day 50, you lose hope you can reason with your captors.
From day 50 to day 150, you cling to the possibility you can make your escape, even though you are in a filthy stone dungeon somewhere in the African jungle, your stomach bloated from dysentary, your feet gangrenous.
From day 150 to day 230, everything is a blur of leering faces and pots of gruel.
On day 233, you decide you can’t take the heat or the mosquitos or the maggot-infested food and you’re going to smash your skull in a single blow against the wall of your cell.
At this point, he’s got me hooked. I’m in. He’s very efficiently set the scene and given me a good initial window into his main character, and I’m ready to give the writer my trust. He in turn rewards that trust with a couple good sharp shocks along the way to a satisfying conclusion.
I spend so much time writing that it’s hard for me to enjoy reading much anymore. This was a nice exception to that. If you can find the Apr/May 2007 Weird Tales, I think “Faraji” makes it worth a look.