Sigmund Freud's 1919 essay of The Uncanny, attempted to explain the art of horror writing and ultimately why the things that scare us do so.
Fourteen authors were given the challenge of writing horror stories in keeping with Freud's findings and have compiled this featured collection of short stories, The New Uncanny - Tales of Unease. Freud concluded that we are all basically scared of the same things to a certain degree and these would include things like inanimate objects (dolls that come alive), being buried alive, evil people (the Devil or murderers) and doubles or twins.
Over the next few weeks I will feature each story and it is here I will begin with Double Room.
Short Story Review
Isn't it annoying when somebody, normally a sibling, starts to copy everything you say, every sound you make? "Stop copying me!" "Stop copying me!" Yeah, we've all been there but what if you couldn't see who was taunting you?
In this story our main character, middle aged Edwin goes to a hotel alone and tries to pick up some young ladies out of sheer boredom it seems. When he is turned down for a less fat, younger model he retires to his room. We feel sorry for sad Edwin. He goes in to the bathroom, unzips his trousers and starts to pee, but through the party wall he can hear someone else peeing. Then he brushes his teeth and hears his neighbour do the same.
It really starts to get creepy though when Edwin speaks, so does the voice next door, mimicking his every word. There's even a funny yet inevitable moment with the hotel's porn channel that I won't spoil for you! Eventually, and really quite cleverly, the two anonymous voices manage to have a conversation through the copying, we find out more about Edwin and so does he.
I can see why this theme resonated with Freud. What are mirrors or doubles or copies? Are they a true reflection of ourselves, truer than we recognise? Are they a warped view of how others see us? Or are they the complete opposite, maybe even our evil twins?