Title: Driving in the Dark
Author: Jack Harding
Publication Date: December 6, 2021
Genres: Psychological Horror, Paranormal, Holiday, Mystery, Contemporary
Length: 24 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and 29 year old analyst Riley Coupland has just wrapped-up work for 12 whole days. There’s something in his bag. Something silver, something shiny and glittering with hopes and dreams of a bright and beautiful future. The only thing standing between him and his soon to be fiancée Emma is his arduous, mind-numbing drive home.
But something isn’t right. His phone, his hearing, the music, the traffic, everything just seems out of sync and off, and Riley can’t quite put his finger on it.
All he has to do is keep his eyes on the road…
All he has to do is take it slow…
In this brooding and deeply moving short story by Jack Harding, buckle up and settle down for a journey that will stir your senses and pull on your heart strings, keeping you guessing right until the end of the road.
Content Warning: Car accident.
There’s no better feeling than finally getting to rest after weeks of hard work.
Riley’s character development was handled nicely. There were times when I connected with him and other scenes when I was irritated by how distractible he could be. Yes, it’s understandable to lose focus on a long drive home after working all day, but as an experienced driver he knew that this was one of his faults and that a cold winter night is not the best time for daydreaming. Characters don’t have to be perfect to be memorable, though, and I’ll certainly remember him for a long time.
I thought there were too many clues about what was going on during Riley’s long, lonely ride home as his Christmas vacation began. Anyone who is already familiar with certain horror tropes will probably figure out the twist pretty early on. As that was a major part of what made this story so interesting, I would have loved to been challenged to figure it out with less foreshadowing. This was especially true near the beginning when there was a throwaway line that all but told the audience exactly what to expect.
With that being said, this was a great example of why psychological horror can be so effective at frightening its audience. Sometimes all you need to feel fear is to imagine driving down a quiet winter road at night when hardly anyone else is out and the night sky looms overhead menacingly. There are plenty of ways such a journey can go wrong without any classic horror antagonists showing up, and I though the author did a good job of showing how sometimes the most ordinary experiences in life can also be the most horrifying ones.
Driving in the Dark was chilling.