I'm a Marionette (Or, The Nowhere Train for Elaine) by Ben Arzate
Train in Vain, All Aboard for Elaine!
I thoroughly enjoyed Ben Arzate's creepy and darkly funny novella ELAINE. When I saw that he had continued the ELU - the Elaine Literary Universe - with I'M A MARIONETTE, I knew I had to return to this unsettling world as soon as possible. Amy is searching for her missing brother Chris. Aaaannnd that's all you really need to know. You don't have to read ELAINE to dig this short story, but you really should because there's plenty of nods to that story here. They're much appreciated and made me feel smart and cultured for reading it first. It's now a regular pleasure to read something from Arzate and I look forward to his next offering with equal doses of uneasiness and excitement.
A surreal short story that stimulates the imagination while leading the reader deep into a psychological fog of dread and curiosity. Also included are three poems that are equally as creative and titillating.
Surreal & Unsettling
If you haven't read Arzate's Elaine, I can vouch for the fact that it's not necessary to enjoy I'm a Marionette. I also haven't read the story that sets the stage for what we discover in these few pages. Amy wakes up in what appears to be an abandoned, run-down hotel room. Surrounded by filth and unfamiliar with how she found herself there, she grabs her purse and makes her way to her car parked outside. The atmosphere is oppressive and unsettling, and Arzate maintains that atmosphere throughout the tale. From that auspicious beginning, we soon discover that Amy, along with her mourning parents, has been searching for information regarding her missing brother, Chris. The last thing she remembers was deciding to purchase a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store before finding herself in the grimy hotel room. I'm a Marionette perfectly captures the fluid dream logic that makes the worst nightmares so challenging to shake. Amy finds herself led along by impulses she only barely comprehends--and certainly does not control--as she meanders through a world that feels only slightly like the real world she expects. We can't help but witness Amy's unsteady travel through this surreal, nightmare version of Wisconsin, as helpless as the dreamer when they don't know they are dreaming. I couldn't help but appreciate Ben Arzate's rather different interpretation of a train station, as Amy flips through the apparently empty radio channels only to find one station broadcasting what sounded like the constant thrum of an approaching train. I found myself thinking, "That's a different sort of train station." I immediately picked up Elaine after finishing this story, and I suspect you might do the same. If it's half as captivating and unnerving as I'm a Marionette, it'll be worth the price of admission for sure. The three poems contained within the Godless exclusive edition feel perfectly in line with the story that precedes them, carrying the same surreal, dreamlike horror beyond the conclusion of the story itself.
A strange, creepy little nightmare
This brief story had the ambiance of a nightmare, expertly structured to make you question how you got from one point to the other. Effectively strange, I really enjoyed this story. The author also includes three poems which are equally evocative. Highly recommended!