Posted in Male Author, Short Story

Deal Me In, Week 7 ~ “Dance of the Dead”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Dance of the Dead” by Richard Matheson

Card picked: Eight of Diamonds
From: I Am Legend, and other stories


It’s the year 1997. WWIII has come and gone, leaving behind cities infected with anti-civilian germs and a youth culture whose catchphrase is “Live It!” Four of these young people, Lenny & Barbara and Bud & Peggy, head to St. Louis for an evening of fun. Peggy is the youngest of the bunch, a lonely freshman at the University. Her mother has warned her against people like Lenny, Barbara, and Bud. They drink. They use drugs. They have sex. And tonight, they are all going to go see aย loopy dance. Peggy is new to most of these experiences and is reserved and a little frightened to take part in any of these activities. It’s through her eyes, and the occasional definition of slang terms, that we experience the story.

Loopy, we are told about halfway through, is a slang alteration of LUP. LUP, it’s finally revealed near the end of the story, is an acronym for Lifeless Undead Phenomenon. Peggy witnesses the loopy dance and chooses to embrace “Live It.”

The best part of this story is the build up to seeing the loopy and its dance. Matheson conjures up a gruesome enough site that we believe that Peggy could dread it. I think it’s difficult to pull off dread in literature. It’s too easy for a reader to skim or skip; the reading equivalent of covering your eyes. A good horror writer impels you to read every word, and Matheson is often that good.

Is This Your Card?

From naive Peggy to Yale graduate Jen Kramer. Kramer was a “contestant” on the most recent season of Fool Us. Spoiler–she doesn’t fool Penn & Teller, but she still does a great card trick.