Give Chase by Shana Hammaker

Shana Hammaker had a goal in 2011 to create twelve short horror stories, one for each month. Give Chase was her offering for August and she delivered the goods. Sitting right around 8100 words, this one’s a quick and dirty read.

There’s a killer new reality show on prime time TV: THE CHASE. 

The rules are simple: two contestants—Cat and Bear, each carrying a mysterious box-shaped baton—race across America with nothing but their wits to guide them. Whichever contestant is the first to deliver his/her baton to contest headquarters in San Francisco wins. 

But it seems that there is more going on beneath the surface. For example, why were the contestants recruited from prison? And what exactly are they carrying in their supposedly tamper-evident batons? 

The nation is riveted as the two ex-cons race westward, wreaking havoc every step of the way. It makes for great television. But no one can predict the show’s explosive ending.

The premise might seem a bit familiar based on that synopsis, but I assure you it does not succumb to the cliches that you’d expect. Firstly, Cat is portrayed as a human, not some jailbird monster whose only motivation is malice. Cat has feelings, insecurities, strengths and weaknesses, all which play an important role in her story. Bear is a monster, but he’s more of a secondary character so the unidimensional aspect to him isn’t frustrating, and he gets the best gore scene in the story.

Setting is an integral part to the flow of the story, and flows from scene to scene rather effortlessly. Cat begins in Miami, while Bear begins in New York State. It may seem as though Cat has the straight-line advantage based on the final destination, but there are enough roadblocks (both real and mental) that make the race detrimental to both participants.

The batons are crucial, otherwise it would just be two convicts running around the States. The contents of the batons are revealed, but I’m not going to give that away here. Just know that the contents are a major factor in deciding the outcome of both the race, and the greater subplot Hammaker transitions to.

Give Chase was my first introduction to Shana Hammaker, and I strongly suggest that you make it yours. Shana is most active on Twitter, and you can buy all of her books at Amazon.

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