Consumption by Patrick Hester is a charmingly creepy short story of life beyond death in the Wild West. John Henry has just arrived from Georgia to attend the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery when he hears about the exhibition of a newly discovered mummy. While attending the display with his schoolmates, one of them claims that the ancient looking corpse resembles a lost acquaintance, even down to the same distinctive clothing. An Indian Chief accosts the friends afterward to inform John Henry of an old legend, then presses a journal into his hand, prompting the friends to investigate – not only the missing friend – but a rash of disappearances that leads to danger and death.
This is a fairly straight forward tale of the supernatural in the Old West. All the usual elements are present, with the added intrigue of an impossible corpse and a sinister Indian legend. The theme of consumption echoes throughout the narrative, and there’s even a fun twist or two along the way. What’s not to love?
I consumed this story in a very short time, and I’m sure other readers will find it as pleasant a meal as I did. Bon apetit’.