- Sick by Tom Leveen
Brian’s Phoenix high school may be surrounded by an electrified fence, but that doesn’t stop him and his friends from cutting class. When they return for drama class (an easy A), they find the school in the grip of a virus that transforms its victims into pain-ridden, necrotic monsters seeking living bone marrow to munch on and turns their campus into a grisly delicatessen. With the place in chaos, their only chance of survival is to stay barricaded in the drama department until help arrives. Their sense of duty won’t allow that, though, because Brian’s sister, in remission from leukemia, and his ex-girlfriend, who suffers from panic attacks, are somewhere in the school in need of rescue. Leveen hauls out all the teen horror-movie conventions and salts them with a healthy dose of hypermasculine homophobia, which must of course be overcome because our heroes are allied, after all, with the drama kids. The action is fast and full of phantasmagoric details, and there are those obligatory moments of tender revelation, promises to kill each other if things get too bad, and don’t-you-quit-on-me responses that horror fans have come to expect in their preferred genre. The usual nods are made to diverse casting, but there are no surprises about who lives, who dies, and who emerges heroic in the end. There is surely a sufficiently large readership for these tried-and-true tropes to warrant its inclusion in a collection, and fans will get what they came for, if, literally, nothing else.