Kevin Wallis debuts with Beneath the Surface of Things: A Collection of Stories, a latest collection of twenty-five short stories. This emotionally impacting showcase of stories takes his audience on a rollercoaster ride with endless twists and turns. Wallis explores realistic and surreal worlds varying between light and darkness. Every story carries a common thread that questions reality. There are no absolutes, no boundaries—only depth. He writes mindbending stories which challenge readers to ask themselves how much they really know and how deep they are willing to look to find the truth.
In “Tempestuous Choices,” a family seeks refuge from a furious hurricane. Without rhyme or reason, a man in a spotless, white suit appears and tells the father, Terrence, that “You and your family must die today.” With great unease, Terrence, ignores this nameless man and begins to secure the house for the pending storm. The man in white continues to appear with the same message - “You and your family must die.” How Terrence handles this man-in-white’s message is truly fascinating. Wallis writes this with incredible attention to motion, character development, and internal spiritual conflict.
In “She’s Killing Me,” Wallis delivers a true story about one night when he, his wife, and another couple, Jen and Joe, get together to play video golf. Jen is an excellent and competitive player; Kevin, on the other hand, is desperate to finally beat Jen just one time. Wallis describes the events of the evening with humorous yet minimalist dialogue that accentuates the story.
“Conscience” is a flash-fiction story that depicts human nature from an unnerving and grotesque perspective. Wallis describes a serial killer who holds a young woman chained in his kitchen. As he prepares to slaughter and then eat her, the killer begins to cry. Terrorized, the girl expects the knife to slit her neck. Instead, the killer does something completely unusual. In this strange tale, Wallis shows the audience a serial killer in a completely unexpected light. The killer experiences an emotion unknown to serial killers—remorse. His style is precise, detailed, and provocative. Wrought with fear, horror, and disbelief, Wallis communicates the emotions of both characters clearly in a compact space.
In “Charlie’s Lunch,” a man sipping coffee notices the other patrons beginning to vanish one by one. His world and sanity begin to unravel as he tries to make sense of what he is witnessing. A waitress watches as he slowly falls more and more into nightmarish confusion. She holds the key to his understanding. This story bridges two worlds—the realistic and the surreal. Together they mesh, but there is an uneasy feeling of motion without purpose - people living without knowing why. Again, Wallis’s powerful language moves readers into imaginative realms.
These stories encompass the darkness which lies within us. Sometimes the darkness is brutal, raw, violent, and quiet until triggered, or simply spiteful and comical. There are no ways to compartmentalize our inner emotions. The author possesses an incredible ability to explore the internal realms of the human spirit and possible worlds beyond scientific explanation. His combination of horror with fantasy, surrealism with reality, light with dark, and mercy with death create compelling stories deserving the attention of all readers. Hopefully, many more works will follow.