Earbud Theater: Shift

A story with an ending that doesn’t wow, but made me go “how?”  The premise is much like the one Dan Wells used in The Hollow City. A schizophrenic sees faceless people and thinks there is some conspiracy out to get him. In “Shift,” the story starts off with the protagonist in a session with his psychiatrist. They chat a bit about their previous sessions and then the story gets underway.

What makes this story different from the traditional psychological horror is its ability to make you wonder, while at the same time, ground you in reality. After all, how would you react if you found out that you could “shift” between dimensions? In The Hollow City, there is a supernatural element much like in the John Cleaver Trilogy (also by Dan Wells). However it’s not revealed until the end and that whole aspect is what takes the book from a good book to a great one. Shift has essentially the same exact plot structure, but the ending is more open-ended and has a sense of wonder that The Hollow City trades-off by making the revelation more scientific than fantastical.

Those are the two extremes and both have their merits. As for myself, I prefer concrete reality over magic or science without much of an explanation. It’s why magic systems and their rules are interesting to me. However if one looks at early Fantasy, there’s no consistency. The Lord of the Rings is an obvious example. You have to be a wizard to do magic and that’s about it. “Shift” is somewhere in between a Lord of the Rings magic system and The Hollow City.

Shift is a wonderful short audio drama that certainly packs somewhat of a punch with its ending. However, the story overall just didn’t wow me.