“Melbourne Calling”

by Mara Geißen

For my last blog post I have again chosen a short story to write about. The short story, “Melbourne Calling” by Silvia Brown, doesn’t seem to have much to do with horror at first. However, monsters are mentioned from the beginning, which Colin apparently sees. The monsters he mentions, however, seem to come from his subconscious and are therefore less real. “I closed my eyes and counted to three like the psych had suggested and the vision went away, leaving a path of slime over my shoes” (140).

The story seems like a normal teenage – love story with the difference being that this is not a traditional, heteronormative couple, but a homosexual one. The two are portrayed in a very cute way. They seem to have really searched for and found each other. Due to the depiction of their relationship, as a reader one feels wrapped in a warm and cozy blanket. It recalls one´s first love and the strong emotions and sensations felt at that intense time. Typical and comprehensible is also that Collin and Josh have their own song “London Calling”, which they even personalise for themselves into “Melbourne Calling” (142). The title of the story already indicates that this song will be significant for the plot.

Out of nowhere, the boys are attacked by an old man and Josh is killed in the attack. “A blast went off as the headphones snapped onto his ears. Flesh exploded. Glass and wood shattered. [… I] saw the broken window […], and what was left of Josh, the pointy end of a shotgun still levelled at where his head had been” (144 – 145). As a reader, you are torn from the cozy blanket and thrown into a pool of freezing water. You might expect a supernatural monster, like the one in Colin’s wardrobe, but no. The monster described here is a man who wants to kill, or kills two boys. “The old man behind the gun looked me in the eye, seemingly indifferent to the loss of life and property” (45). Definitely such people can be called monsters. Monsters are not only slimy creatures with tentacles, but also people without hearts and empathy. However, the old man is in Colin’s eyes not only a human monster but also a fantastic one. “The old man´s partly hidden features became more obvious as he moved into the light of the store window. His human face fell into a mass of feelers from the lips down, minuscule tentacles lurking in all directions” (145). As a reader, one is not quite sure if this monster is real or if just Colin’s mind portraying this man as a monster.

The story only becomes clearly fantastic at the end, when the song “London Calling” is heard again by Colin. The song seems to have created such a strong connection between him and Josh that he seems to hear his voice calling his name (146). Colin follows the voice in his mind and thereby loses himself in “limbo” (146), where he finds Josh. Now they can sing together again,  “from the top of [their] lungs” (146). The story ends on a sad note, since both boys are dead. Colin seems to have died too, as he is said to fall “into the abyss” (146). Nevertheless, one also feels a positive or lightening feeling, knowing that at the very least Josh and Colin are together.