THE RULES OF THE ROAD by C.B. Jones invents an engaging urban legend and then brings it to life in a horror read that gives Creepypasta a run for its money. I liked this one quite a bit.
In this novel, a young man driving late at night is confronted by a mysterious broadcast popping up on his radio. It’s Buck Hensley, the folksy host of “The Rules of the Road,” delivering his latest segment from some nether place. He says if the man passes a lone shoe on the side of the road, he must pull over and put a sock in it, or else face dire consequences. This experience sets the man on a path of amateur journalism investigating the mysterious broadcast, in which he documents a wide range of other people’s experiences, an obsession that imposes mounting costs in his personal life. At last, he sets out to find the source of the broadcast himself.
Starting out with this read, I wondered if its appeal rested on a gimmick that would run out of gas, but if anything, the stories rise in quality over the book, and the final story brings it all together nicely. The folksy Buck Hensley similarly threatens to offer a saccharine villain only to become even more substantial and compelling. As for the experiences of various people encountering the broadcast over the years, they’re each as good or creepier than the best you’ll find on Creepypasta.
So yeah, I really liked this one. Actually loved it, the more I think about it. C.B. Jones takes a familiar form–the urban legend–and turns it into a compelling, creepy, and page-turning story that feels real and ties everything together for a satisfying and thoughtful finish.