There's nothing like a strange and unsettling story to get the blood pumping first thing on the weekend. False Positive, Mike Walton's webcomic anthology, offers ten tales and counting of parasitic creatures who lurk in your body, unlucky serial killers, ill-advised time travel, and a brothel patron who is looking for something far stranger than sex.
A man grabs the wrong suitcase from the airport and finds the concoctions within both fantastical and maddening. A child's curiosity puts her in the path of a very strange sort of hoarder. A man tries to pull out an aching tooth and finds something unexpected beneath the root. A woman finds herself trapped inside an asylum only to be told she might be a god. These are the sorts of stories that swim inside Walton's brain. While Walton says that he aims to make False Positive a stew, tossing in science fiction, fantasy, and horror as his gut demands, the stories definitely lean toward horror, with a science fiction, fantasy, cosmic horror, or realistic base, depending on his mood. The resulting collection includes aliens, dragons, advanced technologies, and demons, all with a healthy scoop of chills. Even the art evokes the unnerving, with realistic figures rendered in monochrome, and then made slightly too shiny, eyes ever so overly wide. You know that things will not go well for most of them.
Some writers are inclined to tell horror stories as jokes, and Walton does occasionally offer a macabre punchline (most notably with his story "Cleanup," in which a fastidious serial killer just can't catch a break). But what's interesting is how he plays with conventional horror tropes: hitchhikers, teeth, the power of names. Even the currently running story "Detained," offers a neat flip on the asylum story, having the trapped patient wake up and be told — rather than insist — that she is a mystical being. It leaves room for uncertainty about how the stories will turn out in the end: Will the ordinary human placed in horror's path escape? Will the seeker of mystical powers find contentment even if he doesn't find victory? Will the monster be content to ruin just one life, or will he devour more? Walton's ability to keep the answers unclear until the very end is what makes False Positive a fulfilling entry into the anthologies of the unnerving.