2010 British Fantasy Award Nominee (Best Novella)
Johnny Gregson moved to the country to enjoy the quiet of his twilight years, but it seems he’s got two problems. The first is the roadkill. His neighbor—Hill “Scratch” Clayton—is the second.
Scratch is a hard-edged old man and a creature of habit. He mows his lawn at first light every morning, and the sound of the John Deere’s engine always wakes Johnny and his wife from their brittle sleep. Come winter the ride-on mower is replaced by Scratch’s snowblower. Johnny tries to reason with him, but Scratch is set in his ways. There is no compassion in his soul.
After Johnny’s world is turned upside down, he is compelled to take drastic action. He thinks he knows a way to silence Scratch forever.
For six years he has been scraping dead animals from his driveway and tossing them to the side of the road, and for six years they have disappeared within a day or two. He often asks himself, what happens to the roadkill? Just where does it go?
Old Man Scratch is a revenge story that is often touching, often humorous, but always bound by the unknown … the inexplicable fear of what man is capable of, and the darkness in his heart.
Praise for Old Man Scratch:
“Rio Youers’ Old Man Scratch is a superb example of the horror novella at its best: a tightly told tale in lean prose with maximized imagery. … In theme, style and quality, there are echoes of Stephen King’s early Gothic regionalism, though not in any derivative sense. Like King, Youers owns his rural landscape, flawlessly reproducing his characters’ small-town idiom and aesthetic without parodying it. … Old Man Scratch is a great horror tale indeed.”
“Old Man Scratch is perfect in every way – characterization, mood and atmosphere, and plenty of tension.” —Horror Drive-In “Old Man Scratch is a high-impact, tightly plotted novella from relative newcomer Rio Youers, who with this tale marks himself out as one to watch. … Highly recommended.”
“Remember when you first discovered Stephen King’s short stories and novellas? Reading Old Man Scratch will take you back. … A highly enjoyable tale of wickedness, and revenge, Old Man Scratch is the perfect introduction to Youers’ work.”
“Old Man Scratch is one of those rare books that you can’t stop thinking about after you put it down. … Rio Youers is the real deal, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.” —Horror World “Old Man Scratch is not a complex tale, but it is a nicely developed one. It is a slightly speculative but immanently human story of love, hate, relationships, frustration, and revenge.”