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The Sick Box


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A devilishly funny dark comedy about a woman in Hell who must possess a young child on Earth in order to fulfill a fated prediction.

If Hell is other people, then the other people are certainly our corporate coworkers.

Karen Floyd is living out this workplace version of Hell: she's employed at a communications company in the fiery depths, filled with absurd acronyms, even absurder motivational posters, and zombie outbreaks. But all of a sudden, things finally start to go Karen's way--turns out, she's up for an important promotion.

In the brilliantly kooky world of Matthew Fries' The Sick Box, Karen's new job is related to the box mentioned in the title. A sick box is the collection of items that Catholic priests use to deliver last rites to the dying. Karen's sick box has ended up in the hands of the Matthews' family--husband Ben, wife Dana, and daughter Mallory--and Karen finds out that she's intimately connected to the family by an important prophecy. Karen must possess Mallory in order to fulfill her destiny for Satan (who is, of course, a giant woman). In exchange, Karen will get a chance to start over, but she better not screw things up.

The narrative also closely follows Ben, who's trying to figure out what he believes about his daughter's condition. His wife, Dana, is convinced that Mallory is possessed, but Ben thinks that theory is pure foolishness. No matter what's going on with Mallory, Ben and Dana will have to address her condition before their marriage falls apart completely.

The Sick Box is a laugh-out-loud hysterical farce that pokes fun at everything from The Exorcist to fake self-help advice columnists to Reiki practitioners. Fries expertly skewers contemporary capitalist culture and society, calling attention to the zaniness of the world he's created with effortless confidence. Overall, The Sick Box is a pitch perfect black comedy that concludes with a hilarious inversion of one of Satan's lines from Milton's Paradise Lost: Better to live simply on Earth than serve in Hell. Or, is it?

Reviewed by

Michelle Hogmire is a West Virginian writer with an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She writes about Horror at Master Hogmire's Scream Along Blog. Her work has been featured in Rampant Magazine, BOMB, KGB Bar Lit Mag, and Columbia Journal. She's currently finishing her first book in Chicago

About the author

Matthew Fries was born in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, but as an adult he stole away to Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. A graduate of the creative writing program at York University, he is the white guy in an interracial marriage, a child of the 80s, and the proud father of a mixed chick. view profile

Published on August 22, 2021

Published by Czykmate Productions

60000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Humor & Comedy

Reviewed by