I first encountered the words “trigger warning” in the No Sleep sub-reddit. Just two words, four syllables, and yet it hit my curiosity. What, exactly, does trigger warning mean? TRIGGER WARNING. It sounded so ominous and striking (in all dark, terrifying ways possible). Instead of consulting Google to find out its meaning, I went ahead and read the No Sleep stories that contained the Trigger Warning label on them. When I did so, I soon grasped the meaning of it, if only out of context. Disturbing. Dark. Twisted. Terrifying. Those stories were darkness and gray clouds, sinister smiles and outright cruelty. I continued to read anyway, although I skipped some stories that were too uncomfortable for me.
I came across those words again no more than a few years back, this time in the form of a book written by Neil Gaiman. I bought it, of course. No questions asked. And once I was done reading the book, there were no regrets in my buying decision. No regrets, only moments of unease, of feeling unsettled and uncomfortable as I voraciously ate up each story in “Trigger Warning.”
Today, I have picked four short stories that jumped out of the pages and clawed and gnawed at me. They’re stories of humans and non-humans, of quests and deaths, of truths and lies. They’re the kind of stories that stick with you, the scenes replaying in your mind, resurrecting discomfort long after you have put down the book.