Weekend Reading #5: “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson

We did it, everyone. We made it through the first week of the best month of the year! Give yourself a pat on the back, grab a pumpkin spice latte, and settle down with some more Weekend Reading. You deserve it.

With Halloween just around the corner, our great and powerful CSO Jake Patten has chosen this week’s delightfully creepy tale. It’s a little thing called “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson. Here’s what Jake has to say about it:

“I got into Richard Matheson back in 2006. Considering I’d been into Poe since grade school and I stumbled onto Asimov and Lovecraft in high school, 2006 seemed a bit late. Had the film version of I Am Legend come out earlier, I may never have jumped into the pit of science fiction/horror that is Matheson’s catalog. As it was, one of my good friends had graduated college and started law school in Seattle. Another friend and I took a train up the coast to hang out with her and explore the new city for a few days. Our nights – sometimes until the early summer dawn set the eastern sky ablaze – were filled with X-Men Legends on the Game Cube. My mornings, because I have an annoying habit of not being able to sleep once the sun is legitimately up, were filled with reading the books on my friend’s shelf. “I Am Legend” was amazing; better – and very different – than either Omega Man or the Will Smith film. The rest of the book was filled with shorter stories. Like “I Am Legend,” they blew me away.

One reason I was so astonished by Matheson’s short stories was because he was writing in the same niche I do; the gaps and cracks between science fiction and horror that rarely get filled. A lot of horror is dark and demonic. A lot of science fiction is antiseptic, white, and technological. Matheson is a grey combination of both tinged with the earthy browns, tans, and reds of humanity. “Button, Button” is a wonderful example of that style. The button box is a science fiction marvel, Mr. Steward a demon in disguise. The conflict and motivations that push the narrative are real – as relevant today as they were 45 years ago. Matheson’s story is a greyish-brown perversion of a classic O. Henry tale, one that I think of every time I write a short story.”

You can read “Button, Button” here:


Here’s the (new) Twilight Zone episode version of Button, Button, as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oKSJZAaSyc

Do you have a story that you feel everyone should know about? Tell us! It can be from anywhere online, written by anyone who won’t sue us – even you! That’s right – you’ll be famous…ish. Or something.

Shoot us a message, comment on this post, or send us a head in a paper box! We can’t wait to hear from you!