Fleshbait – David Holman and Larry Pryce

fleshbait holman pryce.jpg
Fleshbait – David Holman and Larry Pryce
New English Library – 1979

There was a period a few decades ago when animal horror was the big thing. Authors would pick any living creature, imagine them having murderous tendencies and a book would soon emerge. Harmless creatures such as dogs, cats, rats, slugs and crabs all had their turns at turning nasty. This type of horror isn’t hugely appealing to me, but I was in a bookstore the other day and found a short book about what looked like killer fish for 2 dollars. I thought I might as well give it a go.

One of the many problems with this truly awful book is that the first identifiable group of killers is a swarm of trout.

There are two reasons why I find trout amusing. Can you remember when you and your friends were teenagers and you would collectively fixate on a word or phrase? In my school this happened several times. The boys in my 4th year classroom decided as a whole that the word “girth” was hilarious. We’d mutter it under our breaths when the business studies teacher turned his back, or we’d write “Adam has a girthy one”on the inside of Adam’s copy book. Another time, somebody realised that a boy in the year below us had bulbous eyes and a fishy looking mouth. When he dyed his hair different colours, he sealed his own coffin. From that moment on, he became known as ‘Rainbow Trout’. For the interests of mischief, we dropped the Rainbow part of the phrase when in class, but the phrases ‘trout’ and sometimes even ‘brown trout’ were forevermore heard echoing through the classrooms and corridors of my alma mater.

The second reason that the word trout brings me mirth is a text message my sister sent me a few years ago. She was on holiday with a less than responsible friend, and on one occasion, my sister returned to their hotel room only to discover this friend engaged in an act of passion on the veranda. I believe the exact phrasing of her later report to me was, “I walked in and there was a lad on the floor licking her trout.” To this day the memory of that text never fails to bring me a chuckle.

Keeping these points in mind, the reader will understand how I found it difficult to take seriously the horror of a swarm of malevolent trout.

There’s more than trout to this book though. After a bunch of nuclear waste leaks into the sea, any fish that encounter it begin to mutate. They quickly evolve larger brains, vocal apparatus, telepathic abilities and a thirst for revenge against the humans that have hunted them for thousands of years.

A scientist, still reeling (haha) over the suspicious death of his best friend, finds himself in charge of the campaign against the killer fish.

After a particularly nasty fish attack, he calls a press conference, but the only person to speak at this conference is an insane woman.

When the scientist discovers that his friend actually committed suicide because he was gay for him, he recklessly dives into the most contaminated part of the sea and discovers a slab of rock that’s covered with mutilated human bodies that the fish have put on display in much the same way that fishermen display pictures of their catches on the walls of their offices.

This grisly grotto turns out to be a radioactive hub that is charging the local sea life with mutating radiation. After it is blown up, everybody assumes that the problem is solved.

This illusion is shattered when a big gang of fish assemble near a railway that passes by the ocean front. When a train containing the scientist and his team passes by this little stretch, these fish point their arses inland and flip their flippers. This causes a tsunami that knocks the train off the tracks.

Haha, this book was such a piece of crap. I just looked back through the animal horror section in Paperbacks from Hell and saw that it does get a brief mention there. Of all the books I’ve read that were featured in there, this is definitely the worst. The authors try to fit too many ideas into a very short text, and the antagonists aren’t scary at all. This book is shite.

More Fuckin’ Vampires – Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls

poppy z brite lost soulsLost Souls – Poppy Z. Brite
Penguin – 1994 (first published 1992)

I had no idea what this book was going to be about when I bought it. I was a bit disappointed once I realised it was about vampires, but I was already too far in to consider switching to something else.

It turned out to be far gayer (it’s absolutely full of dudes kissing dudes) and far more goth than I was expecting, but I actually really liked it.

Lost Souls ticks all of the necessary boxes for it to be classified as Gothic literature. I know wikipedia isn’t authoritative by any means, but it currently lists the following as the defining elements of Gothic fiction:

Virginal maiden – “young, beautiful, pure, innocent, kind, virtuous and sensitive. Usually starts out with a mysterious past and it is later revealed that she is the daughter of an aristocratic or noble family.” Nothing, the mysterious teenager is revealed to be the son of a Vampire. He’s virginal in the sense that he has not yet drank blood.
Hero Ghost, the sensitive, caring weirdo is undoubtedly the hero of this story.
Tyrant/villain/evil characters Zillah is a classic Gothic villain, absolutely self-absorbed and evil.
Bandits/ruffians Zillah’s two goons, Twig and Molochai.
The setting – “The plot is usually set in a castle, an abbey, a monastery, or some other, usually religious edifice, and it is acknowledged that this building has secrets of its own. This gloomy and frightening scenery sets the scene for what the audience has already come to expect. “ Most of the book is set in New Orleans graveyards, dingy, dimly lit rock concerts, and an archaic magic shop.
Night journeys Ghost and Steve do an awful lot of driving at night, the vampires also.
Madness The vampire’s bloodlust/Steve’s lack of self control
Miraculous survivals Christian survives being shot in the chest. Zillah recovers from a baseball-bat smashed face.

Lost Souls is clearly a Gothic novel, but more noticeably, it’s a goth novel. I use the word “goth” here in the teenage Skinny Puppy fan sense of the word. The book takes its title from its hero’s angsty, mystical rock band, and I think all of the other characters in the book have long, dyed-black hair.

south park goth kidsLost Souls is exactly the kind of book that these kids would read.

The protagonist of the book is 15 years old, and his name is Nothing. He cuts himself and runs away from home because his parents don’t understand him… I found the 32 year old part of me cringing occasionally while reading through this, but my inner angsty teenager loved every page.

Lost Souls is a pretty cool book, quite a few steps above some of the modern horror I’ve reviewed here recently. I look forward to reading more of Poppy Z. Brite’s books in the future.

Halloween Novelizations

curtis richards halloween corgi

Halloween – Curtis Richards
Corgi – 1980 (First published 1979)
I wasn’t yet capable of deciding whether a film was bad or good when I first saw the original Halloween movie. It was a horror film that my parents didn’t know I was watching, and that was enough to make me think it was awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever rewatched it. I know I also saw Halloween H2O in a friends house when I was a kid, and I watched the Rob Zombie remake when it came out in the cinema, but I can’t pretend that I have ever been a dedicated fan of the Halloween series.

It might then seem strange that the first movie novelization that I would ever read would be Halloween. I had read about how rare this book was, and when I saw a copy going for a single dollar, I couldn’t resist. I quite enjoyed the book, but it’s not worth the $12,000 that some sellers are asking for. Do yourself a favour and download the pdf version that’s floating about the internet instead.

Part of this novelization’s appeal is its inclusion of background information and plot details that are not present in the movie. There’s a backstory here about the weird druidy-curse that is to blame for Michael Myers’ bloodlust. Most reviews praised these additions, but others claimed that they detracted from the mystery of the film. I thought they were fine. I haven’t watched the movie in almost 20 years, so I won’t try to lay out any comparisons here; there’s other reviews online that already do that. I had no real desire to rewatch the movie after reading the book either; it was enjoyable enough as a standalone text.

I finished reading the first Halloween novelization at lunch time last Sunday and then started listening to an audiobook recording of the novelization of the second Halloween movie only a couple of hours later. In a way it makes sense to do things this way; the second movie picks up directly where the first left off, but in retrospect, I think going directly from one to the other was probably a mistake.

halloween 2 jack martinHalloween II – Jack Martin (Dennis Etchison)
Zebra – 1981

The first fifth of the second novelization is basically the exact same thing as the last quarter of the first novelization. It retells how the first movie ends in order to set the scene for the rest of the book. This would be handy if you had taken some time between the two texts, but it made going directly from one to the other quite tedious. Although written by different authors, these parts of both books are based on the same part of the same movie, and this makes for a very boring start.

Things didn’t get much better. While the novelization of Halloween adds a new dimension to the story told in the movie, the second book is a more faithful novelization. It only briefly alludes to the druidic origin of the Myers’ curse, and this time round the reader never gets to see things from Michael’s perspective. Without these elements, the second book feels like a slightly different series to the first book.

Also, I haven’t seen it, but the second movie isn’t supposed to be as good as the first, and a straight novelization doesn’t make the story any better. There’s a lot of unnecessary character development and pointless crap in here. Why did Michael visit the school? Why the hell was that boring rubbish about the drunk trucker included? I was listening an audiobook version too, turning a dull 90 minute movie into a very dull 5 and half hour listening experience. Maybe it would have been more enjoyable if I had watched the movie beforehand, but I don’t honestly see how that could have been the case.

I was going to listen to the audiobook versions of Halloween 3 and 4 for this post, but I decided that it would actually make more sense just to watch the movies. Unfortunately, I didnt have the time. Also, the new Halloween movie comes out today, and it is supposed to be a direct sequel to the first film (even though it’s actually the 9th movie in the series, not including remakes). Halloween H2O and Halloween Resurrection, the 6th and 7th sequels, continued the story from the end of Halloween 2, ignoring the events of Halloween 3, 4, 5 and 6, but the new Halloween movie is going one step further than this, disregarding everything but the original 1978 movie. (So the 11th Halloween movie is technically the third Halloween 2. Complicated, right?) Well, if the people who actually make these movies are willing to ignore Halloween 3 and 4, I reckon I probably should too.

Have a spooky one!

The Cannibals of Candyland – Carlton Mellick III

the cannibals of candyland carlton mellickThe Cannibals of Candyland – Carlton Mellick III
Avant Punk – 2009
At some stage in the not-so-distant past, a tribe of paedophagists (cannibals with a taste for kids) that used candy to catch its prey was separated from the rest of the human race. Somehow, they very quickly evolved candy hands to make hunting small children easier. Now their entire bodies are covered in candy, and they live in a giant cave under the sewers, only surfacing to snatch kids away for dinner. This book is the story of Franklin – a man whose siblings were eaten by these cannibals – and his quest for revenge.

I was looking for books in a thrift store a few days ago, and I found this on the bottom shelf of the horror section. Recently, I’ve been expanding my horizons with some rather trashy horror fiction, and when I saw this priced at a cool 3 dollars, I thought I might as well take things one step further. I had seen mentions of Bizarro fiction before reading this book, but I had never given it any attention. (Bizarro fiction is a niche underground genre of literature that a quick google search will help you understand.)

Maybe the rest of this Bizarro stuff is absolute crap, but this book was pretty good. I have an interest in gross, offensive art, but I don’t have much time for offensiveness just for offensiveness’ sake. It takes no skill or intelligence to string together a bunch of obscenities. Likewise, I don’t mind zany, off-the-wall art, but I quite dislike zaniness for zaniness’ sake. (When I was 17, I went to a house party where my friend’s friends were sitting in a circle playing the “random game”, a game in which players took turns saying “random” things – “Cheese, huh huh”. The idea that people would feel comfortable acting that way makes me feel nauseous to this very day.) While The Cannibals of Candyland was both thoroughly repulsive and rather strange, it didn’t feel forced. Once the admittedly ridiculous premise of the story is accepted, the whole thing is pleasantly cohesive. The book is filled with revolting gore and uncomfortably bizarre sex scenes, but these facets are being used to tell a surprisingly relatable story. Also, the book is nice and short; it never gets boring.

I don’t know how many Bizarro novels will really fit in on this blog, but this one was definitely horrible enough to warrant its inclusion. I enjoyed reading it, and I like the seemingly DIY nature of the Bizarro movement. I reckon I’ll be reading (and probably reviewing) more of this kind of stuff in the future.

One for the Rockers – Shelia Bristow Garner’s Night Music, Garrett Boatman’s Stage Fright and Frank Lauria’s The Foundling

horror rock
Heavy metal has a long history of borrowing elements from the realm of horror fiction. Anthrax wrote Among the Living about Stephen King’s The Stand, Iron Maiden have Phantom of the Opera, Moonchild and lots of other songs about literature, Metallica did Call of Kutulu and The Thing that Should not Be about Lovecraft’s work (their Ride the Lightning album also got its name from The Stand), and Reverend Bizarre were clearly big Dennis Wheatley fans, penning songs titled They Used Dark Forces and The Devil Rides Out. (This list is far from exhaustive; I’m limiting my examples to books I have reviewed on this site.) Its pummeling cacophony, sludgy riffs, piercing shrieks and gutteral growls make heavy metal sound like the events in a horror novel, and it’s not at all surprising that several authors have tried to switch things around by writing horror stories involving heavy rock music. (I’ve previously reviewed Ghoul, an awesome novel about an evil rock band, and Shock Rock, an anthology of rock’n’roll themed short fiction.) This post looks at three more horror novels that have chanced their arm wrestling the rock monster.

night music shelia bristow garnerNight Music – Sheila Bristow Garner

Pinnacle – 1992

This was an awful book. It’s about Kitty, a boring, plain-jane nurse, who falls in love with Michael, the singer in Fiasco, a shitty covers band. Soon after Kitty and Michael meet, a new guitarist joins the band, brainwashes Michael with a combination of hypnosis and rohypnol and then initiates him into a satanic cult. As Michael gets deeper and deeper into Satanism, his relationship with Kitty falls apart.

The characters are frustratingly flat – the good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad. Also, the members of Fiasco, the band, are suspiciously familiar – Michael leads, and David, he plays keys. Freddy’s cool but rude, and Jocko, well, he’s a party-dude.

The Satanism in here is never explained. To Sheila Bristow Garner, Satanists are just people who cut out other people’s hearts to worship the Devil. She assumes that her readers think so too. I was hoping that the horror in here would be of the supernatural variety because of cool skull on the cover, but I was sorely disappointed. The Satanic character is a good musician, and while he wouldn’t be the first character to receive his musical prowess from Satan, the book never explicitly suggests this. The most horrifying thing about this book is how dull it is. The main characters are so bland that I spent most of the book hoping that they would die horribly. This book is the literary equivalent of eating a stale cheese sandwich when you’re not hungry. Reading it feels like sitting on a train beside a person who has just farted. As soon as you realise what’s going on, you just want it to be over.

shelia bristow garnerThe author

This isn’t a horror novel. It’s a shitty romantic thriller that mentions Satanism. (There’s a surprising amount of loving, tender, consensual sex in here.) The rock ‘n’ roll element is limited to a few mentions of the blues-rock covers that the band perform. Everything about this book was disappointing. The cover art is by far the best part, and it doesn’t have much to do with the story. Look carefully and you’ll see that it pictures a bass guitar. The bassist in Fiasco is one of the least important characters in the story. He is never involved in any of the Satanic activity, yet the hand on the bass guitar is wearing a pentagram ring! Bullshit.

 

the foundling frank lauria
The Foundling – Frank Lauria

I quite liked Frank Lauria’s Doctor Orient series, and the cover of this book is an image of a devil-child playing an electric guitar. I had to read it.

I had read a rather unenthusiastic review of The Foundling before sitting down with the book, but it really wasn’t that bad. Sure, there’s only 4 or 5 real horror moments throughout, but I found the characters interesting enough to keep things afloat. This is the story of a retired rock-star and his wife adopting a preteen girl in an attempt to save their failing marriage. Unfortunately, the girl is sex-crazed, evil and magic. Whenever somebody annoys her, they end up dying horribly. The fact that the girl is evil is established early on, but the surprising reason for her evilness is only revealed towards the end. (Skip to the next paragraph if you’re planning to read this book.) It turns out that she is evil because she was brought up as part of the Manson family. That’s right. Not content with ripping off Carrie and the Omen, Frank Lauria decided to throw in a bit of Helter Skelter too. Surprised? It doesn’t make much sense in the context of the book either.

As far as rock’n’roll content is concerned, there’s not much to say. The dad character produces an album in the family’s basement, and the little girl writes a song, but that’s pretty much it. The rock’n’roll could be entirely removed from the story with just a few changes. Frank Lauria has played in a band, and the first Doctor Orient book features rock’n’roll mind control, so I guess he just likes it.

This was a quick read. It’s nothing special, but it was enjoyable enough.

 

stage fright garrett boatman
Stage Fright – Garret Boatman
I have been planning this post since the beginning of 2017, but tracking down this book delayed things considerably. I knew on seeing the cover that I would some day read it, but at that time copies were going for about 20 dollars, just a little more than what I feel comfortable paying for a trashy paperback. After being included on the cover of Paperbacks from Hell, this book became very difficult to find, and I had to spend a ludicrous amount of time and effort tracking down an affordable copy. I am delighted to announce that it was worth it.

This book is just as deadly as the cover would have you believe. While not really about a keyboard playing skeleton rocker, Stage Fright is a gory, slimy, slab of entertaining sci-fi horror. The instrument on the front cover is presumably the controller to a Dreamatron, a machine that allows its user to project their imagination into the dreams of an audience. Isidore Stark, the world’s most famous Dreamatron artist, decides to ingest the blood of schizophrenics to enhance his dreamscapes, but this leads to him losing control of his mind and the machine, and the results are very, very bloody. Characters from classic horror movies, the paintings of Bosch, and the books of Tolkien and Lovecraft show up in the “dreamies”. There are certain discrepancies to the story (how does the dream machine actually work?), but it’s pretty easy to let this stuff slide when you’re being confronted with flesh mazes and grotesque monsters tearing people’s limbs off. While this book isn’t about music, its intensity made it feel far more rock’n’roll than either of the other two books reviewed in this post.

I’ve only found one other full review of Stage Fright online. It’s quite a bit more critical than this one, but I suspect that Joe Kenney hadn’t slogged through two very mediocre (boring) rock novels directly beforehand. He is correct in claiming that some of the characters are overdeveloped and that the book is probably longer than it should be. Stage Fright is pure trash, but I prefer pure trash to diluted trash.

Joe Kenney also, very perceptively, notes that the inside cover of Stage Fright advertises another novel by Boatman Garrett called Death Dream. No such novel was ever published, and Kenney suggests that Death Dream might actually have been the original title for Stage Fright. This could explain the fact that the cover and title don’t have much to do with the plot of the novel; Death Dream would be more appropriate for this story.
death dream garrett boatmanDoes this then mean that Onyx had originally commissioned this cover art for an actual novel about a keyboard playing skeleton that was never published? Is there a manuscript of the real Stage Fright in some forgotten archive? We’ll probably never know.

 

I have reviewed these books in the order I read them. If I had ordered them by ranking, they’d be in the same position, Stage Fright being the best, Night Music being the shittest. Despite their incredible cover art, none of these books are really about rock music. My search for the perfect blend of horror and metal continues. Fortunately, I have these two books lying on my shelf for later.
the scream and kill riff

Blood Rite – Michael Falconer Anderson

blood rite michael falconer andersonBlood Rite – Michael Falconer Anderson
St. Martin’s Press – 1988

In 1988, the only things an individual needed to become a published author were the imagination to come up with an unpleasant scenario, the ability to construct grammatical sentences, and the patience to compose enough of these sentences to fill 150 pages. Blood Rite has a setting, some characters and a beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t have much else.

The premise of this book is that 2 satanic zombies have risen from their graves to go on a killing spree in the woods. This is obviously a very silly idea, but silly plots don’t necessarily make shitty books. With a bit of humour and self awareness, this could easily have been turned into an entertaining story. Unfortunately for everyone though, there is absolutely no humour, warmth or intrigue in this book. It reads as if the author had been forced to write it as punishment. I mean, it’s a bit surprising that a person would bother putting 150 pages worth of effort into something that they so clearly didn’t give a shit about.

I don’t have much else to say. This book is shite. It’s short though, I read it over the course of a few bus rides, so I’m not too upset. Reading stuff like this makes me want to write more fiction myself. I am 100% sure that I could write a much better book than this. (That might sound like boasting, but if you have read Blood Rite, you’ll know that it really isn’t.)

blood rite back coverAdmittedly, the cover still looks as good as it did before I read the book.

Kevin – A Short Story about Customer Service

(It has been quite a while since I wrote any fiction. I came up with an idea for a short story on my way into work on Thursday and had finished writing it before I went to bed that night. It’s based on a guy I used to work with. He was a good friend. More of this is true than you might want to believe. I hope you like it.)

Kevin, a carpark attendant at Mundrum Shopping Centre, is facing an extremely rude and irate customer. The customer is complaining about a parking coupon that she believes to have malfunctioned. Kevin calmly delivers the rote explanation of how the system works – the coupons deduct two hours off the parking, not two euros; if you’ve stayed longer than two hours, you still need to pay. The customer’s rage has overpowered her ability to think rationally, and she predictably demands to speak to Kevin’s boss. When the boss arrives, he comes down on the customer’s side and gives her free parking with a smile, apologising for Kevin’s attitude. Without making eye contact with the employee he has just stabbed in the back, the manager tells Kevin to wipe down the ticket paystations and withdraws to his office.

The service corridors that run behind the carpark walls are almost always empty. There’s a turn at the end of one of these corridors that leads to an emergency fire-exit. About 3 metres before this turn, there’s a door to the garbage-collection area. This small section of the corridor is a safe haven for slackers. There’s no security cameras, and on the off-chance that an intruder enters this realm, the echoey nature of the corridor will provide ample warning to the truant worker and allow them to escape in the opposite direction. This little patch of land is where Kevin has established his snail farm.

Every now and then, a car drives into the carpark, sheltering a snail under its fender. Sometimes the snails fall off and end up on the carpark floor, and whenever Kevin finds one of these forsaken gastropods, he takes it to his snail sanctuary. There are 7 snails on the wall here, growing fat on a diet of mayonnaisey lettuce from the turkey sandwiches that Kevin buys in the shop upstairs. He feeds them every day.

Sitting on an upturned shopping basket, facing the creatures he considers his closest friends, Kevin comforts himself with a large bag of crisps. He does his best to ignore the rancid stench from butcher’s dumpster that’s just around the corner, a stench exacerbated by the hot weather. Kevin is thinking about the events in his life that have led him here – dropping out of high-school, emmigrating in the hopes of a new life, taking the first job he was interviewed for and staying in it despite it making him unhappier than he has ever been. This job is awful. Not only are the customers cruel and the shifts long and dull, but Kevin is 350 lbs and the heavy steel-toe leather boots he is required to wear are Hell on his feet. Daily bouts of prolonged mental anguish and physical pain have recently been leading him to thoughts of suicide. He concedes to himself that tonight might be the night that he goes home and overdoses on pain medication. He doesn’t want to face another day at the carpark.

He gets a call on his radio telling him to help a customer that has gotten stuck at the exit, but the radio signal is bad in this corridor and after a delayed response, he takes another five minutes to journey to the exit to free the distressed soul. He opens the gate without question and waves the car on. The exiting driver rewards Kevin’s effort with a vulgar comment about his weight and mental capabilities.

Kevin is called to the office afterwards and the boss asks him where he was when he was being called and why he had taken so long. Kevin claims that he had been using the toilet. “You have to ask before going to toilet!”, the boss informs him. Kevin later jokes with his younger coworkers about how he would promptly soil himself if the boss ever denied such a request. He claims that he would gladly disregard his own discomfort and hygiene and finish out the day’s work with a turd in his britches if doing so would cause offense to the customers and dismay to his boss.

There’s soon another rude customer, this one is looking for his car – “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve already checked Level 1.” But Kevin does know what he’s talking about; he goes through this routine several times an hour. He tells customer again that his car is actually on Level 1M, the level between Level 1 and Level 2. The customer informs Kevin that it is stupid to have two Level 1s. He’s right, but he’s speaking as if it was Kevin who had been in charge of naming the levels of the car park. Kevin, doing his best to maintain the appearance of sympathy tells the customer that he will show him a shortcut to the right level. They head into the corridor that leads to the snail farm. When they are near the end of the corridor, Kevin points to the door that opens onto the garbage-collection area and tells the customer to go ahead. As soon as the customer has his back to him, Kevin takes the shoelaces that he has removed from his heavy, leather boots from his pocket, lunges forward and swiftly wraps them around the customer’s neck. Pulling tightly, in an act of seething, malevolent hatred, Kevin’s face reddens in synchronicity with the customer’s. His eyes are open so wide that they seem to be stretching his sockets. His greasy lips are pursed tightly in a delirious grimace. After 30 seconds of intense struggling, he has to remind himself to breathe, his conscious mind overcoming his self-loathing and extinguishing his deathwish vicariously through the demise of his victim. During the attack, Kevin’s mind is aflame. He acknowledges to himself that what he is doing is terribly wrong while simultaneously contemplating the factors that have led to this – is this the end-result of not being breastfed as a baby? These thoughts follow each other in quick succession, the idea of breasts encouraging his already growing erection. It has been a long time since he has been this close to anyone. The tinge of sexual excitement now fully unhinges his mind. “Mama, Mama!” he whispers in the dying man’s ear, his breath still reeking of cheese and onion crisps, “I just want you to love me. Please, Mama, I need you to love me!”

Leaving it as late as possible, Kevin calls into his boss at 9.30 pm and reports a potential gas leak by one of the fire-exits. At this stage, all of the customers and most of the mall’s staff have gone home. A few carpark attendants are kept on site to help cinema-goers and restaurant diners as they exit. The boss is about to head home but decides that a potential gas leak sounds serious enough to necessitate a check. He reluctantly follows Kevin into the service corridors, bringing his stuff from the office so that he can leave directly once this is sorted. Once they get to the snail farm and the boss notices a large mound by the wall that has been covered with a tarp, Kevin takes the fire extinguisher from its mount beside the fire-exit and uses its rounded edge to viciously wallop the back of his boss’s head. With the boss’s body now lying parallel to the corpse under the tarp, Kevin slips off one of his own laceless boots and peels off a slimy, hot sock. The stench from this sock is more vile than anything he has witnessed today. He stuffs it into his boss’s unconscious mouth. Kevin takes off his other boot and sock and drops them to the floor. Next, he removes his trousers and underpants, leaving his sweaty, hairy ass completely exposed. His penis remains out of sight, hidden behind his sizeable paunch. Kevin steps one foot over his boss’s head, squats and begins to push out a hot loaf. “Please sir, may I go to the bathroom, please?”, he softly murmurs as the first log slides out solid, followed by a fart-powered spray of hot shit-chunks. He stands up and grabs two snails from the wall, quickly chucking them into his mouth and chewing violently. Shards of shell dig into his gums and his mouth fills with blood and snail guts. He lowers himself back down, suspending his head directly over the boss’s shit besmeared face and lets the disgusting  mixture in his mouth pour out, covering the chocolate cake like an exotic sauce. “Breakfast is served”, he chuckles to himself as he stands up and picks up his remaining sock to wipe his horrid ass. After calmly putting his pants and boots back on, he places one foot on the dirty man’s throat and exerts all of his weight on it. The man’s trachea is crushed instantly and he dies.

Tidying up is a surprisingly simple operation. The shops are long closed, and there’s nobody about to hinder the work. Kevin strips the corpses, puts their clothes into plastic bags and then puts these into his backpack. He drags the bodies a few meters and loads them into the butcher’s dumpster. This will be collected in the morning and emptied at a depot far away. The bodies might be discovered once it gets there, but they’ll probably just be minced up and turned into fertilizer.

Driving home that night in his boss’s Mercedes, Kevin feels good. He stops off at the off-license and buys a bottle of expensive brandy. When he gets home, he orders a tasty pizza. He sits on his bed, enjoying his feast. For the first time in months, Kevin is not dreading tomorrow.