Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sneak Peak Inside Masters of Horror: Damned If You Don't

     Would you like a sneak peak inside the fabulous new anthology, Masters of Horror: Damned If You Don't? Here's a glimpse into three of the great horror authors.  We start with my favorite story, Topsy, by the great F.Paul Wilson.  Then prepare to be disgusted with Easy to Digest by the talented Scott M. Goriscak.  And rounding this little appetizer of horror is another excerpt from the story, Smokin' by the gifted Ken Goldman. 

     This post is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.  

     Food, Glorious FOOD! How do we love thee? (Really, how can we NOT, since every little innocent Oreo cookie has 14 various ‘appetite inducers’.)
     Let the legendary F. Paul Wilson’s “Topsy” count the ways…

By F. Paul Wilson

      I’m inna middle a chewin on dis giant lasagne noodle when Nurse Delores appears.
     “Morning, Topsy!” she says as she marches inta da room in her white uniform.
     Dey call me Topsy.
     Don’t ax why dey call me dat.  My name’s Bruno.  But evybody here calls me Topsy.
     “Oh, no!” she says.  “You’ve been eating your sheets again!”
     I look down an see she’s right.  My sheets is all chewed up.  I guess dat weren’t no giant lasagne noodle after all.
     God I’m hungry.
     “Ready for breakfast?” she says all bright an cheery.
     Course I’m ready for breakfast—I’m dyin for breakfast—but I don’t say nuttin. Cause what dey call breakfast here ain’t.  Ain’t lunch or dinner neither.  Just liquid.  Not even a shake.  I amember when I useta eat diet shakes.  Useta drink ten a dem fa breakfast.  An anotha ten fa coffee break.  Dey’re junk.  I neva lost weight on dem.  Not once.
But no shakes round here.  Just dis clear glop.  An here she comes wit a whole glass of it.
     “Here, Topsy.  Open your mouth and drink this,” she says, all Mary Sunshine poikiness.
If my hands wasn’t strapped to da side of da bed I’d grab her an make her drink it herself an see how much she likes dat shit.
     She tilts da glass toward my lips but I turn away.
     “Come on, Topsy,” she says.  “I know you don’t like it, but it’s this or nothing.”
     “Come on, Topsy.  Do it for Lenore.  Don’t be mad at me.  The protein hydrosylate isn’t my idea.  It’s doctor’s orders.  And it’s working.  You’re down to twelve hundred and thirty pounds now.”
     Still I don’t open.
     “Come on, baby.  It’s this or go hungry.  Open up.”
     Sometimes she calls me baby, but dat don’t make it taste better, believe me.
     I open an pretend it’s a milk shake.  A big double chocolate praline shake laced wit wet walnuts.
     Don’t help.  I gag an wanna barf it all ova da place but manage to choke it down.  Gotta.  It’s all I’ll get til lunch.  An dat’ll only be a salad.
     God I’m so hungry.
     Dey don’t unnerstan aroun here.  Don’t seemta realize dat I gotta eat.  Dey say dey’re helpin me by stickin needles in my arms an feedin me teeny bits of veggies an barely a moutful of whole grain sumpin-or-otha an dis liquid protein shit, but dey ain’t helpin.  Ain’t helpin me one bit.
     Guy’s gotta eat.
     Useta be so good when my brotha Sal an his wife Marie was takin care a me.  I was happy den.  Dat’s cause dey unnerstood.  Dey knew I hadda eat.  Boy could dey cook.  No limit, man.  Anyting I wanted, it was dere on da bed tray soon as I said.
     Dey unnerstood me, know’m sayin?


Between “Topsy” and Stephen King’s “Survivor Type”, I blithely assumed that nothing more horrific could be written on the subject of eating disorders. Was I ever wrong. When Lee sent me this story from Scott Goriscak (the author of ‘Wounds’ from the first MASTERS OF HORROR anthology), I wrote back: Oh. My. God.
Fair warning: if you’ve just now finished a decent meal, skip ahead to one of the other stories before reading…

By Scott M. Goriscak

Jake wasn’t the best looking guy in school: he was tall, gaunt, and pale but he could always be found in the middle of a crowded room surrounded by the ladies. His popularity could be attributed to the fact his parents traveled often leaving him home alone, which gave him the perfect opportunity to throw all the parties he wanted; and these gatherings were legendary. Everyone in school quickly gravitated to the young man for this very reason. His parties replaced the empty void that used to be—a weekend at home replaced with a place to go and socialize with their classmates. They thought that Jake was great for providing his classmates a haven for them to gather, party, and socialize. He was the perfect host, greeting everyone at the front door of his house armed with cold mugs of beer in his hands, a table brimming with food, and an endless selection of beautiful ladies. This may have seemed like the perfect way to spend the evening but Jake had ulterior motives for hosting these gatherings.
Tonight was no different. The music was loud and the beer was flowing freely. The ladies moved provocatively on the dance floor as the alcohol pickled their inhibitions. Jake roamed the party filling empty glasses and serving food—the perfect host. After he made his rounds Jake would always return to the company of the ladies, sometimes expanding on his duties if one of them needed to have her hair held back as she vomited in the community puke barrel.
The puke barrel was the one rule that guests were required to obey. All party-goers, new or veteran, needed to know what it was, where it was, and why it existed. It was a fifty gallon barrel that resided on the patio. If anyone was going to be sick they were expected to use the barrel and not the bathroom. The bathroom was farther away than the open back door. The party-goers didn’t seem to have an issue with the only rule of the party. They had been to too many parties before where the person attempting make it to the bathroom ended up either christening everything on the way or showered the bathroom in vomit.     This rule was a small concession to abide by in exchange for a place to have a good time. It was easy to relate to their host’s concerns since they had either witnessed someone or had been that anxious person at a previous party running across the crowded room in search of the restroom. Some parties when Jake wasn’t hanging with the women he was out back watching over the puke barrel. Most people thought this was his way to make sure that no one dumped the horrible swill across the patio. At one party a few volunteers decided to help clean up after everyone went home and while moving the heavy barrel they accidently spilled it. Jake looked both angry and tearful at the sight of the gelatinous soup splashing across the patio into the grass. Thinking that they were responding properly to their clumsiness they grabbed a garden hose and flooded the surface to wash the remainder of the smelly fluid from settling into the brick and sand. Jake fought to hold back the tears as he watched the fruits of his labors wash away. He was careful to never let that happen again. At the end of each party he refused any and all offers to help clean up, tonight was no different. As he was escorting everyone out the front door he would politely turn down any offer of help until the last person exited and he closed the door behind them. This is the time of the night that Jake looked forward to. He walked outside to the barrel on the patio. There he stood looking down into the half filled barrel of foam, lumps of food and beer. His mouth watered.

Is there anyone more prone to substance abuse than rock ‘n rollers? Possibly, but perhaps it’s just not as widely publicized. Keith Richards once remarked that “musicians don’t necessarily get started on drugs because they’re all plentiful and fun—or that they seem entitled to them. A lot of times it’s because you’re in Des Moines one night and you have to be in Chicago the next, all pumped and ready to go.”
Or, as Ken Goldman writes, there might be another reason.

By Ken Goldman

     Grinding his axe in the heaviest balls-out band on the charts had not significantly altered bassist Zacherly Cooper’s pursuit of the young BaddAss groupies, although the thrill of the hunt had long since disappeared. There was no question that he would be bumping bones with the young girls following every concert during the BaddAss KickkAss Tour 2K1; there remained only the uncertainty of how much aggravation this latest cooz pot would cause when time came to toss her butt out of his hotel room.
     “You fuck like you play—pissed,” the nubile blonde informed him as she squirmed back into a silk thong so thin the bassist could have flossed with it. During their time in bed her smiles of pleasure had faded in inverse proportion to her tolerance for pain. “I’m just glad you’re not into Pete Townshend or you might have broken me against the goddamned headboard.”
     The girl got that part right. Zacherly felt pissed enough to do much worse than providing some groupie a shitty fuck. The band had fallen on hard times since its lead guitarist chewed the muzzle of his .38. Almost as disastrous were the media’s talking heads who asserted that the surviving BaddAss members had lost it the night Raymond ‘Kinky’ Wisznewski offed himself. One MTV asswipe claimed Zacherly Cooper was fooling himself if he expected there might be a second act in his future.
     On the warm April evening that was Kinky’s last, some clever cop covering the crime scene remarked that the effect of Wisznewski’s shattered brains on the wall of his hotel suite looked like a dripping Rorschach painted in gray matter. Zack personally felt his buddy’s splatters resembled the finger paintings of a zoo ape, but he had been high enough to swear to reporters that he had witnessed the Holy Virgin’s image dripping down the blood soaked wall. Having lost his best friend as well as his meal ticket, the BaddAss bassist immediately scored the best weed in the western hemisphere, intending to keep himself eight miles high for many months to come. With enough reefer to choke a horse Zacherly Cooper’s agenda was to disappear behind a thick wall of smoke. In the world of heavy metal this passed for grief.
     Wisznewski would forever be a tough act to follow. How could any mortal hope to produce a metallic mindfuck like the opening bars of his classic “Saint Damnation”?
     “A fallen man, lost and alone, I discovered an angel dusting the streets of hell.
Curse me Father, for I wish to sin . . .”
     Cooper knew better than to compete with lyrics like these, but his career as a solo act would need a jump start if he intended to pick up the dropped gauntlet of his band mate.
     You fuck like you play
     The girl didn’t mean that as a compliment.
     And what if he played like he fucked? What if there were no second act?

© Copyright Triskaideka Books 2011. All rights reserved. 
Triskaideka Books has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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