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Helter Skelter Paperback – August 1, 2011
"Swift, thoughtful, and highly entertaining."--Midwest Book Review
From the Author
Excerpt from "The Dead of the Night," one of the short stories in Helter Skelter. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2011 by Bryan Cassiday
"The Dead of the Night"
A man had torn out the throat of my next-door neighbor last night.
Nobody had heard a sound. The murder victim was an old woman with a wrinkled face like a walnut. She had a cast to one of her blue eyes. She once told me she had great difficulty reading the walk signal at the traffic intersection at the corner of our block. She wore spectacles, but they afforded her little help. She told me she was ninety-two.
That same night a zombie had taken a bite out of my arm . . .
I had been sleeping when I felt tremendous pain in my forearm. The shock of the pain woke me up. I jackknifed upright in my bed.
A man with a ghoul's face was standing over me, blood dripping from his lips. I shoved him away from me. He came back at me. I hauled off and punched him spang in the nose. I thought I heard his nose crack. Whatever it was that cracked, he didn't like the pain it caused. He groaned. He left my room after that. Could fragments of the bone in his nose have penetrated his brain on account of my blow?
I could not figure out how he had gotten into my apartment. Hadn't I locked my door before I had gone to bed? I thought I always did. Locking the door was part of my nightly ritual. For the life of me I could not remember. I realized my arm was bleeding all over my sheets.
I bolted to the bathroom to retrieve a towel. I wrapped the towel around my wounded forearm to stanch the bleeding. Apprehensively, I wondered if the zombie had infected me with his bite. From movies, I knew that if a zombie bit you, you were doomed to turn into a zombie yourself. How much longer did I have to live? The idea of turning into a zombie mortified me.
Should I go to a doctor? What good would a doctor do? After all, doctors could not cure a zombie bite. If I was, indeed, contaminated by the zombie germs, it was only a matter of time before I became a zombie.
I took two Tylenols to kill the pain in my throbbing arm. I looked at the towel wrapped around my arm. I didn't see any blood. Perhaps my wound had stopped bleeding. That was a good sign.
I closed my apartment door, which the zombie had left open when he had departed. I decided to go back to sleep. Easier said than done. I tossed and turned the entire night. I kept worrying about whether I should have gone to a doctor. I sweated bullets wondering how long it would take for me to morph into a zombie. The buzzing of the refrigerator in the kitchen kept me awake. The sound seemed inordinately loud for some reason. At last I managed to drift off just before sunrise.
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Top customer reviews
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With a little tweaking this book could be sort of like a Tales from the Crypt sort of novel. The stories really reminded me of that feeling, but just fell a little short. I really expected this book to be horror stories, and I didn't find them to be horror really.
It seemed like a thesaurus was used way too much. The writing was simple and for some stories there seemed to be random words that just felt out of place and in some cases I was baffled as to what they meant - I was reading it on a Kindle so I could look them up but it got very annoying to keep doing it so eventually I gave up. I also got very irritated with the overuse of peoples names. For example in one paragraph with 3 sentences the characters name would be used like 1-2 times in each sentence.
So, overall, the writing is a little weak. I felt like I was reading a fan's account of a few different horror movies meshed together. The writer (and the stories) definitely have potential, but I was interested in a good horror book, and these didn't really feel like horror to me.
Full review with a breakdown of each story can be found @ Shivers of Horror, my horror movie/book review blog (link in profile) this is only a small chunk of it.
Luckily later stories were written in a slightly more complex style, so they flowed a bit more easily. That said, it's still a simplistic read.
Lovers of short stories know a gem of a 'twist' can come out of nowhere! So I read the whole thing.
Alas, no gem this time. As readers' tastes vary, so may your mileage.