Horror tropes and cliches came so thick and fast in Shaun Hutson’s 1982 cult novella “Slugs” that I found myself wondering if it could be used as a road map for writing similar fiction. I was right.
Everything you read here is inspired by genuine content that I discussed in my original review, and will probably make much more sense if you read that first.
(Trigger Warnings: Intimate body parts, vice, various abuses, gore, telling not showing)
Information systems analyst Bob Corrigan woke up in a red armchair soaked in his own sweat. He had on a white shirt, unbuttoned at the neck and a pair of jeans that his wife had bought him three years previously when they’d been in the city. It had been a hot day and they’d been eating ice creams. She was lactose intolerant but didn’t let that always dictate what she ate. They’d walked past a jeans store and remembered he needed new jeans, so had gone inside. When they came to pay he realised he’d left his bank card at home thanks to leaving in a hurry too busy thinking about the service that his car was soon to undergo. The car had been rattling a lot more than it used to, and the red paint had been flaking off to reveal rust underneath, so Bob was concerned that the car was too far gone to repair. Bob’s wife had offered to buy the jeans for him, and Bob had never paid her back. Not because he hadn’t wanted to or was making a point, it just had never happened.
Bob stood up. The information systems analyst had a hangover and felt the associated pains of a hangover, in his head, his organs, his mouth and his joints. He crossed the living room to the large wooden chest of drawers where he kept a bottle of non-specific-brand painkillers. The chest had six drawers, two small ones and four longer, larger ones. The handles of the bottom drawer were slightly more worn than the handles of the other five drawers.
Corrigan glanced out the window over the chest of drawers. The next door neighbour Claire Francis was bent over picking flowers in her garden, wearing a short skirt, and tight t-shirt. Her firm supple buttocks bounced in the information system analyst’s direction, while her nipples brushed against the grass, where her nipples were brushing. Nipples. Nipples. Nipples.
Bob Corrigan pulled the lid off the bottle of painkillers. It was a child safety cap, but that didn’t matter to the information systems analyst, because all his children had died in infancy. That was why his wife had killed herself. She had been suffering from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, XX chromosome cancer and wandering womb for several years up to that point, and given the constant sexual abuse that she had received as a a child, the fact that she wasn’t pretty, and looked kind of old in certain lights, it had all been to much for her. She had drunk a ton of gin, eaten all her lipsticks, and hung herself with her own knitting.
Bob swallowed a fistful of painkillers. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw something moving, so he turned to look, but there was nothing untoward there. Suddenly he sensed something behind him, and flinched around… but there was nothing there. Deep in the darkness under the sofa there may have been things, but he didn’t know what things.
The information systems analyst noticed an ant on his forearm, and another on the back of his hand. Three more were climbing up his leg.
During the last six years the ratio of ants to humans in the local area had shifted drastically without anyone noticing. The ant community was now 5354.33% larger than it was at the start of summer, with a generally even dispersal rate per square foot of soil.
The ant on Bob’s arm dug its fingernails into Bob’s skin, ripping hard and drawing blood. Bob screamed and stumbled backward, tripping over the thirty cans of premium larger he had drunk last night and the positive AIDS test that he had opened the morning before. When he hit the ground his brittle bone disease caused several of his limbs and ribs to shatter, and he howled in pain again.
The ants swarmed upon him, tearing at his flesh with their fingernails. They were happy although did not like the temperature of the house as much as they liked the temperature in the garden. They also liked sports.
The ants quickly ate Bob’s heart, lungs and brain, and he continued to scream and thrash around for thirty minutes after this. The ants ate his penis, and spent a long time chewing the flesh of his anus. Blood ejaculated from his wounds like the spray of vomit from the mouth of a person suffering from swine flu, while his bones crushed like egg shells if someone applied pressure to them. He was not happy.
With a final rasping gurgle the information systems analyst died and the ants quickly disappeared into wherever it was they came from, using a system of spider silk toboggans. Bob’s remains lay on the floor, completely devoured yet inexplicably identifiable. Nobody found the body for days, despite the substantial amount of screaming he had done, and how well-populated and quiet the neighbourhood was.
Well there you have it. Personally I think there may even be a market for this sort of thing. I’ll get on to the publishers of The Matewix and Bored of The Rings right away…