Vivisepulture, page 1
INTRODUCTION by ANDY REMIC
PLASTIPAKTM LIMITED by NEAL ASHER
PRETTY TEETH by TONY BALLANTYNE
BUKOWSKI ON MARS, WITH BEER by ERIC BROWN
THE EVISCERATORS by RICHARD FORD
ROTTEN CUPID by IAN GRAHAM
YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR FIRST by LEE HARRIS
TORTURER’S MOON by COLIN HARVEY
CAUGHT IN THE SHADOW by VINCENT HOLLAND-KEEN
BIBLE BASHER by JAMES LOVEGROVE
DEFORMATION by GARY MCMAHON
JUICE by STAN NICHOLLS
SNOT by ANDY REMIC
WIND PROJECT NX104 by JORDAN REYNE
WUNDERWAFFE by IAN SALES
METAmorphosis by STEVEN SAVILE
KITTY WANTS A HITTY by WAYNE SIMMONS
ZOMBIE GUNFIGHTER by GUY N SMITH
PIPEWORK by ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY
THE LOST FAMILY by JEFFREY THOMAS
THE RECRUIT by DANIE WARE
TALES FROM THE ZOMBIBLE by IAN WATSON
THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS by IAN WHATES
Ultimate Adventure Magazine
in the tradition of
Poe, Kafka & Borges
& Wayne Simmons
This anthology is dedicated to
A great writer taken before his time.
A lot of things have deviated since I first started putting together VIVISEPULTURE. The original concept was to ask fellow authors for stories based around the bizarre and weird, having just written my own weird little tale called SNOT. Having enjoyed writers like Poe, Kafka, Orwell and Borges in the past, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to find out what my fellow scribblers could come up with when charged with plumbing the depths of their own twisted, feral, and nightmare imaginations...
What transpired was this incredible collection you now hold in your hands. I can honestly say I was amazed by the quality of the stories submitted, and that I also thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one; and indeed, was amazed by the depths of depravity many of my friends had allowed their minds to sink to in order to supply a bizarre tale for VIVISEPULTURE.
A very sad event during the compilation of this tome was the untimely death of Colin Harvey, one of the contributors, and a fellow writer with whom I’d shared many an entertaining signing session in book shops and conventions around the UK. We laughed a lot. It was good. So, it is with great affection this anthology is dedicated to Colin.
Be warned, there are many stories within this volume which will shock; they will amaze you, as if you’re experiencing a freak at a Victorian circus; and you will in turn be stunned, and slapped, and pushed towards the outer limits of madness...
For VIVISEPULTURE is not a read to be taken lightly. No. You must dim the lights, envelop yourself in a calm, quite, brooding atmosphere; maybe pour yourself a stiff sherry or a single malt; prepare for transportation into bizarre Other Realms; and hope that YOU, Dear Reader, never succumb to the act of vivisepulture...
Andy Remic, December 2011.
The spade went two inches into the ground and grated to a halt. Three hours to dig the holes, he had priced it at, but he had not reckoned on ground with a two-inch layer of dirt over what appeared to be compacted ballast. Even so, though the job had taken him longer than expected, he gained satisfaction from being paid to plant trees rather than cut them down. At the last hole, with the last tree to go in, he gazed across at the factory as the next shift of blue-overalled clones arrived with plastic sandwich boxes and tabloids tucked under their arms. What work satisfaction did they have?
The last tree dropped into the hole sweet as pie and Morris tipped the last of the compost in around it. The excess soil went into a nearby hollow in the uneven ground. When the job was done he tossed his tools and empty compost bags into the back of his van and wiped his hands on a cloth. Now came the enjoyable bit: handing in an invoice. Not quite as enjoyable as paying cheques into his bank account, but not far off.
Morris sat in his van and wrote out the invoice, occasionally glancing toward the sprawl of the factory, the work-shops and warehouses, fork-lifts and lorries, stacks of large cardboard boxes on pallets, and ubiquitous workers in their blue overalls. Present your invoice to the supervisor they had said. How was he to know which of them was the supervisor? He stuck a cigar in his mouth, and after turning on the ignition pressed in the cigarette lighter and returned his attention to the invoice.
Everything was listed, barring prices. His quote had been eighty: the trees costing thirty-three and the compost a tenner; that left forty-seven for five hours work. Sod it. There was all the driving about and organising things. He upped the price of the trees by ten pounds and the compost by five pounds. Ninety-five. Not into the hundreds, so hopefully acceptable.
Puffing cigar smoke he climbed out of his van and headed for the factory.
“Where’s the supervisor?” he asked a blank blue girl. She gave him a watery smile and pointed to a white-coated figure walking toward one of the units. The clipboard was a dead giveaway. Morris trotted in that direction with clods of mud flying from his hiking boots.
The supervisor walked through swing doors into an area filled with the factory racket; the hiss of air rams and the clank of unidentifiable mechanisms. What the Hell did they make here? The place was called Plastipak and by the reels of plastic being carted in he guessed the products must be something like plant pots. But no one was sure. The workers here never used the local pub and those he had run into elsewhere were a close-mouthed bunch.
“Hey! Excuse me!”
His shout was drowned by the noise. He pushed on through the doors ignoring the ‘Personnel Only’ sign. The rules did not apply to him for he was his own man. Ahead of him the supervisor turned a corner and he trotted to catch up. Round the corner he heard the familiar k-chunk of a clocking-in machine. It was a sound he had grown to hate, along with the rip and click of sandwich boxes opening. To him it epitomised all he hated about factories and was part-and-parcel of his motivation for becoming self-employed.
The supervisor was watching a row of blue-clad workers clocking in. Slaves to time, they took their cards from one rack, dipped them in the work-clock, then placed them in the next rack along. K-chunk. A piece of cardboard bitten away – eight hours of a life.
Morris paused by a machine and rested against its hot cowling. He glanced aside at the machine-operator and frowned. Pull the lever, press the button, open the shield and drop something white into a box. Close the shield, pull the lever ... mind-numbing. Soul-destroying. It was no wonder to Morris that they were always advertizing for factory hands. This place seemed to have an appetite for them.
He leant back against the cowling, puffed on his cigar, and looked up at a ‘No Smoking’ sign. Sod ‘em. He continued smoking.
The last of the blues filed past the clock and lost themselves in the oily spaces between the machines, yet the s
“Late again, Mitchell.”
Mitchell did not seem impressed with this observation. He ignored the supervisor as he took the remaining card from the rack and pressed it into the clock. So I’m late. Who cares? As the card entered the clock, stainless steel jaws rose out of it and closed. K-chunk. Mitchell screamed and staggered back holding the wrist of the hand with square-cut fingers. Blood beaded the oily concrete.
“Oh dear. You’re hurt.”
The supervisor caught hold of him under the arm and led him from the clock. Morris stared, his cigar forgotten for a moment.
“My fingers...” Mitchell managed.
“They’ll be fine,” said the supervisor, and did not relinquish his hold. Mitchell was white-faced, fainting. The supervisor half-carried him down the aisle between the loom of black engines.
Morris blinked and tried to figure out what he had seen. What exactly had happened? In a stunned fugue he dropped his cigar to the ground and walked over to the clocking-in machine. Blood on the floor, blood around the slot in the top of the machine, no sign of fingers. He had imagined it. Mitchell must have cut himself on the rack. It was the only sensible explanation. He followed the supervisor and his charge.
Mitchell’s feet were dragging and he looked completely out of it. Where was Medical in this place? Surely not right back here. Morris walked to one side of the trail of blood as the supervisor took the injured man deeper into the roar of machinery. Ahead of him, the two were silhouetted against the open mouth of a furnace when they came to a halt. The supervisor all but carried Mitchell to one side, then left him in amongst some machinery and went to operate some controls. Morris approached the supervisor from behind, ready to start with the ‘excuse mes’. The he glanced aside at Mitchell.
The man was coughing up blood. A meat hook had gone in under his right shoulder blade and come out under his sternum. The supervisor pressed a button and Mitchell was hoisted into the air poised at an angle, weakly struggling as he was carried along the conveyer line to the furnace. Morris had time to see the ‘Rejects’ sign above the furnace door before he ducked behind a vibrating hopper. Hiding there in greasy shadow he heard a ripping sound and Mitchell’s final screams.
Christ! This wasn’t happening! He had to get out, get to his van, leave the grounds of the factory and call the police. But the evidence? Would there be any identifiable remains in the furnace? Would there still be fingers in that clock? What was the purpose of those hooks? The conveyer machinery stilled and he listened carefully to the sound of the supervisor’s boots crunching on the granular plastic spilt on the floor. He peeked out of hiding and watched him walk away. Only as he came out of hiding did he notice one of the machine-operators working nearby.
“Jesus! Hey! Did you see that!?”
The worker continued to pull his levers and press his buttons. Morris ran up to him, grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him round. Raw hollows stuffed with toilet paper faced him, and the tears running from the eye-sockets were of pus. Morris released the worker’s shoulder and the man swivelled back to his machine and continued his monotonous task. Morris stepped away, suddenly cold, shuddering.
“What the Hell is going on here?”
No one answered. The machines just kept on rumbling and hissing, thumping and groaning. Conveyers conveyed and moulding machines moulded and the people in the gaps between pressed their buttons and pulled their levers.
Morris looked to where the supervisor had gone and headed in a different direction. He had to get out, and he did not want the supervisor to know he had been in.
In a new aisle he ducked a shower of sparks and leapt a jet of steam, glanced through a perspex screen and saw white granules pouring into a hopper. He hid in an alcove between steel walls covered with chipped green paint as a woman pushed a trolley past, followed her for a moment, then ducked into another aisle.
An open conveyer belt hissed and jerked slowly past him. On it rested a neat line of skulls. He picked one up and finding it to be made of plastic he laughed uneasily. Well, someone had to make those plastic skeletons for medical colleges. He dropped the skull back on the belt and, as he moved along, what hysterical amusement he felt fled him. I’m having a nightmare. I’ll wake up in a bit.
At first he thought the man was bent over the drill press, then he realised this was an illusion caused by the man’s lack of a head. Pipes and wires went up from the hole between his shoulders to plug into the labyrinthine ducting above. With automatic precision he was taking skulls from the belt, pushing them into a complex jig, and drilling out the ear-holes. First one side, then the other, then into a box.
Morris backed away into another shower of sparks, ducked, ran.
Ahead of him was a door: R & D – Bones. He pushed through then froze at the sight of a hugely fat man in a white coat. He backed up against the door, shivering. This was insane.
A naked woman was strapped down on a table and Morris could not understand why. She was not going anywhere. Her head was missing. One free arm was laid out across a side table. Her hand was severed at the wrist and had been neatly chopped apart at every joint. While Morris watched, the fat man picked up a finger-joint and chewed the flesh from it with stained teeth then, obviously irritated, he popped it into his mouth and munched it around for a while. When he removed it the knuckle-bone was free of flesh. He measured it with a Vernier and wrote the measurements down on a pad.
“I think she must have had a skull injury at one time,” said a thin man in a white coat, as he came through the back door into the room. In his right hand he held a skull stripped of flesh, and in his left hand he held a pair of callipers. He immediately saw Morris.
“This is a restricted area,” he said, deeply offended.
That fat man turned and Morris got a look at a grey troll-face and piggy eyes. The fat man burped.
Morris was out of the door and running for it before anything more could be said. He ran and ran, down aisle after aisle. Here rib bones were being moulded, here were leg bones.
He stopped at a trolley filled with rubber eye-balls. He took one out and studied it. A sound startled him and he dropped it. The eye bounced over the machinery like a power-ball.
He ran again, past a room where all the parts were being put together, past a bench where artificial muscles were being tested to BSI standards, past a vat filled with glistening livers, and past a reel of intestine being drawn into a machine. The next sign said ‘Packing & Despatch’, and here he saw the completed product being dressed in blue overalls, shrink-wrapped, and packed into cardboard boxes.
“Perfect little workers,” said Morris, and repressed a giggle. He did not have time for that. With great care he crept from one stack of boxes to another, hid behind a forklift with its motor still humming, then behind the bench on which they did the shrink-wrapping. In a room off to one side he saw the perfect little workers standing in rows. They were undressed and he saw that they were sexless. What need of genitals to pull levers and press buttons? He had figured it out now. Those who applied for jobs were patterns. When they got an efficient worker he or she was probably taken back to R & D, there to be measured, weighed, categorised, dismantled, so they could then make more of the same. Mitchell just had not proved out. The woman had.
Daylight ahead. Morris crept behind stacks of boxes like city blocks. An aisle of boxes to freedom. He ran down it then skidded to a halt as someone in blue overalls stepped into the aisle. He didn’t have time for this. He hit the man in the stomach as hard as he could. The man bowed over without a sound. Morris ran on, out into daylight, into the cover of a lorry, across tarmac, and to his van.
For a moment Morris was overcome with the terror that he had dropped his car keys somewhere inside, then he located them in the leg pocket of his army trousers. With his hand shaki
“I was wondering where you had gotten to.”
Morris whirled round and backed up against his van.
Morris could not get any words out, his mouth seemed to be jammed open.
“You have an invoice for me I believe?”
“Yes. ... Yes!”
Morris reached into his trousers’ pocket and took out the sweat-damp invoice. He passed it across then snatched his hand back when the paper was taken. The supervisor lifted up a set of glasses from where they hung by a cord on his chest. He put them on and carefully read through the invoice. Then he glanced over the top of his glasses at Morris. Morris could feel the sweat trickling out of his hair and down the back of his neck.
“Would you like to come in now? I’m sure we can get the cheque signed for you.”
“No! ... I mean ... no, I’m rather busy today. If you can post it that would be fine.”
The supervisor smiled congenially, folded the invoice, and put it in his top pocket. “You’re self-employed I take it?”
“Yes, yes I am.”
“Seems the way of the future. Everyone is doing it. It’s difficult for us to get hold of good factory workers.”
“Yes, I imagine so.”
The supervisor grinned. “If you’re ever at a loose end, there’s always work here.”
“I’ll bear that in mind,” said Morris, and keeping his eye on the supervisor he climbed into his van and locked the door.
As he drove away he decided that his next move would be to call the police, anonymously. He had to wonder if factory workers were all they made here.
Dinner in one of the flats at the exclusive Monagan Hall development.
Katie wished she hadn’t come. Rather, she wished she hadn’t come with Matthew. Matthew was losing the argument he was having with the woman to his right, but as usual he was too pig headed to see it. She wished her husband would just shut up and listen. She wished he’d take the time to take a look at the world, rather than blindly explaining what was wrong with it. She wished he’d take the time to look at himself, sitting there in a white shirt and pale green tie when all the other men had chosen to wear dark silk shirts and ties decorated in rich gold or silver. Matthew had been the only man to hang his jacket on the back of his chair as he sat down: he had belligerently demanded beer with his meal whilst the rest of the party drank white wine.