Fu­tur­is­tic Vi­o­lence & Fancy Suits

by David Wong An out­ra­geously hi­lar­i­ous, hor­rific and rol­lick­ing sci- fi thriller from the New York Times best­selling au­thor of John Dies at the End.

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - First Read -

In the near- fu­ture, Zoey, a re­cent col­lege grad­u­ate with a worth­less de­gree, is bliss­fully un­aware of a dan­ger­ous man stalk­ing her, a man with su­per­hu­man abil­i­ties and grue­somely vi­o­lent ten­den­cies…

If she had known she was be­ing stalked by a man who in­tended to kill her and then slowly eat her bones, she would have wor­ried more about that and less about get­ting her cat off the roof. Said cat was on said roof be­cause it was ter­ri­fied of the Santa Claus holo­gram in the front yard, a tacky Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tion Zoey’s mother had brought home from Wal­mart two weeks ago. Ev­ery­body else in the trailer park had them, so she ap­par­ently had felt pres­sured to demon­strate her Christ­mas spirit with this dead- eyed ap­pari­tion that un­en­thu­si­as­ti­cally said “HO- HO- HO- MERRY CHRIST­MAS ho- ho-ho- Mer­ryChrist­mas” in a flat ro­botic voice to any­one who ap­proached. Zoey thought it was a lit­tle un­set­tling her­self, but ev­ery time the cat saw it blink to life, he would hiss and go streak­ing off to some high place where he thought the translu­cent bearded devil couldn’t reach him. So that’s why on the evening of De­cem­ber 16, Zoey was stand­ing in the snow try­ing to coax the cat off of the roof while, just a block away, a man was wait­ing to abduct her and stream her slow mu­ti­la­tion to half a mil­lion view­ers.

For eight hours, Zoey’s pur­suer had been stak­ing out the trailer where the twen­tytwo- year- old lived with her mother, wait­ing for the most dra­matic mo­ment to make his ap­pear­ance. Catch­ing Zoey in bed or the shower would be op­ti­mal, but he got the sense that this par­tic­u­lar young woman had no rigid sched­ule for do­ing ei­ther of those things. All day he had been watch­ing her through a dirty bay win­dow that put their trailer’s whole, sad liv­ing room on dis­play. Zoey had be­gun her day promptly at one pm by wak­ing up on the sofa and ini­ti­at­ing a “morn­ing” rou­tine that in­volved go­ing to the bath­room, re­turn­ing to the sofa, and then star­ing blankly at the ceil­ing for an hour. Then she read for a bit, ate a bowl of ce­real, and did some­thing with her hair that in­volved wrap­ping part of it in tin­foil while a na­ture doc­u­men­tary about pack hun­ters played on the TV be­hind her. Now the sun had gone down and Zoey, still in her pa­ja­mas, was stand­ing in her yard and yelling up at a cat that had jumped onto the roof. Her stalker had in­tended to send the news media a video of his en­tire pur­suit of the girl, but he knew that this part would have to be edited way down.

He was out of pa­tience. He re­solved to move in for the kill and even switched on the tiny cam­era he kept pinned to his lapel, so his fans could watch it live. But then, at the last mo­ment, he had sec­ond thoughts. Mainly about brand­ing.

The man had called him­self “The Jackal” for most of his short but pro­lific ca­reer, but had de­cided to switch to “The Hyena” af­ter watch­ing a pack of them tear apart a moose dur­ing the doc­u­men­tary that

The girl surely could sense the preda­tor lurk­ing be­hind her…

had played on Zoey’s tele­vi­sion ear­lier. He thought it was more fit­ting – hye­nas were wild, un­pre­dictable preda­tors and had the most pow­er­ful jaws in the an­i­mal king­dom ( that last part was what had re­ally sold him on it). But then again, the doc­u­men­tary seemed to show them only hunt­ing in groups ( where he was def­i­nitely a loner) and, un­less he mis­un­der­stood, the fe­male hye­nas had penises, and even gave birth through them. That was a prob­lem – when he be­came fa­mous and the press started spec­u­lat­ing on why he chose that moniker, he didn’t want pun­dits throw­ing around a bunch of wild the­o­ries about his gen­i­tals. But if he amended his man­i­festo to ad­dress the is­sue, or in­cluded pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence that he had a nor­mal penis, then that would just make him seem like the weirdo for bring­ing it up. Maybe “The Wolf ” was a bet­ter name. Or “The Shark.”

As he sat in his rental car and wres­tled with this de­ci­sion, Zoey went in­side the trailer, then re­turned drag­ging a kitchen chair through the door. She tried to use it as a step stool to reach the cat on the roof, at which point she im­me­di­ately over­bal­anced and fell off, land­ing hard in the snow. She gath­ered her­self, brushed snow off her butt, mounted the chair again, and searched in vain for a cat that, un­be­knownst to her, had al­ready jumped down the other side of the trailer. This went on for a very long time, be­fore Zoey fi­nally no­ticed the cat was not on the roof, but rather ly­ing in the snow un­der the very chair she was stand­ing on. Ex­as­per­ated, the girl trudged back in­side cradling the cat with one arm and drag­ging the chair with the other. The Shark (“The Pi­ranha”?) de­cided he would wait for her to get set­tled again, then make his move.

In­stead, Zoey reap­peared at the door and headed for the old and busted Toy­ota Fu­ria in her drive­way. Her stalker wasn’t wor­ried about los­ing her if she left – the ad­van­tage of self- driv­ing cars for a man in The Pi­ranha’s line of work was that their nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems were very easy to latch on to. He could just set his own to fol­low the same route and the car would do the tail­ing for him – he could lit­er­ally stalk the girl while re­lax­ing and play­ing a game on his phone. He watched as Zoey scraped frost from the Toy­ota’s wind­shield with what ap­peared to be a spat­ula, and then pulled out of her drive­way, leav­ing be­hind a dark rec­tan­gle in the snow as if the car had for­got­ten to take its shadow with it. The Pi­ranha gave her a ten- sec­ond head start, and then told his rental car to fol­low. He tried to pic­ture the head­lines that would tick along the bot­tom of the news feeds next week, like, “The Pi­ranha Claims His Sixth Vic­tim.” Hmmm, maybe “The Leop­ard” would be bet­ter. It needed to be some kind of bit­ing an­i­mal, oth­er­wise the surgery would have been a waste.

He rubbed the itchy line of stitches that ran from one tem­ple to the other, loop­ing un­der his jaw­bone like a chin strap. He’d had his en­tire lower jaw and up­per teeth aug­mented with a mo­tor­ized black mar­ket im­plant con­sist­ing of a graphene lat­tice frame and ti­ta­nium chom­pers that could bite through me­tal. As soon as he had got­ten home from the surgery, he had turned on his cam­era and an­nounced his new pow­ers to the world by bit­ing through a hunk of cop­per pipe. He thought it made for an omi­nous demon­stra­tion of his new abil­i­ties, even if he’d had to quickly turn off the cam­era at that point be­cause he had cut up his tongue pretty badly. No mat­ter – the jaws worked, and his next test would be on Zoey Ashe’s fin­gers. Then he’d just chew his way up from there.

This, he thought, was what he had al­ways been miss­ing: a gim­mick.

She made a left turn, then another. Cir­cling the block. Did she sus­pect she was be­ing fol­lowed? The Leop­ard would have to be care­ful – prey an­i­mals were weak, but alert and wary. The girl surely could sense the malev­o­lent preda­tor that lurked be­hind her in the dark­ness…

To find out what hap­pens next, pick up Fu­tur­is­tic Vi­o­lence & Fancy Suits, out now from Ti­tan Books ( RRP £ 7.99). E- book also avail­able. www. ti­tan­books. com

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