“Gladiatrix” drags us kicking and screaming back into pure horror, a more reality based horror. Though my favorite horror is steeped in dread, eerie ambience, weird fiction and the splintered litarary limbs branching out from that tree, I am not limited in what I write. And even though this one is reality based horror, it’s got enough obtuse elements to tinge it with something odd, which makes it more intriguing for me and hopefully for the reader, too. Watching a character grow from fragile child to, well, what she becomes—which may be what she has always been—is a fun trek, and in this case, a mental trek as we trip through her psyche, one fused with abuse and damage and so much wrong, that the strength and lethal empowerment of where she ends up is fascinating.
As with the previous two stories, the foundation culled from her past has really shaped her, harnessed this unexpected strength, but when that strength comes complete with no conscience, well…
Here’s a snippet, just a tad of the opening sequence, which hints at more going on than it seems—but you have to pay attention. As always, there’s more going on than it seems.
When Shannon Olivier opened her eyes it felt as though the lids were scabbed over and tearing. The light that bled through the sticky seam was dim, the darkness, nefarious. The lone bulb radiated just enough light to allow her to peek into the corners without really unveiling whatever cavorted or hid within the shadows. If she tried hard enough--an internal battle between curiosity and self-preservation via denial--she could make out a shape slumped across from her.
The words were crisp as breaking glass; no echo. Opening her mouth embellished the horrors that filled her eyes and bombarded her nostrils: she could taste death--still warm, still moist--tangy blood and acrid piss and older smells like the residue of hope and something that might have been desire.
Yes, that's all--I want to give you more, but surprises are a part of the deal--but did you catch it? The hint I spoke of? Well, you will when you read the whole thing. A bloody slice of meat and viscera pie for the discerning horror reader. Whipped cream optional...
Another tidbit? Well, okay. Her favorite weapon is a machete. Huh? Oh, yes, wait until you see.
Next, a break. Well, not exactly. After the varied psychological battery of stories 2-3-4, pacing needs to be…altered. How about the ultimate drug run gone wrong story, with a soundtrack by Sly and the Family Stone?
The weapon of choice for the professional Gladiatrix...