Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bloodwork by Tania Redd - February Femmes Fatales

Tania Redd excels at unnerving her readers from the outset then teases them with hints of betrayal, success, even sacrifice before plunging them into the deep end - without mercy.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Tania read not only her short crime and horror fiction but also excerpts from her novel. And I am very excited at what she has to say. 

I am so pleased to welcome Tania as the second February Femme Fatales in this year's showcase. I just know we'll want to hear from more this thrilling writer.


Derek derives pleasure from cool chicks and Sundays. Chicks don’t come much cooler than the ones slabbed out in the mortuary. Sundays bring in fresh meat, a result of low hospital staffing levels at weekends and an increase in road traffic accidents.

It’s not a job for the fainthearted. The laborious process takes time, patience and skill. The intimate setting of his workplace allows him to be up close and personal with the casualties. He whistles as he checks the tag against the clipboard, slides her out, and places her in the supine position. Step one - check the radial artery, make sure there’s no pulse. Satisfied, he stirs the germicidal solution, swabs her feet and legs. Working his way up the torso, he pauses to run his fingers up and down her swanlike neck for a moment before drying her off.

Derek meticulously follows the procedures laid out in the embalmer’s handbook. If he follows best practice now he will pick up the needle, ready to inject the right carotid artery to drain blood and internal fluids from the jugular. He will massage the body, bending and flexing limbs to break up any circulatory clots and relieve rigor mortis before filling cavities with embalming fluid. But even best practice can benefit from upgrade. The recent epiphany Derek experienced allows him to take shortcuts, indulge in avant garde procedures, makes his job more satisfying.

It starts with a tremor, now his whole body is shuddering, hunching, compressing; his breath quickens; lips smack together then purse rhythmically like a dying fish. Transition complete, he inches across her, attaches himself to her, positions his sucker, and with daggered teeth penetrates the artery. He sucks at her feverishly, lapping wildly to avoid seepage.

Formalities over in seconds, she’s being tidied up. Derek doesn’t view himself as a deviant defiler, a predatory parasite who seeks thrills by degrading the defenceless and decomposing. It’s a quid pro quo arrangement. He moisturises her face and lips to stop dehydration, applies powder and rouge to feign a healthy pallor. Nobody’s coming to view, but he dresses her regardless; clothing the corpse is part of the service.

Sated, he locks up, leaves, and chances the dual carriageway.


Derek wonders where he is. He’s unable to move, talk or see – his eyelids firmly glued shut. But he can hear. Scraping noises. He’s being lifted, slapped on a table, naked and exposed. He can hear voices now, women? The place is crawling with them. What the hell... they’re all pawing at him, and is that water? They’re washing him? Derek strains his ears; hears lip smacking and sucking. HIRUDINEA LIED! He said Derek was the chosen one. The sanguinivorous annelid that came to him in the middle of the night promising eternal life is after more than a pounding of flesh. Sweet Jesus, Hirudinea’s recruited a whole army! As a whiff of formaldehyde and ethanol enters his nostrils a terrified voice inside him screams “CHECK THE RADIAL ARTERY BITCHES!”

_________ The End _________

Bio: Tania Redd enjoys writing black comedy, horror and crime fiction in the form of short film scripts. She is currently redrafting her first novel and working on a radio play.


  1. Tania, that was just nasty! I hate it when Hirudinea plays loose with the truth...

  2. Oooh not nice! I guess it's hard to trust anyone these days!

  3. Poor old Derek got a taste of his own medicine. It could have happened to a nicer guy. I for one am glad it didn't. You play on the fear of ending up on that cold table while still conscious, with great effect in this macabre tale.

  4. Title spoke your piece, but evidently not Derek's peace. First line was fun, easy, breezy - "Derek derives pleasure from cool chicks and Sundays." . . . and then your fella got down to his sucky work.

    Overlooking that first pulse checking step of the radial artery is a killer.

    Lily, if you were the illustration curator on this piece, it's dramatic and telling.

  5. Ooh, I didn't know where that was leading, Tania. What comeuppance for poor old Derek. A twist in the annelid's tail, so to speak. Nicely done, girl.

  6. I just LOVE that first line. Someone on Linkedin asked how much weight writers give to the first line, stupid question ... it's everything and this first line leads into pure horror. Great stuff. What a way to start my morning!

  7. Frightening, and darkly funny. I loved the ending. :)

  8. This was rather juicy, in the buildup and the surprise ending. Well done. Also a good reminder that no matter how seductive or influential that night visitor is, never trust him/her.

  9. Great piece Tania, great opener and some excellent detail in the descriptions that brings such a depth of realism.

  10. I enjoyed this freaky tale, liked the twist at the end and thought the detail was quite good. Well done Tania.

    (Looking forward to tomorrow!)

  11. A were-leech. Now THAT is creative. The procedural details give this a hint of authenticity that makes the horror all the better when normality starts going off the rails. Great story.

  12. Tania, you make a good case for choosing cremation.

  13. Thank you to everyone for your feedback and encouraging comments! Tania


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.