Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sliver by A J Humpage - February Femmes Fatales

AJ Humpage's character Hackett came to wicked, wicked life here at The Feardom. Festering in AJ's mind, this monster - for he can barely be considered a man - slips in and out of The Prediction chambers and has started venturing further. A terrifying thought indeed.

Hackett is the shining dark star of Sliver. Enter his world - you'll never forget it.

Join me in trying to convince AJ to take this beast into a full novel of his own.


A sliver of skin.

Sliced delicately, thinly, it had started to curl. Soon it would crumble and the only thing left of her would be gone. The only organic thing left of her.

Light reflected from Hackett’s grey eyes. His mind drifted from the noise of his exhibition.

He’d burrowed beneath her conscience like a maggot, manipulated her whims and thoughts with voracious audacity and plied her with meaningless trinkets. He’d spent months moulding her, priming her. The more she trusted him; the more the veil of promised love trapped her beneath his sticky blanket of persuasion.

‘I saved your messages on my phone,’ she gushed, the day he picked her up. ‘Don’t worry; no one knows it’s you. My parents think I’m staying with friends. Daddy would be furious if he found out.’

Daddy was a highflying financier in the city. Rich sonofabitch.

Hackett chose his girls for their simple beauty, those who would become works of art. She was delicately boned, soft. Pliant.

He took pride in his petty deceptions, turning them into something exquisite.

He showed her around his country house, led her to his workshop.

She noticed his collection of instruments. A famous sculptor by trade. Enfant terrible.

He fingered the knives. ‘You’d be perfect to carve.’

A master’s muse and model, she wasn’t afraid to show off her pert little body. ‘Yes. That would be amazing because Daddy collects art.’

Petty deceptions. Like tinselled snowflakes descending through a frosty dusk, finite and cold to the touch. He wondered if she could see the satanic shadows squatting in his expression, the hint of a blackened, ghoulish imp impatiently salivating.

A smile slithered across his lips. Deceitful. Sedulous.

‘Carve me, make it beautiful,’ she whispered.

And he did.

But not how she imagined.

That evening - the perfect time for creativity and secrecy - Hackett lulled her to the workshop with the pretence of sublime creativity. The first punch stunned her. The second one blotted out her consciousness and made it easier for him to handle her.

She was ready to carve.

She awoke to a dull grey cloud which stained her expression with dreadful sickness. She lay gagged and strapped to his sculpting table, naked and vulnerable, like a cold joint of beef.

The throb of her heartbeat crawled beneath her skin, stuttered with abject terror every time he moved. Perspiration oozed across her skin from swollen pores, darkening like a stain.

He placed his blade against the meaty flesh at the top of her thigh, forced the knife towards her knee, scraping out a long thread of flesh, like an ice cream scoop.

She jolted. Terror engorged veins stiffened in her neck, eyes shot wide. Hands contracted wildly as she strained against the straps. Fear bristled across the workshop, like chains scraping across a concrete floor. It clung to the cold walls, reluctant to fade.

Blood spilled down her trembling thigh. He smiled at how dark and rich her juice was.

He dug another part of her leg, lifted muscle and skin, laid the pieces on the table next to him - moist, human spaghetti, gleaming beneath the light.

Her body stuttered. Tears gilded her pain with terror, skin sickened to a strange glaucous hue - made worse by the strip lights which sucked the colour from her flesh.

Hackett then reached for the dermatome to harvest her skin.

The shock of his onslaught spread through her body like a thick, malignant shadow, overloading her nervous system. A trickling sound diverted Hackett’s attention. He saw pale yellow liquid ooze from between her legs and dribble down the table leg.

They did that sometimes when the fear became too much, nerves shut down and they lost control of their bodily functions.

An hour later, he moved to her neck.

But even when he sliced into her, she remained conscious, fraught. She watched every moment, soaked by a grotesque, bilious-tinged horror. The workshop quickly became odorous with approaching death - her misery stained the air, roused his senses. Her bowels had opened, spreading like a stain across the table, spattering onto the floor.

Hackett ignored the stench and pushed the knife through the thick sinew and fibrous neck ligaments. It took a while, sawing through her delicate neck bones. She gave one final blink before the last slice detached her head from her shoulders and dropped to the floor. A wide crimson arc shot from the stump and spattered the wall.

Her eyes flickered, skin twitched.

He carved her.

The noise of Hackett’s assembled guests broke his thoughts. His memory of her vanished.

A large crowd had gathered around the exhibit; art dealers, critics, buyers, the press...Hackett loved the attention. Craved it.

He moved around the sculpture – a decapitated human, feminine in shape, reclining, stripped of flesh and holding her severed head as though clutching a purse.

Martin Burroughs – Hackett’s most favoured client - gazed at its brassy sheen. ‘It’s fascinating, macabre, but that is your signature style, Hackett.’

Hackett’s eyes shifted. Most of his sculptures resided in many of Burroughs’ various offices and homes. Hackett leaned in, lest the press should hear. ‘I read about your daughter in the paper...how terrible...’

Melanie Burroughs had run away from home.

‘Seven months and still no word. She’s always been rebellious. It’s not a pleasant place out there.’

Hackett’s lips twisted. ‘No, it’s not. Kids...they think they’re so grown up.’

Burroughs peered at Hackett. ‘She’s barely fifteen years old, she’s my little girl.’

Hackett’s eyes shuttered. He touched the sculpture. ‘Well, I’m sure she’s not too far away...’

Burroughs shook his head. ‘Anything could have happened to her.’

Anything indeed.

Petty deceptions filtered through Hackett’s mind. He glanced at the sculpture, the way 14-year-old Melanie Burroughs held her severed head as she lay on a bed of her own flesh, bits he’d so lovingly carved. He lifted the little plastic container, stared at the sliver of skin inside.


All that was left of daddy’s rebellious little girl.

_________ The End _________

Bio: A J Humpage has short stories and poetry published in anthologies like 6 Sentences, Pill Hill Press, Static Movement and many e-zines, and has completed her second novel.

She offers writing advice at http://allwritefictionadvice.blogspot.com.

Her work can be found at http://ajhumpage.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter: AJHumpage

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.