First published in November of 2015, ‘Atrocious Madness’ was a limited edition chapbook published by Splatterpunk Zine, containing three previously published short stories by Splatterpunk Zine’s Jack Bantry and author Nathan Robinson.

Squash – Nathan Robinson & Jack Bantry – 4 Pages
Whilst his best bud, Jesse, went to pick up their girlfriends ahead of the party, Clark had to drive out into the boonies to do a quick drug run.  It was a long way to go for some weed, but he didn’t know any dealers in town.  And the drive wasn’t too bad.  Although the sheer volume of toads along the quiet country road was freaking him out a bit.  Their bodies popping under his tyres as he drove out to Gravy’s rundown farmhouse.  However, upon arriving he found that it wasn’t just weed that Gravy had to offer Clark.  When the transaction was complete, the dealer offered Clark a free trip.  All he had to do was lick the back of a toad and then sit back and let the hallucinations take effect.  How could he say no to that?  Free drugs!  What’s the worst that could happen?...

Knowing that Bantry was on board with the writing of this story, I have to confess that I was somewhat surprised by the lack of ‘splatter’ it had to offer.  That’s not to say it’s not entertaining.  The colourful characterisation and jovial momentum keeps the reader sucked into the short tale.  Laced with black comedy from head to toe, it’s an entertaining read, even before anything much has happened.  However, it’s one of the tale’s that’s all about the ending.  That inevitable last second thump in the chest that it’s been building up to.  You know it’s coming – and the anticipation, along with that cheeky grin you have on your face as you draw closer and closer to the end, is as good (if not better) than the final blow that the story eventually delivers.  The short was first published within ‘Splatterpunk Zine – Issue 3’ (2013).

Keep Safe – Jack Bantry – 3 Pages
It was in the Nag’s Head that postal workers Ray and Andy came up with the plan to burgle someone’s home in order to solve their current financial predicaments.  Being posties, they both knew when people would be on holiday.  They knew the areas that would be most lucrative.  They knew exactly when it was prime time to do the job.  And tit didn’t even have to be a house on their round.  They knew who would be away on holiday through the Royal Mail’s ‘Keep Safe’ service.  And with this insider knowledge in hand the two posties selected their target house, and under the cover of darkness, entered the property.  But what they found in there would be far more than just a handful of jewellery and some high-priced electrical equipment…

Being a postie himself, author Jack Bantry has utilised his own knowledge of the job to lay down the building blocks for this slow-burning horror short.  Told mostly through the dialogue between the two posties as they contemplate the burglary – the story sets off with some relatively strong character building – only really getting into the nitty-gritty of the plot around half way through the short tale.  That said – when we get there, and our two amateur burglars are in their carefully selected property, Bantry skilfully ups the tension to bring the tale to a heart-thumping peak as the horror of the piece is unveiled.  Ok – so there’s no wonderfully original twists or anything of the sort here.  But damn if it’s not utter entertainment for a good ten minutes or so. The short was first published as a free online read for the April 2012 ‘Featured Writer’ on the website ‘The Horror Zine’.

Weather Girl – Nathan Robinson – 7 Pages
Ever since he was a hormonal teenager he’d been infatuated with the Weather Girl Kelly Weiss.  Her instant beauty.  Her perfect curves.  That bubbly, enchanting voice of hers.  It was fair to say he’d become obsessed.  Furthermore over the years that obsession hadn’t died down at all.  And now, at the age of thirty-one, by pure chance he had spotted Weiss going into a local petshop.  Of course he followed her in.  Of course he spied on her from afar.  And of course he followed her out and away from the shop after she made her purchase.  But it’s when he spots Weiss accidentally dropping her notepad on the pavement before driving off in her car that the real dilemma materialises.  What should his next move be?  He’s still puzzling over it as he jumps in his own car and speeds off after her.  But as he’s about to learn, Kelly Weiss isn’t quite the perfect woman that his lifelong obsession has led him to believe…

There’s nothing quite like a no-hoper-becomes-stalker storyline that’s written from the first person perspective.  It’s that internal monologue, the self-justifications and rampant wondering of what could happen that make these stories work so damn well.  And there’s plenty of all that going on here in Nathan Robinson’s delightfully unnerving little short.  In fact, the first two-thirds of the tale are just laying down all the obsessive stalking jazz before the real meat of the splatterpunk horror kicks in.  You’ll probably guess some of where Robinson’s going from around midway through the tale – but you’re unlikely to predict the grim depths that the author will plunder for his horrific little finale.  Unfortunate typos aside – this is one entertaining and deliciously compelling read.  The short was first published within Lyle Perez-Tinics and Charlotte Emma Gledson’s erotic death anthology ‘Nailed!’ (2012).

The chapbook runs for a total of 15 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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