First published back in August of 2014, ‘Lifeline’ was a self-published ebook-only novella by British author Kit Power.

DLS Synopsis:
Thirty-two-year-old Frank was listening to Slipknot on his MP3 player as he cycled home through Oakfield Estate, when all of a sudden a figure moves towards him, swinging a baseball bat at him.  The next thing Frank knows is he’s lying on the cold concrete of the pavement, his prone body being pummelled by his bat-wielding unknown assailant.

Barely conscious, Frank feels his battered body being dragged across the ground, through an open doorway and into a nearby house.  Then finally the world around him goes black.

When Frank eventually comes around, he finds himself leaning up against a wall in an empty room with Wolfmother blasting out at him at an ear-splitting volume.  He struggles to draw breath.  It feels like he’s a busted rib.  His hands have been tied behind his back.  Not that it makes much difference.  The sheer burning agony emanating from just above his elbows informs Frank that both his arms are no doubt already broken.

Looking around he can see the room he’s in is devoid of any furniture.  An empty room with bare floorboards stretching from wall to wall.  The only window having been bricked-up from the inside.

And then he sees him.  The man who did this to his body and then put him in this room.  He looks relatively normal.  Although Frank doesn’t recognise the guy.

Whatever the repercussions for his actions, Frank’s captor has accepted them.  Tonight this man plans to fulfil a fantasy.  To see how long it will take someone to die.  To see it up close.  Be the one to push a living person over the edge.  Tonight he plans to torture Frank to death.

But as Frank’s suffering is about to commence, his left trouser leg starts vibrating.  Suddenly Frank realises he has a lifeline…

DLS Review:
I have to admit, I was keen to read this short novella after hearing it was a particularly brutal piece of fiction.  Yeah, I’m one of those oddbods who, for some reason or another, likes to read disturbing and explicit horror fiction.  And that’s exactly what ‘Lifeline’ is.  Disturbing, explicit, unrelenting, and utterly, uncompromisingly brutal.

After just a handful of swift paragraphs the violence is upon the reader.  Indeed, Power’s barely started fleshing out our principal protagonist before he’s smashed off his bike and being pummelled by this psycho with a baseball bat.

Initially Power keeps everything vague and sketchy; maintaining a particularly effective sense of confusion and disorientation, which itself mirrors what the character of Frank is undoubtedly feeling.  And it’s only as he gradually comes around and begins to assess his current surroundings that the full extent of the predicament Frank is in begins to come clear.

But it’s the way in which Power reveals the extent of the messed up situation that really gets you deep in the gut.  “I’ve always wanted to torture someone to death.”  The sudden brutality of the stamen is fucking terrifying.  It’s short and completely straight to the point.  It’s this sort of cold starkness that continues through the entirety of the novella – not only in dialogue but also in the razor sharp prose that Power slices the reader with.

Kit has very astutely made the decision to write the entire story from the first-person-perspective of Frank.  It’s a crucial move that was definitely the right one to make.  Furthermore, Power has gone to great lengths to imagine the absolute terror felt by Frank.  To attempt to replicate the utter horror of the situation and inject the rawness of it into the story.

Reading ‘Lifeline’ you truly feel like you’re there in Frank’s shoes.  You feel the teeth-grinding bursts of pain that shoot through his body, the agonising ache that lingers on from his first beating, and possibly worst of all, the all-consuming fear of the hell that is sure to come.

Power’s prose, his skill with creating a truly believable first-person-perspective, is probably the most important element in the story.  It’s what keeps you teetering on the edge of a coronary.  What’s more, Frank’s inner-monologue is equally as sharp and realistic.  Its believability helps to draw even further sympathies from the reader (as if you needed it!).  And it opens up the story for a far better vision of the character’s emotional turmoil.

Because of the sheer brutality surrounding the kidnap and torture involved, the story could (quite rightly) be seen as reminiscent of Jack Ketchum’s ‘The Girl Next Door’ (1989) or indeed Eli Roth’s ‘Hostel’ (2005).  But what’s more harrowing than the actual methods of torture or the pain being inflicted on Frank, is the way in which Frank is left waiting, completely helpless, with the knowledge that things are about to get very fucking nasty.  It’s a psychological assault just as much as it is a physical one.

This is brutal stuff and certainly not for the fainthearted.  If you took Wayne Simmons’ ‘The Girl In The Basement’ (2014) and got Ketchum to re-write it with a more violent ‘The Girl Next Door’ (1989) style of torturous approach (although without any sexual element to it), then you’d be on a similar path to Kit Power’s offering.

Grim stuff.  But a damn fine read all the same.

Right, time I visited a shrink to find out why the hell I like reading this sort of stuff…

The novella runs for a total of 72 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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