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 cycling home through the Oakfield Estate, listening to Slipknot on MP3 player, when all of a sudden a figure is moving towards him swinging a baseball bat at his unsuspecting body.  The next thing Frank knows is he’s lying on the cold concrete of the pavement, his prone body being pummelled by this unknown assailant and his bat.

Barely conscious, Frank feels his battered body being dragged across the ground and through the open doorway into a nearby house.  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 has 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.

The room he’s in is devoid of any furniture.  An empty room with bare floorboards stretching from wall to wall.  The only window has recently been bricked-up from the inside.  And then he sees him.  The man who did this to his body and then put him in here.  He doesn’t recognise him.  He looks relatively normal.

Whatever the repercussions are for what is about to take place, Frank’s captor has accepted them.  Tonight this man plans to fulfil a fantasy.  To see how long it would take someone to die, 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.  His mobile phone.  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 brutal.

From beginning the story, after just a handful of swift paragraphs the violence is suddenly upon the reader.  Indeed, author Kit Power’s barely begins describing our principal protagonist before the guy’s smashed off his bike and being pummelled by this psycho with a baseball bat.

At this stage Power purposefully keeps everything vague and sketchy; maintaining a particularly effective sense of confusion and disorientation, which itself mirrors what Frank would undoubtedly be 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 finds himself in begins to come clear.

But it’s how Power ultimately delivers the show-stopping news that gets you deep in the gut.  “I’ve always wanted to torture someone to death.”  It’s short, brutal and straight to the point.  And it’s this sort of cold starkness that continues through the entirety of the novella – not only in dialogue but also in the short and sharp prose that Power strikes the reader with.

Furthermore, Kit has very wisely written the entire story from the first-person-perspective of Frank.  It’s a crucial decision that was exactly the right move.  Through the delivery of the story Power has clearly gone to great lengths to put himself into the shoes of Frank, and because of this the whole horror of the situation is incredibly believable.

Reading ‘Lifeline’ you actually feel like you’re there in Frank’s place.  You feel the teeth-grinding bursts of pain that shoot through his body, the agonising aches from his initial beating, and possibly worst of all, the apprehensive fear of the hell that is to come.

Again I return to the prose that Power adopted.  It really makes the story.  It keeps you on the very edge of a coronary.  What’s more, Frank’s inner-monologue is just as sharp and incredibly 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 is 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 very nasty.  It’s a psychological assault as much as it is a physical one.

This is brutal stuff.  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 went and sorted myself out with 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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