First published back in February of 2017, British author David Owain Hughes’ collection ‘All Wound Up’ collected together all of the previously published instalments in the author’s ‘Wind-Up Toy’ mythos, along with the final novella in the series: ‘Into The Playpen’, which is only availiable in this collection.

Foreword by Chris Hall – 5 Pages
Introducing the absolute unadulterated filth contained in his deluxe collected edition, reviewer Chris Hall of DLS Reviews offers up a handful of pages, serving as much a warning to the reader of what to expect in the book as it is an admission of praise for depraved Welsh author David Owain Hughes.  Okay, so I wrote the bloody foreword…nevertheless I think it sets the tone nicely for the despicable sleaze and vile depravity that’s to come.

Happy Birthday, Simone – 5 Pages
It was Simone’s fourth birthday.  He’d be spending it with the one person in the world he truly loved – his mother.  His sister had already gone off to school by the time he climbed out of bed.  He’d been allowed to take the day off.  His mother was good like that.  Let him do things he’d enjoy – even if they weren’t necessarily what would be deemed as the right things to do.

The day had only just begun, but it was already looking like it could be his best birthday ever.  Pancakes for breakfast and a handful of presents to be opened.  One present in particular would of course be from his mother.  This year it would prove to be a very special present indeed.  One he’d end up cherishing for the rest of his life…

First published in the ‘Madame Movara’s Tales of Terror’ (2016) anthology and later included as part of the novella ‘Broken Plaything’ (2016), this first short instalment in the collection formed a prequel to the first novel in the series – ‘Wind-Up Toy’ (2016).  If you read this short story purely in isolation, with no prior knowledge of ‘Wind-Up Toy’ (2016) or any of the other instalments, you’d probably be thinking WTF?!  But read alongside ‘Wind-Up Toy’ (2016), it fills in a small gap whilst laying down just that little bit more history behind Simone.  Strangely, aside from this, there’s not really all that much else within the short.  It sits nicely within the ‘Wind-Up Toy’ series, but to be honest, it isn’t much of a story in itself.  Nevertheless, there’s plenty in this short offering to get you smirking and feeling like you’re about to embark on one weird and messed-up ride.  Which of course you are.

Playtime, Simone – 9 Pages
Simone had warned Cartwright never to speak about the beating he’d given him and his two thuggish mates – let alone to come back for more.  Yet here Cartwright was, seeking some sort of payback.  But this time the idiotic bully didn’t have his two goons with him.  It was just him on his own – Phillip-John Cartwright – looking to settle a score.

Ever since he’d first fought back, Simone had stopped being scared of the bullies.  Now was no exception.  Cartwright might be after his blood, he might be bigger and tougher than him, but Simone always had a trick up his sleeve.

This time Cartwright was getting more than a pounding to his nether regions.  This time Simone was going to sort the bully out once and for all.  Then if he’s lucky, maybe he’d go home and have himself a little peek through the floorboards at the show going on in the room below.  It was enough to get him hard just at the thought of it.  If only they all knew how good his life really was…

What we have here is a short, snappy and straight-to-the-sleaze offering that takes us to Simone’s younger years, to a time when he’d fought back against a bunch of thugs who’d bullied him.  In telling the story, Hughes gets properly down and dirty, as he lays down Simone’s twisted revenge.  It’s harsh, uncompromising and utterly barbaric.  But let’s be honest, what the hell did you expect?!   Hughes isn’t one to sugar coat these things.

However putting the final nail in the coffin for this particular bully’s comeuppance is only half the story here.  What else did young Simone get up to whilst he was growing up?  What else chiselled him into the fine example of an honest citizen he turned out to become?  Oh yes – for the rest of the short we’re treated to the sort of despicable filth that would make even the most insistently-defensive bishop blush.

David Owain Hughes has one hell of a sick and depraved mind.  Let’s pause for a second and ponder what must go on in this man’s head if this sort of filth is the end result.  So don’t pretend you don’t know what you’re receiving, should you decide to get your grubby mitts on this collected edition.

Pure unadulterated lowbrow filth.  Oh how we love it!

The story was first published as the standalone ebook ‘Wind-Up Toy: Playtime, Simone’ (2016) and was later included as part of the novella ‘Broken Plaything’ (2016).

Wind-Up Toy – 192 Pages
Toni was just four weeks into the job when Simone’s call came in.  Although they weren’t paid for it, Toni found answering calls at the Samaritans rewarding enough for her to think about sticking with it long-term.  She’d never been the type of person to get hung-up on material things, so working merely for the reward of helping others wasn’t a problem for her.  And the hours suited her university work.

Being reasonably new to the job Toni decided it was best to lie about her name.  It was a simple thing, but it was a lie this particular caller saw through right away.  Then Toni surprised herself more than anything when she suddenly disclosed her real name to the caller.  There was just something about him.  Something that made Toni want to be that little more open about herself to him, and not just be there as an impartial listener.

Simone was clearly a pervert.  He was the first to admit it.  He was also deeply troubled.  He told Toni about his partner, an overpowering dominatrix named Chaos who regularly beat him.  But things couldn’t go on the way they were for Simone.  However, Chaos sure as hell wasn’t going to let him just up and leave her.  He was her pet, and she was his mistress.

But there was undoubtedly something about Simone that Toni was drawn to.  After the call she found that she couldn’t get him off her mind.  He’d said he was twenty-five and told Toni bits about his past.  About his mother who danced at the local strip club.  About his sister who he’d been sexually involved with at a young age.  Aspects of his upbringing which probably made him into the pervert he was now.

However, what Toni didn’t know was how dangerous and utterly depraved this particular caller was.  Although he didn’t particularly relish the recent beatings Chaos had dished out, he still liked his life.  He was still driven by his urges.  And he wasn’t about to stop pursuing those wonderful things his sexual appetite cried out for.

But it was a risky business.  Behind closed doors he could get away with almost everything.  Within the confines of Chaos’ home they could act out whatever sexual fantasy they wanted to.  But out on the streets of Porthcawl it was far more dangerous.  Even with his manhood locked-up in a small chastity cage - one which only his mistress had the key for - he still had all those dominating urges.  He still needed a release.

The lively summertime atmosphere enjoyed at the seaside town of Porthcawl is about to become tarnished by a series of seemingly random disappearances.  Amongst the partygoers and carnival punters, a charming and handsome young man is lurking.  His eyes are on all the pretty girls.  He can’t help himself.  His urges control him.  And whilst he’s out on the streets, no one is safe…

Sometimes you read a novel, and whilst knee-deep in some shamelessly perverse delights that the author has dreamt up, you think to yourself “what the hell must this author’s friends and family think after reading this”.  I have to admit, I absolutely love it when an author just goes “to hell with it” and allows all those nasty little thoughts and worrying daydreams to be unleashed across their work.  It’s one of the aspects I loved about Laymon’s work.  He didn’t care if someone judged him.  If someone wondered if these were indeed his own fantasies.  It’s a story.  A work of fiction.  Nothing more…we hope.

With David Owain Hughes’ first full ‘Wind-up Toy’ novel, what you get is just that type of sleazy, lowest-denominator filth that makes you feel dirty just by reading it.  It’s unashamedly grubby from start to finish – with sex and carnal titillation constantly the main meal of the day.

The premise and set-up of the plot is a pretty straight forward affair.  You’ve got a guy with one hell of a messed-up childhood, who’s grown up to become a submissive slave to a dominatrix, but now wants to break free from her abusive role-playing.  In reaching out for some form of help, he ends up speaking to a young Samaritan volunteer from a local call centre.  Our little perverted friend gradually builds up a repertoire with the good-natured student on the other end of the phone, and whilst getting up to various dirty deeds out on the streets of Porthcawl, slowly draws the Good Samaritan closer into his devious and dangerous world.

However it’s not the plot or the carefully knitted together storyline that make the novel the (oh so wrongfully) entertaining read that it is – it’s undoubtedly with the characters and the masterfully fleshed-out characterisation.  Simone - our messed-up principal character - is a lovingly-sculpted work of perverted art.  His personality is a complex latticework of opposing elements, which creates purposeful conflicts within the reader, as every now and again some human qualities can be glimpsed within the slime of his perversions.

Through a series of flashback Hughes paints a vivid backstory for Simone, mapping out how his life was undeniably affected by his very ‘different’ upbringing.  It’s probably here that the novel ventures into some of the most unsettling areas – with underage sex and the like adding a particularly hard-to-swallow edge to the first half of the tale.

Move on to the here-and-now and we’re treated to a near constant showcase of one man’s unrelenting libido, the sleazy little things that make him tick, and the lengths he’ll go to appease these urges.  As you’ve undoubtedly guessed – things will get messy, not everyone that comes into his sights will be all that willing to participate in the things he wants to do, but ultimately Simone’s going to get his release – one way or another.

One aspect which works particularly well with Hughes’ writing style (in this novel at least) is the shifting perspective combined with the repeating timeframe.  Quite often chapters will show the situation from one character’s perspective, to then repeat the same period of time in the proceeding chapter, only from a different characters’ perspective (usually shifting between Simone and Toni).  This is a simple yet remarkably effective device to keep the reader fully engaged with the tale – with each chapter clearing up aspects from the preceding one, allowing the reader to reassess the oddities that didn’t make sense at the time.

Although from the outset it’s clear that Hughes has his sights set on one goal – delivering extreme horror entertainment to a filthy audience – there’s nevertheless still a wealth of cunning complexities and inter-woven layers going on within the novel.  Gratuitous violence is married with a subtly hidden agenda for a ‘normal’ life and a non-abusive relationship.  The novel’s awash with raw emotions; hurt, distrust and betrayal, and a seething anger that perfectly mirrors the goodness within the character of Toni.

It’s certainly not a novel for everyone.  It explores fantasies and desires that some will find just that tad too sordid.  Yes there’s that overriding ‘horror’ aspect – with plenty of brutal violence and visceral gore clinging to the heels of all the sleaze.   I dare say the majority of horror fans will use the splatterings of grisly horror to justify where the entertainment’s at in the tale.  But deep down you know there’s also the undeniable thrill of the sleaze.  Like a Graham Masterton erotic horror, Hughes delivers equal measures of grubby dirt and plentiful bloodshed.

If you’re easily offended or prefer to steer clear of blatant seediness then best you skip this one.  There’s more depravity and filth in these pages than a well-thumbed copy of Razzle.  But of course it’s how the slimy, sleazy ponderings so easily progress to acts of brutal and sadistic violence that’s ultimately where the novel gets you in the gut.

‘Wind-up Toy’ is a one-stop-shop for all things lewd and twisted.  It pushes the boundaries of taste, until we’re standing ankle deep in blood and filth and wondering what the hell just happened.

Gut-churningly depraved fun from start to finish.

Chaos Rising – 57 Pages
The control Chaos had over the men she came into contact with was beyond exhilarating.  They were her playthings.  She wasn’t interested in giving them any pleasure.  They did all the giving - whether it was with tongue, fingers or being a punch bag for her whips, chains and other toys of pain.

Chaos loved this life.  It was fun.  Men lived to provide her with pleasure.  It was as plain and simple as that.  And when she got bored, she got rid of them without a second’s thought.  But she’d not done that with this one.  This slave had been at her heel for a number of years now.  Simone.

But now, after all those years, she was becoming bored with him.  Bored of how happy and eager he always was.  He said he loved her.  Loved!  How dare he?  She’d break him.  Make him want to run.  Make him want to be gone from her forever.

She decided to up the beatings.  Make them more brutal than they’d ever been before.  She’d make him wish he’d never been born.  And she’d enjoy every sadistic minute of it.  The power.  The dominance.

Of course it hadn’t always been like this.  She’d gradually blossomed into the iron-handed woman she was now.  Her father had undoubtedly been the catalyst for her persuasion towards the delivery of pain.  Back then, as a mere eleven-year-old, she’d had a different name.  The name she’d been given by her parents.  Charlotte Ros.

Back then her father had been her hero up until the moment she’d discovered his dirty little secret.  But it wasn’t what he was getting up to that upset her the most.  It was how much his actions had destroyed her mother.  Driven her to suicide.

When Charlotte had uncovered her father’s secret, she’d initially used it against him.  Held the knowledge over him.  Her tooth was kept sweet for her silence, and so she allowed him to continue with his depravity.  That was until Charlotte decided it was time to tell.  Time to give up her father’s dirty little secret.

The end result was catastrophic for the family.  But it put the wheels in motion for Charlotte Ros’ descent into sexual dominance.  She was slowly finding her inherent love for torturing and humiliating men.  Her sadistic side was gradually clawing its way to the surface.  She was becoming the powerful dominatrix that would one day make men whimper at just her touch.

Chaos was rising…

The novella kicks off with Simone undergoing a brutal beating courtesy of one very pissed off Chaos.  It’s a situation we’ve become somewhat accustomed to through the previous Wind-Up Toy offerings.  However, the sadistic punishment and degradation dished out is no less hard-hitting, despite its reasonable regularity to date.  Indeed, in these first few pages, poor old Simone is really put through hell at the hands of the utterly unforgiving Chaos – and the suffering he undergoes is just as wince-making and gut-churning as it was in the preceding instalments.

With the reader’s whistle now wet in terms of the tone Hughes is so unashamedly striving for, the story jumps back in time to when Chaos (aka Charlotte Ros) was a mere eleven-year-old girl, and the absolute apple of her father’s eye.  Obviously back then the young and innocent Charlotte Ros was a million miles from the unforgiving dominatrix that she’ll one day become.  However, even in those tender years we nevertheless see something about the young girl that offers the slightest glimpse of the woman she’ll become.

Okay, so by now I don’t think it’s all that necessary to warn people about the extreme content that’s contained within the grubby pages of a David Owain Hughes offering.  You know the score.  By now you’ve read ‘Wind-Up Toy’ (2016) and a couple of the smaller instalments, so you should know exactly how explicit and downright depraved this shit gets.  And of course, ‘Chaos Rising’ is absolutely no exception.

We soon discover that Charlotte Ros’ father has been up to no good.  In fact, he’s got one hell of a dirty secret lurking in the depths of his closet (figuratively speaking).  And it doesn’t take long for poor old Charlotte Ros to discover his secret.  In fact she literally walks in on the act.  Yeah, you’ve guessed it, well-respected and powerful businessman Gregory Ros has been playing around behind his wife’s back.  Only it’s with very young boys.

It’s a sensitive subject matter at the best of times.  However, Hughes approaches it with exactly the same tone as the rest of his work, rather than attempting to kitten-glove the moral issues involved (like some author’s would feel they’re pretty much obliged to).  And if I’m honest, although it’s a very brave decision to make, I think it’s the right move.  We all know how wrong and repulsive paedophilia is.  It should never be seen as anything less than utterly and unquestionably abhorrent.  But novels such as this one are not where we need to be seen taking the moral high ground yet again.  That’s not the underlying ethos at play here.  No – we need to keep things depraved and totally uncompromising.  The tone maintained throughout.  Thankfully, this is exactly what Hughes has done.

Of course, walking in on her father in such an uncompromising position is ultimately going to have a psychological effect on the young girl.  But it’s the addiction (despite his constant promises that he’ll never do it again) that her father has with being sexually abused by young boys that really changes Charlotte.  We start to see the young girl evolve.  We begin to see her stand firmly on her own two feet and take a surprisingly aggressive and dominating stance.  Yes indeed – Chaos is beginning to emerge.

The rest of the novella is along very much the same sort of lines.  A fucked up coming-of-age story with Charlotte gradually, experience-by-experience, descending into the world of S&M.  Along the way you’ve got some horrific scenes of violence – which further shape the cold-hearted dominatrix that’s blossoming.

Of course, throughout all of this you’ve got that sexually charged underbelly which accompanies every twist and turn of the tale.  Charlotte’s metamorphosis into a highly-sexed dominatrix brings about plenty of sordid debauchery.  The experiences getting increasingly more hardcore – until we’re stood like voyeurs on the side-line, as Charlotte and her Aunt Sue put a father and son through what can only be described as barbaric torture.

As we near the end, the novella doesn’t really come to a proper conclusion, other than taking us all the way through Chaos’ backstory, until we’re up to that key moment where ‘Wind-Up Toy’ (2016) starts up.  Nevertheless, as an addition to the ‘Wind-Up Toy’ world, ‘Chaos Rising’ really does slot itself in pretty much perfectly.

If you enjoyed
Wind-Up Toy(2016), then this next addition really is a must read.  It’s ramped up the depravity a good few notches, the nastiness has plummeted into gut-churning new lows, and the sheer entertainment factor of the story is equal to (if not more so) than the original.

For hard-hitting and outrageously despicable S&M that’s been shoved into the blood-drenched forecourt of extreme horror, you need look no further.  In ‘Wind-Up Toy: Chaos Rising’ David Owain Hughes delivers the sordid depths of sexual depravity in absolute abundance.

Broken Plaything – 52 Pages
Simone had gone to the church to seek solace.  There he would confess his numerous sins in the confessional box.  It was time he unburdened himself.  Time he brought an end to the murderous pathway he’d been walking.

It didn’t take Simone long to start talking about his troubled past.  The priest listened on as Simone told him about where things began going wrong for him.  Of course, it all started with his mother.  The pain that it left Simone with when she took her own life.  She was the first woman to abandon Simone.  She would prove to be the first of many.

With the ever-faithful Mr. Tickles by his side, Simone was telling his story when his mobile phone buzzed, alerting him to the receipt of an incoming text message.  Pausing for a second, Simone read the message.  It was from Chrissy Sandoval.  A name he hadn’t uttered in at least six years.  She’d always promised to get back in touch if she was ever back from the US.  And by the sounds of things, she was back.  The second woman Simone had ever loved and then been abandoned by, was back.

Through Chrissy, Simone had learnt what a dominatrix was.  She was one of three performers for the Flesh Flaying Fiends: the world’s most deranged dominatrix act.  He’d first seen her performing at the Klitty Kingdom - a ramshackle dump located in his beloved hometown of Porthcawl.

There Simone had watched the dominatrixes beat the living shit out of a handsome local as part of their performance, before turning their attention to Simone.  It was a night he’d never forget.  It was also the night that Simone had fallen in love with Chrissy.

Now Chrissy was back and apparently she had big news for him.  But Simone was done with it all.  He was done with his despicable life.  Done with all the killing.  And most of all, he was done with women.

Right now was confession time.  But afterwards he may be able to find time to meet with Chrissy.  He could meet with her and let her experience the sort of pain she’d put him through.

Now that sounded like a plan…

So here we are once again.  Willingly taking a stroll through the sordid, filth-encrusted backstreets of David Owain Hughes’ horrendously perverse mind.  The original
Wind-Up Toy (2016) story was one hell of a sleazy little read.  In it, the sheer volume of filth and depravity equalled, if not exceeded, the graphic levels of violence and gore that was also on offer.  Nevertheless, Wind-Up Toy (2016) was undeniably what you would call an ‘extreme horror’ novel.  The sordid stuff may have been high on the agenda – but it still delivered the gut-punch of a nasty-as-fuck horror - rather than just fulfilling the grimy criteria of sleazy erotica.

With ‘Wind-Up Toy: Broken Plaything’, the ratio of perversion compared with ‘violence and gore’ has gone up in favour of the seedier side of things.  In fact, other than a few choice moments (I shan’t spoil these delightful scenes for you) there’s very little of what you would class as actual ‘horror’ in the majority of the story.  That’s not to say that it’s not still a horrendously disturbing read.  In fact, be warned – Hughes has not cleaned up his act one bit.  ‘Broken Plaything’ is every bit as distasteful and despicable as the original novel was – if not more so.

In essence ‘Broken Plaything’ is another bolt-on tale to the original story. 
Wind-Up Toy(2016) introduced the character of Simone and set out the perverse intricacies of his messed-up life, whilst simultaneously playing out a nasty little storyline.  It was originally just a self-contained story – and it worked damn well!  These additional ‘Wind-Up Toy’ stories wouldn’t really work all that well when totally independent of the original novel.  Together the stories form a much more involved and intriguing picture.

Being a short novella length, as you’d expect ‘Broken Plaything’ adds much more to the wider ‘Wind-Up Toy’ story than the other, far shorter stories do.  Here we have an interesting wrap-around tale which takes us back to when Simone was a young impressionable lad, on to his discovery of S&M as a timid young nineteen-year-old man, and finally jumping forward to the period not long after those crazy-ass events which were detailed within
Wind-Up Toy (2016).

It’s an interesting approach to take – slotting itself in both before and after the events of the original story.  But to be fair it works perfectly.  In particular the framing device with Simone’s confession to a gob-smacked priest stitches everything together neatly and very effectively.  The story also flows incredibly naturally – with the flashbacks and reminiscing taking on a more dominant role than the ‘current time’ side of the story.

Fans of the original novel won’t be disappointed with where Hughes has gone with this bolt-on story.  It’s not the next chapter in Simone’s life like many would have expected.  Nevertheless it fills in so many of the gaps, and pulls together so many of the elements within the first tale, that it’s sure to please.

I suppose I can’t really sign-off on this part of the review without addressing one small detail within the story: the inclusion of myself within the sordid setting of this filth-ridden story.  In case you hadn’t guessed, the fella that’s pulled up on stage at the aforementioned Klitty Kingdom is none other than the gentle reviewer addressing you now.  In the story (I should emphasize that it’s just a story!) I’m then subjected to some pretty horrific treatment at the hands of these three dominatrixes.  Since reading this delightful excerpt I’ve been informed by Mr Hughes that when he wrote that part, it had him in stitches the whole time.  Nice!  I guess you get what you ask for!!! (actually – I couldn’t stop laughing when I read it – but I feel I should at least feign embarrassment).

Into The Playpen – 53 Pages
Bosco Brown was your typical schoolyard bully.  Big, stupid and lumbering.  Of course, H.M. Cardiff Prison wasn’t exactly the school playground.  But the principal was still the same.  The mother fucker thought he could push everyone around, taking whatever he wanted with the threat of violence.  It irritated Simone.  In fact, it pissed him right off.

When Simone was placed into Cardiff prison some three weeks ago, Bosco had been the one name he’d constantly been warned about.  Bosco ruled the prison.  He was the man that everyone feared.  His notoriety followed him around.  The leader of a biker gang which itself had a name for unparalleled violence.

Even the guards turned their cheeks with Bosco.  He had every one of the bastards in his pocket.  But there was one inmate that Bosco wasn’t going to dominate.  Simone was having none of his shit.  He’d spent the best part of a lifetime putting up with Chaos’ violence.  Suffering her abuse.  Simone wasn’t about to let some thick-headed thug rewind the tape.

So when Brosco tried throwing his weight Simone’s way in the prison cafeteria, Simone gave as good as he got – and a whole heap more on top.  Unfortunately for Brosco, he’d underestimated the handsome pervert who’d only recently arrived into his domain.  And he paid for this mistake with his life.

But there’s always someone waiting to fill the shoes of the man at the top.  And Bosco’s second-in-command, a long-haired thug named Maddie, was ready to prove his dominance.  The first to feel his wrath would be the one who secured Maddie’s new position at the top of the food chain.

Simone was going to have to watch his back…

What better place for Simone’s story to come to a final end than within the dog-eat-dog environment of a high-security prison.  The potential for sadistic violence and godawful depravity is obvious.  It’s pretty much the perfect backdrop for a psychotic pervert like Dave…sorry, I mean Simone, to do what he does best.

The tale’s basically told in two distinct halves: the brutality of life in Cardiff prison, along with the story of how Simone ended up there, told through dream sequences and flashbacks from his time spend in the US travelling around with Chrissy and the rest of the Flesh Flaying Fiends.

Both sides of the story are as vicious and sordid as each other.  In the States, Simone gets to reap his vengeance on the one woman who broke his heart, as well as her whorish friends who were responsible for steering Simone into a world of filth.  Then back in Cardiff prison, we see Simone take on the violent thugs and corrupt prison guards with equally nasty results.

Now that you’ve read all the other ‘Wind-up Toy’ stories, you’ll no doubt be able to imagine the levels of corrupt filth that we’re talking about here.  And if you enjoyed all those other offerings, then trust me, you won’t be disappointed with this final novella.

In fact, for his final instalment, Hughes goes to fucking town.  The sheer levels of violence and depths of depravity exhibited in this novella have pushed the boundaries further than before.  I kid you not, this shit is fucking twisted.  The beatings and shankings are so brutal, they’ll rip at your insides and pulverise your braincells.  It’s gut-churningly brutal, every step of the way.  And somehow, it gets worse and worse, until that final, climatic, horrendously visceral ending.

In this final full instalment, Hughes has pulled out all the stops.  He’s pushed the boundaries of bad taste until we’re swimming in a cesspit of blood, shit and tears.  If extreme violence and sadistic perversion are your thing (well reading about such things anyway), then you’re going to fucking love this one.  It doesn’t let the series down.  It ups the game.  Pushes the limits.  Fucks with any decency you had left in you.  And Hughes signs the series off in absolute blood-splattered, shit-spattered style.

Let the screaming begin…

His Name Was Simone – 14 Pages
Halloween had always been James’ favourite time of year.  When he’d been a little boy, he’d dressed up as his favourite ghouls and monsters and gone out trick or treating.  These days he was a student living in Porthcawl.  Nevertheless he continued the annual macabre festivities.  Only now his love of Halloween had taken on a darker tone.

After hearing about Simone and the horrific crimes he’d committed some thirty years ago, James and his friends had become obsessed with the rumours.  James’ girlfriend Neen, loved the idea of the serial killer terrorizing the very town they lived in.  Knowing just a short walk away, the house where Chaos and Simone had once lived, where so many victims had met their end, made her damp.

What better way to spend Halloween night than partying in that very house?  They’d dress up as Simone, Chaos and the Krull Army, and have themselves some proper Halloween fun.  All they had to do was break into the abandoned house, and then get the party underway.

This was going to be the best Halloween ever…

First published in Jaded Books’ ‘Black Candy: A Halloween Anthology’ (2016) horror anthology, Hughes’ final short instalment in the ‘Wind-Up Toy’ mythos attempts to chisel some form of ‘reality’ out of all the sordid fiction.  The story takes us back once again to the seaside town of Porthcawl, some thirty years after the events of
Wind-Up Toy (2016), where a bunch of partying students decide to spend Halloween paying homage to the great Simone.

Of course, it’s not all beer guzzling and smoking weed.  Simone may be long gone, but his presence, or indeed that of his dominatrix Chaos, is still very much alive in the old abandoned house.  And it’s not long before they’re hearing whisperings in their ears and the faint sound of a whip cracking within the dusty confines of the house.  And then before you know it, they’re all feeling the influence of an unseen presence.  That’s when things start to get nasty.

It’s short and sweet and (as you’d expect) pretty damn brutal.  There’s the usual tidal wave of lowbrow sleaze carrying the story along.  But it’s the sudden punctuation of sadistic violence that erupts almost without warning that sets the story alight.  Hughes doesn’t hold back, he just launches straight into it, with a single mind for fucking up everyone without compromise.

As I said, it’s short and the onslaught of violence doesn’t last all that long before the tale comes to a screaming conclusion.  But it ends the collection off pretty damn well. Lending a faux-reality to the mythos.  Giving life to Simone and those that shared a portion of his life with him.

One thing’s for sure, as the final page of the Wind-Up Toy collection is turned, you’ll sleep safe in the knowledge that Simone’s unlikely to ever leave you.  He’s there with you for life…for better or for worse.

The collection runs for a total of 389 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Wind-Up Toy’ instalments:

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