First published back in 2009, Guy N Smiths original ‘Crabs: Unleashed - The Collection’ chapbook collection was released by Ghostwriter Publications in a black and white, staple and tape bound chapbook.

The original chapbook contained four Crabs stories, whereas the colour cover reprint
Crabs: Unleashed’ (2009) (also released by Ghostwriter Publications) only included three Crabs stories – with the ‘Crabs Armada’ (2009) story having been released as a separate standalone chapbook.

Crustacean Vengeance – 8 Pages
The memory of the giant crustacean army’s attack on the millionaire’s paradise of Hayman Island still haunted Kiln.  After taking a quick look at the fisherman, most would quickly avert their eyes in fear, nevertheless, Kiln the hunter of Australia’s Barbecue Bay, now feared for what he knew he had to do next.  

The crabs had gotten the young girl on the beach at Hayman Island during the last full moon.  The girl hadn’t stood a chance against the colossal beasts with their razor sharp pinchers.  Klin had watched as she was ripped apart.  Her entrails feasted upon by the vengeful crustaceans.

Now the crabs had returned to Barbecue Bay.  They were hungry for human flesh.  They wanted a terrible revenge for what Man had done to them.  But Kiln was here to stop them.  Or he’d die trying…

Following on from the absolute carnage witnessed in ‘Killer Crabs’ (1978), much-loved gritty anti-hero Klin returns to Hayman Island to finish the crabs off, once and for all.

Smith spends much of the first couple of pages, setting the scene, whilst refreshing our memories with the events that took place in ‘Killer Crabs’ (1978).  With that done, it’s straight into the thick of the action, with Klin laying his trap to hopefully wipe out the giant crabs.

Much of what takes place in the short is particularly reminiscent of the finale from ‘Killer Crabs’ (1978).  Of course, here Smith has a slight twist up his sleeve.  For a quick, six page short, packed with textbook Guy N Smith suspense, this story delivers the goods.  Okay, so it treads much of the already previously-trodden ground, but for a short, sharp stab of crustacean horror, you can’t go wrong at all.

The story was later reprinted under the title ‘Revenge’ within the ‘Crabs Omnibus’ (2015) collection.

The Decoy – 6 Pages
The death toll at the Marine Parade had run into the dozens.  The terror-stricken holidaymakers making an easy meal for the advancing army of giant crustaceans.  After the crabs had left, the army had erected barricades along the shoreline.  A token force of military personnel attempting to pacify public hysteria.  Although in no way could this platoon of soldiers stand up against the crabs should they emerge once again.

Dugan knew this.  But here he was now, skulking in the shadows, staying out of sight from the military presence nearby.  The military didn’t know how to take these crabs out.  They’d been firing from an elevated position.  Their bullets merely ricocheting off the crabs’ shells.  But Dugan knew better.  He had his trusty double-barrelled sixteen gauge ‘drilling’.  A weapon that Dugan was confident would bring down one of the giant crabs when fired under the shell.

That was his plan.  Tonight, under the silvery moon, he’d take one down.  And it looked like luck was already on Dugan’s side.  Upon arriving at the shadowy shoreline he’d stumbled across the corpse of a young woman floating in the water.  A sad sight to see, especially one so young.  But Dugan knew the girl would be perfect for his plan.  He’d lure a lone crab in with the promise of human flesh and then blow the beast to hell.  He was confident his plan would work.  After all, now he had the perfect decoy…

This is a good ‘un.  It’s only short, but nevertheless Smith crams in everything we love about his Crabs stories.  The setting is just post ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976), with the military still reeling from the crabs’ onslaught at Barmouth.  The perfect setting for a hunter-cum-vigilante, wanting his own revenge on the crabs (along with a trophy).

Smith sets the backdrop perfectly.  The Barmouth shoreline feels instantly intimidating under the darkened night sky.  The atmosphere is thick with suspense.  As I said, it’s absolute textbook Smith.

Of course it doesn’t all go to plan for Dugan.  I’m not going to ruin the story for you, but suffice to say, Smith’s got a damn fine twist up his sleeve.  Altogether, a thoroughly entertaining read.

The short story was first published in ‘FEAR Magazine – Issue 13’ (1990) and later as the standalone chapbook

The Decoy’ (2009) and then reprinted within the ‘Crabs Omnibus’ (2015) collection.

Crabs Armada – 6 Pages
Jack Boswell didn’t want to do the dive.  However, someone had to go down and clear up the mystery that lay hidden on the seabed.  No one would have believed it.  But the truth of the matter was there, under the water.  It appeared somehow the four-hundred-year-old shipwreck of the Rata Encoronada had travelled almost a mile along the bed of the Giant’s Causeway towards the shore.

The idea that the remains of the vast galleon had moved of its own accord such a distance was preposterous.  But somehow it had happened.  So they’d sent Boswell down until the depths of the sea to find out how the shipwreck had moved over a mile on its own.

Although when he reached the crumbling galleon he realised the dive might not have been such a waste of time.  Amongst the dirt and rotting remains of the vast ship, small artefacts, no doubt from the time of Thomas de Granvela and Don Alonso de Leiva, had been uncovered.  Treasures that would be worth a small fortune.

It was enough to get him exploring the lower levels of the shipwreck.  And as he did so he noticed two glowing orbs in the darkened shadows below deck.  At first he thought they were rubies or some other such treasure.  But then he saw the burning hatred within them.  Those were no rubies.  They were eyes…

And the good times just keep on coming!  Here we have another short Crabs story crammed with escalating suspense.  Yeah, we know what’s going to happen here.  We’ve got a diver going down into the depths of the sea to investigate a four-hundred-year-old shipwreck that appears to have shifted a mile along the seabed.  Guess who’s responsible for moving the decaying galleon?  Yep…our crustacean friends.

The outcome’s inevitable.  From the outset we know what’s going to happen.  As such, the success of the story pretty much depends upon the escalation of the suspense and then the eventual bloodbath that’s sure to follow.  Luckily these are two areas in which Smith is a veritable master.

It’s only short, but the suspense that Smith builds as we edge towards the inevitable horror is second to none.  By the time the crabs’ eyes are spotted, you’re pretty much clawing at the pages.  And then the diver’s desperate attempts at escaping the crabs’ reach is nothing short of classic Guy N Smith.  Frantic, desperate and utterly futile.  You’ve just got to love it!

The short story was first published in the ‘Cadaver’ (1991) chapbook then reprinted in the standalone chapbook Crabs Armada’ (2009) and later within the ‘Crabs Omnibus’ (2015) collection.

Crabs: Training Day – 10 Pages
The two girls had fallen into the water when the bridge collapsed.  Luckily Lennie had managed to grab hold of a railway sleeper as it started to float away down the estuary.  Moments later Tracey joined her friend, clinging to their makeshift raft.

As the two girls floated out into Cardigan Bay, the distant sounds of clicking could be heard from behind them.  With the hope of a rescue from the RNLI withering away with each minute that passed, fortune suddenly seemed to be shining their way when a fishing boat crosses their path.

The fisherman on board, a grubby man who introduces himself as Paul Evans, soon has the two young women on deck and drying off in the midday sun.

However, their rescue is only short lived.  When Evans drops anchor to allow the boat’s overheated engine chance to cool, something solid and powerful grips the anchor chain.  Before the fisherman has chance to react, a colossal pincer rises up from the water.  The slaughter is about to begin…

Ending the collection, Smith offers up a character-rich story, drenched in suspense, horror and flesh-hungry bloodshed.  The first half of the tale is given over to building upon the three characters involved in the tale – the two young friends Lennie and Tracey as well as their grubby, leering rescuer Paul Evans.  In fact, Smith seems to spend a good proportion of the short tale lavishly detailing the grubby nature of the fisherman (quite amusingly the character is named after a regular of the author’s fan conventions).  The reasoning behind the girls’ predicament is only very briefly mentioned in passing, and instead, Smith focusses upon fleshing-out the three characters before introducing our crustacean friends into the mix.

Interestingly, Smith unleashes a slightly different crab onslaught onto those aboard the fishing boat– here in the form of a swarm of smaller crabs, which pour onto Evans’ boat, slicing at flesh and bone with their powerful claws.

Probably the most visceral and bloody of the short stories in this collection, it’s one hell of a story to finish the chapbook with.

The collection runs for a total of 34 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Crabs’ instalments:

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