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Authors: Brian Hodge

Tags: #Horror, #Fiction, #Short Stories & Fiction Anthologies

The Convulsion Factory

Table of Contents

THE CONVULSION FACTORY

by Brian Hodge

THE CONVULSION FACTORY copyright © 2011 by Brian Hodge. Originally published 1996 by Silver Salamander Press. Macabre Ink digital edition published 2011. Cover by James Powell.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Except for review or discussion purposes, no part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electrical or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the author.

This book is a work of fiction. Characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from imagination and are not to be construed as real, or are otherwise used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

License Notes

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Original Publishing Credits

Introduction: From Out Of The Angry Ruins
©
Philip Nutman, 1996.

Godflesh © Brian Hodge, 1995. First appeared in
The Hot Blood Series: Stranger By Night.

Childhood At The Lost And Found
© Brian Hodge, 1990. First appeared in
The Horror Show
.

Androgyny
© Brian Hodge, 1991. First appeared in
Borderlands 2
.

In A Roadhouse Far, Past The Edge Of Town
© Brian Hodge, 1996.

Naked Lunchmeat
© Brian Hodge, 1996.

Cancer Causes Rats
© Brian Hodge, 1991. First appeared in
Cold Blood
.

Mostly Cloudy, Chance Of Kurt
© Brian Hodge, 1996.

Heartsick
© Brian Hodge, 1994. First appeared in
South From Midnight
.

Extinctions In Paradise
© Brian Hodge, 1995. First appeared in
Werewolves
.

The Meat In The Machine
© Brian Hodge, 1995. First appeared in
Cyber-Psychos A.O.D.

Extract © Brian Hodge, 1996. First appeared in
A Horror Story A Day: 365 Scary Stories
.

Liturgical Music For Nihilists
© Brian Hodge, 1996.

Endnotes: The Ticking Of An Unfriendly Clock
© Brian Hodge, 1996.

For Doli, once more,

for brightening the landscapes

of both town and country;

“Tell me what dreams may come…”

All progressions from a higher to a lower order

are marked by ruins and mystery and a residue

of nameless rage.

— Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West

Introduction: From Out Of The Angry Ruins

by Philip Nutman

Okay. Sit down and listen.

No poetical introductory paragraphs waxing lyrical about what you’re about to read, just a simple statement:

The book you hold in your hands is the Real Deal.

If you’ve been searching for a collection of tales of dread to make your head spin,
The Convulsion Factory
is it.

What you hold in your hands, oh Lucky Reader, is the doorway to a universe I can only describe as “Hodgian.” Be prepared to enter a space where your worst suspicions about the world we live in, especially the Inner Cities, will be confirmed.

And then some.

You won’t want to live here, but I’m sure, once you complete your first vacation, you’ll want to come back, just like I know I will in the years to come.

This is one of those rare books that the moment you turn the last page, you’ll be deeply disappointed the experience is over. But
The Convulsion Factory
will, I’m sure, take pride of place on your shelf of favorite volumes, and it will always be there, waiting for you to plunge back into its dark, disturbing pages.

In short, I haven’t enjoyed a story collection so much since Clive Barker kept me up all night when I first got my hands on
The Books of Blood
,
over ten years ago.

Yes, high praise indeed.

And sincere praise.

You see, I’m a very picky reader. Not a literary snob, but I’ve spent most of my life learning to be a storyteller, and I know one when I read on
e.

And Brian Hodge is a writer’s writer. No quarter given, none asked for. The man is a storyteller with a capital “S.”

There’s no greater pleasure than discovering a book which seduces you, and as you slip between those narrative sheets and start to indulge your passionate desires…

Well, then you discover your new literary lover could teach the legendary Linda Lovelace a thing or two … and you are lost, my friend.

And you keep wanting more…

Okay, okay, this metaphor’s getting out of hand.

Let’s put it this way: writing, for me, is a sexual act.

On those days when the words flow and you, The Writer, discover things about yourself you didn’t know or couldn’t admit to, the art of placing words on a page, of weaving a story out of thin air, becomes transcendental. Just like the best sex.

And reading a novel or collection which inspires those same feelings is a revelation.

At a time when major publishing houses have decided horror is dead, and wannabee writers swimming in the cesspool of the small presses think they are the next King, Koontz, or Barker, when most of them are simply talentless morons who don’t know the difference between a split infinitive and a slice of toast, and 99% of what I read in the “genre” proves unimaginative, derivative shit, a collection like this one serves as a beacon in the darkness.

To be honest, I hardly read anything labeled “horror” anymore. The market imploded not because of public disinterest, but due to greedy publishers strip-mining a field which was already polluted by too many bad writers. I’ve had my fill of killer plants, demonic
clowns, psychopaths, cereal killers (sic), and books with evil children on the covers. These days, if I want to experience that delicious
frisson
which accompanies a book not afraid to explore the darkness, I turn to James Lee Burke
(In the Electric Mist with Confederate
Dead
,
Dixie City Jam),
or Andrew Vachss, or James Ellroy — especially Ellroy. For some reason I haven’t quite managed to figure out, the best “horror” fiction is being written by mystery writers these days.

So when a collection like this one comes along — one that wears its dark stripes with grim glee — and turns out to exceed my expectations in spades, I’m ready to swing from the rafters crying,
“it’s alive! it’s
alive!”

Whatever label publishers want to put on my own fiction, and whatever genre I work in, I am always going to be walking the darkest backroads of the human heart. Exploring the darkness so I can define the light. And every day I sit down to write I try to do so with honesty, commitment, and conviction. Sometimes, the truths we uncover, like scuttling insects which squirm away from the light when we lift the rock of denial, are ugly and deeply disturbing. But we must be honest, Lucky Reader, for without honesty — the painful process of staring into the Abyss, and having the Abyss hold up a mirror to our deepest, darkest secrets, and whispering in our ears,
“this is you
,
my friend…”
— there is no hope for us.

Read. Listen. And
Learn,
oh Lucky Reader.

I was going to tell you about what happened to me the day the manuscript for this treasure trove of dark delights arrived in my Post Office Box. How,
hating
to waste a minute of my day, I made the mistake of starting to read “Godflesh” — the wonderful, polymorphous-perverse ode to sexual tabooism whi
ch
kick-starts this vacation in the October Country of Post-Industrial, Apocalyptic, Urban Decadence — on my way to the subway station (my car was ill that day). And how I walked into two lamp posts, tripped over a curb, and trod on a wino who was sleeping off a Mad Dog 20/20 kidney-rot dream — all because once I started reading I was lost…

And I was going to go into great detail about what then happened to me after I got off the train at King Memorial Station, and how I obliviously wandered into the middle of a drive-by shooting, somehow managing not to get my head blown off. And about my little encounter with the middle-aged, white trash alcoholic whore who offered me a $5 blow job outside the fallout shelter bar she frequents, situated a few blocks from Casa Nutman.

I’m too polite to repeat what I growled in response to her offer, but by this point I was suckling at the teats of the lead character of “Androgyny” and really didn’t want to be disturbed.

Hell, I was disturbed enough as it is.

But all what happened is another story. Or maybe a collection. Or tales best told in a good bar with a glass of full-bodied Cabernet in hand.

What happened to me that day could have happened to one of the characters in these stories — only under Brian’s deft penmanship, it would have been a whole lot worse.

I was lucky. Not just because only chance dictated that the guy with the gun had it pointed towards the other side of the street from me, but because I had stepped into the Hodgian Universe. Maybe it was Brian’s prose which kept me out of harm’s way. Hell, where I was, fictionally-speaking, a bullet would have been the least of my troubles.

Welcome to Brian’s nightmare.

My
stint
in the spotlight is over. It’s time for me to exit stage left.

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