Gristle & Bone ~ 7 Delectable Tales of Terror from Duncan Ralston
When successful restaurant owners Jim and Leanne Taymor confess to a grisly series of small town murders, their neighbor learns the gruesome truth that led them to kill. A young couple discovers the secret of a tourist town’s prosperity may lie in its sinfully delicious cuisine. Gonzo pornographers learn a brutal lesson following a tragedy they caused when life imitated “art.” Disgraced soldier Dean Vogel returns to his hometown and confronts the bullies, and a traumatic event, from his past. A reporter uncovers what really happened to the latest internet sensation, a troubled girl who disappeared on camera.
Gristle & Bone includes the novella, Scavengers, 4 novelettes, and 2 short stories.
Cannibalism, monsters, vengeful spirits, the apocalypse–chock-full of blood, mayhem, psychological horror, and good old fashioned gross-outs, Gristle & Bone is a tasty treat for horror fans!
LIFE DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE A HAPPY ENDING
I cannot praise this book highly enough.
Each short story pulled me into Duncan Ralston’s world a little bit further, and his world is a scary place to be. Not in the gross out and gory way that I’m usually going on about, but on a psychological level that is terrifying.
Candace and Joel McMurray have fallen into a joyless routine, living more like a brother and sister than husband and wife. The doctor informed the couple that they would never be able to have a baby. He literally called Candace ‘barren’, and said that it was most likely caused by years of taking childhood antidepressants. Not caring how callous she sounded, Candace said that she wanted her own children – not someone else’s.
As determined as she was to not let the news affect their sex life, the depression and despair wouldn’t stay outside of the bedroom. They crept in when she wasn’t paying attention, and within a month even Joel stopped trying to initiate sex. They developed individual hobbies to keep them occupied. Candice started scrapbooking, and Joel started masturbating. Little did they know that by summertime, they’d be hearing the pitter-patter of little feet in their home.
FAT OF THE LAND:
June hated the temper tantrums that that her husband threw. When one of her girlfriends asked her if she and her husband ever wanted to have kids, she was only partially joking when she replied with “I’ve already got one kid to worry about, thanks”. They’re multi-tasking a vacation this weekend – attending the wedding/union of their friends Max & Darrin, June’s photo shoot to help scout locations for an upcoming movie, and the annual 4th of July party held in a multi-million dollar mansion in the same town. Today’s tantrum was brought on when David couldn’t find the letter inviting them to the ultra-exclusive Independence Day party.
June was only trying to calm her husband down and pacify him by saying that perhaps the maid had mistaken the letter for trash, and accidently threw it away. David jumped on the opportunity to place the blame on anyone other than on himself, and promptly complained to the front desk. Again, trying to keep any semblance of peace, June jumped in when the clerk asked how the hotel could make up for the negligence of one of their employees. She asked the clerk if she could recommend a restaurant – the couple referred to themselves as Foodies, and were always on the lookout for something special – a diamond in the rough.
Whatever the reason – the staff at the Seaside Inn directed the couple to Ambrosia. The smells and the atmosphere pulled them in immediately, and they fell into a kind of trance while listening to the Chef prepare their meals – only coming back to their senses when they were back in their car and David was vomiting up his spleen.
Something had come over them while they were in that restaurant, and when June returned to Ambrosia unannounced the next day – the nightmare truely began.
BEWARE OF DOG:
Dean Vogel returned to his hometown after being dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.
He has been placed in the care of his aging parents, and is about to start his court ordered therapy. Therapy that he had no intention of finishing. By his fourth session, Dean was on the verge of a major breakthrough.
With help from Dr. Baswell, the skeletons that have been hiding away in Dean’s subconscious have started moving again – and they were ready to come out once and for all. Dean is about to remember the truth behind the incident from his childhood, and the truth doesn’t always set you free.
Mason Adler is a paranoid man, he can be summed up pretty neatly by the t-shirts that read “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me”. The relationship that develops between Mason and Jenna, (his CPU), started out like the relationship that Joaquin Phoenix had with Scarlett Johansson in the movie HER, but it took a left turn at Albuquerque – and things got really messed up from there!
If forced to choose a favorite from Gristle & Bone, VIRAL would be it. It centers around a fourteen year old girl, and a video that was uploaded on YouTube moments before she disappeared.
Daria Walker’s story isn’t a new one, she is picked on at school, and feels invisible in her home. She started cutting when she was twelve, and she used it as a way to deal with her depression. It was never about wanting attention, or crying out for help or sympathy. What sets Daria’s video apart from others like it, is the same thing that caught the attention of reporter Tara Maxwell – the teenager didn’t just end up missing, she literally disappeared – right in front of the camera.
Most of the people who have seen the video call it a hoax. But, Tara sees something else. She can see the pain in Daria’s eyes, and can hear the desperation in her voice. She sees herself at that age, and that is what is pulling her into the story. Tara knows what it is like to feel invisible at home, and wish to become invisible at school. She knows each and every one of those feels. That is what is driving Tara to find out exactly what happened to Daria.
If she can help Daria, will she be able to save herself in the process?
ILEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM
This SS has the feel of a Girls Gone Wild video, with a little bit of Boogie Nights sprinkled on top. Throw in a vengeful spirit, and let the fun begin!! It’s hard to talk about each story individually when they’re all so damn good!
I started this story, and fell into a Grant Mazzy trance…
Grant Mazzy: Mrs. French’s cat is missing. The signs are posted all over town. “Have you seen Honey?” We’ve all seen the posters, but nobody has seen Honey the cat. Nobody. Until last Thursday morning, when Miss Colette Piscine swerved her car to miss Honey the cat as she drove across a bridge. Well this bridge, now slightly damaged, is a bit of a local treasure and even has its own fancy name; Pont de Flaque. Now Collette, that sounds like Culotte. That’s Panty in French. And Piscine means Pool. Panty pool. Flaque also means pool in French, so Colete Piscine, in French Panty Pool, drives over the Pont de Flaque, the Pont de Pool if you will, to avoid hitting Mrs. French’s cat that has been missing in Pontypool. Pontypool. Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean? Well, Norman Mailer, he had an interesting theory that he used to explain the strange coincidences in the aftermath of the JFK assasination. In the wake of huge events, after them and before them, physical details they spasm for a moment; they sort of unlock and when they come back into focus they suddenly coincide in a weird way. Street names and birthdates and middle names, all kind of superfluous things appear related to eachother. It’s a ripple effect. So, what does it mean? Well… it means something’s going to happen. Something big. But then, something’s always about to happen.
But this isn’t Pontypool, and these Scavengers are more the LURKER type.
(If you don’t know Pontypool – yes, this is a huge compliment)