Max Booth III was kind enough to give me an excerpt of his new novel, "The Mind is a Razorblade" for you to read. Trust me, once you get a good look at this one, you're going to want to read it. Max's prose is tight, and he weaves a good solid mystery. I love horror stories that have some sort of supernatural mystery to solve. If you're anything like me, you'll love this book!
Check it out after the break!
Ubiquitous Warning:There's some NSFW language in this one, so if you're easily offended, don't read it at work... Wait. Is that right?
Whatever, just read it already!
Excerpt: Max Booth III’s The Mind is a Razorblade
Drowning. Choking. Everything is wet, so wet. The water, my lungs—breathe, goddammit, just fucking breathe. Can’t. Water. So much water. I’m drowning, falling, dying. Cold, so cold. Dark. Breathe.
No. I can.
I’m coughing and rolling over, but everything is slippery, nothing is tangible. My skin’s crusty and ancient. Everything’s cold. Even my teeth are cold. A sharp gagging sound emits from my throat and my mouth releases liquids. All other noise dampens. The pain is incredible. A white light explodes within me. Projectile splashes beside me. Face wet, body drenched, I curl up, knees to jaw, hands to shoulders—shaking.
The cries die quickly. Gagging again, drowning and spitting up damnation.
The mud’s caked into my mouth and it tastes gritty and bitter. I vomit it all away and immediately swallow another chunk. Outside in the wet and the cold and I’m drowning, dying, dissipating.
This ground, this earth, I know it. My eyes open slowly, stinging at the mud and the rain infiltrating my vision. There above, the sky, the darkness. The clouds, the lightning. They’re not welcomed. They’re the cause of rain, cause of drowning—death makers.
Move, must move. Tired, but too cold to sleep. I’m dying. Gotta stay awake. Head’s pounding. Fuck. I can’t handle this. Everything’s exploding. Teeth grind against flesh, digging into my tongue. Mud and rainwater drown my lungs and I try to scream but no sound comes out.
What is this?
And it hits me.
Life. This is life. I am living. Awake. Awake and in pain. But pain is proof I am living. Proof I am awake. This is a good thing. I want to be awake. Awake, but out of this place. Somewhere dry and warm.
Home. I want to be home.
A word, a mystery. It lacks a concrete definition, yet I understand it all the same. Home is safe. I want to be safe. Safe equals survival, and survival is the ultimate goal. It is the purpose of everything.
I move and goddamn does it hurt. Bones crack, limbs rusted from prolonged immobility. I have to take this slow and easy. Patience is essential. I roll over on my stomach, my face pressed against the mud. My flaccid cock presses against the earth and it’s so warm, I never want to leave. Vision’s blurry, burning, and I close my eyes, unable to continue. Too weak. So damn thirsty my throat’s itchy.
Palms flat and fingers arched, nails digging in the mud, I bend my elbows and apply pressure, gaining small levitation before collapsing back in the filth. The water splashes beneath me. Failure.
Second attempt, same results.
Third attempt, success.
Slowly, I’m climbing and rising from my knees, over this fence made of air. I know air. Air is the key to survival. I like air. Now come on. Slow. Steady. Breathe. Breathe.
I straighten my back and there’s a rough crunching sound in my spine, followed by exotic pain that quickly subsides. I look up at the sky. The clouds have multiplied. Eyes open, mouth open, the rain penetrates my lungs, washing the mud away.
The pain in my head intensifies with every movement. I grasp my skull with both hands and scream. My sore throat worsens when straining my vocal cords, but I can’t calm down. The pain is too much. I need help. Fuck. Oh God.
Another word I can’t comprehend. But I know it. It makes sense. What else? Fuck, I can’t. Every time I try to concentrate, it just hurts my head even more. I do not like pain. Pain is bad. Pain is related to death. I do not like death.
I do not want death.
But death wants me.
Something’s moving in my chest. My heart. It’s beating so fast, so fast. I’m almost convinced it’s going to abandon me in the mud. But this heart, it’s mine. It’s the source of power, the source of life.
I have to relax, have to gather my thoughts. Think. It is night. It is raining. I am in pain. I am cold.
I am afraid.
I close my eyes and inhale, allowing a few moments to pass before exhaling. I do this awhile, awaiting my life force to return to normality. The rain only aggravates, making it too cold. I need warmth, safety.
I open my eyes and slowly twist my neck from side to side, taking in my surroundings. Everything is dark and wet. Breathing slow, my heartbeat relaxes. Slow, I think, you gotta go slow.
Slowly but surely, sugar pie.
Words that aren’t my own, but in my head nonetheless. Words I know, but cannot grasp. Words familiar with home. Words that provide warmth.
Whatever they are, they seem to work. The environment around me fades into focus. I am born into the here and now.
I am here. I am now.
I am awake.
I look down and discover a pair of feet connected to a pair of legs, connected to a body, connected to a head protecting a mind which throbs and pulsates like a monster breaking from its chains. My feet are encased with a thick layer of mud created by the rain, attacking the earth, molesting the grass. Not green but black. The mud flows beneath me, down a slope and toward a nearby stream of water.
But the rain is too persistent, too heavy. It causes the river to flood onto the land. Fuck, my head. My skull pounds like the rain pounds against the earth. It never ends.
There’s a set of lights off in the distance and somehow I know they’re from the headlights of an automobile. A vehicle. A car. Everybody knows cars. I know cars.
The rain blurs the lights, making them almost nonexistent. There’s enough light to aid my eyes, enough to see I’m not the only one abandoned in the mud, in the madness.
Between me and the car, I spot a large shape on the ground, hidden in the darkness. Almost shadow-like, but clearly a solid object. Instincts tell me it is another person.
I crouch down and there’s another painful crunch in my legs. I dig one unstable palm into the ground to maintain balance. The other hand creeps out and touches the body. I grab its shoulder and turn it around on its back.
A man, like me. I am a man. This is a man. We are men. I am alive. This other man is not.
He does not breathe like I breathe.
His eyes are open but caked with mud. Same goes for his mouth. Somehow I know to check his neck and wrist for a pulse, although I already know what I’ll feel. I feel nothing.
He is dead. Here, but not. He is nevermore.
I am afraid.
He’s wearing a black trench coat, with other clothing underneath. I lean down for a closer inspection and discover rips in the fabric. Small circular holes here and there along his chest. This man has been shot. More than once, too. Someone made this man dead.
Did I do this?
If so, why?
My body shakes, my teeth chatter. The rain. The night air. I am going to freeze to death, become nevermore like the man lying beside me. The man with the large, warm coat.
It clicks in my mind that while this dead man is fully clothed, I am not. Where did my clothes go? Surely I didn’t come here naked. Someone must have taken them. Taken them along with the rest of my identity.
I flip him back on his stomach and pull off the coat, standing up and slipping my arms through the sleeves. It ends a little past my knees. I button it up with haste, enjoying the desired warmth it delivers.
He can keep the rest of the clothes.
I step over the corpse and my foot lands on something hard in the ground. Something else cold, something steel.
I pick up the mysterious object, bringing it closer to my face. The weight feels natural in my hand. I know what it is even before I can fully make out the shape.
It’s a gun.
A big gun, too. Silver. Heavy, but not uncomfortable heavy—reassuringly heavy. Yes, a gun. I know guns.
But do I like them?
I hold onto it for safekeeping and drop it in the lower right side pocket of my new trench coat. The weight sags the coat down, making me feel uneven.
I continue my short journey to the car up ahead, and as I gain distance, I discover this is no ordinary vehicle. White, with paint on the sides, glass bulbs attached to the top. I know this type of car.
This is a cop car.
I know cops, too. Cops are the law, and the law helps ensure survival.
At least, they’re supposed to.
The driver’s door is wide open. I walk around the side and find another man on his back in the mud, this one wearing a much smaller coat. When I turn him over, the tie around his neck begins blowing wildly with the wind. A crusted star is pinned to his belt. It stares at me, judging.
He has just as many bullet holes in him as the other man.
Only, unlike the other man, this one is coughing.
Like me, he is alive.
I smile at him, relieved to not be the only one still breathing in this fucked up flood. The rain is so heavy, I can barely make out his face. I lean forward and the white of his eyes widens in the darkness.
I try to speak, but my throat’s too raw to produce anything coherent.
“No!” he shouts at me, and his hand fumbles in the interior of his jacket. It occurs to me that this cop is here for a reason, and odds are it has something to do with me. Who’s to say I wasn’t the one to shoot him originally?
Speaking of shooting, what the hell is he reaching for?
No time to think.
Act, motherfucker. Before you can’t.
I reach into my pocket and grab the gun, quickly aiming the barrel through the fabric of the trench coat and squeezing the trigger. The rain is loud, but not as loud as the gunshot. The cop’s face darkens in the shadows and his body goes limp.
I’m disappointed that I’m not more surprised at my perfect aim. I’ve done this before. I feel it. Shooting people is not a new thing. How many have I shot, though?
Another question I’m afraid of someone answering.
A sudden crackling from inside the car nearly sends me to the ground. Somehow I manage to calm my nerves and step over the man I just killed. I sit down in the driver’s seat and stare at the radio blowing up with static.
“Unit 84, this is dispatch. Do you read?”
I sit there, frozen.
“Officer Oasis, do you read? Copy, do you read? Units are en route to your GPS location. Do you read? Unit 84?”
I raise the mic to my mouth, forgetting how to breathe again. All I have to do is click the button and the machine will hear me. So why is it so difficult?
“Unit 84, units are en route. Backup is on the way. I repeat, Unit 84, backup is on the way. Hang in there, Officer. Help is coming.”
My thumb presses down on the button and I am free to say whatever I please. It’s a struggle to pronunciate as oxygen weighs down like an anchor.
The reply is nearly simultaneous.
“Unit 84, is that you? Officer Oasis? Do you read me? Hello? What is your status? Unit 84, do you read me?”
No. I am not Officer Oasis. Officer Oasis is dead. Dead by my hand. I, on the other hand, am alive. Alive and in serious trouble.
“Unit 84, is that you? Officer Oasis? Do you read me?”
I drop the mic and climb out of the car, emerging back into the rain. Into my womb. It’s a miracle I don’t fall on my face. Somehow I manage to push my legs against the earth and run.
As the rain motivates me farther into the woods, I hear the distant wails of sirens approaching.
I do not look back.