Suffering: Bloody Seconds
By Greg Dixon
There are many
different kinds of horror story and every reader has their own
preference in reading matter. On the whole, I have to say that Bloody
Seconds is not for me. I liked a couple of the stories, but, in
the main, I found the plots weak and the stories filled with pointless
acts of violence and sexual depravity that I consider more disgusting
than frightening. I believe, however, that there is niche readership
that will love Greg Dixon's stories for the very same reasons that I do
There are five stories in the book. The first on is called "Eye for an
Eye" and it begins with the words of a prison officer: “Rise and shine,
shit stain!” The 'shit stain' in question is a convict named Carlos and
Officer Andrews is busy ‘fiercely’ booting him in the ribs.
Please note the use of the adverb 'fiercely'. A few sentences later he
'furiously' picks up Carlos and shoves him against the wall. A little
further down the page poor Carlos is 'completely' defenceless and then,
just fifty words later, Carlos has to suffer an 'extremely' bright
fluorescent shining in his eyes. Carlos' life may be torture, but the
use of so many adverbs is torture for the reader. Carlos' troubles will
be over in nineteen pages, but the reader will have to endure an
assault of adverbs all through the book.
The repeated overuse of adverbs is only one problem with Greg Dixon's
writing, but I am not an English teacher and, in general, try to
concern myself more with the story than how it is written. As you may
have gathered "Eye for an Eye" is a violent tale. Carlos is on death row
and although he may have started his day as a 'shit stain' on
somebody's boot he won't be one for much longer. The guards have come to
take him to the execution chamber, but it is hard to feel sorry for
Carlos because he murdered and raped a young girl (yes in that order).
The reader learns all about the crime in a detailed flashback sequence.
Her name was Maria and she died a nasty death. So does Carlos. Eye for
an Eye is as pointless as it is violent, I did not enjoy reading it
and, dreading more of the same, I was tempted to discard the book.
The second story is called "The Butcher of Midfield" and it is, perhaps,
a little reminiscent of Psycho. In this case the psycho's name is
Edwin, not Norman, and Edwin's behaviour makes his counterpart look
benign by comparison. Like Norman, Edwin is a serial killer whose
domineering mother is now dead. She cannot be said to be departed
though because her corpse is suspended from a chain attached to the
cellar ceiling. It is not normal behaviour—you know it and I know
it—but at least Edwin tries to take care of his mother and sets aside
one day each year to bleach her bones and iron her dress. And this is
only the tip of the iceberg. One of Edwin's favourite pastimes consists
of cutting open his victims, pushing his head in among their internal
organs, and drowning his face in the blood and guts. Edwin loves to
gnaw on intestines, yank out hearts and caress lungs and livers. He is
also partial to a spot of necrophilia. If you are thinking he is a sick
puppy you are right and after I had finished reading this story I was
no longer tempted to discard the book. I wanted to burn it and bury the
unholy remains in salt. Ever the optimist, I gritted my teeth, read on,
and got a pleasant surprise.
The next story is called "Send Them to God: Cross and the Axe" and to my
mind it is the first real story in the book. Its two predecessors
concentrate on trying to shock the reader, but in "Cross and the Axe"
Dixon loses the shock tactics and concentrates more on the story; which
is as it should be. The central
character is a woman named Elizabeth and when the reader is first
introduced to her she is sitting in a church and listening to a sermon.
The priest giving the sermon is called Father O'Malley and right from
the get-go there appears to be something sinister about him.
Elizabeth has a guilty secret and as she listens to O’Malley she
becomes convinced that the Father knows all about it. “You shall not
commit adultery,” he tells the congregation and as the words leave his
lips his eyes lock on Elizabeth. Needless do say O’Malley does know
more than he should. He also has some unusual ways of dealing with
sinners. Elizabeth finds this out after her confession.
Story number four is called "Manual Labour" and a lot of the story is set
on a construction site. The central character is a building contractor
named Bill Dixon and it has to be said that poor old Bill has one of
the laziest godamn work crews ever to set butt on a brick wall. These
guys don't have tea breaks they have work breaks. When they are not on
one Bill has to do everything himself and he has developed a lousy
attitude. His crew, however, have no idea just how bad Big Bill feels.
They don’t discover the truth until it is too late and by then the
blood is flying and Bill has found some new and nasty uses for his
tools. This story has a few good points and is not by any means the
worst in the book, but the plot is a little weak and, once again, blood and violence take precedence over storyline.
The final story is called "If Shadows Could Speak" and, although there are
a few problems with its construction, Dixon has saved the
best for last. There are a few nasty scenes, but they add to
the story rather than overpowering it. This is as it should
be and I would have liked to have seen more stories like this one. "If
Shadows Could Speak" is set in an unnamed city where the problem is not
congestion, but just the opposite. People are vanishing and the police
have no idea how or why this is happening.
The real story starts at three o'clock in the morning, outside a tavern
called Zook's, where four friends are debating whether or not to walk
over to Hyde and catch a taxi. “We'll get one here,” Scott insists.
Mike is not so sure about that and neither are Rick and George. Scott
was right though, because before the gang have time to walk to Hyde a
taxi arrives. Except it does not look like a taxi, it looks more
like a minivan. Taxi or not the guy behind the wheel will take them to
The Holiday Inn for just $20. Over at Hyde a taxi will cost them $50.
Mike has a bad feeling about getting in the van, but Rick calms his
fears by reminding him that they outnumber the driver by four to one.
It's good odds. It doesn't make a difference, they should have walked;
it would have been healthier.
Bloody Seconds is 131 pages long and will probably appeal to any reader
who has a greed for the gruesome and is willing to overlook the
problems with Dixon's writing. Bloody Seconds is a self published book
though, and it seems unlikely that it had the advantage of an
experienced editor's input. But, having said that, most editors, like
most publishers, have little regard for stories about characters that
have sex with dead bodies. Necrophilia is a taboo subject and I cannot
say that I enjoy reading about it, but that's me, you may be different.
If you are buy the book, do it now, and don't waste another bloody
second about it.