Fly on the Wall post apocalyptic saga fan fiction series part 3: Time and the underworlds embrace

London, East End, est 1950/1960

On the streets in the East end of London, in a pact narrow rows of brick houses in Bethnal Green, a young man was watching outside through his window. Looking down at the street from his house, where people were going about their daily lives on a cool autumn morning. He opened his windows to let the breeze in like a fresh draft, but not the freshest and cleanest of air. Here it was full of smoke from the chimneys from coal fires, clogging the air in a smokey line of heavy black fog. But the man didn’t care as this was his home that he grew up all his life, he wouldn’t change it any other way.

Bethnal Green was a place like no other for it was where The Firm, the gang led by Kray Twins once ruled the streets, and the site of one of Jack the Rippers routes to escape his acts of murder. But life wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Community was strong, neighbours knew one another and would help each other when times were tough. Fathers went to work in the working class world, wives would look after the children and do their daily routines, some even worked in market stalls selling food.

The young man got his music player out which he fondly enjoyed listening to, music inspired him to draw, think and feel the music playing on his old 78. He put his favourite song in the 78 player and started playing the song, the sound was booming out of his windows as the music traveled down the narrow street like an amplified stage show. The drums and beat could be heard straight down the street bouncing around and echoing from the walls.

Somewhere nearby in a disused vegetable pile down the back of a stable house, rats were eating raw vegetables in this graveyard of dead veg. Their ears detected the booming music and hurried back into the shadows. Some skulked around ruins of bombed out houses that still stood after the Second World War. Overgrown, abandoned and deteriorating from years of neglect, these ruins provided the rats a comfortable nest to breed and expand around the East End.

Meanwhile back on the narrow street, people heard the music and saw the young man with his music player as the source of the loud noise. They danced and smiled at the music that was playing. It was a calm but catchy song that had a great drum and piano combination. The song that was playing was called Blueberry Hills.

Blinking his eyes open as if he awoke from a terrible dream, Luke was standing in amongst the crowed looking up at the young man. The man looked down at him with a charming smile as if he knew Luke. Suddenly he stood up on the windows edge, spreading his arms out wide and jumped down. He fell head down towards the cobbles, his sudden act shocked Luke by the sight of this mans death wish. Instead of cracking his neck from a height of 16ft or more high, he dropped into a pool of dark liquid that appeared out of nowhere, exactly where the man would’ve killed himself. It saved his fall as he fell onto the pool that was only a few centimetres high, but he vanished into its thick dark underworld.

The crowd froze with no concern for what just happened to the man, they stood still smiling in an oblivious day dream. They turned towards Luke with that same expression the man had given Luke, that knowing sinister smile that made his back chill by the supernatural.

The street turned dark, the sun became clouded by thick dark clouds that blotted the light. The people around Luke suddenly fell on the cobbled floor as If a great plague had struck them, he gasped stepping back in shock as women, men and children decayed into shrivelled corpses. They all looked at Luke as they decayed into piles of yellow bones, whispering his name even as their life force dissipated. “Luke” they whispered “Times running out, you’ll be with us soon”.

The street was silent and cold as a crypt as the world around Luke the streets became a dark and haunted perversion of what came before. The bricked houses had an eerie appearance like a tight wall blocking the light and outside world. Bethnal Green became a fantasised underworld that it was known for by the legends and villains that walked it’s streets. For Luke, he was walking in the physical underworld of Bethnal Green, it’s underworld.

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Bubbling and squelching like a boiling pot of hot water, the dark pool grew wide and deep as it flooded the street up to kneecap height. The young man slowly climbed up the flooded water and up towards the surface like a revenant from the dead. Drenched in water and walking slowly, he brought his left hand up in a clenched fist and opened it up in an open palm. He smiled as the rats appeared all around Luke with gleaming red eyes and decaying fangs that gnawed on dead fleshy chunks. From rooftops to swimming in the water, they sniffed the air catching Luke’s scent. The predators have found its victim.

Luke was trapped in a narrow street with no route for escape, trapped like a rat in a corner. The mysterious man still smiled at Luke, chuckling as he came towards him with the rats circling around. He spoke in a soft and intellectual cockney accent like any East End born “It’s nice to meet you at last Luke, your getting closer now, so very close to the Final Apocalypse”.

“What Final Apocalypse? Who are you! Where’s my friends and where are we?” Luke’s anger rose in agitation at the mans amusement. The man replied back “The journey you’re now undertaking has set a chain in motion that cannot be stopped, and you know you can’t change it. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, the mutant army has grown to a mighty force that’ll invade Melbourne very soon. Even yourself time is running out from the virus that flows in your body. How long will you last until your body finally gives up?”

In rage, Luke balled his right fist tight and strikes the man down by impacting his fist to the face. But the man quickly grabs the hurling fist with ease, and flicks it backwards breaking the wrist and joint to the hand. Luke howls in pain as he falls to his knees cradling his limp hand. The chuckling echoed around the street ridiculing the futile attempt.

“This is my world, what strength you have has no meaning to me, I can make you suffer much more than that. But I’m not a violent man, I don’t believe in violence. But I will defend myself if I perceive a threat”

Luke cradles his hand as he clenched his teeth to endure the pain. He looks up with fury burning in his stare “So what’s the goal for this Final Apocalypse? World domination? Replacing humanity with your mutant army? Or sending your alien friends to earth to make a new home using it’s natural resources?” The cockney man shakes his head and says “None of them, I won’t reveal what we’re doing yet. I await for you at the Water purification power plant”.

He walks away from Luke and snaps his fingers to command the rats to engage towards Luke. The army of rats pounced at him, shredding his lungs and eyes in a bloody bloodbath. Luke screamed in pain as the blood gushed out in pools of dark red in the flood, causing Luke to fall and thrash in the flood water. The rats tore out his ears with their yellow diseased teeth, gnawing at the fleshy meat in greedy gulps. They clawed at the joints in Luke’s legs and arms paralysing him whilst he violently spasmed in pain. Gnawing at his flesh, the rats entered Luke’s body’s as the dug into his insides looking for the tasty organs like the liver, heart, intestines, lungs and kidneys.

At this point Luke would’ve died from shock and intense pain, but he was still alive. All he could hear was the chuckle of the young man as he knelt beside Luke’s thrashing carcass body. “I’m not a violent man” the young man said as the rats eat the last of the flesh that were left on the bones of a dead man.

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Luke was still alive, even though he was just a pile of bones floating in the flooded street. The young man picked Luke’s skull, he positioned Luke’s skull to look straight at him. “You know times running out Luke, I can see it, the day the virus will clog your vital functions to breath, see, smell and move. You’ll need to hurry, find the Dark Mind, find me and I’ll give you the chance to die trying”. Suddenly he crushed Luke’s skull, and all that can be heard was Luke’s agonising screams as his soul was dragged down into the flood by forces unknown.

The underworld.

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Luke blinked his eyes open, sweat pouring down his face and body in a heat of panic and anxiety, heart beating so fast that Luke couldn’t breath for several seconds. Still in his hazmat body gear, he ripped off his gas mask and breathed in an out deeply in jagged breaths. He was back in the wasteland, the dry land that stretched either side of a long tarmac road that seemed better days. Trees dead and hollow like thorns appeared in the distance, with little plant life around Luke.

He turned to see the gang as panicked and distressed as he was, Glenn looked like he saw a ghost, Krakstrong angry from a great offence that caused him to roar. Waz was mumbling to himself, saying about “the heart and soul” like it was a riddle that even his vast knowledge couldn’t decipher. As for the flood, the rats and the man, they vanished like they never existed.

After several minutes of waiting for everyone to calm down Luke spoke to the gang, his nerves still shook him from his nightmare. “Did you guys see that? The man, did you see what the F he did?” They all nodded in agreement, they all saw what happened.

“We were all there in the flood right here, then all of a sudden I was alone in the same shed that my wife was in before she was murdered. The Butcher came back from the dead, standing there eating chunks of my dead wife. Then he came up to me and shredded me alive” said Glenn, he was shaken by what he saw but kept his iron will together. Luke shook his head in confusion. Didn’t they all witness what he did? Or did they see something else……

He said to Glenn “Wait, did you see a young man with an army of rats around us before and after?”. Glenn replies back confused as well “No, I saw the Butcher coming out of the flood, he came up to you before everything changed and I was alone, then I saw the shed like I awoke from a nightmare. I didn’t see an army of rats nor this young man either”.

Luke’s spine chilled as the supernatural became more mysterious by Glenn’s vision of what he saw. Is this how the Dark Mind works? By using the fears and nightmares of its victims to control them? Luke needed to hear what Krakstrong and Waz has to say to see their prospective on the situation.

“Waz, Krakstrong, what did you two see in your visions?”. Krakstrong who calmed down from his anger management looked at Luke and replied “I saw flood, I saw that man thing”. Luke smiled “So you did see that young man with curly hair in the suit too?”. But krakstrong shook his head “No, I saw my old self, Keith, he tried to posses my body and turn me back into a human”.

This was another revelation that made things more complicated. Luke looked at Waz and waited for his reply, Waz talked slowly in a dry unemotional tone “I saw the flood, it defies logic for there wasn’t any water source, not this far into land unless there were rain clouds. But there were no rain clouds, the water came from the ground. Then I saw you coming up from the flood, you asked me to take your hand……then ………” he stopped. He didn’t say anything after that.

It’s an illusion more likely, a game that the Dark Mind plays to lure its victims into a false sense of unease and lower their mental defences. But, they all saw something in the flood, but was it a being that could use powers to show different prospectives, or was it more complex than that? Why did Waz see Luke in his prospective, was Luke his greatest fear, regret, loss or jealousy?

Whatever it was, it made no sense, especially when comparing each experience with each other. One was fear, the other in denial. For Luke, his was the strangest one that was someone he never met before in the flesh. He knew the person in books he read, horror stories that would chill your bones and screw your mind by the violent and supernatural horror. The man died many decades ago, this being wasn’t the same man as the one Luke saw. It was a younger version, a mocking disguise of someone’s flesh and identity.

The man he met in the flood was called James. He was now Luke’s nightmare, the living manifestation of Luke’s fear of a slow death by the virus that’s flowing in his body. Once his time was over, the rats will surely find him and they will devour him……..

_______

The gang reached the end of their long walk across the long stretch of road leading towards the Water purification power plant. They see a gas station that was abandoned, this will be their resting point until tomorrow. Glenn and Luke scouted the area to see if there were any hostiles in the area, none were found. They enter the kiosk shop, scanning the shop for supplies and clearing the area for them to rest. Krakstrong will have to sleep outside as there weren’t enough room for him to fit into kiosk space.

As the sun went down and the stars came out, the gang rested from the long days road trip. Gathering their thoughts on what happened that day. It still shook them from the experience of witnessing the supernatural influence of the Dark Mind. But it made them more determined and stronger to stop the Dark Mind.

Waz went outside walking around the building where no one will notice him for a few minutes. He held up his symbiotic arm that withered and morphed constantly, cables, flesh, metal and bone morphed like a constant wave. He morphed a small screen with buttons to tune the signal, a small tv like device that he used to catch the signal that he was following.

He tuned it for a couple of minutes as the static buzzing fuzzed when tuning for a signal. The he got the signal, a barley visible green glow of an unidentifiable person on the screen. The person spoke to Waz through the radio speakers “So, have brought the group to the location that we agreed on? Has Luke collected the package from his father?”

Waz replied back in a dry cold tone “yes, he doesn’t suspect that I know about his package. We’re at an old gas station to rest for the night, by tomorrow we should be on schedule following the river down towards the location for three days”. The person replied back “Good, I’ll be waiting for you by day two, make sure your not delayed or this entire mission will be doomed”. The signal went as the man signed off. Waz was about to go back when suddenly he was pinned to the wall by a great force of impact, breaking his bones. A big purple hand pushed him into the brickwork pinning him to restrain his movement. He turns one of his eyes around to see Krakstrong snarling at him, radiating pure hatred at Waz.

“Who were you taking to! Answer now or I’ll tear you apart!!!!”

End of part 3

12 days of Winter|My top ten books of 2019

This year was my biggest reading challenge to date as I made myself a goal to read more books than I read last year. If I can remember my current reading checklist I’ve read about 20+ books, although I wanted to do a top ten list to make this post not too long.

So here’s my top ten books of 2019, enjoy!

10) Legacy of Dorn by Mike Lee

This book was a nice book to read at the start of 2019 to inspire me to build my Primaris Crimson Fists. The story takes place during the Rynn’s World War in the perspective of a few surviving Space marines who have to survive alongside surviving Rynn’s Guard troopers.

A very intense and engaging story of survival and struggles to keep order in check, this story explores what it means to be a son of Dorn, how a Space marine deals with loss and regret and how the Crimson Fists work alongside imperial Guardsmen.

9) Nagash The Undying King by Josh Reynolds

This AoS novel covers the events after Nagash’s defeat by the blade of Archaon, telling the tale of a tribe called the Rictus Tribe who have become the centre stage of the story’s plot. It’s an insightful look into who worships Nagash and how they’ve had to deal with the Great Necromancers silence after his defeat.

A nice novel to read, I’d say it’s one of the better AoS books out there with tons of interesting lore and themes that hobbyist might like to create. A noble army of Maggotkin of Nurgle Knights, a clan called the Rictus Clan who worship Nagash and even a skeleton Giant makes an appearance too! (Make a warscroll of that please GW).

Overall if your a fan of Nagash or just an avid fan of AoS and want to know more about Shyish during the Age of Chaos, this book is certainly a must to connect the dots for the Malign Portents and the Necroquake.

8) The Land Leviathan by Micheal Moorcock

Reading outside of Black Library books, I’ve been reading some Micheal Moorcock fiction. Whilst I’ve never read the first book in the series, the second book, The Land Leviathan is an amazing science fiction story about an alternate future where western society is destroyed as an African superpower takes over the world.

It’s a great story as it explains how an inventor solved world hunger with technologies that excelled the living standards for poor people. In a nutshell, society got too greedy and started a nuclear war thanks to the inventors own Warmachine creations. Western society goes downhill as the war destroys pretty much every governing nations.

But, whilst the western world is nearly wiped out, Africa rises up and uses the remaining technology to take over the world.

I won’t spoil the whole story, but there’s a lot of questions to ask, and the themes that run through this story. If you like science fiction that has a completely different style of presenting an alternative timeline, The Land Leviathan is worth read.

7) The Corum Trilogy: The Knight of the Sword by Micheal Moorcock

Another Micheal Moorcock book that I’ve added to my list due to its significance of being my favourite fantasy story that’s not GW related.

The Knight of the Sword is a fantasy story that follows the first book in Corum’s adventures, the last of his kind, Corum goes in search of revenge to destroy the first Chaos god of the Sword rulers. This book has some interesting lore about the universe that this story is set in, and how it connects to the grander scale of the multiverse.

6) The Fog by James Herbert

The latest book I’ve read from the master of horror writing by the late James Herbert. The story follows the events of an unnatural earthquake that opened a fissure in a small village, releasing a fog like cloud into the sky.

What follows is a string of physiological horror stories that lead up to a growing rise of murders and strange behaviour from those affected by the fog.

This is quite a good book to read that explores the concept of how everyone can be turned into the worst aspects of themselves. Hatred, love, regret, fear and deepest emotions can be triggered by the fogs presence.

5) A Knight and his Horse by Ewart Oakshot

As a hobby I like researching history that’s mostly a Medieval and the battle of Stalingrad, although I’m not fluent enough to give guided tours on these subjects.

But there’s one book that I really enjoyed reading this year that covered my favourite subject, Knights and Jousting. A Knight and His Horse is a book that explains the history of how cavalry was developed of the centuries, how Knights would be armoured (and their horses) and the types of horses that were used during the Medieval times.

Packed with some interesting illustrations and facts to understand what Knights really did. I don’t know if this book is still reprinted today but I’d highly recommend reading a copy for it’s easy to read guide on Knights.

4) Domain by James Herbert

The third book in The Rats Trilogy, Domain is probably one the most depressing books I’ve read from the trilogy. Set after a nuclear attack devastates London and the rest of the U.K., those that survived live in either well maintained underground fallout shelters or basements to survive.

Unbeknownst to the survivors that something vast and hungry has come to search for the survivors and devour them alive. The giant mutated rats are back, and they now rule the streets of London.

At this point in the series things get very same old as you know well enough what these mutant rats will do if they ever see you. That’s not to say it wasn’t interesting, having it set after a nuclear apocalypse is a great way of changing the narrative.

The short stories within this book highlight just how horrible the apocalypse can be for those that survived, as the rats catch their scent and on mass hunt the survivors down. I can’t spoil much here but be prepared for some really depressing stuff. One the bright side, the short story about a neighbour who built his shelter despite ridicule (and laughed at them in return as he survived the apocalypse) is stuck with a cat. It should have been its own story due to it’s well written humour and horror.

3) Storm of Iron by Graham McNeill

Iron Warriors are one of my favourite traitor legions from the first founding, their Horus Heresy stories have a lot of insight into the legions organisation and the flaws that defined their downfall to Chaos. I was especially pleased with Perterabo’s Primarch novel alongside the short story (in Sons of the Emperor) which fills in more information on Olympia. It was thanks to Angel Exterminatus (by the same Author as Storm of Iron) that I started reading HH books.

Storm of Iron is very much a sequel to Angel Exterminatus that features some of the most intense fighting of swift warfare. The Iron Warriors led by the Warsmith, have come to take down a highly fortified stronghold to find something which even the defenders don’t know about.

I was very impressed with the story and how Graham brought back my favourite Iron Warrior legends like Kroger, Forrix and the Warsmith.

Honsou is my new favourite Iron Warrior just for the sheer badass stuff he does!

2) Honour Guard by Dan Abnett

Whilst I’m still reading the Gaunt’s Ghosts the Saints Omnibus, I do have a favourite book in the collection that I wanted to add to my list. Honour Guard is a great story that continues off from Necropolis (one of my all time favourite Gaunt’s Ghosts book!), which sees the Ghosts and the Verghasties on the holy world where Saint Sabbat herself was rested. After a major error resulted in the destruction of a holy site, Gaunt must lead an honour guard on a mission to recover the remains of Saint Sabbat. A mission that may be his last……

Whilst it wasn’t as good as Necropolis I did enjoy this book for the narrative of a long road journey, a sort of final act of dignity and spiritual journey that Gaunt must take to succeed the mission. Surprisingly there was a lot of good humour especially from Major Rawne’s parts.

When judging the Saints arc I think Honour Guard is probably the best book so far in the omnibus, the others were fine although they didn’t have that quality that the former had. Straight Silver was good but I thought the first half of the story was jarring to read, the second half started to read like a proper Gaunt’s Ghost story. I didn’t like the third book in the series, it just felt like the other books I’ve read before.

1) The Rats by James Herbert

My top book for 2019 is The Rats, a story that’s chilling to the bone reading the most bloody graphic descriptions I’ve ever read. For such a small book with only a 100+ pages, I was captivated by the narrative and disgusted by the horror that the late James Herbert crafted.

This book was his first time publishing books, and that’s saying something for one of his most popular book in his career.

The Rats takes place roughly in the 1970’s, a string of deaths have occurred by hungry giant mutated rats, larger, stronger and hungry for human flesh. The victims are described by their background and what led them to where they are now before their fate is sealed as the Rats kill them alive. You feel connected to the victims, some good, some bad, but you want them to survive no matter what will come next.

I’ve made a few posts about The Rats earlier this year after I’ve found a copy of a Graphic novel, The City. It was by a random chance encounter that would lead me on to discover James Herbert and The Rats Trilogy.

So it was by no doubt that I wanted The Rats to be my top book of 2019.

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That’s all for today, check back tomorrow to see what my new post will be for my 12 days of Winter blog posts.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

Horror Harvest: James Herbert The Fog

I’ve now decided to theme my horror reading book blog posts under the ‘Horror Harvest’ title, so it will be like a series of sorts with a nice artwork.

Before I begin with The Fog, I’d like to thank IRO (Imperial Rebel Ork) and The Fly on the Wall podcast, for taking my suggestions for their podcast topics. They did a brilliant podcast on the Subject of James Herbert, and what book they enjoyed the most.

The podcast is like an all sorts show ranging from different topics from funny and serious subjects. Its great for long bus trips (they can take ages so a good hour of podcasting always helps!), painting miniatures, walking and anything else really.

It’s also good motivational therapy fuel for getting through paper work after paper work after paper work after paper work. Oh did I mention it’s great for getting through paper work?

If you would like to know more about the podcast and who bears the one Mocha of all Mochas, I have two links to IRO’s blog where he has the official links for where you can download the podcast.

https://imperialrebelork.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/fly-on-the-wall-podcast-plus-some-hobby-updates/

https://imperialrebelork.wordpress.com/2019/05/02/army-of-hate-second-miniature-plus-fly-on-the-wall-podcast-episode-2/

And for those of you who want to hear the James Herbert episode, links below to IRO’s post.

https://imperialrebelork.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/fly-on-the-wall-podcast-and-the-new-post-apocalyptic-saga/

Best of luck to The Fly on the Wall podcast!

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Continuing on my journey reading James Herbert’s books after a colossal read of The Rats Trilogy (and the Graphic Novel), today I want to share my thoughts on The Fog. A horror story about an ominous yellow fog that appeared after a huge fissure opened up in a small village, floating away after our main protagonist saves a child whilst being trapped below the fissure gap. However, unbeknownst to the people who witnessed this strange event, the fog would go on through the land to cause madness to anyone who inhales the it.

This book unlike The Rats trilogy, is more of a horror mystery story mixed with human physiological horror. The fog itself whilst known in origin of how it came to be (no spoilers here!) It’s still a mystery as if it may or may not be sentient. Anyone who comes across the fog and inhales it becomes a single minded force of madness.

Wether by hatred, depression, love or any other emotion, the fog is just the means to create the horror as it turns both good, bad and everyday citizens.

At the core of the fog there is an unatural light which seems to draw people closer, as if it wants them. It also seems to rest at places of convince for safety, say inside a church, a rail tunnel or an underground motorway. Overtime this fog grows in size as it feeds off carbon dioxide, becoming as big as a town.

The story focuses more on human psychology, when the mind slowly deteriorates making the person more savage with madness. Usually the person affected will either eventually die from their minds deteriorating, or commit suicide.

Our main protagonist, Holman, is the first to be affected by the fog after he escapes from the fissure. For weeks he was classed as clinically insane as he became a mad man, until weeks later his sanity came back whilst being placed in a mental health facility.

At first it was assumed that he was diagnosed with PTSD from the fissure incident, but later on through the story it’s revealed that the fog had cause this sudden personality change. This would be proven true as several incidents of strange murders are all linked to the yellow ghastly fog.

My thoughts on the book?

As usual James Herbert writes The Fog in great detail and engaging narrative, using his human victim characters to tell their story and how the horror aspect plays into their actions. Each character has an interesting story to tell, from our main protagonist, Holman, as a survivor of the fissure. Side characters including a drunk who cares more about his pigeons than his wife, a woman who’s same sex relationship broke apart by her partners choice to be in another relationship with a man, a school teacher who’s past during the Second World War is a dark and disturbing story and a man child who decides to give his boss a message he’ll never forget.

Similar to how The Rats Trilogy was written, these short story’s in one book adds to the weight of the affects that the threat can cause as a consequence. You feel for those who don’t deserve it, but can’t stop reading the book as you find out the fate of these unfortunate victims.

By this point I’ve become pretty used to how James Herbert writes his books, nearly leaning towards predictable at times when it came to certain sub story lines and plot twist. However, this isn’t to say it’s all predictable as the finale throws a very good question during the end, and reflection on just what the Fog could be.

This was James Herbert’s second book that he published in his writing career, still in the early days when James would use excessive blood, violence, mature themes and subjects that you tend not to see in today’s literature. It’s only later on that these things would dull down as supernatural and paranormal horror stories were written.

Overall, another great book to read as a twisted but enjoyable horror story. If you’ve read James’s books before, you may find some parts of this book to be the same old stuff you’ve read before. However, it’s still worth reading if your interested in the human psychological horror genre.

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Well that’s all I have for my post on The Fog. Now that I’ve read all of my current James Herbert books, and read some other books (like Eric, by the late Sir Terry Pratchett) too to broaden my ongoing reading past time. I’ve now started another book by James Herbert, this time a supernatural horror story, The Ghosts of Sleath.

until next time, mind the yellow fog,

-Bjorn

Yearly book reading challenge update and the Prince Corum book series

Back in April I’ve posted an update on my yearly book reading challenge, after reading a total of twelve books last year, I wanted to best that record by reading more books. Below is a recap list of what I read this year.

  • The Rats, by James Herbert
  • Lair, by James Herbert
  • Domain, by James Herbert
  • Chacarodons: The Outer Dark, by Robbie Mcniven
  • The Horus Heresy: Galaxy in Flames, by Ben Counter
  • The Horus Heresy: Crimson Fist, by John French
  • Nagash: The Undying King, by Josh Reynolds
  • Legacy of Dorn, by Mike Lee
  • Elric of Melniboné, by Michael Moorcock
  • A knight and his horse, by Ewart Oakshott

Today I can announce (a late one) that I’ve now passed my goal, with six more books read! This year I have so far read 16 books, three of which are part of a trilogy of books. Below is a list of what I’ve read since April’s update post.

  • The Knight of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Queen of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The King of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Land Leviathan (the Oswald Bastable trilogy), by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Dark Powers of Tolkien, by David Day
  • The Fog, by James Herbert

The first trilogy in the Corum series written by Micheal Moorcock.

So now that my goal has been met, I’m going to read some more books and see how far I can go before the end of 2019.

After reading the Sword Rulers trilogy by Micheal Moorcock, I was really inspired by the story and creations by Micheal, a fun and interesting series relating to the multiverse. I think it’s a series that’s hardly been talked about with today’s generation (including me for a time before I found out about Micheal Moorcock). I’ve got an idea that I’ve been working on for weeks now, that will hopefully attract more new readers to the Corum series and other Micheal Moorcock books……

Until next time,

-Bjorn

How I would change The City (by James Herbert)

How I would change The City (by James Herbert)

The City by James Herbert is a mixed bag for many readers, who have read all of the Rats books this graphic novel offers nothing new, but for new readers it’s quite interesting if vague. For me, this is where I started reading James Herbert’s work on The Rats, and after reading the trilogy and discussing all of the books, I now return to the last book that ends this series.

I want to discuss what I would change for this graphic novel that would give it more purpose, and a finality to end the saga. This isn’t to disrespect James Herbert’s work on The City as I’ve enjoyed reading it for its unique visual journey into the nightmare world of The Rats. However, I would like to offer my criticism not out of knowing what would make it perfect or how my opinion is right, but to offer alternative ideas and suggestions that could improve the story.

Let’s begin!

The protagonist

In The City, we meet our protagonist named David who is a lone survivor by the name of ‘The Traveller’, who search’s for his wife and daughter in the warped post apocalyptic nightmarish city of London. Now ruled by the Black Rats, David search’s for his family whilst slaughtering the rats.

When he finds his family his daughter is nothing but a carcass and his wife has gone, too far lost in her delusion. When he discovers that she is nursing a White baby rat, he ensures the vermin is destroyed and sadly mercy kills his wife.

Then suddenly he has a new mission in which he kills the Mother creature who’s nest is in St Paul’s Cathedral. After he kills the beast, he leaves London to walk the wasteland alone.

The Character lacks any connections to the previous books and we don’t really get to know David in the story. His mission doesn’t really pull you in and make you sympathise with him, his story is a mystery. A mystery character can be written well in some stories with some hints here and there about their past, but David just feels vague with nothing to make you question where he came from.

How does he know where the Mother Creature hibernate? Who does he work for? How did he know his family might be alive? Was he an ex military man? How did he survive the nuclear apocalypse?

I have two alternative suggestions that could make The City a good send off to the franchise, and to bring the story full circle.

1. Have Luke Pender be the protagonist of the story, he was the main protagonist in the second book, Lair. He knows about the Rats and their ugly hierarchy during his time as a investigator for Ratkill. Have the story briefly explain his life after Lair, his marriage and how he left behind Ratkill and his vengeance went for the Black Rats. Then go into the apocalypse and how he and his wife were lucky to be in one of the safer areas that weren’t attacked before sees-fire. Skip a few years in the future and show Pender as a lone traveller who is now back with Ratkill. After his wife was killed by the returning horrors of the Black Rats, Pender seeks revenge for her death and kill the Mother Creature.

2. Second suggestion would be that Harris would be the main protagonist due to him being the first person alive to have witnessed the beginning of the Black Rats first outbreak. Although he has no military background or combat expertise, he did survive several rat attacks through the first book, The Rats. Last we know of Harris in the series was that he survived the attack in the nest and reported to HQ (Ratkill) of what he saw. After that there’s nothing, his story just ends in the series and not even if he survived the nuclear fallout years later. Having him as the protagonist in The City would make the story feel like a full circle, a finality to the series as Harris returns to London to face a old enemy one last time.

Post Domain story with reference to Culver and how society has fallen

Domain ends with Culver and two other survivors leave London by the military, who saved them during a gruelling battle on a boat against the rats. We’re told that there are some areas that weren’t affected by the fallout, chaotic but fairly ordered mostly. The story ends on a cliffhanger of sorts as the rats are still active in their goal to take over the world. By the time The City arrives we see humanity at the whims of the rats as society is completely destroyed.

Maybe explain post Domain what happened to Culver and the others. Was it China that dropped the nuclear bombs? Did they do a second wave of attacks months later? How did the rats took over?

There’s a lot to explain in just a single graphic novel with barely 70 or so pages, so it’ll either have to be a short 2-4 page explanation or a prequel story. Or alternatively, just show how the rats finally dominated the country, as in Domain they’ve just about took over London after the fallout.

The Ratkill as a Guerrilla task force

By the time the third book come around Ratkill had completely disappeared, no mention of the group nor of Howard. Domain’s story was a few decades (10-20 years) after the events of Lair, roughly in the 80’s or 90’s. It was almost as if this book wasn’t connected to the last two when reading the first few chapters, until later on we get exposition on previous events on the Black Rats.

During The City we see unknown groups of people who help the Traveler during his mission in London, they seem to be from an established group who knew who David was. Could they be from Ratkill, surviving inspectors who now work as a task force to take down nests? Or are they a retaliation group who were in one of the many safe nuclear bunkers?

It would be a nice nod to either Domain or the trilogy to include Ratkill as an existing group, who are fighting an eternal war against the rats.

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That’s all I can suggest for how I would change The City to make it more meaningful. It’s not to say that my ideas are perfect as I’m not the master of this fictional world, James Herbert is the only one who can ultimately write The Rats franchise. But unfortunately, he sadly passed away early this decade, so I doubt anyone could continue the franchise as good as James’s work

The City was released in the 1990’s, about two decades after his first book, The Rats, was published. The City was James Herbert’s last work on The Rats franchise as a fourth sequel in the rats saga. He had changed since his early days of writing as he moved away from violent and graphic horror into more complex horror.

In a way, James Herbert was moving on from his most famous fictional franchise and wanted to create new stories rather than milking his best work. Besides, by the time Domain came out the horror was becoming too familiar and less frightening.

How can you make a graphic novel end a well beloved horror series, and meet expectations? The answer is not that simple, and because James hasn’t done a graphic novel before or since, it’s understandable that The City would feel mediocre.

But then again looking back on The City, I have this strange nostalgia now that I’ve read all of the books. Seeing the Black Rats, the post fallout remains of London, the White Rats and the Mother Creature all being illustrated actually makes us see how horrendous and evil these things are.

I think the book was never meant to be the next best thing but rather a visual story to thank the fans for supporting decades of fiction by James Herbert. Instead of writing a fourth book, a visual story was made for us, the reader, to witness the horror for one last time. To see the mutant rats for the first time as they glare at us with their evil, cunning red eyes.

The Black Rats ultimately won the battle and dominated the earth, as humanity annihilates itself by nuclear fallout. Then we get to see what we created by accident decades ago (from atomic bombs ironically) destroy our species.

The final page of the traveller walking across the crimson red horizon after leaving London is the story’s end. Unlike previous books there’s no epilogue about surviving rats nor another White Rat mutant, just the main protagonist waking away as a broken man who’s lost everything in his life. He only has revenge against the rats as something to live for.

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I hope you have enjoyed this post, and I hope this final post on my thoughts on The Rats saga was enjoyable. I’ve been really inspired to write several posts on The Rats series after reading all the books, and I’ve done few post covering my thoughts on each book.

It’s been a pleasure to have found James Herbert’s fiction and The Rats franchise, it’s helped me to start reading more Horror book genre now. It’s a shame that James Herbert isn’t mentioned much in media and bookshops today, hardly much of his books are in my local Waterstones (only second hand shops have his books).

However, I hope that I’ve helped spread the word about James Herbert to a new generation of book readers. Hopefully we can still pass on the tales of horror of The Rats for decades onwards.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

The future of The Rats after Domain?

The future of The Rats after Domain?

After reading all three books of The Rats trilogy (and The City graphic novel), I’ve decided to look back and theories the connections of each books revelations to the end bomb shell book of Domain.

Below I’ll be giving brief catch ups with each books endings relating to the rats, and where there origins started. This will relate to my theory on the series finale, and how it effects the future in a post- apocalyptic world rule by the rats.

This post will have major spoilers for The Rats, Lair, Domain and The City!!!

In the first book we find out through the course of the story that Under-Secretary, Foskins, had found information about the Black Rats origins. They were created by an atomic bomb test in New Guinea, which a professor (Zoologist) by the name of William Bartlett Schiller took one of the rats back to the U.K.

He went to a canal in London in a small house and started breeding the brown rats with the black rats, resulting in the creation of the mutant breed. However to no ones surprise, the Black Rats break free and start breeding and infesting London’s sewer network.

Harris (protagonist), knew where this old canal house was went straight to it to reach Foskins in time, during the big purge against the rats in an abandoned city of London. When inside, Harris finds all sorts of stuff in a study room including a black board with a faint image of a rat. It’s only when he goes downstairs does he finally realise how significant this place is.

For within this house we find our first White Rat, a mutated monstrosity who’s obese, crippled, hairless and distinctly has two heads. We also find it’s mutated bodyguards who are much bigger than the Black Rats. After battling his way through the bodyguards (and found out the fate of Foskins), Harris kills the mutant rat king.

Meanwhile as the military massacres the hordes of Black Rats from their hiding places (using ultra sounds to attract them), a few however were trapped in a storage room unable to get out. The mother rat gives birth to a strange White Rat before she dies from stress, the White Rat leads its kin away from the city.

In Lair, the protagonist by the name of Pender, finds the new nest of the Black Rats, which reveals more about its hierarchy system. I’ve listed this below to quickly explain the lowest to highest in the rats lair.

  • Black Rats are the foot soldiers who deliver fresh meat to its superiors, decapitated heads are much needed to the brood.
  • Bodyguard rats are much bigger and stronger than the foot solider, who guard the mutated white rat and it’s group of similarly afflicted kin.
  • White Rats are mutated monstrosity’s who tend to be leaders or in place of authority to the Lair. They demand food on a constant basis to replenish their hunger, for their crippled affliction makes them useless to hunt for food.
  • White Rat (king) is the leader of the lair who bends all to his will and demands for more fresh heads to eat. Being bigger than its kin, this rat has two heads, one being useless apart from either eating or sniffing, sight is blind.

After a dispute with one of the Black Rats who the White Rat king was feasting on its new meal, the Black Rat strangely disobeyed its orders and attacked its king. Tearing its throat out and forging on its flesh, along with the rest of the Black Rats. The bodyguards and its White Rat masters were killed off too, making the lair go into outright chaos.

In the end, Pender managed to escape as the army destroys the abandoned house with rockets and explosions, supposedly killing off the Black Rats forever.

But a few survived and went back to the city…..

In Domain, it’s revealed that the rats have a Mother Creature, a massive White Rat who commands all to her commands. Not only is she like her white kin, but she can also breed to create more rats.

After the nuclear apocalypse the rats had grown bolder and left heir nest to find a world in ruin. Regaining their confidence they terrorise many survivors, killing them and taking food back to the nest.

By the end of the story, it’s revealed later on in the last chapter that when the protagonist looked back at the horror he witnessed seeing the Mother Creature, he realised that her litter looked awfully familiar. They were human in appearance with rat features, almost as if the litter were an evolution in the rats cycle. Did mankind evolve from rats, not apes?

Finally in The City, we discover yet another Mother Rat in illustration, and a first visual illustration of what this human/ rat looks like.

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So with all that information out of the way, what can this all mean?

From everything I’ve gathered from all three books, and how the author developed his stories, I have theory.

The Rats are a product of a nuclear blast which changed their DNA to make them abnormally stronger, smarter, more cunning than their smaller kin. However, it has caused a mutation where a few newborn become the white rats. Eventually these rats become deformed and crippled either by genetic failure or it’s part of the hierarchy gene that makes them above the Black Rats. Like bees, the rats produce a unique litter that will lead its nest if ever the King or Queen is slain.

One rat may become the mother creature, who breeds many rats including her own white kin. Unlike her own kind, her newborn are alien to the Black Rats who see them as a threat. But they won’t harm them for their Queen has total command over the nest.

These newborn are the next evolutionary step in the rats species to evolve into more humanoid beings. Wether they are the return of mankind’s ancestors or something entirely more disturbing will never be answered.

This is the true horror of James Herbert’s trilogy of The Rats. Whilst each book is horror filled with rat attacks and mutilations of victims, these pale in comparison to the real horror that connects all the books.

Domain ends the trilogy by showing mankind’s downfall for its recklessness with nuclear weapons, massacring everyone and everything on this earth. The rats, a product of nuclear bomb tests decades ago (the irony that mankind had created such horrors) were a mistake created by mankind’s recklessness (and a professors stupid idea to breed them). The rats took this opportunity to rise up from their long absence from the upper world.

They breed and kill the now weakened but surviving groups of mankind, whilst their queen breeds a new race to rule the earth.

The true horror is that the rats have become the next dominant species of earth, and theses new breed of humanoid rats will inherit this world once mankind becomes extinct. The rats hate them and are more than willing to kill them, but this new breed may live long enough to survive as long as their queen is still in power.

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Whilst the revelation of the new inheritors of earth is an interesting theory, it’s only what I think might happen. You may have your own theories on what The Rats trilogy ending could mean, I’m interested to hear your own theories in the comments below!

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you have enjoyed this post and, hopefully you may be interested to read more or James Herbert’s literature.

Next up I’ve got one more post on The Rats series with my own ideas to improve The City, and how I would give it more meaning as a finale to the series. I’ll explain the positives and negatives of the original story, and wether it could continue the saga with a sequel if James Herbert had continued the series.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

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Sources:

  • Herbert James, The Rats First published in 1974 by New English Library. Edition 1999 Re-published by Pan Books
  • Herbert James, Lair First published in 1979 by New English Library. Edition 1999 Re-published by Pan Books.
  • Herbert James, Domain, First edition 1984 published by New English Library.
  • Herbert James, Miller Ian, Balchin Judy, The City, First edition 1994 published by Pan Books.

The Rats Trilogy

Over the past three or four weeks this month, I’ve been reading all three of James Herbert’s books in the Rat Trilogy (well quadruple series If including The City graphic novel). After finding a copy of The City last month I was intrigued to learn more about James Herbert and his fictional works. Luckily enough I found myself a copy of The Rats early this month, and read it in just four days!

For my first ever read of a horror book, it added a sense of chill and visually disturbing imagery of the Black Rats, how they attack their prey with bloody mindless savagery. The wicked, the good, the bad and the innocent are all meals for the rats, as they care not for who or what you are so long as your flesh fill their stomachs.

The series follows the mutated Black Rats who unlike their inferior rat kin, are smarter, cunning, strong and measure at two feet and up to three including their long scaly tail. The Black Rats are not your average pest for they have a certain appetite for human flesh, which they constantly seek to gorge on their endless hunger for more.

The Rats

A short book that’s more of a novella sized story than a novel, but by no means is it lacking in quality. Set in the 1970’s, the story sees multiple perspectives of the victims that are murdered by the Black Rats, a touch of tragedy in their past life that is all to soon ended by a horrific bloody end.

There is a protagonist of sorts of a teacher named Harris, but he’s not the story’s main focus, but rather the one who has to deal with the pests. Interestingly, the story focuses on the Black Rats as they become incredibly uncontrollable in their bloodlust to the point of mass infestation.

This book was amazingly written, every chapter just wanted to pull you in and watch as the horror unfolds for each victim. Never shying away, James Herbert uses graphic and violent descriptions of the Black Rats attacks to the extreme. With blood and gore being James’s hallmark for the trilogy.

My favourite scene would have to be the underground subway attack, it was brilliantly written and I was on the edge of my seat all the way through the chapter. The combination of the dark tunnel and the rats swarming all over was bloody disturbing.

For a first book publication, this book was a good horror story, maybe some areas could improved (which in the sequel, Lair, James made a worthy successor). Some of the more seedy and lusty stuff may be too much for today’s readers, some parts even felt a slight bit misogynistic. However, because the book was set in its time in the mid 1970’s, it worked as a look back to the culture and lifestyles of the 70’s.

Get this book first if you want to start reading The Rats trilogy. Whilst the sequel books are sort of self contained books in the same cannon, it’s worth reading The Rats first to get a good understanding about the events that take place.

Lair

The second book in the series as a sequel to The Rats, Lair moves away from the city of London setting and takes us to the outskirts of the city in the countryside. Once again the mutant rats have bred in mass in their new hiding place in the country side, five years after their defeat during the London outbreak.

Like Ridley Scott’s Alien to James Camerons Aliens, Lair is a successor that amps the horror, violence and narrative of the rats revenge. Not only are the rats more vicious and cunning in their craving for human flesh, but the humans are better written in the story. This time focusing on Luke Pender, an inspector from Ratkill (an organisation who’s goal is to wipe out the mutant Black Rats) who is called upon to investigate reports of rodent sightings in Epping forest.

What’s makes this book so much more interesting is the way James Herbert had crafted his story, the environment and setting is used with great effect when used for setting up the rat strikes. You get the feeling that the forest is itself is fearful of the mutants that have made their Lair in the woodland, killing the natural cycle of nature. For they themselves are not a natural creation, but rather accidentally created by mans selfishness.

My favourite chapter is a tough one, as all the way through the book I couldn’t find much to criticise (well there are certain nitpicks in some areas), even the quieter moments are rather enjoyable to read. However, if I had to choose it would be when Pender finally finds the lair of the rat nest, I won’t spoil it, but I’ve found the whole event to be insightful on the Black Rats function in its nest hierarchy.

I see this book as James Herbert’s best book by far for The Rat trilogy in terms of the way the story was written, engaging and well written characters and far more gruesome ways with the rat attacks.

DomainThe last book in the trilogy, Domain takes a wildly different turn in the series as the situation turns in favour of the now fearful Black Rats. Set years in the not so far future in a time where tensions in the Middle East have escalated to breaking point, London is attached by five ballistic nuclear missiles that wipes out nearly all of London’s population.

However, a few were lucky enough to have survived from the nuclear bombs in time before the fallout could kill them. Unbeknownst to the survivors however, the Black Rats have finally come out of their hiding places sensing a shift in the balance. They aren’t the prey anymore, now they have become the rulers of this domain.

And they seek the fresh taste of human flesh.

The series by now has become too predictable as by now readers will have seen it all. James Herbert could probably tell the series would lose its charm if he kept churning out more of the same story of the rats. So to make this final book go out with a bang (literally) he decided to mix in a post nuclear story for his third and final book.

I think this was a very good choice, as by now the Black Rats has been written to the best that James could write them. Like Alien to Aliens it would be difficult to write a third movie (without interference by the high ups) that could be even better than its previous successor. Making a post nuclear apocalypse gave James much more opportunities to make the rats still a scare factor.

However, parts of the story sadly felt flat especially toward the end, where the story kinda felt same old with the rats. It felt like I’ve seen it all and wanted something fresh and interesting to read. That’s not to say this book didn’t add anything new, the Black Rats hierarchy is explored further with a far more darker revelation about their new leader.

The humans are okay, not stand out as Lair had, some of the characters felt like they were just there to be killed off. Whilst others felt lacking like Jackson and Kate who could have been developed better early on like D.R Reynolds, who had a fascinating chapter explaining how strong she was with her profession and her weakness for her loss.

Two stand out characters were the helicopter pilot Culver and a member of Government Dealey. Both characters are polar opposites who both survived the apocalypse together, tying them in a strange way as close but not close individual. You realise at the end of the story that both characters go through big developments from where they started. Dealey especially has changed from what he’s been through to survive.

The final bomb shell to end the story is a shocker, and was to me in my opinion the main horror point of the story, even the series it’s entirety. As the pieces come together we finally get the full picture as to what the future might be when the Black Rats take over the world.

Overall I think this final book whilst not as good as Lair, is still a fantastic book to read as an enjoyable post apocalyptic story.

The City

And so we reach the fourth and last of James Herbert’s Rats story, his final story takes place several years in the future where the ruins of London have become the rats territory.

This was my first look into James Herbert’s work and where this whole interest in reading his work started. I picked this up by chance not knowing anything about James Herbert and his bestselling horror book series. I’m glad to have found this graphic novel, as it’s opened my interest to try and read more variety of books than just Black Library.

This graphic novel doesn’t add anything to the ongoing story, an the story itself is not much to say. We don’t know much about the protagonist, the Traveler, and what happens to the character in the aftermath of Domain.

It’s sad to say that this final story is not worth reading unless your a collected and fan of James Herbert’s Rats series. The art however is gorgeous in the way Ian Miller illustrates a torn and ravaged landscape of post apocalyptic London.

Going back and reading this graphic novel after reading all three books has finally made some sense, parts before I isn’t have a clue about until now. It’s worth reading all three books before reading this if you want to know what game before.

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With that, I’ve finally finished reading this long and compelling series that James Herbert had created. I’ve really enjoyed reading this book series and broaden my tastes for more Sci-Fi/ horror fiction stories.

Although James had sadly died in 2013, and his fiction will not be as known as the more notable mainstream fiction. I’d like to think that James is still a well respected writer that still has a following of readers who praise his talent of work. I’m glad to have read his fictional work, and hope to read more of his books like The Fog and 48.

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you have enjoyed this post and learnt something new today. Are you a fan of James Herbert’s work? Have you read any of the books from The Rats Trilogy? Comment below and share your views on your favourite book by James Herbert, and which book from The Rats trilogy did you like most?

I’m not quite finished yet with The Rats trilogy just yet. I’m planning on doing a spoiler post on big plot points in the trilogy, and speculate on the revelations in the series finale.

Then I’ll be doing one last post on what I’d change and improve on the graphic novel, The City. So stay tuned for both posts soon!

Until next time!

-Bjorn