THE HAND THAT FEEDS
by C. W. LaSart
Background: I met up-and-coming horror author C. W. LaSart through the Coffin Hop of other indie horror writers/bloggers. In fact, she won my Coffin Hop micro-fiction contest that provided a prompt and asked for a 50 word flash piece. As such, I was thrilled to find out about her debut book of short stories, Ad Nauseum, which contains 13 great tales. However, if I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be “The Hand That Feeds.”
What it’s about: It’s a story-within-a-story told by a grandfather to his grandchildren, the story their mother doesn’t want him to tell but that the kids are eager to hear for the umpteenth time. He used to work at a prison for the criminally insane, and there was one inmate in particular that was a problem.
The inmate in question was enormously fat, and with the meager portions the prisoners were given, he was always screaming for food. Nobody could stand to listen to him. What’s more, he hadn’t gotten out of bed for years because he was too large to stand, and the guards had to clean his rolling bugles of flesh, sometimes coming across maggots that had wormed their way beneath the folds.
He is a grotesque character, but the best part of the story comes when we learn what happened to him. There was a massive breakout, but rather than escaping the prison, the inmates chose to exact revenge… by cutting the fat inmate into pieces, cooking him, and having a grand feast. His bones were never found.
All of this adds up to a great story, but there’s another little twist when we come back to the grandpa telling the story that gives it a great punch at the end. Without spoiling too much, it would appear grandpa might not be telling quite the whole truth…
Why it will keep you up at night: The entire book of short stories can be described as gruesome, horrific, revolting, captivating, and powerful. LaSart’s overarching theme for the book seems to be a mixture of sex and bodily violence, which normally I wouldn’t be too interested in but which works quite well for the stories she has concocted. They are brutal, unrelenting, and badass.
In another story, a woman is bit by a spider: but her transformation isn’t nearly as fun and lighthearted as Spider Man’s. Others still involve sexualized cannibalism, a man who contracts eye-worms and evil African spirits, a woman who gets pregnant from a dead man, and a magical telephone made of human bone that plagues its owner with calls from the dead.
LaSart’s scenes are visceral and stomach-churning, but you won’t be able to tear your eyes away. “The Hand That Feeds” is actually kind of tame in comparison to some of the other stuff here. If you can deal with some extreme horror mixed into your psychological cocktail of dread, then do yourself a favor and pick up Ad Nauseam, because LaSart is surely on the rise in the horror genre.
You can find her website at http://www.cwlasart.com/.