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by Ray Garton
Description: Originally published in 1988, Ray Garton's second novel, after his stunning debut with LIVE GIRLS, is regarded as a classic of the "splatterpunk" movement in horror fiction. Garton has a way with teenage boredom, atmospheric small-town isolation, incest, drug abuse and over-the-top violence and he has managed to create a modern re-make of the story of the Pied Piper with a sinister character, Crucifax, appearing on the scene, seducing mixed-up kids with his siren song of pleasure, power and indulgence, all leading to a horrifically unsettling climax of death and destruction. And let's not forget the rat-like things that do the piper's bidding?
eBook Publisher: E-Reads/E-Reads, 1988
Filament eBookStore Release Date: July 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [529 KB]
Reading time: 337-472 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
As daylight faded over the muggy San Fernando Valley the dirty brown of the smog in the sky was deceptively hidden by the soft blood-blister pastels of sunset.
It had been one of the hottest and most humid summers in recent memory. Temperatures and humidity levels reached record highs in the Valley, and Los Angeles residents, normally willing to venture over the hill for one reason or another, took to avoiding the Valley completely.
Three deaths were blamed on the heat: two elderly patients in a small Canoga Park nursing home in which the air conditioner had broken down, and a postman in Sherman Oaks who had been less than a week short of retirement.
The bright, stylish clothes of Valley teenagers, usually spotless and perfectly in place, wrinkled easily and were blotched with perspiration as the kids paraded through the malls and up and down the boulevards. The most-voiced complaints among teenage girls that summer concerned the damage done to their hair and makeup by the insufferable humidity.
Cars overheated on short trips to the market, and fast food drive-up windows attracted interminably long lines of afternoon drivers in need of a cold drink.
Those without air conditioners sacrificed a few nights out each month so they could afford to rent them; those with air conditioners did the same so they could afford to repair them when they burned out from overuse.
Two women were arrested for tearing each other's clothes off in a fight over who was first in line at the Frostee Freeze on Lankershim Boulevard.
A widower in Sylmar came home from work one afternoon in July to find that his fifteen-year-old daughter had baked some cookies, raising the temperature in the apartment; he caved in her forehead with a rolling pin.
Children did not go out to play in the afternoon, and dogs did not chase cars.
Sirens were the carols of the season day and night.
But the long summer was nearing its close.
It would end officially after the Labor Day weekend when school began and department store windows displayed their new lines of fall clothing.
On this Saturday evening, as shadows lengthened and the smog slowly lost its facade, clouds began to roll in. There were only a few at first, separated by large patches of gray-blue sky, but they were fat with dark undersides. As they crept over the Valley, low and sluggish, they gathered together, slowly closing the spaces between them.
Deejays on local radio stations announced the unexpected cover of clouds over the Valley with a fanfare one might expect to accompany the arrival of royalty; they played songs about rain and dusted off their sound-effects records to play the rumbling of thunder and the spattering of rain.
As the night darkened and the cloud cover thickened, acne-prone young people began to cruise the boulevard with rain songs pounding from their car stereos.
Nightclubs that catered exclusively to teenagers geared up for a night of heavy traffic, knowing that the last Saturday night before the beginning of a new school year--especially if it cooled off and rained--would be a busy one.
The fat, dark clouds blocked the starlight and glowed with soft swirls of color from the lights of the Valley. They stopped their crawl across the sky and remained, hovering over the Valley like an enormous, fragmented, cottony ghost.
But it did not rain....