Title: THE MONSTER FACTORY
Author: SHARON SHIPLEY
Genre: COMING OF AGE SCI-FI THRILLER
'The Mist' meets 'Stand by Me' meets 'Stranger Things'
The Age of Innocence.
Two boys need to grow up fast in 'Perfect-Town', when a voracious Monster born of ecological sludge under an abandoned derelict factory, develops strange new hungers…out where the sidewalks end...and no one where you are...
You could say The Horror began one brilliant Technicolor day. August 31, 1989, when Will-Fred and his so-called family blew into Perfect Town, USA in a blue Oldsmobile '88, and it was the beginning of the end, as Will-Fred knew it.
Of course, they did not have forewarning, or they might have kept right on going, to say—Austin, Seymour—or even Vevey. Indiana, that is. Yet even that might not have been far enough...
Always hungry. Too-big ears. Skinny for his age. A runt, kneed the Old’s back seat, squinting through the rear window, wedged between shoeboxes of stuff. Cartons of groceries schlepped from the last rental—a half box of Kroger's Pancake Mix, a Jiffy jar with a scrape of peanut butter, and corroded spice bottles, all jammed between faded dishtowels and newspapers. You know.
Will-Fred, leaning oblivious over the little back shelf mashed his nose against the window, drinking in the lurid advertisements plastered on store windows and lamp posts announcing a coming Comic Convention, alongside a Slime-Mutant poster.
His head swiveled. Slime-Mutant. Wow! His favorite neat-o avenger!
"Crimin-etly," he breathed. Guys in LavaMan and Techno-Geek suits posed outside a hardware store, sporting one of the posters signing autographs. An omen. Perfectamundo! Maybe this move, the twelfth in his short life, would be the one.
Will-Fred's stubbly head shaved in a cash-saving buzz, nearly spun off his neck as he sucked in the rolling panorama while the Olds 88 rolled by stodgy red brick Carnegie libraries, a massive limestone courthouse, clapboard churches and gleaming white picket fences; a wistful expression dropping over his face, like a fire curtain at a small-town theater.
Maybe this time, Will-Fred will be, by some mysterious alchemy—popular. That cool kids and even some adults will notice undiscovered talents—a heretofore hidden magnetism sprouting from his ears.
He'll tell the funniest jokes, pull off the most daring stunts—the cutest cheerleaders will secretly say stuff about him and slant adoring eyes his way. He'll be King of the Sleepovers too, with his closest buds spending lazy summers devouring comics in—in…
A treehouse. Yeah! An amazing tree house that he and Stan would build together and—and—
'Wait!' An imp of reality carped. 'Riiiight. What if there aren't any trees at the new digs? And Stan? Really? You think Stan would even climb a ladder if the house was on fire?'
Will-Fred's head snapped back to the one-screen theater. He forgot all about tree houses.
Stan had to brake hard at one of the two stoplights cursing under his breath, 'hoping the crappy Olds didn't die on him and he'd have a devil's own time starting it again'. Time enough for Will-Fred to drink in the 'The Return of The Blob!' in giant red block letters marching along the three-sided marquee.
"The Blob! Cool!" Will-Fred breathed.
That was summer. August 31st 1989. The day before school and Will-Fred's personal misery began.
He opened his mouth to call Stan and Muriel sitting up front, both the dark side of 30—but sank back, sinking amid the moving-boxes and podgy Danno, his stinky, three-going-on-four baby bro and already as conniving as any Medici prince.
Course, that wasn't when it really started—the Horror.
That had already been fomenting for decades in a derelict factory at the farthest edge of town, as if disowned from a spot as pristine and sparkling as Scottsburg, Indiana.
The hulk of The Factory squatted— like a dull brick, the color of liver, moss-covered mutant frog over a fetid swamp of a crawlspace, for over a half-acre, thanks to the nearby lake and high-water table, but just as malodorous—out where asphalt gave way to gravel—then dirt, then an overgrown trail as the county quit paying for the upkeep in such an isolated disused spot.
Sidewalks too cracked for bikes, eventually petered out entirely, long before abandoned fields going to seed appeared between dried cornfields and decaying farmhouses. It was as if there was a withdrawing—a cringing shrinkage from the moldering Lake-with-no-name and The Factory it had supported, at least back when it was still a going concern.
The Lake was a large-ish pond now, festering and filled with—well—creatures.
However, we won’t go into that now. The Lake still served its purpose. I suppose.
The brooding Factory lorded it over the brackish water, across snarls of lethal briars with a few rough paths leading to it; wallows really lined with bits of gristly blobs and streaks of slime, some hardened to amber.
Hardly anyone ever ventured that far, even young boys intent on fishing—until Will-Fred…
http://www.thewildrosepress.com (not for The Monster Factory)
What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
Reading, writing novels and scripts, I'm a film buff—the good, bad, indifferent, quirky and rare, and globe trekking.
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
This novel evokes growing up in a gentler age, in small, sleepy, backwater towns, anywhere in the world, and involves two 'loser' boys who must deal with a monster no one else believes in, save an obsessed Viet Nam vet.
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Runs May 1 – 31, 2021.
Drawing will be held on June 1, 2021.
I live and write in a little house overlooking Myrtle Beach. Writing is both frightening and thrilling with few tools beyond a blood-spattered laptop, a feverish brain, and a doorstop thesaurus… For my sins I have been a stunt performer, plus a background, five-lines-or-less, aspiring actress who managed to reach SAG status. I sculpt in metal and clay and am a retired fashion illustrator. I would love to explore every country in the world and gaining on it. My books and screenplays include: Sary's Gold, Sary's Diamonds, Sary & the Maharajah's Emeralds, Beast in the Moon, Icy Graves, Truckin' Home for Christmas, The German Widow, and numerous scripts.
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