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Drop Dead Gorgeous - Wayne Simmons ”Mere moments after ninety-nine percent of Belfast’s population stopped dead, like wound-down clocks, THE SILENCE descended. Nothing moved. Small, isolated pockets of carnage gave a sombre accompaniment to an otherwise dead city. Flames flickered here; a soft (almost mourning) wind whistled there...
But nothing moved.

Occasionally I just have to throw an apocalyptic novel into the reading mixer. I can only assume that it stems from a period in my life when I was routinely bullied by my classmates for wearing glasses, being undersized, being nerdy, and reading too many damn books. Which the more they bullied me the more I wanted to disappear into a book. Little did they all know that once a few of my most ardent wishes were answered that I would grow into a 6’4” 208 pound, lucky for them not revengeful, guy. While praying for size I also prayed for the end of the world. I was the perfect miniature terrorist with no skin in the game yet and seeing no end to the pushing, shoving, and occasional breaking of my glasses. I wanted them all to have really horrible things happen to them.

I didn’t know about zombies or I would have wished for zombies.

Of course in my fantasy fueled apocalyptic dreams my family, myself, and the nice little old lady who babysit me from time to time would be fine. My Dad after all was a GOD walking the earth and he would keep us all safe from whatever plague my feverish wishes would bring down on those classmates of mine, those bastards.

Some of the residual torments of that 5-7 year old child must still be simmering in a pot back in the deep depths of my psyche otherwise I can’t account for my desire to read such books.

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Mother Nature doesn’t always look so DIVINE.

”On the whole, it seemed, the human race died without caring. After a post-millenium sway away from devil-may-care diets, towards a more holistic way of life, after an almost feverish obsession with all things environmental, all things organic, the human race had finally thrown in the towel. Mother Nature like the Great Divine Whore She is, had simply fucked humanity without rhyme or reason.”

Whoa! hold up... wait...do over. It reminds of the X-Files episode "Je Souhaite" when Mulder meets this indifferent genie who grants him wishes. His first wish, Mulder was always a bit naive, was for PEACE ON EARTH. Genie’s are tricky. You really need a good lawyer and any wish needs to be several pages long to make sure you get exactly what you wish for. Of course the only way that PEACE ON EARTH is achieved is if humanity no longer exists...just a bit of social commentary there.
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Scully is consoling Mulder after he totally screws humanity with his genie wishes. Most of us would settle for a hug, but David Duchovny has special requests.

Wayne Simmons does not explain why one percent of humans survives whatever plague has hit the Earth or why some survived while others perished. Our long fought for genetic diversity is supposed to protect us from just about any nasty microbe that wishes to raise it’s ugly head. Even the baddest leather clad, sunglass wearing, spiked, tattooed, motorcycling riding plague of the apocalypse can’t take us all down.

Speaking of tattoos:

Star is a tattoo artist and she is a survivor.

I’m going to prepare you ahead of time the survivors in Belfast are not the cream of the crop. In fact you will find it difficult to identify with or feel sympathy for any of them. It is just like Saturday afternoon when the SyFy channel puts on marathons of the worst possible scripted movies they can find in their archives and you put it on with the sound off so that you don’t have to listen to the horrible dialogue and you just gleefully watch most of the characters get eviscerated or eaten by some mutant (fill in the blank). NOT that I do that...much.

Star is only slightly taken aback when the goth chick she is needling falls over dead.

Fuckin’ weird...
And she was dead, all right.
Perhaps it was the shape of the body on the floor almost hog-tied, arms and legs somehow having crossed behind her back and curvaceous ass (yes, Star had noticed; yes, she had leered) as she fell. Perhaps it as the stillness, not just a lack of movement, but an almost statuesque stiffness, no rhythmic whisper of breathing--all things a tattooist, like Star, would be working closely with, and against every day. Either way, Star was quite sure this bitch was dead.

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After going outside and realizing that the whole world had turned upside down Star sits down and finished the pentagram tattoo on the dead skin of her client. After all she is a professional.

Simmons brings in a whole host of characters: a preacher, a radio jockey, a retired professor with anxiety problems, an ex-IRA supporter, a ex-British soldier, a guy who drugged women to sleep with them, a pair of teenagers with a whole host of issues, and a ragtag gang of punks who believe the brakes are off and they can perpetrate whatever crimes their little black hearts desire.

Okay so one odd thing about this plague is that bodies are rotting, but not all bodies. In fact the women seem to be actually glowing with health.

How odd...

Most of the survivors are too stoned or drunk or catatonically scared to really give it much thought until the women start...well...reanimating. There is something REALLY WRONG with their eyes.

”Her eyes, wide and jet black, seemed to suddenly flick between various different colours. It was like a slot machine spinning, flipping from black to red, to white, then back to black again. As they changed, a rough papery sound could be heard, as if someone was flicking through a book.”

Despite these women being Drop Dead Gorgeous they are not exactly friendly, especially to guys that have wronged women. They do have some residual memories from their past, but most of that is overrode by their powerful need to feed.

”The inhuman-looking women filled the room quickly and quietly. Their mouths remained incredibly expressionless. Their faces seemed almost radiant. Apart from their eyes, they were the picture of health and catwalk-quality beauty. Sean’s eyes fell on one in the middle of the crowd as they approached. She was naked, and one of her breasts was so stained with blood that it looked as if someone had thrown a tin of paint around her. Sean couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was beautiful and repulsive all at once, like some kind of fetish. She led the slow, calm charge towards him.”

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Wayne Simmons

Okay Simmons lost me with the plot. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around a plague that mutates women into vengeful man hating zombies. (Quentin Tarantino should option it for a movie.) I do want plausibility in my implausible reading. Simmons has written a second book in the series called Doll Parts and I am...probably...going to read it. I’ve got to see how he is going to explain all this. I’m glad that I read his book Flu first which is a marvelous pulp horror novel and much more plausible. He also has a sequel to that called Fever so I’ll probably mosey over to read that one before I return to the land of Drop Dead Gorgeous Women.

I’m loving humanity more today (apocalyptic plagues on hold)...so far.