Authors: Eric Shapiro
“Eric Shapiro knows that sometimes the worst horrors are the ones we make for ourselves. His book is riveting from the very first, his writing crisp, witty, and stylish. There’s real wisdom here, and compassion. Mr. Shapiro? Do us a favor. Keep on drumming!”
– Jack Ketchum
takes you to the edge of what you think you know and then whispers that you’re already in this book. That you have been all along.”
– Stephen Graham Jones
is a disturbing and frighteningly immersive portrait of life inside the last days of a collapsing cult. This fast-paced kaleidoscope of narrative styles swings swiftly from seduction to self-immolating shock to a bloody, beautiful end.”
– Jeremy Robert Johnson, author of WE LIVE INSIDE YOU and ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE
“Shapiro seems to just get better with every book. This one is no exception. Strap yourself in and prepare for a horror-filled ride you won’t soon forget!”
– Eric S. Brown, author of A PACK OF WOLVES and BIGFOOT WAR
“Shapiro’s taut prose drives its knuckles into your brain and doesn’t let up until long after the last page.”
– David Dunwoody, author of EMPIRE’S END and UNBOUND & OTHER TALES
“Nobody can stop Shapiro’s talent for terror and emotional resonance.
is his best work yet!”
–Peter Giglio, author of Anon and Balance
is a gateway to suspense crafted with intelligence and style, scalpel sharp, exposing raw nerve. Don’t miss it.”
–David T. Wilbanks, co-author of the DEAD EARTH books
“Eric Shapiro is a twisted individual who probably pays hookers with Monopoly money for sexual favours whilst gorging on Japanese tentacle porn...he’s a dangerous man whose creative output guarantees him a place in literary history. With
Shapiro certainly brings The Gush...and provides a fuck-me-fantastic opening shot for Ravenous Shadows, the eBook-only range from New York Times bestselling author & editor John Skipp.”
–Martin Roberts, editor, ASSEMBLE OF ROGUES
A LOVE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Dear Reader –
WELCOME TO RAVENOUS SHADOWS: a new line of startling, provocative genre fiction, dedicated to the proposition that short, powerful novels and novellas can pack as much punch, personality, and plot as books three times their size.
as Exhibit A.
Eric Shapiro’s penetrating first-person portrait of a death cult’s final haunting hours is a tense, ticking Hitchcockian time bomb that reverberates long after its explosive grand finale.
I’ve been a fan of this emerging writer’s mind-bending apocalypse dramas (
It’s Only Temporary
) for the last several years. So it was an honor to work with him on this, the most stripped-down and suspenseful book of his fascinating canon to date.
I hope you are as gripped, then stunned and moved as I was, when it all comes down. And hope you are thereby moved to plumb further into the depths of the ever-deepening Ravenous Shadows.
Your fellow spelunker in the truthfully strange,
to whom I had the privilege of giving life.
Most books have one author, but no author writes a book alone. In the material realm, there are editors and influences and friends who give feedback. In the immaterial realm, there are drives and demons and ghosts -- and often even angels. There’s no way that I can thank them all, but huge thanks are most certainly due to--
John Skipp, who not only vowed to help my career as much as possible in his intro to my last book-length work, “Strawberry Man,” but has actually proceeded to make good on the vow. Skipp likes to match his talk with a great deal of action, and he likes to pepper both with astonishing doses of passion, intelligence, talent, inspiration, and basic good taste. No editor has ever given me such a wild ride; I got pushed to every extreme, and came away thinking of the guy as more of an evolutionary psychologist than a mere, Earth-dwelling scribe.
Rhoda Jordan, my beloved wife and dependable muse, who is owed more than thanks for (a) co-writing the original screenplay on which this novel was based and (b) reading draft after draft of it with mind-shattering tranquility, despite the screaming new three-month-old in our home and the demanding schedule she always keeps. To be read by Rhoda – and to live with Rhoda – is to always pursue a higher plane, and to always have your breath grabbed by the heights.
Thanks are also owed to my good pal, Lee Schall, and my mother, Nita, who also read assorted drafts of “The Devoted” as they came off the line.
From NEW YORK DAILY (10/7/11):
Unique to this case is the fact that the suicidal planning of the sect has been foreseen and predicted, but has not yet been confirmed.
Says Jed Bracken, a former member, “I was in it for five years, just about. Initially, it wasn’t anything controversial. It was more fun. You get rid of the material life. Get rid of goals. Get rid of conformity, being tied down to your job and that sort of thing. And he took care of us, and I’d have to say with sincerity that most of us were probably very happy.
“But the concept of what he called ‘Ascension’ began to creep into the things he talked about. Ascension basically meant taking your own life. Because as far as he was concerned, your consciousness wasn’t really real. If you got to the core of it, you were left with sort of an empty hum. And that to him was the realest thing.”
Mr. Bracken then went on to explain that although Mr. Pike described Ascension as the ultimate parting with the delusions of this world, neither he nor many other members were interested in following that path.
“The ones who went with him, yes. They were hardcore. We’re talking hours of meditation every day. To the point where you’re just kind of floating instead of living. Most of us, though, weren’t really down with his message. We preferred to exist here; we didn’t see a need for that next step. And frankly, if you want my opinion, if he manages to take those eight people with him when he goes, it won’t be any kind of spiritual advancement. It’ll be a f-cking execution.”
11/11/11 (Last Day)
Matthew Barrett’s Mind
The Leader was right. No surprise there.
When I wake, I don’t feel as though I’m in a room.
That was His intention.
Upon our arrival at this house, He said that it was time to Ascend to a new level. During the days leading up to our final Ascension, we would transition from a life of the minimal to a life of the elemental. These were His words, and to be honest I’m suspicious as to whether there’s a true distinction. In any case, I get His meaning...
It was time to transition from a life of very few material things to a life of next to no material things. Back there, in the mansion, we had our regular clothes and our books and our films and musical instruments. Some of us even had our cars. Cell phones, also, though we used them less and less as we all grew closer.
Here, however, it’s a new order. Our own things are gone. We all wear white garbs, and sometimes the women wear nothing at all. Sometimes Theodore, too, elects to wear nothing at all, which makes me feel a certain way, not positive.
In any case: The Leader pointed out to me – maybe in the first week we knew each other – that all of society is structured in the form of boxes, both physical and symbolic.
Our homes are boxes.
Our cars are boxes.
Where we work, boxes.
And then there’s the non-physical, the labels people put on us. Your parents were Republicans, so you must be a Republican. Your best friend fucked a girl with herpes, so your dick must leak, also.
But there are no boxes in this house.
Sure, it’s a house like any other – it isn’t in the shape of a circle or something – but the lack of furniture and decorations makes it feel more fluid. You can stare at the walls and get absorbed into them.
And when I wake, given the fact that it’s just me and a mattress and Jolie in here, I don’t feel as though I’m in a room. I’m free.
That’s the whole point. It’s not complicated. It’s all about what He calls “the gush.” It’s inside of all of us, but most of us constrict it. It’s the overflow of all that you are. Your instincts, feelings, spirit – the
Let it out.
Meditation can help. It rakes away the conscious chatter.
That’s what we did: raked it away.
This is strange.
I’d like to gush right out the door. And my heart is really beating...
I hug Jolie. A special privilege, she is. Most of us don’t travel in pairs. The Leader, however, saw our special love.
From private correspondence to Matthew Barrett from his brother, Derrick Barrett (9/1/11):
Dude, you taught me, like, everything I know. Since you’ve been away I realized I haven’t been learning very much anymore which is sad. Like talking about the universe. You were always the smartest and our whole family knew it. So I don’t want to believe that you’re running around with a phony guy who puts ideas in your head. Cuz that head is too good and we need it. I know the world isn’t the warmest place and I don’t expect it to be but I expect we can each do what we can to make it better instead of running away from it. And I’m sorry to say that that’s what everybody around here is starting to say that you did.
Last Day –
I wake again.
And my sleep since the last time I woke wasn’t real sleep. It was all bending shapes and forward-arching walls. And within all that, something really fucked-up happened.
A phone rang.
I prop myself up on my elbows. No sooner do I complete the action than I regret it, for it’s a sign of panic.
Why did I hear a ringing phone?
Day one, all of our phones got stripped. None of us knows exactly where they are, but I know Him well enough to know that they’re probably in the drawer in the nightstand beside His bed. He’s the only one with a nightstand, you see, and He wouldn’t bother with it if it didn’t lend utility.