Corrosive by J. Kariuki

Corrosive by J. Kariuki
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (78 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A former foster child now car washer, Stan, harbors dreams of professional photography. The baffling peeling of his flesh, however, magnified by dire poverty and a thieving lover, worsens the reticent twenty-seven-year-old’s situation: after a painful day at the car wash and later in the city taking photographs, Stan is overcome by the accruing pain in his flesh.

He rushes into an alley to hide his disgrace. But there, his seclusion proves fatal: after a chase and a brutal assault by the homeless of the alleys, Stan discovers mysteries held by his flesh, whereupon are two dead vagabonds, new flesh and a contract from a chummy photo agent.

All indications now point to wealth, joy, and fulfillment; but instead, what follows Stan are revelations, heartbreak, death, absorbed flesh and a livid creature of fire.

The worst thing about feeling trapped is that it makes all kinds of everyday decisions much harder than they should be. If only Stan knew if there was a way out of the life he wished he could change.

The flashbacks to the main character’s childhood were some of my favorite scenes in this tale. While I can’t say anything about that part of his past without wandering into spoiler territory, I’m glad that the author spent as much time as he did showing how Stan had ended up with such a difficult life as an adult. That really helped me to get to know this character well.

There were certain aspects of Stan’s flesh disease that never quite made sense to me. I would have liked to know more about when and how it started. There were a couple of hints pointing to the idea that he’d been dealing with the problem for a long time, but there were other hints that this was possibly a new development in his life. Either explanation would have worked perfectly well for me. I simply wanted to know which theory was true as they would have changed how I interpreted at least one conversation he had with someone else in the storyline.

This was one of the goriest horror stories I’ve read in a long time. What I found most interesting about the sections that described the terrible condition of Stan’s skin was how much attention Mr. Kariuki paid to the smallest detail of what was happening to this character’s body. It was definitely strong at times, but it also pulled me into storyline in ways that wouldn’t have happened if any of it had been held back.

I’d recommend Corrosive to anyone who loves grisly science fiction.

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