Sunday, July 24, 2011

#SampleSunday The Kult #kindle #crimedrama #horror

For Sample Sunday, here's the first chapter to The Kult.

Title: The Kult
Author: Shaun Jeffrey
Kindle Price: $3.45
Available from:

Barnes & Noble:



People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.
At least that’s what the Oracle hoped. He had studied and plotted Jane Numan’s routine over the weeks. Watched without her seeing, making note of every nuance, every step of her schedule until he had a complete diary of her movements, probably knowing more about her than she did about herself.
He crouched in the recessed doorway of the kebab shop opposite where she lived and gripped the handle of the knife in the sheath inside his jacket. His weapon of choice, he hoped the mere sight of the blade would instil terror in his prey, making it more personal, and putting him close enough that he could smell his quarry and see the fear in her eyes.
He looked at his watch; 6:29 a.m. and counting.
Any second now…
Like clockwork, the front door of what to anyone else would be a nondescript house opened and Jane walked out. The Oracle sank back into the shadows as he stared at the facial disfigurement that made it appear half her face was melting. Although only 23 years of age, she probably hadn’t had the easiest of lives, which made her all the more desirable as a victim as the more public sympathy his kill received, the more publicity he would generate, and as people were fond of saying, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, especially not for what he had planned.
The Oracle watched her check that the door was locked, pushing once, twice, then a third time, as she always did when she left the house. His pulse increased, a volcano waiting to erupt within his chest. He rubbed the sweat coated fingers of his free hand down his trousers. Everything was going according to schedule.
He knew that if he had broken into her flat to stage the attack, there was the potential to leave too much evidence that might be used to track him down, and he couldn’t have that. His motto was ‘leave no trace,’ which is why he planned to snatch her off the street.
Like many neighbourhoods clinging to the hub of British cities, the area Jane lived in was rundown, with discarded trash bags spewing their contents across the pavement – fodder for the rats and feral cats that prowled the streets once the sun went down. McDonald’s packaging and the remains of half eaten kebabs discarded by late night drunks littered the gutters, and the tang of rotten produce and sour piss permeated the air. Dirt and grime coated the walls of the buildings, many of which were boarded up and covered with graffiti, the culprits marking their territory like dogs.
No one took much notice of him in areas like these, and the distinct lack of community spirit associated with the modern generation meant that people ignored most of what they saw, just trying to make it through each day as best they could.
The Oracle watched the girl walk across Hope Street, dressed for the heat of another day in a yellow t-shirt and a black knee length skirt. She clutched a brown shoulder bag to her side, and kept her head bowed, eyes focused on her white Nike trainers.
It would take Jane ten minutes to reach the main road. There she would wait for the number seven bus, which arrived at 6:45. Today, she was blissfully unaware her journey would terminate early. As usual, she would take the shortcut down an alley between two buildings, which saved her five minutes of extra walking. It was a simple routine to follow. Too simple, and his reconnaissance had revealed that the dingy alleyway between the buildings was the perfect spot to stage the abduction – it wasn’t overlooked by any windows, there was only ambient light so much of it was in darkness, and the towering buildings would muffle her screams.
The Oracle followed Jane at a discreet distance of about forty feet, which he gauged to be far enough back so as not to appear threatening if she should discern his presence. He had parked his car near to the shortcut – not too close that she would notice the vehicle, because anything out of the ordinary might make her change something about her routine, but close enough that he wouldn’t have to carry her too far.
She reached the corner of the road and turned left. When she disappeared out of sight, the Oracle hurried to close the gap. His body throbbed with anticipation, all of his senses highly aware of everything around him. It had been a while since he felt like this, and truth be told, he had missed the feeling.
Pursuing someone always gave him a buzz. The thrill of the chase. But it didn’t come close to the euphoria he felt during the actual act of killing. That was something else. The biggest thrill ride in the world. Thinking about it made him smile; his balls tightened and goose bumps mottled his arms. Although the circumstances surrounding his choice of target were completely different now to those he had killed before, it didn’t lessen the feeling – it actually enhanced it.
Jane walked with her arms folded across her ample chest, a subconscious form of protection and the barrier of the weak. Not that it would help her today.
Her footsteps echoed along the road, the Oracle’s almost silent as he followed in her wake, well versed in covert manoeuvres as he matched her step for step, becoming as one with his victim. The anticipation was almost too much to bear and he took deep breaths to control the beat of his heart. His fingers tingled and he licked his dry lips.
As soon as she turned into the alley between houses, he would strike.
With mere seconds to go, he withdrew a pair of disposable latex gloves and tugged them onto his hands, then pulled the chloroform soaked cloth from a bag in his pocket, the sodden material feeling cold and spongy through the gloves.
Jane turned the corner to take the short cut.
The Oracle followed, cloth held tightly in his fist, senses attuned to the task at hand. Jane was about eight feet ahead, her footfalls echoing between the walls. The aroma of Chinese food filled the air, a pile of discarded boxes piled up outside the back door to the restaurant. Stalactites of grease hung from an extractor fan on the wall.
It was time to make his move.
The Oracle readied himself to strike, one hand on the cloth, the other about to withdraw the knife when a young lad with a pockmarked face walked into the alley from the opposite end, a Staffordshire bull terrier tugging at the leash in his hand. The Oracle clenched his teeth, released the knife, rammed the cloth back into his pocket and watched as Jane exited the short cut.
The dog strained at the leash as it approached the Oracle, its small, muscular body set to pounce, teeth bared as it looked up at him. The owner struggled to pull it away, using both hands to yank at the lead.
“He’s not usually like this,” the lad said.
The Oracle guessed that the dog could sense the bloodlust on his mind. He could easily take them both out, but they weren’t his target. If he killed randomly, then he’d be just a savage, and they weren’t part of his plan so he kept his gloved hands out of sight in his pockets so as not to arouse suspicion.
He wasn’t happy about it, but he had considered this scenario, like he considered everything.
There would be another opportunity to grab Jane Numan.
People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Down memory lane (music festivals)

I was reminiscing last night, looking back at some of the concerts and festivals that I’ve been to, and some of the awesome punk and alternative bands that I’ve seen in the past (haven’t been to a gig for ages now). The list involves Nirvana, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Theatre of Hate, Southern Death Cult, Killing Joke, The Cramps, Pixies, Faith No More, Public Image, Nick Cave, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Iggy Pop, New Order, The Damned. The list goes on, and I’ve posted some of the flyers below. I can’t remember them all, but some other bands I saw live included loads of punk bands such as GBH, Discharge, Broken Bones, and then there was Sisters of Mercy, Toyah Wilcox, Fields of the Nephilim, The Human League, Altered Images, Motorhead. Be interested to know if anyone was at these gigs, or if you’ve seen any of these bands too from an era when music to my mind (and ear) was at its height.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Evil That Men Do

I was doing a lot of research into human experimentation for the second Prosper Snow novel, and until I started, I didn’t realise how much of this has actually gone on through the ages. Most people are familiar with the Nazis and the Holocaust, but some of the other disturbing cases I came across are as follows:

The Stanford Prison Experiment. This was a psychological study about human responses to captivity and its behavioural effects on both authorities and inmates in a prison environment. The experiment was led by psychologist Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Undergraduate volunteers played the roles of both guards and prisoners living in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

The prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited “genuine” sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early. Finally, Zimbardo, alarmed at the increasingly abusive anti-social behavior from his subjects, terminated the entire experiment early.

Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a CIA mind-control research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence.

It began in the early 1950s and continued through the late 1960s. There is much published evidence that the project involved the surreptitious use of many types of drugs, as well as other methodologies, to manipulate individual mental states and to alter brain function.

Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions. LSD and other drugs were usually administered without the subject’s knowledge and informed consent.

In 1973, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed. Pursuant to this order, most CIA documents regarding the project were destroyed, making a full investigation of MKULTRA virtually impossible.

The Aversion Project. In the 1970’s and the 1980’s, South Africa’s apartheid army forced white lesbian and gay soldiers to undergo ‘sex-change’ operations, and submitted many to chemical castration, electric shock, and other unethical medical experiments. Although the exact number is not known, former apartheid army surgeons estimate that as many as 900 forced ‘sexual reassignment’ operations may have been performed between 1971 and 1989 at military hospitals, as part of a top-secret program to root out homosexuality from the service.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was an investigation of untreated syphilis in the Negro Male, conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama.

399 (plus 201 control group without syphilis) poor – and mostly illiterate – African American sharecroppers were denied treatment for Syphilis.

This study became notorious because it was conducted without due care to its subjects, and led to major changes in how patients are protected in clinical studies. Individuals enrolled in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study did not give informed consent and were not informed of their diagnosis; instead they were told they had “bad blood” and could receive free medical treatment, rides to the clinic, meals and burial insurance in case of death in return for participating. In 1932, when the study started, standard treatments for syphilis were toxic, dangerous, and of questionable effectiveness. Part of the original goal of the study was to determine if patients were better off not being treated with these toxic remedies. For many participants, treatment was intentionally denied. Many patients were lied to and given placebo treatments—in order to observe the fatal progression of the disease.

By the end of the study, only 74 of the test subjects were still alive. Twenty-eight of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel.

Some of the numerous atrocities committed by the commander Shiro Ishii and others under his command in Unit 731 include: vivisection of living people (including pregnant women who were impregnated by the doctors), prisoners had limbs amputated and reattached to other parts of their body, some prisoners had parts of their bodies frozen and thawed to study the resulting untreated gangrene. Humans were also used as living test cases for grenades and flame throwers. Prisoners were injected with strains of diseases, disguised as vaccinations, to study their effects. To study the effects of untreated venereal diseases, male and female prisoners were deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhoea via rape, then studied.

Then there was an experiment that involved intradermal injections of live human cancer cells into 22 chronically ill, debilitated non-cancer patients in 1963 without their consent in the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital case, to learn if foreign cancer cells would live longer in debilitated non-cancer patients than in patients debilitated by cancer.

Then there was the case of severely retarded children at the Willowbrook State Hospital in New York being injected with hepatitis virus. This Hospital did not admit new patients after 1964, unless their parents "consented" to the experiment.

Cancer patients (mostly Negroes of below-average intelligence who were charity patients) during 1960-72 in Cincinnati were exposed to large doses of whole body radiation as part of an experiment sponsored by the U.S. military.

A University of Minnesota study in the late 1940s injected 11 public service employee volunteers with malaria, then starved them for five days.

For a study in 1957, when the Asian flu pandemic was spreading, federal researchers sprayed the virus in the noses of 23 inmates at Patuxent prison in Jessup, Md., to compare their reactions to those of 32 virus-exposed inmates who had been given a new vaccine.

Government researchers in the 1950s tried to infect about two dozen volunteering prison inmates with gonorrhea using two different methods in an experiment at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta. The bacteria was pumped directly into the urinary tract through the penis, according to their paper.


Although I was researching for a fictional work, the truth is that much of what I wrote about has actually happened in one way or another.

The truth may be stranger than fiction, but it’s also a hell of a lot scarier too.