Book Chat: Broken Shells
A Subterranean Horror Novella
by Michael Patrick Hicks
A man tries to survive the horrors of being trapped underground by giant bugs.
MYRA’S HORROR BLOG REVIEWS : I wanted to write reviews as if I were sharing the love of a book with a friend. What I liked about it, from storyline to characters; to include any parts that had a negative impact on me as a reader. Join me on the couch as we explore today’s exciting read.
Antoine DeWitt is a man down on his luck. Broke and recently fired, he knows the winning Money Carlo ticket that has landed in his mailbox from a car dealership is nothing more than a scam. The promise of five thousand dollars, though, is too tantalizing to ignore.
Jon Dangle is a keeper of secrets, many of which are buried deep beneath his dealership. He works hard to keep them hidden, but occasionally sacrifices are required, sacrifices who are penniless, desperate, and who will not be missed. Sacrifices exactly like DeWitt.
When Antoine steps foot on Dangle’s car lot, it is with the hope of easy money. Instead, he finds himself trapped in a deep, dark hole, buried alive. If he is going to survive the nightmare ahead of him, if he has any chance of seeing his wife and child again, Antoine will have to do more than merely hope. He will have to fight his way back to the surface, and pray that Jon Dangle’s secrets do not kill him first.
Antoine is a man down on his luck. He just lost his job, his wife nags him constantly, and his baby cries a lot. When he receives a scratch off ticket in the mail, and it shows he won $5,000, he is sure it’s a scam. Regardless, Antoine’s wife demands he check it out. It’s from a car dealership and he knows they will try and talk him into buying a car. When he reluctantly shows the manager, Dangle, his ticket, Antoine is shocked to discover he’d won the money. But after being taken to the manager’s office, he is shown a set of stairs leading down to a basement. Before he could question why, he felt the prick of a needle in his neck.
After he awakens, Antoine can’t comprehend his surroundings. He can’t move and seems to be bound. It takes a long time to retrieve the knife in his pocket, since he can barely wiggle his hand. He cuts his way out of the hard substance around him that he thinks is a type of huge cocoon. While it’s dark and he can’t see far, Antoine can make out other cocoons; they are all located in a large cave. In shock, he watches as a huge bug, about half the length of a man, starts eating a hapless woman in a nearby cocoon. The other cocoons contain decimated corpses or barely alive people.
Note: I love B bug movies. But many scenes in this story were gross and horrific, so you may need a strong stomach to read.
The hero realizes he loves his son and wife, in spite of problems in the family, and is determined to get back to them. His fight through the bug infested hive was monumental and Antoine suffered grave injuries. Once he makes it through the cave system, he finally stumbles upon the stairs he was pushed down. The bugs who were attacking Antoine relentlessly, realized there was something more interesting nearby – a door offering escape to the upper world.
Without giving away the ending, the insect horde race through the dealership and chaos ensues of course. I was glad Antoine found Dangle and killed him, but I was hoping the story ended differently. The police decided Antoine perpetrated the manslaughter; he seemed an easy villain/scapegoat. After all, how could they report giant bugs as the criminals? There is an ironic twist in the last scene, as if Antoine left a message, “I told you so”. The story reveals background on the bugs and why Dangle was their keeper. Recommended for those who love a really terrifying story with giant bugs and a hero you root for.
NOTE: All my reviews are published in Uncaged Book Reviews emag. This review will be in the May issue.