His thoughts wrap themselves around horror without warning, against his will and beyond control. Into his head-chamber walks a character who looks and sounds identical to himself. And this character’s compulsion is to flick a switch on and off, at enormous and upsetting length, every time he passes through a doorway, for longer every day, until the duration of compulsive switch-flicking is perhaps two hours daily; which creeps up to three hours daily, before he can wrench himself away from the switch; then four-and-a-half hours daily, through his weeping; then pressing upwards uncontrollably, hour by hour, day by day, to a duration of six full hours every day, so that the task of remaining socialised passes from difficult to agonising; then creeping upwards further still, to seven hours a day, cutting off most possibilities for socialisation; then eight hours a day—
The door of his head slams shut. All the bodies caught in his head-chamber stop dead, frozen in the postures they occupied when the door slammed.
Normal sound dies, leaving paralysed silence.
A creak cuts in, slow and deafening—the sound of a horror-movie door-hinge. Everybody here in his head-chamber turns around, with abnormal slowness, to face him. By degrees, all their eyes swivel round to face Scorpio, and lock themselves onto him, demonically knowing; and the creak gets ever louder, as if the bodies’ frameworks are thirsty for oil.
With a sense of sliding down into someone else’s nightmare, he happens to incline his head at a particular angle, from which his surroundings appear the same as from other angles except that a single freakish thing is visible, almost hidden among the rest—a horrific face on one body standing just over there in his head-chamber. Suppressing an urge to wail, he sets about the task of verifying this phenomenon: first, he returns his head to its former angle of inclination, whereupon the face resumes its earlier unexceptional appearance … and then he reproduces the angle of his head’s inclination to what it was a few moments ago when he glimpsed … and yes, sure enough, the face on that body over there in his head-chamber is once again quite horrific. He jerks his own head’s angle away from this again, so as to conceal that face for ever, he fervently hopes—and squints and flicks his eyes back at the face for a split-second, of course, just to check—and mercifully it’s normal again (but for how long?).
He swallows again, several times, and realises he is sliding towards a state where he’s unable to stop doing so. Another agonising compulsion? First switch-flicking, and now swallowing? The latter has the potential to be even worse than the former, he would guess, with its threat of going beyond the former’s upsettingness, into a slow, bloodthirsty, months-long self-mutilation of a kind that he doesn’t even want to start imagining in any detail, let alone fall into…
Fortunately he is diverted from this, when another of the bodies standing around his little head-chamber makes another horrific expression at him—in silence, without warning, for no reason, different from the first one but just as distressing—and seemingly unnoticed by the other bodies in the room.
His mouth goes dry and sticky inside. He knows that if he were to question each horrific expression-maker, in mounting alarm, as to what the hell they were trying to do to him, then they would deny everything, feigning not to understand; so he bites the question back down his throat, where it hangs, never to be asked.
He knows that if he were to question the other bodies, in his growing panic and queasiness, as to whether any of them noticed two among their own number making such horrific faces at him, then they would all deny seeing any such thing; so he clamps this question tightly back down into his own voice-box, never to be uttered.
With escalating nausea, he wonders whether another of these scattered bodies in his head-chamber will next start to emanate a feeling of alien evil and fuck-up, some unaccountable repulsiveness, despite not changing visibly, as yet…
Up in the bow window in the house on Jupiter Drive, Jaymi gives a grim smile. This stuff that Herb is wheeling out is somewhat off-the-peg horror fare, to be nakedly frank. Good freaky fun, but penny-dreadful material at heart, crying out to be wreathed in green billows of dry-ice lit from underneath, with a theremin soundtrack.
For more about "The Beasts of Electra Drive" by Rohan Quine, see
For some great reviews of it, see
And to pick it up from whichever retailer you prefer, the retailers’ links for the audiobook format are at
and for the paperback format and the ebook format are at