- Author: Simon Janus
- Published: January 2014 by Dead Wood Books
- Category: Horror/Supernatural
James Straley might think his life is cursed, but it doesn’t compare to what lies ahead of him on life’s highway. He’s on the run with the proceeds of a botched bank robbery. It’s all he has. His crew is dead and his getaway car just died on him. He’s on foot with the cash when he comes across a two-car pileup. There’s no saving the drivers, but he can save himself by stealing one of the wrecked cars. Unfortunately, he boosts the wrong set of wheels.
Within an hour of driving off, he develops a rash that eats away at his flesh. No doctor can help him – only the car’s original owner. If Straley wants his skin back, he must journey on the road to redemption, which ends in the heart of Central America
Horror is not usually my genre of choice but I was curious when I read the synopsis and the story repelled and fascinated in equal measure. I’m glad I read it.
A short but very chilling tale, fast-moving and intriguing. James Straley’s problems begin when he stumbles upon a head on collision and steals one of the cars, leaving the driver for dead. He pays an incredibly high price for his sins and even though he is extremely unlikable at the start his situation and resulting race to find some sort of cure changes him completely.
His hand itched worse than before. In the failing light he checked it out. His palm was red and hot to the touch, swelling now. He was having a reaction, but to what? He wasn’t allergic to anything. He opened the window and stuck his arm out to numb his inflamed hand with the cool evening air. His shirt sleeve blew back from his wrist to reveal the source of his itching. A hand shaped rash marked his wrist where the Caprice man had grabbed him. Straley choked on his shock.
The story starts with a crime and crosses over into the supernatural as James finds out more about the curse causing his dreadful affliction. The vivid and gruesome descriptions of the progression of James’ nightmarish rash are, well…gross is the word that comes to mind (the repelling part). As the story unfolds James’ journey takes unexpected and surprising turns as his hope builds and is crushed again and again until despair takes over.
At his journey’s end James learns that ultimately there is only one way to rid himself of the horror taking over his body. As he comes to terms with his condition and makes a life for himself where the curse originates from (the fascinating part) there’s a nice twist I didn’t see coming at the end, leaving the imagination to take over.
About the author
Simon Janus is the horror identity for the award winning thriller writer, Simon Wood. As Simon Wood, he’s the author of four thrillers and two short collections. As Simon Janus, he’s the author of the acclaimed Road Rash and The Scrubs. Learn more about both Simons at www.simonwood.net