Congeal By John F Leonard
Excerpt for Kendall Reviews
It was mesmerising from a height.
Nothing funny about the name anymore. It was deadly, bowel-clenchingly serious.
She stared in awe as it rolled and capered.
A viscous ocean of pale almost-liquid.
Constantly in movement. Simultaneously gaining fluidity and solidity, more animated by the second. Questing coils of itself shot into darkening air. Tentacles that seemed to be seeking contact. Limbs that needed to touch and envelop.
The smell was immense, indescribable. Intensified because of her position above such a large amount of it.
She bit back the urge to vomit.
Earth and rot, blood and semen.
It was the stench of base things writ large with some unknown and awful ingredient added to the blend.
An aroma which spoke of impossible places and made the mind flinch in fear and disgust.
It evoked images of creatures and states that couldn’t exist.
Monstrous entities and storming voids.
Warped beasts roaming blood-scoured landscapes.
The sort of stuff she imagined would send deranged psychopaths to new levels of insanity.
It was evil distilled to essence and unbottled.
That was as close as she could get in terms of description and it still fell short.
For once, words weren’t up to the job, they couldn’t convey the complexity of her revulsion.
It starts with reports on the news of an inland lake turning semi-solid.
Surely, a media joke, some lame April Fool’s prank?
The before and after pictures are vaguely ludicrous and oddly disturbing, the contrast stark and strange.
First, darkly rippling water that hints at hidden depths. Slightly spooky and perfectly normal. Next, a putrid blotch of clotted sludge which bears little resemblance to anything aquatic.
It isn’t a joke.
And pretty soon, that greasy, sickening substance isn’t confined to an inland lake.
It’s spreading. Flowing over fields and filling streets.
Each morning brings a new revelation. Countryside denuded of life and towns empty and echoing.
The night is when it changes, becomes something that consumes. Something infinitely worse than a congealed impossibility.
CONGEAL is a short tale of apocalyptic horror. How the world ends may not be how you expect.
Nuclear Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse could get beaten to the punch.
Our apocalypse may come from below.
An ancient, cosmic entity bubbling up to the surface in search of food.
It’s also the story of one individual and her fight to stay afloat in a sea of despair.
John F. Leonard
John was born in England and grew up in the industrial Midlands, where he learned to love the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains.
He studied English, Art and History and has, at different times, been a sculptor, odd-job man and office worker. He enjoys horror and comedy (not necessarily together).
He has published eight books. Congeal, The Bledbrooke Works, A Plague of Pages, Bad Pennies, Doggem, Call Drops, Collapse and 4 Hours, and is currently working on a number of projects which include more tales from the Dead Boxes Archive and the Scaeth Mythos, and new stories set in the ever-evolving, post-apocalyptic world of Collapse.
You can follow John on Twitter @john_f_leonard