Friday, January 29, 2010

Jack's Inferno: The Quick Version

Here's the story, more or less...

First page, I'm dead. Death pulls up in a Cadillac, piss drunk and chain smoking. We take a suicide ride straight to Hell. That's how it starts. That was my morning.

Crash landed on the core of the Earth. I woke up on fire. You ever been on fire? Well? Have you? Yeah, I didn't think so. I don't recommend it.

So anyway, I hitch a ride with this trucker that calls himself Coalburner, or Coal for short. Strange cat. For one thing, he's a Judas freak, which I guess must be Hell's answer to the Southern Baptists. Haven't quite figured out his religious views yet, other than the fact that he often confuses Judas Priest lyrics with scripture. Whatever, we all got our own little mythologies. One's as good as the next.

Oh, and here's something else: dinosaurs. They have dinosaurs in Hell. Yeah, I didn't know about it either. My old Sunday school teacher must be delighted. What happened to all the dinosaurs? They all died and went to Hell. Take that, evolution.

Then there's the River Acheron. I got nothing nice to say about that place. Just grab a seat on one of the slave-ships and try to enjoy the ride. When you hit the shore, do yourself a favor--skip the gift shop. Complete waste of time.

Then you've got Arson Hills Trailer Court. It's a flaming white trash kingdom in the middle of a sinister backwoods necropolis. Everyone there is an asshole. Well, except Ricky. Ricky was alright.

Fat Nancy's House of Grits: a greasepit diner atop a hill of bones and surrounded by swampland. The food is shit. The service is worse. The locals are creeps. A fight broke out when we were there. Well...okay, so we started it. Not the point.

Then I was in the woods and some dead deer were hanging out. They all had rifles and they were yelling at me. I don't know, it was weird. And there was a bear there, too. He was drunk and loud and mean. I don't expect all of this to make sense to you.

Next stop was Limbo. Now Limbo is actually a really nice neighboorhood. It's like the suburbs of Hell for the upper class that managed to bribe their way out of the lower realms. And aside from the fact that everyone there is in a secret cult that worships a baby-eating pagan freak-god named Moloch, it's fairly peaceful. Except for the giant robots that occasionally patrol the area.

But that's just the first circle. One down, eight to go.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Excerpts from Jack's Inferno Volume One

***from chapter 6: Of Wrath and Roadkill***

Staring out the window of the car, I see an animal scurrying from tree to tree. It's obscured by the shadows. Looks like a deer. I see more ahead, hiding and watching. They're standing on their hind legs, in hunched poses. Then I get a closer look at one of them. It's mangled and bloodied. Half the skin has been carved away from its face. Split torso. Exposed ribs. A walking carcass, cast aside by some poacher. Resurrected and pissed off.

Oh shit. He's got a gun.

The first shot cracks from the rifle and bounces off the bulletproof windshield. The mutilated hunters begin to come out in full force, each taking a shot at the car. Their rifles are useless. Francis hums cheerfully to himself as bullets harmlessly ricochet left and right. He doesn't speed up. He doesn't swerve. His only real reaction to the situation is to switch the song from Mozart to Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. I presume it was for dramatic effect. I have to admit, it was a nice touch.

Seems like we're not in too much danger, all things considered. It's going to take a lot more than an angry herd of gun-crazy venison to put down the platinum cruiser.

But not a hell of a lot more.

A chain whips out in front of us from behind a tree. On the end of the chain is a bear trap. It clamps down on one of the front tires in a spring-loaded death grip. Holding the other end of the chain is...

Oh, f**k me. A BEAR?! Seriously?

Welcome to the Forest of Retribution. Yeah, I get it already. Call off the f**king bears. I can't take anymore ironic vengeance today. I don't know if Mother Nature had a hand in this, but if she did she's being a real c*nt about it. Sure, animal rights is a great idea in theory, but passing out a stockpile of loaded firearms to oppressed woodland creatures? That's just a bad idea. Now don't get me wrong--if this were happening to anyone else but me, I'd be laughing my ass off right now. But I ain't laughing.

The bear walks right in front of our car. We hit him (or her, I guess...not gonna dig through its crotch fur to make a genital scan) like a safety test crash into a wall. Good news is the airbags work.

The bear is wailing on the hood of the car like a bi-polar ex-girlfriend in a drunken menstrual hysteria. Only without all the tears and screaming. And maybe a bit less terrifying. Hell, we might even stand a better chance of reasoning with it.

"You there! What do you think you're doing?" Francis, stupidly enough, actually is going to attempt to reason with it.

copyright Mike Lamb

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The worst focus group ever

Do you have any idea how hard it is to make someone read a book? Because I didn't until I wrote one.

Now this might be a good time to confess that I know absolutely nothing about the technical nuances concerning the art of writing. No academic training in the field whatsoever. Hell, I went to art school. I'm barely even literate. All my books are filled with pictures. Format and punctuation are a mystery to me. But I can tell a story. And I can tell a joke. And I can tell the most preposterous lies about the most improbable things in perfect deadpan. And because I'm older than the internet, I still know how to spell. More or less.

I like to think of Jack's Inferno--not just Volume One, but the entire trilogy--not so much as genre fiction or literary fiction or fantasy or horror...but simply as an epic anecdote. Just a clever and interesting yarn about some crazy shit that happened. Is it true? Of course not. Okay, maybe some of it. Or a lot of it. But it's fiction. My attourney will attest to that. Any similarities between crimes and sins of the author and that of the protagonist are purely coincidental and none of your goddamned business. It's brutal satire and drunken philosophy. It's horror-comedy for the desensitized.

But getting back to the focus group. Because I have no academic credentials, I felt it would be a good idea to distribute some review copies of earlier drafts of the book to a select group of friends in order to get general feedback and proofreading. Here's how that went:

"I wrote a novel."
"That's awesome! I'd love to read it!"
"Okay, here's a copy. You're in the focus group. Let me know what you think."

"So what did you think?"
"Haven't started on it yet."

"So did you ever get around to that book?"
"No, I've been really busy."
"Yeah, I know what that's like. I've been busy trying to publish a novel. Well, good luck on that math test."

"So...about that book I wrote..."
"You wrote a book? Cool! What's it called?"

But I did manage to get a few people to read it.
"I had no idea you could write!"
"Neither did I."


Art by me. Words by me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Excerpts from Jack's Inferno Volume One

***from chapter 5: Diner of the Dead***

I see the greasy smokestack hanging in the sky like congealed fat. The air is thick with the stench of deep-fried...everything. This must be the place.

There's a small building atop a hill of bones, radiantly wrapped in piss-yellow neon with an imposing sign that reads FAT NANCY'S HOUSE OF GRITS in giant glowing letters. Below it in smaller print, but no less proudly displayed, is WORST FOOD IN 7 HELLS.

"Seven Hells?" I ask Coal.

"Well, ya got seven continents on the core, all of 'em named Hell. Then ya got your countries and cities and villages and all that crap. They're all named Hell, too. You just gotta go by the zoning districts if ya wanna tell 'em apart."

"Why don't they just give them different names?"

"Don't really matter where ya land here, everybody says the same thing: aw shit, I'm in Hell! So it's just easier to call everything Hell."

"Makes sense."

We walk into the diner. It's a redneck freakshow. The florescent ceiling lamps are way too bright. Some people are better suited to dimly lit rooms, out of focus and shrouded in wandering trails of tobacco smoke. These people do not need to be seen in the light. Pasty sagging skin. Blotchy patches of discolored flesh, pinkish-brown here, a reddish purple bruise there, yellow eyes, yellow teeth. Bloated, wrinkled faces. Angry, ugly stares. A split lip. A glass eye. Oily hair and dirty wrinkled clothes. Open sores. Foaming mouths.

They can smell outsiders a mile away.

We grab a booth in the back under a stuffed and mounted stag's head. Country music plays on the jukebox. It's a slow drunken ballad about wife-beating.

Our waitress strolls over to us and slaps two menus on the table. She's an ill-tempered fat hag in her late fifties, maybe early sixties. Tiny devil horns rise just above the hairspray frozen curls of her permed red hair. Her face is gratuitously caked in makeup, from the tarantula eyelashes right down to the raccoon eye shadow and rosy red cheeks. Red lipstick smeared around the mouth in a heavy-handed scrawl, the way crazy people wear makeup. Like the blood-caked fur of a polar bear's face after the feast of a kill. Her name tag simply reads "Eat shit and die."

"Whaddya want, assholes?"

Coal orders first. "Yeah, lemme get the chicken-fried steak, two sausage biscuits with gravy, bowl a' grits with extra butter and bacon, and uh...piece a' pig's ass pie. And a bottle a' Jack Daniels."

She scribbles the order on her little notepad and turns to me impatiently.

"What are your specials?" I ask her.

"I got three retarded kids. You gonna order somethin', ya cheap bastard?"


Copyright by Mike Lamb.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Praise for Jack's Inferno

Jack's Inferno, by Mike Lamb: "Monica S. Kuebler:
Jack’s Inferno boasts a catchy opening paragraph, complete with the protagonist’s death revelation(!). And there is just so much to like in the sarcastic narrative voice of the main character – especially given his situation. It fact, it pretty much makes him instantly compelling and encourages readers to feel for the chaotic predicament he’s in even before he’s fleshed out too much. It’s just very well done and the pitch-black humour is pitch perfect. There are also plenty of clever touches in the narrative, including lines such as: “The label says ‘Brimstone’ and there's something about soul cancer in the fine print.” and “It's amazing what you can tune out when you're being carjacked by trolls.” The chapter closes with a great punch line that does an excellent job of hooking readers (as if they wouldn’t be already, which I simply can’t imagine). All in all, a fine beginning that sets up the tone of the book and does everything else a first chapter is supposed to do. Solid as a goddamned brick."

--From round one judge's critique, Fresh Blood manuscript contest

Vote. Get me published. Click the damn link.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Excerpts from Jack's Inferno Volume One

And because I'm such a nice f**king guy, I even censored it for you. Now when your f**king kids read it they can make up constellations out of all the little stars in the f-words.

***from chapter 2: Unholy Roller***
We're getting closer to the pit. A dust storm kicks up around us. I can't even see through the windshield. I look over at Coal. He's pouring a glass of bourbon, altogether unconcerned with the hazards of the road.

"Maybe we should pull over until the storm clears," I say to the driver.

"Maybe you should shut the f**k up. Here, drink this." He hands me the glass of bourbon and starts drinking the rest straight from the bottle.

F**k it. Bottoms up. No point in not being drunk for this.

***from chapter 3: Dead Man River***
It's barely audible. Just two words. Phobus hisses them under his breath. "Get out."

I look over at the trucker to guage his reaction. He just shrugs.

"I'm going to destroy you now," the boatman tells us. "Both of you. I'm going to feed your lifeless mutilated souls to the great river Acheron. Your eternal suffering will bring me great pleasure. Remember this day, now and forever. You shall curse my name until the end of time."

I turn to Coal and say, "Is this guy f**king serious?"

Phobus screams, "I said get out of my f**king boat!" He thrusts his arm towards the sky in a berserker fury as coiled lightning bolts burst forth from his stun baton. It's like seeing a disgruntled riot cop weilding the hammer of God. Oh shit, is he mad? He's mad isn't he?

Deimus follows suit and whips out his own stun baton. He begins shrieking and howling like a rabid baboon. A mildly-retarded rabid baboon. With a 50,000 volt stick.

Coal catches a blow to the chest that explodes into a shower of glowing blue sparks. "Ah, goddamn!" is his natural response. While picking himself up he adds, "Where's my goddamn truck, you dick!? I ain't leaving without it!"

"Foolish hillbilly! It's been eviscerated and sold as spare parts! You shall share its fate! Prepare to--"

Shotgun blast drowns out the rest of the speech. First shot launches Phobus back-flipping into the river. Second barrel drops Deimus in the pitch black water with his brother. Although I have to admit his hey man, I just work here hands-up surrender was priceless. Didn't win him any mercy though.

Coalburner's a lot more resourceful than I give him credit for. Sawed-off shotgun stashed under the coat (I thought it was odd he was wearing a coat in Hell). That trick never gets old. We have officially commandeered this vessel.

"Nice shot, captain," I say.

"No need to thank me for saving your life back there, hoss. You just swab the deck an' we'll call it even."

"We're already dead, you dumb bastard. You didn't save shit."

"F**k you, Jack."

So there you go. Jack's Inferno. Top ten finalist in the Fresh Blood manuscript contest. Vote here.
Get me published. Don't be a dick. Check back here for further updates.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I don't know what the f**k kind of books you like and I really don't care. This is my story. So sit down and shut up.

JACK: The anti-protagonist and unreliable narrator of Jack's Inferno, hence the name. He's dead. He's in Hell. Beyond that, nothing special. He's not a cop or a soldier or a private detective. He's not a wizard or a superhero or a vampire or a f**king half-vampire that hunts other vampires. He doesn't save the world. Ever. And if you asked him to you'd get a beer bottle thrown at you. He only has three powers to speak of: luck, sarcasm, and an amazingly high threshold for binge drinking. Random quote: "You're insane and I hate you."

COALBURNER: aka Coal, aka CB, aka Coleridge B. Turner, aka Pigf**ker. A trucker and a sinister hick. He carries a sawed-off shotgun and a bottle of bourbon wherever he goes. He's got a twisted sense of humor and some strange ideas about religion. There's a plastic Judas figurine on his dashboard, if that gives you any idea. He carries a bible, but not the one you're thinking of. Not the Good book. Different bible. Oh yeah, he's also a cannibal. Random quote: "C'mon, sweet Judas, don't you sell me on the cross today!"

FRANCIS: A rich prick with a mansion in Limbo and a talking luxuary sedan named Sheila. Clean cut, well dressed, and not a care in the world. His hobbies include dressing up like a goat and sacrificing people to Moloch. Random quote: "Oh, nothing. You just look poor, is all. You smell poor, too."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jack's Inferno Volume One: A list of chapters

The first three circles of Hell according to Jack



I. The Tunnel at the End of the Light

II. Unholy Roller

III. Dead Man River


IV. Backwoods Necropolis

V. Diner of the Dead

VI. Of Wrath and Roadkill


VII. Low Plains Drifter

VIII. Sacrificial Scapegoats

IX. Flight of the Heretic



X. Dumpster Heaven

XI. A Streetcar Named Depravity

XII. Satyrs, Sadists, and Strip Joints


XIII. Behind the Pink Door

XIV. The Four Bridesmaids of the Apocalypse

XV. The Honeymoon Suite


XVI. Wasteland Wine

XVII. The Whorehouse of Babylon

XVIII. Dogs Playing Poker



XIX. Acid Bath Blues

XX. Scourge of the Sewers

XXI. Bad Trips, Coma Dreams, and Dirt Naps


XXII. The Atomic Hydra

XXIII. The Septic Sea

XXIV. Hog Hell


XXV. Mad Cow Theater

XXVI. Slaughterhouse Run

XXVII. The Grazing of the Herd


XXVIII. Sugar Shock

XXIX. The Black Forest

XXX. The Last Supper

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Abandon all hope! Join us for an unforgettable tour through the depths of Hell! Have a smoke with Death and take a ride to the center of the Earth, where the undead dinosaurs brood in their eternal decay!
Meet Charon, lord of the Acheron River and keeper of the secret DNA of Leviathan, the hideous giant serpent! Fall to your knees and tremble before Moloch, the eater of babies, part machine but demon to the very core, with his reptile skin, his three faced owl's head, and his six arms and razor claws! Have a drink with Anubis, jackal-headed Egyptian god of the underworld! Is he a mad man? Or mad dog?
You will find Medusa the gorgon, with her evil eye and gaze of stone! Bow to the mighty King Minos, once a man but now a beast! He is waiting to cast his judgment upon you! How deep is your home in Hell?
So many strange and magnificent terrors await you! Beware the satyrs that lurk in dens of depravity! Do you dare face the six-breasted bearded stripper, an eldritch horror in fishnets, with her deadly tentacles and ravenous appetite? And even deadlier still is the unnameable spider-mantis she-devil known only as The Bride! And where The Bride goes, are not the Four Bridesmaids of the Apocalypse certain to follow?
But wait, there's more! Much more! Crawl through the belly of the beast, where you must answer the riddle of the tapeworm! Ride the ghost train! Can you survive the fury of the Atomic Hydra? You'll still have to make it past Edgar the Shark, an abomination of infernal science who crawls on land! And past that is the pig-faced butcher, Ciacco the Hog! Deeper still lies the minotaur cult, and the Great Swine of the Black Forest! Beware!
Too melodramatic? Eh? Well, you get the idea. Voting begins soon. Jack's Inferno. It's f**king great. You need it. But first I have to get it published.