Riptide Publishing, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-62649-062-8
Erotic horror, 2013
If the cover is going to accurately represent the contents of Bump in the Night, there should be more tentacles and less ghostly hands. Yes, people, that’s what this anthology is all about. It’s supposed to be both creepy and erotic, so we are going to be head right into Rule 34 territory. Just be warned that there isn’t much romance here, and what little romance present isn’t the usual sort found in romance novels. If you don’t normally read horror stories, especially those with tentacles, this one is going to be either an eye-opener or a complete gross-out, so steel yourself.
I wonder whether the authors are paid by the word, or they are paid equally, because if it’s the second option, Laylah Hunter pulled a fast one over her co-contributors. This is because Resurrection Man is the shortest story here, far shorter than the next shortest story. The story has nothing to do with the cult horror movie or comic book series of same name, although there are some similar themes in all three. Here, we have Josef who decides to resurrect his dead lover Adel. It works, and lots of postmortem buggery follow. Thing is, Adel doesn’t have a soul, so he’s not really Adel… is he? This story ends just when things are becoming interesting, but perhaps that is the point – both characters have had fun, so who cares about the plot anymore, we’re all finished, so let’s move on. Needless to say, this story is quite the throwaway fluff.
Karl Gregg’s Mating Season is basically one long rape session, as our unemployed hero, still smarting from being dumped, decides to help out at a friend’s private lab. Only, the friend Keith is a mad scientist type, there is a monster in the lake next to Keith’s home, and our hero gets to experience tentacle rape and male pregnancy in graphic technicolor detail. I’ve never found tentacle sex to be fun, but putting aside my personal preferences, this story is actually too long for its own good. The problem here is that the story starts to drag after the first rape scene, and once the shock value of that first scene wears off, the story goes from tentacle boring into the ass to everything boring all over. The story has a lovely build-up, with some vivid descriptive narrative, but the rest is just a drag.
Ally Blue’s Flesh and Song is all about our hero, Noah Rose, finally stepping foot onto a mysterious Caribbean island and stumbling upon a hot guy. Lots of tropical-flavored sodomy follow, until the author realizes that we need a plot, so I get a bizarre love triangle of Noah, the mysterious island penis of all delights, and his yacht. Don’t ask. This one is pretty forgettable. Maybe the author should have had the hero try to have sex with his yacht – now that would be something to remember.
Out from Under by Brien Michaels is basically a guy trapped in a tentacle-flavored ménage à trois with two feuding demons while pining for his lover, who is killed by one of these demons. This one is quite amusing, like a trashy Japanese pornographic cartoon, but the lack of self-aware humor in the narrative gives me the disquieting impression that the author is taking this story more seriously than it deserves. Unlike Karl Gregg’s story, however, this one is well-paced from start to finish and the resulting slime-covered pornography is quite entertaining. I don’t care about the characters and I don’t think I fully understand what is happening here, but everyone gets to have fun while claiming to hate everyone else, and that’s alright with me.
Peter Hansen’s Sleeping with Ghosts is my favorite story of the lot here. It’s a fantasy tale, with our hero Yordan being a priest from an order that kills people whose time have arrived, as ordained by She Who Turns The Page. He travels to a sleepy and isolated place to end the life of one Kardan Zavachi. It’s an usual assignment, as Kardan is younger than Yordan’s usual targets (usually people nearing old age), but he isn’t the kind of person that questions orders from above. He would soon wish that he had, though. This one is a gorgeous blend of eroticism, character introspection, and conflicted emotions, as our hero soon questions his faith and action as the story unravels. It’s perfectly paced and things get deep and emotional without being too pretentious. Just nice, I like it.
Finally, Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler present Blasphemer, Sinner, Saint, where our hero Tobias believes that he has shed off his “sins” of the past. He is now a godly person, and he plans to live the righteous life, finding a wife to settle down with and procreate and all that. However, David, the person he “sinned” with in his youth, comes back into his life. David is a male prostitute who is dying from a sexually transmitted disease. He needs help, but Tobias refuses to give any, as in his eyes, David deserves what he gets for living the sinful life. He soon changes his mind, however, and becomes conflicted over whether he should save David at the cost of his soul or turn his back against his old friend – for good. This story tries to present the hero’s emotional conflicts in a deeper manner than usual, but the length of the story doesn’t allow for much success. Tobias’s about face comes up too abruptly to be believable, and I never get this impression that his feelings for David are strong enough to result in a crisis of faith.
Bump in the Night, at the end of the day, is a mixed bag. Some authors just want to deliver straight-up ghoulish fetish sex marathons, others try to do something more here. Of all the stories here, only Peter Hansen’s story stands on its own merit without relying on gimmicky crutches such as tentacle rape. It’s worth a look if you’re in the mood for erotic horror – it’s not like stories of this nature grow on trees regularly these days – but expectations are best kept to a minimal level.