Fear Friday: Hellshift by Tom Olbert

Have you gathered yourself from the last blurb? Good, because there’s more where that came from!

Imagine a world where everyone must work in the worst conditions imaginable, where long shifts blend together with sci-fi technology and landscapes and the odd mutilated body or two. This probably isn’t a job that you’d like to punch in for, but unfortunately for Preston Chandler, there’s no escaping his Hellshift…

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Preston Chandler is a lonely, overworked corporate office drone on the worst assignment of his life. In the dark future world of Preston’s time, low-level clerks like himself must serve a 1-year shift on a corporate mining colony on a hellish alien planet whose indigenous population has been wiped out by nuclear genocide.
He isn’t safe even in his corporate offices, as dismembered human bodies begin turning up. Preston fears he is losing his mind. He desperately wants to return to Earth, but is trapped in an escalating nightmare. Computerized psych-evaluation technology probes his mind with dehumanizing invasiveness.
Preston finally completes his assignment and is looking forward to returning home to Earth at last. But will his Hellshift ever end ?
Excerpt 1
Something was moving in the shadows, in the sputtering light of the dark tunnel.  Something inhuman.
Preston Chandler’s flabby chest was tight, his breathing shallow.  He was afraid to move. It stirred just outside the darkened subway car, the guttural breathing and scraping claws of the thing outside inching their way up his spine.  Preston had dozed off on the subway on his way home from another exhausting double shift at the office.  At first, he’d thought it another bad dream.  The hair prickling on the back of his neck, he’d dug his fingernails deep into his forearm, the pain infuriatingly real.  His eyes swept the darkened car.  Only intermittent power remained in the tube station outside.  “Hello?” he called out in a strangled throat, hoping desperately he wasn’t alone.  His eyes froze, his jaw dropping in a silent scream. In the brief illumination of an electrical flash, he saw disemboweled human cadavers.  Their flesh was shredded like cheesecloth, their, disembodied organs strewn across the inside of the car like butcher’s scraps.  The walls and seats were splattered with gore.
The thing outside shrieked and howled, throwing its lengthy bulk against the side of the train.
Wait! Don’t scroll away so fast…after all, there’s more to lure you into this title in another excerpt…
Excerpt 2
Straightening his tie, he winced at the sight of his drawn face and sunken, dark-circled eyes in the mirror.  He froze, his knees turning to putty at the sight of the tall, misshapen dark figure standing behind him.
He spun, a scream catching in his throat.  Nothing.  Nothing but shadows.  He was alone.  The tension drained out of his body as he sighed and buried his head in his hands.  He’d been working too hard.  His brain was tired, that was all.  Get ahold of yourself, he thought, beginning to feel a bit queasy.  Wiping perspiration from his brow, he went to a stall, fearing he might be sick.  He felt his shoe stick to something on the floor.  He glanced down in the poor light, seeing some dark spill. Wincing in disgust and irritation, he opened the stall door, intent on complaining to the facilities manager later.
His stomach clenched at the sight of Bob Campbell, one of the other clerks, sitting there on the toilet, butchered…gutted like an animal, his internal organs hanging out in a mass of blood and gore.  His eyes were still open, his face frozen in a waxy grimace of mortal terror.
Tom Olbert lives in Cambridge, MA, home of Harvard and MIT, of wacky street performers and strange sights.  Tom comes from a fine and most interesting family.  His science fiction and horror fiction has appeared in Mocha Memoirs Press and other publications.  His work can be found at Amzaon.com and elsewhere on line.

*post originally published at the Mocha Memoirs Press blog

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