I Will Rot Without You, the latest piece of Bizarro fiction by Danger Slater, follows hapless lovelorn narrator Ernie who is beset by an army of cockroaches who seem to have it in for him. The reanimated corpse of one particular roach he names ‘Cross’ bullies him into eating a piece of the strange mould that is growing in Ernie’s bathroom. The mould makes him sick and his skin turns a strange green before body parts start to fall off. As Ernie deals with this disintegration there are various odd encounters with his antagonistic landlord, a neighbour who keeps the long-dead corpse of his wife in his apartment, and another neighbour – Dee – who has boyfriend trouble.
Slater throws a whole host of body horror scenarios at the reader so that the pages are dripping with body fluids, mould and torn muscle, rattling with shattered bone, and scuttling with determined psychopathic cockroaches. One of my favourite lines is “she slurps up my tongue pus like it were melted milkshake,” which is followed by a ridiculous and amusingly gruesome sex scene which would have worked better if the word ‘pump’ had been excised instead of (or as well as) a particular appendage.
As much as I was enjoying this bizarre and gruesome read, there were a few typos and missed words that pulled me out of the narrative. The use of ‘go’ and ‘goes’ instead of ‘say/s’ also distracted me – it could have been demonstrating character, but it was used so erratically that it jarred. The constant use of similes were starting to drive me a bit mad too (I now twitch when I read/hear the word ‘like’) – that is, until the author/protagonist comes to the rescue just in time and takes the piss out of his simile love: “…and those are her lips that sit like red velvet cake, and her freckles like constellations scattered across her cheeks, and her ears like…um…ear-shaped…ears?…” which made me chuckle and forgive such simile vomiting (I even started to wonder if it was a symptom of mould digestion – body and language horror?).
While I Will Rot is funny and absurd, there are serious underlying themes around body anxieties, relationships, obsession, and whether you can ‘own’ another person. I Will Rot is one big metaphor about how relationships can become mutually destructive, and how it can be difficult to move on – in this case it literally eats away at Ernie, and Dee’s boyfriend is so obsessive and controlling that he tries to own her by sewing parts of his body onto her. However, as Ernie’s ex, Gretchen, says: “you can’t force yourself into another person.”
I Will Rot Without You is a fun, over-the-top, body horror delight with some laugh out loud moments and I look forward to reading more perverse morsels from Danger Slater’s twisted mind.
I Will Rot Without You is released on 8th February 2016.