There's an epidemic happening in "Mono" by Ben Peek; white people are going insane. They've become infected during an event that survivors call The Five Days, when the world burned with white light. They haven't become zombies, per se, but rather inhuman creatures mad with rage who tear through walls and each other. Chilam Singer is a survivor holed up at the Wallens Ridge Prison. From atop its wall, she and others keep watch, knowing it's only a matter of time until the epidemic victims storm the building.
"Mono" mirrors the horror of the Holocaust and the eerie solitude at the beginning of 28 Days Later. Told through a sectional collage: diary entries, conversations from the top of the prison wall, inventory statements, etc., Chilam is a character that readers can cling to, a woman who has lost much to be where she is now, knowing that there's no hope of long-term survival. A snippet of dialogue between her and a friend hints at Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and Peek's vision of a ghastly future is as powerful, and possibly more grim.
Six bucks at Clarkesworld, or free in the con bag at World Fantasy
You know, I really expected people to have a few problems with this piece, but what do I know? Maybe I'll get some angry emails about it after World Fantasy. Or I can get Sean Wallace (oldcharliebrown) to send copies to the inmates at Wallens Ridge, and have them write me back. Author seeks correspondence and shivs. Though I probably won't get many angry white people in prison.
Anyhow, I know how much you all love reading my reviews, so I've also added the Soundtrack Meme beneath this cut.
(No music. Or fade in to the next track. I mean, really, obviously we're fading into the wake up.)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Shoot Me Down
(Waking up in a small, cramped bedroom, alone. Obviously alone. Again, alone. I guess I'd be unshaven. You think this is going to be a happy film?)
First Day at School
Bettye Lavette - Only Time Will Tell Me
(Why is school even in my fucking film? I mean, obviously I went to school, but, like, who gives a fuck? You know, maybe this is one of those School Shooting films. Obviously I'm arriving at school with a gun. It's a secret. Shh.
Falling in Love
Tex, Don & Charlie - Dead Dog Boogie
(Gun. In. A. Bag.
Remember that when the girl ditches me. There are no words in this song, incidentally.)
Marilyn Manson & Sneaker Pimps - Long Hard Road Out Of Hell
(Obviously, I don't pull out the gun. I get beaten by someone. Obviously. There has to be a character arc, people. So in the fight song, I get the shit beaten out of me. In a toilet. By some jocks. Because that's the American School Narrative.
Mogwai - May Nothing But Happiness...
(I guess this would be the part where I finally decide it's time to kill everyone at school. Lying in bloody, puke and shit smelling toilet of the school. Fuck, but this film has everything! Someone get me a Hollywood agent!
Snog - Justified Homicide
(Yeah, I searched for this song. Fuck you. Gotta have the right music. It's time to kill everyone. At the prom. In their suits. In their pretty dresses. Me with my bandaids.
Life is Good
Alexisonfire - This Could Be Anywhere In The World
(Something to notch up the speed of this soundtrack. The height of violence! The blood! The streamers! the dead schoolmates! The principle having the back of his head punched out! The scene is threaded with images of American politicians talking about the downfall of youth and how Jesus and God can help!)
The Dandy Warhols - Rock Bottom
(The inevitable come down. There are some survivors. Some tortured little killer moments.)
Wolfmother - Tales From The Forest Of Gnomes
(The cops are coming. In their wagons. With their shotguns. With their helicopters. A kind of montage. You know the kind I'm talking about it.)
Grinspoon - Replacements
(This is such a guitar driven soundtrack. Ah well. Here we have the washed out, stained flashback that shows what a neglected, abused childhood I have. A moment to show I didn't matter. When I didn't get picked for the softball team. When I failed the math test. Pick one.)
Getting Back Together
Superette - Ugly Things
(Cut back to present time and I am sitting next to the dead girl who rejected me earlier. As you can see, we are quite happy now. Well, I don't imagine this is a happy picture. Dead girl, quiet boy, one handgun.)
Iggy Pop - Power And Freedom
(This is when the cops arrive. Marriage. The scene is joined. The spotlights come down. The TV crews appear. My face is on your TV. I'm the kid no one understood. I wore too much black. The NRA disowns me. My parents hate me. I killed everyone at the prom because I hate their success. You know the routine.
This is turning cynical, isn't it?)
Paying the Dues
Skunk Anansie - Picking On Me
(Now is the moment to cut to those who are still alive. My victims. The others. Sitting, huddled, bloodied, sad. In a line. Being scarred for life. Innit cherishable?)
The Night Before the War
Tom Waits - The Earth Died Screaming
(The cops are getting ready. FBI arrive. Tanks follow. TV boys and girls have their makeup reapplied. People talk about me as the villain. The President says morals are lacking. Bombs are dropped. Muslims tortured. Your Government lies to you, again. But the eye of the world is here. On me.)
The Cruel Sea - Save Me
(Cops are coming through the doors. Smoke. Gas masks emerging. One kid with a gun. People start screaming. When Tex Perkins says, 'Save me from myself,' the remaining students start getting killed. No redemption here. No weakness. Follow it through to the end!)
Moment of Triumph
Black Mountain - Set Us Free
(The cops burst in. The song says, 'killer, killer,' and here we are, in a room full of violence, with gas and machine guns and one lone student. About to die. This is such a dark little film. Are you sure I can't get backing for it?)
Beasts Of Bourbon - Black Milk
(Superior numbers win the day. Also, I used up all my bullets killin' students.)
Linda Perry - Knock Me Out
(The funeral is for all the kids who died at the prom. At the the end, the song cuts to my body, being burnt up, and with no one watching.)
The Jesus & Mary Chain - Never Saw It Coming
(And we end on the Jesus and Mary Chain, singing, 'You won't see it coming.' It brings our dark little film to an end, but before we finish, we cut to some American politician talking about the decline of youth, yet again. In the background, people protest the war. Or some shit like that. Who knows. Who cares. This is my film.
It's over now.