During a hot summer of protests, a young cop participates, somewhat reluctantly, in an unauthorized experiment with an old psychoactive substance that some of his fellow cops intend to use on the protesters. The results are not what they intended.
I found this story in the collection “Antifa Splatterpunk,” so I went into it knowing pretty much what I was in for; and the story certainly delivered on its promise/threat. There is a good deal of gore, some over-the-top police brutality, and an undercurrent of solidly anarchist disdain for authority. It’s largely setting things up for a punchline that is telegraphed very early on, and it’s just a matter of working its way toward the inevitable climax. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though; anyone who would read a collection called “Antifa Splatterpunk” has expectations, and this story meets them.
This is not to say that this isn’t an artful story, because it is. It frames its sections in “X walks into a bar” jokes (the setting is the back room of a cop bar), and it has some nice hard-boiled turns of phrase (I especially liked the description of one character’s tacti-cool pants as having “more pockets than Grady’s lopsided pool tables”). It plays around a little with gender and sexuality expectations – the young cop protagonist is gay, and his brother-in-law is surprisingly supportive of that; the young punk who’s the subject of the brutality has “they/them” pronouns, but that’s the extent of the cops’ supportiveness. And when all hell breaks loose, the violence is presented in “Green Room”-level poetry.
Not a story for everyone, but if you’re the sort of deviant who would be drawn to “Antifa Splatterpunk” then this is a solid read.
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