One by one it took them... and death was only the beginning!Slimer
— Cover Blurb
is a 1983 science-fiction/horror novel by "Harry Adam Knight," a.k.a. Australian author John Brosnan, writing under a pseudonym. Brosnan also wrote the novels Carnosaur
and The Fungus
under this name. The novel was co-written by English author Leroy Kettle, however Kettle went uncredited. The novel was adapted in a 1995 film called Proteus
by Brosnan himself.
Paul Latham, his girlfriend Linda Warner and their four friends Alex, Rochelle, Mark and Chris had been on a drug run from Morocco when their yacht sank. They had to abandon ship so quickly they lost all of their drugs (except for Alex's personal stash of heroin). By a seeming stroke of luck, they stumble across a seemingly abandoned oil rig. Going aboard, they discover the rig is actually a cover for a top secret lab run by a company called Brinkstone.
Some exploring reveals discarded, unfired guns and scattered, empty clothes. That night, a mysterious, unseen creature attacks them. Although Paul empties an M16 into it, this doesn't seem to harm it. They come across a scientist named Dr. Shelley who says the creature is nicknamed "Charlie" and won't harm them again. Although he promises he'll explain more later, he is missing the next day. Later a security officer confronts the group, offering to help, but before their startled eyes turns into
"Charlie," a monstrous creature which wounds Rochelle.
Paul and the others eventually discover that "Charlie" is actually a great white shark given shapeshifting abilities by an experimental compound called "Phoenix." It absorbs the minds and bodies of its victims, and can take their shape, and they're next. To make matters worse, the increasingly hostile Alex begins antagonizing everyone at every turn, questioning Paul's leadership and threatening to be as dangerous to the group as the monster itself.
Has nothing to do with the green ghost of the same name from Ghostbusters
Tropes used in this novel:
- Accidental Murder: Paul shoots one of the helicopter pilots at the end, mistaking him for one of Charlie's forms.
- Action Survivor: Paul and Linda.
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Alex.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: The reason for why Rochelle is with Alex.
- Anatomically Impossible Sex: Of the "plain impossible" variety. See Cruel and Unusual Death below.
- And I Must Scream: The fate of Charlie's victims.
- And Then Buckley Was A Zombie: And then Rochelle. And Alex. And...
- Apocalyptic Log: Dr. Shelley's video tapes.
- Apocalypse How - Planetary Class 3: What would occur should Charlie survive Going Cold Turkey (see Weaksauce Weakness below) it could go on to reproduce itself and absorb everything and everyone on Earth and supplant the human race entirely.
- Asshole Victim: Alex. And Mark after his Despair Event Horizon causes him to turn into a real Jerk Ass.
- Artistic License – Biology
- Bio Punk
- Chekhov's Skill: Paul has some passing knowledge of how to fly a helicopter. This saves him and Linda when the pilot of their getaway chopper turns out to be Charlie in disguise and he has to fly the craft himself. In a nod to realism, though, he isn't terribly good at it and almost kills them trying to land.
- Closed Circle: Except for the beginning where the castaways are in the life raft, and the ending where they're in the helicopter, all the action takes place on the oil rig.
- Combat Tentacles: Charlie can unleash these if he wants to.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Poor Chris. How many people can say in the afterlife they died getting raped to death with a giant wang of doom?
- Daylight Horror: Most of the action takes place in the lab's very brightly lit white rooms and corridors.
- Despair Event Horizon Mark suffers one when Chris is taken by the creature.
- Developing Doomed Characters
- Drugs Are Bad: Except when they save the day!
- Dying as Yourself
- Dwindling Party: Although it takes a while for Charlie to start whittling the group down.
- Eagle Land: Alex Rinaldo is the lone American in the group (a Mexican-American to be precise, not that this seems to make much difference) and at one point touts the US as "the greatest country in the world." The American helicopter pilot at the end also brags that "we have the death penalty where I come from!"
- Empty Piles of Clothing: All that is left after Charlie absorbs its victims. Interestingly, Charlie has the ability to morph clothing, as when the absorbed people's minds surface and alter Charlie's form to "themselves," they don't appear naked, but instead are wearing clothing that is attached to their bodies and can't be removed.
- Everything Is Big in Texas: Mr. Brinkstone is from Texas. "Being from Texas," comments Dr. Soames, "he doesn't think small."
- Evil Is Visceral
- Extra Eyes: When in the form of the second helicopter pilot Charlie grows an extra eyeball in the back of his head to watch Paul and Linda in the back seat. Creepy.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: After Charlie evolves from absorbing individual people into itself and moves on to "converting" humans into more of its new mutant shark species, it uses a penis-like barbed claw dripping a fluid to "impregnate" the helicopter pilot and later tries to do this to Paul aboard the copter when impersonating the pilot. It even refers to this as "giving its seed" to people.
- Alex is essentially French-kissed to death by Charlie in the form of Rochelle, who forces "her" tongue down his throat to take him over.
- Functional Addict: Mark.
- The Ghost: Lloyd Brinkstone, the owner of the Brinkstone company, who is mentioned several times in Shelley's video tapes but never actually appears. He does however appear in Proteus.
- Going Cold Turkey
- Gone Horribly Right: The Phoenix experiment, according to Shelley. They worked hard to design something that could survive almost anything and boy howdy, they sure succeeded!
- Hellish Copter
- A House Divided: Much like in The Thing, there's a great deal of paranoia among the characters about who the monster is.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight
- Impostor Exposing Test: Sort of. Paul's idea of one is to point a loaded gun at the person in question and threaten to shoot them if they can't prove they're not the creature.
- Fridge Logic: This threat makes little sense, however, because by this time the group is already aware that bullets don't kill Charlie.
- Kill It with Fire: Tried against Charlie. It hurts it, but doesn't ultimately do any lasting damage. In Proteus the trope is played straight and this succeeds in killing it at the end.
- Lampshade Hanging: A lot of the dialog consists of the characters commenting about various tropes and cliches in horror movies.
- Lost at Sea
- Market-Based Title: It's titled Gen in Poland.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Chris. She is an animal rights activist, outspoken and liberal politically, insists she has psychic feelings, and is into "crystals," whatever that means.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Charlie is a mutated, shapeshifting, heroin-craving super-intelligent great white with tentacles.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil
- Stock Unsolved Mysteries: Someone brings up the Mary Celeste and compares it to the deserted rig.
- Terrified of Germs: Chris.
- Threatening Shark: Charlie used to be a regular great white shark. Now he's a shapeshifting monstrosity.
- Took a Level in Badass: Linda actually is the one who defeats Charlie at the end, and comes up with the idea to distract him enough for Paul to boot him out of the helicopter.
- Twenty Minutes with Jerks: Except for levelheaded Paul, everyone is either a thoroughly unpleasant person or never stops whining.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The entire Phoenix experiment was begun because Lloyd Brinkstone basically wanted to save humanity.
- Voluntary Shapeshifter: Charlie, to an extent. Although he has a physical form, he can turn himself into a liquid state to flow underneath doors and through air vents.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Sometimes the minds of the absorbed victims can override the main consciousness and forcibly turn Charlie's body into theirs. It's only temporary, though, and after regaining control, Charlie retaliates with some Involuntary Shapeshifting of his own, forcibly turning the body back into his own.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The seemingly invincible Charlie's weakness turns out to be drugs, which is discovered when it absorbs heroin junkie Mark, who had just shot up. The mutant is essentially defeated by being turned into a heroin addict!