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Literature / Slime (1988)

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When Double Dare goes horribly wrong.

Slime is an eco-horror novel written by William Essex ("Author of The Pack," trumpets the cover). Toxic dumpings of rejected PCB near the small town of Helby, Iowa result in the creation of a living lake of ravenous toxic waste that consumes everything in its path, beginning with animals in the forest and then moving on to livestock and people. Only bank loan officer Tim Walker, together with the local cops, can stop the oozing green menace.

Not to be confused with the short story of the same name by Joseph Payne Brennan.

Slime provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Carole Cluteler.
  • Antagonist Title: The living lake of flesh-eating slime provides the main menace of the story.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Everything about the slime (which is living PCB), from how it dissolves and absorbs people to how it's even alive. When looked at under a microscope, it is discovered that its individual cells have mouths with tiny sharp teeth!
  • Big-Breast Pride: Jodean Maiden has "the biggest breasts in town". Because she and her husband agree with the Buxom Beauty Standard, it's a source of pride for both of them.
  • Blob Monster: A lake of living toxic waste that eats animals and people. Although given the manner in which it tends to spread itself out into puddles, it's really more of a Muck Monster in some cases.
  • The Cassandra: Chief Simpson's efforts to tell the townsfolk about the slime are met with jeers and jokes about The Blob.
    • Cassandra Truth: Fortunately for Simpson's dignity, teenager Terry Ralston comes tearing up in his truck yelping about the slime eating Mr. Turncock's cows, and the citizens finally start listening.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Quite a few people die because they can't resist poking the stuff.
  • Dead Foot Leadfoot: A footless variation in which the vehicle keeps driving without the foot on the pedal; farmer Mike Roberts is absorbed while driving his tractor and trucker Danny Bradshaw while driving his truck, and both tractor and truck continue driving without their owners until they crash.
  • Despair Event Horizon: A sensitive man, Charlie Maiden is so horrified at seeing his beloved herd of cattle being absorbed by the slime that he actually falls to his knees and wails in horror and despair.
  • Domestic Abuse: Salesman Artie Cluteler is a real scumbag. He once forced his wife Carole to have sex with a friend of his while he watched.
  • Coitus Interruptus: The slime gobbles up Carole Cluteler and Rick Kelly while they're in the midst of having sex in the Cluteler house.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: After the slime absorbs its human victims, only their clothes are left behind. This leads to a hilarious moment early on when Jodean Maiden, whose husband Charlie was one of the first victims, finds his empty clothing and thinks he's gone insane, stripped naked and is currently running around the county in the nude.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The novel ends with the revelation that toxic dumping by the same company is still going on.
  • The Ghost: Greg Tusken, the farmer who was paid to allow the chemical company to dump their toxic waste on his land. He never actually appears.
  • Green Aesop: The whole problem started because the chemical corporation was illegally dumping leaky drums of toxic crud.
  • Harmful to Touch: The slime. Even getting the tiniest speck on you is deadly, because that little droplet will begin eating away at you, growing bigger and bigger, until you're completely consumed.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight, despite the fact the book cover features what appears to be a preteen boy Covered in Gunge.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Completely averted. County Sheriff Sawyer and local police Chief Simpson cooperate amiably.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The Upper Mississippi River Valley Chemical Corporation, and the men they hired to dump the vats of toxic waste on Tusken's land. Except for the epilogue, they're in and out of the story as soon as they've fulfilled their role of dumping the sludge.
    • Artie Cluteler also somehow manages to survive.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Truck driver Danny Bradshaw gets some of the slime on his hand (because he just had to poke the stuff), and it begins dissolving his arm. His effort to drive into town to get the arm amputated proves futile: he gets absorbed behind the wheel and his truck crashes.
  • Mauve Shirt: Officer Gilder, set up as a Red Shirt, is assigned by Simpson to keep an eye on some of the slime which has taken up residence in Rose Wheeler's garage. In defiance of reader's expectations, he not only doesn't get eaten, but manages to successfully do his job and guard the garage.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Like most such creatures, it isn't evil, it just wants to eat. A lot. This despite the fact that the cover blurb insists that it "enjoys the pain of its victims," suggesting a level of sadism that definitely isn't on display in the actual story.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. It's mentioned that Artie Cluteler forced his wife Carole to have sex with his friend Jack (no surname given) while he watched. Later, we're introduced to Brad Neyens' irritable neighbor Jack Waylon. One possibility is the two Jacks are the same, but Jack Waylon isn't mentioned as having any connection to the Clutelers.
  • Our Blob Monsters Are Different: The titular slime is a batch of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) that's gone bad and somehow come alive and transformed into a ravenous flesh-eating lake of green gunk.
  • Police Are Useless: Completely averted. The county and local cops are all very good at their jobs and do their best to protect the town from the title menace.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sawyer and Simpson are both very patient and levelheaded.
  • The Sheriff: County Sheriff Fritz Sawyer.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The slime is bright green in color and is described multiple times as "glistening" and "shimmering."
  • Tempting Fate: When the slime initially tries to eat Charlie Maiden after consuming his herd of cows, it releases him (because it dislikes the cloth of his pants). Relieved after his brush with death, Charlie mistakenly believes the slime doesn't eat humans, and pokes at it experimentally with his finger. Then it grabs and eats him. Oops.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Several characters.
    • As mentioned above, there's Charlie Maiden. But at least he has the excuse of being probably the first person to encounter the slime. So when it doesn't eat through the cloth of his pants, he can be forgiven for assuming it only eats animals and not humans. But that's still a pretty big leap to make.
    • Ben Oates takes the cake. He gets some of the stuff splattered on his pants legs after he tries shooting it to protect his pigs. Like Charlie Maiden before him, he is initially saved by the fact the slime refuses to eat through the cloth. He then attempts to wipe it off with his bare hands. This occurs at a point in the story when everyone knows direct contact with human flesh is invariably fatal. Suffice to say, he's slime kibble.
    • Prissy Benedict has her moments. To her, the slime is her "pretty green stuff." Numerous times throughout the novel, she almost touches it only to be prevented from doing so for some reason. In her defense, part of it is due to her mother Nadine refusing to tell her that the "green stuff" is dangerous and killed her dog Bullets, for fear of unnecessarily frightening the girl. The result however is that Prissy never sees the slime as a threat.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: The slime is polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) that went bad and got dumped... then somehow came alive and developed an appetite for flesh.