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Literature / The Festering

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Starring Randall "Tex" Cobb (with a scorching case of acne)!
The Festering is a horror novel written by horror maestro Guy N. Smith (best known for writing the Crabs series). In the town of Garth in The Dung Ages, woodsman Tabor is stricken with a horrible disfiguring skin disease after going missing for several days. At the urging of The Witch Hunter, the people of Garth execute Tabor and bury him. Problem solved, right? Wrong.
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Flash-forward to modern times (well, modern for when The Festering was written, anyway). Artist Mike Mannion and his wife Holly move to Garth so Mike can work in peace away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The cottage is the definition of "fixer upper," lacking among other things running water. The Mannions hire local handyman Frank Bennion and his men to dig a well in they backyard. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it seems that the disease which afflicted Tabor the woodsman all those centuries ago is still very much alive...

With its copious amounts of rape and Body Horror, it's wise to have Brain Bleach handy if and when one decides to read it.


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Tropes used in this novel:

  • Alliterative Name: Mike Mannion.
  • Angry Mob: Anger, distrust and leaping to conclusions is standard operating procedure for the people living in Garth.
  • Body Horror: The Festering is definitely one of the most grotesque and gruesome Body Horror novels ever written; the afflicted essentially transform into vaguely humanoid lumps of bubbling boils and cysts and, well, just look at the cover!
  • The City vs. the Country: The Mannions moved to Garth from the big city hoping for a quieter life. It doesn't end well for them... or anyone else in Garth, really. The novel comes down squarely on the side of "the country sucks."
  • The Corruption: How The Plague afflicts its victims.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jim Fitzpatrick, one of Frank Bennion's men. He slashes his own wrists after catching the Festering and murdering his entire family.
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  • The Dung Ages: The prologue doesn't paint a particularly pretty picture of medieval England.
  • Evil Is Visceral: And slimy. And gooey. And covered in pulsating, leaking boils. Yuck.
  • The Hero Dies: Both Mike and Holly get the Festering and die. Mike is locked up by Williamson after raping and murdering Susan Willis in his infected state, before dying himself, while the infected Holly is burned up by Williamson.
  • Hope Spot: Frank Bennion's employee Bill Cole narrowly avoids becoming infected and manages to escape the afflicted well the crew has dug, while all of his work buddies aren't as lucky. He then drives right into a head-on collision with a cement truck.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Frank Bennion dies of one of these after catching the Festering.
  • Kill It with Fire: This is the only way to completely destroy the disease and kill the infected.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Holly. Despite wanting to "get back to nature" in the country, she has no idea how to, and is helpless without the kinds of creature comforts she'd come to expect from life in the city.
  • Nature Lover: Holly. She was the one who pushed for the move to Garth.
  • Offing the Offspring: The infected Jim murders his entire family, including his own kids.
  • Out with a Bang: Frank Bennion's employee Tommy Eaton dies from the Festering while raping his girlfriend Penny. She, for her part, suffocates from being forcibly kissed because her boyfriend's infected lips are too big and swollen.
  • Police are Useless: Garth's Detective Sergeant Lewis isn't terribly good at his job and doesn't affect the plot in any meaningful way.
  • Patient Zero: Tabor. Where he got the disease is never explained. His girlfriend's father believes he got it from sleeping around in London, but this is never confirmed.
  • The Plague: The titular Festering, which spreads through physical contact and the exchange of bodily fluids. In addition to disfiguring its victims by turning their bodies into masses of revolting boils, it also drives them insane and makes them uncontrollably horny; consequently, the main way the Festering spreads is when the infected people have sex.
  • Rape as Drama: Tommy Eaten rapes his girlfriend as revenge for (he thinks) cheating on him and giving him the festering (see below). It's quite a tastelessly disgusting scene (but not without its share of Narm). Mike himself later contracts the Festering, goes insane and rapes Dr. Williamson's receptionist.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: It's bad enough that the sickness disfigures its victims and drives them insane, but on top of that, on account of their uncontrollable sexual arousal, they've driven to infect others of the opposite sex. Although sometimes this is consensual, it is, sadly, typically accomplished by rape. These scenes are quite disgusting and unpleasant.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The buried (and somehow still juicy) corpse of Tabor, which is dug up by the contractors, spreading the Festering anew.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: A couple of examples:
    • The Witchfinder in the prologue. It's because of him Tabor's infected corpse is buried without properly eradicating the disease, setting up the events of the main story.
    • Elderly shepherd Josh Owen, one of Dr. Williamson's patients. He's only in one scene, but it's through him that Williamson learns about the story of Tabor, giving him some clue as to the nature of the Festering and how to combat it.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The people of Garth hanged and buried an innocent plague victim years ago.
  • The Witch Hunter: One of these guys is responsible for having the infected Tabor executed and buried instead of treated in the prologue, but, eh, what do you want? It was The Dung Ages.
  • Your Cheating Heart: All over the place, some real, some imagined:
    • In the prologue, Tabor's girlfriend's father believes his daughter's lover is off cheating on her in London, and that that's where he got the disease. He's wrong, of course (as far as we know).
    • In the main story, Tommy Eaton believes his girlfriend Penny cheated on him, caught the Festering, and gave it to him when they slept together. This is mostly borne of the fact the disease is affecting his mind, though.
    • Mike himself cheats on Holly and sleeps with a prostitute while he's on a business trip.
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