The Last Days of the Worm, a collaborative prose chapbook by Ben John Smith, Ryan Quinn Flanagan and Rich Wink is a dystopian noir where each of the four main players are as lacking in moral fibre as they are steeped in vice and cynicism. In the not-too-distant future, shortly after Richard Branson purchased the moon and died, in the wake of the Middle Eastern oil drought and broken by the final financial crash, humankind accept their fate; sickness, addiction and an untimely death.
This non-linear short story of a self-imploding society begins, ends and centres around Miss Sharlot “kilowatts” Watson. A pro by trade, she is equally accustomed to absurd fetish and wilful violence, a lonely figure who epitomizes toxicity yet is no stranger to an altogether feminine tenderness, of which she can switch on and off according to circumstance.
Gartner, Mitch and Penny Pincher are all intrinsically involved in Kilowatts’ unfortunate tale, and murder is on all of their minds. Gartner and Mitch are fairly typical in their efforts toward satisfaction and control. Penny Pincher, however, is in a league of his own; brutalized by an unnecessarily cruel past, trapped in the clutches of an indelible lust for the death of innocence and utterly hooked on a complex ritual of baleful hatred, this beast is a new breed of monster for a new age of narcissism. Such is Penny Pincher’s hunger for death, it even overshadows the helminthophobic nightmare that is Wormboy; a worm-like underground creature who feeds on human carrion.
In The Last Days of the Worm, death is a vice amongst varying levels of squalor and savagery. Whether one’s tastes stem from the traditions of pills, booze, cigarettes and sex, or if reliant on a unique set of particulars for thrill and release, sooner or later everyone ends up in The Milk House; a bar and brothel where cocks fight with razor blades tied to their feet and the dancers squeeze a handful of tit and sputter their patrons with warm breast milk.