YOU’VE TAKEN PAYMENT FOR A DEATH THAT DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU.
WHAT WERE THREE ARE NOW ONE, AND I AM FURY…
Herman and Janet Erikson are going through a crisis of grief and suffering after losing their daughter in a hit and run. They’ve given up on each other, they’ve given up on themselves. They are living day by day. One afternoon, to make a horrible situation worse, their dog goes missing in the coyote-infested badlands behind their property. Herman, resolved in preventing another tragedy, goes to find the dog, completely unaware he’s on a hike to the River Styx, which according to Greek myth was the border between the Living World and the world of the Dead.
Long ago the gods died and the River dried up, but a bottle containing its waters still remains in the badlands. What Herman discovers about the dark power contained in those waters will change his life forever…
The terrible price of working miracles is one of my favourite horror themes and one that Benjamin Kane Ethridge explores to gruesome effect. Bottled Abyss mixes Barker-esque blood baths with ancient mythology to create a story that sprints along checking off genres as it goes. What begins as an eerie exploration of a traumatised relationship, twists into a dark thriller and then finally contorts itself into grand fantasy.
This mix of the mythic and mundane is at its most effective in the first section of the story, where the characters are struggling to comprehend their situation. As the narrative progresses we see continual perspective shifts that allow a wider comprehension of the story, but also detract from our emotional attachment.
In the final genre shift we explore the themes and mythology of the piece in greater depth, thus gaining a greater understanding of the concept Ethridge intended. This was the most gripping and stimulating section, but somewhere along the way I felt the characters had been left behind. So much dehumanisation had taken place, there wasn’t much left to root for.
Bottled Abyss drags by the balls whilst dangling lights before the eyes. At its heart this is a gory horror, but the fantastical twist helps the tale slide down easy.