OK, so here’s the fifth and final extract from Smokeheads. If you like it, why not buy the book here?
This is a fairly extreme passage involving a mashed skull and a bullet. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of an appropriate image to go with this, and you don’t even want to know about the google image search. So I went for a couple of scenic Islay pics.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading the bits and bobs from the book, and thanks for stopping by.
Smokeheads, extract #5
He took a deep breath and began tentatively poking into the gaping wound in Luke’s head with the pen, his trembling hands making it impossible to control it with any precision. There was a deep fluttering in his stomach, teetering on the brink of vomiting at any minute.
At least a quarter of Luke’s head was smashed in where Joe had hacked away at it, one side of the face a hash of minced flesh and broken bone, the eye just a sticky mess of creamy mucus. The surrounding hair was matted and thick with blood, the ear completely missing, or in there but unrecognisable, the whole thing a shiny red and black hellhole of flesh.
Molly pointed the torch at the wound but looked away. Adam heard a faint squelching sound as he pushed some purple material aside, a chunk of something fleshy falling out. His stomach lurched and he coughed stinging bile onto the snow to his side. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and looked back at the wound.
Molly’s torch beam had moved, so he positioned her hand again. He stuck the pen in again, unsure what the hell he was even looking for, why the fuck he was doing this. He lifted a flap of something out of the way and saw sickly grey jelly oozing out from underneath. The brain. Everything that made Luke who he was, or had been, was in that gruesome lump of soft putty. He caught a faint whiff of a smell, like something rotting in the back of the fridge, and he gagged, retching again into the snow as he turned from the mess of Luke’s head.
‘Want me to do it?’ said Molly.
He shook his head and turned back. He forced himself to poke about in the gaping maw, moving loose bits aside, flicking under and into crevices, trying to work out where a bullet might be, if it was in there at all. But it had to still be in there, didn’t it? That’s what had puzzled Joe back at the still, there was no exit wound. Adam knew from Luke’s scar that the metal plate was somewhere round the back of his head, did that mean the bullet was in the same area? Or could it have ricocheted back inside his skull?
Adam was getting frustrated, digging deeper and deeper into the flesh and muscle and skull and brains and finding nothing. He could feel sweat cooling and freezing on his brow. His stomach had gotten used to what he was doing, but his mind hadn’t. He would see this image every night while he slept for the rest of his life. Luke’s open head would haunt him into eternity.
He couldn’t find anything. Maybe the bullet had made it out after all. Or maybe it was buried deep in the middle of the brain, or stuck in the skull somewhere, or lodged in the metal plate at the other side. He pushed the pen in almost as far as it would go, then felt a gentle clunk as it tapped the metal plate. He pulled it out and examined it, several inches of slime and blood down its length. He was fucked if he was going to dig that deep into Luke’s consciousness. But maybe he would have to. He started again in the debris he could see, gradually sweeping through the layers of fleshy mess. He saw something glimmer amongst the carnage, something metallic.
‘Hold the torch closer,’ he said, moving Molly’s wrist again. ‘I’ve found something.’
Molly glanced at the wound then looked away. ‘The bullet?’
‘I think so.’
He stuck the pen in. To reach it, he had to rest his hands against the cold, bloody flesh of the wound, holding the pen in both hands to try to keep it steady. A shudder went through his body as he touched Luke’s raw flesh. He flicked at the object with the pen but it didn’t budge. He leaned in further and tried again, but it still wouldn’t move. He tried a third time and the thing slipped further into the surrounding grey matter, so that only the very end was visible.
‘It’s fucking slippery.’ He turned to Molly. ‘I’m going to have to get it with my fingers.’
Molly closed her eyes and Adam turned back. He took a deep breath. Serenity now.
‘Wish me luck.’
Grimacing, he reached in and began scraping flesh and brain out of the way. It felt like raw mince, but he kept going. He reached for the object lodged in the brain but it slipped from his shaking hands, burying itself deeper into the mess. He grabbed a handful of brain and ripped it out of the way, wiping his hand on the adjacent eye socket. The object was exposed. He reached back in and dug it out, getting brain under his fingernails, his stomach now spasm after spasm, his eyes watering, his forehead sweating, his whole body shivering with the cold and the stress and the repulsive truth of what he was doing.
He lifted it out and held it up.
‘Thank fuck,’ he said, showing the bullet to Molly.