Title: Nightlife: Hazardous Material
Author: Matthew Quinn Martin
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication date: May 11th 2015
Page Count: 80 pages
Age Rating: Adult (language, violence, disturbing imagery)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: Nightlife: Hazardous Material
The story of monster hunter Jack and his partner Beth continues in Nightlife: As the Worm Turns…but first, take a short stroll down one of Nightlife’s darkest streets in this horror e-novella praised as “thrilling, edgy, and scary as hell” (Jason Starr, internationally bestselling author of The Pack).
Twenty-seven-year-old Jarrod Foster has hit a dead end. He spends his days disposing of hazardous waste and his nights wondering where it all went wrong. While gutting an abandoned roller rink, Jarrod discovers a bricked up video arcade still stocked with vintage games…which, three decades ago, was the site of the largest mass shooting in New York history.
Jarrod’s boss lets him keep one of the arcade games—an oddity called Polybius that no one seems to have ever heard of. Jarrod hopes to sell it and start a new life, but one grim night, he drops a quarter into the game…and the game drops Jarrod right into a nightmare.
As his life spirals into darkness, and his actions begin to mirror those of the long-dead spree killer, only one question remains…is Jarrod playing a game, or is the game playing him?
If you’ve never heard the real life urban legend of the Polybius arcade games, I highly recommend Googling it before reading this novella – I really think it will increase your enjoyment of the story. According to the legend, which may or may not have some basis in reality, in the early 80’s a handful of Polybius game cabinets were placed in a select few arcades in Portland, Oregon. Apparently, the game was highly addictive, to the point of long lines forming and fights breaking out over who got to play next game, and reports were made of players exhibiting symptoms such as blackouts, amnesia, and night terrors. Periodically “men in black” came and extracted some kind of unknown data from the machines, and then, suddenly, one day all the Polybius game cabinets disappeared without a trace.
It is one of these game cabinets that Jarrod Foster stumbles upon in Nightlife: Hazardous Material.
I loved how cleverly the author took the Polybius urban legend and folded it into his Nightlife universe. And the writing is fantastic – it’s the kind of writing that melts away as the story, short as it is, takes on a life of its own. In just a few short pages, the reader gets to know and really empathize with down-on-his-luck Jarrod Foster and the tension and suspense is perfectly gripping as his luck gets a whole heck of a lot worse and his world, and sanity, slowly slips out of his control. Did I mention the great twist ending? Or the scattered chapters that briefly detoured from the story timeline to mimic news reports and interviews with those close to Jarrod, adding dashes of dread about what was to come? Brilliant.
I’ve never read this author before, nor have I had a chance to read the first book in the Nightlife series, but the little taste I got with this novella has me excited to read more.
Jarrod Foster is just your average Joe with an unfortunate job disposing of hazardous waste – of course little does he realize just how “hazardous” some of that waste is. I liked Jarrod, I really felt for him, and I think he’d be the kind of guy who would drink just some plain, no-frill, good coffee, so I’m recommending Joe Coffee Wake Up Joe – a nice, full-bodied medium roast coffee that fits the bill when you just want a simple, smooth cup of mornin’ Joe.