Even though I enjoyed my first encounter with Lyka Bloom, I think that enjoyment was tempered by the fact that Infection was an incomplete tale, with more needing to be told.
Rubberwerks certainly has something of an open ending that could lend itself to a sequel, but it's a self-contained tale, and any lingering threads of doubt as to whether the evil has been contained are simply a convention of the genre. Darkly imaginative and erotically sinister, it's a horror tale that owes as much to the old adventure serials as to the slasher flicks of the 80s and 90s.
It all starts with a group of young hikers who discover a mysterious building buried deep in the Amazon jungle. Cold, forbidding, and abandoned, it's incongruity amid the jungle foliage is something they cannot resist. Once inside, they quickly discern its ugly origins as a long-forgotten home to secret Nazi experiments. Despite her own advice to the group about always staying together, Christine wanders off into into the heart of the complex, where she encounters the rubbery black goo that is destined to destroy them.
Bloom quickly builds a fantastic setting here, with Christine's exploration contrasted by Clay's perusal of the Nazi files -which contain just enough identifiable words and chillingly erotic black-and-white photos to convince him that they need to get out - and fast. Unfortunately, by that point Christine has already slipped and fallen, accidentally trailing her fingers through the black goo, which quickly proceeds to seal her in its black, skin-tight, latex embrace. Her transformation is as chilling as it is erotic, particularly with the way in which Bloom describes her frantic efforts to wipe away the burning, tingling, corrosive goo, only to have it spread even faster, consuming her mind even as it drives her body to new heights of ecstasy.
It will come as no surprise to fans of the genre that the group is quickly overrun by the goo, leaving the survivors to flee towards the nearest village in a desperate attempt to save their friends and stop the spread. There, the story only gets more chilling as they discover the true origins of the goo, with the Nazis having resorted to desperate experiments on their own people to turn the tide of the war. It's a smart, imaginative source of horror, that Bloom pairs nicely with its erotic, sensual spread.
Forget mindless, shuffling zombies - the hive mentality of Bloom's faceless, featureless latex dolls makes Rubberwerks a fetishly fantastic read.
Kindle Edition, 60 pages
Published January 17th 2014 by Lyka Bloom