Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Intenze is the newest designer drug. Take it, and nightmares come alive. “Edging” is a better rush than the Tower of Terror. It’s a fraction of the price of a Six Flags admission. And it’s the most addictive high that the tiny suburb of New London has ever known.
For Rick Carlson, the junkies roaming the streets don’t even scratch the surface of what worries him. He’s trying to win back his cheating wife. He’s trying to protect his residents at Belmont Assistant Living from their own drug-addled grandchildren. And he’s trying to save his twin boy and girl from their mother’s murderous paranoia.
But he can’t save them all.
The fears of all those who edge summon the Thirst—a living miasma that thrives on terror. It is bringing a storm. And time is running out.
Steven loved scary movies, same as his girlfriend, Trish. Horror fiction not so much, she had confided to him, though she’d read all the bestsellers. No, she liked to see the faces full of terror, watch movement in the shadows of good cinematography, and hear the heartbeat thumps of a menacing score.
That’s why Steven thought she’d love to edge.
His upstairs neighbor had come knocking just as Steven was heading out to the gym. Kenny’s dark unlined face and retro Jheri curl placed his age anywhere from twenty to forty. In the past, they’d struck up a friendly rapport at the mailboxes out front. He invited Kenny in, feeling underdressed in his own apartment. Kenny was decked out in an olive-green suit with red shirt and red pocket square while Steven wore his blue track suit with his Brewers cap hiding his unkempt shaggy brown hair.READ MORE
Facing each other on the couch, Kenny stared at Steven with red-ringed brown eyes throbbing with intensity while the gentle cadences of his pitchman’s speech lulled Steven into a sort of trance.
“It’s a further distillation of lysergic acid diethylamide.” Kenny sounded like a marijuana aficionado waxing philosophical about strains of Kush.
“Yeah. Paired with a particular strain of psilocybin. The drug targets the fear center of the brain to induce mild panic, hallucinations, stressed heart rate—”
“It gives you a bad trip.”
Kenny shrugged. “What’s ‘bad’? People shell out millions of dollars a year at Six Flags. Every summer, some new Destination or Scream movie rakes in at the box office. All to scare people who can afford a hundred bucks to take the family out.” He held up a flat, tiny white disc on the tip of his finger. “This baby’s just twenty bucks for the same thing. It’s called edging.”
Steven took the little pill into his hand. It weighed nothing and looked so innocuous lying in his palm that he found it hard to argue with his neighbor’s rationale.
“It looks like aspirin.” He turned it over. The imprint on the other side read 1N10Z.
“Actually,” Kenny said, “it was. Now it’s the delivery mechanism. That there,” he pointed to the imprint, “is where this baby gets its name—Intenze.”
“Listen, Kenny, I don’t do drugs.”
Kenny shrugged again and reached to take the pill away. Steven pulled his hand back an inch.
“But you say it’s just, like, entertainment?”
Kenny smiled. “Its physical effects are like riding that big coaster at Disneyland. The hallucinations are like walking through a Halloween haunted house: spooky faces, shadows stalking around. But it’s different for everyone. Auditory sometimes—voices, you know?”
“That doesn’t sound fun.”
“This only lasts half a minute.”
Steven laughed. “And that sounds like a rip-off!”
“Brother,” Kenny lowered his voice, “you take this, it’s the most intense horror movie you’ve ever seen. Because you’re in it. It’s all around you, and you’re participating. It’s one freight train of a rush. But, c’mon, if that kind of high lasted too long, you’d blow your circuits.”
That made sense. And he did love the rides at Great America for much the same reason that he liked those movies Kenny had just named.
Same as Trish.
“How much did you say? Alls I got is ten.”
“No, no.” Kenny held up his hand like a crossing guard. “No charge on the first one. Neighbor’s special.” He flashed a big, toothy smile. “Twenty bucks if you want another.”
“What do I do?” Steven asked.
“I don’t know if I want you watching me. Can I hold onto it?”
“You really shouldn’t edge alone your first time.” Kenny thrummed his fingers on the arm of the couch. “But it’s your trip.”
Steven stood and walked Kenny to the door. “Thanks for coming over.” He tucked the pill in his pocket and clapped his neighbor on the back. After closing and locking the door, Steven returned to the couch. He fished the Intenze out of his pocket and set it on the coffee table.
Did it count as peer pressure if Kenny no longer sat there encouraging him? He thought about Trish. She’d been preoccupied lately. If this pill worked, he could get more and win back her interest. Mind made up, Steven popped the former aspirin into his mouth and swigged it down with Gatorade. He sat back and waited for his edge to start. He didn’t wait long.
His living room grew dim as if a spotlight receded.
Dimmer still until he sat swaddled in gloom.
His thoughts fractured and scattered.
What am I doing? What’s happening?
He blinked and tried to orient himself.
Shadow shapes roiled in the corners of his apartment. A clattering burst from the bookcases on either side of the archway to the bathroom and bedroom. Not too many books on them. He had signed baseballs from Ryan Braun, Paul Molitor, and Rollie Fingers, each in a clear plastic globe. They thumped to the carpet like toddler footsteps. He heard the casing over one of those souvenirs snap open.
Steven stood on wobbly legs.
Calm down. Kenny said this would happen.
As soon as the thought registered, it tore apart like cotton batting.
The air felt electric; all the soft hairs on his arms stood up.
He massaged his temples and concentrated on the doorways of the bedroom and bathroom. A tangible paranoia pressed its weight onto the back of his neck. A form leaped from the corner. Startled, Steven tripped backward. Trying not to shriek, he bit his lower lip hard enough to draw blood but recovered his balance before he could tip over onto the couch. He straightened his track jacket and shook his head to clear his thoughts. The image vanished, but he still heard its heavy, steady breath.
He stepped toward the bedroom, his knees practically knocking together. Shadows nipped with cold teeth at his ankles. He glanced over his shoulder. No one behind him. With his heart hammering, a single icy bead of sweat traced a slow line from his armpit to his waist. The chill at his back pushed him toward the unknown presence ahead.
He crossed the threshold into his bedroom. A thick black smoke wrapped around him. The air throbbed. A few feet away, jaundiced eyes gleamed in the dark, and a figure emerged from the gloom. Phantom arms reached for him.
Jason White wrote:
“Wild book . . . Fear is the purest emotion. In Edging, Michael Schutz shows you just how bad a trip it can be. Pain and pleasure, reality and perception—sometimes it’s the same side of the coin.”
—Richard Thomas, author of Breaker and Tribulations
Terry M. West wrote:
“Edging is a hallucinatory ride through a nightmarish landscape. If Jim Thompson and William S. Burroughs were to collaborate on a novel about dark psychedelic drugs, murder, and the supernatural, this would be the result. A fantastic and dark read that really does linger in the mind long after having read it.”
—Jason White, author of The Haunted Country
Kerry Alan Denney wrote:
“Edging is a wonderful accomplishment. It evokes the early shadow of King, but Schutz’s voice is unmistakably his own.”
—Terry M. West, author of The Night Things series
“Strap yourself in for a wild, terror-filled ride rife with mayhem and madness! Intense, unique, and stupefyingly brilliant. Highly recommended and a must-read for all horror fans.”
—Kerry Alan Denney, multiple award-winning author of Jagannath and
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