When expectations are high, money is tight, love is tainted and stress is ubiquitous, the citizens of Chase County will do anything to make sure they survive. From the deconstruction of a town to frivolous intercourse with strangers, No-Injury Policy explores the dark depths of human nature when social pressures peak.
No sooner than the meek taste retribution, however, they encounter the demons that have aided authority figures to the top - demons that refuse to lose control no matter what it takes.
No-Injury Policy is the 1st short story collection by C.M. Humphries, showcasing seven of the eeriest tales from every town in Chase County: Raven's Crook, Lovington, Lakeside, and Long Brooke.
Following along as I provide a snippet of each story in the collection. If there's a picture to the left of the premise, that means I blogged on a topic from the story. Be sure to check them all out.
There isn't a single character in No-Injury Policy who doesn't have a problem.
In the case of Mike from " Façade": After his brother Ray moves in, Mike finds difficulty in relating to people, which ultimately leads him down a road where only roulette-styled monogamy connects him to another human being, or more specifically, generative rendezvous.
It's not just the sexual encounters that keep him going, he also has several other vices. Mike can't be considered to be a hedonist without first realizing the commonplace of such social engagements.
A group of pick-pockets approach the last main off of the train in what should've been an routine mugging.
However, they might just learn that, no matter how bad they think they are, there's always someone much worse.
In this story, a character named Adam Hope is a recent graduate/writer (how creative of me, right?) who is pressed by the norm of finding a "real" job.
Hope is sickened by the expectation of having a great career right off the bat. The thing is, he's not alone. The rest of Long Brooke can't sleep, and soon they'll all going to show society just what they think.
The Glass Box
Let me just provide you with an example scene:
In groups of three and four or in hand-clasping couples, the workers of Long Brooke – those men and women in bland business suits – passed by.
Some of them stopped to stare on occasion. A mid-thirties brunette woman, one of the few loners, halted in front of the glass box and stared at its prisoner: Dennis Rowe. She cocked her head to the side and made her eyes sharper than a new-age razor.
Dennis leaned against the box and pressed his lips against the cool glass, feeling the moisture of his own breath running above the fleshy crevices. He only uttered one word – a name. “Laura.”
She narrowed her eyes even tighter and stepped forward. Though the wind muffled what little could be heard from Dennis, she recognized her own name in the shape of his lips. No sooner than he finished the second syllable of her name, Laura tossed her body against the side of the box and began pounding on it with her fist, though to him, the sound was nothing more than a light tap.
Unalarmed, Dennis watched her lips move – how her teeth tore at her bottom lip. The trickle of blood seeping from the center of her lip reminded him of the decorative trees swaying behind her; losing their amber leaves one by one. Slumping his head against the glass, he tried to listen closer to what she was saying, but he couldn’t hear a word. He couldn’t even hear the sound of the wind against the glass. Inside of the glass confinement cell, he couldn’t interact with the world anymore, not that he ever did. Despite of all this, he said, “I’m sorry.”
Laura observed the muscles all along his face, particularly the depressor anguli oris on each side of his mouth and how they were laced with age. The stubble running halfway up his face no longer held a handsome essence; rather it simply looked like poor hygiene and filth. She shook her head and twisted her body forward to storm off for work.
All Things Beautiful
"All Things Beautiful" is a tale of a young boy who is locked in his room during a game of hide n' seek with his younger sister. Little does he know his parents have left him to fend for himself.
Although this story is about the dark upbringings of a child, it is a depiction how strong someone's will can be. No matter what happens to the boy, each day is better than the last. Read the full excerpt here.
Highlighting the book is the tale "No-Injury Policy, a story set in Raven's Crook's darkest beginnings. Nicholas Tanner finds himself working for the infamous Douglas Lumber Mill in an effort to support his new family.
Despite the horrific tales he's heard from the locals, he tries to earn a living and ignore all the demonic signs around him. As a union begins to form, the owner resorts to violent efforts to make sure his company is not controlled by any outsiders. He reveals his more sinister side as Nick is roped into the clandestine group.
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.