Sunday, 21 January 2018

'Taphonomy'

There are rather a lot of dead women in WHA 2, and I suppose that's inevitable given the genre and the society it reflects.

'My heart is starting to slow. The flutter and lag of its failing burns in my chest.'

In 'Taphonomy' by Melanie Waghorne we see a murder of the sort that provides the grist to many a TV crime show, but from the victim's viewpoint. Here there is no questionable focus on the serial killer as pseudo-Byronic genius (a shopworn gimmick I am heartily sick of). Not only that, but the killing is not the end. The victim experiences the process of bodily decay, as nature reclaims her flesh, covers her bones with foliage, begins to assimilate her. It is a fascinating process, though not for the squeamish.

'My rot begins to kill the plants around me, saturated as they are in me. The maggots hatch.'

Eventually she is discovered by a dog, and this phase of her story ends. In its way, it's a beautiful, even hopeful tale. It makes for an interesting contrast with the previous tale, in tone and content. Another winner, then, in this anthology, as we approach the inevitable end.

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