Written by: Mack Moyer
I can’t help but recommend this Dark Fuse novella with a warning: Exercise caution when reading it when you’re in a good mood. During the course of reading it I went from wanting to fly kites and pick roses to leaving a toe print on the trigger of my shotgun.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. You probably won’t Kurt Cobain yourself after reading Apartment Seven, Greg F. Gifune’s unsettling meditation on loneliness and addiction.
Charlie and his wife are middle-aged yuppies who overcame shared addictions in their younger years, eventually settling into a childless, career-driven marriage. But when Charlie discovers his wife has been having middle-of-the-night phone sex/sext message sessions with another man, it all falls apart.
Charlie goes from an upwardly mobile accountant to a drunken mess living in a tiny hovel in the slums of Boston. As if life hasn’t kicked Charlie’s ass enough, he finds out his wife is cheating on him with yet another man.
Charlie stumbles through a stark, snow-spattered, empty city. Gifune’s version of Bean Town is a hellish dreamscape, a character unto itself, all shadows and isolation.
Slowly, reality unravels around Charlie, now desperate to confront his wife’s lovers. He encounters an especially horrific nine year old kid with the head of a half-formed demon baby, a pair of disturbing ballerinas and a vaguely Satanic dark lord residing over it all, sitting on a bloody throne constructed, mostly, from poop.
And though loneliness is supposed to be the scariest monster of them all, well folks, I’ll just say if my wife ever leaves me I’ll be more worried about demon fetuses than coming home to an empty apartment and a dinner-for-one cookbook.
The only notable gripe I have with the story is that Charlie isn’t the most active main character. At times I felt like he was getting pulled through the plot, sometimes literally, by all the demon babies, scary ballerinas and eerily cheerful white trash cabbies.
Yet the few flaws take nothing away from the book. Dark and disorienting with a looming specter of dread, Apartment Seven stuck with me well after I finished it.