My second story to feature in 10 Days of Madness 'Let's Play Games' is definitely inspired by a book that rocked me in my teen years. Mendal Johnson’s Let’s Go Play at the Adams’. If you've never read the book I urge you to give it a go. It speaks of something utterly dark and repulsive hidden inside the human psyche. It’s something that can escape so easily if the planets of insanity align just the right way.
Of course the cruelty and shock value in Johnson’s 1974 horror novel relies on the people inflicting the violence being children. It's a taboo subject to use a child that becomes a killer in fiction, we've all witnessed the horrific legacy of such cases in reality. Of course the book is based on real life events. It loosely taps into the murder case of Silvia Likens as a basis for the escalating violence and insanity. Jack Ketchum also used the Likens case as the base for his equally disturbing novel, ‘The Girl Next Door’.
Ever since I read Let’s Go Play at the Adams when I was a thirteen year old kid it’s compelled me to investigate the dark nature of such fiction. I must admit I sneaked the book from my brother’s bedside cabinet and put it back after reading a few pages. It wasn't until I was sixteen that I finally found the nerve to read the novel to the end.
While the new millennium brought torture porn to our screens nothing really came close to Johnson’s novel. It’s not about the horrific and debasing events but more about the sliding of man into monster; or in this case children into chilling killers. Other cinematic comparisons may include the French thriller ‘Ils’, Michael Haneke’s 1997 'Funny Games' or even 'Martyrs'.
I have an idea for a novel, or certainly a novella on the back-burner that touches on this theme. Unfortunately I've never found the nerve to sit down and write it. Maybe one day and hopefully soon now that my short tale 'Let’s Play Games' is out there in the big bad world for all to see.