A swim at the docks for two young brothers becomes a hellish ordeal when they accept an invitation from the wrong people in Budi’s debut horror novel.
The last day of school for high school freshman Galen Reed has a couple of snags: His crush rejects him and bullies humiliate him on the bus. But things are looking up when he and little brother Noah, taking a dip in Galen’s favorite creek, meet Sam and Amila. Amila flirts with Galen, and the 15-year-old virgin jumps aboard their yacht for lunch, despite Noah’s vehement protests. The promise of sex practically guarantees that Galen will overlook Amila’s scarred body and the vanilla perfume that barely disguises a notable odor. Things take a nasty turn once the brothers realize they’ve encountered monstrous individuals. Only so much of the plot can be relayed without spoiling it, but it’s abundantly clear from the beginning that Sam and Amila, along with their disdainful friend Paul, harbor sinister motives. The short novel packs a lot into its pages, managing to generate ominous moments prior to the scene at the docks. The brothers, for instance, already have darkness in their lives. Their father is in jail for child pornography (though Noah’s still unaware of the real reason for Dad’s imprisonment), and a tick burrows into Noah’s neck. These moments pale in comparison to later, more visceral events. At times, Budi threatens to go overboard with creepiness, particularly since the boys are young (Noah is only 9). But the well-established bond between the brothers drives the plot and turns the potential victims into sympathetic characters who will have anxious readers begging for their escape. The ending, which shines light on the villains’ barbaric deeds, leaves a lasting dread.
An undeniably disturbing, reverberating story that will make some cringe and others gag.