What is PSYCHO THRILL?
PSYCHO THRILL is a series of horror novellas — from the classic ghost story to the modern psychological thriller and dark fantasy. Each of the novellas has been first published in German and has been translated into English for the first time. Among the writers are popular German authors, as well as newcomers to the scene. Each story is self-contained. PSYCHO THRILL is produced by Uwe Voehl.
Michael Marcus Thurner, born in 1963, lives and works as a freelance writer in Vienna. He tried his hand at dozens of other professions but — in his own words — failed miserably at all of them. Among other accomplishments, he is a regular contributor to the PERRY RHODAN science-fiction series. Heyne Publishing has published two of his stand-alone sci-fi novels, Turils Reise (Turil’s Journey) and Plasmawelt (Plasmaworld). In November 2013, Blanvalet Publishing released his first fantasy novel, titled Der Gottbettler (The Beggar God).
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Marco looked up, irritated. Evelyn was standing there, smiling. The woman he had despised since they were children.
He couldn't muster anything more polite than that, not to Evelyn. Marco turned back to his friend Blink. They had been talking about soccer, as usual. Mostly about the poor season their favorite team was having and which players should be bought or sold.
“Come on,” she persisted. “I’d really like to buy you a drink.”
Evelyn’s behavior annoyed Marco. What did she want from him? They had never gotten along very well.
“We should finally hash things out. Can I join you?”
Blink grinned. “I wouldn’t want to disturb the happy couple.” He moved over, but not without a meaningful glance at Marco. As far as Evelyn was concerned, Marco and Blink had always been of one mind: she was stupidity personified. How she had made it through high school had always been a cause for speculation. Even more so since she had received an MBA. Had she slept with her professors, or had her parents made sizable contributions to the school or the university's foundations?
“Okay, fine.” Marco shrugged. “I’ll take a soda.”
Evelyn smiled, revealing flawless teeth like a string of pearls. “I’ll be right back.” She turned and walked away with a provocative sway of the hips that was not at all reminiscent of the clueless, clumsy, fourteen-year-old girl they had known at school.
“Careful — she wants something from you,” Blink hissed to Marco.
“After everything that happened back then?” Marco shook his head.
“She’s probably forgotten all that. Amoebas like her aren’t known for their excellent memories.” As the woman returned with the drinks, Blink grimaced and turned toward his neighbor on the right.
Evelyn placed a glass in front of Marco, who thanked her with a silent nod.
“So?” She was still smiling, stubbornly and persistently.
“So what?” He took a sip.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve talked to each other.”
“Talked to each other? We’ve never really talked to each other.”
Evelyn smelled good. She was wearing a perfume that was clouding his mind.
“And why is that?”
“Well … we don’t have anything in common,” he retorted.
Evelyn looked good, too. She was forty-four, like everyone else in the room. She was tall, and had a good figure — curves just where he liked them.
“How do you know that?”
“Because, you know … — damn it, Evi, what do you want from me? Even back in the day, we couldn’t stand each other.”
“Does that still have to be the case? It’s been twenty-five years since we graduated. We’re more mature, we’ve changed. I’ve changed.”
“We live in completely different worlds, Evi.” Marco stopped himself from saying what was on the tip of his tongue. She came from a rich family and had married well. Nothing had ever gone wrong for her. She had prioritized a certain lifestyle that emphasized material possessions over everything else. He, in contrast … well, he survived. He didn’t plan too far in advance and he took each day as it came.
“Show me your world, Marco.”
“You wouldn’t like it. It’s … dirty and messy.”
“Maybe that’s exactly what I like about you,” she whispered in his ear. “The dirtiness and vulgarity.”
Evi was damnably close to him. He could feel the warmth of her breath on his cheek. The top button of her blouse was undone, and her legs were crossed such that the slit in her skirt offered an ample view of her thighs.
“It's getting hot in here, isn't it?” she asked.
“Y-yeah.” Marco was at a loss for words. The class reunion had taken a completely unexpected turn. Evi, of all people, of all the dumbasses …
She picked up a coaster and slipped it into her purse.
“What’re you going to do with that?”
Evelyn shrugged and replied, “I collect all kinds of things. Would you like to take a walk with me? There’s nothing interesting going on here.”
Yes, the class reunion was pretty dire. People that had never known each other well twenty-five years ago were sitting around, boring each other to tears. They had all become strangers, chatting about meaningless trivia and laughing at stories from their school days that hadn’t been funny even back then.
Three of the former classmates had been smart enough not to show up. Three others had died early — suicide, an overdose, and a heart attack. Contact with two other classmates had been lost entirely over recent years.
“You’re right, it’s boring.” Marco nodded at her. He looked Evi up and down and observed with interest how she inhaled, mouth open, licking her lips. “Let’s have some fun.”
They didn’t get far on their walk, just to the restaurant’s bathroom. Then they had fun. More fun than Marco would have ever thought possible.
After the unexpected happy end to that evening, Marco didn’t hear from Evi for a long time. They had exchanged telephone numbers and assured each other that they’d meet again soon, and then she had gone her own way. A kiss here and there, a final goodbye — and the class reunion was over.
Marco took a job as a sound engineer for a documentary about butterfly farming. A boring topic, to be sure, but the work took him far, far away from Vienna — and above all, far away from the strange ideas that were going through his head. In Vorarlberg, he hoped, he would be able to get hold of himself and understand what had happened between him and Evi. He put his cell phone aside and swore not to touch it until the job was finished — but then, every free moment he had, he turned it on to see whether his old classmate had sent him a text message.
She clearly wasn’t interested in him. They’d had amazing, wild sex — and that was all.
Unprotected sex, Marco remembered, feeling goose bumps creep up his spine.
During his time in Vorarlberg, he saw so many close-ups of butterflies hatching from slimy cocoons that by the end of the third week, he felt nauseated just at the thought of it. He applauded particularly loudly when the job was finally over. Greg, the creative director of the project, which was produced for the science division of the public television network, bought cheap champagne for everyone involved with the production. As was usual on the case of film sets, there was a boisterous, occasionally hysterical party.
The cinematographer with a well-known name slipped his assistant with a not-so-well-known name a little baggie, clapped him generously on the shoulder, and led him away to one of the bathrooms. An ambitious assistant laughed a little too loudly and much too nervously as an increasingly drunk investor cavalierly groped her. Still, she let him have his way; after all, he was an influential man in the banking sector, and he had been wooing her for several days now with the promise of a good job. From a nearby room drifted sounds that left the party’s guests wondering who could be getting busy so vigorously. It was determined that two lighting technicians and a make-up artist were missing. The make-up artist, nicknamed “The Spider,” was on the wrong side of sixty, but young men still fell into her web. When he was just starting out in the film industry, Marco had once enjoyed her impressive talents himself. Now … he was so tired of this life …
Everything was superficial. People were always looking for a quick good time before rushing off to the next project. They were like performers in a travelling circus that wound its way from city to city. None of them had any roots, and scarcely anyone was in a position to build any kind of relationship.
Again, Marco looked at his cell phone’s display. Nothing. His mother was worried about him, and Blink wanted to meet up when he got back to Vienna. Yet, there was no message from Evi.
Marco tapped in her number. He had long since memorized it. He stared at the long string of numbers, his thumb hovering over the call, as he had so frequently done in recent days. He hadn’t yet pushed it. He didn’t want to be weak. He didn’t want to admit that he wanted her more than she wanted him.
Marco hesitantly lowered his thumb and the phone dialed the number. He could hear his heart beating in his ears. What was wrong with him?
“This number is not in service,” a woman’s automated voice said. “Please contact your -”
Marco hung up, angry but also somewhat relieved. Evi had given him a fake number. She had behaved just like he usually did after a one-night stand.
Back in Vienna, he considered whether he should let Blink in on the details of his little adventure, but decided against it. As much as he valued his friend, Blink would only have heaped buckets of scorn on him. They had always agreed that, although Evi looked good, her mental inferiority would make it impossible to sustain any kind of feelings for her. Marco would have had to admit that they had gone at it like rabbits and that he had never had such a good time in his entire life.
Marco tried to push thoughts of Evi out of his mind, but the memory of her firm body, and the heat she had radiated, kept returning. Above all, the lust they had felt, the passion she had stirred in him kept coming to mind, again and again.
The wrench slipped in Marco’s hand. It wasn't the first time that day.