I’m a playwright and author who loves horror. I’m part of a horror theatre company in Chicago called WildClaw Theatre, dedicated to putting horror onstage. I’ve written many plays in the genre but SINGLE VERSION is my first horror-scifi novel. The first one I’ve completed, anyway.
SINGLE VERSION is a scifi novel with horror elements set in the Chicago of an alternate America. In this world, C.U.R.E., a massive private paramilitary company, has effectively replaced the police force in all major cities, and the general public is almost fully armed. At the same time, the population of cockroaches has exploded worldwide. The story is told through the eyes of a young man whom we’ll know only as “Palazzo,” a willfully unarmed pacifist. Unprotected in an increasingly perilous world, Palazzo is also severely entomophobic, making the very ecosystem that surrounds him a source of creeping, crawling dread.
The book begins with Palazzo taking us through what is a typical day for him in this Chicago. He goes to work as a counselor, has unnerving encounters on the train, survives run-ins with groups of armed businessmen, and kills some cockroaches along the way (just a few of the quadrillions). He goes to the bank. He feeds his cat. But this day, there are some strange differences: a woman he meets in the afternoon is gunned down in front of him and hundreds of bystanders later that day, and a stranger gives him a flyer for a clandestine group that call themselves “Unarmed Citizens.” Meanwhile, the news becomes more haunting and unreliable by the minute, and C.U.R.E.’s influence expands rapidly into all aspects of daily life. In the days, weeks, and months that follow, Palazzo tries to maintain some shred of sanity and normalcy as society erodes around him. He loses family. His co-workers disappear. And if he listens closely enough, he hears increasingly ominous sounds emanating from unknown sources; at times, it seems as though the sky is screaming.
Palazzo soon learns that his neighbor, Simon, is a member of “Unarmed Citizens.” He attends a meeting with Simon, which sets into motion a series of events that will put him in the unlikely position to change C.U.R.E., and therefore society, from the inside out.