Permanent Ink by R.W. K. Clark
One Of The Best Zombie Horror Stories To Read Permanent Ink
Permanent Ink by R.W.K. Clark is the story of a stationery company who has stumbled upon a beautiful new ink called ‘Lumiosa’. The ink is holographic in appearance, featuring bright, metallic three-dimensional colors. Being in dire financial straits, the company pushes to release the pen before the new school year begins.
But the developer of the pen, Aspen Stationers’, has a secret: In the lab, the ink has shown that it not only can kill rats, but they, in turn, come back to life and attack all the other rats. This seemingly unstoppable cycle is caused only by the ink before it has dried, so Aspen adds a weak, shifty disclaimer to the pen’s packaging and puts it on the shelves. The result of their corporate greed is a horrible viral outbreak of murderous zombies, and the condition is spreading like wildfire. Be sure to put this novel on your list of horror stories to read.
Here’s the deal.
While the zombie outbreak is spurned by the infectious ink, the story actually takes place in several different locations. First, a young grade-school girl is infected in Thornton. Next, a ninth-grader from Monte Vista is poisoned by the ink. Both of these infection-outbreaks spread before anyone even really realizes what is happening, and it is only because of the courage of scientist Randy Carstens that proper steps are able to be taken to stop the ravaging infection in its path.
First, let’s take a look at the company, and what takes place there. Randy is the head scientist on the ink project, but he is well aware of what the toxic stuff can do. The man tries to tell the bigwigs at Aspen that there is a problem, but they are more concerned with pulling themselves out of ruin than being safe. Randy is fired, and the poisonous pens are pushed through for sale. In an effort to stop things, Randy breaks into Aspen to recover files on the deadly ink, but CEO Roger McKinley catches him and, holding him at gunpoint, demands that he rethink his plan to tattle to authorities. Adding a bit of a crime thriller aspect to the novel.
It gets better.
Roger ends up being a victim to the rats, and it is only because of this that the police even buy into what Randy is trying to tell them. Soon, Randy and Captain Hertz of the Aspen Police are on a mission to halt the horrible epidemic that is appearing to take over. They make a good pair, and both are determined to find a way to erase the damage that is being done before it is too late.
But Aspen isn’t the only area affected; the pens have gone on sale in countless cities in the country, including Denver and its suburbs. The chance of a widespread pandemic is now imminent. A young girl in Thornton gets infected with the pathogen, and soon her mother and sister are rushing her to the ER, unconscious and hot with fever. Unfortunately, doctors are oblivious to the new pens, and they admit the girl, who soon attacks her mother. Before the reader knows what’s happening, the entire hospital turns into madness as patients and employees have to run and fight for their lives, trapped in the locked-down building with the living dead. There is no option but to attack and kill the zombies, which are growing in number by the second. The main reason I put this novel on my list of horror stories to read.
You might be wondering.
For me, one of my favorite parts of the hospital situation takes place in the basement, when the doctors, along with several others, are hiding in the janitorial office. I truly enjoyed the conversations and interactions that take place between them, and I felt that Clark did a good job articulating the horror that was taking place as they tried to save their own lives.
Lastly, we have Monte Vista, a town that is in the worst state yet. The infection started with a high-schooler named Brian Olson. He gets the wet ink in his system from a paper cut, and by morning, Brian is attacking his own mother. Soon, the zombie outbreak has spread like crazy through this little town, and officials have no idea what to do, other than to hide, call the CDC, and watch the insanity taking place through the window.
But here’s the kicker.
Now, these examples, when combined, give readers a great picture of how fast this zombie virus has spread, and there seems to be no hope for the future. R.W.K. Clark did a great job conveying the seriousness and horror of the situation. But most of all, he related the truly horrible thing: The attitudes of the executives who didn’t care what their product was capable of, only that it made them money. Even while the greedy Roger McGinley is being eaten by rats, it is obvious that he is paying the mildest of prices; he will never see the true impact of his decision to release the poisonous ink. The man really gets a merciful ending compared to other characters in the story who have to fight and run for their lives while zombies are taking over.
What’s the bottom line?
So, aside from this being a zombie apocalypse offering that is very different to others zombie survival novels, ‘Permanent Ink’ really does have an impactful moral message: What is a financial success really worth? What price should anyone really be willing to pay for it? In this book, the ultimate price is paid, and no one ever really enjoys the financial outcome due to the destruction it has caused. This point was enough to motivate me to compare the fiction to reality; how much has corporate America really buffaloed its public? How much of what is touted as safe and fun is truly poisonous or detrimental to us, the consumers? Is this really happening, or is ‘Permanent Ink’ just a pipe dream idea tossed about by a writer of horror-fiction?
This is crazy.
I would have to say that, if we are being honest, this type of thing is constantly happening in the real world. Perhaps it doesn’t leave us as flesh-eating undead, but there are those who are visiting cancer doctors after years of consuming unhealthy products sold with ‘safe’ labels. It is the same with our medicines, beverages, and even the food we all eat. This is a book that will make you think about these things, if you are able to see beyond the fiction and focus on the truth.
Add this novel to your list of horror stories to read.