O Chui leu: SQUELCH, de John Halkin

squelchTítulo: Squelch
Autor: John Halkin
Publicado por: Critics Choice Paperbacks/Lorevan Publishing
Ano da edição: 1985
Páginas: 250

Sinopse: When Ginny first spotted the beautiful moths, she felt sure they were welcoming her to her new cottage… But by the time the lethal caterpillars arrived, she knew she was very, very, wrong. Huge, green and hairy, they ravenously preyed upon flesh – burrowing in the softest, most unprotected parts of the human body. And their first victim was Ginny’s own sister, but she was only the first…

Veredicto (de Joel G. Gomes): Julgando pela capa e pelo título, não dava muito por este livro. Quão enganado estava! SQUELCH é uma história sóbria, onde o terror é explorado de forma magistral, tanto pelo que é descrito, mas também pelo que é deixado à imaginação do leitor.

Como acontece em muitas histórias do género, os eventos são principiados por uma acção imprudente, como demonstra este excerto retirado do prólogo:

«Kit gasped aloud when he spotted it. Not from fear; not at that stage. Fear came later.
The caterpillar was the most gorgeous he had ever seen. It was also the largest, measuring at least six inches from tip to tail. Possibly more. Kit stood on tiptoe to examine it closely through the glass wall of the tank and it rewarded him by rearing up to stare back with dark, baleful eyes. It was plump and hairy, too; a brilliant green with diagonal purple markings along its sides and a distinctive yellow stripe down the full length of its belly.
He was fascinated by it. ‘Real beauty, y’are!’ he murmured, unable to drag himself away.
The glass tanks, around a dozen of them, were set out in line along the high laboratory bench. They were clearly incubators of some kind. Each contained a different breed of caterpillar, but not one in the same class as this beauty. He had to have it for himself. No way was he going to leave this place without it.
Anyway, that would be his proof that he had been inside the ‘Research’. None of the kids in the village would doubt him once he produced that caterpillar.»

E um pouco mais à frente:

«Biting his lip in an effort to keep his self-control, Kit slapped his hand firmly over the spot where the caterpillar was at work, aiming to squeeze it to extinction through the fabric of his jeans and carry on squeezing until it was no more than a mess of juice and pulp.
Before he could get a grip on it, another charge of savage pain shot through him, travelling up the full length of his leg which began jerking convulsively, beyond his control. He fell sprawling, unable to hold back his screams of agony any longer.
Two of them now.
Jesus, how many caterpillars were there?
Rolling over in a desperate attempt to escape, to crush them, anything, he found himself slipping into a deep hollow beneath the giant tentacle-root of one of the older trees. As he slithered into it they attacked again, gnawing into fresh areas of his flesh. Into his stomach… through his navel…
‘No… please… NO!’ he sobbed and yelled as they gorged themselves on him. ‘Oh Mummy, stop them! Mummy!’
He was no longer twelve. He was a baby once more, reaching out to be comforted, to be petted and told everything was all right, that there was nothing to be afraid of, nothing at all, nothing but…
Oh Jesus, that cassette box was lying open on the ground, level with his eyes. The king caterpillar was coming towards him, looping its back as it moved, ripples spreading down its long furry body, its eyes fixed on his.
Incoherently he yelled at it to leave him alone, what harm had he ever done to it? Why him?
He tried to retreat farther into that hollow among the tree-roots, that womb in the earth which enclosed him lovingly. The caterpillar came nearer. He felt a slight prickling as its precise little legs touched his cheek. Then –
‘Mummy? Oh Mummy…’

Em suma, a escrita fluída e directa ajuda a absorver bem uma história com várias camadas e interpretações. Os personagens, longe de serem meros peões para sustentar os avanços do enredo, têm objectivos específicos e estão muito bem desenvolvidos. As descrições não são muito exaustivas, mas são claras o suficiente para distinguir cada um na perfeição.

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