This is the photograph you know:
The soldier’s shirt has been torn open. There are bloodred trenches scoured across his flesh--gouge marks, the work of his own fingernails. And there, right in the middle of his chest, is an arm sprouting up from his breastbone. It’s a thin white arm--sickly pale, like something that’s never seen the sun--reaching up through a puckered, jellied wound, protruding all the way up to the bicep. It looks like the whole arm has been punched up through the man’s body, slammed through from the floor at his back. But the wound is small--too small for such violence.
The arm is bent slightly at the elbow--a crooked tree sprouting up from the dead man’s chest. The wrist does not hang limp. Instead, it is cocked back, the gore-streaked fingers splayed with tension. Teardrops of blood hang from sharpened fingernails.
The soldier’s head is tilted back as far as it will go, the tendons in his neck as taut as a hangman’s rope. His expression is pure agony. His eyes are open, staring at the wall behind him.
The floor is solid concrete. The parts we can see are smooth and unblemished. And there is nothing--save that one horrifying limb--to suggest that there is anything beneath the room, anything except more concrete, earth, and rock.
It is insanity, printed and framed. Pure insanity.
The photograph is real.
I should know. I took the damn thing.
Excerpted from Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp. Copyright © 2012 by Richard E. Gropp. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.