Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Stephen Graham. Jones
During their regular Winter Holiday party one snowy night, the employees of Prixton
Hedges discover they have become prey. After half the crew dies of poisoned punch, the lights
go out and something begins hunting them in the dark. Interspersed with this developing
catastrophe, the reader gets to know one particular employee, Malika Markus. She has, for
months, become increasingly obsessed with a former worker at the firm, Chris Derringer.
Derringer seems to have vanished into thin air, but the traces Malika stumbles across make her
think something terrible may have happened to him. Meanwhile, the reader discovers that
Prixton-Hedges has shady business of its own. Bob Strand, manager of this branch, as well as his
right-hand woman, Wendy Trumble, are hiding not only what they know of Chris Derringer, but
also what they suspect the company has been up to. Malika traces Derringer’s own investigation
into a burnt-out call center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but there seems to hit a dead end.
When she returns to her home city, she attends the aforementioned Winter Holiday party. After
watching almost all of her fellow employees die either of poison or at the workings of a horrific,
metamorphic creature, Malika hides inside a closet. Surviving the night, she is rescued by the
police, who are trying to put together a picture of what happened the night before. Luckily for
them, they have found a corpse sitting in the midst of the carnage who bears all the marks of
having been the perpetrator. Malika, though, has her own reasons for not believing this story.
Throughout the piece, the reader also becomes acquainted with the rest of Malika’s friends and
co-workers, including her childhood buddy, Darian, and her wacky work-mate, Ted Glover.
Lurking behind these placid scenes is a malevolent entity, one intent on making everyone pay for
something hideous done to it…
Pridham, Matthew Curtis, "This Pound of Flesh" (2019). English Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 122.
Available for download on Thursday, December 09, 2021