Monday, October 12, 2015

Page 69: Sick Pack

The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 
we put MP Johnson's Sick Pack to the test.

Ok MP, set up page 69 for us.

Page 69 is the last page of a chapter, so it’s short and sweet. Just three paragraphs.

Fabulo is on the hunt for his world-renowned abdominal muscles, which have absconded from his torso and gone rogue on the streets of Los Angeles. With the help of a body part bounty hunter, he gets in touch with a giant disembodied moustache. This moustache is a bit of an underworld figure who is known for having dealings with rogue body parts. In this case, he referred one of Fabulo’s abs to a notorious unlicensed doctor who helped the poor lost ab find a new place in the world. As a butt cheek.

What is Sick Pack about?

Fabulo is a male model who has built a career on having his image appear on the cover of romance novels. His abs are hypnotic. But they are not happy. Using their hypnotic powers, they summon help and escape Fabulo and his fascist crunch routines. They hit the streets of Los Angeles to live their own lives. So Sick Pack is about Fabulo trying to recover his claims to fame, and it is about a set of abs trying to make it in on their own.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what Sick Pack is about? Does it align itself the book’s overall theme?

As brief as it is, this page very much reflects one of the book’s underlying themes: identity. The doctor starts by shaming Fabulo for trying to steal away the newly attained identity of one of his abdominal muscles. This is tricky, because Fabulo has created his own identity on the strength of his abs, and without them, he’s been left identity-less, or so he thinks.


“I gave him what you never could. I made him whole, and I hope you burn in hell for trying to take that away from him.”
 The doctor stomped and turned to walk away. Fabulo grabbed the man’s shoulder and spun him around. “You will tell me where he is!”
 The doctor opened his mouth, ready to refuse, but the moustache growled viciously and the doctor’s face smoothed. He looked down at his feet. His shoulders fell. “Yes, I will tell you.”


MP Johnson’s short stories have appeared in more than 50 publications. His debut book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, was a Wonderland Book Award finalist. His most recent books include Dungeons and Drag Queens, Cattle Cult! Kill! Kill! and Sick Pack. He is the creator of Freak Tension zine, a B-movie extra, an amateur drag queen and an obsessive music fan currently based in Minneapolis. Learn more at

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