Imprinting is what happens when a chicken is first born into the world. The chicken will look at the first thing it sees and burns that image into its mind as the source of security for it in the world it just entered. That first image is usually of the mother but not always. And it does not matter what it is. It could be a dog or a person or a horse. The image will still be burned into that chickens mind forever.
In his novella “Imprint,” Patrick Lestewka gives us a vicious little story about the nature of revenge and the fragility of the human mind. (As an aside, Patrick Lestewka is a pseudonym for author Craig Davidson that he uses for his harder, horror works.) This novella was first released by one of the best small press publishers, Delirium Books, and it takes the reader on a trip in the mind of a man who would do anything for revenge but also questions what is really achieved through revenge and the toll that it can take on the person who is consumed by it.
Sam Richards, also known as inmate 70915, is being visited by a psychologist, Emile Rankin, as the story opens. We quickly learn that the interview is due to Richards having recently murdered another inmate, Jack Spencer (aka inmate 54045) and Rankin is there to try to understand why. When he asks that question of Richards, he is told that there was no choice. That Spencer had taken everything that Richards had ever cared about away from him.
As the story unfolds, Richards plan is slowly revealed. Six months earlier, his wife had been murdered in their home and the murderer had struck Richards in the head with a hammer when her responded to his wife’s screams. But Richards had seen the murderer’s face and was able to identify him as Jack Spencer. To get his revenge, Richards conducts a bank robbery which is intended to fail so that he will be arrested and incarcerated in the same prison as Spencer. He then puts his plan for revenge in motion and bides his time until he can get Spencer alone and in the right situation for him to torture and kill the man who had killed his wife and brought his world crashing down.
“Imprint” is a powerful novella that leaves the reader questioning the meaning of revenge as well as the cost. Is revenge really worth the price that it takes on the soul? And what if the vengeance is wreaked on the wrong person? What is the cost then? These are the questions the arise over the course of the book and which the author leaves alone for the reader to decide on his own.