4.0 1
by Rex Miller

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The man is a hulk of angry, flabby, flesh, housing a genius intelligence that is ever inventing new and twisted ways to inflict pain on others. Torturing and killing innumerable victims with impunity, he still was not clever enough to keep himself out of prison forever. They drugged him, beat and muzzled him, then restrained him within the tight walls of a maximum&

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The man is a hulk of angry, flabby, flesh, housing a genius intelligence that is ever inventing new and twisted ways to inflict pain on others. Torturing and killing innumerable victims with impunity, he still was not clever enough to keep himself out of prison forever. They drugged him, beat and muzzled him, then restrained him within the tight walls of a maximum‑security solitary confinement cell. All that meant for Bunkowski was time to seethe in his own vile juices, planning revenge, until the day when he fought his way out. When that happened, the most terrifying, brutal, and inhuman serial killer, Daniel “Chaingang” Bunkowski, is once again on the loose. Chaingang is the ultimate serial killer—quick, silent . . . and terrifying!

Editorial Reviews

Rave Reviews
Graphic ... unsettling ... brutal ... hypnotic ... gritty ... riveting!
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Miller ( Slob ) has created a horror story that is at once macabre, inhuman, implausible and boring. There is no plot, only a premise. Daniel Edward Flowers Bunkowski, aka ``Chaingang,'' is a 500-pound genius serial killer who eats the hearts of his victims. A secret U.S. government unit sets him free to kill whomever he wants on the Missouri-Tennessee border in a bizarre experiment designed to develop an understanding of how mass murderers operate. Chaingang murders his way through several dozen local denizens, and, incredibly, there is not a whisper of this carnage outside of the designated killing fields. Miller's flawed premise is aggravated by flawed execution. Chaingang is introduced as such a monstrosity that he inevitably fails to live up to expectations and becomes a caricature of a serial killer--such as when he eats a steaming heart he has ripped from a victim and exclaims, ``The delicacy was unusually sweet and tender,'' and when he recalls from his computerlike memory a work about Massim mortuary practices. Unfortunately, the unintentionally comic effect serves only to undercut Miller's attempts to make Chaingang truly frightening. (Nov . )

Product Details

Open Road Media
Publication date:
Chaingang , #3
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Barnes & Noble
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Read an Excerpt




To all personnel/Effective immediately/TFN: The following rules shall be rigidly adhered to regarding the maintenance of the occupant of Cell 10, MAX D SEG VIOLET Unit: NO PERSONAL SHALL ENTER THIS CELL FOR ANY REASON AT ANY TIME UNLESS ACCOMPANIED BY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING


1. Dr. Norman
2. Captain Lawler
3. Correctional Officer McCullough
4. Correctional Officer Brock
5. Lieutenant Lopez
6. Myself


Warden Carol A. Dickett




a. Cell occupant shall be given food and water three times per day. (SEE D SEG MAINLINE SCHED.)

b. Food is placed on formed feeding tray. Liquid is poured in cup.

c. Open inbound side of feeding port.

d. Place tray with cup in port.

e. Close inbound side of feeding port.

f. Press talk on intercom unit and announce, "MAINLINE."

g. Cell occupant should then approach outbound side of feeding port. IF OCCUPANT DOES NOT APPROACH, NOTIFY WARDEN DICKETT, DR. NORMAN, OR CAPTAIN LAWYER IMMEDIATELY. When cell occupant is observed approaching feeding port, proceed with next step.

h. Open outbound side of feeding port. Cell occupant should then remove tray with cup. IF OCCUPANT DOES NOT REMOVE TRAY WITH CUP, NOTIFY ONE OF ABOVE-NAME INDIVIDUALS AFTER CLOSING OUTBAND SIDE OF FEEDING PORT.

i. After occupant removes tray with cup, close outbound side of feeding port.

j. Observe occupant during meal period.

k. When occupant has finished meal, occupant should approach outbound side of feeding port with empty tray and cup. ANY USUAL OCCURRENCE OR VARIATION OF ACTION BY OCCUPANT SHOULD BE REPORTED IMMEDIATELY. When cell occupant Is observed approaching feeding port with empty tray and cup, open outbound side of feeding port. IF OCCUPANT DOES NOT PLACE TRAY WITH CUP IN PORT AND IMMEDIATELY MOVE AWAY FROM FEEDING PORT, ACTIVE ALARM AND NOTIFY ONE OF THE ABOVE-NAMED INDIVIDUALS.

1. After occupant has placed tray with cup in feeding port and moved away from feeding port, close outbound side of feeding port. AFTER DETERMINING VISUALLY THAT OUTBOUND SIDE OF PORT HAS FULLY CLOSED AND ENGAGED, AND THAT ONLY THE EMPTY TRAY AND CUP ARE INSIDE PORT, YOU MAY PROCEED WITH NEXT STEP.

m. Open inbound side of feeding port.

n. Remove tray with cup from port.

o. Close inbound side of feeding port, and after visually determining that inbound side of port has fully closed and engaged in auto-lock position, daily feeding may be considered accomplished.


a. Cell occupant shall be allowed to utilize toilet two times per day. (SEE D SEG SCHED.) Activate five-minute timer.

b. Press talk on intercom unit and announce, "stool."

c. Cell occupant should then approach toilet commode and assume seated position, clothing positioned for utilizing toilet.

d. After cell occupant is seated on toilet commode, open inbound side of feeding port.

e. Place twenty pieces of toilet tissue in feeding port. (USE ROLLS MARKED "MAX/VIOLENT UNIT" ONLY.)

f. Close inbound side of feeding port.

g. Observe cell occupant during toilet period.

h. If occupant finishes toilet and approaches feeding port, open outbound side of feeding port. Cell occupant should then remove toilet tissue. IF OCCUPANT DOES NOT REMOVE TOILET TISSUE, NOTIFY ONE OF ABOVE-NAMED INDIVIDUALS IMMEDIATELY.

i. If occupant does not finish toilet before timer goes off, press talk on intercom unit and announce, "STOOL PERIOD OVER." Occupant should approach outbound side of feeding port. IF OCCUPANT DOES NOT APPROACH FEEDING PORT IMMEDIATELY, NOTIFY ABOVE-NAMED INDIVIDUALS.

j. When occupant has removed toilet tissue, close outbound side of feeding port.

k. Cell occupant should then return to toilet commode for completion of utilizing toilet.

l. Continue to observe cell occupant to determine visually that all pieces of toilet tissue have been placed in toilet commode, and that commode is flushed in normal manner.

m. After wiping self, cell occupant should assume standing position, clothing positioned for observation.

n. Press TALK on intercom unit and announce, "STOOL CHECK."

o. Cell occupant should bend over in position enabling observer to make visual determination that no toilet tissue or other objects have been placed in occupant's rectum.


q. Following accomplishment of visual determination that no tissue or other objects have been placed in occupant's rectum, daily toilet privilege may be considered complete.


a. Cell occupant shall be allowed to brush teeth, floss, gargle, shave, and take warm-water shower one time each week. (SEE VIOLET UNIT HYGIENE PROCEDURES.)

"Well, ladies and gentlemen," the man in the white coat said, "the twenty-four-page memorandum you've been provided gives you an idea of the special care and attention to detail that goes into the performing of your duties with relation to Cell Ten. We call it the Cell Ten Bible. It is imperative that you learn every word, forward and backward, and never deviate from a single procedure. Your life and the lives of your fellow officers will depend on it." His voice was well modulated, but sounded loud in the small enclosure."

"Only six persons are Cell Ten-cleared to act in the capacity of advisory personnel: Warden Dickett, Captain Lawler, Lieutenant Lopez, Officers Brock and McCullough, and myself." The doctor wore a Formica name tag next to his ID. Dr. Norman was something of a legend in what was referred to in-house as "the program."

"You ladies and gentlemen will never enter Cell Ten for any reason without one of us being present. You will never transport, attend to, or otherwise involve yourself with the occupant of this cell for any reason, such as weekly hygiene, exercise, or medical matters, without observing the strictures set forth in the Violent Unit Hygiene Procedures section, which means a minimum of two supervisory personnel must be present."

"Entering the cell -- one supervisor at all times present. Transporting, exercising, or otherwise directly attending to the occupant -- a minimum of two supervisors required. Get clear on that. Never deviate from it. Remember -- when you are in the immediate presence of the occupant of this cell, you are potentially in extreme danger. Even when all shackles, cuffs, restraints, and lock boxes are in place. The occupant of Cell Ten is ..." The doctor paused, took a deep breath, and said in an almost reverent tone, "... probably the most dangerous individual living. You must never underestimate the risk you are in when you have any direct contact with said occupant, however protected you may be."

"You have been chosen because you have special aptitudes for working around violent persons. You are probably no stranger to D Seg, Disciplinary Segregation. And you've doubtless heard rumors about who occupies Cell Ten. Put all of it out of your mind -- everything you've heard. Nothing -- no wild rumor, no piece of grapevine gossip -- has prepared you for contact with such an individual as this."

"As you know from the documents you've signed and the agreements you've made, you have entered into a contract with your government. That contract forbids you to ever discuss any of the events you will see or hear in your duties -- and you will want to tell someone about this. You must not. You must keep your own counsel."

"As officers involved in the Cell Ten Unit, you will begin to learn jargon, a unique vocabulary. The person who occupies Cell Ten is never an inmate, a prisoner, a convict, a con, a fish, or anything but 'occupant.' In your reports it is never 'and then he said,' or 'we fed the man in the cell.' It is 'and then the occupant said,' or 'we fed occupant.' Get used to that euphemism. We never identify occupant, refer to occupant's name, nor -- when addressing commands -- do we employ any slang name, nickname, or proper name of any kind."

"We never threaten occupant or speak harshly to occupant in any manner. One issues a direct command, when necessary. Should occupant not comply, one withholds appropriate privileges: food, for example, for a daily feeding infraction such as refusal to return tray and cup. Or withholding of toilet tissue, or even weekly hygienic ablution -- or, in severe instances, we have the spectrum of physical acts of recourse ranging from drugs to sleep deprivation."

"Are there any questions so far? I'm sure you must have many. Yes?"

"I was reading the hygiene period regulations. I can understand how he -- uh, how occupant can never be allowed to retain anything like a toothbrush or shaving gear. But wouldn't it be easier if he had a small plastic bowl and a soft washrag and soap so the occupant could keep himself cleaner and --"

"You must get used to the nomenclature, Officer. 'Wouldn't it be easier if occupant had a bowl and a soft washrag and soap so occupant could keep cleaner.' No 'he' or 'himself' please."


"It takes time. And one hears such questions frequently. Let me give you a rather bizarre illustration to answer your question. Here is a rare survivor of a brush with Cell Ten." He passed a photograph of a guard with a black patch over one eye. "He liked to call occupant by name and take other familiarities while in the cell and during transport. Occupant managed to hide a tiny piece off a bar of soap. We keep it as a kind of training artifact." The doctor produced a small vial and held it up."

"Would anyone like to speculate what this is?"

"It looks like a fleshette made for a .22 handgun," one of the officers said.

"Excellent. It's a dart for a blowgun. The body of the dart is soap that occupant managed to anneal in some fashion, then carefully reshape, harden, and sharpen to the tiny, needlelike dart you see. Interestingly, the feathery material happens to be rodent hair. The machinelike precision of the craftsmanship is quite typical."

"We never found the blowgun itself. Some speculated that it was part of a drinking straw and that occupant swallowed it after shooting the correctional officer. The dart struck the man in the left eye. It had been dipped in feces. The eye became infected, and as you can see -- or rather, as you can't see -- he lost it." The doctor almost had a note of pride as he explained the way the incident had occurred.

"Occupant's many skills include a martial art of considerable obscurity, one fighting technique of which involves the control of an acute and focused halitosis. It is my belief that one of the occupant's methods of passing time during incarceration is to practice control of vital signs -- respiration, heartbeat rate, and so on -- and that this martial skill is honed even while wearing a facial restraint. I further contend that one of the ancillary benefits of this odd discipline is increased facility at expectoration. The dart was -- in my opinion -- expectorated." There were a couple of nervous giggles in the room, immediately stilled by his look."

"The halitosis technique is called 'breath of death.' Bizarre, to be sure. Once you become better acquainted with the occupant of Cell Ten, I can assure you that you'll find nothing whatsoever humorous about the possibility of occupant spitting a feces-poisoned dart into your eye -- from some eight feet away, I should add -- or forcing a column of foul exhaled air into your face when you least expect it, blinding you perhaps for just the half second it takes to head-butt you to death, or sever one of your carotids with his teeth." He looked into each face for a moment. He was certain he had their attention.

"And now we come to the reason why we've chosen the Cell. Ten Observation Room for this initial meeting," He glanced at the thick gray curtain behind him.

"Let me tell you a story."

The room itself was unthreatening in appearance: brown steel door and steel-rimmed observation port, over which a heavy security curtain had been drawn. Dr. Norman stood in front of the curtain, facing the small room. The men and women stood uncomfortably close, and there was some of the awkwardness one feels in a crowded elevator as one waits for ones floor. Norman, whose disciplines were in the mental sciences, chose his settings with the greatest care.

"An infant, a male Caucasian baby, was found in the garbage dump outside Kansas City, Kansas. The baby, filthy, on the threshold of death, was rushed to a nearby emergency ward. The infant miraculously survived. It was placed into a local orphanage maintained by the state. It suffered neglect, however, and the child was one of several children surviving when the orphanage was investigated and subsequently closed down. The word 'surviving' is one we encounter repeatedly in this story."

"The baby boy became a textbook victim of the foster care system. There was a pattern of accidents, some reported and some not. Injuries. Abuse and neglect. Once again the boy was abandoned. Once again the boy survived."

"He was 'adopted,' if that is the correct word, by a woman who was in charge of several foster children. Later it was learned that she was a former prostitute with a history of alcoholism and child abuse, and it was while in her brutal hands that the little boy suffered his most traumatic exposure to various forms of sadism."

"Both the child's foster mother and the man who called himself the boy's stepfather kept their charges tied up much of the time. But this child had ways that apparently infuriated them. They kept him in a metal box with a few air holes in it, in a stifling, dark closet, and chained under their homemade bed. He was forced to remain motionless for long periods, usually in total darkness, and to lie in his own urine and fecal matter. When he made a sound he was savagely beaten."

"The man, a known sexual degenerate, began abusing the boy, who was forced to eat and drink from a dog dish, which was also kept under the bed." The atmosphere in the room had grown extremely oppressive. The correctional guards had become more apprehensive as the doctor spoke, and some of them could imagine body odor smells in the small observation room. Coughs sounded loud as gunshots. There was more movement as the men and women grew tired of standing, and the brown steel and beige concrete, compliments of that uninspired interior decorator -- the federal prison system -- was becoming increasingly threatening."

"A little dog was also tied there with the child, and the animal became the boy's only friend. As with the boy, whose name was Daniel, the dog was beaten and kicked when it made noise, and so both of these poor creatures learned to be obedient together. The punishment that was meant as humiliation, presumably, was a godsend. The child and the dog helped one another survive." The doctor had little need of notes. The occupant of Cell Ten had been his pet project for a long time, and he knew the man's history as he knew his own.

"One day when the child and his companion had been locked in the dark punishment closet, the boy could hear a fight -- not unusual in this home. The man, whom the boy thought of as "The Snakeman" because of tattoos that he had, was giving the woman one of her frequent beatings."

"The man threatened to throw the dog out the window of the apartment house they were living in, and perhaps the boy as well. He said he was getting rid of the dog and the boy, and the boy heard him and believed him."

"The child snuck down into the basement of the building, where he had once seen acid stored, found the bottle -- which proved to be hydrochloric acid -- and poured it into the eyes of the man while he slept."

"The child is now nine years old, and once again he is institutionalized. He becomes the target for more abuse in the reform school -- a natural victim, one might say. There are older boys, one bully in particular, who continue to make his life a nightmare."

"The child grows taller, bigger, stronger -- and at age twelve he has the appearance of a full-grown man. He kills his tormentor, and that is the point where young Daniel Bunkowski is seriously imprisoned. There are two more killings in prison. He escapes. He runs loose -- killing at random. Killing for pleasure. He becomes the worst serial killer in American history. Growing bigger and stronger all the time. When he was captured in the sixties, he'd become a giant, huge -- over four hundred pounds and nearly six feet eight inches tall. He had the beer belly of a power lifter who has gone to fat, but with legs like cannon barrels."

"At age eighteen he weighed four hundred and fifteen pounds, had a twenty-two-inch neck, and wore a custom-made size 15EEEEE shoe. By that time he was also perhaps the most accomplished killer alive."

"From the time of his earliest reform school incarceration, he'd devoted himself to mastering countless martial techniques, learning all he could about small arms and demolition, toxicology, man-trapping, camouflage -- virtually anything that related to what he considered to be 'the killing arts.'"

"He was also a genius. His raw intelligence was such that it could not be accurately tested. His intelligence quotient was so high, it went off every chart -- warped every graph. He was technically brilliant beyond measure."

"But his mind did not function in any previously observed manner. He was worse than an animal in some ways, superhuman in others. Clearly he was presentient. He'd developed the ability to sense impending danger. It is his greatest survival instinct. I contended then, as I do now, that he is that rare form of human being called a 'physical precognate.'"

"I came across his case history because the government was looking for individuals who would be emotionally, as well as physically and mentally, suited to be trained for special work in the military -- hazardous work involving sanctioned assassinations. We were at war in Southeast Asia at the time, and the work was of a most sensitive nature. To put it simply, the government wanted expendable killers. As distasteful as such a program was, it was necessary for our country's prosecution of the war effort."

"Daniel epitomized the sought-after profile: a proclivity for and incredible proficiency in killing, in tandem with prodigious raw intellect. His hatred for human beings was -- and is -- absolute. He had a built-in survival system that could withstand blast furnace heat, long periods of claustrophobic isolation, or whatever hardships might inflict themselves. On top of all this he had a defensive mechanism that forewarned him of danger. He was the ultimate killing unit."

"Teaching himself, learning from both his omnivorous reading and hands-on experience, he had already learned how to take lives, and had proved that -- serially -- he possessed a masterful talent, if that's the word, for committing acts of homicide. But the military would give him something of great value -- the technology of combat, and all that went along with it. The government, from his perspective, could turn him into a professional killer."

"Through various drug-induced interview sessions using sodium Pentothal, Amytal, the paradyzines, tri-Kayandaminopropene, other experimental drugs then being tried, we were able to learn ways that such a man might be at least partially controlled. We were able to manipulate him to the extent that he could be inserted into situations where he might slake his thirst for killing and serve the U.S. government at the same time."

"Now -- once again -- through a complex set of circumstances that do not concern you, we have this human monster of our creation close at hand. Under lock, key, and every restraint at our disposal. Here!" He gestured behind him. It was very still in the room, save for the breathing of the audience listening to Dr. Norman's every word.

"Some of you have heard rumors of a killer who has taken a human life for every pound of his body weight ... of a monster of murder and mutilation. You may think the stories of the killer who eats the hearts of his victims are the work of overactive imaginations. But the rumors you've heard don't begin to describe this living horror."

"You are growing tired of listening to me drone on, standing in this cramped observation room, hearing how dangerous the care and feeding of one convict is, and the extraordinary lengths we must go to for our mutual protection. You may wonder why your government feels that you have a need to know some of the terrible, damning things you've been learning today."

"I ask you now, as absurd as it may sound to each of you, to try as best you can to free your thoughts from malice." He licked his lips and smiled. "Think of this man with pity, if you can. Think of him kindly -- as a fellow human -- whose beastly childhood rendered him into something other than one of us. Think of him with respect, great respect always, and remember that whatever you send in his direction may indeed rebound. Treat him in your thoughts, as well as your deeds, as you would be treated were the roles reversed."

"Ladies and gentlemen, steel yourselves and see, for the first time, the occupant of Cell Ten: Daniel Edward Flowers Bunkowski." Norman opened the heavy, gray curtain, and the shock wave that engulfed the room was both audible and palpable as they looked down into the pit and met the tiny, black, marble-hard eyes of the massive heart-eater."

Copyright © 1992 by Rex Miller

What People are saying about this

John Coyne
Literally mind-stunning, a Hitchcockian chase through one man's modern underworld!
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Rex Miller is terrific. [Chaingang] scratches itches I didn't know I had.

Meet the Author

The late Rex Miller had many different jobs and several obsessions. He was a radio broadcaster, did voice-overs, and announced for nationwide radio and television programs. Mr. Miller’s obsessions also proved fruitful, and he was considered one of America’s most knowledgeable authorities on popular culture memorabilia and the culture of nostalgia in general. His many novels include Stone Shadow, Slob, and several other books in the Chaingang/Jack Eichord Saga, pitting a police detective against one of the sickest killers in all of popular literature. 

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