Matthew R. Davis
Emergent Expressions
June 6, 2022
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello there fans of dark fiction, it’s your old pal Skull with a new book from Grey Matter Press’ Emergent Expressions Signature Line that is some powerful stuff. Before I go any further, I do want to mention that The Dark Matter of Natasha is a heavy book that deals frankly with sex, depression, self-harm, and the consequences of one’s own actions. If these topics are triggers for you, please try a different title from this press. This is an excellent book by Matthew R. Davis, but not one you’ll walk away from unscathed. That being said, let’s check in with our narrator in Lunar Bay, a place by the sea that harbors a certain darkness…

People who have a close relationship with death have a certain charisma. They seriously do not give a fuck and live each day as if it’s their last, because it might well be. Even if she’s poor, and possibly homeless, Natasha has that flair and the narrator of this story finds it irresistible. Even though she’s not really his type and he might still have a solid girlfriend who will love him with all her heart, a chance meeting sets him chasing Natasha and the darkness she carries with her. Because along with that darkness and lack of restraint are large breasts, a voluptuous body, and every high school boy’s erotic desire: Free sex with no repercussions or responsibility. Natasha even tells him, “I ain’t your fucking girlfriend, mate!” To make things clear.

But to a virgin with no real close friends, and what appears to be a dire future cleaning up a trailer park, this might be as close as he gets to love and living out the fantasy he only hears people boasting about outside pubs. So, he adopts Natasha’s religion of smoking weed and listening to Slayer, the heavier the metal the better. Goodbye to inane pop music with all its bogus platitudes and jingle-jangle guitars. It’s balls to the wall, no fear, and fuck her for glory. But as the days pass, things he hadn’t seen before come to light. Like how no one really escapes Lunar Bay, that he’s just a teenage boy playing at being a tough, but deep inside he’s too scared, and the biggie: sex isn’t love. Natasha is so broken that she’ll never be able to love anyone, and the only thing she has a true desire for is something the narrator cannot give her.

When Caitlin, the girlfriend he thought he’d lost, zooms back into the picture, it looks like it’s all blue skies and hooray the gang’s all here, yeah? But sometimes things turn out much differently than expected. Will our lad be able to patch up things with Caitlin? Does Natasha finally make her escape from Lunar Bay? How many times can “hope spring eternal’ before it’s shot down by a mean bastard called life that carries a sawed-off shotgun? Oh, and one more thing: NATSHA LOVES SLAYER.

So, what does your old pal Skull say about The Dark Matter of Natasha by Matthew R. Davis? FIVE STARS! This is another excellent book from Emergent Expressions and Grey Matter Press that meets readers on so many levels. There is a lot to be learned here by inexperienced hearts and some of us older will nod our heads because we’ve been in this place. Maybe some still are. Better to learn now before the darkness takes control. Want more info and to grab your own copy? Go to:  Want to find out more about author Matthew R. Davis? Go to: To keep getting news and reviews, follow your old pal Skull at:

Brian James Lewis is a poet, writer, and reviewer of urban poetry and dark fiction. He has written for Hellnotes, Aphotic Realm, Gallows Hill, and his own site Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. Brian’s most recent work is the immersive short story “Following My Destiny” about mass shooter Chance McCandless that gives readers a chilling look inside the criminal mind. Available NOW in Issue 22 of Trajectory Journal For more information message me or go to Thank you!

Matthew R. Davis


Human beings want to understand things because it makes us feel more in control of our lives. There are countless books, articles, and blogs about how stuff works from automobiles to xylophones. But we don’t really know everything that happens inside the human brain. I know some of you are huffing and puffing, perhaps explaining the functions of neurons and ganglia to your computer screen, right now. And you’re right about the mechanics of those systems. But a list of parts doesn’t explain why a person who appears outwardly “normal” to the casual observer would want to murder a store full of people, a school full of children, or random individuals attending a concert or movie. That’s what makes the whole phenomenon so scary. How are we supposed to stop these killers if we have no idea where, when, or why they’re going to strike next?
I wrote “Following My Destiny” to give readers an idea of what life looks like through a mass shooter’s eyes. My original plan was to use the research I did in more of a creative nonfiction format, but the result was dryer than a high school book report. Frustrated, I talked with some trusted friends and fellow writers, who suggested an immersive fiction approach that made use of my research and my personal mental health issues with PTSD. The results were still pretty flat…Until I was wrapping up another late-night writing session and my hand wrote: The voices are always talking to me, no matter where I am…”
Chance McCandless had finally come to life! And once he started talking, there was no shutting him up. My day-to-day activities were constantly invaded by his observations and desires, delivered in a strangely dry and matter-of-fact voice. Sleep provided no escape, just frequent nightmares in which I was always running or drawing a bead on targets. Feelings of guilt, anger, lust, and shame kept washing through me as if I were the one committing crimes, not Chance. He brought me to the realization that mass shooters carefully plan their crimes, slowly accruing supplies, and studying targets. They also spend time figuring out how to be invisible or accepted on the surface while their brains whir like food processors inside their skulls. In our modern world where everything moves fast, and stores are understaffed, those that notice something off about a person are too busy to point it out. And if they do tell their manager or law enforcement, nothing good happens, so you can be damn sure that employee or fellow tenant will keep their head down and mouth shut in the future. The system is broken.
“Following My Destiny” begins with Chance telling us about the voices, his desires, and what he’d like to do to his father. Not that I’m endorsing violence, but his hatred is not without provocation. Also fueling the fire is Chance’s favorite podcast delivered by religious zealot Lediv Bloodsmoore who preaches Armageddon to his followers. Chance is desperate for recognition and is planning to do something “really big” in the nebulous future. But when an unexpected event occurs, he’s forced into action too soon. Without a fully developed plan, things speedily spin out of control. Bullets start to fly slicing open Chance’s detached view of life and making his ideas crumble. Should he give up like his friend Al, keep fighting to the bitter end, or make a run for it while he still can and continue “spreading the good word” across the nation?
Intrigued, interested, and wanting to read more? Excellent! What you’ll want to do next is order a copy of TRAJECTORY issue 22 spring 2022. Inside, you’ll find excellent poetry, short stories, and flash. There’s a photo documentary about the wall between Mexico and U.S., a piece about the legendary Charles Bukowski, and poetry so real that it hurts. In other words, this fully independent literary journal publishes real writing by real people, not just college kids who are guaranteed to get published because it’s part of the degree their parents are paying for. To date, TRAJECTORY issue 22 has sold out two print runs and is printing a third as you read this. To get your very own copy of this excellent literary journal you can contact:
ME through this blog. I have a limited quantity for sale at $20 each which includes domestic shipping and handling. You can also contact editor in chief Chris Helvey at: to purchase issue 22. I also encourage you to check out TRAJECTORY’S website at: where you can read previously published work, sign up for the newsletter, and subscribe. All of which supports independent writers and poets, which is good for everybody. Thanks for reading this post from Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. Skull and I would love it if you’d follow us at: so we can continue to help independent writers and presses. Until next time, keep writing!