Have you not love enough to blog with me, when that rash humor which my mother gave me makes me forgetful?

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, November 4th*, the first Thursday of the new month, and—of course—it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.

Halloween has passed, alas, and now we enter the weird time wherein Thanksgiving symbols—at least in the US—struggle to hold onto at least a brief period of prominence before they are overtaken, no later than November 25th this year, by Christmas decorations**.

I’m slightly sorry to have to admit that yesterday I flipped back to writing Outlaw’s Mind on computer.  I’ve been getting quite a bit of minor but irritating arthrotic*** pain at the base of my thumb, and where the metacarpal meets the wrist.  I’d forgotten this.  It probably feels worse than it really is, since it’s been a while; also, the last time I experienced much of it, I was in wretched circumstances.  But I’ve felt it plenty of times before, even going back to my teenage years.  I think I tend just to get really focused when I’m writing and use those joints to a greater than ideal degree, causing wear and tear.  That damage no doubt accumulates, since healing is rarely complete in any region of the body, unless you’re a spiny mouse, so the discomfort starts earlier each time.  But it’s not primarily inflammatory, because there’s never even a hint of heat, redness, or noticeable swelling, and it only flares up with use, so arthrosis it is.

Because of that, and the minor inconvenience of storing my writing when not in use, and of flipping back to reread what I’d written yesterday instead of merely scrolling up, and, of course, because computer writing is easier to read, even for me, I’ve switched back.  I’m occasionally troubled by the spirit of the great Harlan Ellison, who (so I’ve read) thought that one can’t write decently or effectively on a word processor/computer because it’s too easy.  He supposedly disdained anything beyond the typewriter.  Ellison-sensei could be an opinionated curmudgeon by all accounts, but such an argument clearly doesn’t stand up on its face****, or Ellison should have committed to writing every one of his first drafts on stone with a chisel.

I can’t say I would completely have put it past him.

But I don’t think writing with a modern computer is necessarily worse, or that it changes anything all that much in any given writer’s style.  I wrote a good deal of the first draft of Son of Man on a very small smartphone using its note-taking app.  That wasn’t easy on my thumbs, but at the time I didn’t have a portable computer, and I was riding busses about three hours a day, so I was able to do a lot of writing that way.  I don’t think it was any easier than writing by hand at a desk would have been, and I don’t think my writing suffered or improved noticeably for it.

If you’d like to check, you can read Son of Man and compare it with Mark Red or The Chasm and the Collision or the short stories Paradox City and Solitaire, the first and often second drafts of all of which were written with pen on paper, and you can compare it also with Unanimity or any of my short stories starting with “I for one welcome our new computer overlords”, which are straight computer-written.  You can also compare it with The Vagabond, which was originally written partly as pen on paper but mostly on a Mac SE using WriteNow.  Or you can read all the tales in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which begins with a story part of the first draft of which was typed, if memory serves, and ends with a story that was written partly by hand and partly (first draft and all) in Microsoft Word™.  Unfortunately, now that I’ve told you the difference, your experiment will be hopelessly confounded by bias.

Oh, well.  Read them all anyway, what the heck.  You can buy extra copies for friends and ask them what they think without revealing the above information.  If you want to make things double blind, you can ask a third party to ask your friends what they think.  Or you can just read the stories.  I know that a lot of them are horror of one sort or another, but remember, just as a puppy isn’t only for Christmas*****, a horror story isn’t just for Halloween.  The darkness of night continues to grow, at least here in the northern hemisphere.  The time of daylight is in full retreat, and it will be weeks and weeks before it even begins to take back ground, let alone before it comes to dominate again, revealing all the stark unpleasantness of the world in its cold, bitter glare.  In the dark, it is easier to pretend.  And sometimes, if you’re lucky, your imagination can run away with you.

Which brings me back to Outlaw’s Mind, for which I’m gradually regaining my momentum, which was no small task since it’s been interrupted more than once.  Maybe the handwriting thing was just a way to trick myself around my resistance to getting going on the story again.  If so, it seems to have worked reasonably well, and Outlaw’s Mind will perhaps be all the better for its disjointed history.  I’ll do my best to make it so.

In the meantime, Happy November to you all.  It’s generally a month I like, even though it exists in the lee of my favorite holiday.  It evokes memories of still-falling autumn leaves blowing about in briskly cold (but not yet bitter) winds, and the anticipation of two big family holidays, each associated with feasts and TV specials and games and long weekends and so on and on.  And though many of those things are no longer mine to enjoy, alone here in south Florida, I can at least say that it’s a time of year where one can enjoy walks outside without obscene layers of sunscreen and emergency water rations to replace all the bodily fluids that have soaked one’s clothes.

I don’t know what it’s all like in the southern hemisphere but considering that summer’s on its way for them, it’s probably great.

TTFN

Happy Birthday


*It’s my mother’s birthday.  She would be turning eighty, if my memory is correct.  Happy Birthday, Mom, wherever you are!  Knowing her, if she’s anywhere, it’s someplace good.  She certainly would deserve it.  As would my father, of course, who would have turned eighty-two precisely a month ago.  He was a bit of a curmudgeon—I take after him in many ways—but a good person.  So, belated Happy Birthday, Dad.

**And to a far lesser extent, Hanukkah and other solstice-related holiday decorations.  You rarely see any Saturnalia symbols, though.  I’m not even sure what those would look like.  Oh, well.  We get plenty of the Norse decorations.

***The auto-correct thingy tried to change this word to “arthritic”, without even asking me, but that was an incorrect correction.  The suffix “-itis” indicates inflammation, usually as a primary component of a given disorder.  Though there may well be secondary inflammation in the root structures of my thumb, this is clearly a wear-and-tear phenomenon, and so is an “-osis”, not an “-itis”…the latter suffix which the program keeps changing to “it is”, which is again wrong, and again, it’s not asking me.  I wouldn’t mind a little red wavy underline to bring it to my attention—asking me if I was sure about writing that—but especially if I enclose something in quotes, the program should not presume to correct what I write.

****Which sounds both difficult and painful.

*****It’s also delicious in a sandwich on Boxing Day.

For thy part, I do wish thou wert a blog, that I might love thee something.

[Just a quick reminder:  Anyone who wants to leave me a comment—I know, it’s not likely to be many people—should not waste time doing so on Facebook or Twitter.  I check Twitter intermittently at best, to try to minimize unnecessary despair, and though I share many things to Facebook, I rarely go there directly, as being there is far too prone to stress me out at an even more extreme level and make me even more depressed than usual (if that’s possible).  Comment here, on my blog, or on Iterations of Zero if you read that.  I’m on WordPress all the time, since I follow quite a few other people’s blogs, and I get frequent notifications about “likes” and comments.  This is probably an exercise in futility, since I doubt anyone really wants to communicate with me more than is absolutely necessary—goodness knows I don’t want to communicate with me—but just in case.)

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, the last Thursday in October of 2021, and so it’s time for the ordeal* known as my weekly blog post.  In three days, it will be Halloween, my favorite holiday, though I suspect that many if not most will be celebrating it on Friday or Saturday night rather than Sunday.  I have a costume to wear, which I’ll probably only put on at work; it’s a sort of steam-punk version of The Master from Doctor Who (it’s my own original interpretation of the character, but Doctor Who does have a sort of steam-punk quality to it), complete with chameleon arch fob watch, Harold Saxon’s signet ring, and The Master’s laser screwdriver**.  I also have a cool cane with an extendable telescope that really works (though it’s not terribly powerful).  Other than the hardware, it’s all black, of course.

Beyond that, not much new is happening.  I’ve been writing the first draft of Outlaw’s Mind by hand, and that seems to be going nicely.  I don’t know whether the story will be better for it, but I don’t think it will be worse, and anyway, it feels a bit like going back to basics, which is nice.  It also feels like it will help avoid me getting too carried away and writing more than I should.  As you all may have noticed, when I have a keyboard, the words come very quickly, and I often go off on tangents.

I’ve been getting in some regular walking recently, as much as six miles a day, both to get a bit healthier and, if possible, to lose some weight (the less of me there is, the better, I say).  It also ties in nicely with a recent impromptu post I did for Iterations of Zero, which I think about three or four people may have read—probably not all the way through.  One of the nice things about walking is, it lets me think about the notion or idea or whatever you want to call it that I discuss in that blog post, particularly in the penultimate paragraph (really, the last full paragraph), which involves going for a very long walk.

It really is a pleasing and beguiling course of action to contemplate, and it’s particularly useful in that it minimizes inconvenience for most other people.  Also, there’s frankly nothing anyone can do to stop it, legally, since it doesn’t involve doing anything that is definitively a danger to oneself or to others.  It’s really diabolically simple.  It just requires commitment***, and that’s something with which I tend to be overflowing.

In addition to that encouraging consideration, the other day, while taking a slightly new route, I thought of a story idea related to walking, which I immediately “wrote” down—actually, I used voice to text because I was still walking—in my “story ideas” entry in my note taking smartphone app.  It’s always fun when ideas like that come, even if the story never gets written.

Speaking of stories, here’s a reminder to you all that Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book formats, and many of the tales in it might make for excellent Halloween reading.  While you’re at it, The Vagabond is certainly, without doubt, an excellent Halloween story.  And, technically, Unanimity Book 1 and Book 2 are pretty good for Halloween, and the three stories in Welcome to Paradox City are quite strongly so.  Of course, one could hardly say that a teenage demi-vampire was entirely out of place on Halloween, so Mark Red is also good reading for this holiday.

I do tend to lean in that direction when I write, don’t I?

With that, rather unusually, I think I’ll call this blog post to a close after only a relatively short amount of writing.  I do hope you all enjoy the holiday.  Spend some time, if you can, having fun with family and friends (as long as you take appropriate precautions regarding infectious diseases), eat some candy, watch some scary movies, read some scary stories, maybe dress up in fun outfits, and generally have a laugh at the darkness of the world.

You might as well; it certainly laughs at us.

TTFN

The_Doctor_Falls_Master_Kill_it bigger


*At least, I assume it is for all of you—some form of penance, perhaps, through which you wash away sins with a relatively minor bit of suffering.  It’s the only plausible explanation I can think of for the fact that you’re reading it.

**Who’d have sonic?

***So to speak.

HOLE FOR A HEART teaser

Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser.  However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published*.

holeforaheartredgreywith frame

HOLE FOR A HEART

     Jonathan Lama drove west along Interstate 80 on a warm, late spring day, headed for Chicago.  His journey was at least partly an excuse to test the recently purchased ’97 Mustang convertible he drove.  He was not a true car aficionado, but he liked the Mustang, and he had a good friend, Rob Gardner, who was a mechanic and lived near him.  When Jon had told Rob that he was looking for a second car and had found the Mustang for a very good price, Rob had all but offered to go in halfsies just to have the chance to work on and restore it.  Rob plied his trade only part-time—and under-the-table—since a severe back injury had left him both eligible for disability benefits and honestly unable to work a full schedule.  He was, however, good at what he did, and after much effort and a fair amount of additional expense, he pronounced the car ready for long-distance travel.  All the remaining work was cosmetic.

     So far, Jon had no complaints about his friend’s efforts.  He’d previously only driven the Mustang around central New Jersey, where he lived.  In the beginning, it had ridden rough, and the speedometer had malfunctioned, making Jon nervous every time he took it out, though it had been easy enough to match the speed of traffic.

     Now, the speedometer had been replaced and checked and was working as it should.  The engine ran powerfully on all eight cylinders, and Jon could barely tell that he wasn’t driving a brand-new car, at least based on those criteria.  The interior still needed a lot of work, and the car’s paint was noticeably faded, but Jon had never disagreed with Rob in prioritizing functional issues. Continue reading

SOLITAIRE teaser

Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser.  However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published.

[In case you can’t tell already from this teaser, this is a VERY dark story, so be warned.]

solitaire cover

SOLITAIRE

            UP, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN…

            The nine of hearts is showing on the left.  Nothing very noteworthy about that, except that the card’s already partly stuck to the table, lying in a tacky spot of something someone spilled there and didn’t bother to clean up.  I’m already not sure I’ll be able to pull it loose without tearing, at least if I have to wait too long before I play it.  I should have been more careful when I was laying it out, I guess, but…well, it doesn’t really matter.

            I look across the table, trying to meet Vicki’s eyes.  She’s not paying any attention to me.  She’s just sitting there in her chair, with a bowl of oatmeal resting in front of her.  The oatmeal’s probably cold by now.  She never can just eat her food; she always has to putz around until it’s tepid at best, and until anyone watching is as annoyed as hell.  Right now, I’d bet she doesn’t even mean to finish the stuff.  She’s just sitting there, staring into the distance, lost in thought, ignoring her food, ignoring me, and ignoring everything else.

            UP, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN…

***

            “I’m really sorry, Jerry, but…I’ve got no choice.  I’m giving the account to Walt.  You’ve always been good for Tel-Co before, but…well, lately I’ve been getting…complaints.”

            “Complaints?” I asked.  To be honest, I didn’t give two shits about any complaints—what they were, why they’d been made, or who made them.  But it was expected that I’d be concerned, and I decided to be a good boy and play the part that was assigned to me.  I think I must have failed pretty badly; my voice sounded dull and flat even to me.  Chasing certainly seemed puzzled.  I liked that, at least.

            Chasing’s tie was plain and red.  His suit, of course, was blue, because he considered that a “power suit,” God only knows why.  Unfortunately for him, the suit, along with his red tie and white shirt, made him look like a reject from some Army recruitment poster:  a cheesy, modernized version of Uncle Sam, but with a puffy and worried face, no beard, and hair that was kept from going the traditional, distinguished white by regular application of Just for Men®.  That thought amused me, and I suppose I must’ve snorted a bit, because Chasing looked at me quizzically before he continued.

            What a dork.

            “You know that I’m behind you all the way, Jerry,” he said, probably with about as much truth as we put into all our advertising.  “But…well, more than one person—and these are people I have no reason to disbelieve—more than one person has been…complaining.”

            He looked at me for a reaction, but I just watched his face, thinking about how much better it would look if someone would throw a bottle of acid on it.  He must’ve been disturbed by the way I stared at him, because he suddenly looked down at his shoes.  Maybe he just didn’t like what he was forced to be saying.  I don’t know.  I don’t care, either, not really, and I didn’t at the time.  After all, whether the universe contracts in on itself or just fizzles out into a haze someday, we’ll all be long gone and forgotten.

            “I’ve heard that you’ve been…well, neglecting your responsibilities.”  Now Chasing grabbed a pen out of his pocket and started fiddling with it, flipping it around in his fingers.  He only did that when he was really uncomfortable.  That discomfort was obvious in his voice, too, when he said, “You haven’t been meeting your deadlines…or your extensions.  It’s not like you.  More importantly, though, is that when you come through, you’re not providing quality work.  Yesterday I read your outlines for the next Tel-Co TV spot series, and frankly…well, frankly I was shocked.  You can’t do things like that, Jerry; Tel-Co pays us a lot of money to give them the best.  And you are the best, I know that, like everybody here does…” He stopped then, looking at me, probably waiting to see how I was going to react to his forced praise.  I wasn’t sorry to disappoint him.

            Looking back on it now, it’s kind of surprising that I remember what he said so clearly, considering that I really, honestly didn’t care, not even in the most distant part of my mind.  Somehow, I can hear him as if it was all happening again.

            Isn’t that a horrible thought?

            “Look, Jerry, it seems obvious to me that you’re having some kind of…personal difficulties.  I don’t know what they are—the stress, the pressure, something at home—and I’m not going to pry…at least not unless you want to talk to me about it.”  He stopped again there, I guess waiting to see if I was going to open my heart to him.

            What I wanted to say was, “The problem, Chasing, is that you’re a greedy asshole bastard, and I’m probably one, too, but that doesn’t matter, because the world doesn’t notice either of us until it finally swallows us up, and the universe doesn’t notice the world at all.”  I knew he wouldn’t understand, though, so I stayed quiet.  Chasing looked like he couldn’t decide whether to be disappointed or relieved, and I was more than happy to see him confused.

            “Well, look,” he said, “I’ve gotten approval in advance for you to take a few weeks off.  With pay.  I want you to just stay home, starting tomorrow, and…relax.  Take care of whatever it is that’s bothering you, okay?  We need you here and we need you whole, Jerry.”

            “Thanks,” I said simply, then just watched him until he muttered something appropriate and left my office.  When I was alone behind the closed door, I laughed—quietly but intensely—until there were tears in my eyes.  What an idiot!  At that moment it was hard to think of anything more appealing than the notion of worms chewing on his rotting corpse.  Although, come to think of it, that would be a sort of cannibalism, wouldn’t it?  Heh.

            I turned around in my chair.  For the rest of the day, I stared out through my office window, looking out onto that disgusting city, watching the world as it died around me, most of its inhabitants not even realizing that it was ill.

***

            UP, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN…

            The next two cards showing are the three of diamonds and the ten of clubs.  That’s convenient.  I’ll be able to move that nine when I’m done dealing—assuming, of course, that it’ll come unstuck.  Who spilled that shit there, anyway?

            It must’ve been Denny.  He always makes such a mess.  Well, okay, not always.  Not right now.  Right now, he’s over in the family room, watching cartoons on TV before he goes to school.  It must be nice to be in kindergarten and not have to go anywhere until noon.  Not that I have to go anywhere today.  Chasing, the prick, saw to that.

            Poor Denny.  To have been born and to be growing up in a dying universe, on a world where life is not only futile, but hateful and wretched as well.  I wish I could do more for him than I have.  But I can’t.  Nobody ever can.

            UP, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN…

FREE RANGE MEAT teaser

Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser.  However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published.

Free Range Meat cover

FREE RANGE MEAT

            It was unusually hot and bright that day, and as Brian approached the parking lot, he almost regretted his decision to walk to the shopping plaza where his nearest Whole Foods was located.  Though his backpack was currently empty, he was already sweating heavily beneath it, his tee-shirt sticking to his back.  The front of his shirt also, though less sopped than the rear, bore visible sweat marks.  Brian had decided already that, as soon as he got home, he was going to take another shower.  He hated to waste the water, but even his conservational idealism had its limits; many hours remained before bedtime, and he really didn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon stinking of stale sweat.

            The sky was barely dotted with occasional small clouds, but the air was noticeably humid, and the temperature was well into the upper eighties even though it was only early May.  Brian shook his head, tossing his mid-length, straight hair—also damp with sweat—from side to side as he went.  He wondered, given such unusual warmth, how anyone could possibly doubt that climate change was real, that the world was getting warmer thanks to the unrestrained use of fossil fuels and the ridiculous output of all the cattle humans raised just so they could eat steak and burgers, wasting countless acres of land that could have grown food for people to eat directly, without nearly so much impact on the environment.

            He had to remind himself that one unseasonably hot day was no more proof of global warming than a particularly cold winter day was evidence against it.  Still, the emotional weight was hard to resist.  He didn’t think he was mistaken in believing that his childhood summers had not been as severe, nor as early, as they were now.  That was memory, though, surely colored by the fact that a child’s body was more resilient than an adult’s—though Brian was lean and muscular from regular workouts, a regimen he’d undertaken more to fight against his moderate scoliosis than for trying to look good.  Indeed, at forty-four, Brian had often been assured that he looked easily ten years younger.  The tee-shirts and shorts he habitually wore helped this impression, but even in a suit and tie, which he wore when meeting with certain clients, Brian could easily pass for a young, upwardly mobile professional rather than a man approaching middle age.  Even his simple, wire-framed glasses made him look young and intelligent.

            Brian took no special pride in the fact that he looked good for his age, except to think to himself that this was what clean living did for a person.  And though, just as with the weather on any given day, he knew that his individual attributes couldn’t honestly be used as evidence of a general trend, he was nonetheless convinced that his health and appearance were due more to lifestyle than to genetics.  Perhaps his genes could be credited with the fact that he was smart enough to recognize better ways to live and had the will to act on that recognition. Continue reading

PROMETHEUS AND CHIRON teaser

Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser.  However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published.

prometheuscover

PROMETHEUS AND CHIRON

          Tommy first saw the woman at the station in the evening as he waited to catch the train home. He had done some drywalling in a friend of a friend’s house that day and was tired and sore as he waited.  The job had been off the books, so as not to endanger his disability benefits, and it was good to have the extra money; quite apart from eking out basic living expenses, the supplemental cash helped pay for his medical needs.

          Tommy had injured himself some years before, during a construction job on a three-story building.  The fall had not been as serious as it might have been, but three fractured lumbar vertebrae, with the addition of disc herniations and joint injuries to his right knee had left him in chronic pain.  He’d begun taking prescription opiates at first solely to relieve his agony; the extent of his MRI-revealed injuries had at least ensured that he never had to fight much to convince doctors that his pain was real.  After a while, though, he’d found that the meds also made other aspects of life easier, and his dose had slowly but steadily increased.

          Tommy stood at the far end of the station, smoking a cigarette in the designated area.  He had swallowed two extra blues on his way from the job, trying to take the edge off his soreness, to assuage his own jitters, and to relieve his psychic distress over when his next paying job might be coming.  He had just achieved a bit of equanimity when he looked across the track and saw, in the electric light that locally banished the already-thick nighttime, a woman seated on one of the benches.

          Something didn’t seem right about her.  She was extremely pale, Tommy could see that even from across the tracks in the artificial light, and she was visibly trembling and squirming.  She didn’t look healthy. Continue reading

IN THE SHADE teaser

Hand version 1

IN THE SHADE

 

            When Gary Sawyer first heard the screams, he thought they were just the noises of boys playing.  His son, Kyle, had been out most of the morning with his friend, Sean Corcoran, from two “blocks” up, and they were rarely the quietest of companions.  Upon noticing the sharp, high-pitched noises from one of the boys, overlaid with shouted but unintelligible words from the other, Gary assumed that the two were involved in some strange adventure game, or that one of them might be angry at the other.  Such things happened from time to time, even between boys who were as good friends as Kyle and Sean were.

            Gary sometimes thought of the stretch of road on which he lived—and from the end of which he heard the noises—as a “block,” but it really wasn’t.  It was a cul-de-sac, a little, knobby protuberance sticking off the main street, with three houses along each side and four circled around the bulb at its end.  Well…there were three completed houses at the end, and one that was still under construction.

            Gary was not a fan of the way streets were laid out in Florida developments.  He had grown up in the Midwest and the northeast, and one thing you could say about northern suburbia—at least where he had lived—blocks there were blocks.  Streets crossed each other at right angles—more or less—and they split neighborhoods into rectangular agglomerations of dwellings, with backyards abutting other backyards, usually with fences in between, as God clearly intended.

            In Florida, however, things rarely followed any sane deity’s design.  The roads along which people lived tended to meander and twist like big, sightless worms working their way through the soil of neighborhoods, with no clear geometric path.  Occasionally they would close into a single, huge loop, but there was rarely anything one could honestly call a block.  Also, there were all those little protruding bits of rapidly terminating street, such as the one on which the Sawyers lived—strange polyps of roadway.  They were called cul-de-sacs, and residents often referred to them as “sacks.”  Gary supposed the French term sounded fancier than “dead end”, but where he had grown up that was what they would have been called. Continue reading

HOUSE GUEST teaser

The following is an excerpt from the beginning of my short story House Guest, the oldest active story in my opus, so to speak.  It will be the first entry in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  Enjoy!

knocker

HOUSE GUEST

            William Harrison sat up in bed, awakened by a particularly frightening nightmare.

            This was all too common an event for him, though he’d thought it was becoming less so.  His pajamas were slightly damp with sweat, but that was as much because he was using too many covers as that he was frightened by his dream.  He’d had far too many, sometimes far more terrible and vivid, dreams in his life to let himself be bothered all that much by this last one.  In fact, as was usual, he couldn’t even remember what the dream had been about now that he was awake.

            He blinked sleep from his eyes and looked around the dark room, first noting that, according to his bedside clock, it was just after three in the morning.  Surely that was the loneliest time of night…the soul’s midnight, he had heard someone call it once, though he didn’t know why.

            He sighed.

            His bed was too big.  He noticed this acutely in the near blackness of his room, the pale rectangle showing vividly against the surrounding dark.  For the past several months, he’d slept in a bed that was little more than a cot, and the king-sized mattress he lay on now was far, far larger than that.  To add to—and to worsen—its relative size, his wife, Melissa, wasn’t there with him.  And, of course, neither was Tammy, their four-year-old daughter, who would sometimes crawl into bed with her parents during the night, when her own nightmares, or just her darkened room, became too frightening. Continue reading

I am a fellow o’ the strangest mind i’ the world; I delight in blogs and revels sometimes altogether

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday, on which day of the week we complete the scared ritual by having me write my weekly blog post.

It’s been a fairly uneventful week, as far as writing and related matters go.  I’m editing In the Shade, as per usual, but that’s been going somewhat slowly.  I’m working on it every day, but I’ve been getting a bit less done than usual, due to some lifestyle changes I’ve made regarding allergy treatment, back pain interventions, and food habits—and other such things—and until my personal, mental clocks adjust to these changes, my concentration is a bit lacking.  To be fair to me, I am adjusting rapidly.  Today, for instance, I’m much more alert than I was yesterday and the day before.  I don’t think it will be long before I’ve gotten back up to full speed.  I may even accelerate.

I’m trying to consider what to work on after I finish In the Shade and complete and publish Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities and then complete and publish Outlaw’s Mind.  I think I may want to swing toward lighter fare.  I’ve been doing mainly horror or horror-related stories for quite a while now, which is fine, but I think veering toward more of a fantasy/sci-fi adventure tale might be good for a bit of a change.  Of course, there’s an element of horror to most of what I write—that’s just who I am, I guess—but still, it might be nice to do something a little less dark.

Among my released novels, two are purely horror stories—The Vagabond and Unanimity, though the latter disguises itself in a science fiction veneer.  The other three, however, are not.  Even Mark Red, which is about vampires and demi-vampires, isn’t a horror story; it’s more of a teen fantasy-adventure of sorts.  The vampires in the story are not merely the protagonists but are actually the good guys*.  Weirdly, though The Chasm and the Collision is a youth fantasy adventure, it could not only legitimately be called science fiction—albeit highly speculative—but it also has more horror elements than Mark Red does…which, I maintain, is essential in any youth-oriented fantasy adventure.

Of course, Son of Man is pure science fiction, though much of it is quite speculative, involving notions of complex time being used as a partial workaround of the Uncertainty Principle, and as a way of doing “time travel” without actually traveling through time.  It plays with identity questions related to the whole “Star Trek transporter”, copy-versus-original, destroyed and recreated versus actually transported question, but with the added levels of differences in time, and with chains of inescapable causality as well as unrequited love and the inability of even a supremely powerful being to change its past.  And, of course, given the title, it indulges in a bit of a playful religious allegory, or whatever the proper term might be.  Though there are references to truly horrific events in it—worse, frankly, than in any of my horror stories—it isn’t a horror story at all.  Go figure.

Of course, among the three tales in Welcome to Paradox City, two are clearly horror, though of quite different subtypes, while the middle one is sort of a supernatural low-key comedy.  I don’t know how funny it is, but though it involves “the unquiet dead**”, it is not a horror story.

All this is my way of reminding myself that, no, I don’t just write horror, though that’s what I’ve mainly written in recent outings.  So, I don’t have to write anything horror-ish for my next big project.  I’ve considered starting the novelization of a story I’d originally conceived as a manga***, based on two separate doodles/drawings I’d done, The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  If you look at pictures on my Facebook page, you should find some drawings of these characters, and scenes I envision them experiencing, and which are part of the narrative in the story in my head.  They are unlikely heroes, and quite unlikely companions, originally from different worlds (literally), who are tricked/forced to work together on a quest to serve the desires of an extra-dimensional wizard who is trapped in a tiny universe of his own making.  Along the way, they encounter another extra-dimensional being, properly considered a demi-god, who calls herself Lucy (not Lil), and who is a huge fan of the Beatles, and who models her realm accordingly.  As you might guess, Lucy is prone to call the Desperado either “Rocky” or “Dan” or even “Bungalow Bill”, depending on how generous she’s feeling toward him, and she refers to the Dark Fairy as “Sexy Sadie”.

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As you can tell, this story is conceived of as a fun sort of bizarre adventure, with few restrictions on what can possibly happen (though I do insist upon internal logical consistency, as long as it’s not too much trouble).  But I truly like the characters, as I imagine them so far, and would like to find out more of what happens to them, and to introduce them to other people.  I fear, though, that it would require an entire series to tell their tale(s), much more so even than with Mark Red, which can sort of stand on its own, though there’s more to that story than is currently written.

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This is Lucy. In the sky. With diamonds.

And, of course, I have a story waiting called Changeling in a Shadow World, which is about a boy/young man who believes himself to be a normal human, but who is actually the transplanted last survivor of a race of beings that perceive, move through, and manipulate higher spatial dimensions (and non-spatial dimensions), and who were wiped out by a creature or entity that exists between physical planes of reality, without integer dimensionality of its own, and which desires to invade realms of “normal” realities, either to become “dimensional” or merely to ruin such realms for everyone else.  It’s quite non-sane, being a creature without fixed dimensionality, and it has appeared in my stories before.  It’s referred to by those who fear it as Malice, or the Ill-Will, or the Other.  Its (rather unwilling) servants include less powerful irrationally dimensional creatures known as Crawlers…at least one of these appears in one of my soon-to-be-released stories already.

So, these are some of the options for what to work on after my current projects are done, which shouldn’t take too much longer.  If any of my readers have thoughts or preferences about what sounds like a good story for me to write next from among these descriptions, I would be honestly delighted to get your input.  I don’t absolutely guarantee that I’ll go along with your requests, but there can be no doubt whatsoever that you will influence me.  Surely all authors want to write stories that people will enjoy reading, and to which people will look forward!

In the meantime, I hope you all continue to do your best to stay safe and healthy and, especially, as happy as you’re able to be.

TTFN

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This is the original drawing of the Dark Fairy


*I’m using “guys” here in a gender-nonspecific way for convenience.  The lead characters include a female vampire (Morgan, my favorite character that I’ve written so far) and a male demi-vampire (the title character).

**They find the term “ghost” offensive and would prefer that people not use it.

***Mark Red was also so conceived, originally.

The Vagabond

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A young teacher named Martin Wallace picks up a strange hitchhiker in an overcoat and an old-fashioned hat on his way to his new job in the university town of Eddington.

A college student named Janice Lundgren starts to have vivid and terrifying nightmares featuring a figure in a hat and overcoat, his face always obscured.

A prostitute named Ami Forrester is horrifically murdered by a man in a gray overcoat and gray felt hat. The following night, her body disappears and the doctor who was to perform her autopsy is found dead. They are not the last to die unnaturally.

In the same week, Jake Schneider, another college student, is surprised by a visit from his cousin, Scott. Though Scott initially claims to have come for a self-reflective break from his own studies, it soon becomes clear that he knows or suspects something about the murders in Eddington.

When pressured by Jake, who himself has experienced uncanny visions and disturbing encounters, Scott reveals that he is not merely visiting to take a break from college. He is pursuing the man who brutally murdered his parents…a man who wore a gray overcoat and a gray, felt fedora.

But this killer is not merely a man. He has already survived Scott stabbing him through the heart. No one who sees him can ever remember his face. And what he does to his victims is worse than murder.

Jake, Scott, and Janice, with the help of Janice’s mother, a self-proclaimed psychic, learn that this entity has come to Eddington to perform a ritual that will lead to untold, eternal horror for the entire world. And Jake, it seems, is the only one who might be able to stop it.

But how can three college students and a Greenwich Village psychic possibly stand against an entity that has wandered the world for tens of thousands of years, that can warp the human mind, that can never be recognized for what it really is unless it allows itself to be seen…an entity whose power is growing as its goal comes closer…an entity that can consume the very souls of those who might stand in its way?