Author Archives: mikesimages

About mikesimages

Husband, Father, Writer, Poet, Songwriter, Photographer https://twitter.com/MichaelKelso2 https://www.facebook.com/mikeswritings/

The Journey: Outtakes

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear: Collection‘.

If you haven’t read the rest of The Journey, please go back here and start from the beginning. Many of these scenes will make no sense to you unless you’ve read the enitre story.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the stories, but don’t rush off just yet. I have a special treat for you.

As I was writing this story I had some other ideas pop into my head. These ideas didn’t quite fit with the overall tone. So after I finished it I decided to take them and make an outtake reel like you would see on a DVD. With this in mind, I wrote it in script form. I apologize to those who are unfamiliar with reading scripts, but I think you’ll get the gist. This was written just for fun and my hope is that it will be received that way. Enjoy.

Fade In:

EXT. TRAIN STATION

The Conductor is slowly examining the train engine. He walks
around the front, admiring the beauty and power of it when
suddenly he trips over the track and falls flat on his face.
Getting up slowly and dusting himself off.

CONDUCTOR
Nobody saw that, right?

CAMERAMAN ONE
(tries to keep from laughing, but
just can’t hold it together. He
bursts out into hysterical fits of
laughter)

CONDUCTOR
(Glares at cameraman)

CAMERAMAN ONE
(Dies)

Fade out:

Fade in:

INT. TRAIN, CONDUCTOR’S ROOM

The conductor sits in his chair, head resting against the
back, snoring loudly.

CAMERAMAN TWO
(Whispers to the sound man) Is
someone going to wake him up?

SOUND MAN
Not me.

DIRECTOR
I enjoy life too much.

MAKEUP GIRL
Not a chance.

DIRECTOR
(Stares quietly at Conductor) Okay,
that’s lunch.

SOUND MAN
It’s only nine thirty in the
morning.

DIRECTOR
Do you want to tell him that?

SOUND MAN
(Looking thoughtful) You know, now
that I think about it, I am hungry.

Crew quietly file out of the room leaving the conductor
sleeping peacefully.

Fade out:

Fade in:

EXT. STREET, TWILIGHT

An empty mist covered street, along with deserted cars, half
destroyed buildings, and rubble.

SHE
(groaning as she approaches the man
with outstretched arms) Brains!

MAN
(Quickly pulls out a Desert Eagle
fifty caliber pistol, points it at
her head and squeezes the trigger.
Her skull disappears in a shower of
blood) (A beat) Yuck!

Man wipes off his pistol, spins it on his finger and holsters
it while walking away, whistling ‘Bad to the Bone’.

Fade out:

Fade in:

INT. TRAIN, PASSENGER CAR

The Conductor is punching tickets, he has just listened to a
man telling a story.

CONDUCTOR
I hope you don’t think it’s too
forward of me, but I collect
stories and I was intrigued by
yours.

STORYTELLER
Umm … thanks

CONDUCTOR
Would you mind if I wrote it down
in one of my journals?

STORYTELLER
Well, the thing is, it’s not
actually my story. I just told it.

CONDUCTOR
And did you contact the Author to
get permission?

STORYTELLER
Umm … no.

CONDUCTOR
Have you ever heard of copyright
infringement?

STORYTELLER
It’s just a story.

CONDUCTOR
(Looking irritated) Just a story?
Have you ever stopped to think
about all the hard work the author
put into it? The long hours writing
and revising, just so you can come
along and steal his work?

STORYTELLER
(Looking terrified) Not really.

DIRECTOR
Cut!

CONDUCTOR
I’ll be in my trailer. (Disappears)

STORYTELLER
(Dies)

Fade out:

Fade in:

INT. OFFICE

Harold is on the phone with the automated ACME prize comittee.

AUTOMATED VOICE
To confirm your prize, simply press
‘one’ and an operator will assist
you.

HAROLD
(Stares at the phone in disbelief.
He starts hammering on the ‘one’
button.)

AUTOMATED VOICE
Congratulations, we will connect
you with an operator, one moment
please.

HAROLD
(Looking at camera) Umm, I don’t
think that was supposed to happen.
(Glances at script)

Fade out:

Fade in:

INT. CONVENIENCE STORE ON 23RD STREET

Alan has been handed a gun by his so-called friends and sent
to rob the store. He walks up to the counter, then stands
there, looking around as if confused.

ROBBER
(Running into scene, zipping up
pants) Sorry, sorry everyone,
bathroom break.

DIRECTOR
Cut!

ALAN
(Rolls eyes, turns and walks back
to his mark.)

ROBBER
(Looking embarrassed, walks back out
to take his position.)

DIRECTOR
Take two!

Fade out:

Fade in:

EXT. TRAIN STATION

Emily is waiting at the station. She is surrounded by
oppressive silence.

EMILY
(Farts very loudly.)

CAMERAMAN TWO
(Starts laughing.)

SOUND MAN
(Chuckling) It seems we’ve had some
sort of explosion. Effects, did you
set anything off?

EFFECTS MAN
(Rolling on ground, laughing.)

DIRECTOR
Cut!

EMILY
(Looking very red in the face.) I
need a short break. (Walks away)

ENTIRE CREW
(Laughing hysterically)

Fade out:

Fade in:

INT. TRAIN, PASSENGER CAR

Emily has just boarded the train and the conductor is punching
her ticket.

EMILY
Excuse me, you seem familiar, do I
know you?

CONDUCTOR
That’s quite possible young lady.
You seem somewhat familiar to me
as well.

EMILY
Could I trouble you for your name?

CONDUCTOR
No trouble at all, my name is
Death.

EMILY AND CONDUCTOR
(Both looking confused)

A loud train whistle sounds.

CONDUCTOR
Really?

DIRECTOR
Cut! Reset the scene.

CONDUCTOR
Why don’t you just edit the sound
in during post production?

DIRECTOR
(Looking irritated) Who’s directing
this?

CONDUCTOR
(Glares at Director)

DIRECTOR
(Dies)

Fade out:

Fade in:

PRODUCER’S OFFICE

The Conductor is sitting in front of a desk, across from the
producer.

PRODUCER
Listen, I know you’re not used to
working well with others, but
you’ve got to quit killing off my
staff.

CONDUCTOR
(Glares at Producer)

PRODUCER
Now that right there. That’s what
I’m talking about. You don’t want
to hear what I have to say, so
you’re just going to kill me. You
can’t keep doing that.

CONDUCTOR
(Lifting eyebrow) Can’t I?

PRODUCER
Not if you ever want to work in
Hollywood again. You came to me,
remember? You wanted to change your
image, well how are you going to do
that if no one is around to see.
You need to calm down, relax a
little, have fun with it.

CONDUCTOR
I … I’ll try.

PRODUCER
Good, now no more killing, right?

CONDUCTOR
(Hesitates)

PRODUCER
Right?

CONDUCTOR
Okay, no killing.

PRODUCER
Great, now let’s get this train
back on track.

CONDUCTOR
(Stands to leave, turns back and
glares at Producer)

PRODUCER
(Starts to cough) Knock that off!

Fade out:

Fade In:

INT. PRISON

Larry is beginning his rampage of destruction. He has killed
everyone, officers included in this cell block.

LARRY
(Steps over bodies only to find the
main door locked) Hmm… (He turns
back into the room, searching for
something, leans down and takes the
keys from the guard’s lifeless
corpse) Thanks, Leonard.

LEONARD
No problem.

LARRY
(Nearly falls over, not expecting
an answer, then starts to laugh)

CREW
(All laughing as Leonard sits up
and grins at Larry)

DIRECTOR TWO
Cut!

Fade out:

Fade in:

EXT. PRISON ROOF

Lucifer has just revealed his true identity to Larry and told
him of his eternal punishment. The portal to Hell opens and
out of it is heard the song ‘Boogie Nights’ playing loudly.

LUCIFER
(Starts to dance as several
‘spirits’ appear dressed in full
eighties disco outfits)

LARRY
(Starts to dance along with Lucifer
and the spirits)

CREW
(All start to dance)

DIRECTOR TWO
Cut! Cut! Cut!

CAST AND CREW
(Ignore director)

DIRECTOR TWO
(Shruggs his shoulders and starts
to breakdance)

Fade out:

Fade in:

EXT. TRAIN PORCH OF LAST CAR

The conductor stands waiting, anticipating the arrival of his
friend the raven.

RAVEN
(Flies in and overshoots the
railing, slamming hard into the
door)

CONDUCTOR
(Cringes) That’s gotta hurt.

CAMERAMAN TWO
(Chuckles)

DIRECTOR TWO
Cut! Take two!

RAVEN
(Flies in, but is caught in a
sudden updraft and sails right over
the train)

CONDUCTOR
(Looks up, trying to find the
raven)

DIRECTOR TWO
Cut! Take three!

RAVEN
(Flies in, trying to get his
landing just right, tucks his wings
too soon and drops like a stone)

CONDUCTOR
(Watches as raven tumbles along the
railroad track, leaving a trail of
feathers behind him)

DIRECTOR TWO
Cut! Take four!

An hour later, the raven still has not landed on his mark.
Cast and crew are becoming irritated.

CONDUCTOR
(Whispers to raven) Get this right
or I’ll kill you.

RAVEN
(Flies in and lands his mark
perfectly)

CONDUCTOR
(Looks over at Director two and
nods his head just slightly)

DIRECTOR TWO
(Nods back)

Fade out:

Fade in:

INT. TRAIN. PASSENGER CAR

Emily screams, the conductor runs inside to see what is wrong.

CONDUCTOR
What happened?

EMILY
I had this incredibly vivid
nightmare.

CONDUCTOR
Can you tell me about it?

EMILY
I don’t know. It was so horrifying.

CONDUCTOR
Go on …

EMILY
I dreamt that Barak Obama was
elected President.

CAST AND CREW
(All groan)

EMILY
What? I’m the only one who’s not
allowed to crack a joke?

DIRECTOR TWO
Cut! That’s lunch.

Fade out:

Fade in:

EXT. PARK.

Emily is jogging through the park. The stranger is stalking
her.

EMILY
(Glances back to see if the
stranger is following. Her feet get
tangled up and she falls hard to
the asphalt path)

STRANGER
(Runs up to check on her, sees she
is dazed and bleeding) We need a
medic over here!

EMILY
(Still trying to focus, sits up at
the stranger’s urging)

STRANGER
How many fingers am I holding up?

EMILY
Thursday.

CREW
(Gently places Emily in Ambulance)

Fade out:

Fade in:

INT. TRAIN DINING CAR.

The passengers are sitting down having drinks. Passenger one
looks over at the conductor.

PASSENGER ONE
So what’s your story?

CONDUCTOR
Me? You wouldn’t find my life very
interesting.

PASSENGER ONE
Why not? Everyone else has told you
stories, why don’t you tell us
yours?

CONDUCTOR
Very well, but don’t blame me if
you’re soon bored to death.

PASSENGER ONE
I think anything is better than
sleeping on a train.

CONDUCTOR
Well, long ago I started out as a
Gigolo. I soon came to realize
that my true talents were in
pimping.

PASSENGER ONE
(Trying to keep a straight face)
Really?

CONDUCTOR
(Without missing a beat, reaches
under the table, pulls out a
shockingly pink hat with a two foot
long feather attached to it, puts
it on his head, and flashes the
‘peace’ sign.)

CAST AND CREW
(Erupt with laughter)

Fade out:

 

Fade In:

 

INT. TRAIN. DINING CAR.

 

The conductor is telling the passengers the story of his

early career.

 

PASSENGER

So, a hit man just walked up and

rang the doorbell?

 

CONDUCTOR

Essentially, yes.

 

PASSENGER

What did you do?

 

CONDUCTOR

The only thing I could.

 

PASSENGER

Run?

 

CONDUCTOR

No. I grabbed the biggest freakin’

handgun I could find and blew that

bastard away.

 

DIRECTOR

Cut! (To conductor) Take five,

Dirty Harry.

 

Fade out:

 

Fade in:

 

EXT. TRAIL

 

The conductor leads the passengers down a dark path made of

intricate stone. Gas lamps light the way, but the light

doesn’t extend outside the path. Suddenly, out of nowhere

they come across a large set of beautiful brass doors. The

sign on them says, ‘Out of order’.

 

CONDUCTOR

(Pulling on the doors, finds them

locked)

 

The camera starts to shake as cameraman two chuckles.

 

CONDUCTOR

(To cameraman two) Very nice, very

mature.

 

CREW

(All laugh)

 

DIRECTOR TWO

(Chuckling) No, go with it. How

does this make you feel? Show me

your innermost angst.

 

CONDUCTOR

I’ll be in my trailer. (Walks away

with a slight grin on his face)

 

Fade out:

 

Fade in:

 

INT. LARGE BUILDING.

 

The conductor heaves open the massive door and beckons the

passengers inside. Two large women stand just inside the

entrance.

 

WOMAN ONE

Welcome, welcome, please step

forward and make yourself at home.

 

WOMAN TWO

Don’t forget to take a number.

(She indicates a ticket machine

that automatically shoots out a

ticket.)

 

PASSENGER ONE

(Reads ticket aloud) number

267,408?

 

WOMAN TWO

That’s right.

 

PASSENGER ONE

(Looks up at the electronic sign

that says ‘Now serving # 17’)

What is this, Beetlejuice?

 

Fade out:

 

Fade in:

 

INT. LARGE BUILDING.

 

Emily looks down at her ticket, it says, ‘If you can read

this, you’re too close.’

 

Emily looks down at her ticket, it says, ‘Good for one free

slushie at participating gas-n-gulps.’

 

Emily looks down at her ticket, it says, ‘Don’t forget to

tip your waitress.’

 

Fade in:

 

INT. LARGE BUILDING.

 

The passengers have settled into a routine of slow forward

progress through the line.

 

PASSENGER ONE

Finally, we’re close enough to

watch what really goes on.

 

SAINT PETER

(To person in line) It says here

that you were a liberal member of

the news media.

 

PERSON IN LINE

Yes, that’s right.

 

SAINT PETER

(Pulls a lever and a trap door

opens beneath the person)

Next!

 

Fade out:

 

Fade in:

 

EXT. STUDIO LOT. CONDUCTOR’S TRAILER

 

The conductor steps out of his trailer, now dressed in his

familiar black robe, carrying his scythe.

 

CONDUCTOR

Ahh, it feels better to be back in

normal clothes.

 

DIRECTOR TWO

(Waves to the conductor as he

walks to his car.)

 

CONDUCTOR

I’ll see you soon.

 

DIRECTOR TWO

(Backs away from his car) I think

I’ll take the bus.

 

CONDUCTOR

(Smiles) Suit yourself.

 

DIRECTOR TWO

(Looks at bus stop) Maybe I’ll

walk.

 

CONDUCTOR

Probably a good idea. (Chuckles)

 

DIRECTOR TWO

Stop that!

 

CONDUCTOR

(Walks over and puts his arm

around Director two)   Come on,

I’ll give you a ride.

 

DIRECTOR TWO

Thanks.

 

CONDUCTOR

(Looks back at camera and smiles.)

 

RAVEN

(Flys up and lands on the

Conductor’s shoulder, taping a

sign to his back that says, ‘Kick

me … if you dare’.)

 

Fade out:

 

Review of Jonathan Maberry’s: The King of Plagues

The King of Plagues

Joe Ledger is back and he brought his smartass sense of humor with him this time. The last book had a little bit of a departure from his sense of humor. This book brings it back with a vengeance. I especially loved when he first gets introduced to Aunt Sally. That scene is classic. I listened to it over and over again, laughing each time.

This book also features the less than triumphant return of Gault and Toys. Their relationship makes these characters more interesting than just the stock bad guys. The reader is never sure how their relationship is going.

Also with Joe we find him returning to the DMS, given glimpses of a side story of what he was doing while he was away. Once again he is thrown into the fire and is already behind as they find out that there is a plot to destroy the world.

I like the way Jonathan Maberry has been handling these characters, especially Joe and Church. He metes out a small amount of insight at a time as to who they are, what they want, and why they do what they do. Joe especially is a very human character with faults and frailties instead of just being an emotionless badass. I find that this adds amazing depth to the character. The internal conflict that the reader sees him go through on a regular basis makes him very accessible through his doubts and fears.

The other addition that I really liked in this book was Joe’s German Shepherd, Ghost. At first, Ghost seems like a prop, but as the story goes along, Ghost begins to show his own personality. It is definitely a sidekick role but as the story progresses we see the relationship between Joe and Ghost which is deeper than a trained dog and his handler.

The storyline was interesting. It wasn’t immediately a doomsday plot and Mr. Maberry did a great job of milking the mythology of secret groups and adding his own slant to it while making it seem plausible instead of cliched, which it easily could’ve become.

Once again there was a great amount of tension as we watch the villains systematically execute their plot and watch the DMS struggle to catch up. As the story continues and Joe discovers what is happening piece by piece, the seeming infallibility of the group is chipped away.

One of the other new characters is Santoro,  a devoted madman whose character definitely evokes strong emotions. I felt myself wanting to harm this person at several points for the things that he had done. The villains were done quite well not only in Santoro but also the Seven Kings who were the group behind the scenes, driving the whole nefarious plot.

The plot itself was less supernatural this time and more about a group who wanted to profit from mass destruction, however, their web of deception was so well done and so well written that I found myself more interested in this story than the first two.

The only real supernatural component was the character Nicodemus, who was creepy and very interesting, and I could easily see being a continuing thorn in Joe’s side throughout other books.

If anything, this book had more of an emotional impact than the other two, with the exception of a certain scene in The Dragon Factory, because it really showed the depths an individual can be coerced to do to save those they love. It was emotional because Santoro took good people, caring people, who were absolutely devoted to the people they love and turn that against them and use them for unconscionable acts of evil.

I listened to this book on Audible, and once again Ray Porter’s narration was excellent. Again his narration involved me in the story in a way that the book would not be able to.

Another new character that I liked was Sercie. When she started out she was a very dry character until she introduced herself to Joe. That scene in itself was completely hysterical,  and I really liked that they brought her in as a former friend of Grace’s.

Another thing I liked about this book was the plot. In Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory, I guessed a majority of the ending about halfway through the book. With this book, I had no idea what was coming until the very end. I was happy with a plot that kept me guessing and at the same time was brilliant in its own simplicity. I enjoyed not guessing the ending halfway through the book.

Overall, another very interesting and involving book that continues to grow the main characters. I look forward to the next.

Happy Friday the 13th

Wow, a Friday the 13th and Halloween in the same month. Black cats beware. To celebrate, I have made these amazon kindle short stories free until Saturday the 14th.

Just Desserts is a Halloween short story about the downside of Halloween hijinks.

Playback is a suspenseful short story about a video game.

Mr. Smiley is a series of short stories about a TwlightZoneesque bed and breakfast.

Fragments of Fear: Collection contains all of my kindle short stories except for Mr. Smiley.

The Mall is a novellette about strange goings-on inside a shopping center at night.

The Trail is a suspenseful short story about a group of friends on a hike through the woods with deadly consequences.

 

Please feel free to enjoy any and all of my stories. I only ask that you consider posting a review on amazon. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few lines telling what you liked about the story. If you don’t feel comfortable posting a review, I understand and still hope that you will avail yourself of this opportunity. Have a great day.

BOO!

 

The Journey: Chapter 10

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear: Collection‘.

 

One by one, the passengers filed back to their seats. They eagerly gazed through their windows, hoping for a glimpse of their destination. But the only thing they saw was their own reflections. Outside was black as pitch. You wouldn’t even be able to tell if the train was moving by looking out the window.

Everyone felt the train was slowing down. The normal excitement and anticipation of arriving at their destination was instead replaced by a subtle dread. No one understood why. They all dealt with it in the same way though, denial.

At last they lurched to a stop.

The iron beast that had pulled them all this way let out a hiss of steam that sounded like a sigh of relief after a long journey.

The conductor appeared in the doorway and announced, “End of the line, please take all your belongings with you.”

They looked in their seats and in the overhead compartments, but none of them had belongings, just the clothes on their backs. This struck a few people as odd, but the rest just shrugged it off. The conductor helped them off the train.

“Watch your step.”

He directed them down the only visible path. It was made of intricate stone-work and lit with antique gas lamps, but the light didn’t extend beyond the path. It was as if they were floating in a sea of darkness.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, they came upon a large set of beautiful brass doors. Both of the doors were marked ’Enter’, but neither was marked ’Exit’. The conductor heaved the massive door open and beckoned the passengers inside. Hesitantly, they followed and were met with a remarkable sight.

The inside of the building was massive. It was Grand Central Station times ten. The ceiling seemed impossibly high and painted to look like the night sky. As Emily stared up, she noticed a painting of the moon. Nothing about that seemed unsettling at first, except the painting was slowly moving across the painted sky. She rubbed her eyes and looked again, just to be sure. Not only was the moon moving, but the stars seemed to be twinkling too.

The passengers moved forward, awestruck by the sheer size of the place. As they struggled to take it all in, one of the passengers said,

“Something’s not right here.”

“What is it?” Emily asked.

“How many people do you think are in this room?”

Emily panned across the gigantic room full of people.

“I don’t know. Thousands, maybe more.”

“A lot more. I would say we’re talking a hundred thousand people here.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is, you could hear a pin drop in this room. How many times have you seen a crowd this big, being this quiet.”

“Never,” she said softly.

“It’s like the worlds largest funeral home.”

“There’s something else,” she said. “Look around, what is it that’s missing?”

He scanned the room. “I don’t know.”

“Everything,” she said. “There’s no ticket counter, no concession stands, I don’t even see a restroom.”

The man looked around and saw that she was right.

“In fact, all I do see is a line. Where does it even lead?”

The man called over one of the other passengers that he had spoken with on the train and convinced him to climb up on his shoulders and look around.

“What do you see?” the lower man asked.

“I see people,” the upper man said. “So many people it’s impossible to count.”

“What else?”

The upper man strained his eyes to see to the other end of the building.

“There’s two escalators, one going up and the other going down. There’s also a man sitting at a desk, reading from a huge book.”

“What is the man wearing?” the lower man quietly asked.

“A white robe.”

The upper man suddenly held on for dear life as the lower man’s knees buckled.

“What’s wrong? What is this place?” the upper man asked, but the lower man seemed to be in shock.

“Why this is your destination,” the conductor said, nonchalantly. “Didn’t you read your ticket?”

He directed them to a sign that said, ‘The end begins here.’

“I wish to thank you all for your stories,” he said, tipping his cap. Then he turned toward the doors.

“Wait!” Emily said. “Where do I know you from?”

“My dear,” he said, with an air of astonishment. “Haven’t you figured that out yet?”

She paused uncomfortably.

“Please tell me.”

He turned back and drew close so only she could hear.

“About four months ago, you were a passenger in a very bad automobile accident. I took the driver right from the scene, but you held on to life. You lay in a coma for a month.”

“Several times I came to take you, but you refused to go. You even boarded my train once. Imagine my embarrassment as you disappeared, having been revived by the doctor. I had quite a bit of explaining to do to that load of passengers. The endless questions I dealt with for the remainder of that trip were something I’d rather forget. Eventually, you recovered, and I had to wait, but not for long.”

“After I took care of the doctor that snatched you from me, I pursued you covertly and allowed you to see me. As you ran down the path, I extinguished the lights, hoping for the result that I eventually got.  So once again, I had the pleasure of having you as a passenger, only this time there was no one to rescue you.”

He smiled broadly, but she felt no warmth, no comfort from it. All the color drained from Emily’s face. She shook all over.

“So that would mean that you’re … ”

“Yes,” he said.

“And I’m … ”

“Yes.”

She recoiled in horror, slowly backing away.

“Well, I must be off,” the conductor said, turning to leave.

“What will happen to us?” a passenger asked.

“I just transport. That keeps me quite busy nowadays, I don’t do the sorting,” he said, pausing. “But judging by your stories, I would say two of you will be going up.”

They looked at the escalators, then each other.

“Which two?” one of them said, but the conductor was gone. They looked all around, but he had vanished.

Off in the distance, they heard a train whistle sound its mournful note.

Emily looked down at her ticket, it said, ‘Afterlife express.’

 

 

The End.

 

Thank you for reading my story. Even though this is the end, I do have one more chapter that I will share next week as a bonus.

The Journey; Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

The Journey: Chapter 6

The Journey: Chapter 7

The Journey: Chapter 8

The Journey: Chapter 9

 

The Journey: Chapter 9

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear: Collection‘.

 

Some of the passengers took the conductor up on his offer of a drink and departed for the dining car. The rest settled back to sleep. The dining car was decorated as ornately as the other cars. Six tables were set, each prepared for four people, and in the corner was a bar made of mahogany that ran half the length of the car. Seven drinks were already set out, one at each barstool. The passengers appeared amazed to find their favorite drinks waiting for them. The eighth passenger sat down at an empty space. She had no desire to drink but had come along for the walk. Indeed, each of the passengers were glad for an excuse to get up and move around a little.  The conductor sat quietly in the corner as the passengers enjoyed their drinks and light conversation.

“Come on, man, ask him,” one passenger whispered to the other.

“No way, he gives me the creeps. Whatever secrets he wants to keep he can have as far as I’m concerned.”

The conductor, for his part, seemed content to read from an old, leather-bound book that had no title.

Emily kept a wary eye on him while sipping her ginger ale. Something about him didn’t feel right. The answer was buried in her memory, she knew it, all she had to do was wait. Eventually, she would remember.

The conductor was watching her in the same way. This silent standoff went totally unnoticed by the other passengers.

In the meantime, tongues loosened as the passengers sipped their liquid courage. Pointed questions better kept to themselves were asked.

“So, what’s your story?” a passenger said to the conductor.

“Me?” the conductor asked. “You wouldn’t find my life very interesting.”

“Why not?”  he retorted. “Everyone else has told you stories, why don’t you tell us yours?”

The conductor seemed to consider this for a moment.

“Very well,” he said. “But don‘t blame me if you‘re soon bored to death.”

“I think anything is better than sleeping on a train.”

“So be it. I was born long ago, much longer than any of you. My childhood was quite unspectacular, with the exception of a knack for preserving things. Unlike other children who seemed bent on the destruction of everything they see, I wanted to keep things. I suppose that’s when I first started collecting stories. It was the twelfth year of my life when the defining event happened for me,” he said, his gaze drifting off.

“What was that?” the straight-laced woman who couldn’t find her Bible asked, pulling the conductor out his reverie.

“Oh, my pet cat died.”

“That must’ve been horrible,” Emily said.

“You would think so, yes. However, that was not the end of the event,” he said. “I read a book on taxidermy, and used the knowledge to keep my childhood friend with me forever.”

“You stuffed your pet cat?” she asked, repulsed.

“Quite right,” he said. “I continued to develop my skills, practicing on some of the lesser wanted animals around the neighborhood and became quite adept. My efforts were noticed by someone other than law enforcement, and I was offered an apprenticeship in my true calling.”

“Conductor?”

“No, mortician,” he said with a smile that made everyone in the room feel like calling nine one one. “It turned out that the human form is infinitely easier to work with than animals.”

“Really?”

“Oh yes, I had so much more room to maneuver. Didn’t have to worry about ruining the fur, it was much easier. I was considered to be something of an artist for my profession. I was as happy as I had ever been at that point in my life.”

“If you were so happy, then why did you quit and become a conductor?” the straight-laced woman said.

“Patience, I shall get to that part of the story,” he flashed a mirthless grin. “It turned out that there was another mortician in that town who had been quite prosperous until I began my career. It seemed that his work simply could not match up with mine, and he began to lose business. So, he did the only thing he could do.”

“Find another job?”

“No, sanction my murder,” he said. “You see, this man also had a jealous streak along with a very bad temperament. A dangerous combination you will agree.”

“So, what did you do?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“That’s correct,” he said. “I had no idea the sanction was active until a certain gentleman arrived on my doorstep.”

“So, a hit man just walked up and rang the doorbell?”

“Essentially, yes.”

“What did you do?”

“The only thing I could.”

“Run?”

“No, invite him in for tea,” he said. “I must say, you people just don’t have much of a knack for guessing.”

They nervously chuckled, each one probably regretting that they had asked for this story, but now felt so involved that they didn’t want it to end either.

“Like any proper host, I invited him in and we sat down to discuss our dilemma.”

“Unbelievable.”

“What is even more unbelievable was the solution,“ he said. “It seems my guest was getting ready to retire and needed to provide a replacement. Seeing the great care I took of the recently departed, he offered the job to me.”

“What about the contract on you?”

“Ah, yes, that was a difficulty. He was sworn to fulfill the contract. This created quite a conundrum for him, but in the end, I provided a solution for him that would suit his needs.”

“So, then you became the assassin?”

“Not quite that dramatic, I prefer to call myself a deliveryman. Whatever is needed, I deliver.”

“Did the mortician ever find out?”

“Oh yes, he was one of my first customers,” he gave a wicked grin.

“So what was the solution you provided?”

The whistle blew its long, mournful note, as the train began to slow.

“Ahh, it appears we have arrived,” the conductor said. “You should all return to your seats. We will be disembarking soon.”
 

 

The Journey: Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The Journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

The Journey: Chapter 6

The Journey: Chapter 7

The Journey: Chapter 8

 

The Journey: Chapter 8

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection‘.

 

“The Stranger”

I always liked to run. I never really knew why. I wasn’t running from anything or toward anything, I was just running. It soothed me. There had been times when I had noticed strangers watching me, and these times always brought to mind the same thought.

Pervert.

For the most part, I ran in my little world. I had earphones in, but the wire just ended in my pocket. It was a great way to avoid any conversations I didn’t want to have.

Mostly I ran in the morning or evening. Before or after work always relieved stress. On this particular day, I had to work overtime. I got home late and debated about skipping the run, but the weather was so beautiful I went even though the sun had set an hour before. Twilight had begun and the sky was glowing a brilliant red. The scent of the pine trees mixed with the flowers that lined the path always exhilarated me.

The park was deserted. I only saw a few people and all one at a time. The lights that lined the path had just begun to flicker to life. For some reason, the lights comforted me. I could see just fine without them, I just felt safe when they were on. Like nothing could hurt me near the lights.

As I ran, I approached a spot of darkness amongst the lights. One of them had burned out.

Hmm … nothing to worry about, just a blown bulb.

I tried to convince myself of that, but I failed. Approaching the burned out light, I saw a shadow leaning against the post. It was tall, thin, and dark. I couldn’t make out a face, but his eyes were following me.

It wasn’t the same as when the others leered at me. I felt no sexual attraction, only fear. I hadn’t been pushing myself hard enough to really sweat, but my heart was pumping now, and it had nothing to do with exercise.

My pace quickened as I passed the stranger in the darkness. Aside from his head, he never moved. My pace slowed just slightly with the return of the light on my path.

Just as I was chiding myself for being so stupid, another dark spot inflicted itself on my path. Approaching it I saw the impossible. The stranger was leaning against that pole as well. Again he merely watched. I ran even faster trying to get past this pole.

That’s not possible. How could he get here before me?

My fear abated, but not as much as the first time. A nagging feeling was settling into the back of my brain.

He’s following me.

I glanced back at the pole and I could barely make out the Stranger’s silhouette, still standing against the pole. I nearly fell when I turned back around and the approaching lamp was out. Not only that, but the stranger was somehow leaning against it.

Cold sweat ran down my back. I broke into a dead run. I was near the end of the path where it ended at a street. Suddenly my worst fears were realized. The remaining path lights winked out one by one.

The stranger leaned against the pole, but was no longer still. He was coming toward me. Somehow I reached deeper into myself and found a little bit more speed.

Come on, come on. I goaded myself to go faster.

Glancing over my shoulder, I could see the stranger gaining on me. My eyes must’ve been playing tricks on me because it didn’t look like he was running. If I had to put a word to it I would say he was floating.

I was running for all I was worth. The street was only fifty feet ahead. I could see the street lamp bathing the sidewalk in beautiful light. I redoubled my efforts to reach the safety of the lamp. But my pursuer was gaining on me so fast that I would never make it.

OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod!!!

Desperately I clawed at the air, trying anything to move one iota faster. I could feel his hot breath on my neck, I knew he was just about to

*BAM*

At first, I wasn’t sure what happened. I remember flying through the air, landing hard, feeling a snap, and incredible pain.

I was staring up into the night sky, I could feel something warm running down my cheek and into my eye. I remember feeling helpless. I looked over to see a metal bumper hovering over me. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, but I could hear just fine.
Shadows surrounded me, I could barely make out what they were saying.

“Did you see that?”

“She came out of nowhere.”

“Someone call an ambulance!”

“Give her mouth to mouth!”

“How? Her face is smashed in.”

The voices started to fade away like someone was turning down the volume on my hearing. The last thing I saw was the stranger step into the crowd of onlookers …

***

“That was a harrowing tale.” the Conductor said. “Are you alright my dear, you seem to be sweating.”

Emily looked down and sure enough her palms were wet.

“I … I’m fine,” she said unconvincingly.

“Perhaps you could use a little refreshment, why don’t you come to the dining car and I’ll get you a drink.”

“That would be nice.”

“Everyone is invited of course,” the conductor said, starting toward the door.
***

 

The Journey: Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The Journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

The Journey: Chapter 6

The Journey: Chapter 7

Former Corrections Officer releases novel in Jail

Photo courtesy of Hilary Hauck. www.hilaryhauck.com 

 

September 13th was a historic day, at least for me. After nine years, my first novel, ‘One on One‘, had finally been published. I’d been working on this book so long that it seemed surreal to see it and hold a copy in my hands. A month ago, when my publisher first told me when the release date was going to be, I posted an event on my facebook page because I was so excited. I intended it to be a ‘remember this date’ type of announcement. Little did I know what was about to come from a simple post.

One of my facebook friends messaged me shortly after the posting and asked where the party was. Not wanting to say there was no party and he had misread the post, I told him that I would have to see how many people were interested in coming before I made plans.

So now, I was semi-committed to having a party that I never intended to have.

I wracked my brain for a suitable, yet economical place that would be interesting and have amenities. A few places drifted through my mind, the restaurant where I attend monthly writer’s meetings topped the very short list. I was floundering, unable to come up with an interesting location and then it hit me.

I am a former Corrections Officer and my novel is about a Corrections Officer, set in a prison, so naturally, I went to jail.

Not the current jail, I didn’t get arrested. There is a personal residence/business in the building that housed the former jail in my county. I approached the owner, asking if the old cells were still in working order. She said that yes, she would allow curious visitors to see them when they asked.

I proposed to do a book signing from inside one of the cells. Naturally, she was hesitant, having just met me I’m sure there was a bit of doubt. But the more information she received, the more she seemed to warm up to the idea. Once she agreed, my wife and I started into a whirlwind of preparations. With less than a month to go, the book was still in its last legs of the editing process. Once done, I ordered the books I would need for the party and sweated it out as they arrived mere days before.

The party was a success. Our host was amazing and helped out tremendously. My wife was spectacular taking care of food and setup along with her helpers. I had a great time, several friends showed up that I hadn’t seen in a while, Hilary took some fantastic pictures, and it was a most memorable experience signing books inside a jail cell.

It was a night I’ll never forget. A wonderful start for my book launch.

 

For more information, please visit my website.

Thank you for reading.