This Is Where Dreams Come True

October 3rd, 2021 – Day Three of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com

Originally written in 2015 as a futile and frustrated attempt to write a piece of short erotica, the story took on a life of its own and became something altogether unpleasant and not suitable as erotica.

I’ve revised, rewritten, and returned some previously censored content to the story and released it on Godless for only $0.50.

Amy’s expectation of a relaxing summer of housekeeping at a theme park hotel is shattered as guests and staff alike are overcome with carnal desires that cross all lines of decency. Can she escape with her sanity intact? Can she even make it out of the hotel?

Check it out for yourself at http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app on your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

This Post May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding…Or It May Cause You To Buy It, At Least

If you haven’t already heard about May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding, this post is for you. If you’ve heard about my new book, but you don’t know whether it’s something you’re interested in, this post is also for you. Essentially, this post is for anyone and everyone.
Tomorrow morning, August 18th, my second collection of short fiction becomes available in digital formats at http://www.godless.com for the low price of $2.99, which is $1 cheaper than it’ll be in digital format when it goes live on Amazon on Friday, August 20th. It will also be available in paperback on August 20th for the low price of only $8.99.
Check out this cover, designed by the fantastic Drew Stepek.

That design alone should be enough to whet your appetite. If you’re one of those style over substance sorts, that cover layout should be all it takes to convince you that you need this in your collection.
Of course, you’re in for more than a fancy-looking cover when you pick up a copy of this book.
Not only does this collection include the sleeper hit, Horseplay, from Godless, but it contains nine additional short stories that are sure to make my readers uncomfortable as often as it entertains them. Not only that, but I have made certain to include a brief note that details the inspiration behind each of these tales of terror and tribulation. Some of these notes are more worthwhile than others, but I wanted you–my readers–to know me a little better when you came out of the experience than you might have on your way in.
Here’s the description from the back cover of the paperback edition:

I didn’t know how to react when Carver Pike provided me with what I must admit is likely to be the best blurb I could ever hope to receive. Any comparison to a writer of Gaiman’s caliber is going to be flattering–and also impossible to live up to. I’m going to hope that I don’t let my readers down when I turn out to be nowhere near the author Neil Gaiman happens to be.
Adrian Ludens not only provided a fantastic blurb, but his keen eyes also caught little bits and pieces of editing that had slipped through the cracks along the way. After staring at the same stories for so long, one becomes inured to faults and flaws that might ruin the tone of a story. It’s a sort of editing blindness that creeps in and destroys otherwise fantastic manuscripts. Had it not been for Mr. Ludens taking the time to read the stories with a critical eye, I might have missed a handful of mismatched tenses and incorrect words.

You can, of course, purchase this title from http://www.godless.com or through the Godless app tomorrow. The link is below:

You can also hold out until Friday the 20th, to pick up a copy at the following link on http://www.amazon.com

Looking Back & Feeling Haunted

Years ago, I took it upon myself to compile a sort of memoir of the life I’d lived. It was, to me, a sort of therapeutic purge. When I initially typed up the almost daily segments of what ultimately became a novel-length exploration of both the good and the bad aspects of my childhood and early adulthood…naturally, I focused a great deal on the bad. The dozens of blog posts associated with that attempted expiation were the most high-traffic blog posts I’ve written. Because of that, I’ve always entertained the thought of trying to clean up those blog posts so that I can make it something people could read without being near their computers or electronic devices. I assumed–perhaps rightly so–that something about what I was writing resonated with readers and made them feel better, or less alone in their own lives. I could be wrong. Maybe it was nothing more than morbid curiosity that kept people coming back for more.

I’ve been thinking about one series of entries in particular, apropos of nothing, and I thought it might be worthwhile to share a more cleaned-up and easy-to-read iteration of what I’d originally written back in 2014. This is a long one, so you’ll want to settle in. Each individual segment was written on a different day. Beyond fixing some of the language, punctuation, and editing sentences for clarity…this is what people were reading seven years ago.

I met her at a party one night when I was 15-years-old, only a couple of months before I got expelled for the latter part of the first semester of school. It wasn’t necessarily much of a party, mostly just a dozen or so of us hanging out. There was a little bit of drinking involved, some of us were smoking weed, but it wasn’t the sort of get-together that would get the police called on us unless the neighbors felt like being particularly awful.
I wasn’t an outgoing kid, and I barely spoke a word to her. That isn’t to say that I didn’t notice her or that she didn’t catch my eye. From that point on, I found myself looking forward to spending time with certain of my friends more than others because she was more likely to be around those people.
As it turned out, she had dated a friend of mine for a short while. She was also in 8th grade at the time, while I was a Sophomore in high school, so it felt like she was off-limits to me. It wasn’t the couple of years difference in age that posed the problem, but rather that she was the ex-girlfriend of one of my close friends.
Of course, all of this was irrelevant, as I had a girlfriend of my own at the time. That didn’t stop me from admiring her from whatever distance I felt I had to maintain, though.
She was beautiful in that girl-next-door, growing into herself sense. Also, in fitting with the girl-next-door dynamic, she was exceptionally sweet and not at all jaded or angsty like most of my metalhead, punk rock, druggie, and skater friends happened to be. As I got to know her better, it became clear that she was certainly smarter than most of my friends–and more personable. It struck me that–quite unlike me–it would be damnably difficult to dislike her. I only talked with her on occasion, in large part because she made me nervous, but also because I sincerely felt like she would think less of me the better she got to know me.
If everyone does indeed have a first love, she was mine.
She was the first girl to touch me in just the right way, as adulthood loomed on the horizon, when emotional and psychological identity starts developing us into the person we will ultimately become.
I feel I may want to clarify that I don’t mean she touched me in anything approaching a sexual manner. I’ve already established that she was off-limits, since you may not have been paying any attention.
If life had turned out differently, I like to think I might be able to look back on her as more than a crush or a passing fancy, but I don’t have the conviction required to believe that. As it stands, with the tragic way that things ultimately turned out, she is etched into whatever passes for a soul in me as being the first–and perhaps the truest–benchmark of what I would look for in love. That girl is seared into my memory in a way that no other could be. A few years later, I was accused of being in love with a ghost by a significant other who complained that there was no way anyone could compete against that.
I didn’t know it until later, but I had apparently made an impression on her as well. This was a bit of knowledge that, while comforting and flattering, served to make her loss all the more painful…but we will get to that soon enough, you impatient shit. I am having a difficult enough time writing all of this without you pressuring me to speed it along. Let me get to it my own way.
During the week following my expulsion from school, I reacted with a characteristic lack of impulse control. One of my friends–the girl in question’s ex-boyfriend–had been expelled simultaneously. This stood to reason, seeing as how he was frequently right there with me during those exploits that transpired while I should have been wasting away in the tedium and mind-numbing monotony of the classroom. He and I took to the interstate with our respective thumbs out, knowing that returning to our homes after being removed from school was something that neither of us was willing to do right away.
He and I made our way to where a couple of my friends lived and we stayed with them for a couple of days after discovering our newfound freedom. During those first few days, we ended up wandering through a couple of residential neighborhoods, checking cars for unlocked doors. One of those vehicles, a Dodge Caravan, happened to be the jackpot. Not only was the door unlocked, but the keys were right there waiting for us. As you can likely predict, we took the keys with us and took note of the location of that vehicle.
We were only able to stay with my friends one more night before we were left to our own devices again. If we’d had any common sense, we would have stopped right there, called it good, and returned to our homes to face the music. But, if we had been blessed with that sort of common sense, we would not have been us, and I would not have anything to write here, and we both know that you would be horrendously bored without my words to keep you company.
That night, with nowhere to go that we were willing to be, it was damn cold–as November nights in South Dakota are known to be. We walked the streets of the town, the constant movement being all that was keeping us warm. Finally, we got too tired to keep at it, and we happened to find a boat beneath a tarp in the parking lot of an apartment complex. It wasn’t perfect, but it was somewhere we were able to obtain some shelter from the wind and fall asleep in what was still painfully cold temperature.
That night was a deciding factor in what would become the biggest mistake of both of our lives. We had two paths ahead of us, and we brazenly marched down the wrong one with the sort of idiotic lack of awareness only total dipshit could manage to exhibit.
The following evening we returned to where we had found the minivan a couple of nights before, and we put those pilfered keys to use (with him behind the wheel because he was more comfortable driving than I was). We drove toward Sturgis with no real plan in mind, entirely unaware that we were on our way to crossing a line that would irrevocably change multiple lives for the worse.
I don’t rightly recall how it came about that we ran into his ex-girlfriend (the girl I was secretly interested in) and her best friend. Similarly, I don’t know how it was suggested that he and I could take them across the state to where the girl’s mother lived, but that became the plan. My friend asked me to go along with a story he concocted about how we had borrowed our recently stolen vehicle from one of my friends. There isn’t so much as a week that passes, even now, more than 20 years later, when I don’t wish I could go back and never utter that lie or that I could have spoken up and stopped the momentum we were building by simply telling the truth at any point over the following couple of days.
If I had any courage, to be honest, all of our lives would have been quite different…and I am confident in saying that they would have been better. I was selfish, though, and stupid, and I saw this as an opportunity to spend more time with this girl I had adored in silence. It breaks my heart to know that, as her best friend informed me some months later, they only climbed into that minivan because I was there and because they trusted me.
It seemed like a good plan. He and I would drop the girls off and then he and I would continue wherever the road and our continuing poor judgment led us. It started quite nicely. That night we drove across the border into Wyoming, just to get out of the state since we suspected that the vehicle was reported stolen. We slept in the van as comfortably as we could and cut back into South Dakota briefly on our way South and into Nebraska the following morning. Without any money, we shoplifted food, beverages, and cigarettes to get us by in addition to filling the tank and racing away from the fuel pumps.
Beyond my chance to bring this ill-conceived road trip to a grinding halt by being honest with the girls there was one other event that may have set us straight had our timing been better. We stopped at the college in Chadron, NE where a friend of mine was attending school but he wasn’t in the dormitory when we arrived. He would surely have provided a voice of reason, and I wish we’d had the patience to wait for him to return. We did not.
We slept in the van again that night in an isolated little town near the eastern portion of the South Dakota/Nebraska border. That night is one that I remember with painful clarity because it was one of the best nights I could have hoped to share with that particular girl. She came back to the middle row seat where I was attempting to sleep and fell asleep with her head in my lap. I spent a couple of hours watching her sleep and running my fingers through her hair. That night was a good one, it was a beautiful way to spend those hours, and I was happy when I fell asleep, feeling the pressure of her against me. It was a good thing I was so happy and content that night because it was the last time I would be happy for a good, long while.
The next morning made a nightmare of what only that night seemed to be a dream come true. But I am not going to get to that yet. I want to pretend this ends on a high note for just a little bit. Maybe, if I don’t document what followed, we can pretend there was a happy ending.

The morning of the worst day of my life started beautifully, which only serves to show how things can change. She was still sleeping against me when we woke up shortly after sunrise. I don’t think I even recalled falling asleep a few hours before, the last thing I remembered was the quiet sound of her breathing as I ran my fingers through the hair of her sleeping head. That would have been the perfect moment to have opened my mouth and told the truth. I have no doubt that she would have been angry with me for the deception, but I similarly have no doubt that she would have forgiven me…she was that kind of person, the sort of girl who couldn’t even conceive of malice directed at another person.
Of course, I didn’t say a thing, no matter how much I wish that I could go back and change that fact…if I had, we wouldn’t be experiencing the conclusion of this chapter of my life together. If I had simply done the right thing, I would be a better man for it…but I did not, and we’ll have to decide together what that says of me as a man.
I was shortsighted and took the beginning of the day as a sign that life was going to turn out just fine. I learned real fucking quick that the beginning of a thing has little to no relevance to determining how that thing will end, and if that is the only lesson you learn from me it will make this whole ordeal worth something.
Our agenda that morning was so simple. We were near some of the other girl’s family on the Eastern side of the state, so we were going to stop there and let her visit them for a short while, and then we would continue on our way to dropping the girls off as intended. Everything seemed to be going smoothly for us that morning and we filled up the tank again before leaving town (without paying for it, as you could probably guess) after that brief interlude with her family.
We were on our way down the highway when a police officer came along. He’d been heading the opposite direction, most likely because the cops had been called after a handful of kids in a minivan drove off without paying for their fuel. I don’t adequately know how to describe the feeling I experienced as I saw the cruiser whip around in the rearview mirror with lights and siren going, but terror and stomach-churning nervousness fall monstrously short as far as descriptions go. In a perfect world my friend would have recognized that we had reached the conclusion of our strange little journey and it was time to call it quits…instead, he accelerated.
Nothing about this situation could have played out well for us from that moment on. The girls were terrified and screaming from the second-row seat, begging him to stop the vehicle…but there was no indication that he was hearing them at all. Until that time I had never really considered the possibility that a minivan could reach speeds above 100 MPH. I genuinely hope never to experience that again.
To my credit–the little bit that I might deserve–I tried to get my friend to pull over at least long enough to let the girls out. I pleaded with him and swore that I would stay with him to see it through to whatever end we met if he would just stop and let them out.
There was no getting through to him, though. Under the circumstances, I can understand how he would have driven on, oblivious to the pleading from the rest of us in the vehicle. He was as scared as we were; more so, I suspect, because he knew that he was behind the wheel of a stolen minivan. Chances are that he wasn’t even hearing us while we attempted to get him to slow down or stop the vehicle. During the few minutes that followed the officer beginning his pursuit, there was nothing else going through my friend’s mind but a desperate need to escape and a cascade of fight or flight hormones.
I was angry with him for quite some time after this, and I liked to pretend that I would have done something differently if I had been behind the wheel, but I don’t know that events would have played out any differently had that been the case. Under the same conditions, I may have had the same panic response that led him to run rather than stop and accept the consequences of our actions. The simple truth is that I don’t know anything of the sort, and it was unfair of me to be angry with him for reacting out of fear. I let go of that anger a good number of years ago, forgiving him for, but not forgetting the events of that morning.
The high-speed pursuit didn’t last long even though it felt like forever while it was happening. My friend pulled off from the highway onto another road as soon as the opportunity presented itself, presumably to try and lose the officer and extract us from the god-awful situation we were in. Sadly, diverting our attempted escape onto this alternate road directly led to the horrible outcome that was soon to arrive. No one would have anticipated the sudden transition from pavement to gravel, but the inevitable outcome of hitting the gravel surface at close to 120MPH was highly predictable.
We were out of control almost immediately and the minivan flipped into the air before rolling a few times and coming to a stop upside down a good distance from the road.
The specifics of the accident are difficult to recall, having happened so damn fast. I remember my seatbelt snapping and I have some flashes of recollection of being thrown around inside of the vehicle before being ejected from the rear hatch of the minivan. I remember bouncing and rolling along the dry, hard-packed dirt ground for a while before things finally became still.
I don’t recall losing consciousness at all, but I sure as hell wasn’t fully coherent at first. It was the sound of the other girl crying that shook me out of the daze I was experiencing. I picked myself up from the ground and stumbled over to where she was laying on the ground. I could see that she was hurt, and badly, but I tried to tell her that everything would be ok and that there had to be an ambulance on the way. She asked me if I saw her friend, and it took me a little while to locate her.
I frantically searched the ground for her, my eyes not focusing quite right, but I did finally see her a short distance away. She wasn’t crying at all and didn’t appear to be moving, so I began to walk over to where she was laying as quickly as I could.
I was almost to her when the officer yelled from the road for me to lie down and wait for the paramedics to arrive. My body wanted me to listen to him, but I had to get over to her so I just kept walking in that direction until I couldn’t stay on my feet any longer. It had been pure adrenaline that kept me going that far and I had just burned through it, I guess. I don’t really remember hitting the ground, but I was laying there again, my head tilted awkwardly to the side to keep my eyes on the girl who had only a short while before been sleeping peacefully pressed up against me. I swear that she was breathing and looking back at me, but the mind plays tricks on us during times of great stress and I can’t trust the things I believed myself to have seen.
I only later learned that the van had landed on her during one of its impacts and that her heart had burst from the pressure. It was something to that effect. My lies and cowardice, selfishness, and stupidity had broken her heart. That was the lesson I carried with me from that horrific day.
She didn’t make it through that morning, didn’t even survive to make it into the ambulance as far as I know. I didn’t know any of that until later. If she was still breathing while I lay there on the ground with my eyes locked on hers, I may have been the last thing she saw before she passed away…and she deserved something so much better than that, she deserved to see something beautiful and peaceful to carry with her into the end.
Her friend’s injuries were severe enough that she had to be flown from the nearby hospital to one where they could properly tackle the rebuilding process required to repair the damage from the accident. I saw her again just a few years ago and she still walked with a noticeable limp, and it made me wince to see it.
Beyond numerous contusions and psychological damage that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, I fractured five vertebrae in my middle and lower spine. My insistence on walking around immediately after the accident certainly couldn’t have helped that condition.
The driver was uninjured and taken into custody. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to serve a year in a juvenile detention facility for the part he played in the accident. There was no attempt to convict me of anything, apparently determining that I was being punished enough thanks to the injuries I sustained in the wreck…but I would have gladly traded places with my friend if it had been an option. Some part of me wanted to be punished, needed it…but I was not. The owners of the minivan did not press charges out of some sense of compassion for the children who had been involved in the theft and subsequent tragedy, but I remember halfway wishing that they had…just so that I could have been held accountable.
I was only a month shy of my 16th birthday, and I was a killer. I may not have been behind the wheel, but I was just as complicit in killing the first girl I loved as the boy who had been driving. Growing up Catholic taught me about sins of commission and sins of omission…and that is a lesson I took to heart. I was actively involved in the theft that placed the fateful Dodge Caravan in our careless, stupid hands…that was a sin of commission. I spent a couple of days during our little road trip neglecting to tell the truth, which would have saved us all a great deal of pain and suffering…that was a sin of omission. I may not believe in God, the dogma of the Catholic faith I grew up in, or any of that silly spiritual nonsense, but the concept of sin is something that I can embrace. Sin, to me, is the way that we wrong those around us. It’s the choices we make that directly or indirectly hurt the people in our lives.
This is the point where I should tell you about the time spent in the hospital and the god-awful, painful nightmare that was her funeral, but I can’t do it, not right now. I’ve spent too long thinking about this tonight, picking at wounds that I’ve never quite allowed to heal, and I need to step away for a bit. I’ll tell you the rest, just not right now.

My first couple of hours in the hospital consisted of numerous x-rays and images being taken. I realized how badly injured I was when asked to stand for a series of x-rays and, upon reaching my feet to the ground, it felt as if my spine was collapsing like an accordion on raw nerves. I’ve never felt anything before or since that has compared to that pain. I sincerely hope that remains true. I was assisted in laying back down and advised not to move until they had a chance to examine the images they’d already taken.
The doctor who came to see me expressed a sort of admiration when the first words from my mouth were essentially my begging him to tell me about the two girls who were brought in with me. He indicated that he was pleasantly surprised because almost anyone else, in his experience, under the circumstances would have started by asking what was wrong with themselves before even thinking about anyone else. I didn’t deserve his respect or admiration; at that point, I couldn’t have given a shit less about my condition, even if I had been rapidly dying. I was there by the actions of my own stupid hands, but those two girls were there because of me as well, I felt responsible for whatever might have happened to them.
It was then I was informed that the other girl was being airlifted to Sioux City, IA due to the severity of her injuries. These consisted of a shattered ankle and pelvis along with numerous other fractures. It was devastating to hear that she had been hurt so badly, enough so that it took me a moment to collect myself and recognize that he hadn’t told me anything about the one person I was most concerned with. I had to ask him directly about her and his hesitation before answering was all it took to confirm my worst fear. I don’t recall what he was saying and was only able to focus a fraction of my attention on his words at the time, he was telling me that she hadn’t made it to the hospital…he was telling me about the extent of her injuries when I interrupted him, insisting that I needed to see her.
Her mother had been contacted and was on her way to the hospital to identify and claim her daughter’s body. The doctor informed me that I would have to wait until she arrived and approved of it before I would have permission to see the body myself.
I had never met her mother before this, and I was terrified. I knew that there was no way she would agree to let me see her daughter, not after I had helped to kill her. The wait those following couple of hours was horrible. I imagined numerous scenarios in which the woman tried to kill me after the trauma of losing her daughter hit home. In none of those would I have lifted a finger to stop her.
I couldn’t have been more wrong, though. Her daughter had learned from a wonderful example in the woman I met that afternoon. I had no way of knowing how difficult it must have been for her to look at me and talk to me with compassion, but she didn’t shy away from it. She was kind and understanding, and she didn’t decline my request to see her daughter.
I got wheeled into a room where there was one other occupant, still and silent. A nurse helped me onto my side, so I could face the girl who’d been sleeping so peacefully only half a day before. My mind played cruel tricks on me. I kept seeing her chest rise and fall with breaths that she wasn’t taking and subtle movements of her eyelids that she wasn’t capable of making.
I had to stretch awkwardly and painfully to take her hand, muttering unintelligible pleas for her to come back to me and squeeze my hand. I spent the whole time talking to her, and I have no idea what I was saying any longer. I remember trying to pray to any gods that might exist to simply let me take her place, crying that I would give anything to have me be the one who had died in her place…an exercise in futility.
The nurse was patiently waiting outside for me to tell her that I was ready to go, but that never happened. I probably never would have called out for her. I was finally removed from the room when they needed to prepare her body for being transferred across the state for funeral preparations.
I spent the next couple of days in that hospital, becoming acquainted with the god-awful uncomfortable back brace that I would be wearing for months to follow. I was miserable and depressed; if those words even come close to describing how I was feeling…my interactions with others could probably best be described as being despondent. Something about me made a positive impression on one of the nurses who was caring for me though, as she kept in regular contact with me for a few months after I was discharged.
The ride back home was a terrifying ordeal in its own right. South Dakota had gotten hit by a winter storm. My mother, along with my favorite uncle, still drove across the state to recover me from the hospital. I was more than a little bit uncomfortable being in any vehicle for a long time after the events of a few days before, and the steady snowfall did not help matters at all. It was even more uncomfortable being forced to face two people who expected better of me, two members of my family who believed in me and the “limitless potential” I had always been told I exhibited by family, teachers, and the like. I can’t imagine the disappointment they must have felt, and thanks to my children turning out far better than I had, I doubt I ever will be able to.
I didn’t know whether I should attend the funeral. I felt that my presence there would be disruptive, that it would be an insult to her memory, that it was sacrilege of sorts. I would likely have avoided the funeral altogether if I hadn’t been able to ask permission of her mother, to ask if my presence would even be welcome there.
It was at the funeral when I learned that she used to talk about me now and again to her mother and grandparents, that she had a fondness for me that I had been entirely oblivious to, that preceded that single night we had together while she drifted off to sleep peacefully as close to being in my arms as she ever was. It wasn’t until some time later that I learned from the other victim of the accident that they had only joined the driver and me in that vehicle because I was there and they had trusted me…which taught me that people were better off not trusting me.
Between the cocktail of pain medication and muscle relaxers and the emotional turmoil of the circumstances, most of the funeral is a blur to me. I do remember not wanting to leave the gravesite until well after most everyone else had gone. My mother was grateful (and I suppose I was too) for the two friends of mine who had also remained behind, because it was those two boys who finally got my attention away from the cold ground and helped me to my feet, encouraging me that it was time to go. Aside from the cemetery groundskeepers, we were the last four people still there.
I honestly hadn’t noticed that we had been left alone. My mother’s fear may have been right, I might have intended to crawl down into that hole myself…I don’t adequately recall.
After the funeral, her mother kept in touch with me, and when it was time for her to return home in December, she asked me to join her and her parents on the trip. They were good people, better and kinder than I could ever hope to be, so I know that there wasn’t a malicious desire to hurt or torture me for my part in the tragic accident…but they wouldn’t have been more successful at applying torture if their motives had been cruel. I traveled with them for hours, welcomed and treated with kindness that I did not deserve.
When we arrived I was shocked and appalled to discover that the bed I would be sleeping in for the next few days was a bed belonging to a ghost. I slept on sheets that she had slept upon countless times while staying with her mother. I lay awake at night staring at posters she had placed on the walls and listening to a stereo she had listened to while sleeping in that room as well. I went on walks with her mother through a town where they had walked together many times. I shared meals with a devastated family suffering from a terrible loss, and this was the one time in my life when I sincerely entertained the thought of suicide. It was at that point when I stopped taking my pain medication. It was only partially because I felt that I deserved the pain and was cheating somehow by deadening it.
It was only a short while later, after returning to school for the spring semester, that I swallowed those pills I had been saving. It didn’t work out as planned, I became disoriented and barely functional, and sick. But I kept breathing. Some friends, good friends I didn’t deserve to have escorted me from the school and kept watch over me to see if I needed to be taken to the hospital. I was high, but I was alive…and there have been times in my life when I wish that had turned out differently as well.
Well, there you go…that particular story is done. I’m sure there is more I could say, details I didn’t include…but you’ll have to live with it as is because I am tired of sharing this bit of my life with you. There is a limit to my endurance, and we have reached it.

Black Hills Con 2021

This weekend has been a busy one for me.

In 2017, my friend and fellow author, Adrian Ludens, had asked if I might be interested in sharing a table with him at the local anime, science fiction, and pop culture convention. At that point, the local convention was SoDak Con–previously SoDak Anime Convention. Unfortunately, due to a planned and scheduled vacation in the Pacific Northwest, I was unable to partner up with him.

I’m sad to say that I might not have done so even without those prior obligations. At that point in my writing career I had only the novel, Unspoken, and my collection of short fiction and poetry, Errata, available. Both titles had been self-published and neither had been particularly successful or generated much by way of buzz or interest beyond people who knew me to some extent. I would have felt like a fraud, sitting there next to him. Adrian had sold probably dozens of stories to various publications and anthologies at that point…and who the fuck was I?

Since then, I’ve come a long way in feeling more comfortable and secure in calling myself an author. My next self-published novel, Innocence Ends, was more successful than both of the previous titles combined–and then some. Thanks to the sales associated with Innocence Ends, I was able to join the HWA (Horror Writers Association) as an Affiliate Member. My new novella, You Will Be Consumed, was published by a small press I respect and appreciate–in addition to since being adapted into an audiobook with a fantastic narrator doing the heavy lifting.

When the new convention–now Black Hills Con–was announced for June of this year, I reached out to Adrian and asked whether he might be interested in sharing a table with me. I was pleased to discover he was interested.

This would be my first time attending a convention of any kind as a guest and a vendor. I was never particularly big on attending conventions in the first place, being as anti-social and riddled with anxiety as I find myself to be when surrounded by crowds of any kind.

I neglected to request time off from work on Friday. Thus, I had to get up at 3:45 AM and begin my shift at the television station at 4:30 AM. I directed the hour and a half of Good Morning KOTA Territory from 5:30 to 7 AM and then KOTA Territory News at Noon from 12 to 12:30 PM. It had already been a long day, as you can probably imagine, before I pulled out of the parking lot and made my way to the hotel where the convention was being held.

I arrived at the hotel and was directed to the vendor room where Adrian and I would be sharing our table. I was pleased to see that my old friend, Tom Rasch, was at the table right next to us. Tom is a comic book artist/creator who has been active in that industry for quite some time, in addition to having done a good deal of video game character design back in the day. He was there to promote his various independent comic properties, Black Alpha and Salem Tusk in particular, as well as a documentary film that is detailing his efforts to bring these properties to life in the way they deserve to be realized. At some point in the relatively near future, he’s likely to have a Kickstarter campaign going live, and I’ll be sure to share those details here.

Needless to say, I felt a wash of relief, knowing that I had familiar faces right there next to me.

The next five hours turned out to be a great deal more fun than I suspected they might be…additionally, I managed to deplete a fair amount of the books I’d brought with me for the convention.

Using a trick I’d developed for coping with social anxiety, I carried my camera with me and captured photos of the events, separating myself from them by placing the lens in between myself and the rest of the world.

I was exhausted when I arrived home shortly before 7 PM on Friday. I ate dinner and took a nap before waking up and going to the gym around 10:30 PM. I have a difficult time breaking from routine, and I try to always go to the gym on Friday evenings, regardless of what my day consisted of.

On Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:30 AM and took a shower before taking the puppies outside and making sure my daughter was ready to go. We stopped for coffee and arrived at the convention location right at 8 AM as everything was getting started. I made my way to the vendor room–it was closed to all but the vendors until 10 AM–while my daughter went to watch Saturday morning cartoons that were being projected on the screen of the large conference room by the convention staff.

Most of the vendors weren’t there yet, so it was nice to just relax and chat with Tom while I put everything out on the table, including some creepy photo prints I’d brought with me to see if they might also sell. Adrian arrived not too long after.

Tom was hosting a panel on Saturday morning, sharing his experiences in the comic book and video game design industries and talking about his current projects. I attended some of that panel because I wanted to see at least some of it instead of spending all of my time sitting at the table.

Throughout the day, my daughter sporadically returned to the vendor space with different friends in tow and it was fun to see the teenagers enjoying themselves so much. My daughter also took advantage of the fact that Adrian had brought the rolling, steel table from a morgue with him.

The second day of the convention was a marathon, though slightly less of a marathon than the first day had been for me. We held our post in the vendor room until just after 6 PM when it was time to pack it in and head home. I returned home with only four of the copies of You Will Be Consumed that I’d brought with me, and none of my other books. All in all, I’d say it wasn’t a bad day.

It was great being able to spend time with friends I don’t often see in real life and to meet new people.

Before leaving the hotel, I gifted two of my photo prints to the two special guests of the convention–voice actors in various anime films–because someone had mentioned it was their first time visiting South Dakota, and I thought they might like something a little less tourist-oriented as a memento. One of the two brought over a signed art print that made my daughter’s day, because she had considered getting one until she saw the prices they were charging.

The other remaining photo print, I gifted to another of the vendors who had been awesome to talk with here and there.

As tired as I was, I must admit I was sort of sad to see the convention ending.

All things considered, I have to say I think my first experience as a guest of a convention was a success. I look forward to doing it again.

I have to thank the folks who organized Black Hills Con 2021, because they did an excellent job of making sure everything ran smoothly and that everyone was comfortable and taken care of. The atmosphere was a positive one and free of some of the toxicity and gatekeeping that I’ve heard about regarding similar conventions around the country.

You Will Be Consumed…by This Riveting Tale

Ignore, if you can, the “For Rectal Use Only” sticker I’ve affixed to the cover of this proof copy of my novella, You Will Be Consumed.

I know it’s difficult.

Some of you might find yourselves asking whether that’s a reference to the contents being best suited for use as toilet paper. I can assure you the paper utilized in printing this book is definitely inferior to most toilet paper on the market. You may find yourself wondering if I’m implying that you should attempt to roll the book into a tube of sorts for rectal insertion. I don’t recommend that. You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife. You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?” If those things are true, you’re probably somehow existing within the amazing song Once In a Lifetime by Talking Heads.

At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell this post is all about. You’re not alone. I think I might have forgotten that salient detail as well.

Of course, I’m joking.

I just wanted to remind you that it’s time to pick up your own copies of You Will Be Consumed…and the amazing publisher I worked with on this title, Madness Heart Press, has guaranteed that there are outlets available for anyone.

Amazon, of course, is available as an option:

You can also purchase the book in either physical or digital copy directly from the Madness Heart Press website at the link below:

However, if you’re interested in a digital copy of the novella, and you really don’t want to support Amazon…but you do want to show support for indie authors and small press publishers of horror titles…there’s another place you can go.

Drew Stepek, a fantastic author and an avid supporter of the indie horror literature scene, has assembled something amazing.

Check out Godless at the following link:

While you’re there…please spend some time perusing the available titles. This is a great distribution option for small presses, self-published horror authors, and fans to come together without Amazon lining their already bulging pockets in the process.

That’s all.

I wanted to peddle my new novella some more, and I really wanted to encourage everyone to visit Godless.

You Will Be Consumed Preorder

There’s less than a month to go until my novella, You Will Be Consumed, is released by Madness Heart Press.

This bizarro/splatterpunk novella will serve as an introduction for many of you to a shared world for a handful of upcoming novels, novellas, and short stories…the world of The Hungering Void. Welcome to a world where gods are not what we’ve long believed them to be, where demons might not be the bad guys, and where the very fabric of reality appears to be deteriorating. Elements of cosmic horror and splatterpunk meld together to create a phantasmagoric tale of nightmare becoming our reality.

In this novella, you’ll be introduced to detectives Lauren (Ren) Thomas and Martin Garcia as they investigate a surge of strange homicides taking place in and around Denver, Colorado. You’ll also meet Stephen Lee, the medical examiner who unfortunately has to help them unravel the mystery surrounding these peculiar and gruesome murders. These flawed and all-too-human characters are faced with reality-defying crimes that might just push them beyond the edge of sanity.

The novella is presently available to preorder in Kindle format through Amazon. You can’t help but love that cover artwork designed by John Baltisberger of MHP. He did a fantastic job of designing not only the cover art, but also the interior layout.

You can also preorder either digital or paperback editions of the novella directly through the Madness Heart Press website linked below.

This will not be the end of the story. You can expect to see Ren and Martin in future releases as they continue what could be an impossible battle to restore some amount of sanity to the world they find themselves struggling to understand.

Additionally, my short story, Yeshua and Adonai is available in Kindle format, providing a different sort of introduction to the world of The Hungering Void.

Embracing Change

In early March of 2021, I interviewed for what I hoped would be a second job I could work in the evenings and over the weekends, to gain some much-desired experience and add some surplus income. I anticipated being able to pay off my 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander SE early, maybe purchase some new camera gear, and add a bit of savings for potentially rainy days down the road. This is not how things worked out.

I had spent almost six years working in a call center environment for GE Appliances. Initially, it seemed like the sky was the limit for me there. I was promoted from my original position in less than a year, and promoted again in another six months or so to a position I’d decided I wanted when I’d gone through training in May of 2015. For the next two years, I worked as a Team Support Specialist, fielding supervisor requests from consumers, providing floor support when not otherwise occupied, approving or rejecting requests to bend our guidelines for individual situations, and assisting our new representatives for the Consumer Relations department as they first started taking calls (and for the subsequent month or two until they were dispersed to their respective teams).

I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing at that time, the work itself was rewarding and the people I worked with were largely a fantastic group of people. I only vacated that role when a position I desperately wanted became available. I applied, and was hired, for a position as a Trainer and Curriculum Developer for the Product Service Specialist department (essentially technical support and the GE Appliances answer center). For the following year, I got to work in a position I might never have considered leaving. I didn’t exclusively train new representatives for that position, occasionally training new Consumer Relations classes as well as aiding with training for our Home Delivery department (interfacing with Home Depot and certain other retailers for whom we assisted with delivery/installation of new purchases for consumers). There was hardly a position I couldn’t slip into within our particular call center environment without the slightest bit of difficulty.

I excelled at that role, receiving post-training scores that rivaled or even surpassed colleagues who had been in the same position for years before I’d gotten the Trainer position. I successfully graduated the first class with 100% perfect attendance in a long time, largely by instilling a sense of accountability to one another and to me in each of the trainees in that class. Maintaining perfect attendance as a class, through the whole of our training period (five weeks) became a challenge my trainees wanted to achieve…and they did indeed achieve it.

I had a particularly low attrition rate (individuals who did not complete training vs. the total number of trainees who had started my training classes) and a great many people I trained were promoted internally within months of graduating from my training classes. I can’t take all of the credit for that success rate, as I could only work with the people who came through the door, but I did prepare them for everything I conceivably could and made certain they had the clearest understanding of what they could/should do when unexpected scenarios presented themselves.

The year after I’d become a Trainer, the company hired a new Director of Quality and Training from outside of the company and everything changed. The writing was on the wall, there was a push to start from scratch and establish a whole new training environment for GE Appliances. I honestly expected that I’d make it through the new interview and come out the other side still a Trainer. That was not how things worked out either. Instead, I found myself in the unpleasant and unfortunate position of needing to either find a new role within the company (if appealing positions became available before the Valentine’s Day of 2020 deadline) or accept severance and part ways with the company.

I had done nothing wrong. I’d not only displayed competence and capability in every role I’d had within the company for the previous (almost) five years, but I had exceeded expectations whenever I’d been given the opportunity to do so…and now I was being forced to apply for positions I didn’t really want so that I could keep my job, my pay, and my benefits as they were. I maintained as much positivity as I conceivably could, having been dealt a blow like that. I’d not only lost the position I’d worked for years to obtain, but I was also potentially going to lose my job altogether. My two colleagues who’d been in the other Trainer roles opted for severance…and it was a choice I understood, with their greater seniority with the company. I was not thrilled with the way things had turned out and my colleagues weren’t either. I suspect anyone would be hard-pressed to accept that sort of turmoil with a smile and total acceptance.

I did find and accept a new position within the company, in one of the only roles where I might have new things to learn. Until the Valentine’s Day deadline, I continued working as a Trainer…assisting not only my replacement who’d been hired from outside but also the lady who’d taken the Director position. I held no bitterness nor resentment toward these people, and I worked hard to make sure the transition could be as seamless as possible for all parties involved. I wanted the department to continue being successful after I’d vacated my position and moved on to the lateral role I’d been able to find.

I was still in a pseudo-leadership role in the new position. There had been no pay cut and no major adjustment to my schedule. I should have been happy. I was not.

For a period, I was content with the new position, learning a different side of the business and doing things I’d never had to do in previous jobs within the company…but contentment is not the same as pleasure. I found no pleasure in what I was doing. At this point, I was just doing a job and collecting a paycheck. There was no more passion and there really wasn’t any room for surpassing expectations or going above and beyond in the role where I’d found myself.

Sadly, it became apparent that there seemed to be no room for me to go anywhere else within the company either. I interviewed multiple times over the final year with GE Appliances, even managing to impress people who worked at the corporate level in one of those interviews…but I didn’t find acceptance in any of these attempts to perhaps move back into a position where I could feel something rewarding in what I was doing. More than that, certain members of the leadership within my particular call center environment seemed to actively strive to keep me precisely where I was. I felt I was receiving none of the respect I had absolutely earned through the years I’d put into the company up to that point. In fact, I felt actively disrespected in some instances.

I began feeling stifled and demotivated. I dreaded even moving from my bedroom to my home office to log into the work computer to start my day. The pseudo-leadership role I’d pivoted into was beginning to feel less and less like a “leadership” position and more like something being micromanaged and otherwise dismissed.

Sure, I was making just shy of $40k a year and I had three weeks of vacation to look forward to every year as well as a bank of accumulated paid-time-off that rolled over into each new year and could have become quite substantial. The health insurance, dental, and vision were fantastic and reasonably low cost. There was plenty to keep me there, and so I remained in that position I’d never wanted in the first place for more than a year.

I applied with Gray Television (the media conglomerate that owns/operates the ABC and FOX affiliates, KOTA and KEVN, locally) because a friend of mine who works there had told me a position opened up for a Technical Media Producer (a combination of master control operations and directing newscasts). He and I had worked together at KNBN (the local NBC affiliate) years before, during the eight years when I’d worked there between 2002 and 2010. I’d made a comment during one of our conversations that I actually sort of missed working in television broadcasting and he had that remark in mind when the position became available. I’d worked in Master Control for ten years between my previous stint with KOTA (when it was still locally owned/operated) and the years I spent with KNBN. I’d also worked in any number of positions in the production department for newscasts, aside from directing. This seemed like a fantastic opportunity I’d be foolish to ignore.

I applied, not sure whether I’d even be considered, having been out of the industry for 11 years. I’d worked here and there in various production capacities for short films being produced/directed by local filmmakers as well as working on the Full Throttle Saloon television show for what became their final season of the series…but those were different things altogether from what I’d be needing to do in the Technical Media Producer (TMP) role. I figured it was worth a shot, just because of the potential to gain some new experience and expertise while making some extra money. Working part-time in television again might be refreshing enough to make me hate my full-time job just a little bit less.

It turned out that there were no part-time positions available. The job was full-time and they wanted me for it.

I was going to be facing a pay cut to almost half of the $19+ an hour I’d been making (not quite half, but near enough that it’s not worth being more precise) if I accepted the job. There was no way I could work both jobs, I spent a while dwelling on the logistics involved, and it simply wasn’t an option. I told them that I’d need to consider things and weigh everything before making a decision. I wasn’t sure if I could realistically take that sort of financial hit. They accepted that I wouldn’t have an answer until the afternoon of the following day. Based on the reaction when I called and stated that I’d like to accept the job, I don’t think they expected me to take it, knowing how much money I’d be losing in doing so. Though I’d gone into the interview hoping to increase my income (instead, I was being faced with potentially decreasing it dramatically), I also knew that I wasn’t happy where I was, regardless of the income level.

Since starting with Gray Television on the 19th of March, my 16-year-old daughter and my significant other both seem to think I’ve been happier. My schedule was all over the place during these first three weeks, and the permanent shift I’m transitioning into has me waking up at 3:45 AM Monday through Friday, but I can’t deny that I’m happier now than I’d been for more than a year with GE Appliances. Not only that, but less than three full weeks into my new job and I already spent almost a full hour and a half directing newscasts today. Good Morning KOTA Territory is an hour and a half morning newscast that runs from 5:30 to 7 AM (on KOTA, obviously), followed by Good Morning Black Hills from 7 to 8 AM (on KEVN, in this case), and then there’s an interval until the Noon newscast runs on KOTA for half an hour. This morning, I directed most of the 5:30 to 6 AM segment of Good Morning KOTA Territory, the full 6 to 6:30 AM segment, as well as the full KOTA Territory News At Noon. Naturally, I had another director there to shadow me in case I fucked something up beyond repair–I didn’t, by the way–but I already feel like I’m treated with more respect with Gray Television than I had with GE Appliances for quite some time.

There, now you have an update on what’s been going on in my life.

Sometimes there are more important things to consider than money, though it can be damned difficult to take a leap that will diminish one’s income. It’s not a choice everyone can make, that’s for sure.

COVID-19 Vaccine Dose One

My timing couldn’t have been better, transitioning from my role with GE Appliances to my new position as a Technical Media Producer for Gray Broadcasting (KOTA/KEVN).

It was just last week that 1E classifications became eligible for COVID vaccinations. I immediately jumped on that and scheduled my first dose for my next day off, which happened to be today.

Now I simply have to wait another four weeks until I can receive dose two of the Moderna vaccine.

Why the Neurodiversity Movement Matters

I was a reasonably young child when I was diagnosed with ADHD. I wasn’t one of those cases where the diagnosis was just being tossed around and applied to kids behaving as kids always have…in my case (as with many others back in the 1980s), it was a legitimate diagnosis. I was prescribed Ritalin at that time, and it did seem to do the trick–when I was in school. By the time I’d been home for a little while, I was twice as difficult to deal with as I’d been before the diagnosis and prescription. Before that, I’d been a handful–no surprise to anyone who knows me as even an acquaintance, even as an adult–after that, I was a holy fucking terror.
It didn’t take long before my mother stopped me taking the Ritalin, because it was ultimately a bit of an issue. If it had been a few years later, they probably could have found some sort of scheduled dosage that might not have produced the same negative side-effects. Whatever the case may be, life goes on.
Years later I was further diagnosed with passive-aggressive personality disorder, not to be mistaken with someone behaving in a passive-aggressive manner. They are two distinctly different things, though there are some commonalities in the manifestation of passive-aggressive personality disorder and an individual being a passive-aggressive asshole–but there’s no sense in going into that here. As with other personality disorders, there is no drug treatment associated with the passive-aggressive disorder–it’s a wiring issue rather than a chemical one.
Passive-aggressive personality disorder frequently goes hand-in-hand with anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder (MDD), suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. You might have guessed it if you figured there’s a reason I mention all of those things in particular.
You win the prize!
There is no prize.
Get used to disappointment.
In addition to these things I’ve already mentioned, there have been strong signs of PTSD related to assorted experiences from my childhood (both as a young child and in my teen years). With all of those factors combined, I like to think I’ve turned out to be a reasonably functional adult and a productive member of society. I definitely have my issues here and there, and I can certainly still be quite difficult to deal with in even small doses (depending on the day)…but, all-in-all I’m keeping it together rather well if I do say so myself–and I do, so don’t argue with me.
I wish there had been something like the neurodiversity movement when I was younger, or that it had been more well-established and well-known at that time. I spent most of my life feeling like there were things wrong with me as if I were broken or damaged in some way–and perhaps I was to some extent. I still frequently refer to myself as being precisely that. I laugh and joke about how I’m broken or damaged, dysfunctional and maladjusted…but there’s that kernel deep inside that curls up into a little fetal shape whenever I do it.
It’s ok, though, I’m a bit of a masochist.
The neurodiversity movement is focused on treating these (mostly high functioning) people as being nothing more than a natural (and sometimes valuable) thread of the overall tapestry of human diversity. It’s refreshing and more than a little bit liberating to be treated as if I fall into a spectrum of what can simply be called a person with a normal human brain–as preconditioned as I might be to consider it anything but normal.
There are a lot of us out here.
Some of us are more high functioning than and some less so, but there’s no cause to pretend that we’re somehow less than other people, regardless of where we fall on that spectrum. It takes some degree of patience to deal with some of us, myself included. Personally, I recognize how challenging I can be on a normal basis and I make concessions for that. I’m not exclusive in doing so. Most of us who fall into the neurodivergent categorization are well aware of these things and we’ve learned to cope (as best we can) and to provide a bit of leeway for others in our lives. This isn’t true for everyone, of course, as there are extreme cases, but a large number of us are just like everyone else, just with a little bit more psychological/emotional/mental baggage in tow.

For some additional reading on the Neurodiversity Movement, I’m including the following link:

https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/empowering-your-child/building-on-strengths/neurodiversity-what-you-need-to-know

My Work & How You Can Support Me

This is where you can locate an increasing assortment of links to my presently available material as well as new material as it becomes available.

Don’t be a stranger!

Where Dreams Come True is my most recent release. October of 2021 is the 31 Days of Godless event on http://www.godless.com and my failed attempt at writing erotica was the Day Three release.

Amy’s expectation of a relaxing summer of housekeeping at a theme park hotel is shattered as guests and staff alike are overcome with carnal desires that cross all lines of decency. Can she escape with her sanity intact? Can she even make it out of the hotel?

For only $0.50, you can pick it up for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless App on your preferred mobile device. The link is below:

May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding is my newest collection of short fiction, released on August 20th, 2021 (on Godless August 18th). Almost exclusively focused on extreme horror and splatterpunk, with a bit of bizarro and nihilism thrown in for flavor, this collection contains ten stories, including the Godless Horrors hit, Horseplay.

From the gruesome, unfiltered imagination of Nikolas P. Robinson comes a collection of ten stories ranging from the brutal and bleak to the bizarre and surreal. In these pages, you’ll witness a drunk driver experiencing consequences worse than anything he could have imagined. You’ll see what happens when a beloved pet is accidentally sacrificed, opening the gates of Hell. And that is only the beginning. It gets worse from there.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Here are what better writers than I have had to say about it:

“Nikolas P. Robinson might possibly be the Neil Gaiman of extreme horror.” – Carver Pike, Splatterpunk Award nominated author of The Slaughter Box

“Imagine attending a party where—depending on which room you enter—you might get the best lay of your life, witness something unspeakable that might scar you for life, or get physically beaten within an inch of your life. That’s what reading this story collection feels like—though not necessarily in that order.” – Adrian Ludens, author of Bottled Spirits and Cobwebs

The title is available in digital formats through http://www.godless.com for a full $1 cheaper than you’ll find the digital title on Amazon. Just check out the following link:

What you’ll find in the pages of You Will Be Consumed is a cosmic horror, splatterpunk extravaganza that blends unsettling set pieces with dark humor. The novella was released on May 15th of 2021 through Madness Heart Press. It’s meant to introduce readers to the world of The Hungering Void, a connected sequence of novels, novellas, and short stories showcasing my fictional portrayal of our world going to hell in a very real sense. This novella serves as the first glimpse for many into the nature of gods and demons in what will be a larger fictional environment.

While investigating a series of peculiar and unsettling deaths in Denver, two deeply flawed detectives learn there might be no salvation for any of us.

Other work published through Madness Heart Press can be found at the following link:

Shop

Also, exclusive to http://www.godless.com, you’ll find Daemonica.

Daemonica is a stand-alone short story introducing readers to the larger story of Daemonica In Claritate, to be released at a later date.

Orphaned for the second time in her twenty-one years with the death of her older brother, Ethan, Layla Torres has been spiraling out of control. When she discovers the truth of what happened to Ethan and his friends, the secret stash of an entirely new drug in her brother’s belongings provides her with a chance for revenge. It’s a chance she’ll happily take.

The link to this title on http://www.godless.com is below:

You might also want to dive into depravity with my extreme horror digital short, Horseplay, available exclusively through http://www.godless.com for only $0.50 by following the link below.

This story has been included in my short story collection, May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding, but you can get your hands on this delicious awfulness as a taste of what you’ll find.

A distributor of the vilest pornographic material available receives a tape that may be more than worth the price he paid to get it in his hands. What begins as documentation of one horrific pornographic act becomes something far more disturbing…but also far more interesting and valuable.

The link to this title on Godless is below:

Innocence Ends, released in August of 2020, is a story of friendship and how far that friendship can be tested. The concept that forms the substrate of this novel is one that arose from a conversation with an old friend of mine, more than 20 years before the book ended up being published. We’d been discussing that certain B-movie tropes were never played as being serious, and we were sort of disappointed by that fact. You know the tropes I mean, the mad scientist with his manor atop the hillside, the group of friends trapped in a town with a sinister secret, and other such things. Snippets of scenes that would ultimately become part of Innocence Ends were posted on this blog years ago, because I’d started writing this book long before I finally sat down and finished it in late 2019 and early 2020. Two decades in the making, I’m pleased with how this one turned out.

Six lifelong friends meet together in an isolated mountain town in Northern Idaho to commemorate the fifth anniversary of a close friend’s suicide.

A week of hiking, spending time in nature, and bittersweet reunion soon takes a sinister turn as the friends find themselves fighting for their lives and struggling to survive. A seemingly tranquil community bombarded by late spring storms becomes a trap filled with monsters and threats everywhere they turn.

Terrifying secrets are revealed and the survivors are left to wonder what will be left of the world outside if they can find a way to come through the gauntlet alive.

Unspoken was the first novel I released, back in late 2011, though it was not the first I’d written. There was some small amount of experimentation taking place in the writing of this story, focusing on a protagonist that wasn’t particularly likable or relatable to most people…but hoping to elicit some sympathy for him by the time we reach our conclusion. In that, I do believe I succeeded.

Unspoken is a short, but well-paced and compelling exploration of the themes of unrequited love and the insanity that accompanies it in the midst of a world sliding into madness. A story of love, regret, and the end of the world expressed with a poetic voice and postmodern sensibilities; it could be described as being a combination between George A. Romero’s The Crazies and an amalgam of The Notebook and Love In the Time of Cholera.

The story follows Nathan, recently employed as an overnight orderly in a state mental hospital. He has found himself lucky enough to develop a friendship with Leyna, another of the overnight staff, but that friendship quickly becomes something far more intense for Nathan, a fact he chooses to keep to himself.

Suffering through the turmoil of his unspoken desire for Leyna and inured to the environment of a mental hospital and the madness that has afflicted him in his personal life, Nathan neglects to notice the signs that become more and more prevalent in the world around him, signs indicating that something terrible is taking place. As the world descends into madness, Nathan and Leyna remain at the institution, hoping that isolation might protect them from the world collapsing around them, but in the end there may be no escaping some tragedies.

Horror author David Moody described Unspoken as, “…a brave and thought-provoking piece of work filled with palpable emotions and plausible situations.”

Errata: Collected Short Fiction and Poetry was released in 2016, collecting in one volume eight short stories I’d written and released digitally as well as a collection of poetry that had been released as A Wreck In Progress a short while before Unspoken was published.

There is no connecting thread between the included stories, spanning genres from gritty crime drama to bizarro extreme horror. Topics run the gamut from the final scenes of a slasher narrative to the terrifying isolation of interstellar space. There is something for everyone, from fans of horror to those who enjoy hard science fiction.