This is another short story that I am considering featuring in the anthology, but I would love to have some feedback. Please spread it around and post, comment, repost and reblog please. And thank you in advance for the support. It is a rough draft so please don’t be too harsh about grammatical or punctuation errors, but also please don’t hesitate to draw my attention to it.
Another Time, Another Place
“Dammit, Grayson! I trusted you!” Nomie screamed, throwing his phone across the room in a fit of rage after he screamed at her for invading his privacy when she insisted upon looking through his texts. It hit the wall and she hoped she’d broken it to smithereens. She wanted to throw the computer across the room after she’d found his email open but was hoping to have a civilized talk about it first.
“It’s not what you think! Tony has been the one talking to all those girls! I don’t know why you’re going through all my stuff, anyway. I have nothing to hide!”
“Using your email? Really? And how dare you accuse me of not trusting you; I did until I saw those messages, and it’s not like I deliberately went on the computer to look at your stuff! I’ve never questioned you about your privacy before, but if you have nothing to hide then why did you make such a big deal about it when I asked for your phone PIN? How stupid do you think I am?”
“I don’t!” Grayson protested. “I don’t think you’re stupid. If Tony’s wife would have found out she would have freaked! That’s why I gave him my email info so he can use it from his house.”
Nomie’s world spun and as he spoke, she started to believe his words. He was so warm, so convincing. She knew that he would never hurt her. But that night as he held her in bed, something inside her kept her awake as he held her. She cried silently to herself as he snored in a deep sleep, cutting through her eardrums.
She wriggled out of his tight grip and went to the bathroom to wipe her face. How could he do something like that to her? He wouldn’t. She knew that in her heart. It was stupid of her to read his emails even if he’d left it open. He was right when he accused her of not trusting him after she questioned him about cheating. She looked in the mirror at her puffy-eyed reflection and scolded herself for being so silly. Then she slipped back into bed to a troubled night of sleep.
The next day while Grayson was at work, Nomie tried to forget it all but she just couldn’t focus. She sat at the computer to get some work done for her boss, the invoices she had planned to have done the day before when she ran across the email that stared her in the face, telling Tony, or Grayson, as she didn’t know what to believe, how good he was in bed. But she didn’t get past typing the date. May 10, 2015. She started crying, remembering what she’d found the morning before. She remembered that the phone had hit the wall but wasn’t sure about the damage yet. She went to where it had hit but it was gone, so she walked into the kitchen to grab a soda and found the phone on the kitchen counter. It was banged up pretty good and didn’t seem to work. Curious, she tried to turn it on—Nothing. He probably left it knowing it was a goner. Or was it?
She plugged it into the charger and turned it on. There were signs of life in it! He’d never given her the passcode but she tried the PIN from their mutual bank account. It worked, but she wished it hadn’t. The text messages and voicemails she found were heartbreaking. She recognized a few of the girls’ names from his email account, and she knew from what was said that the messages were not intended for Tony as he’d claimed, but had to be for Grayson. The last one she read before breaking down was sent ten minutes ago. “Where r u? R we still on for lunch today?” It was from some girl named Chrissy, the girl he talked to most.
In a midst of a panic attack the size of Texas, Nomie slunk to the kitchen floor and sobbed uncontrollably, saying an unintelligible prayer that it would all go away and that things would be different. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to know about these things, but she wished he’d never betrayed her trust. She knew she had to leave him, but how could she? She hadn’t heard his side, so maybe there was an explanation like with the emails. And maybe he’d die in a horrible accident on the way home and she wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. She felt guilt at her hope for his demise.
A cold wind whooshed by her, but she was too busy to truly notice. A few minutes later, she felt a presence. There was a thing standing in her kitchen that looked like a shadow that had been burnt to a crisp, but there was something sympathetic in its blue eyes as it looked upon her. She felt a calm about this entity, as if he, or she or it, was going to make everything okay.
“I know what happened, you poor thing. And I can make it all go away.”
She was desperate but cautious as she stared at it for a moment, trying to take it all in. Maybe it was just a hallucination. “How?” she asked, drawing the word out with skeptical reservation.
“He betrayed you. I can take you back to another time, another place, before the betrayal began. I can make it so that it never happened.”
“You can take us back to before all of this even started?”
“Yes,” said the crispy creature. “But in exchange, you have to give me your soul. Fair deal?”
“What does that mean?” she asked hesitantly.
“It means you can have happiness with your beloved once again while you’re both here on Earth, but your soul will be mine for Eternity.”
Without putting any thought into anything else that the Shadow-Thing said except for “happiness with your beloved once again,” she sniffled and whispered a feeble, “Fair enough.”
“And one more thing. You won’t remember anything that happened these last few days. I wouldn’t want that interfering with your happiness. I’ll take you back to a time before the affairs began.”
“When was that?”
“Chrissy was the first. He started a friendship with her on February the fifteenth of 2013. Do you remember the day before? He took you out to a nice Valentine’s Day dinner. He even went into work earlier than he had to because he couldn’t bear being home without you. That morning, they both stopped in to get a cup of coffee at the convenience store and stood in line together. Every day after that, Chrissy stopped at the store hoping to catch him and even waited until she saw his car before she’d set foot in the store. It was around March that he started falling for her and took her up on a lunch date, and when he got away with seeing her, he started seeing the others. But I’m sure I’ve already told you more than you can handle in your delicate state. I can change all that; I can make it so that they never even cross paths.”
“That bastard!” Nomie screamed. She thought of how she and Grayson had a nice dinner and went home early since they both had to work the next day, but they made up for the early-night-in in bed. Afterwards, he spooned her and gave her small kisses along her shoulder, caressing her body gently with his fingertips as he whispered sweet words in her ear. “I love you, baby. I hope I made your Valentine’s Day as good as you’ve made mine,” he said as she drifted to sleep, still feeling his loving touch on her skin. It was so perfect. “And I’ll forget all of this?”
She sighed, desperate for relief from the pain in her mind, heart and body. “Yes.”
Suddenly everything went black. She woke up on February the Fourteenth, 2013. It was the same as it was two years ago, but she didn’t remember it. She had a sense of deja vu all day but couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. But she ignored it. She was just excited to get home from work after he’d sent her a text about how he had a special surprise for her.
That night she went to bed feeling the most love for him she’d ever known for anyone. From the Five-Star restaurant to the sex, everything was perfect as she curled up in his arms and fell asleep in a state of euphoric bliss under his touch.
The next morning she still felt that sense of deja vu, but was still high from the magic of the night before to think much of it. He sat on the bed buttoning his shirt with a sly smile, He motioned to her with a “come here” gesture and pulled her in, giving her a long, seductive kiss. “Too much of that and both of us will be late to work. If we make it in at all,” he laughed. “That would be fine by me,” she said, wishing she could just lay in bed with him all day. Then she looked at her watch. “Well I’d better get going, I think I’m going to be cutting it a bit short here.”
“All right, baby. I still have forty-five minutes, maybe an hour before I have to leave. Gonna be lonely here without you.” He gave her a sad puppy dog look and she smiled. Then he pulled her in for one final kiss before she left the room. He heard some noise from the kitchen before the front door closed and her car started up. He felt so much more love from him than ever, but couldn’t figure out why. Maybe it was last night’s escapade. And he also had a strange sense of deja vu.
He was going to leave early because the night before was so wonderful with Nomie that he was missing her like crazy, but something told him not to. It was a nagging feeling in his gut that if he left early, things wouldn’t pan out the way that Fate, or possibly some other Entity, had designed it to. Instead, he passed time by sending out a few emails. He didn’t realize that he’d let time slip away and then he headed out the door, knowing he would have to speed a little to get to work in time.
It was around 9:51 on the morning of February 15th that Nomie received the call that Grayson had been in a terrible accident. “Is he okay?” she asked with her heart pounding.
The officer on the other line hesitated before saying, “I’m sorry; Grayson didn’t make it.” He didn’t want to tell her that not only had his car been T-boned by a big rig, but it had pretty much crushed Grayson’s car with him in it. He had briefly rehearsed the right words to say to her before calling, but in a situation like this, he found it difficult.
A guy from the cleanup crew yelled, “We got another chunk of him over here!” as the officer grimaced at the lack of couth, hoping his voice hadn’t carried over the phone.
As the officer explained what had happened, Nomie crumpled to the floor, screaming as her co-workers ran to her to see what was wrong. her boss drove her home, promising that he would look after her car and told her to keep in touch and take a little time off if she needed to.
Grayson’s family was notified by police, which she was grateful for since she barely had the strength to relay it to her mother without choking up. Her mother called the rest of the family and ten minutes later showed up at her doorstep.
Nomie was quiet and could barely eat. She went into the corner of the living room where the computer was and noticed that Grayson hadn’t turned his computer off. Desperate to know what some of his last thoughts were, she sifted through his “sent” folder. Every message she came across mentioned her in some way, but the very last one was to his brother who was having girl troubles.
“If you ever find a girl like Nomie, don’t let her go. I hope someday you’re as lucky as I am.”
The tears began to flow in a neverending torrent. He was the most loving, caring, faithful and loyal husband any woman could ask for.
Writers are my rock stars. They are my athletes. They make my whole little universe swirl with excitement and the anticipation of reading the latest masterpieces they put out and whenever I get word that they’re working on a new project my heart skips a beat. And since reading is a favourite hobby of mine, I seek out authors that I know will not disappoint. So, as a reader, it’s vital to my existance to find an author that I can really get into. And they are few and far between.
P. A. Douglas is one of those few. After reading Watchers (Paperback) and Rancid (Paperback) I’m now a die-hard fan! I’m really excited about Hitchers (Paperback) and I’m lovin’ the concept of this one and can’t wait to read it! While they’re available for Kindle, I personally prefer paperbacks to e-books so I’m saving back enough money to buy it as we speak! Now that I’ve derailed from my topic, let me get back on track.
I was able to get five questions answered pertaining to Rancid from P. A. Douglas himself! How awesome is that?!?!? You can also check out my interview with P. A. Douglas about Watchers right here.
JC: I love how Rancid has a style reminiscent of some of the 80s zombies movies without being a copy. In the last interview you said that you’re an “80s Baby”, so was the 80s vibe of this book something that just happened, or were you intentionally going for that style?
P. A.: I intentionally go for that style, because that’s the style I like. However, I tried to mix in a little bit of a new-age twist just to keep things fresh. Well, as fresh as a rotting corpse can get.
JC: I’ve heard that it can be difficult for writers to come up with ways to get rid of cell phones, particularly in horror. Since you had a group of characters, was it difficult to nix cell phones from the picture?
P. A.: Honestly, I am going to go with a ‘NO’. Some authors forget all about that aspect of the story. When I write, I try to think of what I would do in the situation. I wouldn’t run up the stairs to get away. No, I would run right out the front door and keep on running. So…if I am in a situation where I could really use a phone to get some help, then hell yea my characters would do the same. Getting rid of them can easily be done wrong. Just be subtle when and if you decided to do something like that. For example, you would run out the front door when the killer is in your house. If that happened the story would end prematurely. Just think it through. Give them a reason to turn around, or, an obstacle that keeps them from doing so.
JC: When it comes to zombie books or movies, I think all of us Z-buffs analyse what we would have done, or would have done differently than the characters. I think this was the first time that I’ve ever seen scenarios where the characters are pretty much stuck between a zombie and a hard place. And this was the first time that I’ve been at a loss as to how I would have gotten away unbitten! After reading some of those parts over and over, I humbly concluded that I would have been minced meat. You really gave a feeling of claustrophobic terror, and in a good way! With such originality, I have to ask where these concepts came from. Did you take a step back to ask yourself what you could do that hasn’t been done yet, or did the ideas just flow?
P. A.: Well, let’s be honest. Everything in the writing world has been done. It’s all been done in the movies, or in books and comics. Just because something isn’t original that doesn’t mean it can’t be unique. The human isn’t original, but every last thumb print is.
JC: Every writer has a different motive. To tell a story, to recruit readers, maybe even hopes of acquiring fortune and fame. And some write because of a sheer love of writing. What is it that drives you?
P. A.: I enjoy watching things grow. I was a full time singer-songwriter for a long time, and became accustomed to watching the number of fans grow as my career developed. I don’t care for fame or money. I love being creative and watching the readership grow. I enjoy knowing others like what I have created. That is the same with music, books, art… all of that stuff.
JC: The debate over environmental care and Global Warming has become so conflicted. Personally, I think we can all do a little something to take care of our planet. From everyday litter cluttering our streets to the devastation of Chernobyl, it’s a real concern. Was this book at all meant to make people think about the environment and what we put into our bodies, or just a really damn good story?
P. A.: When I write, I write from my life. I was on tour, so I wrote a book about a band on tour (Epidemic of the Undead). I was done with tour, so I wrote about a guy dealing with not being on tour (Hitchers). I made a few new friends that work at different chemical plants, so I wrote about a plant explosion (Watchers). I hate fast food… so… well, you get the point. I’m a home cooked meal kind of guy!
LIKE P. A. Douglas on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/booksofpadouglas
Watchers is an excellent blend of gore, perfectly executed plot, likeable characters and laugh-out-loud humour. The zombies were not the Romero-esque style, but they were equally creepy if not moreso. And, as a zombie buff, I found P. A. Douglas’ brand of horror to be refreshingly original and stand-out in the mass wave of the undead genre. There was an obvious amount of time and thought put into this book, and he doesn’t merely follow the living dead trend, but makes it his own. His voice is one of few that shows us that not everything has been done already.
One thing that I feel is abosolutely necessary to a great plot is characters. There was not a single character that I didn’t like and their flaws made them endearing. I instantly fell in love, particularly with Mr. Hardy and Ben Love. Everyone had something unique to bring to the story. I was praying that they would all get out alive and unscathed, and even through the dramatic parts of the story, it’s so fast-paced that there’s no time to mourn (although I’m not going to say who makes it out alive and who doesn’t). The cast of players were painted with such detail and portrayed with all of the emotion and depicted with traits that make each of us out here in the real world human. Not only did that make the story enjoyable, but terrifying. Since the characters were so real, and because I can see people I know (including myself) in the characters, it was easy to envision myself in the book. Add to that a geographical location that mirrors Anytown, USA (even though it was set in a certain place), and you might find yourself anxiously scanning the horizon for the first sign that the Watchers are coming.
I was turning pages, squirming in my seat and yelling, “DON’T GO IN THERE! RUN!” There were even parts that had me laughing out loud! It was a combination of the unexpected coupled with comic timing and funny lines that provided a break in the tension.
This story was terrifying with some gore. And yes, I can actually say that I found it enjoyable and even delightful, something that is not often said about horror stories. For me, this book was about a group of people thrust into a horrific situation, whereas many horror writers focus on the horror first with the characters and plot feeling more like an afterthought of minor details. P. A. Douglas has conquered that by maintaining an even balance of plot, characters, and total gore!
I rarely read anything outside of the horror genre, but if P. A. Douglas had stripped away all of the scary parts, this book would still have captured my attention. That’s how much I loved it.
I started reading the other book I got by P. A. Douglas, and I can’t wait to see what surprises are held in RANCID.
Stay tuned for the RANCID review!