A successful author loses his grip on reality, his marriage, and his life as weird and even impossible things begin to happen to him. He struggles to discover where it is coming from and to keep from slipping over the brink of sanity. As the layers peel from the kernel of truth, he grasps at whatever or whoever can pull him back from the abyss. Is the source of his torment human, paranormal, or is it himself?
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Have you ever been divorced? Then you might understand; although, you shouldn't presume that is whole story. This tale of the macabre goes deeper than what you see on the surface.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
All my characters come from life; however, in the case of "Wicked Light," none of the characters are based on a single real person. Kimberly comes pretty close, but I only knew that lady superficially. The main character's snarky remarks are fairly close to things I might say in similar circumstances.
Hailey was folding laundry when I came in from the garage. “So, what did they say?”
“I’m allergic to shellfish, grass, and Norfolk Island pines.”
“Not ordinary fish?”
“Apparently not, but they advised against it.”
“I’m sorry. I know that’s a disappointment to you.”
“Thanks,” I said kissing her. “So, what’s for dinner?”
“Norfolk Island pine.”
“I knew you were trying to poison me.”
“Maury wants you to call him.”
I only grumbled and went to my office. It was almost lunchtime, so I didn’t feel like starting to write, and I didn’t feel like talking to Maury. Instead, I read email. A fellow writer sent some political cartoons, most of the rest was junk, but one caught my attention. The subject was ‘Is that you, Chris?’ There was no body text, just a link. Hailey warned me about clicking links from strangers and getting viruses. The sender’s name meant nothing to me—Mary Gleason. Curious as I was, I just left it there. Maybe I’d find some way to test it later. Maybe Ashlee would know what to do—when faced with technical issues, go to your kids. Grandkids would be better, but I didn’t have any. That reminded me to ask Ashlee if she was on the pill. Maybe it would be a better idea to ask Hailey if she knew.
A gentle tap on the glass broke my reverie. There was a man’s face looking at me. I jumped out of my Top-Siders. Physically recoiling from the window, I nearly fell off the chair. When I recovered my equilibrium, the face was gone. Like the time before, I ran out of the family room doors, saw nothing, kept running, and ended at the tall gate by the garage—nobody, no barking dog behind us, no slamming gate noise. My heart was pounding from the shock and from running.
Hailey came out of the house looking worried. “What is it now? Did you see something in the rose garden again?”
“There was a man looking in the office window.”
“He must have gone out the other gate. Did you put a lock on it yet?”
“Why isn’t Gretchen barking?” she asked somewhat accusatorily.
“How do I know? I think that dog is losing it.”
“I don’t think it’s Gretchen who’s losing it. What did this man look like?”
“I’m not sure. It startled me so I almost fell off the chair. He was ordinary looking.”
“That’s not very helpful. What did he do?”
“He just tapped on the glass. When I recovered from the shock, he was gone.”
“Why would a stranger come to your window and tap on the glass rather than ring the doorbell if he wanted something?”
I was in such a state of befuddlement that I parroted her question.
“That’s what I just asked,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense. You must have imagined it.”
“I know what I saw.”
“If a stranger tapped on your office window, I think you should call the police. There may be footprints or something.”
If they find footprints, what are they going to do?”
“Suit yourself. Lunch is ready.”
Grilled cheese with sliced tomatoes had no negative effects on me, so I went to work immediately afterward. Or I attempted to go to work. I clicked on the ‘MMM’ file and the Word logo opened, but it was blue instead of the familiar yellow and white. Nothing looked right. The document opened, but a window opened on top of it. It said, ‘Activate your account.’ At the top of the page, after the file name, it said, ‘Unlicensed product.’ This was ridiculous. I make my living with Word, and I’ve been using this version every day since I bought it, which must have been in 2010 since it’s called ‘Word 2010.’
I Googled the issue and spent the next hour reading help forums to no good result. Then it occurred to me that it might have to do with one of their damned updates, so I decided to do a restore. The only restore date was three days ago. Three days ago, Word worked fine, so I did it. As always, the screen went blue and the dots started whirling. There was some message that I didn’t read.
The computer was going to be unusable for an indeterminate length of time, so I relaxed on the sofa and closed my eyes. No sooner did my lids fall than I realized I needed to use the bathroom, so I dragged myself off the couch and went to the half bath off my office. I raised the lid and seat and squealed like a girl. There was a goddamn snake in the toilet.
Hailey came running. “What is wrong now?”
“There’s a snake in the toilet.”
“Oh, my God. Flush it down.”
That hadn’t occurred to me. I did. The bowl overflowed. I put my foot on the lid to keep the damned reptile from floating out of the toilet. “That didn’t work,” I said in a voice calmer than I felt.
“Call somebody then,” she said.
“Should I call the plumber or animal control?” I was not feeling patient with her advice. “Here, you hold the lid down while I get something to put it in.”
“I’m not going to stand here. What if it gets out?”
“It’s too big to crawl through the gap between the seat and the rim.”
“What kind of snake is it?”
“Christ, I don’t know. It’s a brown snake.”
“Does it have rattles?”
“I didn’t ask. I’ll bring something to kill it in case it’s dangerous.”
“You’re going to have to get another assistant for your snake charmer act. I’m outta here.”
“Dammit, Hailey, then get me something heavy to put on the lid.”
She brought a stack of books, which I thought was a poor choice in a wet environment, but I put them on the lid and threw the towels onto the floor to try to prevent the water from flowing onto the hardwood. Hailey vanished for tamer territory, and I went into the garage to hunt for snake foiling tools. My past snake experience consisted solely of decapitation with shovels the few times I’d encountered venomous serpents in the yard. I had no reason to think I was dealing with a rattler, and I wasn’t keen on the idea of hacking at it with a shovel blade on the tile. A golf club seemed like a more suitable weapon. I could pin it to the floor, grab it by the neck, and stuff it into something—like what? My eye fell on a plastic bucket of chlorine tablets for the pool. I quickly dumped all the tablets onto the workbench and selected a golf club—a two iron because it was the longest. Also, I grabbed some rags to sop the water—at least it was clean water. Well, the snake might have shit.
Heavily armed, I closed the bathroom door and tucked rags into the gap, then I moved the books to the vanity and flipped the seat against the tank. The snake was immobile. Figuring it had drowned, I attempted to scoop it with my two iron so I could drop it into the bucket. As soon as I elevated it above the water, it revived and slipped off the club. At this point, I was able to determine that it was just a gopher snake, which made its capture less precarious. It slithered behind the toilet and wound itself into a coil. It took about ten attempts to drag it from its refuge and scoot it into the bucket. In the end, I had to stun it with a chip shot to the head. When it was partly supine, I was able to nudge it into the pail with my shoe.
Hailey saw me toting my white plastic bucket through the family room. “What are you going to do with it?”
“I’m going to take it to the far corner of the yard and turn it loose.”
“You are not. Take it someplace far away to turn it loose.”
“They call it a gopher snake for a reason. How fond of gophers in the rose garden are you?”
“I won’t be able to go outside knowing that thing is out there.”
“I hate to tell you this, but these things are always out there.”
“Yeah, but if I don’t know they’re there, they don’t bother me.”
“I seriously doubt if this one will take up residence. It’ll be gone before dark.” I kept walking before she could fire another salvo.
After I dried the floor in the bathroom and returned to my desk, the damned restore still wasn’t finished. It took another fifteen minutes, and when I closed all the windows that the process had opened, there was a little window with red text that said the restore failed.
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