The Old Shack

I was running through the woods, chasing a squirrel. I was fascinated with all creatures back then. A kid. The world was new and everything was fresh. I had the hunting instinct of a hound and a desire to chase, search, find. But once found, I didn’t know what to do with my quarry.

The gray squirrel frantically ran through the tree tops. I ran behind, threw rocks. It lead me to an opening in the thickest part of the woods. The sun dappled the clearing. It was a bright, clear day, and it was startling to suddenly be out of shade. I was hot and was growing tired of the chase. In front of me stood a lopsided old shack. I was immediately intrigued. It barely stood, in a small clearing, uneven and faded as a gray day in December. The partially open door, shed chips of faded white paint. Choking brush wrapped around one side of the building and seemed to be squeezing what little life was left out of the wood.

I stood at the door and peered into the black interior. It was small, about twelve by ten feet. The dank smell of rotting wood, thick and moist. It was an unsettling odor that seemed more like a filthy whisper than a smell. Fresh dirt and decaying leaves. The ancient door scraped the slab as I pried it open. I took a step inside. A chill ran through me. Still, dank, cold. A window in the back let in a bit of sun. Gaps in the roughhewn floorboards widened in spots of light. Vines threaded through the floor, but were dead or dying in the perpetual rankness. A strange chandelier hung down, too low to be of any use. Dirty glass, covered in black mildew and green film. I took another step inside. A damp chill swept over me like a thin blanket. In the far left corner was a small cot. A pillow lay atop the mattress, uncovered and molding. Cigarette butts littered the floor. Below the window was a small brass container. I was intrigued, thinking perhaps some lost treasure lay inside. But as I approached I heard it ring out. Just a small ping, as if something dropped into it. I turned sharply, looking for the safety of the open door. There came a knock on the roof. I looked up and saw a black smoky haze hovering on the ceiling. A low whisper spoke, “Get out.” The voice chilled my spine. I bolted forward, toward the light of the door. I must have been running full force when I hit something hard and fell back. I remember feeling like the floor cradled me, my whole body, like I’d fallen into a rut. A perfect outline of my body. In my mind, I saw a field of black dots, like on a black and white TV screen. People were running. They were far away and small, like a mass of moving shadow, but they were all running in the same direction. A face came close to me. I could see she was a nice old lady. But her mouth opened and she yelled close to my face, “What?” The word was yelled, long, slow, filled with hate, torment, self-pity and regret. Her breath was freezing cold, and had the smell of dead leaves and rotten flesh. The venom in her voice startled me awake. I felt all of these things at once. They clawed into me. I ran like hell. I was myopic and could only see what was directly in front of me. I kept running. Above, in the trees, I heard a squirrel, jumping from tree to tree, as if chasing me, menacing me, wanting me to make me pay for my past transgressions. My stomach churned. My heart exploded in my chest.

I came to the small field adjacent to my back yard, and I stopped. I bent over, my hands on my knees and heaved. My head ached with pounding force. My eyes hurt. My vision slowly started coming back to full color.

My house stood on a small incline against the shadows of the setting sun. A dark outline against orange light. The two story house suddenly seemed foreboding. I shook off the feeling when I saw a light from the kitchen, and my mother’s shape in the window. Thoughts of supper, a warm shower and bed warmed me. But I couldn’t help feeling as if something had changed. There was a heaviness in my heart. A joylessness. Then a yearning to return to the shack came upon me. I saw it clear as day in my mind, the crooked slant of the shack against the night sky, the gray wood, the tree branches squeezing what little life remained there. I turned to the woods and saw a black mist, like a shadow slowly melting into the trees. A calling arose from there, like a cooing. Only more yearning than a coo, yearning like a child might for love. I ran to my house and slammed the door shut. Closing out that shack forever, and knowing I’d never go back. But I was mistaken. I went back every night in my dreams, the old lady’s voice hollow and rancid in my face. I never hunted another living thing after that.  

Deppea Splendens (Revised)

Infinity 7 on audible

Solid 4 Stars! ****

A Grown-Up First Contact Story

Infinity 7 is a story about a man casting one arm into the future while gripping a guilt-ridden past, and he’s doing it while battling unforeseen obstacles which threaten a lifetime of achievements and he has to do it in a space environment, which carries it’s own set of problems. Smooth, polished writing, a strong sense of pacing, tension builds well. Both the main character’s grief and the technology throughout felt authentic, as well as the rounded supporting characters. Smart characterization and plausible downward spiral in a scientific research environment. There were a couple spots I found circumstances eddied a bit too long for my comfort, and a loose end with the smarteye camera that I wanted tired up at the end. But the ending, although a bit abrupt, was strong and cleverly done. I’ll be thinking about this story and the concepts it introduced me to for quite some time. Fantastic voice talent performance. Worth listening to this one. I’d read this author again.

https://www.audible.com/pd/Infinity-7-Audiobook/B08CZVKRGJ

The Small River Man

I came upon the small man in a dream.

He squatted by a river teaming with fish. As he looked into the rippling waters, I asked him where he came from and he said, “It is a closed system. There was nothing before and something since. The idea was strong, intense and consuming. It took root in the soil of imaginings and grew by way of hopes and dreams, emotions, gradually taking form. This is the eye of man. It sees all in front of it, none behind and certainly not into tomorrow. It’s frightened by things it does not understand, is wary of new events, yet trudges on in hopes of finding sameness, a lack of pain, some joy, perhaps a feeling of enlightenment. Happiness even. It marvels at small acts of physical manipulation. It doesn’t know what’s best for it. And it dies, leaving behind that which it has created.”

“Do you mean to say I was born of an idea and am the eye of man?”

He looked at me with his white and tearing eyes, unable to make out my form and whispered, “Do you have a dime?”

I pushed him into the water and walked on.

Dreaming Wide Awake (An excerpt)

The soft touch of her hand caressed the back of my neck as I sat upon the bed in the dim light of the evening lamp, a cool breeze coming from the open window, the street noises occasionally echoing in the halls of my room, the dull low rumble of the city layered below. Shivers ran down my spine and the hairs on the back of my head stood up. It was a perfect spring evening with the scent of cross pollination in the air. Budding trees held new shiny leaves just outside the window. She leaned into my naked back and her warmth met mine in perfect contour. She melted into me. I felt the dread of loneliness then. The emptiness of being one, alone, not sharing, no one to care what happens in my world but myself, and sometimes even I don’t care, capitulation being a long tradition running through my life. Scattered pictures of her embrace echoed in the darkness of my dream.

4 out of 4 STARS!

Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Dream State” by Charles R Hinckley.

4 out of 4 stars

When August was almost thirty years of age, he started experiencing intense dreams of people dying. Initially, he merely thought they were nightmares. Then, a dream about the death of a young woman named Emma began repeating. Because they were incredibly vivid and believable, he started looking for the place of her death, discovered it, and later was able to find her. Regrettably, she thought he was creepy and didn’t believe him. Sadly, dreams of her soon stopped because of her murder. This dream was followed by one of a man named Carrillo, who was observed dying from a car accident. August tracked him down; instead of listening and using the information to save himself, Carrillo threatened to injure him. A short time afterward, Carrillo died in the foreseen car accident.

August is tired of no one believing him and being unable to alter the outcome of his dreams. Realizing he possesses an ability for finding people and wanting to utilize his gift constructively, August decides to become a “Psychic Detective.” Subsequently, he places an ad in the paper. His first client is a creepy, morbidly obese hoarder by the name of Frank, who had something tragic happen in his childhood and has been haunted since. He is hoping August can dream about that event and figure out what to do to get his life back on track. Then, Emma’s sister, Carla, requests his help in apprehending Emma’s killer since the police are getting nowhere. Although she is gorgeous and August feels drawn to her, she is not entirely forthcoming with information. With his friend Mill, a retired computer tech millionaire, August begins trying to solve both cases. However, there is a lot more to being a detective than he had realized, including dangerous situations.

At 301 pages, Dream State: The Sleeping Detective Series Book One by Charles R. Hinckley is a thrilling and suspenseful crime novel with aspects of paranormal activity, romance, and humor mixed in. The author’s prose is highly descriptive and easy to understand. Although the first book in the series, it is a standalone novel with the salient points answered satisfactorily by the end. It transports readers into August’s world and holds them captivated as he solves his cases, frequently making rookie mistakes. The suspense represented my favorite aspect of the book as the novel kept me tense and spellbound.

The character development is superb in the novel. Because it is narrated from August’s first-person point of view, we are able to understand his thinking and motives. Although unsure of himself and frequently rushing into things without a clear plan, he has the best of intentions. His loyal friend Mill supports him every step of the way, even being willing to endanger himself; however, this may partially be because he is lonely, bored, and craves excitement. Their humorous repartee lightens the mood.

Because August wasn’t typically given the luxury of knowing the names of the people in his dreams, he assigned them nicknames like “Skateboard Kid” and “Motorcycle Jacket.” Most of the time, these were not disparaging. Frank’s name was known; nonetheless, August nicknamed him “Fat Man,” though not to his face. This was unnecessary and derogatory, and there are people who will be offended by it. It was one of the few things I disliked about the book.

I encountered a few minor grammatical and punctuation errors, which were not distracting; it was most likely professionally edited. Therefore, Dream State: The Sleeping Detective Series Book One achieves a rating of four out of four stars. It doesn’t deserve anything less because it is also intriguing and difficult to put down. It is enthusiastically recommended to readers who enjoy paranormal novels with suspense and mystery. Frequent profanities, some violence, and occasional sex scenes (not overly explicit) are encountered in the story. Subsequently, it is unsuitable for children and sensitive readers.

Dream State

View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Island Girl (Part 7) PG 13

 It was mid-tide. The wind was calm and the sky was clearing. Some high thin clouds drifted slowly across the horizon. The nearby island, Crafts Peak, was clearly visible, about two miles directly off shore. He stood on the dock and surveyed his boat. It looked unmolested. He climbed down into the vessel, prepped the engine and it started right away. After letting it idle a few seconds, he killed it and sat back against the seat, closing his eyes. The gentle sway of the boat, the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze, soothed him. The rhythmic slapping of the water against the dock brought him a sense of peace and calm.

Going to the sheriff didn’t hold the same appeal as before. Did he really want to involve himself with this strange girl? Any problems they had was between her and her husband, if he really is her husband. And what of Jack, hovering around them like a fly. Had he really damaged the antenna? The best thing would be to steer clear. He knew she was agitated the first time he’d laid eyes on her, knew she was trouble, snuggling up against him in bed, daring him to make a move on her, it was transparent. She could have accused him of molestation or rape. What’s to stop her from claiming that now? She could be telling her husband lies about him and it would be her word against his. He leaned over the side of the boat and saw a crab scurry into the shadows beneath the dock. It was a reminder to check his traps and reset bait. But first, he’d check the radio.

The hissing static was louder than before. No signals strong enough to dial in, they just weren’t reaching the receiver. He shut off the radio, and walked into the kitchen. He sat at the table and started writing a list of supplies he needed from town. A trip to the mainland took half a day or longer, and he going. The longer he stayed on the island, alone with his thoughts and memories, the more he resented the outside world. Stepping off his boat onto the public dock, going from quiet simplicity to the chaos meant he left himself open to be affected by others. Their lives intersecting with his, no matter how small the consequence, he hated that they could impact him in some way. On the island there was no one to affect him at all. He wasn’t held up in traffic, cut off by someone late for work, didn’t have to stand in line in the stores. He didn’t miss cars, traffic, people, or the internet. The first few weeks on the island, he craved news from the outside world. Along with booze, he missed the internet, using a cell phone, and listening to the nightly news. He craved media interaction, much like a wino craved wine, and came to realize he had an addiction to social media. Now, he saw it as massive waste of time and energy. Another form of impulse control, an overload of information he didn’t need or want or want to need. It was a waste of his time. If he wasn’t pulling traps. Making a fire, cooking, or working with wood, what was he doing? Nothing. He’d been conditioned to the relentless blathering of a tumultuous society. He looked up from his notebook and stared at the bottle of bourbon in the middle of the table. The rich amber color appeared darker in the sparse afternoon light. He thought about the girl and his stomach did a little turn. She’d have him drinking in no time. He’d get a taste for her and when she left, he’d want to drink her out of his head. Her beauty and youth would drive him to drink because he was weak and could never keep her, this he knew. She would become one craving too many. He thought of her lying next to him, warm and naked against his back, feeling her soft breasts against him, smelling her skin, and her hand reaching around for him. His wife interrupted these thoughts, and his stomach turned over again. She was always there, just beneath the surface. Watching from that doomed jet plane, sitting next to his baby girl as they breathed their last, strapped into a tin can full of strangers.   

The day they died, texts from his wife, reminding him of the airline and flight number, were accidentally erased, as he frantically searched for them on his cell phone. He sat in the bar and watched the news as it unfolded. Half drunk, heart pounding, blood flush in his cheeks, the lilting unreality of it tearing through his brain like a buzz saw. They could have been on that flight.

 His hand rested on the kitchen table, inches from the bottle of bourbon, he remembered racing to the airport, his heart pounding as he swerved frantically through stalled traffic. Then he was in the terminal, having no memory of parking or walking the long hallways, like he’d just willed himself in front of the airline spokesperson. She stood straight, staring robotically ahead, not making eye contact, her crisp uniform and red lipstick-stained teeth belying her horrifying message. What could she add that they didn’t already know? The smoldering wreckage was all over the media. He stared at the spokesperson’s mouth as she formed the words, but her message was unintelligible to him. Yards from where they stood, the biggest part of his life lay crushed and burning. How could this happen? Why didn’t he stop her from leaving? She’d been reluctant to go. All he had to do was ask her to stay. But he didn’t.

He moved sluggishly toward the sink. He ran the cool water over his hands. He closed his stinging eyes, and put a cold cloth against his pounding head. No longer caring about his list or the broken antenna, or going to the mainland, he walked slowly to the sofa and stared at the empty fireplace. The black coals and soot mirrored his mood, and deep down, his soul, if he had a soul, charred and blackened by the sin of regret, the sin of waste. He had wasted his life, striving for things. The perfect job, money, more power, that great new car, that corner office, big house. Who cares? What was it all for?

He laid back on the sofa and placed the cloth on his eyelids. His wife and daughter hovered above him, smiling and lovely, their mouths forming silent, familiar adorations. Then they were gone, and he was alone again, deeply, listlessly, alone. A breeze from the open door had swept them away, and chilled him. The chortle of birds outside reminded him of where he was. They bickered, as he faded into deep sleep.

His eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light. A dark figure draped in a black hoodie loomed over him. He quickly sat up, and the girl jumped back. They said nothing for a few seconds, each eyeing the other. After his heart slowed, and he was able to determine it was, indeed, the girl who stood before him, he said, “What’s going on?”

“You’ve got to hide me.”

“What happened?”

“I escaped. Please, they’ll kill me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I jumped ship, again. They’ll come for me.”

He sat up. She stepped back into the shadows, her hand quivering in front of her mouth.

“Are you hurt?”

She shook her head no.

“I’ll call the police,” he said.

“No! You can’t do that.”

“Then you’re the one who has to call.”

“I just need to stay for a few hours. I’m so tired.”

“The only place you can go from here is the water or the mainland. The police can protect you.”

She looked toward the front door. Her clothes dripped water onto the floor. He follow her eyes, and realized she was pondering when the bad men might come through his door. He moved to the other side of the room, secured the deadbolt on the door and slammed shut and locked the all windows.

 “Can I start a fire?” She asked, shivering.

“Come,” he said, and walked into the bedroom.

When she entered the room, he tossed clothes at her. She caught the bundle and stared at him.

“Get dressed.”

She stood by the bed, in the darkened room and pulled off her shirt.

“No,” he pointed to the bathroom, “in there.”

 She slowly entered the room, but left the door open. He watched her strip, her naked body gleaming in the late-afternoon sunlight streaming in through the windows. He walked over to the doorway and watched. She stared innocently back at him.

“Is this what you want?” he asked. “For me to see you?”

“You’re the one looking.”

“You’re not hiding it, are you?”

She smiled and held a tee shirt in front of her breasts, leaving the dark triangle between her legs exposed. He took hold of her wrist and she dropped the shirt. He moved his face close enough to feel her tremble, the smell of smoke and earth coming from her hair. He put his lips to the cool of her neck and kissed her salty skin.  “Is this what you want?” He asked.

She moaned softly.

“What about this?” he asked, and pressed his body to hers, his hands sliding down to her bare bottom. Her tight, goose-pimpled flesh was cool in his hands.

“I don’t know,” she whispered.

“I think you do. You know.”

He kissed her deeply, pulling her body into his. He could feel the blood rise to her skin, as the warmth came back into her. She returned his kisses, her mouth hard and cool, lips small and narrow against his. Her breath was clean and warm and fueled his desire for her.

After a minute, she pulled away, but he reached for her again, and held his mouth on hers. Her breath was sweeter than before, her mouth even more responsive.

“No,” she said finally, and pressed her hand forcefully against his chest.

Taking a step back, suddenly feeling her warmth leave him, he wanted more than anything to take her. But he simply smiled and said, “Okay.”

Her light eyes glistened with moisture, revealing perhaps years of loneliness, but they held no fear. Her breathing was rapid. Pink rose in her cheeks. She held a hand demurely over her naked crotch and bent slightly at the knees, trying to hide herself.

“Take a shower,” he said. “You’re salty,”

A slightly surprised expression crossed her face as she placed a hand where he’d kissed her. He turned and shut the door without looking back.

If you like this, check out my novel, Dream State on Kindle and Audible.
https://www.amazon.com/Dream-State-Sleeping-Detective-Book-ebook/dp/B01M5CO8UC/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=

OUT ON AUDIBLE!!!

Dream State is out on Audible, and it kicks butt! Brett Boles, is funny, and charming and so GOOD narrating this novel! It’s a psychic detective novel, full of fun and characters that…

Well, here’s a review: “…This book was really good. It tells a fast-paced story with an interesting story-line. Private investigators are always interesting to read about, but one that uses his dreams to help find people make the interest level double. This book has action, mystery, intrigue, and great characters…” Four stars!