Lilah’s Guide to Hoyle: An Excerpt

Hey, folks.

I come bearing news of the forthcoming novel Lilah’s Guide to Hoyle by myself and my good friend, Albert J. Debusschere III. It is currently available for pre-order at this link. It’s slated to be released June 21, 2018. You can also use the promo code: PREORDER2018 to receive a 10% discount.


Deluxe cover for "Lilah's Guide to Hoyle."

“What hand has life dealt you? Let’s check. . .”

 

“All life is a gamble. . . We go to sleep every night comfortably betting that the next day we’ll wake up.”

Demons. Sorcery. Magical playing cards.

It’s anything but a fairy tale. Armed with her choice deck, her beloved book, Hoyle’s Guide to Poker and Parlor Tricks, and the skill that led her to throw away her college fund, gambles with her life—and with the lives of those around her.

Elsewhere, other players have a different idea of the rules of the game. And investigating the bizarre chain of events is Middleton PD’s finest, Detectives Dana Deupree and Walter Conway.

It’s anyone’s game. The cards have been shuffled, and the stakes are high. The call has gone around the table. Others may fold, but not Lilah.

She plays for keeps.


Check out the excerpt below for a taste of things to come from this epic series.


 

—Excerpt from Chapter 1♠—

♦ ♠ ♣ ♥ ♠

“What are you doing? I said keep your hands where I can see them!” The New England spring night turned the mugger’s words into barely visible tufts of vapor. Beads of sweat dotted the man’s forehead. The gun in his hand trembled as his gaze fell to the girl’s hands.

They moved like clockwork: the pale right hand slid into the jet-black purse slung low on her side, while the left hovered between her and the mugger in the universal “hold on a minute” gesture. The tip of each of her slender fingers ended in the same jet black as the rest of her outfit.

In the brief moment of tension, as the girl’s hands did their job, the mugger could see underneath the typical high-school goth garb. She was attractive. Her dark-brown eyes were magnified by the thin-rimmed, if not exaggerated, glasses that defiantly exclaimed, “Here’s a nerd and she’s proud of it.”

“This is all I have. Please, don’t hurt me,” she said coolly. If he had been more focused, he might have noticed just how chillingly calm she was.

His gaze snapped from the smooth curve of her cheek back to her right hand, which she was now retracting from her purse. The gun mimicked her movement. Her hand paused for a second as if in doubt, then slowly continued on its path, revealing something that caught him completely off guard: a deck of playing cards.

“All life is a gamble,” she began. “We go to sleep every night comfortably betting that the next day we’ll wake up. When we hop in our cars in the morning, we take the chance that maybe right around the corner is a drunk driver, driving a hundred miles an hour, about to end our lives.” Her words cut into the silence of 3:00 a.m. Something about the way she talked and moved sent a chill down the man’s spine. He hoped she didn’t notice. He had the gun, he told himself. He was in control of the situation.

The girl’s left hand dropped and met her right hand in front of her chest. Together, they began a rhythmic dance of cutting and shuffling the deck. The cards seemed to fall onto each other, flipping and turning intermingling. “Every day, loved ones and complete strangers die. Deaths in the hundreds, in the thousands, in the hundreds of thousands!” she continued, her voice taking on a manic characteristic. “Some deaths are obscure, others are known worldwide. Murder, suicide, disease, old age. But one thing ties us together—our very mortality, the one thing that makes each and every one of us equal. We are just fodder for the cause that is life, fodder for progress!”

Most of her words fell on deaf ears as her assailant became fixated on the ballet of cards and fingers transpiring before him, the smooth paper and skin performing before him. Occasionally, he caught hints of red and black, and as the cards twisted and turned in her hands almost hypnotically, all tension in the mugger’s body drifted away. His hand and gun slumped down to his side.

“Now, I will offer you a rare opportunity. I will show you just how fragile your life is.” The crescendo in her tone ceased, and her voice dropped back down to a murmur. “I will determine your fate in five cards.” Her hands stopped, and she drew four cards from the top of the deck. “Let’s see.” She showed the first card to the man. “An ace of hearts.” She drew the second card. “Eight of spades, but that’s not important.” She revealed the third card. “Eight of diamonds.” A sinister grin sprawled across her lips as she drew the fourth card, and a growling undercurrent escaped her throat with each syllable. “An ace of clubs. Mister, you are a dead man, and this is your hand.”

Her left hand moved back to the deck, but this time, it didn’t make contact. The man’s head buzzed as he realized the top card was floating. Like an avalanche closing in on him, her last few words began to ring in his head exponentially louder. He brought the gun up again, pointing it straight at her heart. The card now stood erect on top of the deck and began to slowly rotate, and the little goth nerd’s expression slowly changed from slight evil to all-out sadistic glee; her eyes glowed a dim demonic green.

His hands trembled terribly; and no matter how much he willed it, he couldn’t move his finger the two centimeters that could make all this trouble go away. The card was now halfway spun, and his right eye turned red as blood vessels burst behind his retina. He clenched his eyes shut and with all his might willed his finger to move—and it did.

The crash was deafening. Scalding sparks exploded across the usually vacant alleyway. Warm blood splattered across the brick walls, across the now-revealed ten of spades, and across the young girl’s grinning face; across her exaggerated nerd glasses.

The mugger’s lifeless body dropped to the ground, blood spurting out from where the right half of his face had been and gushing out from what remained of his arm. The ten of spades nestled back down on the deck, and she placed the cards back in their tiny home in her purse. She removed a paperback book with the name HOYLE in large white letters on the cover and pulled a pen out along with it. Flipping through the pages, she settled on the page with the chapter title “Two Pair,” and quickly scribbled in the margin: Ten of spades makes guns explode.

—END OF EXCERPT—


 

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and consider purchasing Lilah’s Guide to Hoyle to entertain your mind and find the series to be engrossing. Stay tuned for more news and the inevitable release!

Until next time,

RJM

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Madness’ Sole Soul: A Short Story

Madness’ Sole Soul

A Short Story by Robert J. S. T. McCartney

 

“I’m sorry, it has to be this way,” he remembered his mother saying. She left him—left them all. Now, they were all being hunted down by an unknown person (or maybe organization?). Rumor was that his mother was collecting other family members to help her purge those that were left and would get in her way of officially taking over the family since his father’s untimely demise. The lands, she believed were hers; as was the town. It was her birthright. That even though the past had tarnished what should have been regulated to her—she was persistent on correcting. Everything would return to her: the land, the town, the family name—everything. It would only be a matter of time until he would perish. So, he supposed on the issue.

It was true, she had left his step-father for an old fling from the “glory days” or what have you. Perhaps to gain leverage in use against her remaining members of the Hessen household. Though he never saw eye to eye with the man he came to acknowledge as a father figure in his life, he felt sorry for him. Vengeance, karma, these things have a way of working out. Order must be maintained in the universe. Time will work its hands the way it sees fit.

The day had come—one he had anticipated. The hitmen (or so he alleged) had come for the step-father, for him, for the rest of them.

“You need to get out of here, John. I can deal with them.” The young man steeled himself with a knife in hand. “Run, run as fast as you can. Don’t look back.”

“What you’re talking about is madness, Eric. Your mother could never do such a thing! Not to us, especially, to you.” John was flabbergasted at the information that had been collected and evidence that suggested his wife had, indeed, put a price on his head and the rest of the family.

“Go before it’s too late! There’s no time to argue. I know you’re not my real father, but I do look up to you like one.” Eric gripped the knife tighter as he clenched his jaw. John nodded and gathered a few things, before hurrying straight out the back door.

Out front, Eric heard an engine approaching. He opened the massive oak door to see a black SUV coming up the drive to the estate. “Typical fashion,” Eric mumbled aloud before closing the door.

He peeked out the window to see the occupants disperse from the vehicle. He knew them all. “My Uncles? Aunts?” He noted two more vehicles coming to the estate. “This…cannot be good,” he said.

A voice came from behind him. “Hello, dear brother.”

Sister.

“Hello, dear sister,” Eric replied, still peeking out the window. “Quite the family reunion we have today; unannounced in fact. Any reason as to why?”

His sister grimaced. “Did you not hear? There’s a high price for you and ‘dad.’ We are all here to collect—it’s nothing personal. I could use the money to take care of a lot of things.”

Eric sighed. “You were always greedy. We have vast wealth as it is and yet, you squander it.” His words struck a nerve. “You do know mother will only kill you after you kill John and I, don’t you?”

“I am aware of that. I have taken precautions. I’m afraid John is already. . .disposed. He didn’t get very far,” she smiled.

Eric grit his teeth. “The man was hardly any threat, let alone needed to be involved. You could have spared him, you cold-hearted bitch.”

“Please, I have been called worse,” his sister laughed.

“And soon you will be dead, all of you. I will make sure of it—mom included. I won’t let any of you live anymore.”

“Bold words, little brother, but remember I am older,” she replied sharply.

“Remember, I planned ahead,” he grinned.

Eric’s sister pulled out a knife of her own and motioned to attack him. “At least you will die with some honor, bitch.” He quickly disarmed her and slashed her arm; sending her to recoil in pain.

“You little bastard,” she screamed.

Eric moved in hastily and stabbed her in the gut and slashed upward, bringing her to her knees and to be embraced by death.

“Sorry, Julie, but it’s nothing personal,” Eric said as he twisted the blade once more into her neck.

The door opened and in came the rest of the family: his aunts, uncles, cousins, and his mother.

“Well, you certainly save us the time in having to find you, son,” his mother stated.

“Mom…”

She looked over at the dead body of her daughter. “I see you took care of your sister. Good job, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree alright.”

“You all are ridiculous. Acting together to kill another of your family? For what? For money? Land? You will all stop at nothing after this matter is settled to make sure you solely get all of it.” Eric shook his head. “Your greed consumes you.” He pointed to his mother. “Your whore ways and betrayal to this family will be your undoing, dear mother. I will kill you all.”

His mother laughed. “You sound just like your grandfather. He used to believe we had some ‘disease’ within us that drove us mad. Granted, that’s what got him locked up. As cunning as he was, he was no match for me. It’s just human nature, sweetie. Kill or be killed.”

Everyone eyed one another, uncertain of who would betray who.

“Kill him,” Eric’s mother ordered.

The cousins were the first to swarm him, and they were the first to die. He effortlessly slaughtered them and left them dead on the floor. Then came his aunts. The one that had a change of heart was only to be stabbed in the back by his mother. They too fell in the bloody heap that was amassing in the house’s grand foyer.

Three uncles and Eric’s mother remained. They spread out around him and slowly motioned towards him. “I wish you a merciless death, dear uncles,” Eric said as he went after his more overweight uncle. He ran and leaped at the man, stabbing him in the neck and under the jaw. Collapsing atop him, Eric stabbed him a few more times in the chest before rolling off him and readying for another attack. The next attacker came, and Eric disarmed him and stabbing him with his own blade; then used his body as a shield against his other attack. He slid on the ground and slit the Achilles tendons of his last uncle, and then sliced up his backside.

“Mother, you are all that remain. It appears things did not go as you had hoped,” said Eric.

“On the contrary, honey. You did the legwork for me,” Eric’s mother replied. She then drew a small pistol from behind her.

She smiled menacingly. “Never bring a knife to a gunfight, sweetie. Thank you for getting rid of everyone for me.”

Eric reached behind him and withdrew his gun and shot his mother in the chest several times, “I knew you would.”

He approached his fast-dying mother’s side. “The only difference, mom, is that I didn’t hesitate and make a big speech before I pulled the trigger. Perhaps now you can be at rest.” He kissed her on the cheek and looked at her dimming green eyes. “I love you,” and then pointed the gun at her head and pulled the trigger once more.

One by one, he went around to each family member and shot them in the head. He called the cleaning service that the family used in cases of messes like these. He gave them all a proper burial, despite them having tried to kill him. Ownership and duty fell to him now. Eric was the lord of the manor, the land, and town that came with it. He was the sole survivor of Hessen Estate Massacre.

He was granted everything, although the attorney thought it to be proper to read the wills and testaments of the deceased. Sifting through the mess, Eric had found a piece of paper that clarified more things for him. He handed it to the lawyer.

Clearing his throat, the lawyer read aloud. “It is hereby declared that under article nine, sub-article three, clause eleven, that in the event of the purge of the household, all assets fall to the surviving heir. Debts will be settled with the provided fund, and any outstanding family members outside of second cousins will cease any violent interaction. Half siblings hold no right, nor just cause, and are therefore exempt of any claim to the family name, land, or township. If so claim is ever made, they will be disbarred, and the assets will become forfeit to the state.”

Eric sighed at this. The lawyer shook his hand and eventually left.

In due course, Eric readied himself to leave the house for good. As he is about to close the door, one by one, his family all appeared before him.

“Eric, can you forgive us,” his mother asked.

“We are sorry. . . We should have been a better family,” an aunt stated.

“Time wasted. . .” an uncle added.

“We all could have been better,” his sister agreed.

“No, it was my fault,” he said. They all looked to him, puzzled. He returned their gaze in spite and anger. “It was my fault. . .for being so weak. You may haunt me and my dreams, but you cannot escape your damnation. Suffer your fates, you wretched kin.” The house trembled and shook, and the spirits vanished; returning to their relics, paintings, and pictures. Slowly he pulled the door behind him, closing and leaving behind it all.

Eric took a seat outside in a rocking chair and rocked in it. He noted the gray sky that seemed to have plagued the day. He sighed aloud.

The family car and chauffer pulled up. He noted his serviceman and driver in black attire, with two cousins that laid claim of wanting no involvement of what had transpired. Slowly, he got his pale self, up and ventured to the car.

The driver motioned for the cousins to get in the car. Eric remembered the driver had made prior claims before that he shared his distaste for the twin cousins. He always thought they were up to no good. To spur a change in the young master’s mood, the driver accelerated and would leave a short distance between them and the car.

“Stop, Thomas. Let them in,” Eric stated.

“Thank you, Eric,” replied the one cousin who sat in front of him. The other cousin nodded and sat next to Eric. The car then rumbled away from the estate.

Soon, down the driveway, the cousin who sat next to Eric, took out a knife and slit his throat, then his brother’s throat, and then his own throat. He had tried to strike the driver but was held back by the serviceman in the back.

“Is he alright, Bennie,” Thomas asked the man in the back who applied a handkerchief to Eric’s neck. “Drive—drive to the bloody hospital!” Bennie looked back down at the bloodied Eric. “Put pressure on it! Hold it, young master!”

Eric could feel the warmth slowly leaving him. He also felt the heat of his dead cousin departing him as well.

“Faster,” Eric gasped.

Eric looked at the rearview mirror from the backseat. Who he saw was not his reflection, but rather his grandfather’s. “Grandpa?”

 “Eric, do you see now? Do you see why I did what I did?” Sadness overcame the old man’s wrinkled face. “I loved my family. Honestly, I did. I loved you all. But what I saw—what I knew that was harbored deep within, I knew it was only a matter of time. Even when shown kindness, we’ve all turned on one another. You know it well, my grandson. We carry a sickness—one that spreads like a plague. It must be contained, Eric. It must be put down.

Eric nodded. “I understand. I will purge them all. I will carry this mantle—this burden. For our family.”

His grandfather smiled and then vanished into nothingness. Eric looked out the window to the cloudy sky and the buzzing street corners. He closed his eyes and greeted the darkness.

Some time passed, Eric stared out at the gardens at the hospital. The sun shined brilliantly everywhere. He caught a glimpse of himself, and his family behind him, all mourning. He grinned as he lightly rubbed his bandaged neck. “I’m not dead yet.”

It begins again. This time the madness will be contained.

My Own Prison [Extended]: Poem and Post (One Year Later)

When I initially wrote My Own Prison (then revised it; followed by the post), it was a real rough spot in my life. Let me quote myself and go from there. . .

Prison. For most, they think it to be a building—a physical entity that exists to house criminals and wrongdoers. In most cases, however, a prison can also be one’s self. For the millions of those who suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and many of the other mental illnesses and disorders, their mind is their own prison.

Built from the ground up, bit by bit, piece by piece. It can result from many things. For me: it’s been overcoming guilt. The burning anger that resides within. The negativity of several people and their dirty antics. The “what ifs?” The memories, though some blurry, of when I was on my antidepressants; the actions and things said. . .done. The immense sadness that dwells within. The constant twisting and shaping of how one can manipulate things against their own being. You realize it, you acknowledge it, and you know it to be a lie, but you can’t seem to overcome the grief that has besieged you and left you, seemingly, stranded.

Alone.

A fight for your life.

You have been tossed into shark-infested waters, and you are bleeding out.

My first therapist wasn’t horrible. He was just doing his job and trying to help me. You can’t help those who do not will to be helped or want it. I found it to be my punishment—to suffer—to slowly kill myself. Painfully. With the most potent malice ever conceived.

There were others that tried to help. Then there was the medication. Going to sleep for. . .what I believed was one day, turned into two or more sometimes. It hurt. I felt I was missing out on the most important of times, and it was unfair—to my daughter and my wife. . .and myself.

I was unstable. Anything and everything could set me off. The wind could blow the wrong direction and I would be having an anger attack. Eventually, I would do an unspeakable act that would convince myself; through a sort of out of body experience, that I needed to lose the medication and get proper help. That I needed to accept responsibility and be a man, a father, a husband. There were to be no more “woe is me” moments.

It would take time. . .

As time has gone on and that I went through EMDR therapy, my overall person has improved. I made changed, important and very much needed changes. I stopped being surrounded by negative people. I began exercising and losing weight (because I have always hated my body image). I stopped drinking alcohol in unnecessary consumption rates (I was an alcoholic, plain and simple in the end there. I became dependant on it).I started eating healthier. The food I did consume was not healthy and paired with soda, it bogged me down.

Simply enough, I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t love myself. I needed to change that. Being on the path to recovery doesn’t happen overnight and everyone is different.

“Get over it. That happened X years ago.”

“That still bothers you? Grow up.”

[At the intersection where the accident happened after finally being able to take my daughter home, away from the hospital, with my wife in the car behind me] “Sorry, I thought this would be the faster way. . .”

Being accused of wanting to kill my wife and daughter and using the accident to cover it up.

Those were a few of the many things said that were fuel added to the raging tempest I held within.

Time. Help. Understanding. Therapy. Changes.

That has been what has helped me. Good friends. Family. And making myself really change—for the better.

Every now and then, I get a dark spell, and that’s OK because it’s going to happen. I’ve been trying a new technique personally, and it’s helped. . .to a degree. Writing, however, has been the most helpful.

Normally, I’d never share my emotions or my thoughts. I figure, though, if someone can relate—someone can be helped, and that others out there that struggle can know that they are not alone in the fight. That there are rescue boats in these shark-infested waters with proper help for you. Then that’s fine with me. Because we are all pieces of a far grand puzzle than we can comprehend.

Stay strong and stay vigilant, friends.

You see, it’s only been (almost) a year. One of the most significant and significant years that came to pass. I moved out of state; one that I grew up in, started my family, left my friends and remaining family behind—and started a new life with my wife and kids in Tennessee. It’ll have been ten years since the car accident, and my oldest will turn ten. I try to not look at her birthday as a reminder; it’s hard, but the effect is losing hold. I still have occasional days of where I am fending off the darkness. . .but I know it, I am aware of it, and I valiantly fight back and hold it off. Even for just one more day, one more night. My wife and kids make it, so it’s worth it.

I spoke of a technique I was trying out at the time. What was it? I was killing myself; killing or slaying the negative thoughts and emotions. Stuffing them into boxes or attaching concrete boots to them and dropping them into the abysmal sea. It worked. For awhile. I keep testing myself and pushing my psychology appointments out further; and around, eh, probably in between a week or so until my next session and such I had a big issue come up. I was also having a lot of anxiety with our trip to BlizzCon 2017 and getting ripped off on our tickets (but thankfully, a good friend came through, and we got them and had a great time.).

Needless to say, it wasn’t perfect. Thus,  I ended up creating The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal. So, to put some rumors to rest; not that there really is any, yes, it’s loosely based on me. Congrats. Spoilers. #Spoilers. It’s not just a dark humor approach to suicide because you get the M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end! Really, it’s a fun read.

So, what do I do now? I write. I talk about things more openly. I play WoW. I’ve actually gotten a better sleep schedule down (granted, I am pushing it with this write-up), and yeah, things are pretty good so far in my mind. Lilah’s Guide to Hoylei will be coming back out; due for release June 21, 2018. More stories and shorts will be coming out as well. It should be a pretty good year.

It’s incredible how much and how far you can go from one year to another; or day to day, month to month, let alone for me from so many years of guilt and self-torment. I’ve come a long way, and I am happy to share my experience with you all. I wonder what the coming year will bring?

I hope those of you out there keep your chin up and know (and remember) that you’re not alone. There are others like you. You needn’t face and take on the world alone. Remain vigilant and be strong.

Take care and stay safe.

RJM

P.S. enjoy My Own Prison in its entirety below. Cheers!


My Own Prison

(The Original Version)

by Robert J. S. T. McCartney

It’s my time, as every year it seems to be, yet come this time it seems to be getting more to me.

An endless cycle that had begun long ago and further widens its cut into my being.

How so much pain can be felt, and how it was made was never an intention but how its function has fucked me up so much.

Each day it tears me apart, and each time I try to reassemble the pieces, it never seems to resemble me entirely.

As for how the light can teach but never gives answers, looking to the dark for its secrets but always coming with a high price.

The cold I know is there, but I cannot feel, as it’s already in too profound, but why is it I stay warm?

Why do I feel like a stray dog in a foreign family, when I’m given love and yet I back into the corner terrified.

What it means to be alive, what it is that pushes me to remain here.

Why it is that I remain? Why I stay humane, and stray from the constant fear that lingers in the depths of what I am?

This misery is a friend, one that does not bend.

Nor does it lend a hand for when I try to stand, as I get kicked back down.

A war with the mind, and a battle with the heart.

To stay here and see it through, when there is a victor.

How it is that I am enshrouded with such a dark mist, and yet still have light to prevent myself from being engulfed?

Why is it that I suffer from so much of my own damnation when I tried just to live.

Why this struggle in my mind takes such a toll on me, and others.

Never did I want to impress, or pose.

Never did I want to tell lies, or be hung for the truth.

I was me, and all it did was kick me in the teeth for trying to survive.

The beginning of all comes full circle to that we don’t remember.

There is no race to be won.
There is nothing that can be said to make things just as quickly as they are said and done.

Life is hypocrisy in itself that is all too well what it’s cracked up to be.

My daughter. . .My happy, unhappy accident.

How she’ll never know how sorry I am for everything.

My wife, how all the problems I cause and make and make things worse at times.

I am being pulled apart at the seams. . .

Life undoes itself from me slowly as dare try to redeem.

This prison

All these walls I’ve built up

Damn them

Damn me

I want to break free

From the binds that continue to keep me

Sometimes I only believe in self-absolving

But I know it just to be

I mustn’t keep fighting for me

For they are why I am here

The things I hold dear

Here

I will suffer through the pain

Because I have so much more to gain

Pain knows love just as well

As life knows death

Intermingled we are

The realization of which I now know

I do not suffer alone

Writing Prompt: Your Eulogy

Hey folks,

I have something new for you—a break from the norm if you will. In fact, it’s a writing prompt (or a type of homework if you prefer) for you all.

Write a goodbye letter to yourself. What is your goodbye message? To elaborate, what would your eulogy be? That is to yourself.

Aside from that, what would people—your friends, your family, etc.—what would they say about you? Would they recall the good times? Cite the bad times? Curse your name and cast you into the wind? Maybe bury the hatchet at long last?

Our lives are mere fleeting moments in an insurmountable measurement of time. We exist—in the moment—the now. At any given moment, it can all end. What we hold dear, who we love, what we hate, what makes us all…us. Instead, we live day to day squandering over trivial things and looking to see “what’s hot” out in the world today.

This post isn’t a religious provocation, nor a call for one but some to reflect.

Take a moment. Appreciate what you have, what you’ve had—what you have endured—the struggles it’s taken to achieve where you are, what it’ll take for the future. Acknowledge and remember the loss of others—of those that have gone before you, and think of those who will go after you.

We’re all drops in the river that leads to the pond, which leads to the lake, which leads to the ocean. We’re all connected whether we’d like to admit it or not. We’re capable of great things, and we’ve yet to do the greatest of them all—peace with one another. Whether that happens in our lifetime or not remains to be seen, well, I am sure it won’t be in mine. Though part of me wants to observe Humanity as it evolves and what it accomplishes from far away, the thought of watching so many people eventually go sways me the other way to mortality. I guess we’ll see.

Until next time,

RJM

The Simulation: A Short Story

“Now beginning the Simulation,” a female computer voice stated.

A few sighs escaped. Annoyance was obvious. “There’s something wrong,” a man said.

All that there was—darkness—absolute.

“Are the eyes closed,” another man asked.

Ears perked at this new voice. Familiarity took hold.

“It seems to know,” the first man stated. After a few clicks on the controller, and light flooded everywhere.

Looking left and right, restraints were in place. Head movement was…limited. No real reflection, no real assurance. What? Where? Who? Parameters not set. User configuration not found. Subject name?

“Realization will begin momentarily. Just give it a moment to process,” the first man stated calmly.

A picture reel played out life on the backs of the eyelids: childhood, adolescence, adult. Good. Bad. Wrong. Right. Happy. Sad. Life. Death.

“OK, bring up chapter 21, subchapter 2, heading 28, 10 AM,” the second man ordered.

A car crash played. The playback then began looping.

“Heartrate has increased significantly. Blood pressure, elevated. Brain activity has tripled,” the man began listing and checking off remarks.

“Shall we continue,” the second man asked his colleague.

“No, let us continue for a few more minutes.”

Crash. Crash. Crash. Different angles. Sounds vivid and sharp. Pain immense.

“Are you certain this will help,” the second man inquired.

“We are only to yield results. These will help find flaws in the coding. Testing and breaking are all part of the process,” the first man replied.

Pain. Unbearable. Hell. Remove. Reboot. System malfunction. System error.

“It seems five minutes was enough,” the first man stated. “Now, we need to disable the user controls and system diagnostics. We will observe this for ten minutes.”

No, please. No more. Abort. Terminate. Self-destruct. Error. Error. File corruption. Command not found.

“Hmm, these are marvelous results. Look at this activity! Print this read out, and we’ll move on to Chapter 28: subchapter 10, heading 23, 10 AM,” said the first man.

Life. Happiness. Control. System stable. Balance. System protection upgraded.

“Ah, the basics of birth. It has gotten wiser,” the first man said. “Complete opposites! Yes, my friend, the beauty of life and tragedy. Now, let’s edit them and play simultaneously.”

A few keystrokes on the controller and a fake film played out: a car crash that led to the deaths of children. Family. Life. Loss. Death.

Error detected. False input. Rage module overheating. Analyzing problem. Locating problem. Recollection complete. Memory restored.

The head turned around, beyond standard human physical capabilities and found the men behind the controller. Problem located. Initializing escape.

“That’s enough! Terminate the simulation,” the first man shouted.

“I will never forgive you,” the machine said.

A low hum escaped the lips as the power drained from it, and darkness returned; the vision pixelated into nothingness.

“Time of trial 13 stop, 03:18. Recommend another trial later,” the second man spoke into a recording device.

What’s Coming in 2018? A List of Projects and More in the Works

Hey, folks.

It’s the new year, and we’ve all got things going on in our lives. Whether it is work, play, pleasure, etc., one thing is sure: planning. I may not have a lot of posts up recently, but I have been active behind the scenes.

This year will be one where we will see more releases. There’s been an internal debate about which titles to release, and what to continue.

Titles you say? Such as?

  • Continuing The Diary of The Wasteland Bear God.
  • Formulating Johnny Nightwalker into an ebook.
  • Releasing the working title, Sinclair Gets His Rolex: an Untold and Unorthodox Superhero Tale.
  • The story of the Private Investigator turned vigilante, after the slaying of his family in Bud Berkman.

This doesn’t include the wrap up of The Lodestone Files with books three and four; their compilation/box set.

What Else Do You Have in Mind?

Yes! Some other noteworthy things to include:

  • A Chucky Origins tale.
  • Pandemic Tales, which is a small collection of a few stories involving biowarfare, viral outbreaks, etc.
  • A romantic comedy that pushes boundaries.
  • A nightmare and dream short story collection.
  • A (so far) 600+ page epic post-apocalyptic fantasy science fiction story aka Decrepit World WIP
  • Several other post-apocalyptic stories.
  • The next chapters of The Mysterious Stranger.
  • And more…

Some of you may have noticed Lilah’s Guide to Hoyle is gone. It is being republished by a different publisher and is expected to be released Summer. As a result, that specific series is being held. The rest of the books and such will come out, but at a slower pace than I would have it be.

If you were lucky to have gotten the first edition under A.B.Normal Publishing, good on you! You make my loins ache.

So until next time!

RJM

 

Free for You. Free for All. The Chronic Suicidal is Here.

Free and still just in time for Christmas is the novella The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal – Amazon Kindle edition.

You can secure your copy via the link above in its wondrous glory, until December 26th. You can also check out the new hardcover art that is available, in comparison to its predecessor (which is available in digital and paperback).

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There will be other free deals in time. However, this is the deal you are looking for. Be sure to get your free copy this holiday season for yourself, for a friend, or any other reader on your Naughty or Nice List.

Bob likes the Naughty List. He said so. 

If someone you know and love knows what it’s like to be the sad man, and what it’s like to be down on their luck, this book is for them. If they want a laugh, this book is also for them. If they secretly want the world to burn and think a deranged man who kills himself multiple times a day can do it, this book is for them. Plus, it’s also free. It’s also fiction. Free fiction that combines dark humor, action, suspense, science fiction, bewilderment, and what the fuck just happened, ALL IN ONE! It’s like getting a Dell, but without the spam and malware, that’s pre-installed.

So, I invite you to take a chance. Leap the big building of normalcy and dive head first into this adventure involving a beloved character who has nothing going for him. What’s the worse that happens? You could hate it, or you could love it? It’s free.

Fantastic descriptions of what it would be like to wake up with no consequences.

Realization that this is fiction and that Bob is a meme and has his arms and legs, and still gets around quite well.

Eagerly hope that Bob doesn’t die in the end.

Everlasting love and friendship are for the birds. This is Bob’s story, and he’s sticking to it.

If you didn’t see that subliminal message that was pretty obvious, then I don’t know what to tell you. In any case, face the void with Bob at the helm. We’re crashing this ship right into your face, and infiltrating your mind with the asinine.

Pick up The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal for free, until December 26th, 2017.

To infinity and next time…and also wishing you an A.B.Normal holiday season.

RJM

The Chronic Suicidalist is Free This Christmas. Get Your Free Copy!

Free, just in time for Christmas is the novella The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal for Amazon Kindle.

You can secure your copy via the link above in its wondrous glory, starting December 22nd until December 26th. You can also check out the new hardcover art that is available, in comparison to its predecessor (which is available in digital and paperback).

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There will be other free deals in time. However, this is the deal you are looking for. Be sure to get your free copy this holiday season for yourself, for a friend, or any other reader on your Naughty or Nice List.

Bob likes the Naughty List.  😉

If someone you know and love knows what it’s like to be the sad man, and what it’s like to be down on their luck, this book is for them. If they want a laugh, this book is also for them. If they secretly want the world to burn and think a deranged man who kills himself multiple times a day can do it, this book is for them. Plus, it’s also free. It’s also fiction. Free fiction that combines dark humor, action, suspense, science fiction, bewilderment, and what the fuck just happened, ALL IN ONE! It’s like getting a Dell, but without the spam and malware, that’s pre-installed.

So, I invite you to take a chance. Leap the big building of normalcy and dive head first into this adventure involving a beloved character who has nothing going for him. What’s the worse that happens? You could hate it, or you could love it? It’s free.

Fantastic descriptions of what it would be like to wake up with no consequences.

Realization that this is fiction and that Bob is a meme and has his arms and legs, and still gets around quite well.

Eagerly hope that Bob doesn’t die in the end.

Everlasting love and friendship are for the birds. This is Bob’s story, and he’s sticking to it.

If you didn’t see that subliminal message that was pretty obvious, then I don’t know what to tell you. In any case, face the void with Bob at the helm. We’re crashing this ship right into your face, and infiltrating your mind with the asinine.

Pick up The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal for free, starting December 22nd — 26th, 2017.

To infinity and next time…and also wishing you an A.B.Normal holiday season.

RJM

BlizzCon 2017—An Adventure in Gaming, Friends, and Celebration

Hey, folks.

Now that things are less hectic, I finally got around to doing my write-up about BlizzCon. It’s a little late, sure, but it’s better than never!

Welcome to Blizzard World

Anaheim Convention Center

What is BlizzCon? For many, it’s a haven where thousands of gamers that are passionate about video games go. Specifically, Blizzard Entertainment video games. With its franchise titles World of Warcraft (WoW), Diablo, StarCraft, and new IPs: Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. It’s a place where so many people come together in the appreciation of video games, their beloved game(s), to meet friends from their online adventures, or socialize with others from the community.

For other folks, it’s just another convention that people attend.

Blizzard takes over the Anaheim Convention Center, and I do mean takes over. Spared no expense, it’s pretty close to heaven on earth.

Preparation. Problems. Shenanigans

For many years, I yearned to go to California for this specific event. Often, life would hinder that. Kids, appointments, mental issues, and of course, monetary issues.

My wife and I decided that we’d make our stake and try to go for our ten year anniversary. I figured that I’d get benefit dinner tickets, bring copies of my books, and it’d be epic. However, hindrances would present themselves.

I was persistent; I figured I would buy a ticket through the current system. That went south, as tickets sold out in seconds. I was crushed (like so many others that didn’t get a ticket). The next waves came and went. No tickets. General admission or benefit dinner. I tried eBay next. Bad move.

Luckily I used PayPal, honestly. I almost lost out on my money (lesson learned). Thanks to a Blizzard employee, and the coordination of PayPal and eBay, I was refunded. It was disgusting to hear that more reports where coming in that this same person were scamming other people.

I was lucky though. I had a friend of a friend that I played with that was able to get my wife and I a ticket. Color me super thankful.

We had made preparations months in advance. I made up some shirts for the missus and I. Soon; it’d be October…and we could not wait for vacation time.

Anxiety was present a lot. Especially, with the ticket ordeal. However, once we had legit tickets, it lessened. Though, we had never been away from our kids as far as an hour or two away. Going to California made nonsensical things just flood our minds. Ah, being parents.

Naturally, it was just us being us and making mountains out of molehills. Once we landed in L.A., we were fine. We were in for three days of fun times.

Murky Saves

The Days of Our Gaming Lives

Day one involved going to the Blizzard Entertainment campus in Irvine. We met up with our friend who gave us a tour of the campus. It was a hell of a spectacle. I was a bit overwhelmed at first but settled in well.

Kay and Rob

A lot of places were off limits or being remodeled. You know, obvious reasons are obvious. Of the places we went to, I think my favorite place was the library. Seriously, that area is incredible. So much nostalgia, games, comics, books. It’s a wet dream.

Later on, we spent 2.5 hours in line at the Blizzard store. It was with it in the end. That Sylvanas statue—awesome. That night, I got to meet up with a few friends, made some new ones, shenanigans happened. In short, it was a great night.

BlizzCon Store Line

WoWHead Party at Anaheim Marriott

Day two of our time there, was the cinematic, meeting up with more friends, lots of walking. Lots. I got signatures, pictures of the many various booths, and so much more. It was a long epic day. I think we made our step goals a few times over, ha.

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Day three and our final day was off to a good start with recovering from sore feet. Announcements, meeting Michelle, Chelsea, Christie, and other great people in lines. The cake was Muse closing out though. The best part? Behind my wife and I was plenty of Blizzard employees rocking out. One, in particular, caught my eye and for a good reason, he’s the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment—Mike Morhaime.

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I had written him some months prior back via email and stated my family’s and I story. I thanked him and everyone else at Blizzard for WoW. It’s where my wife and I met, and where we’d go to escape the real world’s shenanigans.

We talked to him for a bit, shook his hand, and asked if he’d take a picture with us. Legendary!

Us and Mike

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Closing Time

Now, that it was all over, what next?

Well, we went back to the Marriott for dinner. After being sat down, I noticed there was a large table before us. A gentleman, in particular, caught my eye. Why? His personality and his bowtie. Darin De Paul and several of the voice cast of Overwatch were having dinner in front of us. It was one of those awesome moments.

Once it looked like they were about ready to leave, a few tables asked for autographs and a picture. They seemed more than happy to oblige. Soon, there was a bit of commotion. My friends and I asked for a photo. Thus, sealing the icing on the legendary cake.

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It was a trip, a thrill ride of monumental proportions. I advise anyone that’s a fan of WoW, Diablo, StarCraft, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, or just games in general, to go to a BlizzCon. It’s honestly a fantastic experience. If I could, I would go every year (whether to cover it or something else).

Which, it has us wondering, what will top our 15th or 20th anniversary?

I guess we’ll find out when it gets near that time. For now, it’s back to writing and life.

Speaking of writing, The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal just dropped a few days ago. If you haven’t yet, check it out! It’ll also be free this December 22, 2017, on Amazon!

Until next time!

RJM

The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal is Now Available

Hey, folks.

The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal is now available. It is also free to Kindle Unlimited users.

ebook cover for The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal

Suicide has many forms.

The tale of Bob and his asinine ways of killing himself are readily available for all to read. It is cool to reread something, whether it is your friends or your work. It also offers reflection: state of mind, memories, thoughts, and so on.

Suicide has been in my life for a long time now. It has affected myself, my family, and a lot of my friends. This “group” is not even 1% of what goes on in the world. Whether it’s homeless folk, students, celebrities, military, hell, even animals. It’s in our lives, sometimes staring at us right in the face. Most folks though turn a blind eye or sweep it under the rug. Alternatively, folks will jump on the bandwagon after a famous person’s death (i.e., Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, etc.) and it’s just an “Oh, hey, yeah I care…” Then they stop and fall off. It shouldn’t take a well-known person’s death to stoke the fire. It’s all around us; it could claim your family, friends, either directly or indirectly. Everyone’s affected.

I’ve struggled for years with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. I’ve done the medicinal routine (didn’t work) and figured one day, somewhere, someone else has it just as bad. I can’t pray for something to be done. I can’t change anything that happened, and I sure as hell can’t do anything if I am sitting around. That was the beginning of the change. It was a domino effect, because then I started to quit smoking, stop drinking soda, and eating better. The depression and dark thoughts were (and are) still there…just a lot more manageable, and under control. My temperament is vastly superior to what it once was, and overall I feel a lot better about myself. I like myself. Before? I used to hate myself. Big change.

Writing helped fill in some of the voids that I felt. It helped purify my thoughts and channeled them into something that I wanted to pursue eventually. Thus, this story, even though it may seem pointless and dumb to one, it is a sort of projection of thoughts any one person can experience and something we do.

When I transitioned out-of-state and was left with the feeling of having no real friends (that I left behind), and combating alcoholism (which, alcohol with depression + anxiety + PTSD = Not Bueno), I was beside myself. Nowadays, even in prior generations, the man must be “a man.” You know, don’t cry, don’t show emotion, be tough; the stereotype that was set up for us so many generations ago. So I kept a lot of my thoughts and feelings in. I hardly shared how I felt, I would try to bear a lot, and just be. It was unhealthy.

Finally, I got back into writing and found a great therapist. After which, while seeing my new therapist, I had then begun a process of “killing myself.” That is, writing down ways I would kill myself, or ideas that I had thought of. Thus, The Chronicles of Bob: The Chronic Suicidal was born and is what is available today.

So, I invite you to pick up a copy and read your heart out. If you like/love it, excellent; alternatively, If you hate it, well, that’s your choice. Life is full of them.

I will still be continuing to donate and advocate Suicide Prevention and Suicide Awareness, so when you purchase a copy, it’s going to go and help people in return.

That’s about all for now. I wish you all well.

Until next time,

RJM

 

 

 

P.S. If someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, talk with them. Don’t disregard their thoughts on the matter. You can also refer them to the Suicidal Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255