The Pool

Sample from The Pool. This character is a son of a bitch.

Sample from The Pool. Coming soon to Amazon

” If you think you’re a step away from this dream, wake yourself up. Give your arm a pinch and see where that gets you.

You felt it didn’t you? You squeezed two fingers together, pushing nerve endings to close for comfort. But what can you prove from doing something so trivial and childish? Did you prove you were alive because you felt a mild sense of pain? When you sleep, have you ever known you were in a dream? Did you ever tell yourself to wake up. This is only a dream? Did it work? Are you starting to see?”

Time swirls brown liquid in a whiskey glass. Light from a single bulb catches a corner of the glass blinding your eyes. Setting up doubt in your mind. Making you realize… This is only a dream.

The Pool book cover 3

Ernie Howard

My 5 best Indie short stories picks of the past year, because tomorrows my birthday and I have been drinking!

My short story picks for 2015

Okay, I know I’m a little late to the table here but I’m feeling nostalgic as I sit in my writing room slash library… Actually it’s a walk in closet that my wife let me put a desk in, she’s a good lady. It works for me my friends, even when my old high school letter jacket is poking me in the ear! Go Eagles! JV Football undefeated!

Anywho… I’m a little late to the table to tell you my picks for the best short stories I read in 2015. Hey I was reading! Don’t bust my procrastinating balls!

I have been amazed, and my mind has been opened by these authors, and I feel like I need to share in all my fanboy glee! These writers are up and comers, and well established patch on the blazer word slingers.

You may be asking yourself right now, “So what Ernie! Why should we care what you think?” And my response to you would be, BECAUSE I READ! I have loved books since I was drinking Simalac and crapping my Huggies.

Soooo. Here are my story picks for 2015. These are not in any sort of favorite order, they are in Ernie’s been drinking a day before my birthday order. And not editing his blog post order. (By the way, if any of you have any last minute gift ideas for me… buy one of these books from these great authors, and tell them Ernie sent ya.

 

 

Magenta by Bob Williams

magentaBob Williams is a writer of many talents. His new novel, Music City Macbre is action packed and doesn’t give you a second to slow down. However! This is a blog about short stories, and short stories we shall have! Magenta is my choice.

The story is the picture of the perfect relationship. Loving wife, loving husband, dirty little secret that only the husband knows about. Yes folks, things aren’t always what they seem. This story reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode. It also reminded me of my own story, A World Without. Sorry for the shameless plug Bob, but you give me shit on Facebook all the time about not wanting to do the dishes.

Pick up Magenta Here>>> MAGENTA

Hugh Howey Lives by Daniel Smith

Hugh Howey LivesDaniel Smith is one of those well established types I was talking about earlier. He really doesn’t need my praise, but I am going to give it all the same.

Hugh Howey Lives is about a girl in a future where all of the books are written by Artificial Intelligence, except for one author. The amazing naked no clothes wearing, Hugh Howey.  I will say this book was written before Hugh took to the open sea wearing only his buccaneer boots and a smile. Which was tremendous precognition by Daniel. What I am trying to say here is, Daniel Smith is a psychic! I said it! He didn’t want his powers getting out, but I just couldn’t hold back! He knew Hugh would take to the sea, and be marooned on some weird island, drinking mixed drinks, hanging with beautiful women, and adopting every homeless animal he came across. Brilliant!

Pick up Hugh Howey Lives Here>>> Hugh Howey Lives

Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose

Zero HourEamon is an awesome writer, and a great guy. Why do I say he’s a great guy? Well, Eamon read my book The Light Through the Water and dug it. Then he personally messaged me on Facebook and said Hey great story, but I found these problems. After I got over my fits of despair and embarrassment he pretty much edited my  19 page short story in the span of an hour. An hour…? Oh ya! Zero Hour! Eamon is going to be a household name some day. The Zero Hour series reads like a fast paced video game. You feel like your the main character! Every time he puts out a new installment of this series I read it in one sitting.

Get Zero Hour here>>> Zero Hour

Piece of Cake by Patrice Fitzgerald, from The A.I. Chronicles

aiWhat can I say about the lady from Siberia always Talking about Huge Howley. I think she is from Siberia, all of her pics look like she is in a place that is freezing. She is a woman of mystery. Personally I think she’s a spy for the KGB. Are they still around?

Patrice’s story A piece of Cake in Samuel’s A.I. Chronicles is one of the funniest, and darkest stories I have ever read. What would you do if you couldn’t have a piece of cake!?! I think the main character would be me in the future. Running around looking for all the bootleg snacks. Trying to get my chocolate fix while being chased by health crazy bum outs.

Get A Piece of Cake Here>>> A Piece of Cake

The Traveler by Stefan Bolz, From The Time Traveler Chronicles

Time travelStefan’s Traveler hit me right in the feels. Which is crazy, because I never thought a man that could Karate chop your face off! Could write something so tender.

Anyone who has lost a loved one has fantasized about building a time machine and talking to them one last time. This story is about a little girl who loses her father at a young age. When her father was alive they built things together in his shop. He passes away, and what does she build? A time machine of course. Awesome classic story. Awesome writer. Awesome guy. Also pick up The Three Feathers by Stefan. I am about half way through it and it is eye opening.

Get The Traveler Here>>> The Traveler

Honorable Mentions. (Or in Ernie speak. “I am too tired, and a little buzzed to write anymore. Brain fuzzy from beer…)

Will Swardstrom, Contact Window

Samuel Peralta, Every Single Chronicles, (A.I., Cyborg, Time Traveler, etc.)

Nick Cole, The End of the World as We Knew it

Hank Garner, Mulligan

Susan Kaye Quinn, Restore

Well there you have it folks. My picks for 2015. This blog post is brought to you by- Ernie was to tired to edit, and I don’t care.

On a serious note, I was blown away by all of these indie authors. Indie publishing is near and dear to my heart, because I am one. Thanks for reading.

Ernie Howard is the author of The Light Through the Water, and A World Without, And a few others

Halloween Decor

Halloween decor

“Is that guy ever going to take down his Halloween decorations?” Rob said, as he rubbed the crust from the corner of his eye.

“Honey, he’s an old man, and it is probably hard for him to take them down. Everyone likes Mr. Samson’s Halloween decorations, they are always so, elaborate.” Samantha always found the good in people, it was her downfall. If you didn’t stick up for yourself people would walk all over you, Rob thought.

“His Halloween decorations are always great because he just adds to them from the year before. I mean look at that damn scare crow, it’s falling apart! I have had it! The HOA lets this guy leave his crap up all year, but if I have one weed in my yard I get a fine. I’m bringing it up at the next meeting.” Robs ears were getting hot, which meant he was about to lose it.

“It’s not a big deal, leave it alone.” Samantha grabbed both of his ears and pulled him to her lips, kissing him and making an exaggerated smooch sound. “I’ll see you tonight Honey.” She was out the door before Rob could get in a rebuttal.

He watched as she put her purse in the car, and looked across the street. Mr. Samson was fussing with a plastic bat that had seen better days. The string that attached it to the front door was frayed and looked like it would break in a slight breeze. His wife turned towards the window and mouthed the words, “calm down.” Rob raised one eyebrow and shook his head. Samantha threw up her hands as she got into the car and drove away.

Rob continued to watch the old man through the window. He fiddled with one of the Styrofoam tombstones that had fallen over and made his way back to the front door, pausing at the ragged scare crow that sat on a cobwebbed bench on his front porch. Mr. Samson reached out with his shaky old hand and patted the infernal thing on the head. Rob scratched the dime sized birthmark on the top of his hand, as he did when he was anxious, or something unnerved him.

****

The HOA meeting went just like Rob thought it would, with him shouting, and nothing being done about the eyesore across the street. They didn’t want to hear about Mr Samson’s never ending Halloween Decor. They had bigger problems. Like broken sprinkler heads, weeds, and a dwindling budget. Rob was asked to leave and never return to another meeting; which resulted in him getting physically removed by a large man who had the smell of liquor on his breath.

Rob frantically scratched his birthmark as he walked down the street. His ears felt like they were on fire when he paused in front of Mr. Samson’s yard. The tattered cloth ghosts, and sun bleached spiders only adding to the heat that originated in his ears, but now seemed to have found a home in the front of his head. He was done. If you wanted to have something done in this world you had to do it yourself. The first thing he would throw away was that damn scarecrow! He walked up the man’s driveway, kicking a rotting pumpkin out-of-the-way as he went. He lost his balance when he reached the front porch, slipping on the rotted pumpkin juice on his shoe. He reached out as he fell, grabbing onto one of the scarecrows arms, ripping it from its body. A stream of maggots and cockroaches came flowing out of the hole falling onto Rob’s face.

“What the hell!” He said, sending a maggot that had made it to his mouth, flying. He didn’t even feel the needle go into his neck, the old man was lightning fast for his age.

****

Those weeds are getting out of hand, Mr. Samson thought, as he stared across the street. He needed to notify the HOA. He hadn’t seen Mrs. Lawson work on her lawn since last February. He realized she was in mourning, but her yard was getting ridiculous. I mean what were they? Savages? He sighed, looking down at his new scarecrow. Well new as of last year. After Halloween he would have to replace it, it was just getting to tattered. The straw smelt funny, and look at that, one of the gloves was coming off. Mr. Samson pulled the glove up, covering the dime sized birthmark it had exposed. That will have to do for now. Halloween is only a day away. He patted the top of the scarecrows head and went inside.

Happy Halloween!!!

If you liked this story, please visit my author profile on Amazon.com/Ernie-Howard

Nothing to see

Nothing to see

“Excuse me, are you Steven James?”

The guy looked like a CIA agent, complete with plain black suit and sunglasses, that were not needed since it was almost dark. In one well manicured hand he held an envelope that had the name in question written in what looked like old cursive, or calligraphy. The envelope was old, it was browning at the edges and looked like it would fall apart at the slightest touch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Every time I glanced up at the man, my eyes would dart back down, as if the paper were made from a magnet exclusively for the two round objects that fit neatly in my skull.

I was not Steven James, the mysterious man who gets hand delivered letters from guys dressed up like secret service. No, I wasn’t him, but at that moment I wanted to be him. It seemed his life was a lot more interesting than mine. Bet he wasn’t an assistant manager of a gas and sip, who came home every night to sit alone and watch bad TV and eating bad food.

The man extended the envelope towards me, and not even thinking I said “Yes I am,” and snatched the note from his hand. He gave me a smirk as if saying he knew damn well I wasn’t who I said I was, making me instantly want to give him the envelope back. “Humanity thanks you.” He said. The man tipped his head as he walked away. I could hear his footfalls echoing, each one making the foreboding feeling that had come over me almost unbearable. I turned around to tell him the truth of my identity, and give him back the letter, but he was gone like he had become one with the molecules in the air.

The envelope seemed to burn in my hand. It wanted to be open, the note wanted to be read.

I opened the envelope. The brittle paper crumbled in my hands. Glue that had been sealed long ago obliterated into dust, leaving my hands a chalky yellowish color. The note looked newer, and was folded in classic letter style. I unfolded the paper methodically, relishing the moment even being overcome with the most horrible fear. It said in big red letters, “Look behind you.” As I turned I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder, and then I was staring it in the face.

The emptiness is what I remember most. Where my soul resides is a dark place where monsters lurk in every corner. Yes my friends, hell is not the fire and brimstone kind of hell. Hell resides in your mind, on a Tuesday, when your bored, and coming home from work.

Oh are you wondering what I saw…? Well I saw nothing.

Other writing by me that you can find on Amazon. Click the images if you have further interest.

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Flash Fiction “Peephole”

Peephole

James didn’t believe he deserved any of the things in his apartment. The big screen TV sitting on the solid oak entertainment center was a constant reminder of how he didn’t deserve to be alive. His chest moving up and down was a constant reminder. He didn’t deserve to be alive after what he had done. Not after the screeching tires broken glass, blood, and the screams. Oh god the screams. The screams woke him up at night.

Everyone told him it wasn’t his fault, even his parents. But every time he looked into their eyes he saw how they felt. It was there. The place behind their eyes, as obvious as a blinking light. “You killed her.” It said. “You killed our baby girl, you killed your sister.” Non of the late night crying sessions with his mother, or the reassuring pats on the back from his father made the blinking light go away.

Sara never wanted to wear her seatbelt. James never made her. She was 20 years old and an adult, at least on paper. Gone were the days of being big brother. He wished he had endured the eye roll and made her wear the damn thing. He relived that moment backing out of the drive way every day for the last 2 years, going over every detail, the sun setting, his sisters hair blowing across her face, the flash of the truck bumper, the screams, and then silence. He couldn’t relive that moment anymore, and he wasn’t going to. The gun he purchased a day ago would remedy that. One bullet and things would be set right. One pull of the trigger and the agonizing guilt would be laid low like the bad guy in a spaghetti western.

The gun sat like a brick in the palm of his hand as he raised it to his temple. He felt a lightness come over him. In two years he hadn’t felt this good. This is right, he thought.

He almost pulled the trigger when he heard the knock at the door. The suddenness of the rap left him confused for a second and made him think the gun had gone off and ended his miserable life. He looked around the room, and everything was as it was. James got up from the couch and walked like a zombie to the door. He leaned his head against the hard wood, exhausted by just a few feet. He contemplated going back to the couch and getting on with it.

The door vibrated against his head as he leaned. His desperate feeling turning to anger. He looked through the peephole. The image on the other side of the door wavered as James’ eye adjusted finally focusing on a face he had not seen in 2 years. His sisters face looked perfect. Beautiful like he always remembered. He sighed and opened the door, not glancing back at the physical deed done. Not looking at the wreckage that laid on the couch clutching cool hard steel.

If you liked this story, you can purchase my short story, “A World Without” on Amazon. Just click the image.

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Domestic Twilight Zone

wormholeI am obsessed with the old Twilight Zone episodes. One of my favorites is “The Parallel.” If you haven’t seen it  I suggest you do. The story is about an astronaut orbiting the earth whose communication systems stop functioning and he blacks out. he wakes up back on earth with no memory on how he got there. When he finally meets back up with his family everything is the same,  just with subtle differences. I won’t tell you the ending.

A month ago I was looking at my 15 month old baby boy. I watched him play with his new plastic truck as he squealed with joy. My eyes went from him to my wife, and back.  I had been blessed with such happiness that I could not believe I deserved. This little piece of the big world was mine. This is my reality and believe me I cherish and would guard it with my life if I had too.

After a while of letting the joy I felt in that moment wash over me, dark thoughts started to creep. The darkest one being what would I do if I lost my family, or if something within my life were to drastically change. This is a normal thing for me because I started watching the Twilight zone at age 8, and started reading Stephen King novels at age 13.

I started thinking  what it would be like to come home to an empty house. The routine of my life gone and never to return… It gave me a stomach ache just to think about it. Don’t get me wrong. I love silence and being by myself every once in a while, but to never walk through the door and hear my sons squeals of laughter, or feel my wife’s hands around me ever again… Just writing about it makes me shudder.

So to be exercising the demons so to speak, I wrote a story of a husband and wife. It was amazing how fast it came out of my over active, and somewhat demented brain. The short story is called “A World Without.” It is short and sweet, I didn’t want to stay in that world for too long. I hope you enjoy it. Click the book cover below to purchase  it on Amazon Kindle.

a_world_without_book_cover (3)“At Norworld, we prolong life through A.I. We take away the suffering with technology.”