**DISCLAIMER** Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I do earn a small commission from them.
So, like a lot of people right now I have a lot of time on my hands. What does a book lover do when they have too much time on their hands? Rearrange the books shelves of course!
As I was sitting there with stacks of worlds gathered around me, I thought of another thing that people who read and write do when they have time on their hands. I’m going to write a blog post of books I have that I love and thing are important.
So here are twenty titles. I have read every one. They are ones I loved or felt changed by after reading.
He walked back to the door. This time his hands were no longer shaking, and the pain in his chest was almost nonexistent. The confidence he’d felt drained out of him as he got closer. He heard scratching like the crazy lady was running her fingernails down the door. Everything about this is wrong, Edgar thought. But anger and the notion of revenge won out, as it always did sooner or later with him. He once again put his trembling hand on the doorknob and slowly unlocked the deadbolt with his other.
His hand was slick with sweat, and his palm slid around the surface of the doorknob.
“Oh, what the hell?” Edgar wiped his hand on the front of his shirt. Once again, he steadied his hand on the knob. Edgar watched as his hand turned the doorknob and pulled the door open. Light seeped into the dark entryway, as Edgar opened the door only a crack.
Something banged hard against the door and started to push. The door smacked Edgar in the nose, instantly bringing tears to his eyes. He struggled, trying hard to close it on whatever was outside. Edgar could barely see through the tears and sweat that had clouded his vision. He blinked a couple of times, and his stinging eyes cleared a little.
Edgar didn’t want to look through the crack of the door. His eyes focused there against his will. The hand was green from the grave. It was hard to believe that it ever was covered in healthy skin at one time, but there were patches of discolored flesh that looked like they had once held the pigment of something that had once been alive.
“Come out, Edgar, we need to talk to you about the good word. We need to tell you that there is no God, only darkness.”
My father used to mow my grandparent’s lawn. He would plop my Little sister Rachel and I in the living room, with a fudgsicle and an orange crush soda, and go out to mow grass that was always way overdue for a cut. Dad would always leave the front door open, and the screen door closed so we would know where he was at all times.
I can still hear his voice as he was going out the door, “Abby, watch your sister, and no going down in the basement or up in the attic.” These were easy to follow rules because both those places contained monsters. Every kid knew that.
Grandma would pat the couch and tell me to come sit by her. She knew that between my sister and me, my imagination was more developed. I’d get off the chair that Rachel and I would fight over every visit, and my sister would quickly steal it. Getting to talk and sit with Grandma was a treat that only seemed to be bestowed on me.
Grandma always smelled of baby powder and just a tint of something that was unpleasant. I didn’t mind it, though. I loved talking with my Grandmother. She told me about olden times. Times when there were more horses than cars on the road. Times where men wore suits and women wore long dresses and hats so big, they shaded not just their faces but their whole bodies. Hearing about the hats always made me smile.
She would tell me about the day she met my Grandpa. How they’d fallen in love on a summer day. They’d had a picnic next to a pond, and Grandpa had sung to her. She would laugh and always tell me how Grandpa was the worse singer, but she loved him more because of it. Mainly because he dared to do it.
Grandma always knew when dad was just about done with the lawn. She would end our talk the same every time. With a saying, I tell my kids to this day.
She would say, “Death is an illusion for the living, Abby. Love is the only real thing.”
My dad would come in and ask me who I was talking to. A couple of times I had said Grandma, but I quit saying that because it would make my father upset. So, I would say no one. We would close the house up and go home. I really wish I could have met my Grandma when she was alive.
So, the way I originally released this book was in three installments. I later turned it into an omnibus.
The Pool is about a family that is traveling across the United States on a sight seeing trip. That happen upon a sleepy little town with an old motel that has a pool in the center of the parking lot. Weird things start to happen to the family. The story rolls out before you with a shocking end.
I put the first book up for free. The other two can be purchased on Amazon. Or you can buy all three with the omnibus. Links are below.
The worms pushed underneath bare feet, looking for purchase into a world they had never seen. Much like this little one that would be pulled through with a skip of a rock, and a view of mortality.
He woke up that day with the sun on his face. It peeked through cheap vertical blinds that were bent and stained with the food that boys of that age eat, things sticky and full of fun.
Mom and Dad were still in bed, and his sisters snored peacefully in the next room. He quietly put on his clothes, subtracting the shoes, and walked out the front door. He was walking out to find an adventure, and dark adventure is what he would find.
The funny thing about adventure is people think it is always something fun and fanciful. But most adventures are filled with peril and the loss of innocence. They never think of the journey that is laid before the brave wonderer. They only think of the end when love conquers all, and our hero finds his purpose.
That is all opinion, though… Let’s get back to our adventure.
The sidewalk was hot, and he needed to get to cooler surfaces, the soles of his feet still burned even with the ground being cooled overnight. He was looking for grass. Temporary relief from the man-made ground that burned tender feet. Feet that had just been released out of cool sheets and a mattress that was pleasant on chapped sunburnt skin.
The trail came quick. It shot off into the woods. Mostly dirt, but a few patches of grass came every once in a while, leading the way to the lake. And the start of this adventure. This life, where we can’t take anything important back. No matter how much we try. Sights are burned into our subconscious. They sleep there forgotten for years, then they bubble up like an unwanted knock at the door.
He stepped onto the dirt. The earth cooled and caressed his feet, making the burn go away as if it had never been there. His stride was purposeful. He needed to get to the lake. This is what all the kids called it, but it was really nothing more than a pond. To a boy, on a bright sunny day, it was an ocean. It flowed in and out in his mind just like he thought the Pacific probably would.
The canopy of trees covered the trail and smiled down at him, egging him on. The clearing would come soon. There he would find a beach full of rocks. Rocks so flat and smooth, they would skip across the water like a sheet of ice in the summer.
The opening loomed before him. Soft light shined through leaves that had already arrogantly the bitter cold of the winter. The doomed leaves said hello and then went about their business. The dim light turned back into a bright sun that kissed the boys already tanned skin.
The beach awaited. Rocks of all shapes littered the ground in hopes of a throw. The boy reached down. Spying one slender and smooth. He held it up to the light and watched the sun glint off its sharp edges. He reared back and threw the piece of earth at the surface of the water, never once thinking of what would become.
He didn’t think of the worms looking for purchase in a world they had never seen. He didn’t think of those dark places until he saw the face that shined like the rock that he had just skipped across the water. The sun glinted off of bloated cheeks.
The face looked up at the sky as if to ask why. One eye and nostrils were visible to this lighted world. The rest was in darkness. Dark like the place the worms try to escape.
Sample from The Life of Ants, the Hybrid, by Ernie Howard
**DISCLAIMER** Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I do earn a small commission from them.
“It is time to go Dear One. The future of this planet depends on you and some others just like you. It is time to learn new things, but things you need to learn cannot happen on this planet.” The Orb’s voice inside Emma’s head sounded excited and almost happy. “You must go where we took your father.” A picture of an old train car popped into Emma’s head. She knew instantly how to get to it. “You have to leave tonight. There is no time to waste. You must find your protector. You must help save this planet.” The Orb winked out and was gone like it had never been there in the first place.
Emma got up from her bed and went to her desk. She would have to leave as soon as possible. Her dad would no doubt try to bring up some food for her, and if that happened all would be lost. She had to remember that her parents didn’t know what was best for them. For her as well. She started to write a letter. It would be dark soon.
When she was done with the letter, she grabbed her school backpack and emptied the contents of the bag onto her bed. She wouldn’t need paper and pencils where she was going. She threw in some clothes, and a bottle of water that had been sitting on her nightstand for a week. Emma checked her pockets to see that her three dollars that her mom had given her for lunch this morning were still there. She had faith that she wouldn’t need it. The Orb had told her about her protector.
“I need to getaway. Get the fuck away… Can’t. Can’t take it,” Gram thought to himself, watching the streetlights blur by the windshield.
Streetlights… Streaming. Headlights… Beaming into the abyss; the nothingness that is our lives. His mind drifted until he heard someone shout from a passing car.
“We are ants!”
“Did you hear that?” Gram asked.
“I didn’t hear shit,” Wallace said. “I think you should probably lay off that shit that is in your pocket.” Gram looked across the car at Wallace. “What? You don’t think I know what you’re doing when you wipe your nose with your hand? You’ve been doing that shit since I picked you up from the nuthouse.”
“It’s not a nuthouse. It’s a detox.” Gram said. He didn’t believe his own words as soon as they left his mouth. Wallace erupted in a loud laugh that shook the car. A laugh that only a man of Wallace’s girth was capable of.
Sample from Nurse Doe, A Night Portals Short Story
“They won’t be back for…” She stopped and looked at her wrist. A digital clock appeared on her skin, making Jeff intake a sharp breath. He’d never seen anything like it before. It pulsed the time just under her skin. “Exactly one hour and twelve minutes and nineteen seconds from now.” The nurse looked up at Jeff and smiled making him feel soft all over his body.
“Who are you? What did you do to Steven?”
The nurse put her hand up as if she were warding off bad spells. “I’m Madison.” She said.
The woman had stopped Jeff in his tracks, and it made him fall even more madly in love with her. “My names…”
“Jeff Proctor. You are thirty-seven years old. You used to be a carpenter, but you got sick. You enjoy good books and your dog, and both of your parents passed away two years ago. Your mom two months after your dad. Your sister is your best friend, and if you don’t close your mouth right now your tongue is going to get really dry.” Madison laughed.
Jeff closed his mouth and smiled. “Wow. How do you know all of that?” Normally he would have been creeped out, but he liked that she knew all those things about him.
“I know many more things about you, Jeff. The other thing I know is that you have Pancreatic Cancer. And that it is basically uncurable in this time and place. That’s why the next thing I’m going to tell you is going to hurt so much.” Madison looked sad and she averted her eyes from Jeff’s. “I mean if you were on the list…” She patted the bed next to Jeff’s knee.
George’s breath caught in his throat. The ad had changed once more. The lady’s face changed. It was contorted into a surprised grimace.
Aida’s face was filled with so much terror and anguish, George had to look away, not recognizing his love. His heart, as they were so apt to say on every social media site that ever was. George barely recognized her anguished face as she hung in suspended animation. She was falling. And the man in the picture knew it. George stood looking at his own face contorted in a horrible grimace that would never wipe off.
“What are you doing here George?”
Sample fro The Light Through the Water, by Ernie Howard
I died when I was 8 years old. I drowned. It was summer and my father took me down to our dock to go for the first swim of my summer vacation. Being scared of the water for all of my short life, but having learned how to swim the summer before, fear had abandoned me to the point of blurring my self-preservation. I had become cocky. I barreled across the dock, with my bare feet slapping the boards, sending off hollow echoes across the lake that existed right outside our door. My father’s shouts to wait blew away, lost in the noise of my feet, and my shouts of glee.
I reached the end of the dock and with the summer sun on my back and sheer joy of no classrooms for the next three months, I launched myself into the air. There was a moment of peace, of floating, that lasted for hours in my 8-year-old brain. I was Superman, soon to be Aquaman. I splashed into the surface of the lake like a missile. My body sliced through the water until my feet embedded themselves into the mud at the bottom of the lake. I let it slide up to mid shin, squishing my toes into the cool muck, letting the lake comfort me like it was giving me a hug. The lake was fickle. The comforting feeling left as soon as it came when I tried pushing against the muck trying in vain to propel myself back up to the world of oxygen. The lake wouldn’t let me go. It held me firm. It’s cool comforting hands, had turned into the slippery tentacles of a sea monster. The more I tried to free my feet, the further they sunk into the muck. I couldn’t hear anything down there but my beating heart, but for my whole life I remembered a sucking sound, and the lakes chuckle as it laughed at its own watery joke. My little boy mind did not understand the trouble it was in. I was 8 years old. Little boys don’t think of their life ending on the first day of summer. I was still in the what do I want to be when I grow up phase, not the contemplating my own mortality phase.
My pulse grew faster, and my lungs burned, screaming for the oxygen they needed. My calm left me there at the bottom of the lake to fend for myself. I panicked. Just before I passed out I looked up at the surface, to see the light coming through the water for one last time. I thought I would never see the sun again. I reached out my hand trying to grasp the light, trying to grasp the last bit of life. Then as my world went black.
People don’t remember much from when they were little. They remember a birthday present, or a favorite toy, or that kid that lived down the street that had blond hair and ate his boogers, (what was his name?). Most of those memories have a haze over them. They are like a forgotten book in the book shelf of your mind. But I will tell you I remember every detail of that day. The light through the water was so bright it looked like it was piercing water molecules on its way to my strained eyes. The face of my father was even more detailed. His worry and grief I could feel with every cell of my body as he looked down at me in my hospital bed. I woke up, and in my blurry vision I saw my father.
“I saw the light.” I said. My father’s raised his eyebrows. “The light through the water.”