Daydream Believer…

Decided to do something different today…just finished the first draft of “Daydream Believer”, and now I’ll put it aside to percolate before I go back to it and make any changes or revisions.

What’s different is that as I typed the last word, I noticed the word count at the bottom.


The year I was born.

So, as a birthday present for those who come and read these ramblings, how about we post that first draft right here for you to (hopefully) enjoy?

She never heard me coming.

Nope that miserable bitch was too busy yammering in her never-ending diatribe on the phone, just as she did each and every fucking day. I strolled up calmly behind her, flicking open the straight razor in my right hand.

As I reached around to drag the blade across her throat, I lifted my leg and pressed my knee against the back of her chair, knowing I’d need to dig deep to get through the layers of fat. As my knee hit the back of the chair, I yanked her hair back and drew the blade across her exposed throat as hard as I could.

The blade dug deeper than I’d expected and I was rewarded with an incredible spray of blood when her jugular was severed. The cordless phone fell to the ground, shattering as she gurgled, drowning in her own…

“Joe? Earth to Joe!”

“Huh? Oh, sorry. I didn’t, I mean…”

“I know you didn’t hear me. I don’t know where you go off to, Joe, but when you go there, you are gone. Listen, Sam is on the warpath about his damned numbers again, so keep yourself ready in case he pops in without warning.”

“Thanks, Julie. I think I’m on target, but I’ll check it and have it handy in case he comes around snooping. I appreciate the warning.”

“You’re welcome, but it’s not your sales I’m worried about. Don’t let him catch you thinking or daydreaming or whatever it is you do when you fade out like that. He’d go off like a cannon, especially as angry as he is today. I have to get back to my cube, but stay focused for your own sake.”

“Thanks again. Will do.”

Julie went back to her cubicle and I stood up, knees cracking. I brought my glass to the cooler and filled it with cold spring water. I took a deep sip, topped it off, and returned to my own cubicle.

I opened my calendar on the computer and checked to see if I had any calls scheduled, but found none. I opened the file of potential clients and checked the current market stats so I could adjust my spreadsheet formulas and have accurate numbers in front of me before I made my first call.

I got a recorded greeting, waited for the proverbial beep, and left a message in my best radio announcer voice, dropping the name of one of my clients that my prospect would know well, and asked if they might call me back when convenient. I knew he’d speak with my client and would likely return my call.

I began updating my notes when Sam spoke from behind me.

“Joe, I wish you could clone that smooth delivery to some of these drones. The way some of them fumble, it’s no wonder we’re in the shitter.”

“Oh, hi Sam. That’s odd, I thought we were in the black this quarter.”

“We are, but barely so. They’re pushing me for double digit gains, which we don’t have.”

“Is that realistic, especially in this climate?”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s what the head office wants, which does matter. How are your prospects looking?”

“I have a couple renewals lined up and I’m networking to see if I can expand the base before quarter end.”

“Good, good. Is everything else all right?”

“Sure, why do you ask?”

“I’ve heard you seem preoccupied these days, Joe. Just want to make sure you’re bringing your A game.”

“Everything is fine, Sam. Nothing to worry about.”

Sam nodded and backed out of the cube, making his way toward the elevator as I shook my head. He didn’t give a rat’s ass about how I was doing, he just wants to insure a steady climb in his gross margin. Miserable prick, I thought as I sat down and imagined myself walking into Sam’s office and slamming that oak door closed behind me.

I’d say nothing, just grin silently from ear to ear as I raised my hand with the claw hammer and slam that claw down into the gleaming crown of his bald head as hard as I could, laughing as his hands and feet began that spastic jitter once the signals from the brain were severed and short circuited.

“Yeah, do the dance you miserable fuck. How’s that for hitting my targets, huh? I’ve met my share of pricks over the years, but you’re the whole fucking cactus!”

My desk phone rang, startling me back to the present. Back to work.

It took some effort to get through the rest of the day. My daydreams were occurring more frequently these days, and they were so vivid, so real, that I’d have sworn I was actually doing the things I only dared imagine.

I have to keep a handle on my temper, you see. When the ex slapped a restraining order on me just before she filed for divorce, I had to make sure I didn’t give her or the courts any ammunition that would cause problems at work. As a financial adviser, I have to maintain the persona of the cool and collected professional, not given to emotional outbursts of any kind. That would tank my reputation in a heartbeat.

I do have a temper though, and it’s a raging beast. Luckily, I also have an active imagination, which has proven to be my only safe outlet. A man can’t be convicted for his thoughts, at least not yet. I did see a therapist, as ordered by the court, and he wasted no time in writing me a script for Prozac. I filled it promptly, assuming they’d be tracking it, and dutifully put the bottle in the medicine cabinet.

If I ever decide to take one, I know where to find them.

He warned me about having sociopathic tendencies, and defined those as being able to present myself in public as perfectly calm, fitting in, getting along, when all I wanted to do was carve and smash my way through the endless parade of idiots in my way.

At the time I blew it off, but as I think of it now and then, he might be onto something there. Still, I never set fires or hurt animals when I was a kid. Isn’t that what a sociopath does? That’s what they say on all the TV shows, right?

I’ve cut back hard on my drinking, limiting myself to an occasional light beer or two now and then. The last bottle of bourbon I bought three or four years ago now sits unopened in the cabinet. I wonder if the stuff gets better with age, or if it goes bad? Maybe I’ll find out one day, but not now, not when they may be monitoring.

Do I sound paranoid? Maybe a little, but I’ve never had a restraining order on me before, so I don’t know how it works or what actions they may take. All I know is that I need to keep my ass out of trouble in order to keep my career.

And that’s where my daydreams come in. In my mind, if someone pisses me off or fucks me over, I can tear them to pieces, wallowing in the pleasure of slicing and dicing, of that warm arterial spray showering me while I work.

I’ve never used a gun in my daydreams, although I do own a 9mm. It’s so much more satisfying, more personal to cut and slice or pound someone to pulp with a blunt object, to take my revenge to a higher plane altogether. I don’t own a straight razor, but I’ve frequently pictured a beautiful one, the carbon blade honed to scalpel sharpness in a hand carved stainless-steel handle.

The first time I saw that razor was in a daydream about the ex. She’d soaked me for a boob job before the split, and in my daydream, I told her she wasn’t going to wiggle the tits I paid for in anyone else’s face. No, I tied her to that ridiculous brass headboard she just had to have and used that razor to extract those overpriced bags of silicone. Once out, I sliced them open and let the thick fluid pour down on her ruined breasts.

I remember using her favorite nightgown to clean the blade and handle as she lay bleeding on the bed and then tossing the soiled garment over her face when I was finished.

Good times.

In my mind, at any rate.

Well, at least the weekend’s here. A couple days off to leave that phony smile hanging in the closet. Knock out the chores and put up my feet, that’s the ticket. Maybe tonight I’ll catch a decent movie on the tube after dinner or something. We’ll see.

Dinner. Yeah, let me scribble a list and try to get to the market while everyone is out at the beach or the park or something. Damn store gets so friggin’ crowded sometimes, you’re ready to kill something. Well, imagine it anyway.

Sure would be nice to catch a break from the screaming kids, the old timers looking lost, and the idiots blocking the fucking aisle with their carriage because they’re too busy texting on their fucking phones. I’d love to eviscerate one of those assholes, then ask for a cleanup on aisle six!

Fuck it. Let’s stand under a hot shower for as long as I can and bleed off the stress and anger, especially if I’m gonna go out. That’ll do the trick.

It’s not as good as a massage by someone who knows what they’re doing, but the hot pulsing stream on the back of my neck and shoulders helps a lot. I get so tense there all the time lately, seems like stress has become my way of life.

Yeah, that’s better. Toweling off, I walked across the hall to my bedroom to pull on a t shirt and a pair of shorts and prepared to go to the kitchen and make breakfast.

As I walked out of the bedroom I jumped when I heard the sound of hands clapping in my living room. I looked through the doorway and gaped at the impossible sight.

It was me, sitting in my recliner and slowly clapping my hands.


“What the fuck is this? Who are you?”

“Come on, I know you’re not blind. Bad eyes, sure, but you can see.”

“How… I mean, this isn’t possible.”

“And yet, it is. Look, we’re no shrink, but there was a piece inside you they call the ID, the force behind all your daydreams. You developed that bad boy so well that it broke free… and here I am.” He held his hands out, perfect clones of my own, right down to the scars I’d acquired over the years.

I was unable to speak, just trying to take it all in, to understand. I was convinced I was either having the most realistic nightmare of my life, or I’d skipped the whole dementia step and lost my mind all at once.

As I gaped, he stood up, seeming to move easily, not suffering the aching joints I endured. He tilted his head, as a dog might do, and I do believe I heard sincere regret in his voice as he spoke.

“I owe you, you know, I really do. I mean, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t even be, right? Damned shame there can only be one of us, really too bad. I’d have enjoyed your company.”

His hand slipped out of his pocket and the sunlight from the window reflected off that carved stainless-steel handle. The razor seemed bigger than I’d imagined it, having more heft, more…”


Be careful what you ask for…

DDB Cover

Sleep well…

Asked and answered…

Steph and Stuart at the Horror Tree recently posted an open question about what should be on a “Must Read” list for authors and I decided to send a response.

Well, Stuart liked it, asked me to expand on it a bit, and then elected to include it in the column that debuted today:


It’s just my opinion, of course, but I really think Stoker broke a lot of ground when he created his iconic character that has thrived for so long.

Sleep well…

Busy day!

Wow…I am not only back in the saddle, but the horses are racing!

Let’s start with the new one. “Daydream Believer”, a tale about a man who falls back on violent daydreams as an escape from his temper issues…

I have to keep a handle on my temper, you see. Once the ex slapped a restraining order on me just before she filed for divorce, I had to make sure I didn’t give her or the courts any ammunition that would cause problems at work. As a financial adviser, I have to maintain the persona of the cool and collected professional, not given to emotional outbursts of any kind. That would tank my reputation in a heartbeat.

I do have a temper though, and it’s a raging beast. Luckily, I also have an active imagination, which has proven to be my only safe outlet. A man can’t be convicted for his thoughts, at least not yet. I did see a therapist, as ordered by the court, and he wasted no time in writing me a script for Prozac. I filled it promptly, assuming they’d be tracking it, and dutifully put the bottle in the medicine cabinet.

If I ever decide to take one, I know where to find them.

With this one I broke tradition and decided to write in first person POV, to make it more personal and hopefully add more impact to the finale. My readers will let me know if I was successful.

DDB Cover

And this evening, as my bride and I enjoyed too much wine and had a wonderful conversation, in comes a fantastic email from the good folks at Gathering Storm magazine, with attachments to use in publicizing the upcoming release…

Cover Image 2-9

I was impressed by the cover, but was absolutely blown away by the layout within…it looks like the New Yorker magazine!


I can’t wait to get my bloodied hands on a physical copy of this one!

Yeah, I’m back, and running full speed ahead. Next up, I need to finish the new short story and then get down to some serious work on the novel.

It ain’t gonna write itself…

Sleep well…

Get back to where you once belonged…

My geekazoid project is coming close to completion, which will leave me free to explore the dark corridors of imagination and spill fresh blood on the keys!

I’m fully moved into the Spectre, and am nearly finished transferring the contents of my wife’s laptop to my Dell after a format and OS reload for a fresh start.

I just had the pleasure of previewing the proof copy of Econoclash Review # 2 to check my tale “Trappe’s Rest” before the magazine goes to press this week. This is going to be a fun addition to my shelf, and I’m looking forward to the release!


I’ve broken ground on a new story this week, the first on the new laptop, titled “Daydream Believer” (no association with the song), in which a man’s tendency to drift off into vivid, blood soaked daydreams takes him to a place he’d never have anticipated.

Just did a cosmetic update on the app, with plans for a full featured overhaul next month, so that will be forthcoming, along with three new story releases (two in print, and one on the Horror Tree, which debuts on September 30th). September promises to be an interesting month overall, more on that later.

There is a possibility that some of my tales might be available as podcasts at a new site, again more on that as I find out the particulars. I always enjoyed Dennis Serra’s narrations of my work on his Evil podcast, so I’m keen to find out about this new possibility.

For now, do sleep well…

In Progress…

It’s been a while since I added a new post, so I thought a short update was in order. I’ve been setting up and moving into a new laptop, and i like the keyboard on this one more than my other one.

My previous laptop will be scrubbed and given to my wife, as hers is now seriously slow and lags badly. She’ll love the speed of the new (to her) one.

I went with the new HP Spectre (sorry, 007) based on the feel of the keyboard and the impressive specs. It’s a very solid machine, really fast, and the keyboard has a satisfying tactile response, much more so than the one on my Dell.

I looked into a laptop with a mechanical keyboard, like the old Think Pad model, but all they have now are models meant for gaming with hideous lights behind the keys and ridiculous price tags.


It also comes with a pen, and if you flip it over to use in tablet mode, you can transform the pen to the dreaded red pen to do your editing. When the Best Buy dude showed me that, I was sold.

Anyway, that has been taking a lot of my time, as I want to insure I leave nothing forgotten before I scrub the Dell and stage it for my wife.

Soon, I’ll be back to work here in the dungeon, putting my Muse back to the task.

Sleep well…


A nice quiet morning in the Dungeon today, sipping coffee and updating the web site.


I’ve reviewed and approved the edits for “Tumor”, which will be making its debut in Gathering Storm Magazine, Issue 9 soon, my guess being September, which is also when “Test Case” will appear in the Trembling With Fear column on The Horror Tree.

“Trappe’s Rest” will be appearing in EconoClash Review number 2 sometime very soon now, slated to drop in August.

I’ve decided that if “Spirit of the Dead”, my novella set in Carson’s Mill, is not accepted by the publisher in whose hands it currently sits, then I will self publish on Kindle in time for a Halloween release.

Spirit Cover New

I may put it up solo, or might add a couple short stories along to keep it company. Not sure yet, but I do have a little time between now and then to make a final decision and prep the files for upload.

The last couple weeks have been productive, adding three new short stories to the lineup, so things are progressing nicely. I have to discipline myself better to allocate time and get some work done on the novel. I’ve been lax in that regard, perhaps some time on the Rack might help improve my behavior?

We’ll have to see.

Sleep well…

Just a walk in the park…

Just finished a new story titled “The Man in the Park” in which our main character Tom is taking his daily walk through the city park and meets a stranger…

He was a husky fellow, a perfect model for the grandfather role in a Norman Rockwell painting. He wore a short sleeved white shirt, with his eyeglass case and a sharpened pencil pointing up in the pocket, presumably for the crossword puzzle.

They sit on the same bench, Tom needing a rest and the stranger reading his newspaper, and chat a bit, as people sometimes do.  Things turn a little strange soon enough, however…

“You seem to read people pretty well.”

“Something you learn to do over time, Tom.”

“I thought you looked familiar when I first saw you. I apologize though, I can’t recall where I know you from.”

“We’ve never met, no need to apologize.”

“How did you know my name then?”

“It’s my business to know people.”

I glanced at his newspaper then, and instead of the usual columns of stories and advertisements, it seemed to be comprised entirely of lists, some in foreign texts that I couldn’t read, unlike any paper I’d ever seen before.

“Who are you?” I asked, more intrigued than uneasy.

“I’ve gone by many names over the years. Call me Joe, if a name eases your mind.”

Tom is about to experience something that only occurs once in a lifetime, he just doesn’t know it yet…

This is another of my stories that would be a good fit for the old Twilight Zone…is that time machine ready for a test yet? Just drop me off in front of Rod Serling’s office, if you don’t mind.

man park

Sleep well…

With Thanks…

In today’s Trembling With Fear column on The Horror Tree, Steph Ellis made two comments that helped bring me out of a four day funk.

I’d been very hopeful about my submission to Cemetery Dance magazine, but received a rejection a couple days ago. That was a market I really wanted to break through in hopes one of my tales might actually be read by Stephen King.

That’s been a big goal since the first word landed on the first page, you see…

Steph also got rejected by them, and she is a very talented writer. She takes it in stride, which is how I generally deal with rejections when they come. Seeing her column helped me take the personal aspect out of it, and just consider it business as usual, like I do with all the others.

She also has some kind words about the site, as she is visiting a number of sites in preparation for building one for herself.

So, thank you Steph Ellis, for putting things in proper perspective and in so doing, dropping that ladder into the grave so I can climb back up and out!


Sleep well…


A few items of interest over the last few days…on July 14, I’d posted this:

Saturday morning, the house quiet. I sit in the recliner with my laptop and the dog is curled up sleeping on the couch. A hot cup of coffee sits on the small end table to my right and the pleasure of a slow and easy waking is in progress.

Just sent off “Tumor” to Gathering Storm Magazine, encouraged by their aim to try and respond within 15 days. I wish all publishers would adhere to a shorter turnaround time in their responses. Yes, they’re busy people, yes they have lives and other obligations beyond reading, I get it.

Well, they were true to their word, and I had a response on July 27, letting me know I’d moved to Phase 3 for a final decision, and then on Sunday, July 29, another message telling me that “Tumor” had been accepted for Gathering Storm Magazine #9.

What a pleasure – not just the acceptance, which is always a rush, but also the speed with which the whole process took place.

Nice! Much appreciated, especially in contrast to the months of waiting that generally follow a submission! Thank you Gathering Storm!


Also over the weekend, I decided to get a solid handle on formatting a manuscript for print publication, and that worked out very well. A good learning experience, and a good looking final as well. I liked it so much, I dragged it into Scrivener, and compiled it as a Kindle book.

Screenshot_20180731-174531_Amazon Kindle

As the title implies, “Thirteen” consists of 13 stories, mostly newer works, including “The Man in the Cloud”, written this past weekend after our vacation. I think the ones I chose work well together.

Lastly, I also formatted “Spirit of the Dead”, my novella, and updated the cover design. That’s been out for submission since April, and if it’s not chosen by the publisher, I’m going to self publish and learn that process next. I’d like to see that on the shelf in time for Halloween.

Speaking of horror, it’s time to get ready to go to work.

Sleep well…

Back at it…

A week off, wandering through northern New Hampshire and a side trip to Montreal, was absolutely relaxing and invigorating… and now, back to it!

I took a quick grab shot with the phone camera through our room window at the clouds dropping down onto the mountains:


We got to experience this phenomenon as we drove through the national forest, rising to an elevation of nearly two thousand feet, literally driving into and through a low cloud on the mountain.

I coupled that idea with our experience waiting to check out at a local grocery behind a horribly conceited woman, added a mysterious hermit, and am currently working on a new story, tentatively titled “A Man in the Cloud”, a tale where Karma plays an important part.

When we returned home yesterday, I found a delightful message waiting for me in email too…

Thank you again for sending us “Tumor”. To make sure that every author and artist remains “in the loop” and not wondering if their submission got lost, we strive to keep you constantly updated when your piece makes movement with our staff, either forward in the publication process or if we decided to pass on it at any time. We are authors too, so we understand what its like to not hear from a publication. 

Your submission has PASSED our SECOND ROUND of reading and is moving to Phase 3. 

The third review (Phase 3) is conducted under a microscope. We are looking for the best of the best out of all the submissions related to the particular theme. We are also sitting around a table discussing, begging, debating, arguing, bribing, and downright fighting for our favorite pieces. Due to budgetary restraints, some submissions in Phase 3 will still get the axe but are held very closely to our hearts. 

Lastly, if you’ve made it past Phase 3, you will get a personal notification from one of our Editors-in-Chief, declaring a National Holiday in your favor because you made it to publication. The only thing preventing this success from happening is if you had it published elsewhere in the time it took us to make a decision, if you failed to sign the contract, if we don’t mutually agree on the edits/revisions, or if you simply don’t respond to our emails. 

So, after hundreds of submissions, you are moving forward, just bear with us. We do post a lot of hints on our social media of what to expect in upcoming issues. Make sure you follow/like us on Facebook to keep up, because more than likely, we will be mentioning your submission at some point. 

Stay tuned! 

Michael & Cinda, Editors-in-Chief

“Tumor” is a rather nasty tale about an ambulance rushing a patient to a hospital, unwittingly opening a portal to Hell.

Good stuff indeed!

So, website update will occur this weekend, along with work on the new story to continue, and August just around the corner, bringing with it the release of EconoClash Review #2, which will include my tale, “Trappe’s Rest”.

Back at it!

Sleep well…