TIME FRAME – Sneak Preview: Chapter 4

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time frame coverMy science fiction novel TIME FRAME is now available as an EBook from NECON EBooks at http://www.neconebooks.com.

Previously on this blog I featured Chapters 1-3 of the novel.  Today the sneak preview continues with Chapter 4.

Hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

CHAPTER 4

The bald-headed bartender, with a white towel slung over his shoulder, turned from the cash register by the whiskey bottles and approached the two strangers sitting at his bar.

“Would you like another?”  He asked.

The two strangers each had been nursing their drinks for the past half hour.  The one who did most of the talking was a heavy set stocky fellow with dark curly hair and a chubby face that looked friendly.  He had a soft somewhat high voice and nodded a lot when he spoke.  He sipped a Guinness.

His friend was the one who made Duncan uneasy.  A big man, close to 6’ 6”, an imposing figure who looked incredibly fit and strong for someone who appeared to be past his prime, perhaps in his early 40s, as his hair sported spots of gray and his face weathered lines.  It was his face that disturbed Duncan the most, and more specifically, his eyes.

The eyes were cold, a killer’s eyes.  Duncan knew the type because he’d worked at the prison once, a long time ago, and he’d seen his share of murderers.  Not all of them had this particular look, but the ones that did, he’d always kept clear of.  It was the look of a predator, a wolf, eyes that spoke out loud, that said no one they encountered could best them.  I’m the top of the food chain.  The tall man sitting at his bar had these eyes.

The man made Duncan uncomfortable, and Duncan was not spooked easily.  After all, he was the champion arm wrestler of Kilgarvan, and at six foot one inch, he was an imposing figure himself who not only owned Duncan’s Pub and tended bar but also served as resident bouncer.  Still, it was one thing to throw out a drunken lug from your establishment, and quite another to tangle with a killer.  After all, Duncan used his muscles to prevent bloodshed, not inflict it.

The man sipped his whiskey, straight, no ice.  He licked his lips, all the while keeping his eyes on Duncan.  He didn’t blink.

“No, thank you.  We’ll keep to these,” the man said.  His voice was emotionless, yet penetrating, like a gun with a silencer.

Duncan swallowed.  “Just let me know if I can get you anything.”

“Certainly.  Thank you so much,” the chubby man smiled. “You’re very thoughtful.”

“And you two are the oddest couple I’ve ever seen,” Duncan thought.

He turned away from the two men, and his eyes fell upon the welcome sight of O’Leary, one of his regulars, the regular in his opinion.  Duncan’s Pub had been open for 11 years, and Duncan remembered clearly opening for business that first day and within the first five minutes of unlocking the front door, seeing O’Leary saunter in with a big smile and saying, “Pour me a stout, why don’t ya?”  That’s how it had begun, and now 11 years later, that’s how it continued.

“Pour me a stout, why don’t ya?” O’Leary said.  He looked over at the two strangers sitting at the bar to his right.

Duncan opened the tap and poured a frothy dark one into a tall mug.  He slapped it in front O’Leary.

“Ah, I thank you,” O’Leary said, lifting the mug to his lips and drawing in a long sip of the hearty brew.

“No. Thank you,” Duncan said.

“Me?  What for?  You’re the one who’s working,” O’Leary said.

“You keep me sane.  It’s good to see you every day,” Duncan said.  His eyes roved back towards the two strangers, and O’Leary followed them.

O’Leary nodded.  “I know what you mean.”

Duncan was able to have this conversation with O’Leary, in such close proximity to the two strangers, because as usual on a weekday afternoon after work, Duncan’s Pub was packed, packed and loud.

Funny about noise, Duncan thought.  It starts off low, then grows louder as the next guy raises his voice so his friend can hear, and then the next guy does the same, and so on and so on.  You’d think it would reach the point where it would burst the eardrums, but it doesn’t.  Day after day the same thing happens.  Suddenly, it gets quiet, all by itself, and inevitably someone makes a loud off color joke, breaking the silence, allowing the cycle to begin again.

It was loud now, and though the two strangers sat close to O’Leary, separated only by Tim and Tina, two other regulars who Duncan didn’t know as well as O’Leary since they only came in once a month or so, it was easy to hold a conversation without worry that they’d be heard.

Duncan didn’t know how old O’Leary was.  He had looked to be in his 60s on that day 11 years ago when he had first come into the pub, and he still looked like he was in his 60s now.  He was thin but had a round frame, and Duncan imagined he must have been a chubby young man.  He had very fine hair and very coarse skin, no doubt from his career as a fisherman.  He was retired now.  His face could be harsh with all its weathered lines, but as soon as he smiled, all the harshness disappeared and he became as warm as everyone’s favorite grandfather.

Duncan didn’t know if 11 years ago O’Leary simply looked older than he was, or if nowadays he simply looked great for his age.  Duncan just hoped the man remained healthy and kept coming in.  Sickness in old age came on fast.  He had seen it with his dad, and now with his mother.  They go on and on in apparent good health claiming they’re going to live to 90, but when sickness comes to a 70 year-old, serious sickness, the body just doesn’t recover.  Duncan didn’t want to see O’Leary sick.

“Just how old are you, O’Leary?”  Duncan asked.

O’Leary sipped his stout and placed the mug on the bar.  “Old enough to drink as many of these as I want.”

“You watching your health?”  Duncan asked.

“Take my medicine every day,” O’Leary said, raising his glass.

Duncan laughed.  He happened to notice the clock on the wall opposite the bar.

“You’re here early today,” Duncan said.  “What’s the occasion?”

“The wife’s out shopping,” O’Leary said.

“You rascal,” Duncan said.

He noticed the two strangers looking around the bar, as if they were looking for someone.  He told himself to leave well enough alone, to attend to the customers at the other end of the bar, but the man with the cold eyes suddenly looked perplexed.  The expression caught Duncan’s curiosity.  Still, he wanted nothing more to do with these two men, at least not until he had finished with the customers at the other end of the bar.  Duncan was about to turn to those customers when he realized the man had caught him staring.

“Oops,” Duncan thought, and he grinned.  How to get out of this one? He decided to simply do his job, and that would take care of it.  He stepped towards the two strangers.

“You look like your wheels are turning,” Duncan said.  “Something on your mind I can help you with?”

“No one’s smoking.  A pub without cigarette smoke.  Why is that?”  The tall stranger asked.

“Welcome to the 21st century,” said Tim, who sat just to the men’s left.

The stranger turned towards Tim and glared at him with wide opened eyes.        “It’s a new law,” Duncan said.  “No more smoking in the workplace, which includes the 10,000 pubs here in Ireland.  If you want to smoke, you’ll have to go outside.”

“Ireland, the world’s healthiest place to live,” O’Leary said, lifting his beer mug.  “Damned health minister!” Tim said.

The tall man turned to his chubby friend.  “Why didn’t you know about this?”

The chubby man shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I didn’t see anything in the literature about it.”

“Don’t come down on your buddy too hard,” Duncan said.  “It’s a brand new law. I’m sure it’s not in any of the travel guides yet.  I hope you weren’t looking forward to that smoke too badly.  You gentlemen on vacation?”

“No.  Business,” said the tall man.

“I see.  What do you do?”  Duncan asked.

The man made direct eye contact with Duncan but didn’t offer an answer, at least not by speaking.  His eyes, they did the talking, and Duncan knew what they were saying, “Stop asking me questions.”

“We’re in the travel business,” said the chubby man.  “That’s why we’re a bit put out that we didn’t know about the ‘no smoking’ law.  It’s our job to know these things.”

“Travel business,” Duncan repeated.  “Are you going to write up a report on my pub?  Should I be on my best behavior?”

The chubby man chuckled.  “No, it’s not like that.  We’re more interested in the people doing the traveling than the places they travel to.  We’re sort of like the People’s Choice awards.  We don’t rate the places we visit ourselves, but we talk to the real life travelers and see what they have to say.  Do you get many travelers here, or do you serve mostly locals?”

“Locals, for sure.  Very few travelers,” Duncan answered.  “On any given month you’d be the only ones, but it must be the week for visitors.”

“You’ve had some tourists in this week?” the chubby man asked.

“One.  A man.  Pretty sure he’s an American. He talks like an American.”

“He sounds like the kind of man we’d like to talk to,” the chubby man said.

“Really?  Too bad, because you’d learn much more if you talked to one of the regulars,” Duncan said.

The chubby man smiled.  “Don’t worry.  We don’t publish negative reviews.  That’s not what we’re about.  We’re interested only in people’s experiences in foreign lands.  We’re not critics.  We’re about human interest stories.  It’s too bad we missed this guy.”

“He’s been in more than once.  Maybe he’ll come in again today,” Duncan said.  He looked at his watch.  “Around this time, too.  Maybe you’ll get lucky.”

“Maybe,” the chubby man said.

Duncan noticed the chubby man’s beer mug was nearly empty.

“Are you sure I can’t get you another?  Duncan asked.

“You know, I think I will have another, thank you very much.”

“Another Guinness?”  Duncan asked, just to make sure.

“Yes.”

Duncan looked at the tall man, still nursing his whiskey.  The tall man shook his head.

“No thank you,” the man said.

Duncan moved to the tap.  “You are one creepy looking guy,” he thought.  “The sooner you’re out of here, the better!”

As he poured the beer, he thought about what the chubby man had just said, and he didn’t buy it.  Travel business.  He didn’t think so.  They didn’t look the part.  At least the tall guy didn’t.  He had killer written all over him.  Maybe to other people he didn’t look so obvious, but it was Duncan’s job to know people inside and out, and the vibes he got from this guy weren’t good.  Whether he was some sort of international agent, CIA perhaps, or hired gun or even terrorist, it didn’t matter.  Duncan wanted him out of his bar.

“Your kind is the last thing we need,” Duncan thought.  “Ireland has enough of its own problems.  We don’t need violence from the outside.”

Duncan filled the mug with a fresh Guinness.  He turned and gave the chubby man his drink.

The front door opened, and Duncan saw the American visitor.  His gut told him to keep his mouth shut, but the chubby guy had said the American was the type of person they wanted to talk to, as part of their travel business.  Maybe he’d call their bluff and see what happened.

“You gentlemen are in luck,” Duncan said.  “Our American tourist just came in for his afternoon brew.”

The two men looked over their shoulders.

The tall American, about 6’2”, and lanky, had the slim yet fit look of a runner.  He wore dark clothing, blue jeans and a dark blue sweatshirt with a hood which bunched up behind his neck.  His white running shoes helped him bounce when he walked.  His hair was jet black, wavy, and it possessed a gel shine.  He had handsome blue eyes that put people at ease.  He appeared a friendly chap.

He approached his usual table, a small circular job meant for two.  Though the pub was packed, the small table was still available.  Most of the patrons of Duncan’s Pub preferred to either stand or hang out by the bar.

Duncan and the two strangers weren’t the only ones who noticed the American come through the door.

Brenda, Duncan’s best waitress, was already moving his way.  He had just sat down, when she leaned her attractive body against him so that her hips touched his shoulder.   She made it a point to touch all the male customers.  Duncan let her do it because it was good for business.  She had a way of doing it without coming across trashy.  She came off like a kid sister who hadn’t seen her “brothers” in months.  The men loved it, and they loved her.  They rewarded her by giving her the best tips in the house.  Duncan didn’t mind because they also stayed longer and bought more beer.

She and the American struck up a conversation, and Duncan knew Brenda would soon be approaching the bar with the man’s order, a mug of frothy ale.

“Does he always come in alone?” the tall man asked.

“Yeah,” Duncan answered.  “Always picks the same table, right there, gets himself a beer and some dinner, and has a good time.”

“You’ve never seen him with anyone else?”  The tall man asked.

“No,” Duncan said.  “Why do you ask?”

Again, the man answered with his eyes, and they were none too happy.

“We ask different questions of solo travelers compared to couples or groups,” the chubby man said.  “Just doing our homework before we go over there and talk to him.”

“I see,” Duncan said.

The tall man reached into his pocket and tossed some money onto the bar.

“Thank you for the drinks,” he said.  He stood from his seat, and his chubby friend followed.  Together they approached the American.

Duncan took the money, nodded in approval at the size of the tip, and turned to deposit the cash in the cash register.

“Is it a full moon tonight, you think?” O’Leary asked.

“Why do you ask?”  Duncan said, looking over his shoulder.

“Those two.”

“You noticed?”

Duncan closed the cash drawer and approached his friend.

“Noticed?  I felt it!”

“The only thing you feel is a hangover in the morning!” Brenda said, coming up behind O’Leary and planting a friendly kiss on the back of his ear.

O’Leary smiled upon seeing Brenda.  “I can still feel more than that, just ask my wife!  Or perhaps you’d like a demonstration?”

“I have asked your wife, and I don’t have the two hours it’ll take to get you started!”  Brenda shot back, bringing howls from the patrons on both sides of O’Leary.  “Our American friend will have his usual,” she said to Duncan.

“Thank you, Brenda,” Duncan said.  He looked into the crowd to see the two strangers approaching the American’s table.

“Travel business,” Duncan muttered, shaking his head.  His stomach suddenly felt sour.

O’Leary made another off color joke causing more hearty laughter from the crowd around the bar.  Duncan smiled and poured the ale for the American.

“Good old O’Leary,” Duncan thought.  “How can anything bad happen with him around?”

 

And that ends Chapter 4.  Once again, thanks for reading!

—Michael

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TIME FRAME by Michael Arruda – Sneak Preview- Chapter 3

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time frame coverMy science fiction novel TIME FRAME is now available as an EBook from NECON EBooks at http://www.neconebooks.com.

On January 21 I featured  Chapter 1 of the novel here on this blog, and on February 13 I unleashed Chapter 2.  Today the sneak preview continues with Chapter 3.  Hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

CHAPTER 3

“How is it possible?” Kathryn asked.

“It’s not,” Sandy said.

“If you don’t mind, could I — hug you?” Papa asked his daughter.

Kathryn paused to consider the request, and then she nodded and stepped towards the man who looked exactly like her deceased father.

Papa opened his arms, and gently, very gently, Kathryn allowed herself to enter the man’s grasp. Papa closed his arms around her back, drawing her close, and Adam watched as the man’s face burst into tears.

“Excuse me,” Sandy said loudly, “but am I the only one here who remembers that this man friggin died seven years ago!”

Kathryn gently broke away from her father.

“No, you’re not the only one,” Kathryn said, sobbing.

Adam grabbed a tissue from the dispenser on the end table by the couch and handed it to his mother. Kathryn thanked her son and used the tissue to wipe her eyes and nose.

“He has an explanation,” Adam said.

Papa looked directly at Kathryn. “I am your father, Kathryn, and I am your grandfather, Adam, but — I’m also not him.”

“Damn it, old man, make some sense!” Sandy said.

“I’m not trying to speak in riddles,” Papa said. “Let me tell you the whole story. Then, you’ll understand.”

When they had settled into the comfortable seats in the living room, Papa began.

“We have to go back some years, to when I used to work for the gas company, to get to the beginning of how this happened. They were always shoving different forms in front of our faces. From ‘do you want to give to this charity’ to ‘do you want to be an organ donor?” That sort of thing. I remember distinctly this one time, there was a form from a private research company. They wanted permission to take blood samples from us. I remember it because it was the only time anyone ever asked us for blood, other than the blood bank, of course. I didn’t know what they wanted it for, but I believed in the principle of helping scientists, so a few of my buddies and me filled out the forms and gave these people some of our blood. Years went by, and we never saw or heard from these people again, and I never thought about them again. I went on with my uneventful life, and as you know, eventually had that stroke, and nothing was ever the same again.”

“You got that right,” Adam thought.

The stroke had knocked his grandfather out of the real world. His heart had taken such a hit his doctors had pretty much told him his career at the gas company was over.

He had to quit smoking, which to his credit, he did, cold turkey, and he had to be on medication for the rest of his life. He wasn’t allowed to exert himself in any way, which meant little or no exercise, activity, or travel. What he could do was eat and sleep and sit and watch television all day. In short, he was through being a whole person. He was only 62.

Still, it could have been much worse. He didn’t lose any of his mental faculties. He remained sharp and alert until the end. Of course, the end was a long time coming. Because of the advances of modern medicine, Papa lived on for 18 years this way.

The way Adam remembered it, the bulk of those years weren’t so bad for Papa, but the last couple had been brutal for the man. In the end, he was doing nothing for himself. Adam’s grandmother Nana could no longer take care of him. Nurses came to the house to bathe him and dress him. He even needed help going to the bathroom and cleaning up afterwards, it was horrible. As many family members remarked at the time, it was no way to live.

Eventually Papa succumbed to pneumonia and died at the age of 80.

In spite of his illness, he had always made Adam feel special, and Adam had always loved to visit him. He missed him dearly after he passed on.

“Do you know that my last memory was seeing your mother,” Papa said, looking directly at Kathryn, “in the hospital room. I was in bed. She stood over me. I told her I loved her, and we kissed each other, and she left for the night.

“Later I felt myself slipping away. It was like hanging onto a ladder and then letting go. I was so content with the knowledge that I was going to die. You can’t imagine the pain I’d been feeling for so long. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was so peaceful, drifting off, thinking of your mother, of all of you, of happy times gone by. No regrets, just peace and contentment that I had been blessed with a wonderful life. And that was it, that was the last thing I remembered, that was the end, until — .

“Until I woke up again in a different time in a different place, five hundred years from now, five hundred years in the future, give or take a few. That research company that had taken my blood all those years ago, they had frozen my DNA. Four hundred years from now another company buys my DNA. Five hundred years from now, they take my DNA, and they bring me back to life.”

Kathryn grimaced. “Why?”

“Simply put, my dear daughter, because they can,” Papa answered. “Science in that day and age has progressed so far, it’s unbelievable. Cloning there is like sex. Everyone does it. Parents sometimes even create their own children from a catalogue, like the way we pick out patterns for a room. DNA research is that advanced. Time travel is possible, which of course, is how I got here.”

“You came here in a time machine?” Sandy asked.

“Yes.”

Sandy burst out laughing.

Adam gently removed the wine glass from his wife’s hand.

“Sorry,” Adam said. “She’s had more than she’s used to.”

“It’s okay,” Papa said. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true, and the fact that I’m sitting here in this room with you now is proof that it’s true.”

“Are you a clone?” Kathryn asked.

Papa chewed over the question for a moment before answering. Adam wondered what he was thinking about. “I guess it’s cloning since this isn’t my original body, but it is exactly the same. I can’t tell any difference. Can you? And all my memories are intact, my whole life, from childhood to that last day in the hospital.” He pointed to his head. “It’s all in here. I don’t think of myself as a clone.”

“You’re not wearing your glasses,” Adam observed. “Can you see without them?”

“Yes, they made improvements,” Papa answered. “I’ve got perfect vision, even better than I had when I was a young man.”

“You look better too,” Sandy said with a hiccup. “He looks better.”

“I don’t know what to believe,” Kathryn said. “Daddy, let’s just say for the sake of the argument that everything you said is true, that you were brought back to life five hundred years from now using your frozen DNA. What are you doing here?”

“I missed my family,” Papa answered. “Who do I know five hundred years in the future? Nobody. I was homesick, and I’m not afraid to admit it.”

“Were you brought back to life as an adult or as a child?” Adam asked. “Did you have to relive your childhood all over again?”

“No, I came back as an adult,” Papa answered. “Both ways are possible. The company that resurrected me wanted me as an adult. They wanted me to tell them about my experiences in World War II. They still study history in the future. They’re fanatics about it.”

“Excuse me,” Adam said, “but it’s my understanding that clones don’t come with memories. If I were to be cloned today, my clone wouldn’t be born with my memories.”

Papa nodded. “You’re right, and that’s true of the clones today, but five hundred years from now, it’s quite the different story.”

“You’re asking me to believe that they harvested your memories from just a sample of your blood?” Adam asked. “I find that impossible to believe.”

“Not from my blood,” Papa answered. “From my atoms.”

Adam didn’t understand.

“It goes something like this,” Papa said, “and don’t expect a scientist’s explanation, because as you know, I’m not a scientist. The scientists from five hundred years in our future were able to break down my blood to an atomic level, atom by atom, and supposedly, what they’ve discovered, is at that level, memories are stored, and it’s possible to bring them back. That’s what they told me. All I know is, I have my memories.”

How could Adam argue with a science not yet invented?

“So, the people of the future. They wanted you to teach them about the past?” Adam asked.

“Yes, that was my job, to relay firsthand accounts of the war, and when I wasn’t working they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and be a part of the culture of the day. Life in the 2500s is pretty good, let me tell you, but I missed my family. You know how much I love my family.”

Kathryn nodded. “Yes, I know.”

“Anyway, I soon learned that time travel was possible, and in my spare time, I read all about it, how it was done, how much it cost, and I started to save up for it, because I asked myself, what am I doing here? The ability to go back to my family, in the past, exists. Why not take it?”

“And that’s allowed?” Adam asked. “I mean, I would think there’d be problems with it. Interfering with history, for example?”

“It’s legal. Up to a point.” Papa didn’t elaborate.

“Up to what point?” Adam asked.

“Do we have to talk about this now?” Papa said.

“Daddy, what did you do?” Kathryn said.

“Well, I — I’m not supposed to make contact with any of you.”

“Ooops!” Sandy giggled.

Thank God for wine, Adam thought. He turned to his grandfather.

“What happens if you do?” Adam asked.

Papa shrugged.

“I don’t know. But listen, I didn’t return to change history,” Papa said. “I returned to see my family. That’s it. In the big scheme of life, I’m just a little man, and we’re just a little family in little old New Bedford, Massachusetts. What’s the worst that could happen?”

 

—-END Chapter 3—-

Okay, that’s Chapter 3.  Again, if you’d like to read the entire novel it’s now available as an EBook from NECON EBooks at http://www.neconebooks.com.

Thanks!

—Michael

SNEAK PREVIEW: TIME FRAME By Michael Arruda – Chapter 2

0

time frame coverMy science fiction novel TIME FRAME is now available as an EBook from NECON EBooks at http://www.neconebooks.com.

Last month, on January 21, as a sneak preview I featured  Chapter 1 of the novel here on this blog.  Today the sneak preview continues with Chapter 2.  If you’d like to read Chapter 1, feel free to check out the January 21 post.

Hope you enjoy it.  Here’s Chapter 2 of TIME FRAME.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

CHAPTER 2

“You should have a glass of wine.  It’ll relax you,” Adam said to his wife.

“Wine?”  Sandy said, her wheels spinning, as if she had never heard of the beverage before.  “Yes, wine sounds good.  I will have a glass of wine.”

Suddenly screams erupted from the second floor, followed by the cacophony of shouting boys.  Running feet came next, down the staircase.

“Mommy!  Daddy!  Stephen hit me!”

Adam raised his hand towards his wife in a calming gesture.

“I’ll take care of it,” He said.

His youngest son, Nate, charged towards him and wrapped his arms around his waist.  “Stephen hit me in the head, and it hurts!”

“I did not hit him!”  Stephen shouted.

His oldest son had also joined them in the dining room.

“Yes, you did!”  Nate hollered.

“Alright, alright,” Adam said.  “Everyone just keep calm.”

“He hit me, and I hate him!  I hate him!”

Nate let go of Adam and burst into the living room.

Adam looked at Sandy. Her hands were on her hips.

“Way to handle things, honey,” she said.

Little Nate trotted back into the doorway between the dining room and the living room.  He pointed into the living room.

“Who’s that?”  He asked.

Sandy placed her hands on her little son’s shoulders, and she looked at her husband.  “Yes, Adam, who’s that?”

Stephen was across the floor in a second and joined his mother and younger brother in the doorway.

“Who is that?” Stephen asked.

Adam’s grandfather had been seated in the rocking chair in front of the television set, but he was standing now.  Adam saw a look of joy and astonishment on his face.

“Your children,” Papa said.  “They’re beautiful.  That little one looks just like you. You look just like your father, little one.”

“My name’s Nate.”

“Hello, Nate,” Papa said.

“And this is Stephen, our oldest son,” Adam said, pointing to his light-haired boy, who shared a complexion and facial features with his mother.  Nate had dark hair and resembled Adam more.

“Who are you?”  Nate asked boldly.

“Who am I?  I’m—,” Papa paused and seemed to look to Adam for guidance.

“This is—,” Adam said, but then he paused.  Looking at Sandy, he realized that if he had to choose his words any more carefully, he’d have to hire a publicist.  “Remember I told you about my grandfather, Papa, the one who used to live in this house?”

Sandy cleared her throat, and Adam read her like a book.  Don’t you dare, she was saying.

“This is his brother,” Adam said.

“I thought Uncle Leo was his brother?”  Stephen asked.

“Yes, Uncle Leo is my grandfather’s brother.  This is another brother.  He’s not from around here.”

“I’m from the old country,” Papa said.  “My name is— Bela.  You can call me uncle Bela.”

“Yes, Uncle Bela,” Adam said. He appreciated the help.  He certainly needed it.  “Say hello to your uncle Bela, boys.”

“Hello uncle Bela,” the two boys droned.

“Hello, boys,” said ‘uncle Bela.’  “What fine looking boys you two are!  One that looks like the mother, and the other that looks just like his father!”

“Alright, boys, say bye to uncle Bela,” Sandy said.  “Mom and Dad need to talk to uncle Bela alone, please.  Go back and play.”

“But Stephen hit me!”  little Nate whined.

“I did not hit you!”  Stephen whined back.

Sandy rolled her eyes.  “Go play some video games or something!”

“But you said we couldn’t play until we cleaned our room,” Stephen said.

Well, I changed my mind!”  Sandy said.  “Go play!”

The boys cheered and immediately raced up the staircase, with all talk of who hit who erased from their vocabulary.

“You have beautiful children,” Papa said.

Adam approached him.  “Bela?”

“After Bela Lugosi. You know he was my favorite actor.”

“Yes, I remember,” Adam said.

“I am— Dracula,” the man said, doing his best Lugosi accent and showing his fangs.

“If I shove some garlic in your face, will you go away?”  Sandy said.

The doorbell rang.

“That must be mom,” Adam said.  “Are you ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Papa said, his eyes watering, “to see my oldest daughter.”

“Stay here,” Adam said to his grandfather as he walked from the living room to the front door.

Adam opened the door and let his mother inside.

“Hello, mom.”

“So, what’s this about?  You said on the phone there was someone here I needed to see?”  Adam’s mom asked.  “Who?”             “Kathryn!  Good to see you!”

Sandy approached her mother-in-law holding a huge glass of red wine.  “Can I get you a glass of wine?  It’s really good.  This is my second.”

Kathryn smiled at her daughter-in-law.   “No, thank you, dear, it’s too early for me.”

“That’s too bad,” Sandy said.  “You’re going to need it.”

Kathryn leaned into her son’s ear.  “Wine in the morning?  What’s she talking about?”

“Aren’t you going to show your mom who’s in the living room?”  Sandy asked.

“Who is in the living room?”  Kathryn asked.

“I’ll show you,” Adam said.

Sandy raised her free hand.  “No!  You tell her before you bring her in there.  Don’t you dare spring this on her without telling her first!”

“Without telling me what?”  Kathryn asked.

“I’m not sure what to say,” Adam said.  “Just prepare yourself for a shock, but a good shock.  I mean, it’s nothing bad.”

“Tell her,” Sandy urged.

“Papa’s here,” Adam said.

“What?”  Kathryn asked.

Adam ushered his mother into the living room.

A man stood in the center of the room.

“Hello, Kathryn,” he said.  “So, how’s my oldest daughter?”

“Oh my God,” Kathryn gasped.

She slumped into her son’s arms.

—END Chapter 2—

Sneak preview of Chapter 3 coming soon!

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

TIME FRAME – My Debut Novel- Now Available!

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time frame coverTIME FRAME – My Debut Novel Now Available!

By

Michael Arruda

 

Nothing like writing your own press release!

 

Seriously, though, self-promotion goes hand in hand with being an author.  You’ve got to get the word out about your work.  Books don’t sell themselves.

 

Self-promotion is, after all, one of the main reasons I write this blog.  Sure, I have fun writing it, and I enjoy writing about movies and the horror genre, but the goal really of the whole thing is to get my name out there so that if people like what they read here, they’ll take a chance and buy some of my books that are on sale.  That’s the theory anyway.  I don’t think about it too much since I have so much fun writing the blog.

 

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  If you write, you have to spend as much time and effort marketing your work as you do writing it, or else you’ll be writing for you and you alone, and that simply isn’t much fun!

 

So, that’s what I’m doing here today, promoting my new novel.

 

My debut novel, TIME FRAME, is now available as an EBook from NeconEbooks at www.neconebooks.com.  And right now it’s on sale for the very low price of $2.99.  What a bargain!

 

TIME FRAME is a story about time travel.  I love time travel stories, and I set out to write one that played with multiple timelines and had some fun taking traditional time travel tropes to the extreme.

 

Writing TIME FRAME was a challenge because it’s a story with multiple timelines and I had to make sure that by the story’s end that they all made sense.  I think they do.  I also wanted to take things as far as possible, to write a story where I took those traditional time travel tropes and blew them out of the water.  Not sure if I succeeded, but the story does include a large explosion on the high seas.

 

I also didn’t want my science fiction tale to be cold and stoic.  I wanted heated and emotional, which is why I wrote as my main characters a close family, with the thought in mind:  how far would you go to protect your family?  Would you break the rules of time travel to save your loved ones?

 

This one also started with a single idea. I had recently lost my own grandfather, who I was very close to, and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that I just wanted to see him one more time.  And so I came up with the single scene of a young man opening his front door and finding his grandfather standing there looking perfectly normal, which the man knew had to be impossible because his grandfather was dead.  This scene was the genesis for TIME FRAME, and I built the story around that, as I thought about possible scenarios that could make this scene true.  What could account for a man who had been dead for several years returning to his loved ones looking happy and healthy again?  The answer became the novel TIME FRAME.

 

Here’s what others are saying about TIME FRAME:

 

TIME FRAME is one of those books that had me from the first scene. It begins when Papa, who has been dead for several years, knocks on the door of his adult grandson’s house. Why he’s there (and more importantly, how) opens up a whole plethora of questions and answers involving the future, time travel, and deadly conspiracies to keep certain mouths shut. Somehow, Arruda is able to put a fresh spin on the concept of time travel, and deliver a gripping book that will have you eagerly turning pages to see what happens next. There’s also something about his style and characters that has a quality similar to comfort food. You’re in for a treat with this one. TIME FRAME delivers.”

 

–L.L. Soares, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels LIFE RAGE, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL and HARD

 

 

TIME FRAME, by Michael Arruda, serves up both a tender family drama and mind-bending time travel story. An earnest debut novel with a lot of heart and plenty of twists and turns.

–Daniel G Keohane, author of SOLOMON’S GRAVE

 

 

“Michael Arruda’s TIME FRAME is the kind of science fiction novel I love – full of great characters and ideas.  It speeds along at a frightening pace with complications and time conundrums hurled incessantly at our heroes.  In this way, it hearkens back to those great tales from the golden age of science fiction, but with all the time travel, explosions, fires, and heady concepts, it is ultimately the story of the importance of family in our lives.  What a great ride!”

 

–William D. Carl, author of THE SCHOOL THAT SCREAMED and BESTIAL

 

 

“Arruda works the time lines, like a weaver on a loom.  TIME FRAME is a fun, quirky and entertaining read.  Time travel, clones, the occasional temporal paradox and a pinch of violence thrown in for good measure.  A very enjoyable ride.”

 

–Scott T. Goudsward, Co-author of HORROR GUIDE TO MASSACHUSETTS, Co-editor of ONCE UPON AN APOCALYPSE

 

I wrote TIME FRAME with the spirit of time travel movies and TV shows in mind, films like THE TIME MACHINE (1960), TIME AFTER TIME (1979), and any number of STAR TREK episodes.  If you enjoy time travel adventures, chance are you’ll enjoy TIME FRAME.  I hope you decide to check it out.

 

And if EBooks aren’t your thing, the print edition will be arriving soon, a little bit later on in 2015.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

—Michael

What I’m Reading: BUDDHA HILL by Bob Booth

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BuddhaHill_COVERWhat I’m Reading –Buddha Hill by Bob Booth

Book Review by MICHAEL ARRUDA

 Necon founder Bob Booth made it clear on his various writers’ panels over the years that he saw the novella as the ideal format for a horror story.  Booth, who sadly passed away last year after a battle with lung cancer, thought it the perfect length to tell a terror tale.

And so it only stands to reason that Booth would choose to tell the story of Buddha Hill in the form of a novella.

Booth wrote Buddha Hill two decades ago, in 1986, when he was in his forties, and it was based on his experiences while serving in Vietnam in the 1960s, when he was in his twenties.  The manuscript sat in a drawer for twenty some-odd years before it was re-discovered by his son Dan, and upon Dan’s prompting, Bob finally decided to publish it.

I for one am glad he did.

Buddha Hill tells the story of a young 21 year-old American soldier from Rhode Island who is serving in Vietnam.  He quickly learns the ins and outs of how to survive on Bien Hoa Air Force Base located just outside Saigon.  His daily life on the base is stressful as horrific pandemonium and uncertainty surround him on all sides.  He also learns of the Buddhist Monks who inhabit a place known as Buddha Hill.  There is something strange going on there, and he is warned by his buddies in the know to keep away from the place.

The story of Buddha Hill follows this young soldier as he tries to survive in Vietnam.  In the process, he pursues a relationship with a young Vietnamese prostitute.  All the while, Buddha Hill looms mysteriously in the background, an ominous reminder that there’s something supernatural going on out there in the jungle, something frightening, and something very deadly.

With the ever intensifying war closing in around him, and the mystical monks manipulating in the shadows, the soldier begins to wither under the weight of paranormal pressure, struggling to tell what is real and what is imagined.

My favorite part of Buddha Hill is that Booth nails the atmosphere of wartime Vietnam.  Booth obviously takes from his firsthand experiences in Vietnam, and this novella is all the better for it.  He brings you into the heart of the jungle, into the heat of Vietnam, so much so you can almost feel the humid moisture on your brow.  Booth also captures the fear these soldiers felt serving in a foreign land and culture halfway across the world.  The story is frightening even without its supernatural elements.

That being said, Buddha Hill is definitely a quiet horror tale.  This is a novella of mood and atmosphere, not of spilled blood and violence.  As such, it works.  The mysterious monks at Buddha Hill remain spookily in the background, subtly affecting those around them, especially the impressionable American soldiers.

As a novella, Buddha Hill is quick and efficient.  There’s no fat on these bones.  Author Booth gets in, tells his story, and gets out.

Buddha Hill is a moving, chilling tale of the supernatural amidst the backdrop of the volatile jungles and cities of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  It’ll get under your skin and will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Highly recommended.

—END—

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: LET ME IN (2010)

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Let Me In poster

Here’s my latest IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column, on the Hammer comeback movie LET ME IN (2010) directed by Matt Reeves and starring Chloe Grace Moretz, published in the August 2014 edition of The Horror Writers Association Newsletter.

And remember, if you like this column, my book IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, a collection of 115 horror movie columns, is available from NECON EBooks as an EBook at www.neconebooks.com, and as a print edition at https://www.createspace.com/4293038.

—Michael

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT

BY

MICHAEL ARRUDA

LET ME IN (2010) is one of my favorite vampire movies.

Sure, it’s the first Hammer Film to be released in theaters since the 1970s, but that’s not the reason I like it so much.

And yes, it’s a remake of the Swedish film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008), which many consider to be the superior film.  However, back in its heyday, Hammer made its living with horror movie remakes, and they did just fine.  I’m here to say that Hammer’s version of the novel Let The Right One In by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, the source material for both movies, is every bit as good as the original 2008 film.

Of course, it helps to have a topnotch director at the helm, and a charismatic young star.  Hammer had both, in director Matt Reeves, the man responsible for the instant horror movie classic CLOVERFIELD (2008), and in young actress Chloe Grace Moretz, who dazzled audiences as the 11 year-old crime fighter Hit Girl in KICK-ASS (2010).

In LET ME IN, twelve year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is having a rough time of it.  His parents are getting divorced, and he’s bullied relentlessly at school by a group of bullies led by a boy named Kenny (Dylan Minnette).  However, things begin to look up when a young girl named Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) moves into the apartment next door with her father (Richard Jenkins).

The two become friends, and for Owen, things get even better when Abby agrees to go steady with him, which for a twelve year-old, is a huge deal.  But Abby has a dark secret— she’s a vampire, and when people around the apartment complex start turning up dead, and a police detective (Elias Koteas) shows up investigating the murders, Owen realizes his new best friend is responsible for some very bad things.

LET ME IN works on many different levels, but the best part is that the true horror in this movie isn’t the vampire stuff, but the hellish torment Owen goes through at school at the hands of Kenny and his friends.  Even though Abby is responsible for killing people and drinking their blood, we don’t hate or fear her.  In fact, we’re rooting for her when she offers to help Owen with his bully problem.  Likewise, we’re rooting for Owen and Abby to somehow elude the authorities so they can remain friends.

LET ME IN is blessed with very likable characters.  Take the police detectivechloe grace moretz – let me in, played by Elias Koteas, for example.  He’s a very sympathetic character, which leads to a mixture of emotions later in the film when he closes in on Abby and Owen.  We obviously don’t want to see Abby caught by the police, but yet in a very exciting scene near the end of the film, when Koteas’ detective finally gets inside Abby’s apartment and is about to discover her body sleeping during the day, we don’t want to see anything happen to him either.

The same can be said about Richard Jenkins’ character.  He goes about the countryside brutally murdering people so he can get blood for Abby, and yet, in a key scene, where his plans go awry, we’re almost wishing for him to escape those who are chasing him.

Our emotions are played perfectly by writer/director Matt Reeves.  Other than the two young leads, Reeves is the reason this movie works so well.  It’s a clever script with even better direction.

Behind the camera, Reeves pays close attention to detail.  The murder scenes are set up as intricately as something Hitchcock would have done.  And the story is told in a way that builds suspense and piques our interest.  From the opening sequence where a police escort brings a severely burned victim to the hospital, the victim a suspect in a series of “cult” murders, we wonder, who is this guy?  We don’t know the truth about Abby at first, and only gradually do we learn what’s really going on.

Then there’s the whole love story angle, which works incredibly well considering the leads are just twelve years-old, which is why, no doubt, Reeves continually makes reference to Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, to perhaps show us the relevance and validity of young love.  The scenes between Moretz and McPhee are handled with an amazing degree of sensitivity and tenderness.

I have to say that I loved Reeves’ directorial effort here, so much so that I think he may have matched his phenomenal work on CLOVERFIELD.

The two leads own this movie.  Chloe Grace Moretz is spectacular here as young Abby.  She’s as good as she was as Hit Girl in KICK-ASS.  She’s incredibly sincere and real in her scenes with Owen, and when she becomes haunted by her bloodlust, she turns savage in a second, and young Moretz handles this transition masterfully.

Young Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen is every bit as good as Moretz.  He’s such a scrawny helpless victim you can’t help but feel for him.  And again, his scenes with Moretz are nothing short of amazing.  Their relationship is genuine and heartfelt.

The scene where they deal with Abby’s need to be invited inside a home is one of the most touching sequences you’ll find in any vampire movie.

The film also features an excellent supporting cast.  Richard Jenkins is outstanding as Abby’s guardian.  In fact, the sequence where his murder attempt goes wrong, and he finds himself trapped in the backseat of a car is one of my favorite scenes in the movie.  Jenkins makes this man such a sympathetic character, which is remarkable, considering the brutal murders he commits.

Elias Koteas is also excellent as the police detective, and to his credit he takes a small role and makes it matter.  We want to see him solve the crime, until that is, it means capturing young Abby.  Koteas and Jenkins are two of my favorite actors, and it was great seeing them both in this movie.

Just as good as these two veteran actors is young Dylan Minnette as the bully Kenny.  He’s as menacing a bully as you’ll find in a movie.  Minnette was also very good as Hugh Jackman’s son in the kidnap thriller PRISONERS (2013).

Don’t let the fact that LET ME IN is a remake fool you.

LET ME IN is a superior horror film, written and directed by one of the most talented directors working in genre films today, Matt Reeves, and it features knock-out performances by its two young leads, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz, as well as a topnotch cast of supporting actors.  And, it’s produced by Hammer Films, a company that based on its rich history (hello Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing) knows a thing or two about horror movie remakes.

“Can I come in?”  Abby asks Owen from outside his window.  “You have to say it.”

Say what?

LET ME IN.

–END—

NECON 34 Recap: We Are Family

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Necon batNECON 34 Recap
July 17-20 2014
By Michael Arruda

What is Necon?

Only the coolest convention ever!

Every summer a bunch of writers and readers descend upon Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI for Camp Necon, a writers’ convention unlike any other.

Here’s a brief recap of this year’s Necon, NECON 34, held July 17-20 2014, at the Roger Williams Convention Center.

Thursday, July 17

NECON 34 got off to a truly original start with Necon’s First Ever Live Concert, performed by Kasey Lansdale. Kasey, the daughter of author Joe Lansdale, entertained the Necon crowd with a nice mix of original songs and other favorites, even bringing Christopher Golden up to perform. Who knew that Golden could sing so well? Seriously, no joke, Chris Golden can sing. Wow. This was a fun outdoor concert.

Afterwards, I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen since last year and hung out with them into the night—.

 

Friday, July 18

No rest for the weary as I was co-hosting the first event of the day, a 9:00 Kaffeklatsch entitled Cinema Knife Fight Presents The Years’s Best Horror Films, co-hosted with my Cinema Knife Fight partner, L.L. Soares. L.L. missed last year’s Necon, so it was extra fun seeing him this year.

We had a nice turn-out of people and a spirited discussion of this year’s horror movies. Of course, the consensus was that there weren’t a whole lot of decent horror movies released so far this year. Two films that were discussed were GODZILLA and DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

I recommended THE QUIET ONES, Hammer’s latest movie, an offbeat original tale of a possession investigation, as my top horror movie pick so far for 2014, and L.L. went with the recently released SNOWPIERCER.

In the audience were fellow Cinema Knife Fighters Bill Carl, Barry Dejasu, and Barbara and Craig Shaw Gardner, who as always, had lots of insights into this year’s movies.

Two more Kaffeklatschs followed. I attended the 11:00 one on The Best Books of Last Year, where Jack Haringa, Matt Schwartz, and Hank Wagner discussed recent good reads. Lots of titles were suggested, including Christopher Golden’s latest, Snowblind, which received high recommendations.

After a noon lunch, it was time for the afternoon panels. I skipped the first one to catch up on some rest, check emails, make a blog post, and call home to see how things were on the home front.

The 2:00 panel Somebody’s Gotta Tell the Truth: The Smart People’s Panel was a panel on nonfiction and criticism, moderated by Jack Haringa, and featured Nicholas Kaufmann, Hank Wagner, Hildy Silverman, Tony Tremblay, and Bev Vincent. Much of the talk focused on critical reviews and whether it was good form to publish negative reviews of people’s works. The consensus seemed to be that it’s better simply not to review a “bad book” than write a scathing review about it.

The 3:00 panel Quiet On The Set!: The Long, Long Road from the Page to the Screen was a panel moderated by Lynne Hansen on what it takes to make a movie, covering such topics as writers, directors, producers, actors, scripts, and studios. The panel included Amber Benson, John Dixon, Mallory O’Meara, Brian Keene, and Jeff Strand.

At 4:00, it was time for the highlight of the day, the We Are Family: The Bob Booth Legacy panel. Bob Booth, the man who along with his wife Mary founded Necon, sadly passed away last year after a courageous battle with lung cancer. Moderator Matt Bechtel made it clear that the panel would honor Bob’s wishes not to turn Necon into a funeral service, and so Matt and fellow panelists Chris Golden, John McIlveen, Linda Addison, Jill Bauman, and Craig Shaw Gardner offered their insights and stories on how Bob influenced both their careers and lives.

In addition to founding Necon, Bob Booth was also a writer, publisher, mentor, scholar, and fan. He also started Necon EBooks, which published my first short story collection, two movie review collections, and coming soon my first novel. So, I know firsthand how well Bob Booth supported authors, because he gave me my shot for which I will be forever grateful.

One of the highlights of this tribute was a video interview of Bob from a several years ago, part of a project to record Necon memories on video. Bob was a gifted storyteller, and his appearance in this interview is chock full of fun stories and anecdotes, my favorite being the story of how Necon began.

After dinner, Toastmaster Jack Haringa offered his toast with his signature scathing wit, a nice preview of things to come in Saturday’s roast. Haringa’s toast was followed by the comical Necon Update with Mike Myers.

Following these lighthearted affairs was the more serious Necon Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Inductees into the Necon Hall of Fame this year included Dan Booth and John McIlveen.

At 8:00 it was the Meet the Authors Party where authors like Christopher Golden, Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and Brian Keene, among many others, signed their books and greeted fans. It’s an amazing venue in which to meet your favorite authors.

I had my In The Spooklight collection and For The Love of Horror short story collection on hand, as I set up shop with L.L. Soares, Peter Dudar, and John Dixon. I purchased Peter’s novella romp Blood Cult of the Booby Farmers and look forward to reading it.

At 10:00 it was time for Necon Late-Night Movies where I caught Lynne Hansen’s short film CHOMP, a lively little tale of people fighting off some hungry zombies.

And the night finished, as Necon nights always do, with late night socializing outside on the quad where you’d be hard pressed not to find a friendly author or a captivating conversation, the kind where you’ll suddenly realize an hour has past and you’re still talking about that latest movie or book or hot sauce recipe. You never know.

 

Saturday, July 19

Breakfast at 8:00 followed by the 9:00 panel, It Only Hurt A Little (Writing a Novel), moderated by Richard Dansky, where authors L.L. Soares, Kristin Dearborn, Meghan Acuri-Moran, Dan Foley, and Laura Cooney discussed the experience of writing their first novels. Dan Foley made a point to thank Bob Booth for helping launch his career by publishing his first novel with Necon EBooks. I second that thank you.

Following at 10:00, the Putting It All Together: How To (and Not To) Assemble an Anthology panel, moderated by Doug Winter, and featuring Tom Monteleone, Darrell Schweitzer, Kasey Lansdale, Scott Goudsward, and Jacob Haddon, where they discussed the ins and outs, and dos and don’ts of putting together an anthology. Among the topics of conversation was what to do when a name author delivers subpar material. This was a really interesting panel and included lots of practical nuts and bolts on how to assemble an anthology.

I skipped the 11:00 panel to catch up on some rest, and after lunch at noon, it was time for the 1:00 Guest of Honor Interviews, where Toastmaster Jack Haringa interviewed guests of honor Michael Koryta, Amber Benson, and Nick Kaufmann. This was a two hour event, but I had to skip out halfway through to work a shift at the New England Horror Writers table in the Dealer’s Room, which actually was a lot of fun, hanging out with Scott Goudsward and other members of the New England Horror Writers group.

At 4:00 it was the lively and energetic panel Man vs. Beast vs. Other: The Best Monsters in Modern Horror, in which the panelists discussed their favorite monsters. Moderated by P.D. Cacek, the panel included Errick Nunnally, William Carl, Brian Keene, Mary SanGiovanni, and Nate Kenyon. This was a really interesting panel where there was much more than just the traditional monsters discussed.

After dinner, it was time for the Artists’ Reception at 6:30 where there was some incredible art work on display, as always. This was presented with coffee and a delicious array of desserts. I had a chance to chat with Tom Monteleone during this event, and it was fun catching up.

At 7:30, it was time for the Necon Talent Show. This year the gimmick of the “gong” was added, a la the old Gong Show TV show. I’m not sure the gong went over all that well, but I actually liked it and thought it was hilarious. There was also a panel of judges this year, a la American Idol, including F. Paul Wilson doing his best British accent and Tom Monteleone playing the clichéd Italian.

Contestants sang, danced, performed stand-up comedy, and played guitar in a fun show which was entertaining and satisfying.

After this, it was time for The Infamous Necon Roast. The “unlucky” roastee this year was Guest of Honor Nick Kaufmann, and the running gag was Nick’s mediocrity. Of course, anyone who knows Nick, even just through Necon as I do, knows there’s nothing mediocre about him. Hilarious roast, and Nick was a good sport about it all.

Afterwards it was time for another for Necon Late-Night Movie, this time a showing of the short film GAVE UP THE GHOST, written by Jeff Strand, a comical tale of a possessed computer. Not something you see every day.

Into the night, more socializing, conversations, and grilled Saugies, those tasty hot dogs found only in Rhode Island.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

After 8:00 breakfast, it was the 9:00 panel Up and Coming: Genre and Erotic Fiction Do the 9AM “Walk of Shame,” a panel on horror and erotic fiction moderated by Sephera Giron, and featuring Peter Dudar, Hal Bodner, Mike Myers, Heather Graham, and Nick Kaufmann. This very informative panel discussed differences between erotica and pornography, and erotica’s place in horror fiction, and how to seamlessly mix the two.

I skipped 10:00 panel to pack up and check out, and at 11:00, it was time for the Necon Town Meeting where we took stock of the weekend and looked ahead to next year’s Necon.

Again, it was reaffirmed by the Necon first-timers how comfortable people here made them feel, and how much of a family Necon is, which is the true legacy of Bob Booth and the rest of the Booth family, that they have created a gathering for like-minded writers, readers, artists, and fans who can spend a weekend discussing the things they love, learning valuable insights, having tons of fun, and doing it all in a friendly environment, with people who though not related by blood feel and act like family.

It’s a one of a kind experience.

The weekend finished with the farewell lunch, where I sat with friends L.L. Soares, Laura Cooney, and Steve Dorato, most likely for the last time until next summer, and said my farewells to many familiar and friendly faces, people like Craig Shaw Gardner, Barbara Gardner, Chris Golden, Richard Dansky, and Paul McMahon to name just a few.

And of course the Booth family, Sarah, Dan, Mary, and Matt.

I said it last year but it bears repeating: Necon is more than a con. It’s family.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael