The Third Floor – Part 1

Oggl_0000(1)Greetings, Dreamers!

Yes, I am finally back to my normal self, despite recovering from a dislocated finger! One of the most annoying maladies that a writer can endure!  But I am on the mend, and as a result, I’ve begun another serial short story.

I have been sitting on this story for many years because some of the elements of the story are true, yet, I embellished it a bit, like we writers do.  The paranormal constantly enters my life at the most opportune moments.  Being a dark fiction writer, it is as if the universe is slowly giving information so I can weave these tales and perhaps enlighten others to the things that exist just beyond the curtain of reality.

This story is a mixture of horror, paranormal and Southern Gothic genres.  It’s not true Southern Gothic because it is set in Pennsylvania, but it embodies the elements of Southern Gothic, which is an exposure of the shadows cast

So, without further babbling, let us visit…

The Third Floor – Part 1

When I pulled up to the mansion in the woods, I immediately had the urge turn around and drive off, but my situation left me little recourse. The ominous structure seemed misplaced in such a rural area and exhibited a mixture of both Georgian and Antebellum architectures. Ivy covered the majority of the southern side of the home, with ancient oaks and walnut trees towering over the third level of the home. Moreover, as I looked up into the empty windows, though I could not see anything, I could feel as if something watched me.

I came to this forlorn structure as a result of losing my job as a sous-chef at a prominent French Restaurant just outside Valley Forge.  My employer and I differed on several points of technique in the kitchen, as well as how long one should be required to work in a day. When I refused to work a sixty-hour week, he summarily fired me. I was thankful that it was summer as destitution forced me to live in my vehicle.

Fortunately, I quickly found a job posting in the local free paper. The ad was for a private chef, meals and lodging included, as well as a modest weekly salary. It was exactly what I needed, and I attributed the good fortune to providence.   I immediately found the nearest pay phone, and scheduled an interview.  This one encounter would change the course of my life and expose a new path, one I’d not considered before.

I arrived five minutes early, staring at the house for a few moments before I gained the courage to approach the main door of the house.

An elderly man with a cane, and two large German Shepherds, greeted me. This intimidated me, yet I smiled as warmly as possible and offered a hand.

“Mr. Pebble?” I asked.

“Walter will do, son,” he said. “And you are Zachary Tyler?”

“Yes, sir. Or just Zach is fine by me.”

“Very well, Zach.” He said turning, the dogs watching me with an eerily human quality. “Follow me.”

We entered a large foyer, with a crystal chandelier hanging from the second floor ceiling. To the right of the door, an elegant stair case wound up to the balcony overhead, like the tail of a dragon. We walked passed a large library with a hospital style bed in the middle of the room, then out to a large slate patio overlooking a stream fed in-ground pool, cut from the native granite on which the entire property sat.

Walter motioned to a chair at a wrought iron table. I took a seat opposite him. The two dogs dutifully took their positions on either side of him. Despite his hunched posture, he was a tall, thin man with sunken eyes, the youth long since drained from his body, leaving nothing more than a frail husk.

“Did you say you worked at The Forge?” He asked.

“Yes,” I said. “And to be quite honest, I did not leave on good terms. So, if you plan to call them for a reference, it will probably not be favorable.”

“Have you worked anywhere else around the area?”

I rattled off a few others local restaurants of lesser quality.

The old man nodded.

“And of course, I attended the Culinary Institute.” I added.

“Sounds good enough for me,” The old man said with a nod.

“I live here in the house alone. I have a housekeeper that comes several times a week and cooks for me in the meantime since my last chef quit. And calling her a cook is a bit of a stretch.” He said and then smirked. “There is also my gardener who doubles as a driver, but I would prefer you take that role on as well, considering you’ll be living here. Is that agreeable to you?”

“Of, course,” I said. “Do you have a car, or would you expect to use mine? My car has seen better days.”

“I have a Rolls Royce,” He said with an arrogant smile.

“A Rolls?”

“Yes,” He said. “Now, let’s discuss your salary. Because I am offering you room and board, I offer you two-hundred dollars a week. Is that acceptable?”

I pondered the offer for a few moments. I hoped it would be larger so that I could save money to get myself back on my feet.

“That’s just fine,” I said finally. “What about vacation time?”

“Maria, the housekeeper, can fill in for you if you feel the need to vacation. However, I will require at least two weeks notice, and you can never be away more than five days at a time.”

“Very well,” I said. “Will you be deducting taxes from my pay before hand?”

“No, young man. I intend to pay you in cash. It is none of my business how you manage your finances.”

“Thank you.” I said with earnestness in my voice. As adverse as I was to engaging in illegal activities, that extra percentage would allow me to leave his service sooner.

“Do we have a deal?” He asked.

“Yes, indeed we do, Walter,” I replied with fervor.

“Now,” He said as he stood; the dogs flanked him. “I will give you a brief tour, and then I will show you to your suite.”

He led me first to an enormous kitchen, which seemed to have all new appliances–they were immaculate.

“I eat all my meals in here at this table,” he said. “I am a creature of habit as you will come to find soon enough. Consistency and ritual is the key to a successful life. As such, I typed up the menu for you. You are free to prepare the dishes anyway you like, but you must adhere to the overall essence of the meal.”

“Very well,” I said.

“All the food is delivered to the house, so if you need things that are not on the normal list, you will need to let the delivery service know beforehand.”

He motioned to a door near the refrigerator. “That door leads to the second floor, the servant’s staircase. If you need to be in the kitchen when I am asleep, I urge you to use them. I am a light sleeper, and the dogs are always on alert when I am asleep. Once I am up, I will be unable to go back to sleep. So please be mindful of that.”

“Of course.” I said.

“Very well then,” He opened the door. I’ll show you to your suite.”

With excruciating slowness, he mounted the stairs to the second floor, rising like Jacob’s ladder. Once at the top, I saw the long hall that stretched the full length of the house to the balcony that overlooked the foyer. As we walked, I counted ten doors lining the hall. We came to a double door just beyond the balcony. There were two rooms behind the doors — the master bedroom and a smaller bedroom. There were also two restrooms.

“This is the master suite, and you are free to use it as you will.” He began. “Be mindful that Maria is not responsible for washing your clothes. She will change the bed sheets once a month, but that is it. You are responsible for washing your own clothes and keeping the room tidy.”

“Of course,” I said. “Is there a laundry room in the house?”

“Yes,” He said. “It’s in the basement.”

He turned and motioned to a walnut door, which had a twin at the other end of the hall.

“That is the door to the third floor,” He said. “You are not free to go up there. That is for storage, and there are things strewn about. I’d rather not be paying hospital costs due to carelessness.”

“I don’t plan to snoop around your house,” I said. “Rest assured all your belongings are safe. I’m a cook, not a thief.”

The old man nodded with satisfaction.

“I will leave you to explore the rest of the house. The library and my office are also both off-limits. But you are free to roam the house and use the pool as you like.” He turned and moved to the staircase, making his slow descent. “But for now, I must rest. I will let you settle in. But I expect dinner to be ready by six P.M.”

“Of course,” I said. “Thank you for this opportunity, Walter.”

He looked back at me over his shoulder, “No, thank you for not subjecting me to Maria’s meals any further. See you a six.”

While the pay wasn’t what I wanted, and the idea of being a servant didn’t appeal to me, I was thankful that I wouldn’t be sleeping in my car anymore.

After bringing my belongings in from the car, I started exploring. I had plenty of time to make supper, and it was an easy meal to fix. He simply wanted grilled steak, baked potato and corn — not what I was used to preparing.

The house was larger than I expected. Downstairs, there was a large formal dining room that could seat 20 people and another large formal living room with seating for at least fifty people. Walter must have been quite the entertainer back in his younger days to warrant such accommodations.

After changing to make dinner, I walked down the hall, opening each door and peeking inside. There were six bedrooms, one restroom and a nursery. I couldn’t fathom having such a large family. I am an only child, and my parents had passed only a few years before. It was no wonder that Walter had to amass such fortune.

Thought he instructed me not to go to the third floor, my natural curiosity urged me to at least peer up the stairs.  I glanced around carefully and listened for the Walter.   I could hear a rattled cough far within the depths of the house.  Satisfied, I opened the door slowly as it creaked with disuse.  Cold air immediately poured over me like a flash flood, causing me to shudder.  This caused me great pause, yet a poked my head inside and peered upwards.

An unnatural inky darkness, enshrouded the ascending steps and the hall beyond.  I could barely make out a door at the top of the stairs, and a mini dust devil no doubt perturbed by the sudden movement of air.  I stood and watched silently for a few minutes before closing the door again.

I decided it was best to leave the third floor alone for the time being, but something in my gut told me there was much more than boxes and cobwebs hidden away in that dark place.  But having just gotten the job, it was best that I waited at least a few days before secretly exploring the Old Man’s dark secrets.

I hurried to the kitchen to prepare the bland meal for the old man, but the chill persisted even as I entered the warm kitchen.  There was something more to that house and my eccentric employer.

(to be continued)

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The Fate of the Waking Dream

cold-heartGreetings, Dreamers!

I apologize for my recent, extended absence.  Most of you know that I am a very prolific blogger, and the last few months I’ve been rather crestfallen and that does not make for good inspiration.

I know many of you are wondering what’s going on with Book II for the series, as well as my other writing endeavors.  I have had little inspiration lately as a result of some events that have been transpiring over the past few months and they have snowballed into a full on winter of the brain.  But I am back to Book II, which is half way done, and I have other stories coming as well.  Soon you will find out the fate of our world– the Waking Dream.

I apologize to all of you who think I may be ignoring you, or have found others more interesting to chat with, that is not the case.  I appreciate all of my blog, Facebook and Twitter friends.  And I promise, now that the weather is warming, I will be in a much more verbose mood.

The first book of the series is still available, and slowly gaining traction.  It’s very hard to get the word out for your book, especially being a new author.  My other self-published books are steadily selling, and that’s a good thing.  I will not be publishing my future books with my current publisher, but rather moving forward on my own.  I have learned a great deal about this industry, more than I wanted to know, and I feel wholeheartedly that the best course for any new writer is to begin with self-publishing.  I have seen many professional organizations for authors starting to change their view of the self-published author.  And in general, the only person who can really sell your book is YOU.  It comes from your heart, soul and mind.  No one will ever be able to do justice to your story but you.

When you are long gone, people will read your work and try to understand what you were trying to convey — debate it, degrade it or deify it.  This one point is the sole reason I adopted autodidactism as my personal educational journey.  I have learned that I cannot follow the herd in a classroom, because I cannot be taught in a linear, structured fashion.  And, this  realization occurred in the fall of 1991 in my American Literature class.  I majored in English, of course, and one particular day will stick in my mind forever.

We were dissecting “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Poe.  The professor had made an assertion, which he wanted to impress on the students, that the narrator was the one who was insane, and not Madeline and Roderick.  This is not to say that it may or may not be true, however, the professor was asserting that it as fact.  I am a huge fan of Poe, and of course, I had to weigh in this debate.  It became very heated, and I finally asked him, “Did you meet Poe and get the answer from him?”

As a result, I was asked to leave the class.   This was both a victory and an epic fail because, unfortunately, I had the same professor for my next class.  I left college shortly there after, realizing that I was trapped in a box.  The man in a box.

Now that I am an author, I have had many people tell me their take on my story, and I love to talk about it with them, because its more than a story, it’s an exploration of our universe, and my/your inner-self.  Make the dream, own the dream and live the dream.  I write because I enjoy it, but it also carries the sum of all I have learned about our weird existence.

I thank you all for your steadfast support.  And I have decide I will publish a new short story, inspired by my favorite novel, The Great Gatsby — with a Waking Dream twist of course.  That’s assuming I get the permissions to use the name

I hope everyone is slowly thawing out from this brutal winter.

Happy thoughts!

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The Lovecraft Effect

HP LovecraftGreetings, Dreamers!

Kat over at “The Gore Splattered Corner” blog asked me to write a guest post on how H.P. Lovecraft influenced my writing and my writing style.

Lovecraft and his style have always fascinated me.  I have been a fan since I was very young, and it wasn’t until recently one of my reviewers pointed out the similarity in style and writing.  Creating a mythos for Waking Dream was my goal from the beginning, but not expanding upon the Lovecraftian Mythos.  Since then I’ve tried my hand at a couple Lovecraft inspired stories, and have begun a minor expansion of the Mythos. This article explains how I got where I am as a writer.

You can head over to The Gore Splattered Corner and read my little trip down memory lane.

Thanks Kat for letting me ramble on your page!

Immortal Memories Review

Immortal MemoriesGreetings, Dreamers!

Just wanted to share with you an awesome review of my latest publication, Immortal Memories.

You can read a synopsis of the stories here.  They are self-contained stories about the Immortals that inhabit the Waking Dream Universe.  Each story is of a different genre, and set in various time periods over the last 200 years.  There is something for everyone!

You can read the unbiased review by Victoria Craven at

http://theautodidactintheattic.com/2014/02/21/immortal-memories-by-michael-hibbard/

These stories are very different than my horror stories, but they are collectively an adventure across two centuries as seen through the eyes of ancient beings.

Enjoy!

Back again and here to stay!

Greetings, Dreamers!

I just wanted to update you all on my status as of late.  The Flu that I had for two weeks, completely destroyed my rhythm of writing and my daily life.  It is only now that I am able to get back into the swing of writing again.

I have a bit of news to relay.

1) Waking Dream: The Unkindness has been pushed back for obvious reasons, and I think we are looking at a late spring release.  This book will be much more involved that the first, and truly sets the stage for the rest of the series.

2) I will be no longer doing serial stories on the site, as it has presented an editing and continuity nightmare.  I will be finishing “The Shadow of the Soul” as a single post in the near future.  I am also working on a short story for submission to magazines,  that will not be published on the blog — “The Darkling Imp at Twilight”

3) I am very excited to tell you that I have been asked by two best-selling authors to work with them on a new mystery series.  There will be 12 books in all, and I will be writing two of them!  More details to come on that once everything has been agreed on.

I will work on “The Shadow of the Soul” over the long weekend, and have it done for you hopefully by next week!  I will also be giving a synopsis of my new short story series, “Tales from the Supernaturalist”.  This series will be written in Lovecraftian style, with “The Darkling Imp at Twilight” as the introduction to our would-be hero, Zachary Tyler.

Thank you all for remaining loyal to my blog in my absence!

Return of the Living Dead Author

ZombieSign2Greetings, Dreamers!

I do apologize for my extended absence, but I was beset by the dreaded Swine Flu.  (H1N1)

Unfortunately, since I’m rarely sick and I’ve never had any form of flu, I did not make it to the doctor in time to get Tamiflu to lessen by bout.  So, for the last ten days I have been hiding from the Grim Reaper, and trying to fight this thing off.  Today is my first day back at work, and I have to tell you, the experience was quite odd.  I am convinced that rather than swine flu, it was actually some variety of zombie virus.  I don’t have cravings for brains, but I have been drinking milkshakes like a mad man for the last week.  It sure beats trying to chase someone down for their brains.

But I just wanted to drop you all a quick note that I’ve not perished, and I am going to pick up with the story, Shadow of the Soul, this week, so we can finish our creepy excursion into the unknown.

Thank you all who contacted me while I was MIA.

Enter the Lost Haven – Free for 5 days!

HavenGreetings, Dreamers!

In anticipation of Waking Dream: The Unkindness, Book II in the Transformation Series, I am making Lost Haven available for free.

Following the events at the Halloween celebration in Devlin, an ancient society is forced from the shadows, The Order of Seers.  Their order is slowly being assassinated, one by one and they discover there is a traitor in their midst.

Left with no option other than to destroy their Haven in Germany, they are forced to seek out a long forgotten Haven outside the town of Devlin.  As a result, they are forced to enlist the aid of their spy in the town of Devlin to uncover the identity of their assassin.

If you’ve not read the rest of the first book in the series, here is a free opportunity to explore the Weirdness that is The Waking Dream.

 

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Unkind Update 2

UnkindnessGreetings, Dreamers!

I have been asked by several fans  when Book II, The Unkindness, will be available.

At present, I am over a third of the way through the manuscript, and editing has begun chapter by chapter.

I am still on target for February, but I am not ready to set a definitive release date.  However, I will keep you updated as I progress.

As an indication, my editor started reading Chapter 1 and got so involved in the story that they forgot they were supposed to be editing.  So I take that  as a good sign that the story will suck you all in.

In the mean time, you can still get Lost Haven for .99 cents on Amazon Kindle.  I am also preparing it for other devices now.  And the price will be the same across all platforms.  I will also be releasing The Case Study and The House of the Dead Timbers in these formats.

And if you have not read Waking Dream: Devlin, you can read the reviews on Amazon, hear and see interviews about it by selecting one from the Interview menu at the top.  Take a chance and visit the town of Devlin.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Though Lost Haven was meant to be a stand alone story, it is really just Book 1.5 for the series, giving the reader some insight into the more esoteric aspect of the series, and sets up a completely separate plot line that I will explore in other interludes.

Again, thank you all for your support!

Have a wonderful New Year!

Thank You!

Waking DreamGreetings, Dreamers!

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for downloading my free eBooks The Case Study and The House of the Dead Timbers!

It was really quite a success!  The Case Study made it to #5 on the best-selling free short story list and stayed there for 3 days!

The House of the Dead Timbers made it to #8 and stayed there for 2 days!

Waking Dream: The Unkindness Book II is basically writing itself.  I am still on schedule for a February release, because I know you’re all dying to find out what happens next!

In the mean time, you can read Lost Haven, a Waking Dream Interlude, which happens between Book I and Book II.

I am very thankful to you all who have been supportive of my work, and have helped me improve my craft with your thoughtful comments, tweets and reviews.

Happy New Year to you all!

Free Stories until Christmas Eve!

The Case StudyHouseOfDeadTimbersGreetings, Dreamers!

As a gift to all my loyal fans, I am making The Case Study and The House of the Dead Timbers free on Kindle until Christmas eve!  Tis the season to be horror filled!  Both are being considered for the Bram Stoker Award!  So help me get them to number #1 on the free store!

And if you do download them, please take a moment to review them on Amazon!  Happy Holidays and stay safe!

Free Books

And if you like those, check out the others!

Other Books

Official Blog for Author Michael Hibbard