Little Green Men

My story, Little Green Men, is being released today by Water Dragon Press. It is a stand-alone booklet, available on Amazon for $.99. When I was shopping it around, an editor told me it was too long for his magazine, but deserved a volume all its own. Water Dragon apparently agreed. It’s long for a short story at over 9,000 words, but not quite a novella. The story of Earth’s first manned mission to Mars, it’s part science fiction, part horror, part thriller. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

LGM is officially my 30th piece of work accepted for publication. The 31st, Yellow Piece of Paper will be out on Thema in June.



Sweet Taste of the Season

My wife told me today that she saw online that the strawberry salad was back at Panera. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Panera’s strawberry salad. Strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, pecans – what’s not to love? But it’s only March; kinda early for strawberries. I wondered where they’re getting the fresh strawberries. As with many things, that sent my thoughts down a rabbit hole.

The concept of fresh fruit has changed in my lifetime. To borrow from a recent movie, we live in a day of everything, all the time. If I get a craving for any fresh fruit, I can get it at a local store, even in my relatively small town. It’s imported, sometimes costly, but it’s available. Call it American privilege. Everything, all the time.

That hasn’t always been the case. When I was young (I’m talking 55+ years ago) fresh fruits and vegetables were seasonal. Their distinctive flavors and smells heralded the changing seasons as much as the gaudy holiday decorations at the department stores. Strawberries meant late spring, usually straight from Grandma’s garden, spoils of her constant war with birds over her harvest. Straight from the plant, brush off the black soil, and directly into my mouth. A delicious memory of my childhood.

Blueberries came later. My great aunt would announce she was going “huckleberrying” in the woods and return with a pail full of small, tart, wild blueberries. And wild blackberries were abundant along the roadsides. My cousins and I would watch in anticipation as the berries ripened from green to red to luscious black, bursting with flavor. Grandma would give us a Mason jar promising a blackberry cobbler if we filled it.

Corn on the cob and watermelons always heralded high summer. Mr. Taylor would stop by every year and invite us to pick a peck of corn from his field. And Mr. Massey who grew the fattest, juiciest watermelons ever, always gave us one or two. And summer squash would mysteriously appear on our doorstep. I miss the closeknit community of my youth.

The taste of apples and fresh apple juice remind me of the start of the school year, with always an apple in my lunch box. Dad would drive us up to the mountains and buy a bushel of his favorite types of apples. I still remember the sweet aroma of the bin where he stored them. Pears and pumpkins announced the frost and onset of winter. I remember picking up pears under Grandma’s tree, dodging the yellow jackets who also craved the sweet fruit.

And the smell of oranges will always be paired with Christmas. Bags marked “Florida oranges” would appear in the supermarket. There were always a few oranges in my Christmas stocking. My great grandmother told me that back in the 1880s, her grandmother would give each grandchild an orange for Christmas. That was truly a treasure for a child in rural North Carolina.

Nostalgia is sweet, almost as sweet as the peaches we’d pick up at a roadside stand on the way to the beach or the grapes from Dad’s arbor, but it makes me wonder. Did we appreciate the flavors more because they were rare, only available at certain times of the year? Did the anticipation of waiting enhance the sweetness of the fruit? Did the fact that we saw it growing before our eyes increase its meaning and value? Perhaps. But I’ve become accustomed to everything, all the time. We all have.

So I headed down to Panera today for my first strawberry salad of the season. The guy behind the counter said, “That’s seasonal. It’ll be available next month.”  So I wait in anticipation.

Nora Roberts and a Changing World

Trigger warning: sexual assault

I have an app on my tablet called BookBub. Every day it shows me cheap books in genres I select. I mean $0-$1.99 cheap. Some of them are self-published and absolutely dreadful.  Sometimes there are books by authors I’ve actually heard of. This week I saw a book listed as a thriller. It was a detective story by J. D. Robb. I’ve heard of the author before and I like a detective story, so I looked further. Turns out J. D. Robb is a pseudonym for Nora Roberts, queen of romantic schlock. She said she published it under a pseudonym so she could go in a new direction, rather than romance. The premise of the book sounded promising, so I looked further. It turns out the book is number 8 or 9 in a series of about 50 books about this female detective. All of the books are “stand alone” but I hate walking into the middle of a psycho-drama, so I picked up the first book in the series. If I like it, I’ll move on to the others.

The first book was published in 1995. But it had a science fiction edge – police work in 2058. I’m having fun seeing what she got right. In the book email is ubiquitous, as are cameras and cell phones. They also have flying cars and a few off-world colonies. Sex work is legal, as is marijuana. There’s even a back story about an uber conservative ass who wants to run for president. His platform would be to ban sex work, premarital sex, LGBT rights, abortion and end the ban on guns. Sounds familiar.

The book is following the romantic trope of she hates her romantic interest until she loves him. Not my favorite style but I guess Nora does what’s always worked for her. Never having read her before, I can’t say. But what is standing out is that the book is chauvinistic, misogynistic, patronizing, demeaning to women and celebrates sexual violence. What the hell, Nora?

I know, I know. Society has changed since 1995, but that much? Early in the book the female detective is interviewing a suspect at his home. He is obviously the one who will eventually become her romantic interest (doesn’t hurt that he’s a billionaire). He decides he wants to have sex with her. She tells him no. He maneuvers her up against a wall and begins pawing and kissing her. She resists and tells him to stop. He doesn’t. He manages to get her into his bedroom because she’s confused. I guess everyone knows that a woman loses the power to think when a handsome man assaults her. She struggles and tells him no. He gets her clothes off and begins having sex. She continues to struggle and say no. Afterward there’s a peaceful interlude (which I found very odd) until he wants to do it again. She says no. He shoves in her and does it anyway. She spends the night.

I don’t see how this could read as anything but a rape. But Ms. Roberts seems to be presenting it as romantic. And then we find out the woman was so severely sexually abused as a child that she has no memories from before she was 8. This new rape sure isn’t going to help her mental health.

So is this commonplace for Nora Roberts? Do all her heroines have to be raped in order to find out they love their attacker? If so, then something is seriously wrong with this woman.

Maybe I’ll buy the latest installment of this series, written in the 2020s. See if Nora has grown with the times, maybe evolved into a human being.

Little Green Men to be published again.

Water Dragon Publishing has chosen my story, “Little Green Men”, for inclusion in its upcoming anthology, Dragon Gems. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember Little Green Men appeared in September 2021 in Worlds Within, an online magazine. The Dragon Gems anthology will be digital only, as well.

Little Green Men is the story of our first manned mission to Mars and the pressure we put on astronauts.

This is my 26th story published and the 5th anthology I’ve been included in. You can check my Amazon Author’s Page for information about the others.

Now I Lay Me

My short story, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, appeared in the August 5 The Chamber online magazine. It is the ninth story down from the top. The story first appeared in Terror House back in January. This is an expanded version. I received critiques on the former version that I didn’t identify the murderer. That wasn’t the point of the story. The point was the relationship between the boy and his father and what it means to be a man. So I added an unmasking for those who need closure.

The Protest Diaries

The latest anthology featuring my work comes out next week. The Protest Diaries will be released on August 4. It is a collection of stories raging against corruption and evil in the world. I am proud my story, The Intervention, is among the chosen to represent the fight against oppression in all its forms. The book has been in production since last year, but has somehow come together at a perfect time. A time when people need to be reminded that so much of the time change only comes when good people say “Enough!”

Recently a friend lamented why she bothered to fight for the rights of other people who wouldn’t fight for themselves. I said, “If I don’t speak up when they take away the rights of others, who will speak up when they come for my rights?”

Today, I received the Introduction from editor Bob Brown. I found it moving and powerful. I am posting it here. If it speaks to you, consider taking a look at the book. It should be on Amazon next week. Part of the proceeds go to the ACLU.


Christopher David is a hero, an inspiration, and a great American.

In July, 2020 Christopher David was a 53 year old Navy veteran attending his first protest in Portland where the Black Lives Matter movement was protesting the death of George Floyd.

He wore his Naval Academy sweatshirt and in the park across the street from the courthouse, he told law enforcement staff that that “You take the oath to the Constitution; you don’t take the oath to a particular person.”

This earned that Navy Veteran a beating, being threatened with a weapon, five strikes from a baton, a broken hand and a new awareness of what happens when you stand up to authority in America.

Edmund Burke is widely purported to have said that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Christopher David, demonstrated this and inspired me. Because of this man, I, a 61-year-old Navy veteran, made my own trek to Portland, I took my family.

What I found re-assured me and terrified me.

I found a community of protesters set on a course of living Edmund Burke’s words.

Daily these people endured teargas, flash bangs, bear mace and assaults. Every day of the protests the government lied about what took place and continues to do so. They lied over conditions on the ground, actions taken, and the truth in general.

It was Christopher David’s story that took me to Portland, where I found my own truths, and grew to admire the people I saw and my daughter, her husband, and two of their friends who “weren’t gonna let Bob go down there by himself.”

What we saw can be found later in this book, but the key is that all people in this country have an obligation to stand up in the face of government wrongdoing or evil WILL triumph, and it will triumph in the world we owe our children.

So thank you Cheyenne, Nathan, Quin, and Steve for standing up with me. And thank you Christopher David for showing me the way.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep-the Extended Version

I’ve gotten sidetracked lately and neglected to post a story as promised. There seems to be so much to do and so little time. I haven’t done much original writing. I only wrote two short stories in October. I put up one on Scribophile and one of Critique Circle for comments on improving them. Then there was a long interval. I wrote a short story last week and it’s up on Scribophile. Since these are considered “closed sites” I can take them down once comments are made and still market them as unpublished.

So since last October I’ve spent most of my writing time doing editing. Editing the short stories and the novel, City of Strangers. It’ll probably end up in a drawer with my other novel. I’ve done a lot of investigation about publishing and it is a monster of a job. Thousands of would-be authors vying for the attention of a few agents. As for self-publishing, a writing friend I have in UK self-published a book. Sold about 17 copies. Without an agent and a publishing company to do the marketing, the only way to get sales is with a huge social platform. That also takes a lot of work, plus it is something I just don’t know how to do.

As usual, I have digressed. Last time I posted I was talking about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. It was published on Terror House Press on January 10. It is a story about a boy’s fear of a serial killer, strange dreams, and a stern, possibly abusive father. Some early readers complained that I never revealed the identity of the serial murderer in the story. Others realized that the identity of the killer wasn’t the point of the story. It was about the boy’s relationship with his father. However, for those who need closure, I went back and added a scene in the middle of the story and another scene at the end revealing the murderer. That wasn’t the version that made Terror House, so the short one is public. I’m attaching below the longer version. Available only here…

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Logan and I are heading to the park to play catch like we often do on weekends. He’s tossing the football up and down as we go. That’s when I realize I am dreaming. I must be dreaming because Logan is dead. I thought when you realize you are dreaming you wake up. But I’m still in the dream. It’s weird, but I want to stay. I miss Logan. He is my best friend. Was my best friend.

            He gives me that famous Logan grin, the lopsided one, and opens his mouth to speak. His words are off with his mouth, like in a poorly dubbed Japanese horror flick. They are slow and echo around my head, “Go long.” I run so he can throw a long pass. I look back and am amazed at how much distance I have put between us. He tosses the football in a long arcing lob. As it begins its descent, he runs toward me, almost as fast as the ball is flying. I catch the ball against my chest, tuck it under my arm and turn to run. I usually run back toward him, dodging his tackle to score an imaginary touchdown. But in this dream, I’m running away from him. I don’t know why. He’s faster than me and will probably tackle me before I get very far. I glance down at the football and stumble. It’s no longer a ball. It’s Logan’s head, with his thick eyebrows and curly blond hair. “He’s coming for you,” the head says before I drop it. That’s when Logan tackles me. As we go down, I turn and see he has no head. It freaks me out and I start yelling. Yeah, I scream like a freaking girl. The park goes black, but I’m still wrestling with the headless body. It’s like he’s trying to wrap me up in a cocoon or like a mummy. I can’t get my arms loose.

            A brilliant light pulled me up from the dream. Dad stood at my doorway in his striped boxers and white T-shirt and yelled, “What the hell’s going on in here?” I was tangled up in the sheet. I wrenched it off and threw it on the floor, scampering to the head of the bed, as far from the attacking sheet as possible.

            Mama appeared beside Dad in my doorway. I suddenly felt naked in just my checked pajama pants. They didn’t even reach my ankles anymore. I’d stopped wearing the pajama top because the shoulders were binding, and I couldn’t button it. Mama said I was going through a “growth spurt”. I’d be glad when I stopped spurting and had some clothes that fit.

            “Bad dream, honey?” she asked. Dad blocked her from entering my room.

            “I’ll take care of it. You go on back to bed.”

She stopped trying to come to me but lingered outside my door. Dad came and sat on my bed.

            “You were in here yelling like a baby. You’re fifteen now. I expect you to show a little maturity.” Dad was big on me being a man.

            “But it was Logan.”

I heard my mama’s quick intake of breath out in the hallway. “He attacked me.”

            “Logan’s dead. He’s gone. He can’t attack you, son,” Dad said. “That’s foolish talk.”

            “It was his friend, Ken,” Mama called from the door. “The boy’s had a nasty shock.”

            “I knew I shouldn’t have let him talk to the police,” Dad told her. “All that talk about mutilation put all sorts of crazy ideas in his head. Now his imagination is running wild. Your mollycoddling him isn’t helping. He needs to stop being a mama’s boy and man up.”

I didn’t like it when Dad talked as if I wasn’t even there. But he did it on a regular basis.

            “But it was Logan,” I whined. Dad hated it when I whined. I hated it, too, but I couldn’t help it. I gritted my teeth and refused to cry. I could feel my face redden as the tears threatened to pour out. My anger at him, and the whole crappy world, was rising to a fever pitch.

            “Logan is dead and gone. They buried him,” Dad said.

            “No they didn’t. They buried his fucking head!” I shouted, tears slipping from my eyes at last.

            “Ken, don’t,” Mama called, anticipating Dad’s response.

            “I’ll let that pass on account you’re upset. You talk like that to me again and I’ll have to get my belt. I ain’t having no backtalk.” Dad was mad as well. I knew his threat was meaningless, though. He hadn’t used the belt on me since I was twelve. Coach had noticed the marks on my backside at PE and sent me to the school nurse. She called Social Services. They investigated and Dad had to take a course in anger management. I can’t see where it’s done much good, except he doesn’t use that damn belt anymore.

            “Then y’all get outta my room. I didn’t ask you to come in. Leave me alone!” I yelled. Dad grabbed my jaw in a painful grip.

            “You’re walking on thin ice, boy.” He shoved me back and left the room. I heard Mama and him bickering down the hallway until she announced, “I’m sleeping in the guest room.”

            “Goddamnit!” Dad yelled and slammed the bedroom door.

            “Sorry, Cupcake,” my older sister Junie said from my doorway. She always called me Cupcake when Dad got on me about not being man enough. I was mad, but not enough to forgo my standard comeback.

            “Then eat me.”

She laughed and drifted back to her bedroom. I had to get up to put the sheet back on the bed and then to turn off the overhead light. On the way back to the bed, I stumped my toe on the leg.

            “Ow! God fucking damnit!” I ground out through clenched teeth. 

            I sat on my bed, massaging my aching toe, and staring into the darkness. I liked the dark. I could think without being distracted by sight. Mostly these days I thought about Logan. I would keep my blinds drawn and my room dark at night and think about him. I didn’t need to see for I knew where everything was, except the leg of my bed, apparently. In the depths of the night, I would sometimes wake up and look around my room. All the familiar sounds, the faint tick of my alarm clock, Dad’s snoring, which even my closed door couldn’t muffle. And the familiar dark figures barely visible around my room, huddled like sentinels. It was comforting. Comfort seemed in short supply these days.

Everything used to be so simple. Now Junie was going off to college this fall. I’d miss her. Mama and Dad didn’t get along. They’d always bickered as far back as I could remember, but it had gotten worse. Dad seemed mad all the time and took it out on me. I ran cross-country; I made good grades; I didn’t get into trouble. What was his problem? Recently, it was that I wasn’t man enough. He got on that kick after he found out Logan was gay. I guess he was afraid Logan would infect me with gayness. I’d known he was gay for almost as long as Logan had, but he’d only recently become more open about it. He was my best friend since first grade, and I didn’t see any reason that should change. Dad didn’t see it that way. He made me account for every second I spent with Logan, and when Logan came over, I had to keep my bedroom door open. And no more sleep overs. How sick is that? “He’s my best friend, not my boyfriend,” I’d said. That got me sent to my room.

            I think Dad was suspicious because I didn’t have a girlfriend. I liked girls, it’s just that few of them liked me. I think it’s because of Mary Jo Kapechni. We had one date last year. Then she told all the girls I was a lousy kisser and grabbed her tits. Both were technically true, but she made me sound like some sex-crazed loser. Maybe I was a loser, but sex-crazed is a relative term when it comes to teenaged boys.       

So it was just me and Logan. He was the one person I felt totally at ease with. We just had a natural connection. Until two weeks ago. That was the day he disappeared.

            Logan was the third victim. 


            About six months ago, a guy from Chapel Hill disappeared. Stacy Johnson was a good student, a soccer and basketball standout, and well liked. His parents said he wasn’t the kind to run away.  A close examination of the back door of his house revealed scratches around the lock that the detectives said could indicate the lock had been picked. The theory was that someone came in the house and took him.

The story dominated all the local papers for a few days. Every detail about Stacy’s life was examined and sifted for some evidence. They posted a picture of him in his soccer jersey. He was a handsome guy, fifteen, with flyaway blond hair and big blue eyes. I wished I looked like him, knowing someone who looked like that had no problem getting girls. They mounted a massive manhunt for him but came up with nothing.

A week later they found Stacy. Or at least they found his head. Students came upon it in the middle of his school soccer field one morning. They posted gross pictures of the severed head before the police could secure the area. Of course, the pictures went viral. Logan and I had seen them. The handsome features were frozen in a rictus of terror, eyes and mouth wide. The cuts around the neck weren’t clean, but jagged. The police finally released that the murderer had made the cuts with a serrated blade, except for the bone. That had been cut with something heavy and sharp, an ax or a cleaver. The paper had clinically reported the cuts were “not post-mortem”.

No one could figure out why Stacy was taken or why he was killed. More important, they had no clues who would do such a thing. They never found the rest of his body.

It took weeks for the horror to die down, but it did. Everyone moved on with their lives. Newer tragedies pushed Stacy off the front page. His family was left to grieve alone.

About two months later, Jackie Sheldon went missing. He was a high school student in Raleigh. He was an average student, fifteen, long blond hair, on the basketball team but didn’t see much playing time. The newspaper said he had words with his father and stormed out of the house. His parents thought everything was okay when he came home that night. The next morning he was gone. People thought he’d run away. No one connected the two cases until a detective noticed similar scratches on the back door of the Sheldon house. Someone had picked the lock. They could have entered and taken Jackie.

When Jackie’s head showed up on his parents’ doorstep a week later, all hell broke loose. It became national news. The detectives scrambled to find some link between Stacy and Jackie. Chapel Hill and Raleigh are close enough for people to interact. There had to be some connection. The newspapers proclaimed a serial killer stalked the streets. They named him the Butcher. It sold papers.

There were no pictures online of Jackie’s head, but the other details became common knowledge. He’d been held for a week and then beheaded. His body remained missing.


Logan gives me his lopsided grin and opens his mouth to speak. His words echo around my head, not coinciding with his mouth, “Go long.” I begin running so he can throw a long pass. I look back and see I’ve covered a lot of ground. Something about this seems familiar. He tosses the football in a long arcing lob. As it begins its descent, he runs toward me, almost as fast as the ball is flying. I catch the ball against my chest, tuck it under my arm and turn to run away instead of running toward him. I glance down at the football and stumble. It’s no longer a ball. It’s Logan’s head, with his thick eyebrows and curly blond hair. “He’s coming for you,” the head says before I drop it, a headless body tackling me. I woke up sweating but didn’t scream.


“I knew Jackie,” Logan said to me one afternoon, about a week after they found his head.

            “I thought I knew all your friends.”

            “I have to keep some secrets,” he said and laughed. “Create an air of mystery.” We were lounging in my room, he on my bed, me on the floor leaning against the bed, door open, of course. “We met in summer league basketball last year. We liked each other and kept up with emails and texts.” It surprised me that Logan had kept this secret. What else didn’t I know about him?

            “Did you know Stacy?” I wondered if there was more.

            “No. But Jackie mentioned him in an email once. I think he got some pot from him. The email is gone now.”

            “Logan. That may be the connection the police are looking for. Jackie and Stacy knew each other. You need to tell someone.”

            “I don’t have any evidence and I don’t need the police snooping around me. Just forget it.”

            But I couldn’t. Maybe it was a drug deal gone wrong. No, they would probably just shoot. This was ritualistic, as the papers said. It took a lot of planning.

            And then Logan disappeared.

            We lived in Cary, which is nestled between Raleigh and Chapel Hill. Logan was a fifteen-year-old high school athlete. He had blond hair. It matched the established pattern.

            His mom called us first that morning asking if he was with us. She said he wasn’t home when she woke up, so she thought he just left early. When he didn’t show up at school, I became nervous. By lunch I was frantic. Where was Logan? Was he in the hands of that monster? Was he aware of what was happening? Was he as afraid as I was? I’ve never been particularly religious, but I prayed as hard as I knew how. God, please return him. Return all of him.

            The media circus descended on Logan’s house. His life was dissected and displayed for all to see. His picture with his heavy brow and signature grin stared at me from the newspaper.

            As feared, his head showed up later.


            “Go long,” Logan says as he pulls the football behind his head, preparing the throw. I have a moment of déjà vu, like I have seen this before. But I run. I look over my shoulder and see the ball sailing through the air. I turn just in time and catch it against my chest. I tuck it under my arm to run. It feels wrong. I look down and see it is Logan’s head, glaring at me. “He’s coming for you,” he growls. I throw the head down and am tackled by his headless body.

I woke, fighting with the sheet.

            My heart was racing so fast I could hear it in my ears. I was drenched with sweat and was panting like I’d just run the length of the football field. Why was Logan tormenting me? He was my friend.

            I lay looking around my darkened room, absorbing the comfort of night, trying to return to a calm place. Off to my right was the deep, black outline of my open closet door. That was where the monsters used to live, and when I was little, I made sure Mama closed that door every night so they couldn’t get out. I doubt that door had been closed since I was ten and decided monsters were kid stuff. Beside it was the bulky dresser with its six drawers and skinny mirror. I had to duck these days to see myself in it to comb my hair. Then there was the door to my room, which I kept closed as much as I could. This was my sanctuary. All others keep out. Opposite the foot of the bed was the tall chest where I kept my jeans, T-shirts, and Calvins. It almost came up to my shoulders. I remember when I couldn’t see or reach what was on top of it. I’d have to pull my chair from the desk and stand on it. And rounding out my familiar room was my desk, the scene of my homework successes and debacles for ten years.

            There, calmness had returned. It always worked.

            But something was wrong. There, beside the chest, was another shape. Tall and rounded in the corner. It was too dark in my room to make out what it was, but it didn’t belong. And then it moved. Logan’s message, “He’s coming for you,” wasn’t a taunt. It was a warning! I was paralyzed. How did he get in? He must have picked the lock. I’m a fifteen-year-old blond. He’s come for me! The next time he moved, it broke the spell.

            “Dad!” I screamed. “He’s here! Dad!”

            After a small eternity, the door burst open, and Dad hit the light switch.

            “He’s in the corner,” I yelled. We both looked at the corner at the same time. There sat my desk chair with my hockey stick propped in it. A dirty jersey top was hung over it, swaying in the breeze from the central air conditioner. Just as I’d left it that afternoon.

            Yeah, that went down about as well as you’d expect. I was grounded for two weeks.


            People at school were weird to me. They avoided eye contact and didn’t speak in the halls. I’d catch people staring at me like I’d grown a second head or something. Ugh, I didn’t mean to make a pun. It was like I had some disease. I still sat with my friends at lunch, but there was a strained silence most days. Being the best friend of the victim of a serial killer was not the key to popularity.

            I told the police detective what Logan had said about Jackie and Stacy. He thanked me and said it was a significant lead, but I could see the lie in his eyes. They were stalled in the investigation. It was as if they were just waiting for the next victim to drop.

            I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream. It was always the same. Logan’s head always said, “He’s coming for you.” What if it was a message? Logan was my best friend. We’d do anything for each other. Wouldn’t he warn me if he could? But how could I protect myself? Mama was trying to get Dad to spring for an electronic security system. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it might be, and Dad was actually considering it. I pushed for it, too, but he said I was a coward. Why was wanting to be safe considered cowardice? I decided my dad was demented.

Apparently, I couldn’t rely on him. I’d have to come up with my own way of protecting myself.I immediately knew what I should do.


Logan gives me his signature grin and opens his mouth to speak. His words reverberate around my head, “Go long.” I begin running so he can throw a long pass. I look back and see I’ve covered a lot of ground. Something about this seems familiar. He tosses the football in a long arcing lob. As it begins its descent, he runs toward me, almost as fast as the ball is flying. I catch the ball against my chest, tuck it under my arm and turn to run. I realize I’m running the wrong way and don’t know why. I glance down at the football and stumble. It’s no longer a ball. It’s Logan’s head, with his thick eyebrows and curly blond hair. “Wake up, now!” the head shouts before I drop it.

I startled awake with a catch of my breath. My heart was hammering from the dream again. But he hadn’t tackled me this time. I wondered why? Then I heard the faintest creak of a floorboard. I was lying with my eyes closed, but I opened them just enough to see. What I could make out in the darkness of my room looked as it always had. The open closet door, the dresser, chest, chair, and desk. I had moved the hockey stick after my last scare. But something was off again. Logan told me to wake up and I could feel something was wrong in my room. There. Against the blackness of the door to my room was a darker blackness. It was still, but I could barely make out an outline. The outline of a man.

I feigned sleep. I remembered as a little kid I believed if I pretended to be asleep the monsters couldn’t get me. Or if I kept every part of my body away from the edge of the bed or covered by the sheet. No monster ever got me, so those magic tricks worked. But they would be useless against this monster. The hammering of my heart amped up a few notches. It was so quiet in the room I was afraid he would hear my heart thumping. I was on my right side, which was how I usually passed my nights. I made a small groan and rolled over flat on my back, my right hand slipping under my pillow, a bead of sweat rolling across my face into my eye, stinging. I kept my eyes cracked, watching the door. A long time passed. Maybe I was just being paranoid, seeing things that weren’t there. Maybe. But I’d swear the shape by the door just moved. It was coming closer. As usual, my blinds were drawn tight, but one errant moonbeam slipped through and suddenly glinted off what appeared to be a needle. He was going to drug me. That’s how he’s doing it! I continued watching, scared nearly out of my wits. I just hoped I didn’t wet the bed. Dad would never forgive that. If I screamed now would Dad refuse to come? Or if Dad came would the man murder my whole family? When the shape was less than three feet away, I pulled my hand from under the pillow. I aimed Dad’s Smith and Wesson and fired four shots point blank into his chest. In the flash of the shots, I saw a man in a balaclava and a night vision visor.

Mama and Junie were screaming as Dad burst through the door, hitting the lights.

“What the hell you doing with my gun,” was all he got out before he stopped and stared at the figure on the floor. The needle was still in the man’s hand.

“Holy shit! Excellent work, son. That’s my man.”

I just stared at him. I had two bullets left in the gun. I gotta admit, I considered it.


The media feeding frenzy that ensued was nearly worse than that awful night. I had a small sampling of what Logan’s family went through, except theirs was compounded by the loss of their only child. I can barely wrap my head around that kind of devastation.

The bad guy was a coach Logan and the others met at summer league basketball. He had photos on his wall of Stacy, Jackie, Logan, and me. I hadn’t played summer league, so I don’t know how I got on the nutjob’s radar. There were pictures of several other guys he was probably planning to grab after me. I don’t know why he was doing it, but I guess evil that dark doesn’t really have a reason. What kind of reason could there be, anyway?

Things finally settled down and life went on as it had before. Junie went off to college and Dad still acted mad all the time. But he treated me with more respect after I killed the bad guy. It seemed that using a gun had made me a MAN in his eyes. How sick is that? The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I should have used those last two bullets in Dad’s gun that night.


Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

My story, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, went live on Terror House today. Here’s a link:

I originally had a content warning on it, but the site didn’t run it. I guess they figured anyone signing on to a place called Terror House was willing to take their chances.

I’m not very happy with the story they published. After I sent it to them I found some typos and more important, some stylistic flaws that really bothered me. I contacted them and they said to send them a corrected copy. Guess which one they published. Yeah, the original. Just keep that in mind when you spot errors in the story.

While the serial murderer angle provides the creepy factor, the story isn’t really about that. It’s about our unnamed protagonists struggle with his father. Wow, I never realized until now that I never gave the kid a name. It didn’t seem important to the story. But our hero is on the cusp of manhood and trying to figure out what makes the measure of a man. Does he want to be the kind of man his father is? Obviously not. But his final act pushes him in that direction. A deeper story would show if he simply followed the path of least resistance or fought his way free.

A few readers complained that I didn’t reveal the identity of the killer, but as I stated above, that wasn’t what the story was about. However, I did write a final scene tying everything up. Terror House has first rights to my story for seven days. So next week I’ll post the version of the story I like, with the final scene as a bonus.