Lunatics. That’s the title of my work-in-progress novel coming soon. In between freelance editing, writing website content, producing audio books, releasing Tales of Damnation earlier this year, and, yes, playing in the forest with friends, I’ve been busy researching Lunatics.
What’s it all about?
Here’s a short synopsis to whet your appetite:
Haunted by demons from his past, an enigmatic psychologist begins receiving shocking messages from his patients, leading him down a dark path of unspeakable horror.
A deviation of sorts from some of my previous novels, Lunatics will probably involve over a year of research. I’ve already completed a university-level Psych 101 course, just enrolled in another online clinical psychology course, and have read cover-to-cover Psychology Basics (Magill’s Choice) and the Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders (edited by David H Barlow).
With a focus on abnormal psychology, I’m studying the four Ds: Deviance, Distress, Dysfunction, and Disorder.
I’m covering mental health disorders, personality disorders, sexual disorders and dysfunctions, stress, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. When I’m done, I’ll be a board-certified armchair psychologist capable of diagnosing all of your psychological disorders.
Or at least my own, lol. But that’s all fodder for another blog post.
Without any further adieu, here’s just a small sample of Lunatics:
Abe was a ten-year-old boy all over again. It was a spectacular summer day and he bounded through the field behind his house, overjoyed at the simple prospect of being able to breathe fresh air, admire the beauty and diversity of Mother Nature, and play all by himself. Just how he liked it. He skipped through the tall grass, stopping occasionally to smell a wildflower or examine a strange insect. At times, he would stop and twirl around with his arms outstretched, shouting with glee as the sun warmed his little body. When he became very dizzy, he would stagger forward, plop down in the tall grass, and focus on something until his dizziness cleared and his equilibrium returned.
Now, after one such spin, he sat down in the tall grass and studied a wild yellow daffodil in the distance. It slowly came into focus. Abe smiled, stood up and took a step forward. His leg wobbled initially but then found purchase and was soon followed by another step, then another and another. Soon he was running through the field, shouting, “I can walk, I can run, I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can.”
Lost in his joyfulness, Abe suddenly discovered he had not only reached the end of the field, but was now deep in the Acadian Forest. Breathing hard, he stopped and looked around. Tall trees loomed everywhere, blocking out most of the sun. He peered through the trees, trying to spot the glint of sunlit greenery marking the large field. Nothing. He listened to the sounds of the forest as he felt his heart quicken. Birds chirping. A squirrel chattering in a tree, evidently annoyed by his presence. He heard a twig snap and almost jumped out of his skin.
From behind a tree, a fox appeared, eyeballed him quizzically for a moment, and then slowly wandered off.
“Yikes, you scared me,” Abe said to the retreating fox.
It stopped, glanced back at him curiously, and then picked up its pace, disappearing into the thick foliage.
“How do I get outta here?” Abe said.
The forest echoed back: “How do I get outta here?”
No, don’t get scared. Don’t get scared. Turn around. Follow your tracks. Abe tried to reassure himself, as he often did as a young boy when he felt frightened. He turned around, guessed at the trajectory of his arrival, and began retracing his steps. Moving along, a hint of panic beginning to take hold, Abe found himself in even denser woods. It was tough going, climbing carefully over large deadfall, pushing back tree limbs, even stepping in a hole at one point and twisting his ankle slightly.
About ten minutes later, he limped over to a large stump, sat down, and began rubbing his sore ankle. Fortunately, he’d managed to steady himself and pull his foot out of the hole before it twisted to the point of excruciating pain, or worse still, broke.
“Somebody help me,” Abe said. “I’m lost.”
“Somebody help me,” the forest echoed. “I’m lost.”
“Oh, shut up,” Abe said.
“Oh, shut up,” the forest echoed.
Abe was rapidly becoming terrified. He put his hands to his face and slumped over, trying to stop the tears from coming. But he felt a few tears squirt through his fingers and dribble down his face. No. Don’t cry. He wiped his face dry and looked up to the sky.
He saw a large bank of black clouds move in, obliterating what remained of the sun and darkening his surroundings. Suddenly thunder roared in the sky and a fork of lightning shot down, crackling and popping as it struck the ground in the distance.
But wait. The flash briefly illuminated the field, not a hundred yards away. Abe was sure of it. He stood up on jittery legs and began plodding forward, searching the sky for more brightly colored keys to his salvation.
But instead, a giant gray-black man, maybe fifty feet tall, appeared in front of him in an instant. Abe stopped and screamed, covering his ears as the forest echoed his horror right back at him. Abe dropped to his knees, craning his neck to the sky to try and decipher the identity of the giant monster who had suddenly confronted him.
But fiery orange glowing eyes was all he could see of the man’s face.
Then a voice, thunderous and booming: “You will not tell. You will forget what happened.”
“What are you talking about?” Abe said. “Forget what?”
Even in his fear, Abe felt some relief that the forest, at least for the moment, had stopped mocking him.
The man raised a large booted foot directly above Abe’s head. “You will forget everything or I will squash you like an ant.”
“I’ll forget,” Abe pleaded. “I’ll forget, I promise.”
But the booted foot descended from the sky swiftly, crushing Abe into the ground and mashing him into a million pieces.