-A man who is faced with the prospect of losing the most important thing in his life—his son—but instead loses his mind. And then finds himself trapped in a waking nightmare with no way out. -A frustrated man who curses life for having the audacity to pass him by, but discovers how it feels to be truly forsaken when the universe chooses to teach him a horrifying lesson. -An outcast who must decide between vengeance and forgiveness in a world turned upside down by war and famine. -A woman on trial in a world where telling the truth is a crime. -A man who is living with a very odd houseguest, a visitor who has no concept of war -A boy who lives in constant terror of someone who is supposed to love and protect him, but who has betrayed that trust. A horror story that examines the real-life beasts who walk among us every day.
Israel Finn is a top-shelf author, he fits right in with the likes of King, Bloch, Ketchum, Matheson and on and on!
Many people are leery about picking up a single author anthology – especially one by an unknown indie – but with this book, you are left wanting more. Each story is strong enough to stand alone. His writing draws you in, cradles you and just when you think you’re safe, knocks you for a loop. They range from phycological to emotional to out of this world. With 35 reviews, most 5 stars, you don’t have to take my word for it.
Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs is a cut above.
Israel is a phenom author who will only get even better.
He paints brief pictures of various horrors—monsters, atrocities, and tragedies—that disturb and provoke but never overstay their welcome.
Well written, engaging and at times disturbing.
To say Israel Finn can write is the understatement of the year. His stories will leave your head spinning and you begging for more
I was lucky enough to grab a paperback when it was first released, with this cover. Now I know I have a jewel on my shelf that one day will be highly valued.
I am anxiously awaiting a novel to drop. Will it or won’t it? Perhaps Israel will comment and let us know. Until then, get your copy today!
Marg, the Auditor General, dropped the last of her files into her case. “Are you coming?”
Sandy looked up from the ledger she was concentrating on. “No, you go, I really want to get this entered so I can enjoy a long weekend.”
“Ok but that means you’ll be the last one here.” Marg gave her a devilish grin.
Sandy sniffed, “Yeah so?”
“Aren’t you afraid of the Rat Boy?”
“Urban legend!” Sandy laughed, she’d heard the tales of the Rat Boy that lurked under the Music Conservatory. It grew more ridiculous with each telling. “Go,” she waved Marg off.
“Suit yourself, the main doors will lock behind you, so make damn sure you have your cars keys, cause I’m not coming back for your ass.”
“Thanks for the warning.”
Two hours later Sandy set down her pen, stretched and yawned. “Thank God this job is over.” She closed the ledger and gathered up her purse. Now she could rest for two full days before going to the next Audit job. She picked up her briefcase, purse, and coat, checking that ‘yes’ her keys were in her purse pocket.
As Sandy turned off the lights to the boardroom, she realized that the lights in the concert hall were also off. She contemplated turning the light back on and propping the door open, then shook her head. “Don’t be silly Sandy.” She let the door close behind her and waited for her eyes to adjust.
The room before her was 100ft deep with rectangular windows 40ft up. As her eyes became accustomed to the low light, she could now see the main doors at the end, they too had small windows.
Sandy focused on her exit. She kept her head high, back straight, and walked calmly. The stories of Rat Boy entering her mind. The last supposed victim a young musician who stayed late one night, only to never be seen again. The thought of being dragged down into the sewers by a giant rat gnawed at her mind.
Sandy felt a stray thread tickle her calve and she twitched her leg to make it stop. Then a damp fur smell reached her nose and goose bumps broke across her arms. The tickle came again, now on her ankle. Sandy’s insides turned to jelly as “Rat Boy” crossed her mind.
That’s his tale, she thought and clenched her jaw. Don’t turn around, keep going. The door was ten feet away. She sped up, her heels loud on the marble floor. Now it sounded like sharp claws clicking behind her. Sandy broke into a cold sweat, dropped her briefcase, and ran. She flung herself against the metal bar on the door, falling out into the empty night.
The door slammed behind her. She turned to look, there was a pale gray face, with beady red eyes in the window. Heart pounding wildly Sandy laughed, no matter, she was out.
Then she noticed her purse was no longer on her shoulder.
Terri swore silently, her co-worker just called in sick. She’d closed the store alone before. I can do it again
“Coming,” Terri called out to the couple looking at rings.
She was wrapping up the sale when a red-haired girl came out from the staffroom. Terri frowned. The girl wore a thin gray sweater, her shoulders were hunched, and she held her arms across her chest.
“Thanks, come again.” Terri then turned to ask the girl what she was doing but didn’t get the chance.
The girl dipped her head shyly. “Hi, I’m Amelia West.”
“So, Todd hired you and neglected to tell me huh?” She held out her hand. “I’m Terri.” The girl’s touch was gentle and cold. Terri released her hand uncomfortably. “Well it’s usually busy on Friday nights, so here,” she gave Amelia some keys, “show people the jewelry and if anyone wants to buy, I’ll help.”
The night got busy, as Terri predicted and she assisted her customers while keeping one eye on the quiet girl. At 8:45 they had a lull. Amelia stood hunched near Terri. “What’s your tattoo?”
“The clocks from artist Escher.” Terri could tell that Amelia was clueless. “Google him sometime, you’ll like his stuff.”
Amelia grinned, her blue eyes unblinking, holding her arms across her chest again.
Terri shivered and took a step away. “Do you have any tattoos?”
Amelia’s smile grew wider, she moved her hair aside, and exposed her shoulder.
Terri pulled the girl’s shirt down to see the tattoo, a large Parrot. “That’s beautiful, you need a tan.” She adjusted Amelia’s shirt back and felt how cold her skin was and shivered.
Abruptly Amelia turned, walked to the front door, and clicked the deadbolt.
Terri was about to say, you can’t do that yet when a man dressed in black appeared. His face was hidden in the shadows of his hoody. He yanked at the locked door. It rattled against the frame, and Terri took two steps back, while Amelia stood watching him. His head moved closer to the window, he peered in, then just walked away.
“Creepy! Good thing you locked the door early.”
Amelia hadn’t moved, nodded, and stared out the door.
Terri went into the staff room to retrieve her coat, when she came back out, Amelia was gone. Terri shook her head, strange girl. Her boyfriend pulled up, and she left for the night.
“Morning Todd.” Terri greeted her boss. “I met Amelia last night. A bit kooky, but nice.”
“You met who?”
“Amelia West. Young, pale, red hair.”
“If this is your idea of a joke Terri, I’m not laughing.”
“Why on earth would I joke about hiring a new girl?”
“Amelia West worked here eight years ago, and was stabbed to death just inside the door,” his eyes flashed to the front. “They never caught the guy.”
Terri froze, recalling the cold porcelain skin. Ghost girl may have saved her life.
People continue to file into the yard, as I stay hidden safely behind the curtained window. Glass crunches loudly beneath my high heels. My feet are now beginning to ache; I’ve been in them since 9 am. I part the gold-embossed curtain, feeling its silky smoothness cool upon my hot fingers. Peeking out, I see the neighbors crowding into my yard. They are jostling each other, stepping on my pansies and roses, wrecking it all.
What is wrong with these people? Do they think death eludes them?
Voices drift through the glass pane; I can hear all the inquisitive tones, but not the words. I let the curtain fall back to its natural folds. I move over the glass, and it crunches like eggshells. I look down at the once delicate glass rose that is now just colored remnants and sigh. Now is not the time for remorse over shattered things; I have bigger fish to fry.
As I walk through the dim room, I move around the tables and chairs easily; the layout is forever etched in my mind. Well… forever isn’t true. It is coming to an end soon; a single tear falls from my eye. I don’t bother to wipe it away as it leaves a cold trail down to my chin. Leaving that room with all my prized possessions would be harder than stepping over the body of the man I killed.
I feel no remorse about that; it’s funny how the mind works. I’ll miss my books and my blown glass collection, but not the man I just spent twenty-three years with. As I look down at his pale green eyes, they are already starting to cloud over. Death is a strange creature. I place my hand on his still-warm flesh. He had been full of life ten minutes ago; now nothing, a blank empty stare, almost as if he never existed. Ah, just as well. He wasn’t much of a human anyway. I move my hand over his heart; blood pooled on his shirt. My hand is now sticky, his blood matches my nails – how apropos.
Police sirens wail in the distance. I can hear people still talking outside. The gunshots had brought them running. I guess they were concerned, as we had been the perfect couple. I knew at that moment that if I ran from the house covered in blood and screaming, they would back me. I ought to say that we were attacked, and my husband was murdered. But, I want out; I am bored and tired, and just plain sick of life.
My eyes trail back to my library, and my glass collection, and I know this is where I belong. This is my home, where I was happiest – when alone. I kick off my shoes and move around the broken glass to my favorite chair. I sit back allowing the softness to envelop me; red lights flash beyond the curtains. I bring the gun up to my temple; a smile caresses my face as my finger tightens on the trigger.
Darkness swirls around me dissipating to a soft yellow light. I open my eyes, trying to remember where I was, and what had happened. A shadow suddenly blocks the light and my husband’s voice booms in my head.
“Welcome to hell bitch!”
My scream rips through the house as only a silent icy wind.
The little girl moved into her mother’s hip, burying her face amongst the soft ruffles of her skirt, as her mother put away the dishes in their new home.
As Mrs. Winterbottom’s hand came down on the door handle, her back grew rigid, she squinted, and gave a low grunt. Her perfectly coiffed hair remained motionless as she spun to the sales girl. “How do you expect me to leave with that disgusting man out there?”
The young sales girl lifted her head from the register eyebrow raised, “Sorry Ma…”
“Do you know who I am!” Mrs. Winterbottom glared at the girl’s nametag. “Casey.” She bit. “Get the Manager. Now.”
Casey’s face flushed, her cheeks burned. She wasn’t sure what the woman wanted her to do, as she was about to respond, a voice rang out and saved her.
“What is going on out there?” Fantima poked her head from the back of the store where she was busy receiving the latest shipment of Burmese Silk scarves.
Mrs. Winterbottom hoisted her Louis Vuitton bag higher on her arm, her chin lifted, her diamond tipped nails flashed in the florescent light. “I want that -” her lips drew back, exposing pearly white teeth, “thing, moved from the doorway. I would like to leave without being subjected to his, surely offensive odor. Not to mention pounced upon for money.”
Fantima took her job in stride; her small boutique sadly needed the business, even of people such as Shelly Winterbottom. Without hesitation, she stepped past the woman and pushed out the door; the tiny bells a delightful peel on a dreary autumn day.
“Hi, Charley.” Fantima greeted the filthy old man standing by her storefront. He was a regular; she was used to him and him to her. He had never spoken a word, but from the noises he did make — she feared he had lost his tongue.
She drew a five out of her flowing bohemian skirt. Charley’s hand opened, showing a black dirt encrusted palm. She placed the wrinkled bill in his hand and tucked her fingers over his. “Go get something hot to eat; I’ll see you later ok.” Fantima pat him gently on the shoulder, never afraid of the grime that coated him, after all, he was just another human in need.
Charley shuffled off, grateful for her kindness, Fantima was the only one that ever cared for him, which was why he always stayed near her. Sometimes on the coldest of days she would allow him to hunker down in her stock room. He moved slowly across the street and wished he had a way to repay her kindness. His feet ached from the cold, his stomach turned from hunger and his heart ached with loneliness.
When Fantima returned to her cozy store, the bells gave a soft tingle, as if sympathizing with Charley. “He’s gone now Mrs. Winterbottom; you can leave.”
“Well, it took you long enough.” Mrs. Winterbottom elbowed open the door, not wanting to touch where Fantima may have. At the curb her limo driver was ready, he opened her door — eyes dead ahead.
Casey shook her head, never having witnessed anything like this before. “What a bitc…uh…horrible woman.”
The corners of Fantima’s lips lifted ever so slightly, as she watched Charley maneuver laboriously across the road. “Nothing to worry about my dear,” she took Casey’s elbow and drew her away from the window. “She’ll get hers.”
“Yeah, well, I guess karma and what-not.”
Fantima nodded. “Yes, yes, Karma.” Her eyes travelled knowingly to the bells above her shop door.
At midnight that night, the shop was all closed up and dark when suddenly the silver bells on the door began to dance. They vibrated violently, shook, jumped and banged together, creating a cacophony of noise; had anyone been in the store they would have had to cover their ears. At 12:01 they stopped dead, the job was done.
The next morning Casey was back at work, updating the window display when she saw the Limo pull up out front. “Fantima! Can you come up, she’s back.”
“Who’s back darling?”
Casey stepped down from the step ladder, desperately wanting to be somewhere else when Mrs. Winterbottom came into the store. She was about to say, “her” when the sight outside stopped her dead.
The Limo door flew open without the driver’s assistance, and Mrs. Winterbottom tumbled out of the backseat. She was wearing body-hugging jeans, a red fluffy sweater, and high-tops. Her hair was standing in all directions, and she had a huge grin on her face. The door to the shop opened with a bang; the gentle bells jangled along with the excitement.
Mrs. Winterbottom raced up to Fantima. “It was you wasn’t’ it?” Her eyes danced joyously, her grin so wide it looked as though her cheeks were ready to split open. “You did this?” She grabbed Fantima and lifted her off the ground, planting kisses on her cheeks. “All I ever wanted was to be heard…and safe! What you have given me is a gift.” She put Fantima down and held her at arm’s length. “I am going to make things right again; you know that, don’t you?”
Fantima smiled and took Mrs. Winterbottom’s hand in her own. “I know you will,” she leaned in close. “Charley.”
“Where do you think he…uh..she…is?”
Fantima shook her head. “Sadly, I did hear Charley making quiet a raucous last night; I think the cops came and took him away.”
Mrs. Winterbottom frowned. “Oh, I know where she’ll be then.” She leaned in and kissed Fantima once more. “I’ll take care of her, don’t worry, and here, this is for you.” She waved at Casey and raced back outside.
Fantima stood with a large wad of cash in her hand and a gentle smile on her lips.
“What the hell was that?” Casey blinked, confused. “Has she gone off her rocker?”
“Quite the opposite my dear, she has found salvation.”
As the autumn blew on and winter moved in, Fantima kept a close eye on the news. There were stories cropping up daily about the newfound generosity of Widowed Billionaire, Mrs. Winterbottom.
How she donated millions to local shelters, orphanages, and mental hospitals. She became an advocate for the war veterans, helping replenish their coffers and working on getting them new housing. Giving aid, funding, and rehab, to the disabled. She even took one old vet under her wing, slathering him with the most attention and care. Even going so far as allowing him to live in her guest house, which of course was nicer than most working class homes.
When the reporters questioned Mrs. Winterbottom, “Why him?” She would reply. “Charley here was in Vietnam with my dear departed husband. And when I finally found him, I vowed to see that the remainder of his days were lived out as comfortably as possible.”
One reporter, was bold enough to question. “Even though he keeps making crazy accusations that he is you … or should I say, was you? That by some crazy magic you and he swapped bodies, do you feel safe around him?”
“Well, of course he’s a bit touched in the head, but he means no harm. Besides, I promised.” Mrs. Winterbottom placed her arm across Charley’s denim clad shoulder and pulled him in tight. She showed her pearlescent teeth for the camera and as the flash went off a single tear leaked from Charley’s eye.
“Didn’t I Charley? I promised.”
As the news played in Fantima’s shop, the silver bells tinkled in agreement.