A critically acclaimed, award winning anthology of six novellas bridging the supernatural, paranormal, and speculative.
From the back cover:
"There's more to this world than flesh and bone."
Set in the mysterious space between the everyday world and an existence just beyond reach, "Oddities & Entities" traces a path through the supernatural, the paranormal, and the speculative. With moments of horror, dark humor, and philosophical transcendence, these tales explore a definition of life beyond the fragile vessel of the human body.
Author Roland Allnach returns with this second anthology, following his critically acclaimed debut book, "Remnant".
"Oddities & Entities" includes the following stories: Boneview Shift/Change (available for reading in full in Roland Allnach's den) My Other Me
Gray Elmer Phelps Appendage
** Bronze Medalist, Horror, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards** Finalist, Paranormal, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards**Award Winner--Finalist, Fiction/Horror, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards**Award Winner--Finalist, Fiction/Anthology, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards**Bronze Medal, Horror, 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards**Finalist, Short Stories, 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards
"Oddities & Entities"
Before Allison knew the meaning of words or the context of visions, she knew the Curmudgeon. It was there, lodged in her earliest memories, the memories that imbed themselves deeep in the psyche to shadow all future memories. When she lay in her crib as a pale and lumpy baby, she didn't know to cry when it came in her room, when it passed through her walls as if their existence were some unsubstantated rumor rather than studs, slats, and plaster. And though at any greater age she might have cowered and screamed, in her unclouded infantile mind there was no reference for fear or judgment, only the absorbance of what was. Perhaps the Curmudgeon knew this but, then again, perhaps not. As the years passed, it was a matter of little importance.
She remembered her first years of school. She was different; this realization was as stark as the full moon visits of the Curmudgeon were fantastic. When other children clamored to play in the sun and warmth, she found herself possessed by an ever-present chill. She felt most comfortable wearing black, without perceiving any conscious decision to that end. She preferred to stay inside, or in places of deep shade or shadow, and gaze out at the light. It wasn't that she shunned the warm light of the Florida sun, but the glare seemed to scald her eyes with its white intensity. Her eyes were her source of distinction, after all. Vast for her narrow face, their lumious, sea green irises formed tidal pools about the tight black dots of her pupils. Her stare was one that few could bear for long. Children and teachers alike found her unblinking silence a most uncomfortable experience, and her mute distraction in school led to the inevitable conclusion that she wasn't very bright.
She had no friends. Her world, though, wasn't as lonesome as it may have seemed.
"You know, I did this, back in the army," Eldin said with a chuckle as he rested against the side of the elevator. "Uncle Sam said that where my abilities was best utilized. Now who he to judge me? I guess seein' where they put me, they was sayin' I got no abilities." He shook his head. "So what about you? Why you wheelin' stiffies in the deep dark night?"
The man standing across from Eldin shrugged. "I don't know," he said with a confused look, "but I'm here now."
Eldin laughed. "The man don't even know why he here! Boy, you look like you fell from the sky and hit every branch on the way down. Now, what you say your name was?"
"You can call me John."
"You know, I had a boy worked down here before you, look like you and him could be brothers, like opposite sides of a coin, see. Is that the way it is?"
John shook his head. "No."
Eldin shrugged. "Well...okay, you know, whatever, right? He gone, you're here."
John rubbed his forehead. "So it seems."
'My Other Me'
The labels were distasteful, but their potential evolution perhaps more so: stalker and sociopath, sadist and murderer.
Noel sat in his car, alone in the vast, empty expanse of a commuter college parking lot. His knapsack was on the passenger seat and, resting on top, the results from the personality survey he had completed for one of his professors. It was supposed to be an elective assignment for an elective class, a paid exercise for volunteering his time, but those notions were lost. He had considered his misgivings, but he needed the money. When he sat in the computer library to fill out the survey his doubts had resurfaced, as his opinion of his nature wasn't all that positive to begin with. Intuition wouldn't let him down. He deemed himself weird, but the idea of being a threat had never entered his mind.
It was a small comfort. It was a big lie.
He shifted in his seat. Rain pattered on his windshield from the empty darkness above.
It started with a speeding ticket.
Dave had finished a rough day, the engineering firm at which he worked plagued with the madness of looming deadlines and broken budgets. His mind was a dizzying swarm of numbers and three-dimensional projections framed about his obsessive tendencies, so he was never aware of his speed as he flew down the freeway until flashing lights filled his rearveiew mirror. The trooper was a model of efficiency, his crisp little statements and flat tone deflating any personal sense of urgency within Dave's chest. For all the rebelliousness his subconscious had relished by speeding, his conscious mind fumed at the inescapable tentacles of order that constrained such a petty outburst of his will.
He rolled into his driveway exhausted and exaspereated. When he walked in the door of his townhouse he pulled off his tie, went straight to the kitchen, and opened a beer. A therapist once told him that he shouldn't drink, but he forced that memory away. Only after two long gulps did he care to turn around and let the mess of his living room register with his senses.
Snorkel, his cousin Peter, was sprawled on the couch among a mess of water bottles, empty bags of soy chips, and paper wrappers from Ray's Smokey Dogs, the outdoor cafe down the street. It was late in the afternoon, and the sun was still high in the sky, but Snorkel was snoring away, a wet rattle in his throat that escaped between his stubble ringed lips.
Dave was about to kick Snorkel's feet off the coffee table when a young woman came in through the sliding glass doors at the back of the townhouse. She was a curious creature, eccentric in her drifter's lifetstyle, much in the vein of Dave's cousin. It was only fitting that she was Snorkel's girlfriend, but her bright eyes and wide smile were always there to welcome Dave when he entered her sight.
She gave him a laze wave and giggled when she heard Snorkel's snore. She walked over to the couch, her bare feet silent on the carpet. Only a cropped shirt and peach bolored bikini bottom covered her body, leaving most of her lean, tanned frame open for view. Her name was Pixie. When she felt Dave's stare she giggled again, waving her hands by her head to get his attention. "Should we wake him up?"
Dave thought of the ticket. He hated his job, hated the doldrums of his life. He glanced at Pixie's thighs. "Let's get out of here," he said, and with that, kicked Snorkel's feet off the table.
I'm not what I would consider a 'bad' man. If you would only understand my predilections, I think you would see that I have a sense of morality. It's just that given my predilections - my needs - my moral perspective is perhaps somewhat different from what you would call the 'norm'. I have to feed and, until you overcome your revulsion for that basic reality, you won't understand me.
Common wisdom states the obvious truth that there is only one first impression, yet there is a subliminal truth of subtle wisdom that first impressions tinge all things that follow. An early memory, a dramatic moment, an indelible impression, such a thing can imprint itself on the subconscious lens of perception within one's mind, haunting every shadowy corner of dreams and nightmares, hovering over the daytime world as an unseen, and barely perceived, shadow. And even though that memory may have conscious form, the roots of its complexity can delve the deepest parts of awareness to the subconscious core of the mind, mingling with the firmament of self-perception until the two are inseparable, linked in an inescapable cycle of cause and effect.
Elmer's first vivid memory was such a thing, a thing of black leather wings spreading across his sight in the humid darkness of a summer camp. He woke to the double sting of bat fangs sinking into the back of his neck as he slept on his cot, gleaming yellow eyes peering down at him as pain lanced his body. His senses at once filled with the screams of other children and, as he rolled over, the bat that had assaulted him fluttered over his face before he swatted the thing in terror. His hands seemed to multiply over him, only for him to realize his sister had jumped from her cot to defend him. The bat swooped away, joining its fellows in a chorus of shrieks to escape the camp house through the open skylights. Elmer sank under his sheets, clutching one hand over the bite on his neck and blood seeping from the wound, his eyes wide with fear.
His sister, one of the house conselors, stood by his bunk, waving a white sheet to get everyone's attention and calm the shouts and cries of frightened children. But when Casey turned, Elmer trembled, for he saw a wound on her neck similar to what he had suffered.
Five were bitten, but only Elmer and Casey had wounds that seeped blood. Over the next few days it was clear by the swelling, the odd coloration, and the short fever they both endured that their wounds were different from the others. There was some concern, and the camp supervisors called Elmer's parents, but no sooner had the symptoms seeemd to climax than they subsided, and with stunning speed the wounds withered away, leaving a pair of tiny pale dots where the fangs had punctured skin.
Casey took it in stride. Their parents held the opinion she was of stronger stuff than Elmer, what with his shyness and reclusive nature. Elmer was only ten, but he was inclined to agree. In the end, it was of little importance. He was never able to put his finger on the exact nature of it, but in the months and years that followed, he knew one thing for sure.
Somehow, in some way, he was not the person he was before the bite.
Neither, for that matter, was Casey.
At least that's what the villagers called it, or to be more specific, what it sounded like to those not acquainted with their tongue. The word was ancient, passed down for generations, perhaps extending to the time of the step-pyramid builders and their mysterious mountaintop cities. Randal never heard what the exact wording was, or what the translation might be; he had little care for either, even when times were better. But somewhere in those rugged tropical jungles of southern Mexico, in mist clad heights where only the slow Indian chants kept any real record of events, it had a meaning that went past anything he thought he could perceive.
His body shook with convulsions. His skin, becoming more stiff and leathery with every passing breath, pulled across his trembling muscles in waves of agony. Something would have to give. It was an impossible situation. He wanted to scream, but only a hoarse wail registerd with his ears. His vocal chords tightened in his throat. His tongue flattened against the top of his mouth, contorting around the plastic tube thrust between his teeth to prevent him for choking. He could taste something, something beynd the bitter flavor of his blood.
It was a moldy taste. It was the taste of bark.
He couldn't open his eyes. Wide leather straps bit into his wrists and ankles as he contorted in the peak of the convulsions. The pain in his side was unbearable. The pressure building inside his abdomen was mounting, mounting - Christ, let it pop already!
He slammed his head against the metal table that served as his confinement.
How did it all go so wrong?
It was a pointless thought, but it was a desperate thought as well. He knew the answer, knew it from having seen it in the eyes of those in the past who had the misfortune of crossing his path. The convulsions eased as it came to him. It was a simple thought, and he liked to keep things simple.
It all looks easy until things fall apart.
(To explore an extended PDF excerpt, visit the author's website, www.rolandallnach.com)
Professional Reviews 'Oddities & Entities' by Roland Allnach
Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers Favorite
"Oddities & Entities" by Roland Allnach, categorized as horror fiction, is unlike any other horror fiction I have ever encountered. The book is comprised of 5 stories, each of which is written a cut above the norm. There are no recognizable monsters in these stories, no sophomoric zombies, no evil ancient vampires, and none of the standard fare I have become accustomed to in the horror genre. I do like the usual run of the horror genre, but this book is written with thoughtful intelligence, for an intelligent adult reader. I do not mean to imply sexual situations or coarse language. What I mean is, any intelligent reader, capable of deep thought, will find this book irresistible. The 5 individual stories are as unlike as any 5 stories can be, yet each one is so sufficiently well-written that, if sold as individual short stories, I wouldn't hesitate to award 5 stars to each of them.
To say I like this book is a crass understatement. Each story drew me in and evoked my empathy for various characters. These stories forced me to actually think beyond what I was reading. Each premise was unique, at least in my experience; I have never encountered any other stories that even approach the situations these present with authority and authenticity. If I could boil down my perception of this book into a single word, that word would be WOW! Roland Allnach's first anthology, "Remnant", which I have also read, was placed as a finalist in the Science Fiction category in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards. I absolutely expect "Oddities & Entities" to follow suit. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. Be prepared to have your comfort zone challenged.
'Oddities & Entities' by Roland Allnach
Reviewed by Cynthia Brian, host of ‘Starstyle’ on World Talk Radio
Horror in Poetic Prose
Normally books I choose to review are non-fiction, upbeat, positive, and life-enhancing. Horror is not a genre that I read, but when Roland Allnach’s Oddities & Entities crossed my desk, I was intrigued by the sentence “Set in the mysterious space between the everyday world and an existence just beyond reach, ‘Oddities & Entities’ traces a path through the supernatural, the paranormal, and the spectacular.”
The read didn’t disappoint. Oddities & Entities is an anthology of six tales that explore the meaning of life beyond flesh and bone. The stories are gritty, gruesome, bewitching, and beautiful. Allnach began writing as a hobby when he was a teenager without dreams of becoming an author. After more than two decades working the night shift in a hospital, he had experienced an abundance of strange and abnormal activities, many of which found their way into his writings. Allnach is a master storyteller with a powerful pen. His words flow as gently as a stream meandering through a bucolic meadow even as he describes nightmarish scenes.
Roland was a guest on my internationally broadcast radio program, Starstyle® -Be the Star You Are!® and he enthralled our listeners around the world as he described real life happenings hidden beyond the veil, his writing process, and his runaway imagination. An avid reader, Allnach has a do-it-yourself personality, thus when he writes, he studies what he reads then designs his own musicality for his sentences. The fluid transparency of his words catapult the reader into the world of his macabre characters forcing one to make a moral judgment on his philosophical musings. We experience the paranormal, the speculative, and the crazed with Allnach’s poetic prose. He is a master writer of the surreal and deserving of the numerous awards he is winning.
Oddities & Entities will entice, frighten, and shock as the little voices that live in the author’s mind jump into yours. Enjoy the creatures, the complexities, and the curveballs. The horror and the haunting have never been more therapeutic!
Cynthia Brian is Producer/Host of StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® Radio and a New York Times best selling author
'Oddities & Entities' by Roland Allnach
Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb, Bestsellersworld
If you’re fans of quality horror literature, you owe it to yourselves to check out the up-and-coming author, Roland Allnach, and his collections of brilliant novellas, Remnant (which I’ve reviewed at this site elsewhere), and Oddities & Entities. The stories he writes are stealth bombs of suspense and they have a high creepiness factor that suck his readers in like quicksand teeming with all sorts of vile, squiggly creatures. That may sound unappetizing, if you, like his characters, are mired in the quicksand of predicaments he writes about; but, if you’re a fan of the horror genre reading them, they’re like electrical shocks to the pleasure centers of the brain.
Oddities & Entities consists of six marvelous miniature masterpieces of horror. I won’t go into each in-depth, but I will touch on some of the many highlights that make this a stand-out collection that you should add to your personal libraries. The six novellas are: “Boneview (one of my personal favorites),”Shift/Change,” “My Other Me,” “Gray,” “Elmer Phelps (also nicely atmospheric and twisted),” and the collection concludes with the polished gem, “Appendage.”
“Boneview,” is a tale about a young woman who has a most remarkable gift, though it’s often more like a curse to her: Allison can use her psychic ability called boneview to see how people will die. It’s like she gets an X-ray gaze into their futures, into whatever degenerative bone diseases the people might develop. Allison can peer into their bodies and learn if they will get into a car wreck, or fall off of a ladder and break their necks.
Allison discovers that her powers are more of a burden than a blessing. Two different entities want to get at her and use her for their own purposes. There’s a bizarre but very cool creature called the Curmudgeon who wants to become more human, and desires to steal her first-born to accomplish this goal. And, there’s someone who is ostensibly a human, but who travels all around the country killing people with the sight and cutting out their eyeballs to save their immortal souls.
In “Shift/Change,” a hospital worker struggles to regain his memory while being confronted by a series of desperate people. The character, Eldin, takes life and death very nonchalantly, telling the new employee with the memory issues, John, that: “Time don’t mean nothin’ down here.” Some people like the junkie, Rose, pay Eldin money to shoot up there. Others pay for the twisted desire of necrophilia with the “stiffies.” i.e., to have sex with the corpses. How is this new employee similar to one that the hospital used to employ? When one has unfinished business to take care of, can even death prevent him from giving himself up to the cops?
“My Other Me,” reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, especially the ones in which he mentions doppelgangers. That’s because, in Allnach’s novella, a college student finds himself displaced in his own body by his alter ego. If your alter ego is someone like Superman, everything’s fine–but, what if your alter ego was that of a serial killer? “My Other Me,” is a great take on this theme.
I’ll just discuss in brief one more of the six novellas, “Appendage.” It is the final story of the collection, and it’s about what happens when a cynical mercenary is hired by his son to protect a research lab on the verge of a stunning discovery. Without hopefully giving too much away, the story reminded me somewhat of the movie Predator. That’s because much of it takes place in a jungle. The mercenary, Randal, discovers that he has an inoperable brain tumor. This novella, among many other things, illustrates that “Going Green,” is not always a good thing to do.
Oddities & Entities is a collection of six tales of the macabre which will chill your spine. The novellas made me think, as I was reading them, of some of the best Twilight Zone episodes I’ve ever viewed. Roland Allnach already impressed me with his suspenseful collection of short stories, Remnant, and he has proven with this latest collection that he is rapidly becoming a master of the horror/suspense genres. Horror afficionados, check out Oddities & Entities today, and be on the look-out soon for my interview with the author, Roland Allnach, at this site (www.bestsellersworld.com)!