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Chilling tales of the terminally introverted masses who hide so expertly amongst us...
Loners. Introverts. Hermits. Labels attached to those willfully isolated individuals who prefer their own company to the companionship of others. Not all such lone wolf personalities are birthed, however, but gradually created-molded over time, perhaps even forced into a solitary existence by circumstances beyond their control.
Witness then, six such psyche-altering transformations and the grave events that led those involved down a dark, twisted road toward utter isolation.
- The slacker son of a best-selling horror novelist finds peace and tranquility on his late father’s personal desert island oasis, at least until an uninvited guest with malevolent motives floats ashore.
– On the eve of a weather-related apocalypse, a middle-aged man and teenage girl form a bizarre, uneasy alliance within the stony confines of a futuristic fall-out shelter.
– A self-professed hermit discovers little solitude or serenity after volunteering for a government funded project code-named ‘Introvert’.
– An alcoholic ex-cop attempting to elude his inner demons via a desolate, mountaintop hideaway meets a kindred spirit in the way of an enigmatic, amnesia-stricken woman whose own checkered past might well prove fatal to them both.
– A psychiatrist comes to the aid of a veteran soldier unable to shake the horrors of a past battle that claimed his soul-mate, only to discover the that the scars of war can birth the most malevolent of demons.
– With great dread and trepidation, a pre-teen boy with definitive loner tendencies is forced to partake in the hellish rituals of the annual family reunion.
Contrary to public opinion, there can be tangible reasons behind such stark, anti-social conduct, such as the deep, permanent psychological scarring that can occur from recalling unspeakable terrors from one’s past.
Thus to those referred to as ‘Recluse’, living a solitary existence is not nearly so much a preference as it is destiny.
Print version vailable at Double-Dragon Publishing. Also available in Kindle format at Amazon.com and in ebook format at Fictionwise.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
THE ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, PART I
Well, here it is ten minutes ítil noon and sheís still among the missing. Didnít even bother to cook me up some brunch before traipsing off on one of her infamous island jaunts. Damned if Iíll ever comprehend that womanís mindset. Itís like sheís always late for an appointment she never had. Youíd think three blessed months on this island wouldíve altered such behavior. No matter ... Iíll do enough relaxing for the both of us. First off Iíll heat up some of those frozen waffles and wash íem down with a pot of the stoutest Joe I can take. Second, Iíll toss on a pair of swim trunks and kick back by the pool with an icy beverage and the last of Popís many bestsellers. Funny, in a tragic sorta way, that it took a global catastrophe for me to get rightly acquainted with the crazy bastardís lifeís work. Whatever, Iím sure Pop is peering straight up from the fiery pits of hell with an expression of fatherly pride at the mere concept. Sadistic jackass ... long may you simmer in Satanís crockpot.
I was thinking of giving the Internet another shot, but why waste precious time and effort on such a hopelessly lost cause? No way itís been miraculously revived overnight ... same with the satellite TV and radio transmitter. Frozen solid as my waffles, no doubt-dead as the swollen ranks of wandering corpses that make up the world population these days. Ah, no big deal anyhow. I never cared much for the Web except for the occasional porn surf. TV sucked sewer fluid and the radio was a wasteland of crappy music and still crappier political babblings.
The fact is, I ainít at all ashamed to confess to feeling damn relieved at the whole turn of events. Iíd been spouting off for years about making a permanent move to Popís little island getaway and living the rest of my life on cold beer and processed foods. Other peopleís opinions be damned-what exactly is so wrong about living oneís life in peaceful solitude? I could care less about said opinions-everyone possesses an asshole as well-but why shouldnít I, as an only child, enjoy the fruits of my fatherís labor? The only thing that kept me from making tracks years ago was Jenny and her passion for high-society living. She always felt the need to wear that mask of wealth ... to show off whatever new bauble or toy came into her greedy possession. Me, I never gave a ratís hairy hind leg about putting on airs. Never was my style to flaunt. Donít get me wrong ... I loved the unlimited supply of cash and all the artificial happiness it brought me ... but the status thing never meant squat. Besides, one who spends a large majority of his youth doing time in assorted rehabs finds it a bit difficult to feign a high level of class.
Jenny was always the actress while I played the part of bumbling stage hand. No doubt her friends always pondered, and more likely asked her outright, why she stayed with such a societal misfit as yours truly. To that I respond with two simple but extremely forceful words ... prenuptial agreement. Though admittedly I have to say there is a bond there, however threadbare. Twelve and a half years is a chunk of time, after all, especially amongst the blue-blood crowd. As far as Jen and me, there is a massive gray area between hate and love, mostly consisting of a thick, crusty layer of reluctant tolerance. The socialite and the boozy, drug-addled recluse-Howard freakiní Hughes and Madonna ... together forever. Who would have ever thunk it? Well, off to nuke some waffles, then to peruse the old manís vast library of meaningless but obviously lucrative words.
Thirty-eight minutes later:
Ah, another sun-drenched, carefree day on Slacker Island. What else could a guy ask for? Lounging poolside with a frosty cold beverage and a good book? Guess I should withhold judgment on the "good" part for a later date. Dadís works were never that well received by critics, but that sure didnít sway the buying public a single iota. I lost count years ago how many movies were adapted from íem. Dozens, Iíd say, though I never personally watched more than four or five. Never went in for guts íní gore, end-of-the-world scenarios, or futuristic soap operas, so that pretty well eliminated anything made from one of the old manís writings. Snooty critics aside, I remember reading in his obit where heíd sold something like one hundred and sixty million copies of his books worldwide-enough to afford houses on every freakiní coast and this modest little sixteen-room abode here, parked smack-dab in the center of the Pacific with no sister island in sight.
Damn, isnít life ironic, though? Pop would be having a knee-slapping field day with the worldís present-day fix, though he never was big on zombie-plague tales, if I recall. Called íem all redundant and lifeless, that last part said while flashing a sour smirk he often flashed in lieu of a genuine smile. What a cheery, fun-filled dude my old man was. Money and riches never made íim happy. Booze only added to the misery. Five or six ex-wives didnít exactly add joy to the mix. Still, I think if he could picture the weird, wild happenings going on about now, even his ultra-cynical butt might be capable of cracking a grin.
Letís see now ... twelve-forty-four and still no Jenny. Probably packed a freakiní lunch ... anything to put additional time and space between us. Not exactly sure what I did to irk her off this time. Rarely am. Sometimes my very existence seems to be enough. Probably something to do with falling off the wagon for the umpteenth time, though Iíd have to lay some of that particular blame on the old man. For one thing, I definitely inherited my love for the hard stuff from his boozy old soul. For another, it ainít my fault he left behind enough gin, vodka, and tonic on Slacker Isle to inebriate half the free world, or at least those still remaining upright with a working pulse.
Ah, well, they say time heals all wounds, and damned if time isnít the one commodity least likely to expire in these more-than-trying times.
On to the reading before all the melted ice transforms my gin and tonic into a slushy.
Chapter one, then, of Raymond J. Strikerís best-selling collection titled LONERS ... wow ... now isnít that conveniently fitting?