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Anthony Toro is back with his latest release, Apparition - a paranormal thriller that yanks the reader out of their comfort zone and into a darkness few could ever imagine or explain.
Soon after eight year-old Antonio Thomas moves to Tucson with his family, he begins to experience strange events - unexplainable noises and images that appear to inexplicably originate then disappear. At first these occurrences are brushed aside as merely nightmares, or just the typical creative mindset of a child. As Antonio grows older, he forces himself to adapt and ignore the on-going mystic activity. By the time he reaches adulthood, Antonio has become almost immune to these occurrences, until circumstances change, forcing him to face his personal demons.
The hazy, somewhat transparent figure sat in the rickety wooden rocking chair, hovering in the middle of the dark bedroom. A whitish-gray mist ap-peared to slowly rise from the base of the chair, but where it originated from could not be determined. The chalk-white, wrinkled face had no distinguishing features, which in itself made the face that much more remarkable. The black pits, where the eyeballs should be, appeared almost demon-like. For some reason, the lack of eyes did not reduce the locking gaze the figure seemed to cast upon the boy.
Why had he turned to look? Antonio wavered between frustration and complete fear, then tipped toward pure terror. He pinched himself again and blinked his eyes in hopes that this nightmare would end; however, the image would not disappear. The steady creaking of wood as if sliding across a wooden floor kept every hair alive on the back of Antonio’s neck, especially knowing his bedroom floor was carpeted. That was the original noise that had awaken him from his deep slumber. He now wished with all his eight-year-old heart that he had never turned away from the comfort of the wall but rather ignored the sounds and had gone back to sleep. At least it sounded fairly reasonable as the thought raced through his head along with millions of other random ideas. Regardless, Antonio knew it was too late to change anything.
The two beings now seemed to be locked in a trance-like state. The boy lay motionless on his bed; the fire engine comforter spread across his small frame and pulled up to his left ear. He tried to clear his mind, attempting to rationalize his precarious sit-uation. He considered yelling for help, but even if he could get his vocal cords to work in this traumatic situation, his mind raced back to the week earlier when he had screamed in the middle of the night for his parents’ help after getting spooked. His dad had come downstairs and reprimanded him for being so dramatic and inconsiderate of his brother and sister trying to sleep down the hallway in their respective bedrooms.
Besides, as his father explained, all houses make sounds during the night and he needed to get used to it. Unless it was an emergency, his next late-night outburst would result in a loss of his privilege to watch television for the next month.
However, since that was only sounds, and this was now someone in his room, wouldn’t this qualify as an emergency? Antonio deliberated, unable to determine the correct answer.
Antonio’s mind raced back to their previous house in San Diego. If all houses made sounds, how come he did not have this issue before they moved here? Just another reason to not like Tucson!
As the ominous creaking continued, the float-ing apparition sat staring as if reading Antonio’s every thought; the detached gaze locked firmly onto the boy’s dark eyes. Antonio could do nothing to stop the convulsions overtaking his body. He considered one more option of running out his bedroom door, but feared getting closer to the spirit and fog, or whatever that slow moving haze was.
Suddenly, the rocking chair stopped moving. Antonio could feel every muscle in his body tighten. One of the bony, semi-transparent index fingers lifted from the chair’s wooden arm, as if pointing toward the ceiling. Antonio’s eyes glanced toward the door, wishing for his mom or dad to suddenly enter the room and save him from this hell. His eyes scanned the alarm clock next to his bed. At two-thirty seven in the morning, he knew they were sound asleep upstairs in their safe, comfortable bed.
Desperate, the boy closed his eyes, said a quick prayer and forced himself to open them ever so slowly.
The black, empty eyes were still staring but now the spirit appeared to have shifted itself forward, closer to Antonio. More fingers began to move as if flexing to stretch the ageless joints. As the figure leaned nearer to the bed, Antonio watched the body appear to levitate from the seat, showing the wooden framework of the chair’s back through the hollow figure. A bony hand began to lift from the chair and reach out toward the boy. Unable to control the visi-ble shaking of his body, tears rushed down his cheeks like a pipe springing a leak.
The figure appeared to move effortlessly as it reached within a foot of the small boy. Antonio threw his head toward the wall, yanked the comforter over his head and attempted to scream – nothing came out. He contracted his entire body and waited for the bony touch across his skin, worrying just how much it was going to hurt.