The Coming Storm
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Number of pages: 220
Cover Artist: Shari Ryan
Small-town life can be hard for a dead girl…
For Veronica Fischer the night to night life of a bloodsucking madam in Middle America is tough enough before she adopts Rachel Gregory, an eight year old ghost.
After her house is set on fire and Rachel disappears, all signs point to foul play. When she finds herself with a hit out on her unlife and warrants for her arrest, it becomes clear she’s going to need help.
Now she has to contend with horny zombies, violent spirits, and murderous grave robbers if she’s ever going to find Rachel and discover the awful truth of the coming storm.
A raucous ride through the dangerous lives of the lecherous undead.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/95oy3Sxf370
I’m told it’s an oddity that I still sleep. It only comes in short bursts, no more than forty-five minutes at a time. Most others with my condition, and I have only known a handful, tell me they don’t sleep anymore. Some of them haven’t in more than five decades. I can’t imagine the hell that must be. Even in my brief moments of rest, I still dream and in that I find relief. Even if the dreams aren’t what I like, they are still an escape.
The soft thickness of my comforter envelops me as I relax back into bed. Before I’m completely awake, my mind begins to unfold, opening to the world around me. In the distance, the fog is rolling in off the river, dense and blanketing, its vaporous fingers right there on the edges of my consciousness. The night is cool, and the last lights of the dying day dance across my ceiling, reflected from the crystals hanging in my window. The light tinkle as they sway into each other is a reassuring sound; the beautiful prisms they cast, a blessing. Not one night comes that I don’t wake to thank Jules for having the windows in this house ‘treated’. I can actually see the sun, even if I can’t be out in it.
I am now completely aware for miles around me. I’m awake, and not even grudgingly so. Not tonight. He’ll be here soon. I look forward to it and fear it all at once, but I ask myself ‘why dwell on what we can’t change?’
A soft breeze blows across me as I slip out of my bed, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand out. My mind recognizes the sensation as a chill, even if my dead flesh can’t feel as it once did.
Rubbing a hand down from the base of my skull, in a futile attempt to warm myself, I open the lid to the old steamer trunk Julie brought up from the basement today. She aired out everything in it while I slept, and the interior smells as though she even put some of my perfume on a few of the choice garments. I breathe in deeply and can the corner of my mouth turns up slightly. Time may have dulled Jules’ scent, but it’s still unmistakable, mingled in with the fragrance in the clothing.
Clothes have always held memories for me. The crimson silk of a dress drops down over me and it’s as though his eyes were on me again. The mirror reveals the garment to be no more out of place, for its slinky cut or lack of length, than it did when I first wore it a lifetime ago, when I could still remember being a girl. I first put it on in front of him and twirled around to raise the hem, hoping to entice and astonish with my feminine wiles, foolish enough back then to believe that because I loved him, a creature like him was even still capable of love.
I’ve learned from his example and years of my own mistakes – emotion is a weakness to be managed.
Yet, here I am, slipping into this dress that I haven’t worn since he left, simply because I know he’ll remember it.
Stepping out into the thick evening air, the raw power of the river hits me with the force of a freight train. Even from this distance, the power is unmistakable. Tonight, though, it has an odd feeling, as though it were restrained.
Standing still with my eyes closed, I concentrate and listen to the pulse of the water rolling heavily over the rocky bed, feel the lapping, almost angry waves against the shoreline. I don’t know why closing my eyes helps me bond to my surroundings, it just always has. It must be another facet of my insanity.
I’ve never met someone with my affliction that was as sane as they had been when they were alive. I wasn’t ever all that sane, either, but I’ve grown more detached as time has gone by. Too often these days, I feel like a spectator. Maybe that’s just my ‘coping mechanism’. My therapist would love to know about this fabulous train of thought. Prick.
As I enter the garage, it occurs to me that I’ve only got two cars at this house. Frank was to take Julie back to town with the Charger this afternoon to keep up the appearance that everything was normal. I’m certainly not taking my old Volkswagen Beetle to go bar hunting, so the flat black Eclipse will get a work out tonight. I hate this car, but she’s been fast enough to outrun a lot of demons I didn’t feel like facing.
Pulling out of the driveway, I already wish I’d stayed at the other house today. The drive into town is only thirty minutes, but I’m tense enough tonight and don’t need the wait. Telling myself that I needed to be here, for safety’s sake, only makes me feel more upset at my fear and lack of control.
Six months ago, I’d have talked to Lucy; she’d have taken the edge off. If she were here, though, I’d have had no need to contact Jules. Now I get to feel like a failure and look like one, too.
The tires scream as I kick the car almost sideways, narrowly avoiding a deer. My lack of focus is getting worse. As much as the idea repulses me, tonight I’m actually going to have to go look for food instead of letting it come to me. I haven’t had to do that in years. On one hand, it’s a fitting start to the night, but on the other, I had really thought I’d outgrown eating out.
I always forget how much sensory input I lose when I spend time around all the steel and pavement. The dark moonless drive down rural roads is a blessing, putting me more in tune with the land, at once one with the leaves on the trees, the bats overhead, and the rocks around the base of the roadside.
The sound of the insects in the high grass is comforting. Their flittering finds my ears even over the engine noise. They are mine as much as everything else here; as much as I am a part of them. It took more than twenty years to reach this level of awareness, and I’m still not foolish enough to believe I’ve mastered it.
I used to be able to spend time expanding my mind. I used to do a lot of things I haven’t been able to do lately. Everything has devolved so fast and I’m still reeling.
The past year I’ve been so caught up in the life of a dead girl, I’ve dealt with little else.
Rachel died eighteen months ago at the ripe old age of eight; I met her after that. She was hanging around the Jefferson House, where my girls work. If she hadn’t picked that place to haunt, I doubt I’d be in the mess I’m in now.
The town springs up slowly. Houses begin to sit closer together, then nearer to the road. Side streets appear, and businesses start to intersperse among the spider web of tight residential development, obviously undertaken with no real planning or forethought. Then, at last, the glow of the streetlights tells me I’m back where I’m in control. This is the town I run, inside and out. Or I did.
Passing the street that leads to the Jefferson House, it takes will not to turn. I want to check up on things, but personal priorities come first and I have to trust Julie has everything well in hand.
The dulcet tones of a southern rock cover band blare from six blocks away tingling my eardrums. The music is louder than usual. It should be a fun night, or at least a packed house. Either way, I’m content.
The transmission voices its complaint as I downshift onto the access road. I’ll never really like this car, but she does get from A to B more quickly than most. I still wish I’d driven something nicer tonight, something with a top I could put down. But, in the end, the car I’m in is the least of my concerns right now.
The lot isn’t full yet, leaving plenty of good spaces, but rock star parking wasn’t really a concern of mine to begin with. This just means that after I eat and pick him up, I should be able to get back here to a manageable crowd.
If I’m lucky, he’ll want to be social tonight. If not, then I’ll be too busy to make it back here at all. I really want to show him that the biggest part of my life is still under control, so he won’t only see the little girl that has to call him in as her savior. Again.
Why do I need so badly for him to be proud of me?
As I cross the parking lot, the lingering scents of sweat, cheap beer, and longing hang heavy in the air already. This might be a little too easy. Though catching a fresh meal has never been really what I’d call difficult. That’s why the small town, Midwestern life suits me; I usually get what I want and rarely have to work that hard to have it. Hopefully, years of having my food delivered hasn’t left me too out of practice.
Someone sees me coming and opens the door and holds it for me. That’s the thing about being a regular in a small town rural bar – you are a known commodity, more or less. This helps and hurts when you have to hunt for food where you also gather socially. Like a balancing act. Some are good at it; some are not. Those who have been less than good at it around here, I’ve had to deal with. No one pisses in my pool even once and gets to do it again.
There’s a big cowboy at the end of the bar, a couple bikers near the pool tables, and a few burly construction workers at a table. After only the briefest pause, my route is clear in my mind. The first taker is my next victim. I really love playing this game. Maybe I’m not so rusty, after all.
I don’t get the chance to make it very far. As I pass the bar, in my peripheral vision, the dark brown of the cowboy hat moves in my direction.
“Now this is why I came out tonight. A good looking girl in tight fitting dress!”
The booming words come projected from the stout bear of a man standing at the end of the bar undressing me through his beer goggles.
The cowboy it is; he’ll make a full meal.
I do my best to fake a blush, while acting interested and offended all at once. Pretending to care what men think is an art. It takes moments to learn, but lifetimes to master. I’d like to believe I’m an expert.
I walk over to him smiling but with my eyes downcast. “My name’s Veronica. Who are you, handsome?”
He puffs up in his detail-stitched denim shirt, pushing out his barrel chest in a vain attempt to hide his well-tended gut. He’d be fairly good looking if he didn’t obviously take such pride in how good looking he thinks he is.
“They call me Buck, and if I could I’d like to do a lot more than buy you a drink.” he slurs slightly at me.
He motions to the bartender for another round and I do my best to blush again, this time giving a halfhearted laugh at his insipid comment.
“Here ya go, darlin’.” He hands me a Jägerbomb and tries to force it to my lips “Bottoms up, baby!”
He reminds me why I live in a small town; this corn-fed hick really thinks he’s irresistible. Well, who am I to disappoint? I down the drink like a good girl going bad, exhale deeply, and lean over into him, letting my neckline plunge as it was designed to do. As old and tired as this dance is, I really do love his eyes on me. Some things never change.
“Now, that was worth it, wasn’t it?” he asks me proudly. “Buck won’t steer ya wrong.”
“We can go somewhere more private if you’d like…Buck,” I whisper softly in his ear, pulling back almost as slowly as the wicked grin spreads across my face. His perverse smile hides nothing. I have him now – hook, line, and zipper.
Money changes hands as we exit the bar. I laugh a little out loud while remembering the lack of faith I’d had in my abilities. I try to lead him to my car, but he’s intent on going to the alley behind the building. I try to convince him, sliding my hand slowly down over the large oval belt buckle with his name on it. But he’s convinced the alley is what excites him, and I don’t want to take the time to change his mind so I follow along.
It begins subtle and playful, but it’s clear that’s not what he’s in the mood for. He pushes me down onto my knees in a matter of seconds, quickly wrapping a hand in my hair and beginning to jerk my head back and forth violently.
He couldn’t hurt me if he tried so I let his game continue on his terms. Using my mouth like a cheap sex toy is a bit insulting, I guess, but I don’t need to breathe so I’m not gagging or choking. As always, I’m here to get what I need, and so I’ve gotten used to allowing them what they need. I look at it like my public service, or my good deed.
I could just take what I want and be done, but that generally leads to more problems than I want to deal with. I’ve even grown bored with the games of superiority and subservience. I let them feel dominant, and powerful. It’s the least I can do, really. Besides, the heightened state of arousal makes them taste better, even if most of them could use a lesson in hygiene.
It’s been so long since I did this in public. It might even be a little exciting if I weren’t so anxious, or if Buck were more attractive.
I’m only vaguely aware of the fact that he’s calling me a dirty whore. A little laugh flitters inside that he would call me dirty; the irony is lost on him but not me. I’ve almost completely tuned him out, focused on the job I’m here to do.
And then he makes a mistake; he hits my face, hard. If I were still alive, it would have done some damage, broken bone, maybe even knocked me out.
This isn’t playful anymore – this bastard actually likes to hurt women – now, I’m done playing.
I pull back slowly from him, looking at his fist wrapped around what looks like a roll of quarters. He’s using every ounce of strength and leverage he has to try to hold me on my knees. He has no more effect holding me down than the weight of my clothes. His eyes begin to widen and he lets go of my hair as I rise slowly and determined. His fist is still drawn back, but we both know he’s not going to swing. I’m going over all the painful ways I can drive home the point that he doesn’t get to hurt the girls he plays with, all the while considering how much I love this dress and don’t want to ruin it.
Standing in front of him I wipe his liquid from the corner of my mouth and stare deeply. I can see the panic in his eyes. I can smell his fear, deep, rich and growing, and for the first time tonight, I’m actually aroused.
“Now, Buck, what could possibly have made you think that was a good idea?” I ask in a cool and controlled voice.
“Get back on your knees whore! I ain’t paying you to fucking talk!” He spews the words out loudly, in a vain attempt to regain control as he tries to force me back down with one hand, while still menacing with his fist. He only succeeds in ripping my dress.
Not this dress, not tonight. He’s decided it for me; tonight is the end of his story.
“I’m used to the rough stuff, Buck.”
In an instant, I have his throat in my hand and his back against the wall. He’s beginning to shake as he draws back to swing.
“I was just going to let you off with a little pain and a warning about hurting working girls, and look what you’ve done.”
The fear pours off of him in waves as I disregard his raised fist and calmly show him my torn dress. It’s enough to make even my body react involuntarily to the stimulation. “You want a pretty girl to throatfuck, you pay for it. We’re all good. You like it a little rough, that’s fine. But slapping a girl around hard enough to actually hurt them? We just don’t do that, Buck. You’re incredibly lucky I don’t bruise easy.”
I flash him a smile and for just a moment I can see he thinks it’s all going to be okay.
“We had a perfectly good deal worked out, and now you’ve ensured that I’m the last thing you’re gonna see, and given me the extra work of dealing with your corpse.”
He shudders and wets himself.
It really is dirty how hot this has gotten me. I’ll blame it on my state of mind, certainly not wanting to give this bastard any credit.
I peer deeply into his eyes, and his mind unfolds to me. I see all that he had planned for me; I know all that is ‘Buck’. The last restraint I had left is gone. He’s from out of town, no one here knows him, and only his trucking company will miss him.
I apply just a touch more pressure, and with a flick of my wrist, he goes limp. I let go and he crumples to the ground in a heap. Quick and painless is better than he deserves, but I’m pressed for time.
I drink from him what I need and leave him piled up behind the dumpster. At least he’s served his purpose, even if he was more trouble than I’d planned on.
Why this dress? Any other dress he could have ripped and he’d still be breathing. Clearly, I’m too stressed out.
I dial my cell and wait, more than a little irritated when I get voicemail. “Frank, you really need to call me back. I have a pick up for you and it’s time sensitive. Remind me again why I keep you on payroll?”
I walk back up to the end of the alley and wait for my phone to ring. The straps on the left shoulder of the dress are ripped completely out of the back and there are two deep tears where they had been attached. This is what happens when you have to rush. Things don’t go as planned, and then shit gets broken.
“Can I help you with that?”
His voice is steady, soft, and scares me almost out of my skin. This is why I pay him so well.
I turn to face him and am a bit taken aback to see him dressed in jeans and a wife-beater. He’s never this down-dressed, even when I tell him to be.
“Not with my dress, but you can wrap that up,” I fume, nodding my head back down the alley to what remains of Buck. “And make it disappear.”
Frank O’Leary looks like what a Greek god should look like. Chiseled out of stone; an example of everything that makes a man attractive. His mane of auburn hair, always perfectly messy, hangs down between his shoulder blades. Like all men who look this good, Frank has no interest in women. He also has very few morals, a deviously creative mind, and an unequaled love for money. That serves to make him an irreplaceable asset. I keep telling myself I can never trust him completely, but he’s too smart to bite the hand that pays for his lifestyle.
Also, despite my attempts to keep him at arm’s length, I’ve grown attached to him over the years.
He stares, one eyebrow raised, at the boots jutting visibly out from behind the dumpster and nods. “Any particulars on how he disappears or just ‘out of sight out of mind?’”
“Just make it fucking happen, Frank! I don’t have time for bullshit tonight!” As soon as the words escape me, I’m aware they’re harsher than he deserved.
The look on his face says it all. He understands. He’s not happy about it, but he knows why I’m stressed and he’ll accept it for now and hope that things will get better.
“He is coming in tonight, then?”
“Should be here in about an hour.”
I really have to get back to the old me, and soon. I know better than to kill this close to where I go to relax. I know he knows that, too. It felt good to destroy that piece of shit, and save generations of women from having to deal with him, but I still know better.
Frank looks down the alley again, then back to me and holds out a set of keys with a silver skull keychain. He knows me too well. I take the keys to the Charger and hand him back the ones to the little flat black speedster.
“How much gas does she have?” he asks, still looking down the alley, sizing up the job.
“You need to get some.” I call back at him, already walking toward the emerald-green muscle machine. “You’re on fumes.”
He’s muttering under his breath as I get in, but his voice is less than a whisper and it gets lost under the deafening roar of the engine coming to life. I put the top down and back her out slowly while checking my watch. Not much time left.
I leave the lot and the mess behind me, able to count on Frank. I have to get to the airport, and make sure everything is secure before his plane lands.
Character Name: Veronica Fischer
Character Bio: Veronica is a madam in a small Kentucky town. She’s been a bloodsucker for decades now, and recently adopter her first child – Rachel, an 8-year-old ghost. She’s into fashion, things of beauty, good music, and being in charge.
The following is believed to be the audio transcript of Dr. Julianna Montclair’s, a state licensed therapist, interview with Veronica Fischer. Dr. Montclair confirms that she does record her sessions, and even identified the tape this transcript was taken from as one that had been in her possession. However, in her sworn statement Dr. Montclair claims never to have met with Ms. Fischer, or to have recorded a session with her. The tape was acquired through a confidential informant, through means that make it inadmissible as evidence. The actual recording has been misplaced from the evidence file; all that remains is this transcript which you will find attached.
Thanks for taking the time to familiarize yourself with this information; it may be of use to you in the future as the investigation continues. Please disregard the obvious falsehoods in Ms. Fischer’s answers, and look only to her admissions of criminal activity.
Detective David Lewis
Pekin Police Department
Interview transcript begins:
(audible click as the microcassette recorder comes to life)
Veronica: So… You’re recording this?
Dr. Montclair: That’s right Ms. Fischer, and yes, I am. That was detailed in the Informed Consent forms you signed. Once again, my name is Dr. Montclair and these recordings are for my records only. We are bound by therapist/patient confidentiality. Nothing we discuss leaves this room unless you actively threaten to kill yourself or someone else. There recordings allow me to refer back to what we talk about as I transcribe my notes. With these recordings I don’t have to rely on just my memory for details we discuss and of treatment. And, not keeping any records is below the standard of care, unethical and, illegal.
Veronica: That sounded rehearsed.
Dr. Montclair: That’s because it is. I do have to give those facts to all my new patients. I’m sorry if it seems a bit… robotic.
Veronica: No, that’s fine… but you realize that I have a regular therapist, right? This is just kind of a fill in thing while he’s on vacation. That’s clear, right?
Dr. Montclair: Perfectly clear, Ms. Fischer, yes. My Colleague made me very well aware that I am just filling in while he was on vacation. The release of information was only signed for that timeframe.
Veronica: So… if any of this were to ever… get out, ya know, outside this room… we’re going to have to have a very uncomfortable, perhaps even painful conversation. We’re clear on that, too, right?
Dr. Montclair: This is a safe environment, Ms. Fischer. You don’t need to have any concern about that. Again, as long as you aren’t planning to harm anyone specific, yourself, or someone’s property, then there is no legal reason for me to go to law enforcement. If you did then I would have to report it.
Veronica: Right. You try that.
Veronica: And please, you’re not an officer of the court or a bill collector… call me Veronica. It’ll help facilitate your safe environment… or whatever…
Dr. Montclair: All right then, Veronica… we’ll start with some simple questions.
Dr. Montclair: Describe yourself. What is your worst and best quality?
Veronica: Describe myself?
Veronica: Well, I’m into scrapbooking and nights out with the girls. I like unicorns, dragonflies, and those stretchy necklaces with the little pink plastic hearts. And, oh… that’s right… as we discussed before you turned that recorder on, I drink blood, I’m a sex worker, I manage other sex workers, and I sometimes kill people when they’ve done bad things… or really piss me off. Right now, though, I have a dead eight-year-old daughter… ghost… she’s adopted… who is missing, my regular therapist is away on vacation, and my house was set on fire. All that being said… I haven’t hurt you yet, or erased your mind… add that to the fact that I’m still sitting here, even though you’re recording this – did I mention I’m not comfortable with that? – and I think that that could qualify as both my best and worst qualities. At the moment, anyway. Does that work for you? Maybe?
Dr. Montclair: Wow. That’s a lot of hostility. Okay. I will go ahead and state again, for the record, that threats are not going to add to the safe and secure environment we need to maintain here. So, if you could tone down your aggression that would be great. I understand that you are upset, and we will work into that. You just have to trust me. So, moving on, what is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
Veronica: Actually, in general, I’d prefer people knew as little about me as possible. I’m not saying you in particular… just everyone… in general. The less people know about me the better.
(silence for 3 seconds followed by a sigh)
Veronica: I’m sorry. Look… I’m really having a hard time with this… I’m a kinda private person… usually… what, exactly, are you going to do with this interview recording thingy, anyway?
Dr. Montclair: Veronica, it appears that you have certain trust issues that are being triggered, and I respect that – I do, but without a certain level of trust between us then we can’t hope to try to help you. I am being completely honest with you when I tell you that no one beyond myself will ever hear what is on this recording. Now, you seem somewhat defensive, and you hadn’t really addressed that last question, but that’s fine. We can come back to that one later. If you feel you can show some trust and go out a little on a limb with me… what is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
Veronica: Are you serious? Wha…? No. I’m… uh… How does this even apply to what I told you I needed to see you for? Seriously? My biggest secret? Who wants to know? Who is it you think you’re asking? We already covered that I am a criminal and undead… oh and that my dead little girl is missing… biggest secret? Do you work for Learner?
Dr. Montclair: I hear you. I hear your anxiety. I can assure you, though, that if you bear with me we will get to the issues at hand, we just have to lay some groundwork and build some trust to use as a springboard into your ultimate care. If we’re going to get anywhere with this you’re going to have to trust me. Please, just bear with me. We’ll get through this together.
(silence for three seconds)
Dr. Montclair: Now, Veronica, tell me… what are you most afraid of?
(silence for twenty-three seconds)
Veronica: Right now, you mean? I’m afraid of who you might really work for and why you have me answering all these questions? They might fit some framework for how you’re going to help me… or make me all better… but they aren’t dealing with the things I already told you were going on with my life. The reasons I told you I was here. So… what I’m wondering now? What I’m afraid of now? I’m wondering who knows about my shrink, and I’m afraid that some jackass got you to sit in for him, and I’m scared that someone… you – or whoever you work for – is using this, frankly, bizarre route to get into my dirty laundry. I mean… really, now? Afraid of? I’m afraid of what happened to Rachel. Remember, her? The one we talked about, like I said before… back before you turned the recorder on… which still seems a little sketchy, but I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here… I’m afraid of who tried to kill me by burning down my house. I’m afraid for my life. I’m afraid of being seen out in public in sweatpants. I’m just afraid a lot lately, which if you knew me… at all… you’d know, is so very not my normal mode of operation. I don’t even know which I’m most afraid of anymore, but I know that you clearly aren’t afraid of me, and that’s… well… not something that makes me very comfortable right now… and that might have just come off wrong…
Veronica: I’m just… I’m a little emotional right now and I’ve been known to do some bat-shit crazy things in the past… so…
(silence for fifteen seconds)
Dr. Montclair: Veronica, what do you want more than anything?
(silence for six seconds)
Veronica: Really? Now… I… Seriously? What do I want more than anything? For this to be over… like, now. Who are you, really?
(Sound of breaking glass)
Veronica: Oh! Do I have your attention now? I’ll pay for the window, but I want to be clear. I’m not okay. Rachel is missing and I’m coming apart at the seams. I guy I see regularly is out of town, and I bounce a lot of stuff off Lucy, too, but I can’t do that right now, so I got you… I’m making do… What do I want more than anything? I want Rachel home safe, and I want people to stop treating me like dirt, and I really want people to stop trying to ruin my life or kill me… and I want… I mean…
Veronica: Go ahead, ask the next question. Let’s see where this goes and how good you really are.
Dr. Montclair: (voice wavering slightly) What is your relationship status?
Veronica: None of your f***ing business! Next question!
(sound of movement on furniture)
Veronica: There’s not a relationship… Not at the moment. Is that good enough?
Dr. Montclair: (sniffling, voice still slightly wavering) How would you describe your sense of fashion?
Veronica: Wait, wait, wait… are you the new assistant Frank hired? Seriously, shut up. Stop crying. Look at me. Look in my eyes. Did Frank put you up to this? Tell me now. If he did this… if he set all this up just to try to make me feel better since my shrink was out of town, I’ll get it… I’ll be pissed, but at him, not you… Honestly, it’s all on him, not you.
Dr. Montclair: (audibly crying) Who is Frank?
(sound of tapping on wood – likely fingernails)
Veronica: So, these are like real questions, then? Like, really real? Are you getting them out of a book or something? Are you new to this?
Dr. Montclair: (almost inaudible) No... well… I’ve been doing this for three years.
Veronica: I’m… fine… just keep going… I’m just really on edge.
Dr. Montclair: (voice still wavering slightly) Ok… Veronica, how much of a rebel are you?
Veronica: Rebel? Well, I’m an orphan, Dr. Montclair. As a human being… and then as… not a human being. And in bloodsucker society that means I have no family, and thus, I mean less than nothing. I’m the trash that the trash wipes its boots on. When you add that to the fact that I run a slightly criminal enterprise… I’d say I’m as rebel as they come around here… Pekin, I mean. Now, and I can’t stress this enough, stop crying, please. I’m sorry I had… an outburst. I’m sorry I scared you. I will pay for the damages. Let’s just put that behind us and get on to something that’s going to help me out. Can we do that?
Dr. Montclair: (sniffling, voice still wavering slightly) Yes.
(throat clearing and then sniffling)
(silence for eleven seconds)
Dr. Montclair: (voice wavering slightly less) Veronica, what is it that… What is your idea of happiness?
Veronica: Happiness? Well… I guess… being at home with Rachel, and Frank – he’s the gay PI I told you about, before… he’s like my best friend, but don’t tell him I said that… he’s probably the person I’m closest to… but, yeah… being with them, and my girls, Julie, and Piper, and Leslie… and even Lucy, when she pops in… and not worrying about people trying to come after me, and hurt the people I care about… just that togetherness, and safety, I guess… that’s my idea of happiness.
(audible sob then gasp)
Veronica: Oh, no! It’s just a gun. Don’t let it freak you out. C’mon. I just carry it for protection, I’m not going to use it… Look. I’m putting it away. See. Right there. It’s in my purse, it’s down. Just… let’s keep going.
Dr. Montclair: I don’t feel safe continuing while you have a weapon in the office… this is supposed to be a safe environment… of trust… for both of us.
Veronica: People have been seriously trying to kill me, and people close to me. It’s just for protection. Here, you take my purse and hang on to it until we’re done. I swear to you… you have nothing to worry about
(shuffling sounds and a slight thud on wood)
(silence for nine seconds and then clearing of a throat)
Dr. Montclair: (voice a bit more in control) I’m… I’ll keep this here… but, in the future… weapons are not… they don’t help with build an environment conducive to working through the issues that… just… don’t bring a gun, from now on. Okay?
Veronica: Cross my heart. I’ll leave it in the car.
Dr. Montclair: Okay, then… I, uh… What would you say is… What is your current state of mind?
Veronica: Well I think that’s kinda obvious. Right? I’m on edge. I’m a little freaked out. I’d say I’m paranoid, but are you really paranoid if someone is actually after you? You’re not, right?
Dr. Montclair: I’m not here to judge, or label. At this point I’m just here to listen. Now, Veronica, what is your most treasured possession?
Veronica: Well, it was my house… maybe my car? I have an old VW… No, wait. My Charger. I’ve got a sweat vintage Charger. It was a gift from… well… never mind. It was a gift. I love that thing. All-in-all, though, I’d say I value people… or my relationships with them… far more than possessions.
(sounds of shifting in furniture)
Veronica: See, doc? You’re getting better at this… keep going. You’re doing good now.
Dr. Montclair: Uh… thank you, Veronica. Now, um… What is your most marked characteristic?
Veronica: My disregard for the law or my lack of regard for human life?
(silence for five seconds)
Veronica: That was a joke.
Veronica: My sense of humor? My overprotective nature… when it comes to people being used… or hurt… by those bigger or stronger… or those who just feel like they can?
Dr. Montclair: M’hmm… and… What is it that you, most dislike?
Veronica: Good God! That would be hard to narrow down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a really negative person, but there are a lot of things that piss me off, and get under my skin. Like pushy people who, ya know, think they’re better than you… usually men, right? And, like, going into a bathroom that hasn’t been flushed… and you can like smell it. Or, this is a big one… asking for help… having to ask, I mean. I hate that… and people who don’t use blinkers. One of those… pick one of those.
Dr. Montclair: Which living person do you, most despise?
Veronica: Marcus Learner. Next.
Dr. Montclair: Alright… What is your greatest regret?
Veronica: Wow… um… maybe not ever having a child of my own… like a flesh and blood one… back when I actually could do that… before the whole fang-life… but I’ve got Rachel… well… I don’t have her right now… which is why I’m here… bad question. Next question.
Dr. Montclair: What is the quality you most like in a man?
Veronica: Not vindictive… Not a douche… Not caked in layers and rolls… Not smelly… If he’s funny… why does it even matter? Next.
Dr. Montclair: What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Veronica: I’ll say the same… and hygiene is an issue… for both men and women… Next.
Dr. Montclair: Who is your favorite hero in fiction?
Veronica: That’s just… It’s Scarlett O’Hara… obviously. Right? Next.
Dr. Montclair: Which living person do you most admire?
Veronica: Well, that’s not a fair question. It would be Jules or Lucy… but they’re both dead. That doesn’t stop them from being major forces in my life. Jules from a distance… and Lucy more night to night, ya know? They’re very active for dead people, trust me.
Dr. Montclair: So… you see the dead, then? You talk to them?
Veronica: I’m undead. Did you miss that?
Dr. Montclair: Have you… seen things… or believed in things… that you later found to not be true? Have you had any prior diagnosis in that area, or medications, that you haven’t mentioned yet?
(silence for twelve seconds)
Dr. Montclair: Veronica, If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
(silence for five seconds)
Veronica: Where I’m at right now.
Veronica: Look, I tried. I really did. And I’m sure you are really good at what you do for some people…
Dr. Montclair: Veronica, please sit back down.
Veronica: This just isn’t working for either of us… so… just… yeah, that’s it. Let me in. I’m in your mind now. Yes. That’s right… calm down… relax. Yes, everything I’ve said was true. You can see now. You can see I’m not going to hurt you…
(creaking of desk chair)
Veronica: Just rest now. Sleep. You won’t wake up until morning. You’ll remember working late, but not what you were working on. It’s just stress getting to you. You’ll take a day off and go to a spa. Everything will be better. Until the sun is up you won’t hear or be aware of anything going on around you… you’ll just sleep.
Veronica: Well, that didn’t work at all. Maybe it’ll help her.
(cell phone dialing)
Veronica: Yeah, Jessica? I’ve got a cleaning job here I need you to handle.
(unintelligible talking on other end of phone)
Veronica: No! Nothing like that. This is just an office that needs to have no evidence that I was ever in it. Just a good scrub down, wall to wall, any notes or records with my name gone… Just make sure no one can ever tie me to this place. Got it.
Veronica: (more distant) I’ll text you the address from the car.
(silence for thirteen minutes then tape ends)
Born and raised in the middle of the American Midwest, Dennis Sharpe has been a writer as long as he can remember. His mother has told many people about the fantasy and science fiction stories he'd write on scraps of paper, and staple together as his 'books', before he'd attended his first day of formal education.
He has spent many late nights at diners and dives, drinking coffee with a tattered notebook to put a voice to his feelings of himself and the world around him, and other worlds that can exist only in fiction. The voices in his head don't ever stop talking to him, and so sooner or later he has to get out onto a page all that they've filled him up with.
Inspired by Neil Gaiman, Kurt Vonnegut, Frank Miller, Chrissie Pappas, Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, Issac Asimov, and countless classic literary influences, Dennis continues with the ability to write what at a glance might seem absurd, but quickly begins to resonate with our own thoughts and emotions. He writes people we know, love we've known and lost (and found again), and places we've been in our lives and in our heads. Even his fictional characters and worlds carry enough of the grey areas we experience in day-to-day life, to let us find the truth in his words, no matter how fantastic.
These days he can be found still writing, drinking coffee with friends, or spending time with his children (the true joys of his life), in Western Kentucky.