SEVEN

The windshield wipers barely kept up with the hard rain. Deena Strix stared at the scarlet glow from the stop light. Her eyelids continued to ease down, but she yawned and fought the urge to let her eyes close. It had been a long week of restless nights. Her normal, good night sleep had been as elusive as her last one night stand.

The wind had picked up. The television weather man’s prediction of thunderstorms looked to be coming true. The hanging traffic control signal began to sway over the empty intersection.

Deena’s eyes fluttered closed, then sprang open a second later. The sound of the rain against her car’s surface was like a lullaby. She re-settled into the leather seat, then stared at the illuminated dash. The clock read almost ten. She’d put in almost fourteen hours at the library. The flu had ravaged the staff, including the local college interns. As always, whatever strain of flu that washed across the nation didn’t even tickle her immune system. The opposing traffic walk sign was still white. She yawned deeply. Her eyes begged to close. She peeked up into her rear view mirror. There were no headlights in view.

“Just for a few seconds,?she whispered, allowing her eyes to shut. Deena could feel her heartbeat, and soon it was falling into the same rhythm as the rain’s soft symphony.

Just a few more blissful seconds…The rain was whispering sweet nothings, and her mind whirled back to her last one and done encounter. A smile tugged at the corners of her full lips and one of her hands left the steering wheel and nestled on her lap. When she’d gotten into her car the hem of her dress had pushed up her thighs. The tops of her black stockings were peeking out.

She’d driven over to Prairie View to her favorite bar, The Velvet Teddy Bear. It had a reputation for being curvy girl friendly, and a great hunting ground for men who appreciated full figured women. Sunday nights were famous for their cheap mixed drinks, so she’d met a friend there, daring to ignore the looming work day morning.

About an hour in, Deena had met a guy, cute in an accountant kind of way. Their conversation turned to movies, and then, somehow, to one of her favorites, Pulp Fiction. Five minutes later, Stan was demonstrating his own foot massage technique on her right there at the crowded bar. They’d shared a knowing look, and not an hour later, they were making out hard and heavy in his Saab. Between kisses she’d agreed to go to his house, which was in a renovated part of downtown Prairie View.

Taking her clothes off, she’d smiled at his king size bed. He’d laughed and said that a queen size just wasn’t roomy enough, and she’d agreed. Then she’d dropped to her knees in front of him and looked up into his face until his eyes rolled back into his head.

At some point during the evening, he’d mentioned he was a clown on the weekends for kids parties and such. He’d asked her if clowns freaked her out, because maybe people found the white faced entertainers to be unsettling to downright frightening. When he mentioned it again she responded between her more primal sounds that clowns didn’t bother her at all?br/>
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MIDNIGHT ETERNAL

When San Angeles’s greatest protector, Midnight, squares off in a fight to the death against his archenemy, Old Scratch, a lightning strike triggers the impossible.

Midnight awakes in the demon’s body, and he is soon hunted by a group of superheroes led by his ex-lover Catfight. His erratic behavior also sparks a mutiny within his own evil empire.

Trapped in an insane new reality, he devises a reckless plan to eradicate crime in his beloved metropolis, but can he survive long enough to see it through?

************************************************************************************************************
**MIDNIGHT ETERNAL now available. Request your personalized copy here **
X

MIDNIGHT ETERNAL

When San Angeles’s greatest protector, Midnight, squares off in a fight to the death against his archenemy, Old Scratch, a lightning strike triggers the impossible.

Midnight awakes in the demon’s body, and he is soon hunted by a group of superheroes led by his ex-lover Catfight. His erratic behavior also sparks a mutiny within his own evil empire.

Trapped in an insane new reality, he devises a reckless plan to eradicate crime in his beloved metropolis, but can he survive long enough to see it through?

************************************************************************************************************
**MIDNIGHT ETERNAL now available. Request your personalized copy here **
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GOOD NIGHT, MY SWEET
If I Should Die Before I Wake . . .
--Reviewed by Michael Collings: "Collings Notes" - May 7, 2016

Vince Churchill’s Goodnight, My Sweet, reads a bit like a great-grandchild of Stephen King’s early ‘Richard Bachman?novel, The Long Walk (1979). In both, main characters must remain awake…or die. In both, characters are forced by circumstances to undertake what might be a useless journey leading only to inevitable death or madness. In both, the authors concentrate less on overt action than on revelation inner lives, hopes, and dreams, often through what seem more hallucinations caused by sleep-deprivation than conscious thought. And both conclude…ambiguously.

For Dylan Myles, the last day was like many others: spending time at the Santa Monica beach with a friend, who happened to be athletic and stunningly beautiful; then an all-night-long telephone conversation with his estranged wife, Alex, halfway across the country.

The call saved Dylan and Alex because, during that single night, everyone who fell asleep died.

Churchill spends little time on the cause of the cataclysm; in fact, neither he nor his characters offer any explanation. They are too busy wrestling with the consequences. Nearly everyone is dead. At one point, Dylan speculates that perhaps a million people—night-shift workers, insomniacs, a scattered few others—are alive…and it is clear that the moment any of them fall asleep, they too will die. Living has become an automatic death sentence, to be endured for moments, hours, at the best, a handful of days.

Then sleep…and death.

Dylan sets out to drive to Alex, telephoning her every four hours to encourage her and, truth be told, to reassure himself that she is still alive. Along the way, he encounters individual and small groups struggling to keep awake, to understand what has happened, to prepare for the inevitable. Unlike many post-apocalyptic novels, Goodnight, My Sweet is light on biker-hordes ravaging and pillaging the countryside—for the most part they, too, are dead, although there is the occasional shotgun-wielding madman and a few other direct threats. Instead the story emphasizes the sense of coming to grips with the inevitable: with discovering a survivor who needs to travel to Texas to join her grandmother, and who becomes Dylan’s confidante; with enjoying a home-cooked meal at a roadside café where the owner is miraculously alive; with taking time to decide what their last meal will be at a meticulously clean McDonald’s, where recurrent themes of human racism and prejudice are finally put to rest; with Dylan’s jubilation at seeing his wife sitting on their porch, waiting for him; and with Dylan’s final hours before sleep takes him.

Even without constant melodrama and histrionics, however, Goodnight, My Sweet develops an intensity of its own, propelling readers along, just as readers thirty-five years ago followed the footsteps of King’s Ray Garraty toward his inevitable destiny…in a long walk that was ultimately as meaningless-seeming as Dylan Myles?long drive.

Perhaps. Or perhaps not as meaningless as it appears. Because in Goodnight, My Sweet, there is always one last twist, one last variation of death-within-life…one last sentence.

Buy GOOD NIGHT, MY SWEET, along with more of Vince's work here on Amazon.com
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