by Paris Singer
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Thriller
Release Date: October 19, 2016
A man wakes to find himself dead and alone in a forest and soon realizes he has no memory of who he is or how he came to die there.
As he sets off to unravel the mystery of his past, he is pulled into a world stranger than death itself, where the struggle to balance good and evil lies behind the scenes, in the shadows.
On his journey, he encounters The Regulars, a self-proclaimed band of misfits whose sole purpose is to terrify the living.
Among them is Mr. Cage, a nefarious, dark jester who delights in causing havoc, misery and pain to all those whom he encounters.
What begins as a journey to uncover a brutal murder, soon unfolds into a race against malevolent forces, where not everything is as
FOR THE SECOND TIME, I woke to a pair of eyes, though this time they weren’t those of the boy.
I didn’t even know we could pass out.” The face of the spider-like man was again inches from mine.
Instinctively, I pulled my head back away from his and it collided forcefully with the floor. The man smiled his crooked smile as he winked and withdrew.
“You okay?” asked a voice to my right, which I recognized as the boy’s.
“Yes, I think so.” I put my hand to the back of my head as if to feel for blood, though soon realized the absurdity of it. “Who are you?” I asked again.
“It is becoming exceedingly clear you are incapable of answering the simplest of questions, and so, despite obvious violations of decorum, and in the spirit of drawing this bizarre encounter to an end, I shall answer you. We are four humble companions who, by the divinity and grace of Lady Fate, met and came together to relish and delight in that which we do so very well above all else. To those on whom we inflict our pleasures, we have no name, for there is, alas, no time for introductions—not if we have done our duty well, that is. And we always do. But you, my dear boy, shall be allowed the gratuitously rare privilege of knowing them.”
The man in argyle took a deep drag from his cigar and exhaled enough smoke to create a momentary mist around him before continuing his introduction. “I do believe you have already had the pleasure of hearing our young lady’s name, so called for she awoke face down on the banks of a river. The comically articulate gentleman currently above you we call Mr. Cage, for he awoke in the dead of night within the confines of a sleeping Bengal tiger’s cage in a circus. The young man beside you awoke by the side of a common road, so, logically, we thought to name him ‘Road,’ but it never really stuck, so we have come to simply, and quite affectionately, call him ‘Boy.’
“Last but certainly not least, we come to me. It has always been unfortunate and rather inconvenient that I cannot recall the place from which I awoke, so no easy name could be conjured. As such, therefore, from the very depths of my being, I came to the name Louis. If you need an explanation, I shall simply say that it stirred me within.
“Our exploits being many and far reaching, we have built up a rather delicious reputation amongst the community for being the magnum opus of entertainment to the masses. The rays of sunlight in their otherwise tragic quasi-existence. The champions of our kind, fighting to stand up and be counted, striving to be heard by those who turn the other way. The crashing waves that bring the walls of injustice to its knees one living being after another! And, thus, we are known as and dubbed—The Regulars.”
Louis took a half bow as the one they called Mr. Cage jumped up and down in wild excitement, clapping his hands, his bowed legs half bent. The girl clapped without a hint of expression save that of her glazed eyes, which told of a dark sorrow deep within the wells of her being. The boy just gave another empty half-smile.
“And now, my boy, we must say farewell as the sun sets on our petit rendezvous, for we have much to do before the night draws to a close.”
“What about him?” asked the boy.
“We can’t just leave him.”
“Dear boy, if we made a habit of picking up every stray in our path, we would become a circus. Besides, what good would he bring our little ensemble?”
“I’ll train him. I’ll show him what to do.”
“Train him, eh?” Louis took another drag from his eternal cigar as he coldly glanced from the boy to me. “Hmm. He would be your charge?”
“Well, well. The boy becomes a master with apprentice!” exclaimed Louis in a condescending tone. He stared silently at the boy, then at me again for a few moments, and then added, “Okay, so it shall be. He is to be your responsibility. Make sure he does not get in the way. It may be refreshing to have new blood amongst us, anyway.” With that, he turned. “Come, let us proceed with the night’s entertainment!”
The boy turned, looking down at me. “Come on, we’d better go.” He started toward the other three as they walked through and past the barred door, out of sight. When the last of them had gone, the boy picked up his pace, and I discerned that in a few moments he, too, would be gone, leaving me alone in the diner.
I’d hoped they’d forget they had even met me as soon as I was out of their sights, that I’d be free of them—especially of Mr. Cage—but no sooner had I formed ideas of what I’d do next, the boy’s face re-emerged from the door.
“He’s taken a liking to you. The worst thing you could do is upset him now. He hates being wrong.”
With those words, I knew my only choices were to follow them or tempt the wrath of beings that, despite being akin to them, I was certain possessed attributes and abilities whose capacities were beyond my imagining. My mind attributed them with boundless power, theirs to use at a whim against whomever they pleased. Feeling I had no choice, I stood and walked to the boy.
Then emerged an urgent panic within me as I realized what was casually being asked of me—I had to walk through the barred door. I was to hit the ground running. I knew I hadn’t long in which to figure out how to actually do it, for the greater half of “The Regulars” was rapidly getting farther from us, and I didn’t know what their response would be upon seeing that neither I nor the boy were within their number. I hadn’t been among them long enough to be able to determine whether the boy would get similar treatment as that to which I was certain I would receive, should he be found to step out of line.
I knew nothing about him; still, I felt an inexplicable fondness toward him, much as a father would for his son, and was grateful the boy had awoken me from the perpetual slumber I had fallen into. I owed him. “What do I do?” I asked.
“Just imagine it isn’t there, that there is no door or wall. You’re just walking forward as you are now with nothing in the way.”
I stopped. I needed a moment to gather my thoughts. I wondered whether it really was that simple. Just do it. Just walk through a door. They’d done it, so had the boy, but they were ghosts. Christ, so was I. I was like them.
The whole world was crazy—the whole universe—but there it was, and I had no choice but to follow. And it had to be right then. I looked at the boy, into his eyes, and he into mine. There was a note of impatience within them, but also one of belief as he gave me a single nod of encouragement.
I steadied myself, straightened my dressing gown, and looked straight ahead. I tried to imagine a clear path lay before me. In an instant, I took a step back; then ran at the door at full speed. It was now or never. As I neared it, I closed my eyes. It was too late to stop, but what if he was wrong? What if it wasn’t so easy? Can the undead even feel pain? Too late to pinch myself. The door was but a meter away. Now I’d find out. I thought of my legs—just keep running. And so I ran. I heard his voice shouting from somewhere behind me, “I think you can stop running now!”
I opened my eyes in time to see I was but a few centimeters from a tree. I turned so as to avoid colliding head first with it, and just as I had expected to feel the crushing blow, I instead felt nothing. As I opened my eyes again in wonderment of where the tree could possibly have gone, my face met forcefully with the earth.
A sudden burst of laughter came from behind me, and, as I slowly picked myself up, it gradually grew closer. “Not bad for a first time!” As I grumbled under my breath, the boy added, “Come on, let’s catch up.”
About the Author
Paris Singer was born in Brussels, Belgium. He has lived in the U.K. and in various places in Spain, where he currently resides. At university, he studied English law and Spanish law. He didn’t like it. He then studied translation and didn’t like it, either. Currently, he is an English teacher in the south of Spain. He has far too many interests, he’s told, a few of which being sports, playing his old guitar, learning Japanese, painting, reading and cooking. Not a day goes by, however, where he doesn’t write something, be it under a palm tree or on a bench at a bus stop somewhere.