The Face of the Dark
NOTHING made me afraid. My evolving lust for scary moments, movies, and stories, only led to a life of failed forays into fright.
Until … I met … him.
It was one of those nights forged of endless inky rain and depthless dark alleyways and feeble lights convulsing in uncertainty. My raven coffee drank the rain’s chill and shivered in dark audience with the menacing thunder.
I looked away from my manuscript of scribbles, my attention gently yanked, like so many times before, by the ancient brick crane house across the cobblestones—the one with the antiquated shipping pendulum that only swayed when my words flowed, which was almost never.
The broken windows, like missing teeth in a freckled witch’s smile, offered their usual promises of swollen nothingness.
“Well, ye won’t write squat today again, me figures,” the tavern keeper croaked, his missing teeth making my mind feel mushy. “Perhaps an ale, or a good scare, would be right more proper.”
“Suit yerself,” he said, returning to his futile task of pushing dirt with a dirty wet cloth.
Some of the little gauzy windowpanes in the old crane house held the dimmest glare of light. I watched them, transfixed.
“Who owns that building?”
“That building over there. Who owns it?”
“Oh. That. A ghost. Been abandoned as long as anyone knows.”
“Does the crane still work?”
The tavern keeper did not answer me, only the clotting rain.
Turning back to the crane house, I caught something out of the corner of my eye—a tall figure flashing by a lower window, as if the dark inside had taken shape to keep watch. I kept my eyes strained there as closing thunder snored now like a sleeping demon.
A few moments later, the figure passed again.
“Uh … that house is not abandoned,” I said to the tavern keeper.
“What? Well, maybe yer writer’s block ain’t permanent after all. Ha.”
“The dark, on a night like this, can do that to a man. There ain’t no one in there. And that’s that. Not alive, anyway.”
Words began to flow. For the first time in years.
Don’t look again. Don’t look again.
My fingers pecked at my keyboard like hungry black raindrops.
The door to the inn groaned as someone walked in, sitting at a table next to me. “Whiskey,” he said, in a voice as inky as the rain—but clear—as clear as the sky one wishes for after too many nights of rain.
“A good night for that,” the tall stranger said to me.
I said nothing.
“Oh, yes, I beg your pardon,” he went on. “Must not keep the words waiting—especially after they have been away for so long.”
“Do I know you, sir?”
“Not until now. Not until you really looked. But, where are my manners? I shall let you write. Go, go, write yourself out. Tavern keeper—another whiskey please.”
I finally stopped, my face crinkling, and looked up at the tall stranger who was inspecting the sullen tavern now, his head turned away. He wore a long, dusky overcoat with its large collar turned up and a floppy hat that seemed the same color as the night.
“I will. Thank you,” I said, returning to my writing, shaking my head slowly, my eyes widening.
Now the words stopped. I sat and stared at the ghostly screen, then at my scribbles again, as the tavern keeper brought the tall stranger another whiskey.
Before long, I found myself watching the crane house again.
“I am quite afraid you will no longer find me in there.”
I turned, my blood curdling and my head feeling like a gray balloon. “What?”
“Did I not speak clearly and accurately?” the tall stranger asked, still turned away.
“I don’t know what kind of game this is, but—”
The tall stranger laughed. “I can assure you, Writer, no game is afoot.”
“How do you know about—”
“Must I repeat myself? Well, if I must, I am here because, tonight, you saw me.”
“I did not see anything.”
“My, my, you are slow for a writer.”
“Look, I’m not one of those vague writers, if that’s what you think.”
“Oh, but vague writers are the best of the lot! Take Truman Capote’s first novel, for example.”
“Tavern keeper, another whiskey, if you will be so kind.”
“Look, if you’re referring to me seeing you in your … house … no harm was meant.”
The tall stranger chuckled, still remaining turned away from me. “I am afraid, Writer, that it is too late for all that.”
“Yes. You have already summoned me.”
“I did not summon anyone.”
“We can play these games all night, if it pleases you.”
“What would please me is to return to my writing.”
“Well, actually, that is why I am here.”
“Yes. I understand you have had a problem—one which, now, upon your summoning, I am here to remedy.”
“I don’t need any remedy. I’ve had writer’s block before, I’ve worked through it before, and I’ll work through it again.”
“But writer’s block is not really the problem, is it?”
“You have suffered from a certain … immunity … which has reduced you to the equivalent of literary dishwater.”
“I’ll have you know, I have several works published with—”
“Yes, yes, blah, blah, blah—I have heard it all. Yet, Writer, you sit here on this dreary deluge of a night staring into abandoned houses, drinking in their darkness, fervently praying for something, anything, to set you apart from the others.”
“You don’t know anything about—”
“But tonight, Writer, that is all over. Your wretched, lifelong affliction is about to come to an end.”
“What on earth are you talking about? And why won’t you look at me?”
“Oh, yes, please forgive me. Is this better?”
The tall stranger turned and looked at me.
THREE ecopies of Jesse Giles Christiansen REVENGE OF THE SEA!!!!
To win: go to the Official FB Event Page; find the post announcing today’s giveaway; and comment, “I WANT TO WIN” in that post and you just might!!!
#1 bestselling author in sea adventures, Jesse Giles Christiansen is an American author whose page-turning fiction weaves the real with the surreal, while also speaking to the human condition. He was hailed by New York Times bestselling author, William R. Forstchen, as "leaving readers so tantalized by the story lines, they think the events actually happened—a demonstration of skill surely to launch this author into the big leagues."
Jesse was born in Miami, FL, playing on beaches as a boy, the sky bronzing him forever and the sea turning his heart lyrical. After spending a summer in Alaska before graduating from Florida State University with a degree in literature and philosophy, he wrote his first novel, Journey into the Mystic.
He feels he is haunted by Hemingway's ghost, not just by the poster in his writing studio that stares at him, saying, "What else you got?" but also by having a café called Hemingway's in the small European city where he writes. Finally, Hemingway became his neighbor on Amazon when his novel, Pelican Bay, outsold Old Man and the Sea.
He currently lives in Lüneburg, Germany, with his wife and their precocious White Siamese cat.
To learn more about this author, visit him at www.jessegileschristiansen.com..
REVENGE OF THE SEA
Beware of what the tide may bring…
Ethan Hodges is deeply unsettled when thousands of decomposed starfish inexplicably wash up along the shore of Pelican Bay. As the ominous sea epidemic spreads to other marine life, he continues to see a suspicious-looking man loitering on the beach.
To solve the mystery, Ethan seeks help from longtime friend, Sheriff Dansby, and Reagan Langsley, a beautiful marine biologist from Lighthouse Point. Spurred by curiosity and jealousy, Ethan’s estranged wife, Morgan, joins them in the investigation.
When the elusive outsider is finally arrested, an enigmatic relationship develops between Ethan and the man. With cautious prodding, Ethan learns that the fate of the world appears to rest in the hands of the tall stranger named…Mr. D.M.