Devil’s Grove. Maine. August 22. 9:00am. Present day.
On the street corner, he fumbled with the strings of his instrument, quickly adjusting it to his version of Wagner’s violin concerto. The way it had been tuned sounded horrible to him, he imagined that he must have been drunk or stoned when he last tuned it. He thought blaming it on the usual suspect. Early that morning, he made a sour face after taking a sip from the cup next to his bed. The now cold cup coffee he had made for himself at the crack of dawn had not helped wake him up the way he hoped.
Perhaps, he thought, getting some fresh air and sunshine would be good for him. He had eventually pushed himself out of bed, and into the shower. Afterwards, he made himself some delicious french toast for breakfast before making his way down the street to the coffee house.
There was a beautiful redhead that frequented the place. Who caught his eye. Jack loved to watch her graceful nonchalance as she sat by herself at her regular table just outside the entrance doing her daily crossword puzzle while smoking a cigarette. Today, she was wearing a tank top that exposed her midriff, a pair of ripped blue jean shorts, conch shell necklace and leather sandals. He admired her long curly hair as it floated aimlessly with the breeze.
After ordering his usual beverage, he wished that he had the courage to walk across the coffee house and just talk to her. It did not matter what they would talk about, anything would do. He wishes to simply introduce himself to her saying something like “Hello, my name is Jack Cranmore, I think that an angel like you must have fallen from the heavens.” That might sound corny to her though.
He would go on about his Irish family and history, his childhood as a military brat while his father served in the Navy and of all places, living in Maine. He was a barista by day, and Mozart by night. Just like every other morning, he had watched and dreamed, without acting or speaking, before picking up his drink and making his way to the nearby corner where he usually performed.
It’s really more like a dream really. He thought to himself knowing as he sat on the concrete that he could never touch “The Greats” with a ten-foot pole. It was delusional to think that he had any real talent residing in his own fingertips.
He closed his eyes and allowed his mind to go free. He was inside a wonderful dream looking out over the ocean at the sunset. Unexpectedly, he felt someone grab him by the arm, waking him out of his daydream and back into the waking world. He wished that he would never leave the dream of finding his angel and his paradise. His Garden of Eden had evaporated into sand within his own mind. Now, some woman was next to him, talking. He jumped up in shock and let out a high-pitched cry of laughter. Jack slowly turned to see the person that had grabbed his arm.
“Sorry, you were daydreaming. I wanted to hire you. I am so excited.”
“Hey, stranger, are you daydreaming?” She shrieked at the Jack
“What?” Jack recoiled, “Stop yelling at me, please.”
Jack saw her crossing her arms. She was a tall lanky woman with hair color of sunflowers, and emerald green eyes. She wore a strapless sundress printed all over with purple butterflies. Underneath her neck, was a blue topaz heart shaped necklace.. On her bare left shoulder, he could see a tattoo of a dreamcatcher. Glancing at her feet he noticed that she was wearing a pair of limited edition, brand name tennis shoes. He felt a pang of shame knowing his own shoes were 50% discounted from a local thrift store.
“What? Why? Didn’t you hear me earlier? I sounded atrocious.” He blushed as she was clearly amused by this.
“I thought you sounded wonderful. I represent a wealthy group who want you to play for them. One of them is my father.”
“Is this a paying gig?” he asked, one eyebrow lifting.
“Of course it is paying. We are happy to afford talent like yours.”
“Flattery won’t get you anywhere.”
“Don’t be modest. You are a natural. I am surprised that someone like you is playing on a street corner, and not with an independent contact or accompanying orchestra.”
“Ok, I’ll bite. Do you have a business card?”
“I do.” The woman handed him a circular black business card. Jack just stared keenly at it. He had never seen a business card shaped like a circle. Silver letters were inscribed on the black background, reading “The Hidden Circle.”
“This is an unusual card.” said Jack.
“ Be careful not to show it to anyone, this organization is a secret.”
“A secret organization?” Jack didn’t like the sound of that. She leaned down next to Jack’s ear and whispered, “Don’t overthink it. It is a bunch of rich guys in a secret club. As long as they pay, what difference does it make?”
“Not much, I suppose.” said Jack with a shrug.
“They will pay handsomely for talent like you.” said Amy
“What’s the job?”
“It’s easy.” she said with a smile. They just need some music to listen to with their dinner. You can manage that, can’t you?”
“Sure, I can. I do like to know who is hiring me though. What’s your name?”
“Of course, I apologize. My name is Amy, Amy Piskor. I’m what you’d considered a trust fund baby and I work as a spiritual advisor.”
“I’m impressed. So, where is this event taking place?”
” It’s located in a remote bomb shelter. My uncle was a doomsday prepper and my rich father leases it out.”
“Well I certainly know about bombing, did you hear my concerto?” Amy leaned in again and whispered in Jack’s ear.
“You are too hard on yourself. Personally, I think you have great talent. You have so much to offer the world.” Afterwards, she held Jack’s hands with an empathic look on her face.
“Thank you, that means the world to me. You are very kind, but I don’t feel that way at all. If you are paying, I will play for your secret organization.” said Jack.
“Great!” Amy said with delight! She jumped around with joy “This is Damian. My father is a visionary.” Amy pulled out her cellphone to show him a picture. The pictures were from her social media. He saw Amy’s father, a middle-aged man with pale skin, a soul patch and shoulder length hair that covered half of his face. Damien looked like a manager for a 90s grunge rock band. Jack saw another picture of him standing on a yacht holding a swordfish while two Asian women in bikinis smiling in the background.
“He looks cool.”
“Wonderful.” Amy smiled and reached into her purse for a wallet. ” Here is fifty dollars for you as a retainer. There will, of course, be much more later on.”
” It seems to be my lucky day,” said Jack as he carefully laid his violin in its carrying case. He glanced back at the cafe and saw his angel had left.
“She must have flown away.” he thought to himself as he sipped his cooling cup of coffee.
The next day he texted the location of his apartment to the number on the card. He imagined that the whole thing might be a scam of some kind. It seemed a little too good to be true. Half of an hour later, he heard a car honking outside of his apartment building. Looking out of his window from his second floor, he saw a parked limousine waiting. A few moments later a chauffeur stepped out of the vehicle, looked up and called up to him. He felt like he had been hit by a freight train, Amy had been serious. This was not normal for him, a fancy limo just for him? After a few stunned moments of silence, he called down to the chauffeur.
“Get out of town! Are you for real?”
“Yes, sir.” replied the chauffeur, “I have come to take you to your engagement. It is all for you.” The limo driver was an olive skinned burly bearded man with full sleeve prison tattoos covering both forearms. Jack could see crow’s feet at the corners of the man’s gray eyes, like he had not slept in weeks. He saw him pull out a pair of sunglasses from his pocket, putting them on slowly, which Jack thought was very cool. The espresso brown color of the driver’s tie reminds him of the drinks he made yesterday morning.
“It looks like you are rolling out the red carpet for me,” said Jack
“Of course,” said the chauffeur, “We need an appropriate atmosphere for this posh dining experience. Your music is perfect for the occasion. We are delighted to have your company.”
“Oh, I don’t deserve this. I must have been born under a lucky star. I must be dreaming” Jack said as he gently slapped himself in the reflection of the mirror next to him.
“Wake up. Wake up Jack. Your morning coffee has betrayed you once again.” Jack pinched himself, could this be some kind of hoax?
“Sir, if you continue in the daylight, we’ll never get there in time. I was instructed to have you there by dinner at 7pm sharp. There are powerful men at the dinner party. They are eager to hear you play. Don’t keep them waiting.”
“I need to change out of this work clothes. I will put on a suit and tie and be right down with my instrument,”
“Please be quick, Sir.” said the chauffeur, as he crossed his arms.
“This should be sufficient. You are a natural. That is what she told you.” Jack said to himself in the mirror as he fastened his tie and put on his waistcoat, beige slacks and then fastened his tawny brown loafers.
“Do you want me to leave without you?” The driver blurted out to the rooftops.
“I am coming. Hold on just a minute” Jack yelled out of the window to the street below.
Jack raced the stairs to the ground floor and came busting out the door. The chauffeur shouted, “Took you long enough” momentarily forgetting his manners
“Better late than never.”
“I’m really sorry about this whole situation”
“Please apologize, Sir.”
“Sorry” Jack said sheepishly as he got into the limo. The limo driver shut the door behind him before getting into the vehicle himself. As he settled in, Jack noticed a pair of purple, fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror.
“This is very chic.” He noticed a bottle of champagne resting in a bucket of ice next to him.
“Please help yourself.” said the chauffeur through an intercom set in the wall. “Very few people are honored with an invitation.”
“I look forward to playing for them,” said Jack as he took out his violin from its case. As the limo pulled into traffic, Jack began warming up for his performance by starting to play the opening chords to a sea shanty. After a moment of thought, he pressed the intercom button and spoke into it.
“It takes place in a bomb shelter.” Jack began to open the bottle of champagne.
“That is correct. Below is a secluded Victorian mansion.” responded the chauffeur.
“I guess whatever that uncle was prepping for didn’t happen.” The cork finally came free from the bottle and the champagne overflowed. He quickly grabbed some towels from a shelf beside the minibar.
“So embarrassing.” muttered Jack as he dried off the slacks.
“You will be fine. They wouldn’t have hired you otherwise.”
“Not about the performance. I spilled champagne on my lap.” Jack pouted at the wasted champagne.
“We have people to clean it up. Don’t worry about it. Calm down and just breathe.” said the chauffeur.
“If you say so.” Jack felt as tense as he had ever been in his life. He held his violin tightly, as if it was a parachute and the concert was the airplane that was about to crash into the side of a mountain.
“I take it you live in Maine.” asked the chauffeur.
“Close to a year in Devil’s Grove. I am fond of the lighthouses near the fishing villages. I love to bicycle to Stonington.” said Jack as he rolled down the limo window to look at the countryside.
“ I came from North Carolina. Born and raised. I’m a big fan of the Panthers.”
“I’m more of a Green Bay Packers fan myself.” Jack looked at his cellphone to check the time.
The clouds began to gather and soon after a thunderstorm rolled in. He saw a flash of light, heard a peal of thunder, and followed by a gentle drum roll of rain on the roof of the car. Jack looked about for an umbrella.
“We have arrived, Sir.” the chauffeur stepped out of the vehicle
and opened an umbrella before opening Jack’s door protecting them both from the falling rain.
“Thanks, what’s your name again?”
“My name is Adrian Lewis Sir, I have served the Piskor Family for nearly ten years. If you will follow me Sir, the bomb shelter is a sub-basement of the mansion. I will escort you there. Mister Piskor is eager to meet you.” The chauffeur angled the umbrella against the deluge of rain as Jack stepped out of the Limo. The wind chilled Jack’s bones as the two of them pushed their way through the storm to the front door. They struggled past ebony sculptures of women in repose, topiary gardens of elephants to the circular staircase leading up to the ornately sculpted double doors, carved from marble slabs.
There was a musky smell to the falling rain in the air as the water hammered down on the umbrella. Once they were under the protection of the covered porch, Jack noticed
that the building’s gothic architecture set his nerves on edge. The small gargoyle above the door seemed to come from his nightmares.
“This house looks haunted. Is it haunted? Is a ghost paying rent money to stay in the guest room?” Jack asked as the chauffeur rang the doorbell.
“This house has a lot of history, but like Mister Piskor, I don’t believe in fairy tales like ghosts or that liberal politics work. You believe in hard cash, right?”
“Sure, I do. Money makes the world go around.”
“If I may be honest,” said the chauffeur. “Those second hand, weathered formal shoes make you look like a peasant. They are going to judge you..”
“Adrian, I am going to be blunt with you for a second. They sound like they have a stick up their collective ass. I’ve been hired to play for them, not be slapped in the face with their condescending attitudes. Remember, they sought me out. I didn’t come begging for this job.”
Adrian pushed the doorbell a second time. Jack becoming frustrated as he shivered in the wind and rain. They had been waiting for five minutes and still no answer.
“Would you rather go back to working on the street corner?” The limo driver put his hand on his shoulder..
“Hell no.” said Jack as he gave a huge sigh.
“Good. Please don’t be rude to these people. They might even let you into one of the parties in their boathouse. You’re lucky.” The chauffeur banged on the door and yelled “Open up! The Hidden Circle password is “The Downward Spiral. ”
“Polite behavior Adrian, is a two way street,” said Jack. The chauffeur nodded slightly.
“Sofia Piskor, the family matriarch insists on doing the cooking herself at these affairs. She has a cooking show online. She makes an amazing Jamaican jerk chicken.”
The marble doors slowly opened and the misshapen face of a man Jack assumed was the butler peered out. The butler’s deformity reminded Jack of a watermelon which had been crushed on the left side. He dressed like he belonged on the Addams Family TV show. His full beard is pure white as a swan. As the door opened further, Jack could see there were three young maids cleaning behind him
“Greetings. Welcome to his house, Mister Cranmore. Mister Lewis, that album is killer.” said Butler in a breathy voice.” One of my favorite bands, I worship that album.”
“Would you let us in now? We’ve been standing in the rain for at least five minutes freezing our asses off.” said Jack as he plastered a smile on his face, tilting his head to one side.
The butler stepped back and opened the door, allowing them to step inside before closing the door behind them again.
“The butler will help you out of these drab clothes.” said the nearest maid.
“My name is Jack.” he said to the pretty maid ” I play the violin. Amy recruited me to play at your little party.”
“My name is Tobin, Mr. Cranmore.” said the butler as he scratched his beard.
“It is a pleasure to meet you.” Jack gave him a fist bump
Seemingly out of nowhere appeared, an old man with long white flowing locks whose body looked like a used Oldsmobile. Jack guessed that it was Damian based on the cellphone pictures Amy had shared with him. He gave Jack a hard handshake using his left hand.
“Excellent, excellent. Amy is my daughter. My name is Damien, Damien Piskor. Welcome to my kingdom. There is much to show you in preparation for our banquet.”
“Your daughter told me about you and showed me a photo. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” said Jack
“I hope you don’t catch the death of you. It has been raining bucketfuls. “ said Damian
Jack was escorted downstairs by Damien and shown the kitchen. News reports could be heard coming from the flat screen television next to the freezer. He could hear a report about a missing troop of girl scouts that had disappeared in the nature park’s forest. A search party had been desperately combing the forest for twenty-two hours. The newscaster was interviewing one of the police officers on the scene.
“Officer Reynolds,” asked the reporter, “The search has been going on for the better part of a day and turned up nothing. What is your personal assessment of the search effort?”
“We have found no sign of the troop,” said the officer. “I believe that only god can save them now.”
Damian turned off the television. Jack sighed at the children’s plight. Being an atheist, he knew there was no god to save them. Damien smiled and patted him on the back. “It is a tragedy, but we must be on about more immediate tasks,” said Damian. “We will start the feast in thirty minutes.” The cooks and kitchen staff seemed to pick up their already at a frantic pace so they could be ready in time.
The thought of those missing and, most likely dead children just turned his stomach. He imagined that some trailer park trash, meth addicts were probably responsible.
They wanted more from those kids than thin mints. Jack often played his violin in that park, and he wondered how close he had been to those girl’s fates. Damien led him through the kitchen to a recessed alcove with a heavy, metal door and a high tech keypad set into the wall to the right of it. Jack looked politely away as Damien tapped in the code and opened the door. Jack followed the older man down a very long flight of stairs. Intermittent light bulbs set into the ceiling lit their way. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, a wide chamber opened up before them. The brick walls that comprised the walls of that bomb shelter gave Jack the impression of feeling like a fortress. The sturdy walls gave him a sense of security. He looked heavenward as he sang the opening notes of “Ave Maria”
A heavyset light skin woman who appeared to Jack to be in her forties seemed to be waiting for them. Her hair was fashioned into dyed blonde dreadlocks. She wore wire-rimmed glasses with a red and black Jamaican style dress. As she drew nearer he realized that she was shorter than Damien. Jack guessed her height at least 5”6. He didn’t think she was part of this whole Piskor family shindig and thought she had been a distant relative from out of town.
“Here is my wife.” said Damien.
“My pleasure, Mrs. Piskor.” Jack thought of Amy who was a blond, white woman and the daughter of Damian. This woman looked like a hippie from another mother. He was redden with embarrassment with this faux pas.
“Have I surprised you, somehow, Mr. Cranmore?” asked Sofia with a knowing smile. She had noticed his hesitation. Jack avoided eye contact and cringed inside, hoping he had not offended the couple.
“She is my second wife,” said Damien with a smile.
“If you don’t mind my asking, what happened to Amy’s mother?”
“Oh, Jack, I had to do the respectable thing and push her down the well. You know how women can be.” said Damien calmly. He managed to hold his composure for a few seconds before slapping his knees, and belting aloud with heartily snorting laughter.
Jack forced an unconvincing laugh, unsure if this was a joke or if he should call the police.
“I have a gallows sense of humor.” explained Damien. “The slow march to our imminent demise. I am aware of my own mortality. The frailty of human existence. That is why I laugh at it.”
“I don’t often think about death,” said Jack. “When I do, I find it emotionally draining.”
“Fair enough.” Damien brushed aside his long rock star hair that usually hid its face. To Jack, he looked like Marky Ramone from the Ramones as his hair returned to cover half of his face.
“Sofia used to live near where that reality TV show was filmed.”
“That show with all of the shaky cameras?” asked Jack “I know that place. I’ve been to the local lighthouse.”
“I’m pretty sure that was scripted.” said Damien.
“All reality shows are scripted. I see script one of them on occasion.” lied Jack. He wanted to impress them in some way.
“Let’s get the music started.” said Damien getting back to business. “And I’ll write you a check, how does that sound?” Damien pulled out his checkbook and started writing.
“Music to my ears.” said Jack as he glanced at the zeroes on the check. He began to believe that these people might just like his music after all. He wondered what sorts of drugs they might be taking. The only response he could muster was “Wow.”
Jack’s attention shifted to Sofia and her renowned skills in wonder. Jack was a lousy cook and admired people who possessed that gift. “Ma’am, well, I have been told that you are an amazing cook, I look forward to sampling some of your work.”
“Thank you, I spent three years in Jamaica learning how to cook authentic Jamaican cuisine. Before that I graduated at the top of my class from the Louisiana Culinary Institute.”
“That an impressive résumé.” said Jack.
“Where can I find your cooking show on the internet?” asked Jack.
Instead of responding, they became silent, turned and walked away. Jack stunned by this sudden change, followed behind them at a distance, down a hall through a pair of double doors and into a large dining room. Unsure of what he should do, Jack wandered around in a silent confusion as he tried to understand what he was seeing. There were people in suits, ties and white papier-mâché masks as they sat down near the table. They all wore white robes and held Chinese lanterns. They were all in a heated argument about their favorite horror villains. Each place was set with a fine china dinner plates covered with a bright silver cloche. Damien dimmed the lights and filled the room with shadows, ominous and foreboding before he and Sophia took their seats. Jack felt as though he had walked into a Stanley Kubrick film. The one in the late 90s with the actress Nicole Kidman.
One man, wearing a purple butterfly mask rose to his feet and struck his spoon three times on his crystal water goblet. The boisterous chatter that had been going on came to a halt and all eyes fell on the man.
“Welcome all to this meeting of the Hidden Circle. As promised we have sought the answers to the ultimate question of how we can live forever. Immortality. We have more than enough power and money to attain anything we desire.”
Jack gasped with an audible wow. “He thought he might have stumbled upon an actual a fountain of youth. “We believe that consuming the flesh of women, especially that of a young girl’s, heart will provide us with the secret to our immortality.”
“What?” cried Jack. Suddenly, the missing girl scouts he had seen on the news began to make sense. Could these people be responsible for the disappearances? He wondered, not wanting to believe it. If not, then what was underneath those silver platters with the covers? He saw Damian rubbing his hands together and smiling with a huge grin as if it was his birthday and he was going to get everything he wanted.
“Our first course, this evening is fourteen year old girl’s hearts baked in butter with thyme, garlic and chili peppers with deviled eggs. A spicy dish for all the ages!”
The man with the purple mask seated himself and removed the plate cover, inhaling the scent of the meal before him. Jack noticed a tattoo of a rose just beneath the left side of the purple mask on his face. He had his nose and ears pierced, and his skin was the color of caramel skin. His long hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
Jack just stood there, like a glacier trying not to move. He felt nauseated by the sight and faintly familiar ham smell of it. He clenched his fist with anger. The rest of the guests in attendance sat at the dinner and proceeded to begin eating their meal. He could not believe they were eating human flesh as he watched. He paused as he gawked, speechless.
“Would you like some girl scout cookies? It comes with the meal.” said Damien with a crooked grin. Jack stepped back as Damien held up a tray of cookies. He realized that he still had his cellphone in his pocket. His body was frozen up with fright. His palms were sweaty as he shook with terror.
“Aren’t you going to play for us? We paid you in advance.”
“I…I guess…I can play my guitar. Umm…I mean my violin.” He had been so disturbed that he forgot what instrument he played. He felt like screaming. Inside his mind, he felt that he should do something,
“I’m going to get baked. You look a little stressed, want some weed?” said Damien as he pulled out some rolling paper and put some strong smelling marijuana into it, sealing it with his lips. “I’ll take one.” rasped Jack as he started to play a classical waltz while tapping his foot to keep time. Jack figured that if he was going to get through this, he might as well be stoned. He was doubting that he was going to make it through today. The next meal he feared will be entertainment.
“The man wearing the purple mask is Sophia’s and my son. He is also an amazing cook, just like his mother.” He seemed to notice Jack’s fright. “You can relax, you aren’t on tonight’s menu. We value your talent and skill too much to eat you. That talent would be wasted. Everyone you see here is a multi-millionaire, even my son.” Jack felt Damien’s hands, pulling him closer at the very moment he felt like running away. He wondered if he was in the seventh circle of hell, the one violent criminals were condemned to. Jack glanced at the mirror, his skin was bloodless and pale. This whole affair he thought was beyond terrifying.
“What about Amy?” asked Jack. He had noticed that she was not present along with the masked dinners.
“She is my only child from my first marriage. Amy’s mother was a complete bitch. The old battle ax had a short temper and loose lips. So I divorced her and sent her on her way. Women these days want only one thing. That is money.”
“I think that may be a bit sexist. What happened to Amy?” Jack knew he was in a dangerous place and had to be careful. He thanked his experience on the streets that allowed him to carry on a conversation while still playing for an audience
“Amy is at the garage, She is late with a flat tire.”
“How unfortunate” he said with a sardonic expression..
Jack finished his first set and began playing the opening chords of a set that he did for his street corner regulars. He closed his eyes and imagined a sunset on the beach next to a lighthouse. He was hoping to wake up from this nightmare. He began tapping his foot again to keep the rhythm.
Several women dressed in nurse’s uniforms entered the dining room, each carrying a platter laden with drugs. “Ladies and gentlemen,” announced Damien, “The palate cleansers have arrived. Please feel free to help yourselves.” Servants arrived and quickly removed the plates and covers from the table.“ Jack had been nauseated by the first course and he was dreading whatever was being served next. He faked a huge smile but inside he felt like he was dying inside. Damien’s son stood again after snorting some white powder from one of the offered trays.
The second course he said is a broccoli cheese casserole with bacon and human intestines. The cheese is made with beer from a distillery in Maine; bacon is from an Idaho farm in a cruelty free farm without any GMOs or preservatives. Damien was grinning proudly and Jack tried to look away but his face was frozen.
“Would you like some herbal tea? It has honey in it.” offered Damien. “It will help to calm your nerves.” Damien waved a hand and moments later a serving girl arrived carrying a saucer and a cup of tea. Jack paused his playing and carefully set his violin down. Jack took a sip of his tea, moments later he felt as if he were about to pass out. Jack cursed himself for being a fool, for falling for the oldest trick in the book. His tea must have been drugged. He felt tired and knocked his violin to the ground as he tried to balance himself. In his delirium, the only thing he felt he needed to know was about the elusive cooking show. Jack fought to ask a single question. “Where is your wife’s cooking show anyway?” He thought it a good time to ask since he had been he could feel his consciousness slipping away. It suddenly seemed important to know. Damien knelt down and whispered in his ear. “You are the dessert. The cooking show is on the dark web. My wife teaches how to cook human flesh like she was a celebrity chef for cannibals.”
“I hope you go to the fiery pits of hell.“ He started to go into a cold sweat. He attempted to throw a punch but he was too dizzy and everything was spinning inside his skull. He tried to focus on it but he had no strength to move. He knew it was over. The music for the feast, his music had come to an end.
Jack lost what strength he had and laid out on the floor as he mumbled slowly. “I wish I could have met my red headed angel.” He closed his eyes and dreamed about kissing his angel on the beach. After an all too short encounter, a white bright light compelled him to follow it as it guided him into the darkness of oblivion.
Thomas Shaner is a Writer, Artist, Stand-up Comedian and disability rights advocates from Cape Girardeau, Mo. This is his first horror story published. He is the author/ illustrator of a children’s book called The Adventures of Pizza Dog, coming soon to Lulu/Amazon/Barnes and Noble. He has taken classes from Clarion West online, Cat Rambo and a Kubert School class for comic book writing, taught by Amy Chu. Thomas is also an artist with a BFA in painting from Southeast Missouri State University in 2011. His favorite horror villain is Freddy Krueger from Nightmare from Elm St.