Sunday, December 29, 2013

Anthology Volume One


Welcome to the new Anthology website. Anthology Volume One is two years in the making, and is due to be released in the next few months in both ebook and print formats. The stories on this site are back in production, being expanded and edited. In the mean time, enjoy the previews of the individual stories to be released from Anthology Volume One. I look forward to hearing from all of you about your experiences reading my work. Some of the previews already lead to ebooks you can download for free or at most a dollar. It is worth your time to check out my writing if you haven't, and if you already have a favorite story, chances are it will be in Volume one.

In the mean time, downloading the individual stories released from the collection gives you access to exclusive features including, at bare minimum, the following: the complete text of the first draft, commentary from me about the story, and exclusive cover art created specifically by me for the story.

Thank you for the experience, and stick with me for this new chapter of my career.

Much respect,
Roman Theodore Brandt

Cover art for some of the individual releases from this collection. Literally minutes of hard work:

Our Lives in Ruin (Preview)

CONTEXT: Joey works at a movie theater in a truck stop town. Franklin is the stranger he's met, the one who makes his sad little life okay again. But is he just another form of self-harm for Joey? This scene is of them breaking into Joey's place of employment after hours. Franklin knows too much about the layout, and the movie starts with no projectionist running the machine. What follows is one of the most intense scenes I have ever written.


We walk past my apartment instead of stopping at it, and I breathe a sigh of relief. Our footprints cross flashing red light intersections until we’re standing in front of the theater where I work.

“You’ve got a key, I assume,” Franklin says.

I stare at him. “We can’t just walk in the front door after it’s closed.”

He smiles and starts walking, and I have to follow him. We go around the building into the alley behind it. “The key works on the basement door,” he tells me.

Down the stairs at the back of the building, below street level, I put the key in the door and turn it. The door opens. “I never realized that,” I told him.

He pushes the door open and grabs my hand, pulling me in. I close the door behind us and reach for a light switch, but he grabs my hand. “You don’t turn on the lights after you break into a building, Joey.”

We move down the hallway quickly. It’s like Franklin knows the layout down here in the basement, and soon we’re up the back stairs and into the rear exit corridor. The emergency lights illuminate ghosts in hallways until we get to the auditorium. I’ve never been here this far after hours.

“The movie’s about to start,” Franklin says. He pulls me by the hand into one of the rows of seats and we sit down. “What do you want to watch?” I look over at him, and he smiles in the glow of the emergency lights, his eyes liquid black again.

Before I can say anything, I hear the flicking of the projector and the auditorium is lit by the beam coming from the back of the room, painting the screen at the front a pale white. I look at him again, and he’s looking at the screen. Between us, I feel his hand around my wrist, his fingers moving to find my pulse. His hands are like electricity. I want to tell him to cut me open. That’s weird, I know.

His hand moves to my hand, and suddenly, all the light in the room goes out. It’s so quiet, I can hear my heart beating. I hear Franklin shifting in his seat, pulling my hand to his body, pulling up his shirt and pressing my hand against his chest. There ought to have been a heart pounding there, too. I can feel his breath against my neck and earlobe, and I’m terrified. I want to pull away and run. I want to curl into fetal position and cry, but his voice is soft in my ear, his hand holding mine to his chest.

“Are you afraid?” he wants to know. I close my eyes against the darkness, and I feel his mouth on my neck. Oh my God, his teeth are sharp.

“Yes,” I tell him, but my voice is inaudible over my own heartbeat.

LIKE THIS PREVIEW? Our Lives in Ruin comes out in ebook format on January 13th and print format on January 20th. There will be discounts, events, fireworks, Gatsby parties, and I will become Oprah for exactly one minute starting the second the ebook comes out, and lasting well over a month. You shall buy it, because it is only one dollar. It is only one burrito. It is only one bottle of cheap soda. Trust me, for the level of work I put in this story for you, it is worth the dollar. I promise.

Michael (Preview)

On the night of my fourteenth birthday, brushing my teeth before bed, I heard a tapping on the window. I looked at my shirtless reflection in the mirror and then at the window behind me, and I saw Michael’s face pressed against the glass, grinning.

“Hey,” he said, his voice muffled by the insulated window panes. “Open up.”

I tried to ignore him, but he kept tapping, and I bet he was cold; he never wore anything but underwear. Eventually, I went to the window and slid the sash up. He came through effortlessly, dropping down onto the floor and standing up quickly.

“Took you long enough,” he said quietly. Through the open window I could hear the roar of the freeway in the distance, and I looked at him in the quiet bathroom. It had been a long time since I’d last seen him. The last time had been right after Mom told me he wasn’t real, and she still would have told me that.

“How old are you now?” I asked him.

“How old are you?” He asked me in return, dew dripping down his bare chest.

 “I asked you first.”

He shrugged and smiled again, and I remember all the times we had run around town at night in our underwear, breaking store windows and heaving soda bottles at parked cars, alarms piercing the quiet and announcing our departure as we scurried half-naked into the shadows between buildings.

“Do you believe I’m real yet?” He wanted to know, and he waited for my answer.

Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t know. The only thing I actually knew, I realized as we both stood there in our underwear, was that I had missed him. Years had passed. We had both gotten taller, filling out, growing hair in all the places we were supposed to around this age.

Finally, I opened my mouth to speak. “No,” I told him, and that one simple word struck him so that his smile faded completely, leaving only the face of a boy I knew years ago, now grown old beneath a teenaged face. He came over to where I was and looked in the mirror with me, and we were visions of youthful manhood reflected side by side. We could have been brothers.

He looked over at me, his hair still wet from the night air outside. “Maybe I don’t believe you’re real,” he said to me, and he looked in the mirror again.

“I am,” I told him. His reflected eyes grew colder, and there were the beginnings of tears in them. He blinked them away and sniffed.

“So am I,” he said finally.

“Mom says you aren’t.”

Without warning, he punched the mirror, his fist sailing into the glass hard and sending mirror shards everywhere, slamming the toothpaste and deodorant and rubbing alcohol beyond it into the wall.

He looked at me, and my heart was pounding in my chest. “Fine,” he said, and he went back out the window, leaving a trail of red drops across the tile floor in his wake. I stood there breathing hard after he left, my chest heaving, and I heard Mom running up the stairs. She burst into the room, looked at the smashed mirror, looked at me, and her eyes went wide.

“What on earth happened in here?” She asked.

I looked down at my right hand, bleeding on the tile floor with a shard of silvery glass stuck in it. The trail of red now led from the sink to where I stood, rather than to the window. “I don’t know,” I told her.

LIKE THIS PREVIEW? Want the whole story? Download it for a dollar at Smashwords or Barnes & Noble. Make sure you rate and review the story where you download it. I love hearing from people who have read my work.

Remember to watch for Anthology Volume One when it hits online stores in ebook and print formats in March 2014.

Ghosts (Preview)

I don't remember when we stopped being human. I'm sure if I could put it as a date on a calendar, I could have some kind of closure.

There are always dishes to be done, and dusting. I just don't want to touch any of it anymore. The dishes are rotting in the sink and the house is blanketed in centuries of dust. I feel like you and I are day vampires now, rising from coffins in the morning to face the latest day just like the thousands before it. You go out to the fields and I stay in here and I wash dishes, bleeding out from the boredom.

I just want to take the car and leave. Why don't you ask me to dance anymore? Why don't we fuck anymore? Am I that awful?

God, I hate these dishes splashing around in the water with my angry fingers scratching the mashed potatoes off of them. I need to remember to soak the dishes or wash them as they get used, because I hate washing them so much right now.

Maybe I'm not the person I was when we met in the drug store downtown, or when we came out here to get away.

We came here to get away after all, I tell myself when I do the dishes, and it makes me scratch them harder until I've abandoned the scrubber and I'm just using my fingernails.

Looking down at the red water, I pull my hand up and see the blood staining my fingernails. We came here to get away, and all I want to do is go home.

LIKE THIS PREVIEW? Want the full story? You can download this story for free at Smashwords or Barnes & Noble. Don't forget to rate and review this story where you download it, or on Goodreads.

Thanks for reading.

Much respect,
Roman Theodore Brandt