David C. Cassidy--author, photographer, half-decent juggler--spends his writing life creating dark and touching stories where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.
David lives in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD--Multiple Activity Disorder--he divides his time between writing and blogging, photography and photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.
All about Velvet Rain-
Velvet Rain is a dark thriller of suspense, horror, and drama. [Contains graphic violence and profanity.]
"Exceptional writing on a par with Stephen King ..."
"Dean Koontz would be proud of this writer ..."
"A dark horror-thriller ... reveals the evils of humanity ... the demons hidden under human flesh."
"It's a gripping read--at times chilling, at times humorous, and at times deeply moving."
HE WAS BORN A MIRACLE. IT WILL TAKE ONE TO SAVE THE WORLD.
Kain Richards is the last of his kind--and a man on the run. So when this
mysterious drifter falls for a beautiful and sensible Iowa farmwoman, he knows
full well the perils of getting too close. And yet, for the first time in his
miserable existence, life feels normal ... feels real. But as those around him
soon realize, reality is not what it seems. For when a tragic accident forces
Kain's hand, his astonishing secret--and godlike power--changes their lives,
and the world, forever.
Book Excerpt from Velvet Rain:
Now the cheating prick had drawn a knife.
Probably shouldn’t have kicked him in the balls, the drifter thought. Especially since his large friend here had him tied up in the stranglehold of a full nelson. It hurt like hell, but it was nothing compared to that spike of static driving right through that splitting headache he had. It felt as if it were cutting into his brain like some impossible electric blade.
“Hold him, Cal.”
It wasn’t the fat man. One of Cal’s buddies had piped up. All of a sudden, the place was just crawling with rats.
The fat man met him squarely, still wincing from the throb in his jewels. The heady mix of bar smoke and brew had him swaying a little, and just when you thought he might rethink this madness, he returned the favor with one solid shot from his steel-toed boot. Pain rippled through the drifter’s groin and into his skull. Still, he’d endured far worse than these boys could dish out, and he wasn’t about to give them the satisfaction. He swallowed the agony. His lips slid into a cockeyed grin.
Outside the packed roadhouse—this stinking pisshole that stank like all the others—the thunderstorm raged. Somewhere down that cold and lonely road that had brought them here, lightning struck a power line, and the lights flickered.
“No more tricks,” the trucker told him, uncertain as the lamps. Clearly he was rethinking this; trying to get a grip on just what the hell had happened here tonight. Trying not to lose that grip.
An attractive redhead, sculpted nicely in a white top and a flirty black skirt, sat in a booth beside the coin-op pool table. All by her lonesome, the forty-something was ashen, her head down, a hand cupped to her abdomen. She’d been drinking heavily, and while it was possible her bouts of nausea were a result of overindulgence, the drifter knew better; how well he did. She’d fought the good fight twice in the last thirty minutes, first throwing up in the ladies’ room, only to go down in the second round, right here at the edge of her seat. A waitress was on her knees cleaning the mess. The fat man had slipped in it, his cue almost, but not quite, breaking his fall, and when he had hit the floor in that little spiral the way he had, looking like some overweight stripper round a pole, half the place had exploded in drunken laughter. His big butt was slick with vomit. He was ripe.
Sweat beaded the man’s forehead. One tiny bead broke rank and slipped along his sunburned skin. Skin that had, until tonight, been utterly pasty. His puzzled eyes—yellowed and bloodshot, like so many of the others now—lingered on the strange thin scars on the drifter’s temples. You could almost hear the wheels of confusion spinning in his head.
“Cut him,” someone said. It wasn’t Cal, but what did it matter.
The fat man hesitated. He didn’t want to do it, that much was clear. Some guys had it in them. This one didn’t. Returning serve on that swift kick to the nuts was one thing. Any one of these fine gents would have reacted that way. But this? This was lunacy. If Cal hadn’t egged him to pull it, the knife would still be tucked away in his back pocket. No, the poor bastard wasn’t thinking about cutting him. He was all messed up, wondering how things had gotten so crazy, so quickly. Wondering what was real anymore. What was real.
“Do it,” Cal said.
Despite the nelson driving his head down at an insufferable angle, the drifter could see Cal’s bulging forearms plainly enough. Sunburned. Like the fat man’s face; like the fat man’s hands. Like most of the others. He supposed he should have been thankful for dim lights and drink. Either no one noticed, or no one cared.
Still, he should have known better. The bitch of it was, he did.
The fat man looked to Cal and considered his play. Cal, a man of few grunts, drove him to the edge with another Do it. It would take but a nudge to push him over.
The man drew closer. Close enough to suffer the fist of his stale beer-breath. He was breathing laboriously. Trembling. He looked like he might have a heart attack.
Slowly, most unwillingly, he brought the tip of the blade to the drifter’s chin.
The fat man swallowed. “. . . I want what’s mine, sir.”
Sir. That’s the way he talked. Respectfully. And here he was, shitting where the man ate. Still, he didn’t start this. He never did.
He eyed the name tag stitched on the man’s wrinkled brown jacket. Owner-operator of Most Truck For Your Buck, Ron was a regular one-rig shipping magnate from Willow Springs, a lovely place Ron’d called “the best of the best” of this fine state of Missouri. He had to admit, the guy had been a pretty good egg; he’d been an amiable lug, with an honest smile and an honest laugh. Been kind enough to pick him up in that miserable rain. Kind enough to buy him the first round. But the fact was, a good dozen brews in and getting squeezed by his hustle, he had wanted to level the cheating prick.
Oh, yes. He’d fallen into a deep hole, quickly—a little too quickly. He’d been a mark from the get-go, the guy sharking him at precisely the right moments. A cough here, some chatter there, just enough to distract him. And the guy was good. One of the best he’d seen, and he’d played some pretty good players. So rather than take it up the ass any deeper, he’d clawed back to black and was up a good twenty or so. But now the guy was on to him. The man hadn’t a clue how he’d been hustled—well, he supposed the man had ideas, crazy ideas—but he knew he’d been screwed right back, right up the old poop shoot. Thing was, he wasn’t a cheat—until now, at least—but dammit, the guy had had it coming. You don’t cheat at poker, you don’t cheat at stick . . . an unwritten law among men.
He should have bolted when he’d had the chance. It had been right there in front of him, but he’d had too much, far too much, to see it, and coupled with his foolish and dangerous indiscretions, had no one to blame but himself. How many times had he Turned? Small wonder his head was pounding. He had to wonder how many had seen the mist.
And that damn static. What the hell was it? It was coming in fits now, like a circling pack of wild, growling dogs. It steered his mind into a spin, and he steeled against it. Dizzied, trying to keep it together, he held dead still against the tip of the knife.
His sluggish gaze wandered, piercing the smoky filth that filled the place. The thick foul sickened, but didn’t he crave a cigarette, suddenly. Still, after all these years. He didn’t really want one, of course, but what he wouldn’t do to ease the agony in his head.
He sought the barkeep in the slim hope of a hand. Polishing a tall glass, the man had regarded the goings-on with but a cursory glance, clearly more concerned with that looker at the end of the bar, chatting her up the way he was. In fact, save this intimate little gathering around him, most of this questionable clientele seemed entirely disinterested. Not good.
If only Dick the Bruiser would let up on the nelson. All he needed was a chance.
“Come on,” Cal said. “Bleed this cheatin’ bastard.”
Here we go, the drifter thought. Over the edge. Over a couple of sawbucks.
The fat man—to see that haggard, bewildered face, you really wouldn’t have believed he had it in him—slit him with a quick flick of the blade. It stung. Blood dribbled down his throat to his chest. The grip round his arms tightened, that throb in his neck crushing like a boatload of bricks coming down on him. If the Turn had given Cal a case of the body aches, he sure wasn’t showing it. The man was a bull.
He shook it off, still groggy. He looked up, past the knife, past the looker, to the glowing GUYS AND DOLLS sign that led to the restrooms. There was a jukebox on the way, a big rounded Wurlitzer, “Big Bad John” blaring out of its speakers for what must have been the tenth time tonight. Jimmy Dean had been all over the radio these days, would likely hit the top of the charts, and while the man had undoubtedly penned a great song, by this—the twenty-seventh of October, 1961, the biting wind howling hell’s breath beyond the gloom of this place—he had pretty well had his fill. And more than enough of this night.
“Twenty and we’re square, sir,” the hauler told him, politely as sin. His voice held a touch of that approachable Missouri, but that honest smile had long since fled. His searching eyes narrowed. “I figure it’s likely more. But we can’t know for sure now, can we. Can we?”
At this the man glanced round to garner agreement. Not a word was spoken, but some of the patrons, the rats, mostly, seemed to concur. The eyes—sickly or not—never lie.
The drifter capitulated. His arms were aching, and the incessant pressure from the nelson was grilling him almost as deeply as the static. His long chestnut hair, cradling the shoulders of his weathered denim jacket, slipped down in front of his face. He held a menacing look, and the looker, long since bored with the barkeep, stirred on her high bar stool. She bit down teasingly on her lower lip, handing him a breathless gaze with those perfect green gems. She had no idea how lucky she was; the redhead’s eyes were creepy little pissholes now.
“You win,” he said, feigning exasperation. He shook his head for good measure.
“No more tricks,” the fat man reiterated, with obvious suspicion—and more than a hint of relief. He really wasn’t a bad seed, in his way; he was probably a good husband, a good father, a good provider. But nobody hustles a hustler.
The man drew the knife back with a step. Nodded to Cal. Cal let him go.
The drifter gathered himself. He regarded the looker with a small smile, and with an innocent gesture of settling up, reached for his breast pocket, figuring to give old Cal here an elbow to the gut before he snatched up his knapsack and bolted for the exit. He was just about to when thunder rumbled, and the place went black. Mild chaos turned to utter chaos when the lights didn’t come, and amid the ruckus of shouting, shuffling, and confusion, the drifter, like a finely tuned magician, the audience astir, waved his magic wand.
And popped the rabbit out of the hat.
The bright neon clock above the bar, a Budweiser, ticked six minutes to one; give or take a few precious seconds, roughly three minutes it had lost, to the black and chilling chasm of time. Jimmy Dean was just getting started (for what was in fact the ninth time), and when the looker crossed her legs the way she did, bouncing one upon the other so sexily, the drifter, not a scratch on his sculpted chin, called for another round. Some joker was still playing a crazed kind of pinball inside his head, flipping bricks about his skull. And the static, all over him like a tiger, clawed into his brain.
He tried to tell himself that if the lights hadn’t failed when they had, he might have made it. But in all the confusion, stumbling through blackness and bodies, he hadn’t been able to find his knapsack. Some bastard had lifted it. He didn’t have much, nothing more than a few clothes, but there was his dark secret, tucked safely inside. He had had no choice.
And now here he was—here they were—again.
He considered making a run for it right then and there, but they’d be all over him the moment he went for his things. He might make it past one of them, but not both. Even if he managed to pull off that minor miracle, fat chance their cronies would let him escape. And wouldn’t there be fireworks then. Particularly when it came to light that, after the brewskis he’d bought, he had exactly three dollars and sixty-two cents in his pocket.
He only prayed he could pull this off.
The leggy looker smiled coyly at him. Her wild eyes were still those fine sparkling emeralds, and he was thankful for that. But he had to admit, her new tan flattered, from pretty head to pretty toe. The redhead, despite being spared the sunburn, hadn’t fared as well. Her eyes burned with all the look of an infection. She was chalky. Looked as sick as a dog. He felt for her, he really did.
He slipped a coin into the steel slot of the table. His new buddy Ron, nodding to his other new buddy, Cal, watched him like a hawk as he racked. Their skin had deepened, their sunburn an even greater tell. Their eyes were thick with bloodshot. Sick with the color of butter.
He glanced at his weathered boots. A faint dusting of fine powder clung to them. Maybe this time it was just ordinary dust. But he knew. Too white.
He studied the fat man carefully. Rather than drawing his cue as he had expected, the trucker took a swig of his draft instead, deferring the break to him with a nod. It was a little thing, not taking his cue this time, but how well he knew how such a trivial change in the way of things could ripple into chaos. The good news was, the man hadn’t taken the break; he had feared that might happen, and his chance would be lost.
This would have to work. His mind was out of gas, sucked dry from his mental exertions. Another Turn would likely leave him unconscious. And with these boys, he’d likely find himself in a ditch wearing nothing but the clothes God gave him when he came to.
He chalked his cue. Then, before old Ron changed his mind, he stepped round the table and positioned himself for the break.
“No tricks, sir.”
The drifter looked up.
You calling ME a cheat? he’d snapped before, and hadn’t that worked out well. He kept his big mouth shut.
Cal, the big bastard, looked more like a tanned surfer from California than a pale barfly from the Midwest. The man belched, took a deep swig of his draft, then shifted from his perch at the bar to the table. So far, so good. But now that he knew Ronnie-boy had a knife, there was no telling what might happen this time round. If things got dicey again—and they would, if the puzzle pieces scattered about the man’s brain suddenly assembled into a nice neat picture—a little slit on the chin could turn to a six-inch gash across the throat. You just never knew.
“Tell you what,” he said warmly. “Double or nothing?”
“What do you take him for?” Cal barked. “A goddamn fool?”
“Fine as a feather,” the trucker said after some deliberation, clearly intent on collecting, win or lose. He was stone. Maybe he knew. Maybe he knew, and his mind had snapped. God knew he had seen it before. And now, maybe the guy was waiting for his chance. His chance to gut him.
But then the man moved up a step, and the nauseous redhead, already listing in her seat into the narrow aisle, bless her, gave it her all.
Too fat and too drunk, the hustler stepped gamely, but not gamely enough. His left leg slid out from under him in the slick vomit, and gravity did the rest. His drink soaked one of the rats as he flailed, his big ass hitting the hardwood like a sack of cement, and Cal, laughing it up like most of the shit-faced others, didn’t notice a thing. The drifter took up his knapsack and slipped away, gave a wink to the looker as he passed her—great legs, this one—and hurried to the restroom and nearly got stuck as he shimmied through the narrow back window. Thunder cracked, a lasting report of deafening soul, and as he looked up from his knees and into the driving rain, saw lightning strike a power line not twenty feet from the roadhouse. The lights failed, far longer than before, and by the time they returned, the trucker bolting from the front door and into the storm with bloodshot eyes the size of golf balls, the drifter, like that finely tuned magician, had vanished.
It was in all the papers.
Well, just the local one, he knew, but one was enough. One was one too many.
He shouldered his knapsack and put up a hand to keep the pages clear of the spitting rain. He took shelter beneath the awning of the roadside diner, and had to abandon it as that rather obese family of four came out. The father, the last to emerge, gave him a look that was none too friendly. In the dying light, he watched them hurry across the lot and wedge themselves into their station wagon, the springs feeling the pinch, and though he held no doubt it would be a squeeze, a part of him wished he could hitch a ride. They turned south onto the lightless road, the rain coming in buckets suddenly, their fading taillights a pair of cold eyes that seemed to be watching him.
He moved under the awning again. He was soaked, the paper equally so. A Halloween decoration hung in the window. The jack-o’-lantern had sharp, angled eyes and held a sinister grin.
He read the date. The twenty-ninth. Yesterday.
He skimmed through the article again. Perusing the paper over his greasy burger, it had been buried with the obits—news like this was either front page or back page, he figured, depending on whether the editor felt it actual and factual or, as this editor had, figured it to be nothing more than hokum, filler to amuse the readership, given the playful headline—and as he had turned to it, his heart had skipped a beat or two. Two booths down, the family man had been reading his own paper, had looked up more than once, had given him that typical look of suspicion. The long hair? The scars? Usually, that’s what it was. But for all he knew, the man had been at the bar that night. Hell, it might have been his new buddy Cal, for the size of him.
A creeping chill ran the nape of his neck. He stood cold, half expecting the station wagon to come rolling into the lot, a highway patrol car racing close behind.
His head throbbed. The headaches were getting worse. They lasted days, now.
At least that crazy static was gone. Thank God.
His mind drifted back to the roadhouse. He could still hear Jimmy Dean.
What had he been thinking?
He’d thought the guy was a Stiff. Thought them all Stiffs. His first mistake.
The second—and it seemed he had been making more and more of them lately—was his stupidity. Drunk or not, cheated or not, you just didn’t Turn on a whim. Jesus.
He read the headline again. Like a line from a children’s bedtime story. In another life, another time—ha—he might have laughed. Hell, even Brikker, that soulless freak, might have managed a grin. And if—no, when—the man discovered this, no doubt he would.
WILLOW SPRINGS MAN MEETS FATHER TIME
His heart sank. He looked up wistfully, his tired mind drawn north along that desolate road. It looked so cold and dark. And endless.
He slipped the newspaper into the receptacle near the door and turned back to check inside. The waitress was cleaning up, getting ready to close.
He regarded the grinning pumpkin. Twisted and evil.
All he saw was Brikker.
“Three whole days,” he sighed, so weary to move on so quickly, the callous October wind slapping him in the face. He stood under the awning for another ten minutes, the downpour finally ebbing, falling to that maddening drizzle.
Kain Richards walked, into the rain.
'When I read David Cassidy's 'Velvet Rain' I was floored by the writing style and the smooth presentation of this captivating plot. The descriptions grabbed me and would not let go. This was a dark read, but wow, an incredible one. In my opinion, this writing is up to par with Stephen King and Dean Koontz.'