Considering What A Book’s Title Should Be Before Committing To Publishing It

Before SEETHINGS was finished, the novel tried on many other titles. That name didn’t appear until eight years later. During the book’s long development, alternates were applied to assist the author with writing its content. Few were considered to be permanent fixtures. None were planned to appear on any bookshelf.

There are fair and good reasons why a book starts with one title but finishes with another. In SEETHINGS’ case, I used one of my titles as a temporary label, sort of a mission statement, for the purposes of keeping me on track as I wrote the yet unknown story.

In the beginning…

This was SEETHINGS’ very first title and the story was always going to be about a storm. I love a good thunderstorm and wanted to write a great story about one. It was to take centre stage, but how that’d translate into an entertaining story was uncertain. I wrote Stormfront on a post-it note and then stuck it to my computer’s screen. That little yellow tag kept me on-task during the first draft (and it stayed around for another couple of rewrites).

Brrrr!

As is usually the case when I write, something else gets added to an original draft. The story soon developed the nucleus of another plot. It paralleled the first one but, while the hot, summer rain dominated the core narrative, a chilly relationship story slithered right up against it. I saw the irony in this dichotomy and so I wrote a new title on a fresh post-it note, Cold Climates.

Ick!

Attracted to that new second plot, I kept working on developing the chilly relationship between those two characters. My goal was to create six identifiable occasions in the story when the couple’s life soured and their bedroom turned icy. Thank goodness that title didn’t remain. Neither did those six occasions. The key ones remained while the rest disappeared into the trash.

SEETHINGS' test-drive title
Long enough for ya?

Stop laughing. It’ll make perfect sense after I explain why I chose it. The process was getting really serious at this point. The book had been written ten times over and it was time for real-world testing to take place. A beta-reader journey was required to get the book to the next stage. Feedback mattered — not for the book’s title, but the story accompanying it. I needed readers to tell me how the story felt from a reading perspective. This long-title version acted as a type of synopsis. I handed them the manuscript in a ring-binder and said nothing of the contents behind the cover page. I let them read the story and then waited for their comments/reviews to return to me.

With the last of the structural edits being finalised, four titles were selected for proofing (I can’t remember one of them — yes, these are mock-ups of the original mock-ups. The files have gone astray). Each of these simple proofs was printed using the same image (a lightning bolt) as a background. They looked identical, but for the title (even the font was the same). I shopped them around to friends, family, book club members, strangers, anyone keen enough to give me their opinion. I didn’t tell them what the story was about. I just wanted them to look at the covers. “Which book title would make you stop and look twice?” I asked.

The votes came back and the book officially became SEETHINGS in mid-2012. Of course, it wasn’t yet ready for the reading market. Sorting out a title was just one step in many more to come. The next thing to consider was a suitable cover graphic (clearly, I didn’t go with the lightning bolt option)… but that’s another post for another time.

Until then, enjoy your reading. Michael.

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Rewriting The Paper Orgasm

Literotica? Really? Aren’t you supposed to be writing thrillers Michael?

Yes and yes. I write tease. Tease is transient. Sex, life, death — all can be written with tease. Tease is entertaining. It’s titillating. The trick is blending them the right way and making it work.

Murder narratives often contain sex. Kissing is part of sex. Hugs are in there too. Leg-twitching, shudder-shaking bedroom action raises the tension. I include all of them… with rising-tension murder too. They go together well.

Lori Beeton (a huge Dean Koontz fan) said my literotica was unusually feminine. She says I take my time and don’t rush the sex.

I guess she’s right. I favour growing the tension between lovers. I let it build and swirl as though I’m writing an erotic-specific piece.

Eyes that shift, breathing that falters, secret desires which are revealed one touch at a time, makes for a better read.

Good sex is all about negotiating those ‘unspoken words’. I like the anticipation, the doubt, the uncertain outcome of what may take place after the first kiss happens. How we communicate desire and make contact is what it’s all about baby!

Savour that feeling!

Read about it in my books!

Michael

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Intimate Murder: Villain and Victim Development

When writing dark fiction, it’s important to create the perfect villain. Without one, a hero can’t rise above and give the reader what they need — hard justice. A hero’s strength depends on the power of the villain to get them there. Justice aside, there’s one other thing to consider.

The victim.

Simply using random individuals as victims certainly quickens part of the writing process. It can give our bad-guy instant badness and we don’t need to know about a victim’s life, learn their name, or visit a funeral. We can spend more time with the villains and heroes in the story. But using a nameless nobody to die at the hands of the best-crafted bad-guy, can ruin a good dark fiction story.

Why not include some intrigue by selecting the perfect victim for our villain? If the so-called randoms don’t turn out to be that random at all, we could give deeper purpose to each kill — discoverable later in the story.

And what about the manner in which they die?

Murder is highly personal — at least, I believe it is. Nothing is more intimate than making one of my character’s life snuff out. It’d be easy to under-value a good murder by failing to honour murder’s intimacy. For instance: A shooting. There’s a crack of a gun, a fall to the knees, and a body hits the ground — all done, nice and quick. If the villain is a sniper, it’s even less intimate, because it’s done from a distance. He doesn’t even have to see the eyes of his victim fade. Where’s the intimacy in a sniper-kill?

My murder is not the kind that comes by way of a gun, or a knife, or poison. I’m talking about something deeply intimate — like the electricity that crackles between two new lovers.

Theirs is all about erotic anticipation, hot kisses, fingers and hands seeking bare flesh. Only eyes, moans, and heavy breathing, is used to guide their way into the bedroom. A murder can be written into this space instead. It can be just as sensual, building towards a steamy homicide, creating a whole new level of creep for the dark narrative.

I’m a writer who yearns to bring intimacy and murder together. I want a reader to want to witness the development of such a relationship and then rise as their union climaxes. And then I want them shocked by what I do next.

Avoid clichés at all costs.

Clichés take us where we expect to go. There’s nothing left to do but to wrap a story up with a justice bow and let the reader off with a feel-good outcome. The only challenge for a writer, is to become creative in hiding the cliché, while writing it. For instance: Bad guy goes to jail, dies, banished forever, turned into stone, becomes a horrible monster, etc. The result is always the same — the evil never stays. It goes away, always. Predictable. Not in my stories.

Should justice be as predictable?

You’d think it’d be black and white. Once the badness is identified, it’s removed by good, old fashioned justice. But justice is subjective. Depending on your age, race, upbringing, beliefs, sex, sexual preference, intellect, wisdom, experience, even weight and height, you’ll have a unique view on what’s just. There’s another human flaw to factor into the justice mix — psychological stability. There are moments when we’re not ourselves and make bad decisions on things like justice. All of these varying elements in the justice process make it somewhat fluidic. This fluidity is something I like to explore in my stories. All I need to do is get my reader to jump in and get wet with me, to find appropriate justice in the sloppy liquid. It’s not conventional but it works for the thriller-styled novels I write.

Self awareness, identity and acceptance is important to everyone, including psychopaths. We all have an inner-something that drives us and makes us do the things we do. Even well-balanced people can get things horribly wrong on matters of love, lust, family, money, and much more. Any of these items can be motivators for us to think and act inappropriately, and then look to cover our tracks when we see things in the light of a new day.

My books include this strange shift in behaviour. They are dark fiction and not meant for children. They’re not for simple souls either. They contain complex, adult issues, and challenge a reader’s moral standing throughout their narratives. They are written for a perfect villain who commits an intimate murder, and then ask readers to accept a different type of justice that makes perfect sense, only at the time of the crime.

Read SEETHINGS now. It’s the first novel in a series, and it’s free on *SMASHWORDS. (*limited time)

Michael Forman (Author)

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Tombstone Muses and Island Kinkiness For Erotic Times Between Sexy Mitchell and Nina

“They actually make love to each other standing-up, and then he takes her foot and places it on one of the other gravestones. That’s when things get really interesting.”

Fiction author Michael Forman is set to launch his third and most bizarre Noirotic novel to date. By replacing a bed with a gravesite, he’s taking a couple’s sexual adventures to a whole new level.

His yet untitled novel will include historic content from the infamous St Helena Convict Settlement found on St Helena Island. It’s an isolated plot of land located in the middle of Moreton Bay, east of Brisbane. Forman, who’s no stranger to the darker side of fiction, is currently researching the island’s history and investigating the details of two cemeteries located on Queensland’s prisoner island.

“I’ve visited St Helena several times and taken many photographs of it. I’m now interested in measuring how long it takes to sail a yacht across Moreton Bay to get to the island, and the distance between the two cemeteries. One is for convicts, the other is for wardens, staff, and their families. My amorous couple will discover these cemeteries and hatch a new sexual fantasy that incorporates both of them. “

According to Forman, St Helena’s graveyard is: “To become the site of some seriously kinky sexual activity.”

Michael Forman

Forman says that what makes the two St Helena‘s graveyards appealing is that both are located on an island and are reachable by a half-hour boat ride. It’s rarely accessed at night. No one lives on the island.

“My highly sexed couple will take a moonlight cruise across the bay. They’ll drop their anchor and go ashore to explore the site and, of course, each other. The island’s isolation will give my enthusiastic lovers the perfect opportunity to express their desires among those, they believe, who knew true naughtiness and punishment. They’ll consider what they do as paying homage to the dead. It’ll raise their stimulation to new levels and, as it peaks, my protagonist will do something that’ll alter the mood. He will take his lover’s foot off one of the convict’s headstones, and then place it on top of one of the civilian’s. It’ll be a shock to find out who that headstone belongs to. Was it done on purpose or by mistake?”

St Helena's Graveyard
Convict Tombstones, St Helena

The St Helena penal settlement was all but abandoned in 1932. During it’s sixty-five years of service, approximately fifty convicts died on the tiny island. The convict’s tombstones are marked with a number, but civilian graves include names, dates, and a brief cause-of-death on them.

The graveyards are fenced but access is available to those who are part of a tour group. Commercial charter operators offer daily trips from the mainland to the island, to see the historic grave sites and the prison ruins which are located nearby.

“I’ve had the benefit of seeing the graveyards after sunset. Under a moonlit night, their tombstones take on a surrealistic, supernatural feel. I give my couple, and readers of adult fiction, a creepy lovemaking adventure they’ll never expect.”

The once dilapidated site is now maintained by local government so all can see a part of Australia’s convict history up close and personal.

Forman says that his new book will be released soon. Readers will be informed on his official site when it’s ready for download. SEETHINGS, his first successful dark fiction novel, is now available on Smashwords for free. Visit here to download and read it immediately.


“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Hacking Laptop Microphones To Hear Private Conversations

Did you know you know that you can turn on a computer’s microphone remotely? It’s easy. Imagine hearing some juicy audio from a stranger’s computer from anywhere in the world, at anytime. It’s sneaky, isn’t it? Think of all the conversations you could listen to.

Modern devices are always switched on and permanently connected to the Internet. This always-on connection provides an open door to a new kind of hacker — The Listener.

Stalker Hacks Computer Microphones

Listeners tune into any device’s microphone simply by opening a port inside it. Once they’ve done this, a piece of code keeps the channel open so they can access and record it at any time. As the audio begins to flow into a constant feed, they’ll sit and analyse all the sounds that appear inside it. You may wonder why they’d do that. Well, it’s mostly for research. They’re fishing for business. Lifestyle patterns, keywords, conversations, anything that indicates what kind of consumer you are. Your age, sex, likes and dislikes — the information gathered is then used to qualify you as a customer to big business. They’ll sell your information to corporations — but not all Listeners do it for the money.

Immorality and Law issues aside, instead, skip ahead and ask why they go for the microphone and totally ignore the camera.

Camera feeds are resource heavy and, therefore, users could suspect a problem with their increasingly sluggish device. Audio-only feeds use far less data, so the lag time is less noticeable. Cameras also have an indicator light that tell users when the camera is active. Mikes don’t. They are passive, both visually and aurally when activated.

It’s totally unbelievable, right?

Mother has always been suspicious about computers and their in-built cameras. She sticks a post-it note over her computer’s lens because she thinks people see her through it. She was right. Hackers can see her. Unfortunately, she never considered covering the microphone to stop them from hearing her daily activities.

And then there’s those other devices we invite into our houses which are made of only microphones and speakers. They are specifically designed to receive and send audio over the Internet all day long: Google Home and Amazon Echo. We sign them in and then pump them full of the sounds of our lives so they can be sent off to somewhere unknown.

Amazon Echo

Corporations tell us that their smart devices don’t listen when they’re not being used — but that’s not true. Alexa heard a double murder take place (See? Follow the link. It’s real! I’m not making this stuff up!) and her audio provided vital evidence in Court. Of course, Amazon denied they had a recording of the tragic event. Alexa isn’t supposed to record anything, but a tech-autopsy uncovered the real truth. Alexa did hear and record the crime taking place and she is listening to all of us today, recording our private audio and saving it in her servers. We’re only one step away from having machines with complex algorithms analyse the masses of stored audio for God knows what reason. Privacy, laws, and morals, left us the moment we activate any smart e-device in our home and then connect it to the Internet.

In the meantime, there are hundreds of sites that teach wanna-be independent Listeners how to turn on computer microphones from their locations. There are Listeners everywhere, hearing all kinds of information about you through your very own device!


SEETHINGS is about a serial killer who hacks and listens to computer microphones — it allows him to find new victims. When the right one comes along, he moves in for the kill.

The book was written and released recently. It’s genre sits between psychological thriller and neo-noir. The themes are dark, sexy and dangerous. It’s also a brain-bender but definitely worth the ride to experience it all the way to its explosive conclusion.

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.
My podcast series.

Self Reflection Found In The Glass Of A Photographer’s Viewfinder

SEETHINGS and SEETHINGS 2 are the first two books of a trilogy — a darker look at love, marriage, sex and photography. It’s about a photographer eager to shoot the perfect lightning bolt, but ends up in the middle of another type of storm. (excerpts of them are found here)

The narrative places the reader at a cliff on the banks of the Brisbane River. The body of another photographer is found by morning joggers hanging from a tree root near the Story Bridge. This follows a night of wild thunderstorms. The pattern of events that precede it appear, at first, loosely connected, until their plots line up to reveal an explosive ending that’ll horrify the tender-hearted.

If I could leave you, dear reader, with one last word — not everything a photographer wants to understand about the pictures they fail to capture will come from using a bad lens or a poorly timed shutter. Sometimes the answers they seek are found deep within themselves. Thank God they don’t focus on that and choose the easy road instead. It’s better to question the composition of a yet-to-be-taken lightning photograph than to confront the inner-self. That can be a dangerous Beast.

Get ready for twists that will bend your senses!

-Michael

How To Hide A Body Properly

It has to be asked. You’ve wondered about this too, right? Don’t be afraid. You’re among friends here. When I was starting out, resources were few and far between. No one showed anything to me. I had to teach myself and make it up as I went along. So, without prejudice, let me tell you the things I learned on the way to becoming a successful serial killer.

Basically, I’m lazy. It’s a character flaw. I’ve never wanted to dig a hole. In the early days, I’d always take the easy way out and find a ditch or a drain. I was so naïve. It kinda makes me laugh today. I was so foolish. I could’ve been caught. Fortunately, luck was with me. Rain fell sometime between the moment I dumped a body and when it was found. I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. Any evidence I may have left on a body was conveniently washed away. I learned how to improve my ways by refining the process and using the weather to assist my cause.

There are other ways to dispose of bodies, but many of them require effort. Some are simply bad for the environment. This brings me to my way.

There is another way. My way. It comes down to two primary things: 1) Location and 2) Timing. There is a third, but I’ll come back to that.

In the USA, there are 92 people per square mile. That’s 184 eyes looking around that mile at any one time. It’s almost impossible to do anything without someone knowing or photographing it. Get it wrong and it’s all over.

My killing ground has a much lower population density. There’s just 1 person in that same square mile. As a result of this wonderful statistic, I don’t do much with the bodies. I leave them where they fall and let nature do the rest. It works fine. In ten years, I’ve not been caught, and it’s an environmentally friendly practice… but I still choose my times and places for kills very carefully.

The summers are stiflingly hot and humid in my home town of Brisbane. A body that’s open to the climate decomposes fast. If I pick the right night to commit a murder, say, before a drenching thunderstorm, I find that it sorts out most of the evidence immediately. Once the washing is done, all that’s left to finish off the job is some time under a scorching sun. Assuming the body isn’t found at all, it then dissolves into the landscape quick.

And then there are the victims I choose. I go for strangers. They’re nothing to me. They have no historical associations with anything I do or have done. We cross paths one time and that’s it. There aren’t any chain of links to follow, not any that would be obvious anyway.

The Bikeway-Rapist gave me the right idea. He got away with his folly for a long time. Police had no clue who was doing those woman. He made it simple by keeping them random.

But he did two things wrong. He did it in daylight and then he let his victims live. Sure, it’s fine to help yourself to dessert, but it’s important to not get caught eating it! The one set of eyes in that square mile that saw everything remained alive. All it took was someone’s great memory and a good description to change the game for our bikeway rapist.

The moral of this story is: Don’t worry about how to hide a body, look at the kill location and choose the right victim.

Pure Evil and Kindness

Kill strangers in desolate places and let them drop just before the rain falls. -A

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Character Spotlight: Maxine Sewell. (Dark Fiction Dissection)

Maxine heads a group of small business owners who specialise in photographing weddings. Most of the newer, inexperienced photographers who are breaking into this field, see her as an authority figure and look up to her for guidance. Those who have been around much longer know that they are mistaken to look up to her for anything.

Maxine Sewell.

  • Early thirties
  • Single but on/off again relationship with Andrew
  • Wedding photographer
  • Loves going to parties
  • Central figure to the photography industry
  • Enjoys red wine and Champagne

Her Rubenesque form and aggressive personality helps her get her messages across. No one can out-do Maxine’s vitriol or volume once the wine flows. She can drink anyone under a table or out-argue them over it. Nothing stops Maxine when a party is in full swing.

As a photographer, she isn’t creative or even all that successful, but she certainly is loud. She’s a rambunctious woman whose abruptness is often mistaken as confidence, but it often disguises what little she actually knows about photography. Bridge burning is her only real talent — as once her bluff is exposed and that facade falls, she turns nasty quickly.

Andrew is another photographer. He’s from the northern suburbs and has an efficient business on his side of town. It’s no secret that he and Maxine are seeing each other. He’s playing her, calling on the big girl when no one else is available. He makes it clear that he wants to remain single — and he’ll say it to her face when everyone’s listening. Maxine says she doesn’t care and the friends-with-benefits arrangement works well for her. It’s not true. She’s lonely and everyone knows it. No one believes her, not even Andrew. He’ll just smile and pour her another glass of Merlot. Maxine will be there for him anytime he needs her, no matter how much it hurts her to wait.

And then there’s Mitchell, another eligible male photographer who lives and works much closer to Maxine. She’s been watching him through a separate lens, wondering if he could be the one. Unlike the rest of her male-colleagues who are either too old, too broken, or incapable of holding a meaningful conversation, he’s the only guy she’s willing to try. He seems nice enough, but he’s refused her, twice. She knows he’s married, but she’s also seen him dating other women. It doesn’t make sense. Why won’t he accept her offers. She’s good enough. And why won’t he tell her what’s going on with his wife? Maxine needs to be informed at all costs!

She hates men keeping secrets from her. She’ll find out what’s going on with Mitchell even if it kills her!

SEETHINGS is written with a happy ever ending after you won’t forget.

Michael

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Dungeon of Dark Fiction For Lovers of Creepy Writing

I’d like to welcome you to my pit of evil happenstance. This is where the most innocent of people are lured away from the light and taken deep into the dark recesses of a primeval mind. May your stay be deadly.

Y’know, this dungeon of dark fiction in which I dwell is actually part of a neurosis labyrinth. This is a quiet corner, far away from the prying eyes of the angel do-gooders, the politically correct and those who tch-tch at everything they see and hear. I apply a few sadistic keystrokes, and suddenly they are here with me, bound to my dungeon’s walls. Stripped of their dignity and clothes, I get to probe their flesh with shiny, metal objects and make their minds quiver with vile words. No one out there gets to hear their wonderful screams.

Dungeon of dark fiction - stories and ideas

There’s no romance here. No weddings. No love everlasting. Warm and fuzzy hero righteousness is banned. I provide no clichés. My happy ever after is to watch victims plead for mercy and then kill them regardless what they say. This version of a HEA is a refreshing change to the literary landscape, don’t you think?

Helpless victims and fictional manuscripts aside, churning out stories for dark fiction readers in my mind-dungeon comes with the same problems authors on the surface of the planet have to deal with. We can murder all we like, but we still need a special kind of electricity in the text to make the reader stay with the page. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And then there’s the marketing, advertising and finding our reading market in the first place. Self-publishing isn’t an easy road.

Somewhere between the creation of a phenomenal story and a reader’s inevitable enjoyment of it, is the editing process. It’s the single largest and most challenging part of any writing project. Watch the video below to meet me and see where the writing comes together.

Michael Forman

Creep you later,

Michael


“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Sex And An Intimate Choke On A Stormy Evening

Sexual attraction is primeval. So are the emotions felt when a thunderstorm brews and unleashes hell. Both activate something deep within — at least it does for me. When the two of them meet, it’s more than I can stand. That’s why I love doing it in a storm. That’s my true kink. There’s something powerful and aggressive about nature’s wild side uniting with my wild thing. It stirs my inner-animal and makes the sex that much better.

Don’t misunderstand me, storms have an aggressive element, but I’m not an aggressive lover. That’s not me. I know aggression is used to lift some lovers to new heights of euphoria, but it’s still not my thing. Euphoria can be obtained without it.

Similarly, I don’t reach out and choke my lovers during sex. I’m more a meat and potatoes kind of lover. Biting, slapping, whipping and choking aren’t part of my sexual appetites… but making love under a tropical thunderstorm is. I like how it makes me feel. It activates something inside. HE comes from another place of my psyche. HE feels things in ways I can’t. This is another layer of my sexuality hidden beyond the civilised one I usually present to most lovers.

That first crack of lightning is enough to activate it. First, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck prickle, and then the rest of it follows. The sensation penetrates deep beyond my upper sensibilities and finds that mysterious level of sexual subconsciousness I need to cross over. I’m like a wild beast with a veracious new energy when the storm rages around me!

But I’m not a choker! Definitely not! Remember that when I tell you the next part of my story. It’s important to keep it in mind. I don’t choke. Here I go. Now take a deep breath, Mitchell. Make sure you get this right.

Last night, I held Nina down. That part is in no way extraordinary. Our sexual synergy took us outdoors. It was actually her idea. “Let’s try something different,” she said.

I was on top, so of course I held her body in place. It was missionary. Simple. Meat and potato love in the privacy of the backyard. Her knees were pointed towards the night sky, and I was facing her, enjoying the moment. No one was being hurt. It was perfect. Nice. Things were orderly.

And then that small storm cell presented itself and covered the stars. It came out of nowhere and it moved fast.

There was a flash of light, a crack, and then a deep rumble which shook the ground. None of it was forecast. I know this because I made damn sure of it before setting up our date. It wasn’t meant to happen. I save that for others.

As expected, my neck reacted to the sound in an instant. Just like before, I couldn’t stop the sensations once they started. This time, an intense pain struck me right between the eyes. After it subsided and the fog it created had lifted, I saw a stranger’s hands appear from nowhere and slide around Nina’s neck. I felt my hips move much faster — and my sex reached a new level of hardness. Those hands clamped down tight, her eyes popped open, she gurgled and then struggled to get herself free of their grip. These are the last few things I remember as the rain began to fall. The rest of it fades into a blur.

A gentle hum of rubber on a dry road coaxed me back to reality. The bristles on my neck had subsided. Nina and the storm cell was gone. At some point, I must’ve dressed, left her place and got myself behind the wheel of my car. I should’ve been confused by this strange shift in memory, but I wasn’t. I was profoundly satisfied instead. Never before have I experienced such a sense of inner peace as I did last night.

That’s not the end of it. There’s a little more.

As I slipped into bed, Samantha woke, rolled over and whispered, ‘How was it, dear? Did you get everything done that you needed to?’

“Yes. All of it.”

“Oh, that’s good. Well, g’night. See you in the morning.”

She gave me a peck on the cheek, rolled the other way and went back to sleep. Can you believe it?

Yep, that’s her way. She’s too nice a person to probe any further. My wife performs every obligatory nicety with trust and grace — even through disturbed drowsiness. Like I said, it’s her way.

Sam has many sides of that nice order of hers. She goes to bed early, so she can wake early. There’s much to be done and little time to waste. I won’t see her until dinner, and I won’t feel her again until we go to bed tomorrow night. That’s when she’ll kiss my cheek, roll away and sleep. It’s been like that for years. It’s why we don’t have children. She’s obsessed with every duty outside the bedroom — and sleeping whenever she’s inside it. This makes her happy. It makes me sad and frustrated.

Yes, you guessed it. Nina’s a more willing partner in that respect, but she’s a—

Nina? Oh, you want to know about what happened to her during the storm?

Oh, I don’t know. I’m too afraid to call her and find out if she’s still alive. Those two hands weren’t mine. I’m telling you, they didn’t belong to me. My orderly upper consciousness tells me that I couldn’t have hurt her. It’s not within me to choke — but I’m also aware that there’s another something hidden deep beneath layers of civility. I don’t know where that finishes.

It’s also why I’m afraid to watch today’s news.

-Mitchell