Creativity is something like magic. One form might feed the other, providing inspiration, sparking ideas, fueling the creative juices. For the authors contained within this unique anthology, the source of inspiration was the music of Bruce Springsteen. Themes, lines, song titles . . . whatever it took to draw these stories into life.
So many of Springsteen's songs bring you close to the edge of a darkness where uncertainty reigns - a darkness not just on the edge of town but of our hearts and minds . . . the darkness between child and adulthood, perhaps; or between courage and fear; marriage and divorce; even confidence and self-doubt. These nineteen authors nudge us closer to an answer . . . and let us see what really is stirring out there in the shadows.
From "Nothing Forgiven" by Lee Thomas (Inspired by "Something In the Night") Long ago, you made a promise, swore you'd never return to this place. Now though, with your promise broken and the past's topography rising, they return, joining you in the car like phantom passengers.
From "Fire" by Elizabeth Massie (Inspired by "I'm On Fire") Mac put his hand on the wall, willing her to feel his love through the plaster. "Lisa, let me help you." "You? You're kidding, right? How can you help?" Mac was taken aback. She saw him as only the cripple next door, the young man who had nothing to offer but pasta, pie, and a friendly word through the wall.
From "Atonement" by Gary A. Braunbeck (Inspired by "My Father's House") Don't tell me you've forgotten? Yes, that's right. Thirty years ago tonight, my father buried us under the floorboards in my bedroom after he came home early from work and caught us in my bed.
From "Kneeling in the Darkness" by Lorne Dixon (Inspired by "Point Blank") "Listen." Riddle said, his grip steadying Teddy's hand. A hundred invisible blades punctured his flesh at as many angles, bullets tore chunks of flesh out of his body, he felt himself crushed by stone, suffocated by linen, beaten until his skeleton was nothing but an assembly of shards. "Listen to her."
From "The Hungry Heart" by Michael A. Arnzen (Inspired by "Hungry Heart") A recurring snore. A blasted monitor bleep. A terrible spoon pinging porcelain. It was an orchestra conducted by some subsonic sadist intent on keeping him awake. He clutched the heart-shaped pillow against his chest. It was still beating.
From "Die Angle" by Lawrence C. Connolly (Inspired by "Murder, Incorporated") Nick took an envelope from the desk. "Call me as soon as you finish." He passed the envelope to Johnny. "I need to know the moment he's dead."
From "From the Dark Heart of a Dream" by Tom Piccirilli (Inspired by "Adam Raised a Cain") My father's ghost might be standing in the darkness, watching, evaluating, judging. I bond with a man thirty-five years embalmed. It does things to a person.
From "Independence Day" by Sarah Langan (Inspired by "Independence Day" and "The Rising') The doctor has a Cyclops-like eye in the center of his face. It lights up white, and then red. The doctor is a five-foot wide metal box in the curved corner of the room. It's attached to the needles, and her, by worn plastic tubes that over time have turned pink from other peoples' blood.
From "Ain't No Angel Gonna Greet Me" by Guy Adams (Inspired by "Maria's Bed") Sitting on the back seat I scrubbed at each foot in turn before pulling on the dead man's socks and boots; a size or so too big, but nothing I couldn't walk in. Finally I popped his snake-eyes cufflinks in place, pulled on the jacket. I closed the trunk lid and got back behind the wheel. I would take the last step of the journey in my dead-man's clothes.
From "With These Hands" by Kurt Dinan (Inspired by "Factory" and "Two Faces") When he died three weeks later, I inherited his house, his car, and his bills. Then, like every other son in town eventually does, I took my father's place on the line, my hands continuing his work as if they'd never taken a break