Blackwater Lights

Blackwater Lights

by Michael M. Hughes

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345548801
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/16/2013
Series: Blackwater Lights Trilogy , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 226,416
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Michael M. Hughes lives in Baltimore with his wife and two daughters. He writes fiction and nonfiction. When he’s not writing, Hughes speaks on Forteana, the paranormal, psychedelia, pop culture, and other topics, and teaches regular workshops on magic and the tarot.

Read an Excerpt

The phone call came late on a Saturday night. Ray had just turned off the TV and was heading to bed. No one called this late, not even on a weekend.

“I need to see you,” Kevin said. It had been months since they’d spoken, but he dispensed of all formalities. They’d been friends since they were kids, having grown up on the same suburban street, and Ray knew immediately, the way old friends pick up on such things, that Kevin was more than a little upset.

Ray tried to calm him down. “Easy, easy. What’s going on?”

Kevin hesitated. “It’s happening again.”

Ray’s throat tightened. He felt poised on a tightrope, as if the world on both sides of him had disappeared, dropping into darkness. “It is? All of it?”

“Yes.” Kevin’s voice faltered. “The dreams. Worse than ever. The wake-ups, the doctors, the machines—all of it.

Almost every night for weeks now. I feel like I’m going to crack. Just like when we first got home from camp.”

Ray remembered those childhood nightmares all too well. “God. I’m sorry. Are you all right?”

“No. And it’s different this time. You need to come here. You need to see something.”

“See what?”

“I can’t talk about it on the phone. You need to see it for yourself. It validates everything. It proves it. We weren’t crazy.”

Ray wiped his brow. He was sweating, despite the gooseflesh on his arms. “All right. But I can’t just jump in my car right now—”

“You need to. This is big, man. You need to get your ass here. Stay the weekend. Take a week off. Make it a little vacation. School’s out, right? Aren’t you on summer vacation?”

“Yeah.” He didn’t start teaching his summer classes for another two weeks. “But I have to straighten up my office before they wax the floors. The vice principal will be on my ass if I don’t.”

“Listen, I need you. You’re the only other person who understands. I can’t talk to anyone but you and I need to talk about this.” His voice caught. “Please. I’m really close to losing it, man. It’s too much for me to deal with by myself. Please. ”

Ray massaged the bridge of his nose and sighed, “All right. I’ll leave tomorrow afternoon. How long will the drive take?”

 “Four, maybe five hours. I’ll email you directions.”

He drew in a breath. “I’ll be there.”

“Thanks,” Kevin said. “You’ll understand when you see it. I promise.”


Ray hated the mountain roads. The trees were too close, the curves too sharp, and the hills pushed his Corolla’s engine to its limits. He’d driven for almost six hours when the sign for Blackwater appeared around a curve. Next to the sign lay a bloated deer, its stiff legs pointing toward the exit, a thick cloud of flies swirling around it. He rolled up the window and covered his nose with his hand as he drove by it, but the stench of summertime roadkill still made him gag. 

You need to see something, Kevin had said. Something that proved they weren’t crazy or suffering from a delusional artifact of childhood imagination, but that the dreams and the rest of it were real. Validation. Maybe even an explanation.

A cicada smacked into the windshield. He squirted a pale stream of washer fluid onto the glass and the wipers smeared the guts in a yellow arc. He could have blamed his rapid heartbeat on the nerve-wracking drive, or the crappy fast food coffee, but he knew it was more than that. Because the previous night, for the first time in years, he’d had the dream again, too.
He was stuck at a light in front of the Blackwater High School parking lot. A marching band had begun to snake out onto the road in front of him. Antique cars, costumed kids, marching bands, and a line of bright parade floats. A young cop, bored and aggravated, stood in front of Ray’s car.

The Elkins Beavers—as announced by their gaudy banner—were mostly overweight teenagers in white, ill-fitting polyester pants and red sequined shirts. They started playing something—a popular, top forty song from the 70s. Steely Dan, maybe? Fleetwood Mac? The drums rattled the windshield.

A black Cadillac convertible turned in front of him. A magnetic sign on the side of the car read CHURCH OF THE OPEN DOOR and below it, in smaller type, ALL ARE WELCOME IN JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOR. A wooden cross was propped in the back seat, hanging out of the back of the vehicle and casting a long shadow on the street. A black man, in his sixties or seventies and dressed in an out-of-style white suit, sat in the passenger seat.
The older man’s skin was deep brown, nearly black, his face pockmarked and trenched with wrinkles, his nose wide and flat. His hands rested on a cane propped between his knees. A preacher, maybe even from one of the snake handler churches Kevin had spoken about, where the congregants took up serpents and drank poison and spoke in tongues.

Their eyes met. The preacher smiled. He had a large gap between his front two teeth. And those eyes—something was different about them. They were curious. Looking at Ray almost as if he knew him. It felt like recognition.

The Cadillac passed, and the connection broke. Ray shook his head. Okay, that was weird. 
Kevin’s house was hidden on the outskirts of town, at the end of a several miles of dirt road that wound up and down hills deep into the woods. Ray slowed the car as the house appeared in the clearing. Very impressive. Kevin had shipped the prefab from Portland, a limited-series, eco-friendly design from a famous architect whose name Ray could never remember, and he’d plopped it far away from any other human beings. An enormous satellite dish pointed at a patch of sky overhead. Old towering trees dwarfed the dwelling and thick patches of rhododendron, lush with summer growth, seemed to be reaching out to claim it.

An envelope was taped to the inside of the screen door.
Ray—had to leave. Emergency. Hang tight. Back as soon as possible. Make yourself at home.
Inside the envelope was a key.
The interior was even more disordered than he had imagined: bookshelves overflowing and surrounded by piles of unshelved paperbacks and magazines, retro science fiction posters and sea-creature-like glass objets d’art, and bathroom wallpaper made out of 80s Playboy covers. The office, the only windowless room, looked like the bridge of a dilapidated spaceship, a mass of hard drives, electronic assemblies, wires, hefty computer manuals, and enormous flat monitors. The home of a brilliant eccentric with a lot of money and exceedingly odd taste.

Pornography and a precocious talent with computer programming had made it all possible. Seemingly overnight, in the blooming days of the Internet, Kevin created a prototype business model and software for streaming porn. A year after he’d started his basement business he’d decamped Baltimore and moved into a high-tech business park in Portland, joining the millionaire club by the time he turned thirty-six. His latest project was SeXplanet, a social media service for finding sexual partners. Ray didn’t get it—he had never been into internet socializing—but SeXplanet had become an instant success. Kevin had been hailed as “Hefner Rebooted” in a Wired cover story.

Ray’s stomach rumbled, empty and acidic from the lousy coffee. He opened the fridge. Freezer-burned burger patties, buns, and crusty jars of condiments. Some containers of unidentifiable carryout food. A few bottled microbrews from the West Coast. That settled it. Dining out was his only choice.

Time to see what this town was all about.

Customer Reviews

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Blackwater Lights 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A compelling and riveting supernatural thriller, but with a very realistic feel, which made it extra creepy. It had all sorts of crazy stuff - mind control, conspiracy, erotica, weird drugs, and just the the right dash of humor to balance it all out. The characters are really rich and I cared about all of them, especially Ellen (the love interest) and the I really wanted to throttle the nasty villainess, Lily.  I wish the book had been longer because I wanted more! I hope there's a sequel because I want to find out what happens next. Highly recommended if you like well-written but scary thrillers. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truer than Fiction First off, full disclosure: I am honored to be a fairly long-time friend of Michael Hughes, who discovered my identity by browsing my one and only book at a Haight-Ashbury bookstore in 1996. Secondly, and perhaps balancing this partiality, I am not at all inclined to read anything in the "eldritch horror" genre. This is my first reading in this genre. So let us say I began reading it more from the obligations of loyalty than from an intrinsic interest. All that notwithstanding, I truly and honestly could not stop reading it once I started. (And didn't go to bed till about 2 AM.) And although some of the supra-rational events at the finale stretched my credulity, the abysmal horror of our own United States brainwashing-multiple identity-construction and memory-deletions carried out on children here in the 1950s and 1960s did indeed take place, and the horror of this fictional tale is no worse than the horrors that actually occurred here and which have been covered over by our government. If peeps of a younger generation are unaware of these events, all they need do is a quick online search when you encounter a term like MKUltra. You will find first-hand accounts from people now in their 70s who were thus abused when 5 or 6 years old. So this is not just fiction. As Samuel Johnson would say, it both entertains and instructs. It is a lesson in how not to let government and government secrecy cloak inhumane and barbarous behavior. But it is, nonetheless, truly a "page turner."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is science fiction, super natural. It is about 200 pages. It is extremely violent, with all kinds of torture, blood, guts, murder rape, cursing, the occult, aliens, drugs, blackmail, corrupt officals, sex, esp and everything else nightmares are made of. It is worse then any other book I have ever read with the psychological terror. It freaked me out big time. I am big fan of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, yet this book outcreeped their works big time. It is better edited than most free books. I started to give this one star because I found it so disturbing, then I thought, well...isn't that what the author intended? For adults only. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the mix of paranormal, designer drugs, and politics with a chunk of history thrown in. Many people dont know that the US gov did delve into the paranormal to help gain footholds during ww2 and the cold war fron what i underatand. Plus, it included local history. I loved the writing and read thia book in 1 day it grabbed me so hard. Hope to see lots more feom Mr Hughes. Just got his compilation of short stories for free! On nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.... I could not put it down... Felt like I was reading Steven King.. a great compliment to this new author.... It ended as if it could be continued... I'm hoping for a sequel... PLEASE!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! The book really captures your attention from the beginning and I found it hard to put down. Mr. Hughes is an up and coming author and I look forward to his next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read. Finished it within a few hours - so it obviously had something that made me want to keep reading it. However, the first half was much better than the last half. I liked the writing style a lot. I just didn't find the explanation of the big mystery as interesting as I hoped it would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really captured my interest and kept me reading even though parts of it were disturbing. I didn't really care for the ending but it did fit the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read this book because I am really into the supernatural story lines. I put it down a few times because I couldn't get into it at first. I was somewhat grossed out by the descriptions in the book, especially toward the end. And to me it was like a car accident that you can't stop looking at...I wasn't really enjoying the book, but I could not stop reading it because I wanted to find out what was going to happen. The ending was disappointing, I think it could have been more imaginative.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
Well....some things I liked and some I didn't. Ray was a great protagonist - school teacher, fresh out of a relationship, and trying to do right by coming to the aid of his childhood friend. I liked Ray, but he seemed a little too gullible at times. Kevin is desperate for Ray to come visit and has new information about a childhood trauma they both experienced, but when Ray arrives, Kevin is gone for several days, leaving a note telling him he'll return as soon as possible. And Ray just....accepts this. Some of Ray's other actions I also questioned, but don't want to give any spoilers. The setting added to the mystery - small, secluded town in WV, a house in the mountains with no neighbors, and colorful characters whose trustworthiness is questionable. Growing up in WV, I could identify with some aspects of the story and think I may have met some of these characters before. There were some pretty graphic scenes in this book, but I felt like they were essential to the plot and not for shock value. The final 50+ pages were especially gripping and several times I found myself thinking, 'Well, there's no way Ray is getting out of this situation.' This was a quick read and the writing flowed well, but if you're not a horror or darker thriller fan, maybe just looking to try something new, this may not be the book for you. This review is based on a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written-worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super creepy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really good stort!!! Congrats! :) keep it coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book creeped me out especially since I was reading it before bed! I think it was be awesome as a movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a complete waste of 3 hours
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, there is another book that goes with this, bought it but didn't read as of yet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Huges weaves a tale about a lost friend, mysterious lights that shine at night and a town with a few surprises under the surface. I ended up reading most of this in one sitting, as I started and simply didn't want to put it down. Recommended.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Move over King and Koontz there's another player in your field of strange and unearthly delights. I enjoyed all the aspects of terror this horror novel provided. The darker side of evil and power have always been with us...only the truly corrupt and ignorant attempt to control it for their own needs, as is shown in this book. Truth is always stranger than fiction...Germany was not the only ones experimenting on adults and children during the war. Mind control and psi abilities are still being studied today. If you can bend a spoon just by thinking about...I'd keep it to yourself. Jp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this free read
Dutchmelissa More than 1 year ago
Very good book..finished it 2 days...keeps you on the edge of your seat!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot behind the book is good but the language and carnage can be a little too much at times. Can't say I'll be putting it in my "read it again" pile. Would only recommend to read it when you don't have anything else to read at the time.