“F. P. Dorchak writes like a hot-rodder heading toward a brick wall. Edge of your seat entertainment! I pondered over each of these stories long after I'd finished reading them. That's what great writing is all about!”
Co-Founder, Hex Publishers
- Dive a wreck that was never there, in the waters off Bimini . . .
- Meet a young girl who debates with rooftop monsters . . .
- Dine at a tiny café teetering on the edge of oblivion . . .
- Take refuge from a downpour in a gas station from nowhere . . .
- Discover the real reason behind migraines . . .
- Encounter a love gone bad before it ever existed . . .
- Explore the emotional remains of a woman’s not-quite-dead past . . .
- Follow a WWII airman falling through flak-filled German skies . . .
Not quite right.
These are but a few of the surreal, the weird, and the peculiar you will encounter in a realm few willingly tread . . . with or without the lights on.
“Do The Dead Dream? is a masterpiece....”
The Protocol War Series
“So reminiscent of the Twilight Zone!”
Author of CURSES!
|Publisher:||F. P. Dorchak|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
There was nothing but the comforting sound of our breathing — and the bubbles it made as the air exited our regulators and entered the 100-foot column of crystal-clear water above us, shooting for the surface like scattering rats. I watched our bubbles as they left us ... and smiled as blue-striped grunts, silvery permit, and creole wrasse playfully darted among them.
This was paradise, baby, pure and simple.
Visibility was at least a hundred feet in these waters off Bimini. We'd just begun paying out our guideline and were preparing to enter the Bimini wreck Her Majesty, when I'd had the oddest feeling compelling me to look up and off to our right. Carl, my friend and dive buddy, was tying off our guideline to a heavily used post just outside Her Majesty, which still held bits and pieces of spent guidelines past, when I noticed this new shadowy structure shimmering in the distance. This had not been there when we first came down. At first glance it looked just like any other piece of distant coral reef set against the crystal blue of Bahamian waters — or perhaps another wreck — but there was something more to this shadow ... something unnerving. We hadn't spotted it on our previous dive, and there were not supposed to be any other wrecks manifested in these waters. I directed Carl to it, who turned and did a double take. We both looked at it for a few moments ... perplexed ... then he looked back to me and shook his head and hands before him, indicating "no." Tapping his slate, he reinforced the need to press on with our planned dive. We'd check it out later. Then he looked back to the odd structure, again to me, and shrugged his shoulders and hands in an "I dunno" gesture.
We entered Her Majesty. ...
* * *
But let me start from the beginning. My life had been like any other basic, hum-drum existence ... at least as hum-drum as anyone's life could be at twenty-two. Nothing really stood out from my life that ever pointed to where I'd end up — or where I'd been. I was your basic kid, in your basic home, living your basic life: growing up, school, girls, jobs, and finding life quietly unfulfilling. Looking for excitement, I craved it. There was something I was meant to do ... I just knew it ... but hadn't yet found, though I remained ever confident it was out there. I'd skydived, Bungee jumped, hang glided, but nothing so filled my existence and soul as sailing and diving. Being out around water and onboard ships ... and when I first discovered I could breathe underwater (with scuba gear, of course) — it opened up whole new worlds to me! Such wondrous life was hidden beneath the waves! I simply loved the water and was utterly at one with it. Found I could hold my breath for a solid five minutes within it. The possibility of drowning never crossed my mind — indeed, I thought, what a beautiful way to go, being totally filled with and at one with the sea!
I wasted no time in signing on with dive operations along Florida's east coast, mostly hanging around Miami. Within the world of the open ocean, I found I was particularly drawn toward wreck diving and took in every wreck possible, ranging from the Atlantic's graveyard off North Carolina, down through the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and ranged as far as Truk Island, the Mediterranean, and northern Scotland — anywhere and everywhere I could get to and think of, and always — always — the thrill of another wreck excited me ... until I began to notice a disturbing trend, something that quite upset me. Once down there, inside or around whatever wreck I was enjoying ... well, there was no other way to describe it ... I still felt something missing. Something was lacking ... anticlimactic ... and I could never put my finger on it. What the hell? What had happened to all my initial excitement?
So I soldiered (well, sailored ...) on, like everybody does in life.
I took in all manner of wrecks, no matter how contradictorily excited and hollow I ended up feeling. If I was doing what I was meant to do ... why was I constantly unfulfilled?
Eventually, I ended up on Andros Island in the Bahamas, and it was there I felt the strongest magic, felt closest to whatever called me ... drove me. I was only there a couple of months before hopping over to Bimini, where I took up with yet another dive operation, one that specialized in wrecks. It was also here where I'd found myself a hundred feet down and a quarter mile off Bimini, ready to penetrate the wreck of Her Majesty while spotting this new, odd structure, no doubt also encrusted with colorful coral and sponges and all manner of Atlantic life swarming around us.
It was magical, there was no other word for it.
But what was it?
The more glances I stole back toward that shadowy structure, the more confused I grew. It had to be a wreck. The more I looked at it, the more it looked like some kind of angled skiff sticking up out of the sand. But was it my point of view or the structure of what we were looking at that was so deceiving? There really wasn't much to go on from our distance and position, and it actually looked more like a lone section of reef — but if you looked at it — how do I say this? — really looked at it with the intention of decrypting what it was you were looking at ... then you began to find, either by trick of the water, distance, or angles and your mind ... an emerging organization. A definitive construction of some odd, obtuse kind. Its perspective messed with your mind, I tell you — it was like the shape of the vessel formed before your very eyes.
It was absolutely maddening.
Was it hiding behind coral growth, or was it coral growth?
It was like looking at those puzzles that spelled out words, but at first glance were nothing more than carefully laid out patterns of deceiving narrow strips.
I simply had to have a closer look. ...
* * *
Early Bahamian winters can mean mid-eighties, which is hot for the islands, and today was just such a day on board the Wreck Mistress, Carl's boat. Skies were growing low and overcast, winds balmy, and it actually started to interfere with our initial hundred-foot viz. The day had quite the surreal effect to it, going from bright, balmy, and sunny ... to cloudy, moody, and a difficult-to-describe "duality." Like I was sharing this day, this moment in time with ... something else. And the brewing storm only added to it, though still hours out and slow moving. It was far enough away so as to not be a problem, but it was definitely headed our way.
Her Majesty was your basic, two-hundred-and-seventy-foot wreck, upright on a sandy ocean bottom, with about a twenty-degree list and covered in a century's worth of coral growth. Like most wrecks out here, it'd gotten caught in a storm and sunk, all hands lost, and lies just yards from the Gulf Stream drop-off — which was great for the mixture of shallow reef life and big-boy pelagics, like amberjack, wahoo, and permit. Her Majesty had been a Miami rum-runner back in the days when that'd been a problem, but, as interesting and tragic as that may be, I'd lost all interest in her once I'd spied this newer find. The funny thing was — as if pre-ordained — once we'd gotten only about twenty feet into Her Majesty, a loose piece of ship came crumbling down before us, leaving us dead in the water and totally blinded by stirred-up silt. You don't know vertigo or zero viz until you've experienced stirred-up silt inside the claustrophobic confines of a wreck. Anyway, we paused until the debris cleared enough to reassess our situation, but any further exploration had been cut off by the collapsed debris, which looked like actual chunks of the decaying ship's structure. Our plan cut off at the knees, I had to admit I was anything but disappointed! We aborted the dive.
Or, should I say exited, since we didn't exactly head back to the surface. Carl being the first one in was the last out, which put me first in line out the hatch, and after exiting I simply couldn't take my eyes off that obtuse, jagged piece of indeterminate shadow a hundred feet out. But, I had to wait for Carl, it was the polite and procedural thing to do. As he rolled up our guideline, I hovered, staring at the object of my growing obsession. I checked my gauges and found I had a good twenty-nine-hundred psi left in my tanks, not counting my bailout bottle. I looked to Carl, who was shaking his head and hands before him "no."
Such a stickler. To rules.
With that much air left, why not try something else? The passage of my bubbles, the underwater ballet of wrasse, jacks, and grunts — and I even saw one helluva huge Nassau grouper eerily float by — how can you not take the opportunity, especially with a nearly full supply of air? As my exhaled bubbles danced and burbled about my face, I realized ... in that one highly defined moment ... that this was the turning point in my life. I know all about your "plan your dive and dive your plan," but give me a break! This was exciting — didn't he feel it?
Didn't it wrap itself around his insides like it did mine?
Come back to dive another day my ass.
It was here ... I was here ... and air was plenty. No brainer in my book. But Carl, true to form, gave thumbs up for the surface. Like the good buddy, I responded with an "ok" and agreed. He began his ascent ...
And I unhesitatingly headed toward the beckoning shadow, Carl not even a dim consideration.
I don't know what came over me ... I mean, I'd mentally committed to resurfacing, even prepared to resurface by grabbing my inflator/deflator hose to dump air for our ascent ... but when I actually began to put body in motion and kick off, it was like I was a sliver of mindless metal drawn to one helluva commanding magnet. I had gone perhaps ten feet before Carl noticed I wasn't beside him, and he'd scurried back down and grabbed me behind my head, at the first stage on my tank, jerking me to a stop.
What are you doing? he signaled.
I don't know, I signaled back.
Up, he gestured forcefully.
OK, I returned, and this time he kept direct eye contact with me. He began his ascent, and I — again — continued on my course toward the mysterious wreck. This time Carl hadn't finned an inch before he again jerked the ascend signal into my face. If gestures could kill, this one murdered. Then he pulled out his slate and scribbled what's up?! and are you narced? on it, underlining "narced" twice. I again gave him the "I don't know," then pointed to the narced question and shook my head "no." You could see his exasperation as he looked between me and the new wreck, checking both his air and mine. Then he paused and again brought up his slate. On the back of it we did a trick we'd designed a while ago to check if anyone in our group had ever gotten nitrogen narcosis. Topside Carl had randomly written down the numbers one through six, and down here we were to point them out to whomever brought up the question, as quickly as possible, in ascending order. I rattled mine off in record time. Carl looked back to the new wreck, then back to his slate, and scribbled Just a quick pass, then UP. Five minutes. He underlined "UP" and "five" more than several times, tapping his pencil point into the slate for emphasis. Carl's a good man. A good diver.
I again signaled "OK," and off we went. I didn't know what had come over me, but I felt this was the right thing to do. And as we both proceeded, I had a sudden flash of mental imagery ... stars ... billions of them. The image was powerful but fleeting, and though the image departed, the feeling didn't. The feeling that I somehow belonged with those stars. ...
We arrived at the "reef" ... the object ... and I was overcome by emotion ... strong, powerful waves of the stuff that actually brought tears to my eyes. It was as if all my senses had taken complete leave of me ... all of my dive training and experience had abandoned me. Carl, I noticed, was responsibly taking notes and sketching out the wreck. Man, that's why I dive with the guy. But, I was concerned with other matters, like experiencing the most passionate need to touch, to contact whatever this was — and whatever it was awakened some weird kind of arcane recognition within me that was hard to explain and far from complete. I felt like an amnesiac ... spellbound.
We explored the wreck, and I noted how the odd, complicated lines didn't match anything I'd come to know as a ship, boat, or skiff. It simply didn't fit any rational design I'd come to associate with ocean-going vessels. This thing was completely alien, and as we continued alongside I noticed it had even become difficult to discern what was wreck and what was reef. What was visible appeared to be about fifty to seventy-five feet in length, but its physical configuration, once again, didn't appear to be anything sea-going, unless what we were looking at was damaged, perhaps banged up during some ancient storm or topside battle. Which brought up another point ... the material of this thing also didn't look like anything familiar ... it wasn't wood and it wasn't metal. To be honest, it actually looked more like some weird kind of a semi-translucent substance similar to those silly little balls I used to play with as a kid ... the ones with all the
glitter in them. And what's more, the material actually reflected its environment back at you like a gigantic ornamental gazing ball (which would help explain the difficulty we had in focusing on it), but not in a bright, shiny way — more like in a movie, I guess would be a better description.
Like a cloaking device, if you wanted to get all Star Trek about it. I wondered what it would appear like from above. If my guess was correct, it probably wasn't visible at all, because it simply reflected the environment back at you. That would explain why there wasn't anything on any map. And it didn't look at all recent, but instead looked like it had been resting here for the better part of an eternity.
I could no longer contain myself. I reached out and touched the thing, and not at all to my surprise found myself jolted with yet another surge of emotion shooting through me like liquid electricity! It was like sticking your finger into an electrical outlet multiplied a million times over, and it literally stopped me dead in the water. I was emotionally and spiritually stunned as it continued to kick wildly throughout me. Maybe stunned is the wrong word (though its intensity is correct) — I was
I felt as if all this incredible emotion had been downloaded into me — or released from within me — I don't know which. All I do know is that all I ever was, all of whomever I thought I was, was touched ... as if by the very finger of God. That is the only way I can even come close to explaining what happened. From that moment on I had inexplicably changed ... was no longer the man I thought I was. I had become something so much more, and I actually felt stopped up with all this emotional information — and I do mean emotional — for intellectually I was no better off than before and would even go so far as to say I was worse. Any so-called answers I found by physical contact and direct observation of this wreck only served up more questions. But that hollow, unfulfilled feeling that had been constantly plaguing me had instantly evaporated. I stopped and brought my hands to my head, eyes closed. Coming here, touching this ... this ... thing ... had opened up such deep and powerful emotional channels within me that I felt I was going to explode — at a molecular level. My entire body tingled and shook, and I couldn't believe this ... but I was actually crying.
Kind of annoying when you're wearing a face mask.
It was at that point that Carl again grabbed my tanks and yanked me up off the sea floor. I was limp in his grasp as we ascended, and he grabbed my inflator/deflator hose venting my air, then shoved it into my hands, forcefully directing me to look at him. As we rose, I felt the wreck's effect on me begin to dissipate ... not leave, but just ... slip away ... and I honestly felt it wasn't so much a proximity issue as it was more of a, if you could believe this ... respectful consideration.
None of this was making any sense — good Lord, what was going on?
As you can imagine, once we surfaced all hell broke loose.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Do The Dead Dream?"
Copyright © 2017 F. P. Dorchak.
Excerpted by permission of Wailing Loon.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Girl Who Chased Gargoyles
Etched In Stone .
Blue Diamond Exit, Mile Marker 15
The Red Envelope
Rainy Nights and Christmas Lights
What Dreams Are Made Of
Dark Was The Hour
Tick, Tick, Tick, Tock
The Coming of Light
The World’s Greatest Writer
The Death of Me
The Ballad of fReD BeAn
The Chain Letter
Crypt of Vampyres
Love, What A Way To Go
Please Have A Seat, Mr. Jordan
Garden of the Gods
For Whom The Gods <burp>
The Ice Gods
A Beautiful Summer’s Afternoon
Dinner at Luigi’s