Bronze Award in the Global E Book Awards, Horror-Fiction
|Publisher:||Cosmic Egg Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)|
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Visions Through a Glass, Darkly
By David I. Aboulafia
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2015 David I. Aboulafia
All rights reserved.
It is always dark in some part of the world.
I find the light a transient thing. It is the darkness that pervades. We are born from it; we die into it. At some time, in every evening anywhere, someone closes their eyes and immerses themselves in the black.
We depend on the darkness; we require it like food, like water and like oxygen. Deprived for any significant time of the murky emptiness that sleep provides we find ourselves mad. Our time in the sun is made possible only by the moments spent in the shadows.
The universe itself is dominated by darkness. The stars are not the entranceways to the heavenly realm that the ancient mariners believed they were. They are mere pinpoints; anomalies, abstractions and distractions, filling the void in only the most infinitesimal way, offering only the vaguest, most tenuous respite from the surrounding beyond. Perhaps they struggle each moment to avoid being swallowed whole by the very giganticness of it.
Yet it is the light that we walk in, and to which we ascribe all manner of attributes. That it is good and omnipresent and that the physical energy of it washes away the gloom. That the light of God, or the light of truth or the light of justice shall shine forever through the darkness of evil or cruelty or hatred, or that of Hell itself, making all these terrible things disappear, or dissipate, or be rendered moot.
You poor fools. The light is never there for more than a few moments. Only for as long as it takes the sun to go down on your side of the world. Only for as long as it takes you to flip the switch of the lamp beside your bed.
Or for as long as it takes for you to close your eyes.
Of course, for some, there is more time in the dark than for others.
Time. For most of us unconcerned with Einsteinium theory, metaphysics or astrophysics, time is merely a straight line that we walk upon; a path with a discernible beginning and a definite end.
But most hope that there is more. Many believe that there is.
And to me, that's what's really funny. Because I know there is more. Ohh, so much more. But that "more" bears little resemblance to fiery pits of molten flame, or depths of ice where Judas hangs halfway out of the mouth of the devil; it shares little similarity with any artist's vision of a celestial Promised Land, where white people with blond hair and halos take flight among the clouds and smile all the time at everything and nothing at all.
Can we talk? You don't mind if we talk, do you?
You see, I know nothing of bearded men with stone tablets on mountain tops. I don't know if flocks of virgins wait patiently in some distant reality for the holy of heart. I can't tell you whether we all repeatedly reincarnate from one existence to the other or, if we do, whether we are reborn as cows or as millipedes. I do not know if an ancient wise man sits judging us all upon a throne in another dimension, or whether that wise man is in fact a youngish looking black woman, an Asian youth with a tricolored Mohawk haircut, or someone else.
I cannot say whether there are two immortal beings engaged in an eternal struggle for the souls of mankind, or whether there are two immortal beings who simply don't give a crap, who activate the Earth like we turn on television sets, and who sit and merely watch – for time immemorial, like some kind of eternal couch potatoes – real life sitcoms, horror stories, dramas, mysteries, crime series, divorce courts, animal planets, music videos, and the like.
I know only what I see, what I experience, what to me alone is true, eternal, and proven beyond any reasonable doubt or calculation. And what I see are things that no one else can see; what Iexperience, things that I alone of all the people in the world am capable of experiencing.
In many ways, I suppose, all of us are unique. But this trite assertion has little meaning to me. For I, among all of you, am inimitable, one of a kind. And because of this, regardless of any human association I may attempt to construct, I am utterly, and completely, alone.
My name is Richard Goodman.CHAPTER 2
My parents were products of the Depression, my father, working from the age of nine, was desperately poor throughout a childhood that was not much of a childhood at all. He never owned a bicycle or a baseball glove, never went to a ball game, never had a radio, never had ice skates or a football. As a boy he made his toys from scraps of wood and discarded rubber bands and shined shoes for a penny on cold street corners; a penny that might buy a sweet potato for dinner that evening. He loved animals and would frequently rescue stray dogs from the street. If they were small enough, he would keep them at home and hide them from his parents. If he couldn't, he would escort them to makeshift sheds he built on a nearby vacant lot. He would care for them there, saving small scraps from the dinner table, even when he barely had enough to eat himself. Sometimes, he would have to beg for food for them from local merchants, reliably softened by the lad's obvious concern and conviction. He nursed most back to health and saved a few lives along the way.
Some would eventually just disappear, never to return. Others lived to a ripe age in their homes made from wooden milk cartons and cardboard boxes, complete with a backyard and regularly served meals.
He loved his animals. He dreamed of being a veterinarian when he grew up.
However, by the time he was seventeen, the United States was at war, and he was in the Air Force, a tail gunner on a B-29 Liberator Bomber. By the age of eighteen, he had saved a man's life, cost twenty-four Japanese their own, and had been shot out of the sky, parachuting on that occasion into the jungles of the Philippines.
All members of the crew were able to parachute out of the plane before it crashed. My father landed, somewhat miraculously, into a small clearing through thick stands of trees and otherwise impenetrable undergrowth. As the story goes, he was covered by his parachute upon landing, and, after a few frantic moments, freed himself from its constraints. In his possession were a .45 caliber semi-automatic and ammunition, a pocket knife, a mirror, two packages of topical disinfectant, a gauze bandage, and a small packet of safety matches. He drew his gun immediately. He was, after all, on a Japanese controlled island. Enemy combatants, he knew, were beheaded on the spot.
He looked around him and saw nothing but jungle. Relative quiet abounded, and he wondered what had befallen his comrades, most of whom had jumped before him. He looked up.
Small green lizards observed him from their precarious holds on tree trunks. The occasional parrot squawked in the distance. Sunlight barely filtered to the jungle floor through huge stands of bamboo – some 100 feet tall – and ancient ficus with leaves three feet wide and five feet long. When a glint of sunlight did meet his eye, it was like a miniature heat lamp, burning through his cornea and into his brain, blinding him momentarily. He realized he was sweating profusely; it was May and 102 degrees.
He saw their shadows first, backlit spirits seemingly suspended in midair. And they were spirits indeed; the remains of a flight crew primarily composed of eighteen and nineteen-year-old boys; not merely suspended, but impaled upon the branches of the trees they had landed into.
The scene was reminiscent of the roadways leading to ancient Rome, lined on both sides with the bodies of men, women and children nailed to crosses of wood.
Despite his fear of capture he screamed, and screamed again. He ran blindly through the jungle, following a sickening trail of hanging corpses, mangled and contorted into impossible positions, unambiguously relating the tale of a rapid plunge from fifteen thousand feet through the equivalent of barbed wire and spears that ripped limbs from torsos, pierced lungs, tore kidneys, and popped eyes from their sockets.
He was counting them as he ran, screaming, through the jungle, or at least he thought he was; he finally stopped running when his former friends appeared to be accounted for, and when the ghastly trail ended of its own accord. The jungle continued to enjoy its relative peace and quiet. This was not unusual. In this place, death often came silently; sometimes by biological design; sometimes through the cruel and inexplicable workings of an arcane and unknowable fate.
For three days, he wandered without either food or water. On the fourth day, half mad with dehydration, fatigue, and fear, he was surprised by a troop of soldiers, whose presence was announced by the crack of branches and then by the crack of gunfire. Later, he would not be able to recall who had been the first to fire, but by the end he had emptied his weapon twice, wounding six and killing one of the twelve Australian soldiers who had come to his rescue.
Anyway, with little regard for an unfortunate misunderstanding that had occurred on an island in the Philippines, my father was ultimately discharged honorably as a much-decorated staff sergeant. He, like so many thousands of his peers, had entered the conflict a boy, and been lucky enough to leave it intact as a man.
In a manner of speaking.
The war had changed the world, and the world was about to change significantly more.
The prime of America's youth were returning to the Homeland, a different kind of youth that had risked their lives and fought the good fight against unspeakable enemies and had prevailed. They brought with them their energy and optimism, their talents and ideas, their confidence and limitless potential. They offered loyalty and hard work and, in turn, they were welcomed with open arms as conquering heroes.
The returning GI's settled down, married, had children, and began the quest for the American Dream at a time when dreams could come true, and often did; when opportunities were real, when hard work and honesty and service to your country meant something; when talent was appreciated and often rewarded. It was a time when a poor immigrant's son might realistically expect to succeed in his life.
The vacant lot of my father's youth was now a six-story tenement under construction. Soon after his return to The Bronx, New York, he stood before that emerging structure, feeling somewhat numb, in his Air Force greens with three stripes on each shoulder and three rows of medals on his chest, looking upon that once-vacant space as if it were some kind of vanishing species. His childhood, such that it had been, officially ended that day when he looked at the playground of his youth and saw the ghost of a hungry child and his furry friends.
Three years ago. A lifetime ago.
Gone today but not forgotten.
His world had changed; the war had left him changed. And he was to change still more, undergoing a transformation that had started long ago, one evening as he rushed fourteen blocks through the rain on a September night ...
... It's after 9:30, a half hour past my bedtime. I'm home, getting ready to go to bed; today's Tuesday and tomorrow's Wednesday, a school night. Mom is sick again and has been asleep for an hour already. She goes to sleep earlier and earlier these days.
Someone knocks loudly at the door.
Stevie, my eldest brother, is out somewhere. He seems to be out of the house more and more lately. Marcus, the middle child, is working, and Dad is working, too, running the coat check at the Club. Mom doesn't stir at the big bang.
I ask who it is. Dad says to always ask who it is before you open the door. Ricardo Espinoza answers back. I recognize his voice because he's Spanish, and he works with Dad as busboy. They call him Ricky-Boy. I open the door and let him in. He's holding a wet, black cap in both hands, the kind the cab drivers wear, and he keeps turning it around and around in his hands. Ricky-Boy keeps looking down at the ground, and he's trying to say something, but for some reason I'm not paying attention, not yet. I'm just looking at him turn his wet cap around and around. It's as if he's nervous, as if he wants to hold back what he has to say for a few more seconds.
I'm old enough to know that words can hurt, like when Stevie calls me a shrimp, and I think Ricardo has words that might hurt, words that might change things: that might change everything.
Now the words come. He says Dad fainted and that he's very sick and that he's in the hospital. A lump gets into my throat and I can't swallow. I look back at Mom through her open bedroom door. She'll be difficult to wake. Even if she were awake, she couldn't do anything or go anywhere; her legs don't work very well anymore.
Ricky-Boy is just standing there, head down, looking at the floor. So I take off my pajamas, put on my clothes, grab my only jacket and run right past him; through the open door, down the stairs, out of the house and into the street.
It's only September but it's cold outside, and it's raining hard. It didn't seem to be raining a little while ago. I don't have an umbrella or hat. My left shoe has a piece of cardboard inside covering the one-inch hole in the sole. I feel the bottom of my foot getting wet as I begin to run.
Running, running, running.
I know where the hospital is. It's a long way off, but my feet will take me there. I'm small, but not weak and I'm fast, very fast; everyone in the schoolyard tells me so ...
By the fourth block, the downpour has become a freezing rain. The wind is blowing harder. I round a corner, and I am nearly knocked off my feet by a cold, wet blast. I fall, and crash into a stand of silver metal garbage cans put out for the morning's collection. I slowly get to my feet. I look at my pants. There is a long rip at the left knee. I only have two pairs of pants. There is an ache where the rip is and I think I'm bleeding. My shoulder hurts. I start to cry. And, then I start to run again.
By the seventh block, I am soaked to the bone. My knee is stiff and it hurts every time it moves. Two blocks later, I can feel my heart pounding in my chest, and I can't catch my breath, so I start to walk.
By the eleventh block I am running again, but my whole body is numb. I am shaking and shuddering and I can't do anything about it.
I never thought I could do anything to make my body stop working, but it feels like it's going to stop working now. But I'm not gonna stop unless it does.
I'm not gonna stop. I'm not gonna stop no matter what.
In 1945, Dad returned to The Bronx, met a beautiful girl and got married. It wasn't an unusual story, considering the times, but it was a nice one. He was quiet, shy and physically small, and not much to look at. But he was funny once you got him to talk: also honest, kind, hardworking and sincere. He possessed a unique drive to better himself, along with a powerful need to succeed. I guess he possessed enough redeeming qualities for Mom to love.
Early on, he got a job as a low-level bookkeeper for a small construction company on Long Island. He went to night school to earn his degree while helping to raise his infant son, the first of three. His young family lived in an apartment in a four-story walk-up tenement. Living there with them were water bugs the size of mice. The flat had a dumb waiter, and dark cubbyholes built into the kitchen walls, with funny knobs on the doors.
Dad owned a four-door, brown Pontiac Bonneville. It had no heat, minimal braking power, a broken AM radio, and took a half hour to start if the temperature dipped below freezing. But he had cut a great deal on the car, promising to complete and file the owner's tax returns for five years in exchange for the vehicle.
He wasn't quite sure whether he could make good on his promise without subjecting the man to significant IRS penalties, but he did know that he had a talent for manipulating figures. This aptitude extended to anything that had anything to do withnumbers. By the time he graduated college – magna cum laude, with a bachelor's degree in accounting – his superiors had realized that his cost-cutting measures, tax strategies, and acquisition tactics had significantly increased their bottom line. He was promoted, and then again. With each expansion of his authority, the company grew and prospered. As the company prospered, so did my father.
So did we all.
Excerpted from Visions Through a Glass, Darkly by David I. Aboulafia. Copyright © 2015 David I. Aboulafia. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Michel Violante for Reader Views (02/17) “Visions Through A Glass, Darkly” by David I. Aboulafia begins with Richard Goodman driving through the countryside of New York State. As he looked out onto the landscape, he suddenly sees himself covered in blood, and remembers that he is supposed to die within four minutes, as foretold to him by a Coney Island psychic. Richard was a gifted child, although to him his gift was more like a nightmare. Not only could he foretell the future, he could also see the dead. As an adult, he worked as a caretaker in an institution that taught the craft of watch making to their disabled patients. One day Richard and his girlfriend went to Coney Island, and it was there a fortune-teller revealed to him that he would die in less than three days. She also told him that he was now the last ‘conjuh.’ But, what does that mean? The next day when he gets to work, he finds a room in a workshop destroyed, with dead animals lying around. As Richard begins to investigate, he realizes through his intuition and gift, that someone is bound to commit a horrible crime…it is someone he loves, but who? David I. Aboulafia presents to readers a well-written, dark horror story with impeccable and genuine dialogue, as well as spot-on character development. The only complaint I have is that the pace felt somewhat slow in the beginning. However, it does speed up after about the first 30 pages, and I am glad I kept reading! The author delivers an intriguing, thought provoking, dark thriller that will linger in the reader’s mind for a while. The storyline, filled with twists and quality writing, keeps the reader hooked and turning pages ‘till the end. I found “Visions Through a Glass, Darkly” by David I. Aboulafia to be an intriguing and dark must-read story, and recommend it to all horror, and thriller lovers as a Five-Star book for sure.
This book has a very unique way of telling a story, it was written to give you nightmares. I have to start by saying it took several tries to get into this book. I always try to read at least 25%, before deciding not to go any further; Visions Through a Glass, Darkly barely made it. I was ready to give up and it finally gained my interest. Having said that, once I was hooked, I liked it; I kept asking myself what one chapter had to do with the other, but it made sense in the end. If you choose to give the slow start a chance, you’ll enjoy it, but I don’t recommend this as a bedtime story. Overall, It's Four Boundless Stars book for me....Beth
4.5 stars Okay this book is not for the faint of heart or easily spooked… it is downright creepy and at times quite disturbing. So if you are into that (which I totally am!) then “Visions Through a Glass, Darkly” by David I. Aboulafia is the book for you! I will say that it did take me some time to get into it… although it starts off with an interesting inciting incident, it slows afterwards as the author worked more on the characters and the situations, rather than the drama… but then it starts to build at a slow simmer, leading to a full-on boil that is quite exciting. The way he uses language to create emotion and describe scenery is impressive, and the characters are believable and well developed with several interesting transitions. I did like the overall pace and storyline, however I found the excessive use of the italics to be quite burdensome on my eyes and found myself skimming over them.( I wish I authors would understand how difficult and tiring those are to read!!) But other than that the editing was nearly flawless – rare for e-books these days, and I had goosebumps throughout. Addicting reading and I look forward to more from Aboulafia. Recommend for fans of psychological suspense and thrillers with a literary, supernatural angle.
there were lots of things I liked about this book, “Visions Through A Glass, Darkly”, but I think the one thing that I enjoyed the most was that there are mysteries and oddities about Richard’s world and storyline that are revealed slowly, but didn't give me the feeling that the author was hiding the ball just to stretch out the suspense. It's a book that made my brain work a little to follow all of the threads and layers, rather than making me want to skim ahead just to get to the end, which happens more often than not with me and other fantasies. However, at times felt there was a lack of a main focus and the story seemed to be going in so many directions I found myself yearning for more focused narrative with less extraneous detailing, and at times questioned the need to have it be so all-encompassing (far too many descriptive dialogue tags too!). But overall I thought it was a really intriguing read, with enough depth and detail to really suck me into this world and keep me there. This appears to be a standalone novel (not a part of any series), but I hope to read more from Aboulafia in the future!
3.5 stars "Visions Through a Glass, Darkly” by David Aboulafia is a brilliantly crafted story, totally and utterly original and with amazing, believable world-building (even for being a paranormal/fantasy… if that’s how you can describe it). It has supernatural elements, but is based on real-world events (mostly). Aboulafia’s writing is really easy to follow. I liked how this story started off really intriguing (with the narrator telling us how he is going to die…) and just got bigger and more complex and weirder. It is literary suspense thriller, but is more surreal than many I’ve read. And while it still has the familiar vibe that most standard psychological thrillers have, it still feels fresh and original enough and is definitely unpredictable, especially towards the end and really encompasses so much more of the human condition – strength, weakness, right and wrong, friends, enemies, reality and madness, etc… and it is also funny at times, despite being so ‘dark’. I chuckled at some of the dialogue and really enjoyed watching Richard evolve as the story progresses, and was genuinely surprised by ending. But it worked perfectly. Recommend for fans of Paranormal/psychological thrillers who want a more complex, original tale than most that’s out there.
4.5 stars "Visions Through a Glass, Darkly” is the first book I’ve read from this talented author David Aboulafia, but I hope it’s not the last! The way this book was written is really different from many I’ve read before, but it totally hooked me right from the beginning and kept my attention throughout. It was intelligent, weird, sad, dark, funny, deep, tragic… I thought the storyline and the character development to be very well done and thought out. I didn’t like Richard at first, but he grew on me. I feel like this level of complexity could have easily ended up badly, but instead I darn near gobbled the whole book down in just a few evenings. There were some pretty shocking events that may upset some readers but I thought the author handled the subject matter well. This book will haunt me for a long time, but in a good way. Recommend for adults only.
"Visions Through a Glass, Darkly” by David I. Aboulafia took me a while to read and really get into the story, but in the end I’d say it was worth it! I like how everything finally came together, and I enjoyed reading this unusual book! I think Aboulafia writes very well… very descriptive and strong and we feel like we are there almost like watching a surreal David Lynch movie or something. There were some slow parts where I thought there was too much needless narrative that while nicely written, did little to advance the forward progression of the plot, and at times was bit too ‘telling’ when would have preferred more action. And all those italics were annoying. But it all came together in the end in a shocking way. Overall an interesting, if not surreal novel that pushes the boundaries of typical literature. Warning – recommended for mature readers as has sensitive subject matter.
after reading maybe a few too many novels recently that were perhaps a bit light on the substance, it was a breath of fresh air to delve into the dark and twisted and complicated world of Richard Goodman in this book by David I. Aboulafia. Not only is it beautifully written, but it is impressively complex and layered, with an sharp psychological edge that makes you really think—just the way I like my suspense novels, and I suppose my reading generally. Even though at times I grew weary of so much ‘telling’ that filled us in on every thought/motivation of the characters (which was not necessary) and the italics were darn near giving me vertigo by the end (those really need to go!!) I was always eager to return to the book night after night to find out what comes next! Especially towards the ending. I adore the main characters, love that Richard is not the perfect hero, but flawed and damaged and sort of the anti-hero. . A lengthy read that could use some trimming as at times the narration becomes a bit long-winded and pompous, but overall a unique, enjoyable experience. Recommend for older readers of dark literary paranormal, horror, suspense.
A gripping book: A lead character with a secret and in a world that has a timer… Visions Through A Glass, Darkly, by author David I. Aboulafia, centers around the lead character, Richard Goodman. Goodman has a secret. He has powers that he has difficulty understanding and controlling alike. And in a world where Richard Goodman appears outwardly as an ordinary administrator, he is nothing but in reality. But at the risk of revealing too much about this book’s plot, I will say no more about that though. What first drew me as the reader to this book was the actual title itself: Visions Through A Glass, Darkly. Once I began to read this book, I personally liked that the author builds the suspense throughout the pages, making this reader wonder what was happening next. The book will truly leave you wondering what will happen next and also in anticipation. Overall, I would rate Visions Through A Glass, Darkly 4 out of 5 stars for the reasons already explained above.
This is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read but that can be said about most psychological horror novels. Every time I wanted to put the book down and give up on it, something would happen that would pull me back in. The book starts with the main character, blood on his hands, counting the minutes on the clock because he has four minutes left to live. How could this not pull a reader in? Then the book moves back in time and, after much slow going, the story takes shape. Eventually the reader finds out that the main character is Richard Goodman and he gets messages from the dead. The author doesn’t make this obvious. In fact, much of the storyline isn’t obvious. The reader really has to stick with the story and search things out. It isn’t the easiest book to read but overall it has an interesting story. Richard isn’t particularly likeable but even he admits that fact. The clients of the school for the disabled that he works at are varied and interesting. There’s a funny exchange between Ricky and a client who can’t walk that involved amusing banter about Richard being able to walk and the client being crippled. There is humor like this throughout the book but in a subtle and, at times, off-color way. There’s also some blood and gore, pretty disgusting at some points but not a whole lot of it. This book is more about the horrors of the mind. I read this book in a digital format and it worked well. The cover is quite stark in color but still draws the eye.
What'd you do if you knew your days were counted? Richard Goodman is one of those characters readers will love because he mirrors the difficult, unanswerable questions that plague mankind, questions about religion, time, and the afterlife. He is a gifted man, a man whose senses can do more than what anyone can imagine. Goodman also runs a center for the disabled where they are taught to make watches. You'd think being Goodman is something very cool but not when he finds out that he has other gifts more extraordinary than his extra sensory powers, but Goodman is a cursed man because he also knows that in three days hell be dead. What'd you do if you know for certain that you'll be dead in three days? Read to find out what Richard Goodman does. Visions through a Glass, Darkly by David I. Aboulafia is a pulsating story that will accelerate your heartbeat, one you cant stop until you read to the very last page. I wont like to divulge more about the plot, but you can be sure that you wont be able to put this one down. The writing is crisp, tight, and downright gorgeous. The masterful use of the first person narrative gives an acute sense of immediacy to the story and allows readers to walk up close with the protagonist. You'll be watching an interesting and highly entertaining movie in your head when you read this book.
Like an insect bite, the potential threat of venom coursing through your veins is just a nagging possibility. But then it takes hold and your senses drop into hyper-drive. Something bad is going to happen. Rather than seek a cure, you can’t pull your focus away as you simply must know what will happen next, how bad will it get, can you grit through it or … have you made a terrible mistake? One there is no turning back but only barely holding on to the very creepy end. Yeah…. Aboulafia has a gift and this book is it! An advanced copy of this book was provided for an honest review.