The Sandman Reviews and Coverage
Timothy Duggan stared up into the haunting blue eyes of the blonde straddling him. Her long hair cascaded down past her shoulders in flowing golden strands that gently blanketed her supple breasts. Her nipples excitedly forced their way through her straw colored locks to wink enticingly at the man responsible for their host’s arousal. Beads of sweat formed on his lover’s upper lip as her face contorted in pleasure. Her cat-like fingers dug into his chest and the couple’s passion rose to feverish heights. They matched each others rhythmic ebbing, flowing together as one. Her eyes were closed tightly and her head was tilted back so far that she could feel her hair tickling her buttocks while she moved slowly up and down like a well-oiled piston. Timothy ran his hand gently up and down the small of her back while tracing tiny circles around her belly button with his fingertips. She arched her back under his caress. He had found her magic spot, and his as well. In one swift motion Timothy Duggan thrust his knife, a long, slender double-edged Arkansas toothpick, into the small of the woman’s back. Grabbing the front of the blade as it exited her navel, he forced the knife blade upwards and jerked it violently to the side, destroying several major organs and severing her spine in one lightning quick motion. In the blink of an eye her world had changed. Her eyes darted wildly about the room as confusion and pain wracked her psyche. Her body convulsed wildly as the realization of her imminent death set in and the struggle for life began. A deluge of her blood spilled out of her wounds and onto Timothy’s naked, writhing body. He was too lost in the throes of ecstasy to notice she was silent; gone. “Christ!” Tim shot up in bed, covered in sweat. “What’s the matter, honey? Another bad dream?” His wife asked groggily and reached over to pat him lovingly on his stomach. “Yeah,” he whispered faintly. Dragging himself out of bed, he made a beeline for the bathroom. He paused near the toilet, afraid of what he might find. It was only a dream, Tim, get a grip on yourself. He reached into his boxers and immediately his fears were confirmed. Drawing his moist hand to his nose he breathed in apprehensively. Sex. He smelled like fresh sex. And something else as well. Being a doctor he was all too familiar with the malignant smell; blood. Wet sex and blood. He withdrew his hand as if his pants were on fire, forgetting all about his need for morning business. Tim’s mind replayed the hauntingly vivid dream over and over again as he let the hot water rain down onto his naked form. He prayed that the shower would save him the awkward embarrassment of even attempting to explain this to his wife. He loved Elsa so, and she him, but just how much Tim wasn’t sure. Enough to believe this madness? Did she love him enough to listen to his stories of killing young women in his dreams without getting angry or leaving him for being completely insane? And would she stand by him once she discovered that he was waking up covered in evidence of this brutality? His heart raced with fear. He felt as if his mind were slipping away from him like water raging over a falls. As he sat on the edge of the bed drying himself with a towel, he watched his wife climb out of bed. She smiled at him as she did each morning and headed to take her turn at the bathroom. He almost burst into tears at the sight of her radiant blue eyes. She had a way of melting him with those eyes. And the last thing he wanted to do right then was to reveal his deepest, darkest secrets to her. Tim studied his wife’s naked form as it flowed across the room. Her waist length blonde hair formed to her figure. It shimmered like sheer golden corn silk in the summer sun. Her shoulders sloped gently and her athletic arms hung loosely at her sides. She was almost a dead ringer for the girl in last night’s dream. The only differences were that his Elsa was prettier, and still very much alive. A tear formed in the corner of Tim’s eye as he blinked the crude thought away. It was an image with no apparent emanation. Granted, he had always found his wife attractive, sexy and alluring, but not with such lecherous overtones. He fought with his urges, trying desperately not to become aroused at his wife’s nakedness. He was too afraid to kindle those feelings, terrified of what his dreams might symbolize. “I love you,” he voiced quietly, poking his head partially through the bathroom door. Her scent was inescapable in the steamy cubicle. Elsa didn’t wear perfume very often. She bathed with an imported French soap that left the luxurious scent of Lily of the Valley lingering on her skin for most of the day. Tim generally lusted after the gentle fragrance on her skin, but not this morning. “What?” She asked over the din of the shower. She hadn’t heard him. Morose, he turned and walked away. Wiping his eyes he started for downstairs, where in the kitchen a nutty, alluring aroma announced that the automatic timer on the coffee pot had done its job correctly yet another day.
* * *
“Rene’, this is Tim. Do you have a slot you can fit me in today?” “Tim? You’re not a patient, you don’t need an appointment. My last patient is at four, how about we meet at Harry’s for a couple of beers, say around four thirty,” he replied, sensing something awkward in Tim’s voice. Having known the man for most of his life he had a certain Spidey-sense when it came to Tim’s problems. “I’d really like to talk to you sooner, if it’s no trouble, and privately, in your office if it’s possible. I don’t want to put you out or anything,” Tim almost pleaded. Rene’ was his best friend in the world and he knew that he could confide in him about anything. However, he needed his medical expertise now, not just his friendship and listening ear. “Sure, sure pal. I can eat my lunch while we talk. I could squeeze you in at noon, that is if you don’t mind listening to me chomp away at a salad.” “No, I wouldn’t mind that at all. Connie, huh?” “Yes, another one of her damned diets. I don’t know why I always have to eat like crap every time she puts on a couple of pounds.” “Thanks, you’re a lifesaver,” Tim chuckled and hung up the phone. He left his hand on the receiver for a few moments longer, wanting to savor the sense of security his conversation with his friend had provided him. Tim and Rene’ had been friends for as long as Tim could remember. They were inseparable all the way through high school and even into college. They had helped each other get through the rigors of medical school, where they each ultimately chose separate paths to follow. They were a unique pair of individuals. Although they thought a lot alike they were still diverse enough to keep from getting bored with each other. Mutual friends and family constantly gibed them about their marriage to one another, including their wives. Ever so often Tim could sense a little jealousy from Elsa, especially times like now, when he didn’t dare confide in her, but he felt comfortable enough around Rene’ to share his fears. He decided it was best not to even mention to her that he was going to meet with his Rene’. The drive to Rene’s office was a blur. His mind was drudging through his limited memory of the quagmire that had become his sleep world. He eased into a parking spot and thanked God that he hadn’t hit anything while he mindlessly drove across town. “Hi, Tim,” Rene’s receptionist greeted warmly. “Good morning, Vicky,” he smiled painfully back, his mind still awash with the gory details from his nightmare. A distressing recollection shuddered through him as something in Vicky’s smile reminded him of the woman in his latest nightmare. The recollection brought the disturbing images vividly back to life. “Rene’s waiting for you,” she buzzed the intercom to let the doctor know he had company. “Hey, what’s going on pal,” Rene’ stood from his desk and took a posture that demanded a hug. “Have a seat,” he offered after their embrace. Tim sat down and stared at his feet awkwardly. He still couldn’t shake the brutal images from his monstrous nightmare. “I just don’t know where to begin, Rene’,” he finally spoke. “From the beginning is as good a place as any, I suspect,” he said, donning his therapist’s cap. “I don’t really remember the beginning.” “What’s going on, you don’t look so good? Are you and Elsa having troubles?” “No. No, nothing like that,” he paused. “It’s worse than that actually. I wish it were something as simple as declining marital bliss. Besides, we’ve already been through the 'you’re a bastard' phase, remember?” He did his best to smile. “I’m starting to worry about you. I’ve never seen you so tongue-tied before. Usually nobody can get you to shut up,” Rene’ laughed, his laughter dying out quickly when he realized that Tim didn’t laugh with him. “I’m having bad dreams, Rene’. Really bad dreams. I think I might be going insane,” Tim finally blurted out. It was painfully obvious to Rene’ that the man was teetering on the brink of tears. “That’s not so bad, we all have nightmares once in a while. And I highly doubt you are suddenly losing your mind,” Rene’s spoke slowly, giving himself time to chose his words carefully. He could tell that his best friend was perched precariously close to the edge of something terrible. “No, it’s not like that. These are so real. So vivid. And I’m afraid they are getting worse.” “Dreams about what?” “Murder,” Tim replied without even attempting to soften the blow. Rene’ was speechless for a wrinkle in time. “Yours or someone else’s?” “They are always about me murdering someone, usually a woman. Brutally murdering them. I’m not talking about a simple ‘gunshot to the head because I am pissed off at you’ kind of murder, but the ‘I get my jollies off by killing you’ kind of murders.” The room fell into an eerie silence on the heels of Tim’s revelation. Rene’ was shell-shocked by his best friend’s confession and was momentarily caught at a loss for words. And Tim, hearing the words spoken aloud for the very first time was equally as stunned. Suddenly, he became acutely aware of the grave predicament he was facing. They listened to each other’s breathing for a few agonizing minutes, allowing the bombshell to fully detonate. “Wow. Okay. But, Tim, you have to realize, these are merely dreams. I can understand them giving you the willies, but you haven’t really murdered anyone, have you?” He tried to speak in a playful tone while making sure to make eye contact with Tim. “I don’t know. I don’t think so,” his voice trailed off and he laid his head in his hands. “What do you mean you don’t know?” “I’m starting to have my suspicions. There’s been some evidence.” “What kind of evidence?” “When I woke up this morning I was wet, you know, down there.” “I guess I am missing your point, Tim,” Rene’ looked both concerned and confused. “I was wet from sex. I smelled it. But it wasn’t just sex. There was blood too.” Once again the room filled with an uncomfortable silence. Both men stared into each other’s eyes, brooding over the weight of Tim’s shocking disclosure. They both sensed a sudden urge to cry. “What about Elsa, could she have . . . “ “No, I don’t think so. Even if she had, it’s not her time. It wouldn’t explain the blood.” “Have you said anything to anyone else about this?” “Not even Elsa,” he replied, shaking his head. “Good, keep it that way, at least until we can talk some more. I really believe you are reacting to stress and these nightmares are nothing more than your mind playing tricks on you.” “Let’s hope so, but I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little scared.” “I can imagine so.” “It gets worse, Rene’” “What do you mean?” He asked, truly fearing the answer. “I am losing control over my sleep. I mean, I have been falling asleep without warning. And I've only explained a small portion of my new dream world to you.” “It sounds like you might be experiencing narcolepsy? But that’s not my field of expertise. I’m sorry to say that I am not too well versed in the affliction.” “I don't know very much about it either, that's one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you. I thought you might know someone.” "Well, there is this guy I went to post-graduate school who's now working down in St. Augustine at a clinic for sleep disorders. He sent me some literature about it after we met at some alumni thing a while back. I guess in case I ever got a patient I needed to refer." "It probably wouldn't hurt to talk to him. I need to do something. I'm really starting to get freaked out about this. Especially after this morning." "I’ll give Dan Hughes a call this afternoon between patients and set up an appointment for you." "I'd really appreciate that, Rene'." "Are you going back to the hospital?" "No, I called in sick. I'll be at home if you want to call later." "Try to relax, Tim, we'll get to the bottom of this," Rene' offered a comforting word as he watched his best friend walk out of his office with his head hanging lower than he had ever seen it before. Even Tim's marital problems hadn't left him looking so haggard and mentally taxed. Tim desperately needed some rest, but was too afraid to lie down. The last thing he wanted to do was to dream.
* * *
"Hey, Cracker, you need anything today?" An aging man asked while pushing a cart load of well-read books down the long corridor. The man they called Cracker spooked him so badly that he wanted as little to do with the man as possible. But this was his job. It earned him extra time on the floor, so it was worth it. "No, True, I'm still reading the same one," the lanky inmate called from his solitary cell. "But I sure could use someone to talk to." "Man, I wish I could help you out, but my ass is busy today. Everybody wants something up here today," he replied, pushing his cartload of books. The inmate used to be imposing once upon a time, in another life. But now the erosive effects of time and degenerative arthritis left him hunkered into a permanent stoop. His gnarled hands barely worked anymore and there was hardly a day that went by when he wasn’t besieged with pain. There were plenty of days when he felt like giving up, but then his thoughts would turn to his Regina. His lovely, lovely Regina. True let the memory of his granddaughter’s face invade his mind. With a renewed energy he made his way down the row to Cracker’s cell. "Awe, c'mon, True, I know you don't like me, but I also know that I'm the last stop on your rounds. What are you afraid of. I can't possibly get at you from in here. Not saying that I wouldn't try," he guffawed, his face twisted with an impish grin. The prison corridor echoed in a cacophony of his devious laughter. "Forget you, you crazy bastard," the old man pivoted back around. "C'mon, I'll give you three squares of smokes just to talk. Just to talk, man. I'm going crazy in here. I haven't talked to anyone since you were up here last." "I must be nuts," the old man mumbled and wheeled the cart back around. "You was always crazy," he responded. "Thanks for noticing." “If you didn’t always act like such a damned fool maybe you’d get more visitors.” True slowly ambled to the man's cell, making certain to catch the eye of at least one of the two guards on the floor. He wanted to be sure they knew he was going to Cracker's cell and to be on the lookout for any trouble. He stopped the battleship gray cart full of books and magazines in front of the cell, putting it between him and Cracker as a buffer. He wanted to make damn sure he kept his distance from the notorious inmate. The headlines played like a rolling marquee in True’s mind. Another mutilated female found. Sixteen deaths attributed to the Sandman. True figured the press gave him that name for lack of a better one. It probably grew out of the streets as a warning from mothers to their little girls. He seemed to only strike at night under the comforting cover of darkness. And once the press had given him the name, Cracker had played it out to the hilt. He began pouring little handfuls of sand into his victim’s hollowed out eye sockets as a calling card. “So what’s on your mind, Cracker?” He asked, averting his eyes from the convict’s. “I just wondered, do you believe in magic?” “Some of it I guess, but mostly it’s all mirrors and hand tricks.” “No, I’m talking about real magic, True. The kind of magic that makes things happen for no apparent reason. The kind that works from the hidden powers of your mind.” “No, I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo stuff. Things just happen in this world, people can’t make them happen.” “You don’t believe in voodoo?” Cracker sounded genuinely surprised. “What? You think every black man in this world believes in voodoo?” He made eye contact, trying to get his point across. True’s eyes gave Cracker the willies and the old man knew it. The once dark, piercing orbs, now victims of cataracts and old age, were a hazy shade of milky blue, not unlike the eyes of a fish that had been dead on the river bank for quite some time. “All of them that are from the bayou’s of Louisiana, anyway,” he said innocently. True realized from the tone of his voice that the poor bastard really didn’t have a clue. “Not all of them, Cracker,” he responded, emphasizing the inmate’s moniker. “But you do believe in destiny, don't you True?” Cracker asked, his eyes narrowing into tiny slits, giving his face an even more ominous appearance. His time on the row had thinned him out and his hollowed cheeks accentuated his high cheekbones. “Yes. I believe our lives were already mapped out for us the day we was born.” “So, you’re saying that I was born to be a killer and you a thief?” “No, nothing like that. The map is there, but it’s up to us to follow the right paths. You and I, we just chose the wrong roads to follow is all.” “What if my destiny is to be a magician?” “You’re not talking about being a magician, Cracker. You’re talking about witchcraft; black magic.” “Aren’t they one in the same? Magic and witchcraft, I mean?” His voice was taunting and sarcastic. “No, not hardly. Now you’re just talking crazy.” “Don’t you think that some of the great magicians, like Houdini and Blackstone, sold their souls for the sake of their craft?” “No, I don’t believe that shit for a minute. Now, I got to go. I’ve got things that need to get done.” “Wait, wait. I need your help with something, True,” Cracker took an obsequious tone. “What,” he shot back, tired of the con’s insane babbling. “I think I’ve found a secret, a trick, here in this book you got for me,” he commented, pointing at the book lying on his bunk. The book had an antiquated appearance and was ominously foreboding. Its title shouted out in red raised leather lettering, Insomnium Obitus, across the exact center of the volume. True had had no clue what the title meant when he had first seen it, but it looked as though it would be strange enough to satisfy Cracker‘s insane lust for the macabre. True had accidentally found the volume while looking for a book about dreams for the bothersome man. It had been buried in a box of tomes in a storage closet in the back of the library. The books were slated to be destroyed so True figured no one would miss the odd looking book. He was certain that the oddity would placate Cracker, at least for the time being and he hoped that it might keep the demented inmate off his back for a while. “I’d love to try it out.” “Man, you’re not doing no freaky stuff on me,” True commented, putting some more distance between himself Cracker. Laughing, he said, “Nothing like that, True. I don’t even need your help.” “Then what do you need from me?” “All I have to know is if it works. You tell me if you dream about something strange tonight when you go to sleep. Come up here and tell me about it in the morning.” “You’re crazy,” he turned and started back down the corridor. True’s limp was a little more pronounced and he knew it must be raining. The limp was a gift from the good ol’ boy sheriff that had arrested him after the accident. Of course he waited until they were well enough away from the scene to teach True his lesson. “I can make you see things, True,” Cracker taunted. The old con waved a dismissing hand and nodded at the guard to let him know he was finished on the tier. “I can make you do things too, True. You just wait. You’ll see,” he laughed almost hysterically as he watched True hurrying as fast as he could to get away from him. True didn’t believe a word of what Cracker was spouting, but he just couldn’t
shake the queasy feeling he felt the rest of the day. That night, True lie in bed for hours, unable to get to sleep. He cursed himself for letting the lunatic burrow into his brain.
The Sandman - Sample Chapter One
To purchase an authgraphed copy of The Sandman please e-mail your order and you can pick it up at the Lansing City Market at Splash Of Sunset Photography
To purchase an authgraphed copy of The Sandman please e-mail your order and you can pick it up at the Lansing City Market at Splash Of Sunset Photography