It was supposed to be a quiet camping trip. There weren't supposed to be lights in the sky. Nobody was supposed to go missing. Nobody was supposed to die...
Here's a short sample from my UFO/First contact thriller...
Joe turned back to the grill and shuffled the foil-wrapped corn around as Alex and Wilt belted out an enthusiastic rendition of Bob Dylan’s Stuck Inside of Mobile. Joe wondered how true it was they would surely return. Little Annabelle coming along would certainly change everything, and he couldn’t help the swell of nostalgia that rose in him. He loved these trips and couldn’t share in Alex’s certainty they’d return. If anything, Alex was probably just saying it to make him and Wilt feel better, knowing how much they loved it up here. The heat from the coals warmed Joe’s face and the fire crackled in the background.
Joe could hear the fire. They had stopped playing.
‘Hey, maestro, where’s the music?’
Joe turned to look at his friends. They both sat slack jawed, gaping at the woods across the lake.
Wilt pointed. ‘It’s back.’
Joe went cold. He reluctantly turned to where his friends had fixed their astonished stares. It was back. He still thought it could be a helicopter or ball lightning, but through the trees across the lake the pulse of a yellow light pierced the darkness. For a minute or so, time stood still. The buzzing and chirping bugs backing Alex’s playing all night had lost their voices. Wilt stood. Alex put his guitar down, then rose to his feet. Joe checked for signs Wilt and Alex were as nervous as he was.
Alex looked over at him. ‘What do we do?’
Joe had no idea. Part of him wanted nothing more than to be back in Boston. In O’Malley’s, watching the Patriots with the guys from the firehouse, preseason or not. But he was curious about what the light was. So was Alex.
‘Let’s go. Have a closer look at it,’ Alex said, that same excited gleam in his eye.
Wilt’s shocked response came out in a thick Boston twang. ‘What? Are you fuckin cuckoo?’
Alex looked at Joe.
He doubted Wilt would go for it. It was a chance to find out once and for all what the light was. It could have been anything. Ball lightning. Experimental government craft. He just wanted to prove to Alex it wasn’t little green men.
‘It would be interesting to find out what it is...’
Joe wanted an adventure. He always did. But what he really wanted was to debunk the whole thing. Then they could get back to reality and fishing and screwing around like they were back in their teens.
Alex smiled a little and turned to Wilt. ‘What do you say, buddy?’
Wilt saw Alex’s grin and smiled a little himself. He glanced over at Joe as he stared at him.
‘I say I must want my fuckin head examined.’
Alex gave a small cheer of victory, Joe quickly wrapped the food he was grilling, and they left the roaring fire behind. Instead of heading for the Beast and back to their favorite Boston bar and the Patriots, they headed for the rowboat and the light.
They should have picked the Patriots.
Wilt’s huge fire was a match light in the distance as they reached the far shore of the lake. Joe stopped the recording he had been making on Wilt’s cell and handed him his phone. Alex led the race through the woods toward the pulsating light, filming on his own phone all the way. The light flashed its green glow through the trees as Joe dragged Wilt ever closer to the next lake. Nobody spoke. It was difficult to judge the distance through the trees, but it looked as if the light was about halfway across the second, smaller lake as it hovered silently above the calm waters.
‘It’s fuckin huge.’ Alex’s voice trembled as he spoke.
He was right. Now they were closer, it was clear whatever they were looking at was more than just a light. It was a craft. A metallic, saucer-shaped flying machine. The color, like the lights, was nothing Joe had ever seen before. Silver, gray and blue all at once. Looking now it was hard to say if the craft had lights or was made of light. Either way, Alex didn’t care. He continued on, turning back every few steps to check the others were still behind him. If Wilt had suggested there and then they go back, Joe would have gladly obliged. Unfortunately for all involved, he didn’t.
For as long as Joe could remember Alex always had a genuine fascination with the unknown, but it was clear to see even he was terrified. In all the time he and Joe had known each other, Joe had never seen him afraid. They had to deal with some pretty hairy situations with their work - they dealt in life and death on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. Joe had seen this guy do things that would turn your hair white. When he’s on the job, he’s all business. Now he trembled. His face was chalky. Joe should have seen it as a sign to stop. To turn back, get in the Beast and drive back to Boston as quickly as possible. To the bar where the rest of Ladder Company would be watching the game.
Joe wanted to stop. Pick a tree to hide behind. Turn and go back, as far away as possible, and yet, he couldn’t. He had to go on. He had to know what this thing was. He gulped uncontrollably, even though his mouth was as dry as the soft ground beneath his feet. Perhaps it was the unknown element of this that was the source of fear for Alex. It had dawned on him this wasn’t a game. Now he had Annabelle to think about. When you’re unsure of what’s going on around you, instinct is a pretty reliable survival guide.
The men were all in good shape (as members of Ladder Company, they had to be), but by the time they cleared the trees at the edge of the second lake they were breathless. Joe and Wilt stopped alongside Alex and stared at the glowing object some two hundred yards away. Wilt continued filming. The saucer was a hundred feet across, suspended silently fifty yards above the water’s surface. The friends all gaped as it rose slowly. When the idea came it could be leaving, Joe was shocked his overriding emotion was sadness. That was short-lived as the disc dropped back to its original position, bobbing like a buoy on water. Again it rose and fell, like it was putting on a show, then, the third time, when it dropped it stopped just feet from the surface of the lake. Huge circles expanded across the water from the center as if something massive had breached the flat calm.
Alex whispered, ‘Guys, I don’t like this. I changed my mind. I want to go back.’
No sooner had the words left his lips than the object rose to twenty yards above the surface, then, in the blink of an eye, it was in the air above them. Just like in Joe’s dream. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end, and the air was thick with electricity. Joe had felt faint, now his knees gave out from underneath him. Somebody caught him at one side and the other shouted, ‘Run!’ He would struggle to tell for sure who did what.
They raced back through the woods. Joe’s legs felt empty as though he’d just run a marathon, energy sapped, he was in the slow-motion sprint of a nightmare. A beam of white light pierced the canopy and fell upon Joe. He did his best to zig and zag, to remove himself from the beam’s intrusive scrutiny. He felt weight lifting from him. A lightness came. Time slowed and sounds faded, and he looked down to see shadows growing beneath twigs and stones. They were levitating. That was the lightness he felt. Then it was gone. Unable to get a fix on him the beam had moved on.
The sounds of breathless endeavor rushed back, feet pounding the soft earth, lungs gasping for air. As they dashed through the trees, the beam flashed from one of them to the other. Wilt overtook Joe, gripping his phone. Joe peered over his shoulder to see Alex dodging the beam. Round Alex’s feet, twigs and leaves floated then fell as the light passed over them. Then the beam was gone.
Joe looked up to see Wilt clear the woods. He was halfway between the trees and the rowboat, feet spraying pebbles across the beach as he raced for the sanctity of that roaring fire and the cabin across the water. Then, the bright white beam fixed on him.
Joe watched on, awestruck as small stones levitated around Wilt’s feet as he ran. Joe was a few yards behind, and Alex a few behind him, then, just as Wilt reached the boat, he let out a bone-chilling scream. He was frozen, paralyzed by the beam. Joe stopped dead and Alex ran into the back of him, throwing both to the floor. There was a blinding flash and a roar like thunder. They looked up.
The boat rocked lightly back and forth, and gentle waves lapped the beach.
The disc was gone.
So was Wilt.
THE EVENT is available from Amazon.
The OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING
The history of mankind is riddled with the weird and the wonderful; bizarre people, strange places and odd events. For centuries, we’ve told each other fantastic stories around campfires and in darkened rooms. Tales of ghosts, UFOs, and conspiracies, but are these stories exactly that: Stories? There’s only one way to find out! Join me as I dive down the rabbit hole and into… the Unexplained Files.
The Oklahoma City bombing, until one dreadful September morning in 2001, was the worst terror attack in the United States. How does this tragic event make it into The Unexplained Files? Anomalies. Lots of anomalies.
On the morning of 19 April 1995, a Ryder rental truck packed with explosives was parked outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At 9:02am that bomb was detonated, killing 168 and leaving hundreds more injured. The powerful explosion blew off the building’s entire north face and the blast damaged or destroyed over 300 buildings in the immediate area.
Forensic evidence quickly connected anti-government militant Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols to the attack. McVeigh was already in jail, having been stopped a little more than an hour after the bombing for a traffic violation and then arrested for unlawfully carrying a handgun. Before he was scheduled to be released from jail, he was identified as a prime suspect in the bombing and charged. The same day, Terry Nichols, an associate of McVeigh, surrendered in Herington, Kansas. At least, that’s the official story…
One of the first responders on the scene was police sergeant Terrance Yeakey. He was nearby on a routine traffic stop when the explosion shattered the morning quiet. He raced to the scene, working tirelessly for three hours, dragging eight people from the aftermath, later receiving a key to the city of El Reno for his efforts. Yet his superiors were unhappy. Terrance had submitted a 9-page report of events that went against the quickly established narrative. A report that included multiple explosions and unexploded bombs. So who was right?
Timothy McVeigh was arrested near the scene of the bombing roughly 90 minutes after. Why was he stopped? He was driving a car with no licence plates. If you imagine the planning this event must have gone through and this oversight seems baffling to say the least. Weak? There’s more. According to the official story, the target of the attack was the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who McVeigh blamed for the tragedy of the Waco Disaster, yet not one ATF agent was injured. That’s because, on the morning of the attack, they weren’t there. Well, two claimed they were, but with hindsight, that looks like a mistake.
Two men from the ATF claimed not only to be in the building, but to be heroes. Their story falls apart under little scrutiny. One of the “heroes” claimed that he was trapped in an elevator shortly after the explosion after it descended in freefall. Oscar Johnson, an elevator mechanic upon inspection of the buildings elevators said, “No elevators were in freefall. No possible way.” He also rubbished the claim that the agent climbed out of the elevator car to join rescue efforts saying that the locking mechanism had not been touched. If there had been anyone in there, they would have to be rescued just like everyone else.
Witnesses reported bomb squad vehicles parked across the road from the building at a church two hours previous, again lending credence to the idea of advanced knowledge.
Multiple witnesses reported seeing 2 or even 3 men park the Ryder Truck in front of the building, who left in a brown pickup. An APB was issued for said vehicle and more witnesses came forward saying whenever McVeigh was spotted before the bombing he was never alone. Sketches were made of a mysterious John Doe 2. In spite of all of this, after what was at the time the worst terrorist attack on US soil, the search for John Doe #2 was quickly abandoned.
One FBI agent admitted on record that all fingerprints collected at the scene were not run through databases and an OKCPD officer said that he and colleagues had been held back from assisting recovery efforts and saw, “men in FBI raid jackets dismantling video cameras off the side of the building”.
One of the strangest things in the whole story of the Oklahoma City Bombing was the recovery of a random leg. During the blast 8 victims lost left legs, yet a ninth was recovered. The owner of the leg was never found.
Multiple local news reports from the morning of the bombing reported more than one device - “another bomb” “other devices” “another explosion” - and even one scene where a truck was seen and discussed, the job of which was to, “transport the explosive device away from this populated area.” The rescue operation was even shut down for 20-30 minutes to account for this. Was it these devices Terrance Yeakey had seen during his own rescue endeavours?
By the afternoon, news media were changing their story. As if that weren’t enough to call the official story into question, there’s more…
According to the final report, one truck bomb was responsible for the devastating damage. That bomb changed from a 1200lb ammonium nitrate fertiliser and fuel oil bomb to 4800lb bomb, to 7000lb of fertiliser and nitro methane.
Even so, a truck bomb is essentially an air blast. This air blast was going up against 8 feet of reinforced concrete. The damage recorded was wildly inconsistent with similar or even much larger bombs of its kind. Another point raised was ammonium nitrate fertiliser bombs release a noxious nitrous oxide - breathing that cocktail in such large concentrations would have led to first responders being hospitalised. No such hospitalisations were recorded.
Furthermore, there was evidence of explosions inside the buildings. Footage from OK County Sheriff’s office minutes after blast shows the north side parking lot littered with paper and debris. The location of these papers meant they would have to have travelled against the blast wave. Debris from the Murrah Building was found on top of buildings on the other side of the street, and piled against the foot of the nearby records building, again, travelling against the blast wave. Could this have happened as part of the collapse of the north face? Of course. But when you look at the damage caused by an air blast, this seems unlikely.
Survivors reported explosions and shaking inside the building before the truck bomb went off. Three separate seismographs recorded 8-10 seconds of activity, suggesting the possibility of two blasts, and two separate energy spikes. A member of the OK Geological Survey stated the activity could not be put down to floors collapsing, nor could the last 5 seconds be the result of an air blast.
On 23 May 1995, barely a month after the attack, going against advice from structural engineers that it could be rebuilt, the Murrah building was demolished, despite body recovery being incomplete. Any remaining evidence was destroyed with it.
Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004. On June 11, 2001, Timothy McVeigh, at the age of 33, died by lethal injection at the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. His body was cremated quickly - without autopsy, going against standard procedure for executed prisoners.
Sgt. Terrance Yeakey
On the morning of 8 May 1996, at 7am, Terrance Yeakey’s car was found. The inside of the car was full of blood, razor blades, and a knife. The car was locked, the windows rolled up.
Between 6-7pm that same day Terrance’s body was found. His wrists and neck had been slashed. He had rope burns on his neck and handcuff marks on wrists. He had sustained a gunshot wound to the head. An immediate search of the scene recovered no firearm.
His death was ruled a suicide.
According to the official story, Terrance had inflicted the wounds on himself in the car, locked it, walked a little over a mile, climbing a waist-high barbed wire fence in the process, and shot himself in the head.
But even the gunshot wound was called into question. The wound was at a strange angle, inconsistent with suicide. The bullet entered the temple region above his right eye and exited below his left cheek. There were no powder burns.
No autopsy was performed.
So What Happened?
We may never know. It is known the paperwork for the Whitewater scandal, a failed real estate investment venture involving then-President Bill Clinton, was stored in the Murrah Building. Shortly after the blast, a team in blue, unmarked jackets collected boxes of files from the wreckage. Could that simply be coincidence?
Another strange connection is links to the intelligence community. Operations were underway to infiltrate groups posing threat to the US government. McVeigh’s behaviour in the build up to the event bears the hallmarks of “Sheep-Dipping”, a term intelligence agencies use when they pretend to remove someone from the military, secretly turning them into a covert operative. If that sounds far-fetched, it’s worth keeping in mind his death certificate stated his occupation as “US Army”, that despite a 9-year gap since his military service and the fact he’d held other jobs since… and just to muddy those waters further is the involvement of Dr Jolyon West, dubbed “Mr Mind Control”. West has connections to Patty Hearst, RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer Jack Ruby. West visited McVeigh on multiple occasions prior to him waiving all his appeals and requesting to be fast-tracked to federal execution.
Even without that twist, what with the numerous discrepancies between witness reports and the official story, and the tragic end of Terrance Yeakey, the terrible events of the morning of 19 April 1995 do carry the tell-tale signs of a false flag.
In 1994 and ‘95, the US Congress failed to pass an omnibus crime bill that would expand federal jurisdiction to crack down on the second amendment and create new agencies with the alleged aim of increased monitoring of US citizens. In the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing, the bill was repackaged as the “anti-terrorism effective death penalty act.”
The act was signed into law one year and five days after the attack.
Of the 168 killed that dreadful day, 19 were children in an employee day-care centre.
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A Quick Update...
I was looking into the idea of ending my Amazon exclusivity and “going wide” i.e. publishing on many platforms. The process can be frustrating and really time consuming: formatting, covers (different places use different dimensions), uploading, tax shizzle… and on and on. That’s per online store you want to put your book on. Considering that Amazon represents roughly 70% of the ebook market, the question that comes to most self-published authors without a massive audience is the same one: Is it really worth it?
Then I found someone who uploads to all of the stores for you. A one-stop shop, if you will. Fast. Less hassle. So I thought I’d upload a tester, just to see how the whole process worked.
And one of those frustrations came to bear. It’s fine. We can deal with it. It’s all in one place. Overcome this one hurdle and that’s it… But I got locked into this Catch 22 nightmare that I couldn’t undo. So I contacted help. Help took an age to reply, and basically told me to use the help pages on their site. I had thought of that. It didn’t help. That’s why I contacted them. The tall and short of it is, no “going wide” for me just yet. Just need to bide my time until this whole lockdown situation calms down and their help peeps are back in the office.
Sorry to disappoint those waiting for this. The best things come to those who wait, they say. Let’s hope so!
So my super-secret screenplay project is moving along nicely. The first draft is done and in terms of page-length, tone, and lots of other stuff, I feel like it’s in really good shape. Maybe my best ever first draft. So why the secrecy?
Screenplays are funny things. Unless you are commissioned by a studio to write something, you have to write it first, then try to sell it. Between first draft and finished movie, so many things can happen, including not selling it - i.e. nothing at all. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself at this stage or jinx anything. I probably won’t mention the screenplay again unless there’s major news (at which point you won’t be able to shut me up about it - you have been warned!).
I will say this: because of the subject matter and amazing source material I’m working with (it’s an adaptation, see) I do feel this one has a chance of making it to screen. A real chance. Fingers crossed.
There’s an old expression about best laid plans going to shit (or something). Life gets in the way and so on and so one. I found out kinda out of the blue that I need to move house. Major ballache. (Boxes are piling up around me as I speak.) Just saying because obviously there might be some disruption to post frequency and maybe post/newsletter length. Hopefully things will move quickly and smoothly, but fair warning.
That’s all for now. Keep it weird, folks.
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The howling vs. American Werewolf
What are your top 3 werewolf movies?
If you didn’t say 1985 Michael J. Fox classic Teen Wolf, hang your head in shame (Go, Beavers!). But no doubt most fans of the genre mentioned a film from 1981. That’s because in 1981, we got what are generally considered the two best werewolf movies of all time. If you’ve read Laszlo, you’ll have spotted the nods to the John Landis classic An American Werewolf in London, but it was actually the other offering from that year that inspired The Death of Laszlo Breyer. Joe Dante’s The Howling. Featuring Dee Wallace and Christopher Stone (who went on to appear in 1983 Stephen King adaptation Cujo, which I strongly recommend - both book and film), there was one tiny scene in there that was the seed for Laszlo.
I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as I can. In the film a serial killer is shot and killed by police. But when they go to check on the body at the morgue, it’s gone. See, the man shot dead by police is a werewolf (not a spoiler, don’t worry) but because silver bullets weren’t standard police issue, ol’ Wolfman Eddie came back from the dead. That idea fascinated me.
In The Howling, the full moon is not part of the lore (just like silver bullets aren’t in American Werewolf), so he could just change into a werewolf any time. But I wondered what would happen if he did need a full moon. If he was shot and killed and then buried. I wondered what it would be like if, every full moon, that body became a wolf and that broken body kept awakening until it was strong enough to escape.
It was actually the death of Laszlo Breyer that led me to the start of his story.
'The Death of Laszlo Breyer' is available now from Amazon in ebook and paperback.
IF I could turn back time...
A major historical event. A time travel story.
Seems straightforward enough. Only for me, it wasn’t.
There was I, scouring the interwebs a few years back when I saw a news story from the writing world that delighted me. Stephen King’s new book coming out was the news. I’m a huge fan of King, his book On Writing about the craft of writing remains one of the best around, whether or not you’re a fan of the man himself, so I was suitably delighted. “Yes!” I shouted. I read on, overjoyed at this news. It’s about the assassination of JFK. Oh my. My favourite author has written a book about the grand daddy of conspiracy theories (something else I’m fascinated by - obvious to anyone who’s read The Unexplained Files/this blog/my Twitter feed (another aside here - retweets do not equal endorsement. Don’t @ me. Or if you do, prepare to be ignored. I have zero time nor tolerance for cancel culture. But I digress)). “YES!” I scream. It feels like my fave author has written a book just for me! I can’t get enough of this news. Hungry for more I read on. It’s about time travel…
“YE— … … bollocks.”
OK, now I feel sick. Sick and excited. Excited because I have got to read this book. Sick because I know anyone who knows me, knows I love Stephen King. So when I tell them about my time travel book based around a major historical event, they’ll think I’ve “borrowed” it. And who would blame them? That’s what I’d think.
“The first draft of anything is shit.” - Ernest Hemingway.
The fact was, the first draft of my time slip novel based around the events of 9/11 was already tucked away in a dark corner on my laptop. Complete. Back then, I was more into screenwriting (something I still love, and have recently returned to, but that’s another story entirely), and the first draft of that book was rougher than even Hemingway could imagine. Truth was, while the story was there, my writing needed a lot of development before I was ready to share that book with the world. A full four years passed between first draft and publication.
Another question I get asked about that book is “Was it difficult writing about such a sensitive subject?” If I tell you King had reservations about his JFK book more than fifty years after the event, then that should tell you everything. I had doubts. Serious ones. They were with me every single time I sat down to write Ghosts of September. Maybe that is something I’ll go into in more detail another day. For now all I’ll say is I hope my respect for the strength, will and resilience of the people of New York shines through in that book.
In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.