By AJ Brown
Dark and disturbing on every level.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste. It is also a terrible place to live. Thoughts, fears, and paranoid thoughts lurk in the shadows, waiting to pounce when you are most vulnerable. Those thoughts whisper words of no escape. But what happens when the mind settles on revenge instead?
VOICES is a collection of stories by A.J. Brown. These are dark, disturbing, complex tales of the inner voice, the hidden mind, that which drives us from within. These stories darkly and boldly illustrate the harsh realities of life when there are no safe places, not even in your own head.
Brown pulls no punches with his presentation of the horrors that go on around us. His characters will pull on your heart and mind and may even draw forth a few tears. Some of these stories left me physically tense even after completion and one left me feeling physically ill with emotional response. This is my warning to you. This is not light reading. It is true horror: deep, dark, and disturbing. While not extremely graphic in description, Voices is daringly extreme to the extreme in content.
Let’s address a few of these, shall we?
“In the Shadows, They Hide” is a disturbing tale of deep fear, bullying, and the decisions made in angst.
“Chet and Kay’s Not So Marvelous Adventure” addresses morality vs inner voice, the conundrum of stereotype role reversal, and visceral insanity.
“The Scarring” should perhaps come with a warning label, so here you go. Like some of the other stories, it deals with child abuse, exploring the dark voices of the inner turmoil that arises from this all too real horror.
“Claire the Movie” should, perhaps, also have a warning label. The building dread as the story unfolds was so consuming that it evoked a physical response. My chest was tight in anticipation and I am certain I forgot to breathe once or twice as the foreshadowing began to take hold of my mind.
“Black Storms” is a very well written story of one man’s experience with what could be the end times.
“Number” … because “…anger isn’t a real emotion.”
“Apartment 306 and Poor Jenny Harris” is the one that I find the most impactful. It is a dark and disturbing tale of tragic things that go on in the world. It builds steadily to a horrifying climax and conclusion. This one evoked both an emotional and physical response (tears and nausea) because of the realism it reflected and the incredibly vivid characters. I will see this one in my nightmares for a very long time.
Other stories in this gripping volume include:
“Not Like You”
“The Sad Woes of the Trash Man”
“A Memory Best Left Alone”
I also encourage you to read the Author’s Letter to Readers and Author’s Notes following the stories. Very enlightening. Like a little interview A.J. did with himself about the work. It’s a nice gift to one who has braved the disturbing horrors on the previous pages.
Get your intestinal fortitude in order and read Voices.
Get it on Amazon US: Voices
Get it on Amazon UK: Voices
About the Author: AJ Brown
A.J. Brown is a southern-born writer who tells emotionally charged, character driven stories that often delve into the darker parts of the human psyche. Most of his stories have the southern country feel of his childhood.
A.J. writes in a conversational style that draws the reader in and holds their attention. His characters are average people with average lives who are layered with memories and emotions and are fallible, just like anyone else.
A.J. draws inspiration from every day events and conversations. The characters of his stories are drawn from people he has met or seen during his life. Some of the best stories are inspired by his two children.
Though he writes mostly darker stories, he does so without unnecessary gore, coarse language, or sex.
A.J. is also a husband to Cate and a father to two kids, who often inspire him in the most interesting ways.
More than 150 of his stories have been published in various online and print publications. His story Mother Weeps was nominated for a Pushcart Award in 2010. Another story, Picket Fences, was the editor’s choice story for Necrotic Tissue in October of 2010. The story, Numbers, won the quarterly contest at WilyWriters.com in June of 2013.
If you would like to learn more about A.J. you can check out his blog, Type AJ Negative. You can also find him on Facebook (ajbrown36).