I’ve read several of Troy’s short stories and enjoyed them immensely.
So, I’ve added in my previous reviews so you can learn what I thought of them!
Don’t forget to get Just Past the Trees free here!
I liked this one. It’s got a couple of writers in it.
I’m a young guy, still live at home. Yeah, I know, get a life. But I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do.
I know I want to be a writer, have for as long as I can remember.
I’ve always felt writing is my strongest suit. I hope you agree. Story ideas can walk into my head like strangers at Thanksgiving, and before I know it, I’m fleshing out characters, plotting some pretty evil schemes for them to fall into, and hearing lines of prose…
But until I become famous, got to earn a living. I work for a company that repairs big rigs. I’m the runner. If they need a part of a tool, it’s my job to get it. Not glamorous, but it’s a living.
One of my jobs is keeping the property mowed.
During a Florida summer breathing makes you sweat.
You’d think I was certifiable, cutting the grass with an old push mower in the blazing afternoon heat. It’s a huge piece of property and takes all week. By the time I’m done, it’s time to start all over again.
“Job security” is what my dad calls it. “Perpetual motion through redundancy” is what I call it..
Anyway, that’s how I discovered the body, or what was left of it.
Like I said , it has two writers in the story. The other one is Doug Robbins. He’s a crypto-zoologist traveling through Florida on the trail of the Skunk-Ape. Ever heard of it? It’s the southern version of Bigfoot.
After hearing about the dead body, Doug suspects the skunk-ape may be involved. He’s here to finally get proof it exists and hopes to write a book about it.
The two young men hatch a plan to get said evidence of its existence and that’s when it gets hairy! Pardon the pun.
Troy can condense a story and make it have such an impact. I felt like I knew these guys. And a story about writers, the struggles they go through and how far they’ll go to write that story is interesting and fun. You get two different views from two writers.
Visually written. You’ll feel like you’re there, looking into the woods, and wondering what may be looking back at you.
Nothing less than Five Stars will do!
Here is my review of Little Bernie’s Map.
This was just supposed to be a nice, relaxing family trip. A way to escape the daily grind and forget, for a while, the problems and worries at home.
Daniel and Gina, along with their son Bernie, are heading home after a trip to Disney World. Daniel just lost his job, but they decide to go on this vacation anyway. It may be the last one they can take for a long time.
Bernie and his father have a game they play. Bernie loves map, he collects them. At random points in their trip, Daniel would ask Bernie how much farther they had to go and he would look on the map to track their progress.
Bernie had one map that was special. A map given to him by an old woman when they stopped for a break at the Florida Welcome Center. She told him to be careful with it and Bernie tried to be.
But when weird and frightening things start to happen, the map is not first on any of their minds. All they can think about is what just happened.
What came down from the sky that day would be discussed for years to come. Each person would draw their own conclusions. One thing most agreed on was what they saw, what it looked like.
It has been a long time since I have been this surprised by a story. I had to reread several scenes just to wrap my mind around what was happening. I wanted to try to form an image in my head. I sure wish this had been a movie. You’ll know what I mean when” The Flashpoint” happens.
Troy has a wonderful way of leading you into the story. There is much about this family that you can relate to. The characters are genuine and very likeable. I felt their anguish and their perseverance and really wanted things to be alright for them.
When the event happens I am stunned. I can’t wait for you to read it. It is so wild and kind of funny. It definitely makes you think. Think and say, yeah, I hear ya.
If you like Twilight Zone and Tales From the Darkside, you will love this. I also got a flash of that dread you feel in the scene from the movie The Mist by Stephen King. The one where they are driving into the mist and you just know something inexplicable is going to occur. The feeling lasts long after you finish reading.
Another 5 Star story from Troy
And last, but certainly not least, The Uninvited Guest.
Looks can be deceiving as is the cover for The Uninvited Guest.
It was supposed to be a celebration. Good times for all. A wedding and new beginnings.
Harlan is crashing the party, kind of. Jose’s mother insisted he go to the wedding and when he asks Harlan to go, he figures why not. There’ll be free food and booze and maybe some babes to dance with.
It seems like it takes forever to get there. The wedding is being held in a lodge surrounded by dense woods.
Finally, they arrive. The wedding goes off without a hitch. Now it’s time to eat, drink, and be merry. Except it’s taking forever to get to the dancing.
Finally the music starts and the happy couple do the traditional bride and groom shuffle. Everyone is oohing and aahing, taking copious pictures and video.
Harlan, standing at the back of the gathering, happens to glance out one of the windows. Everyone else is watching the happy couple, but something made him look.
Something outside, maybe a shadow, slid along the windowsill. No, not a shadow, it had bulk. It seemed to take a long time to pass.
The windows are spaced about 5 to 6 feet apart. In the time it took to glance to the next window, it was sliding past that one too!
Everyone is still watching the couple. Harlan feels frozen in time. A look at the doors shows they’re still standing wide open.
An overwhelming feeling of dread passes over him. Something is coming. It’s almost to the doors.
The author wrote this story from Harlan’s point of view. It worked really good. I experienced everything with Harlan, felt his confusion, dread, and disbelief. And then his terror.
Have you ever had that feeling like something really bad is going to happen? That’s how I felt, right along with Harlan.
Harlan may have been an uninvited guest, but he’s not the only one.
This gets a Five from me!
And now from Troy
If you are looking for a story behind the story, I can’t honestly recall what sparked the idea for Little Bernie’s Map all those years ago when I originally wrote it. Although I can say that after hearing about the disheartening news about the debt crisis, along with the various problems many people in the Rust Belt were experiencing – a personal hit for me since I’m from southwestern Ohio – a terrifying thought started eating at the back of my mind: What if I was in one of those situations? What if I had a family to feed and I was out of work? It’;s scary, and my heart truly does go out to those families. Of course, this was around the time that I found Little Bernie’s Map(originally conceived as Little Ian’s Map for those who care) in my writing desk. Naturally, the cogs and gears started turning like they do when I start thinking about the serious issues in the world and how I would express my feelings toward them. In other words, when guys like me consider the money problems of the world, we consider how we would react to a giant mutant….(left blank by me so as not to avoid spoiler). Then again, maybe that’s just me and why I’m not running the show.
About Troy Aaron Ratliff
Troy Aaron Ratliff was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio and self-educated in writing, art and voice impersonations. When he’s not reading, writing and cooking up his next monstrosity, you can generally find him defending the galaxy from the forces of evil, feeding hippopotamuses, dining with foreign dignitaries and Zen masters, waking up to his supermodel wife, altering the space-time inter-dimensional warp or, more than likely, stuck in traffic somewhere in Southern California.