"Alan Rodgers writes with style,
wit, and an innate
knowledge of what terrifies. Don't miss him!"
-- F. Paul Wilson
"Alan's books are one of the horror field's most
dependable pleasures. He's a writer with great talent, a willingness
to tackle difficult (and sometimes vast) subjects, and an imagination
that's as dark and fertile as cemetery earth."
-- T.E.D. Klein
"Alan Rodgers is an original voice in horror who
consistently rewards his readers. His name on a book guarantees
a sleepless night."
-- Raymond E. Feist
"The thing about Rodgers is, he takes the horror
-- and it's horrible, all right -- and turns it into the light
just a little differently than you'd ever expect and from this
angle you realize it's more tragic than horrid, more beautiful
-- Orson Scott Card / F&SF
"You can depend on Alan Rodgers; he always delivers
-- Mike Resnick
"Alan Rodgers is a unique and powerful voice in the
field of horror and imaginative fiction. He writes with an uncanny
eye for dark images and frightening details that make his stories
stick in your mind and leave you feeling pleasantly horrified.
He knows the darkness that can be at the core of the human heart
-- and soul, and he takes his readers there and won't let them
go until they scream. Frightening stuff!"
-- Rick Hautala
Author of Cold Whisper, Dark Silence, and
". . . his novels are as riveting as the
records of the Spanish Inquisition: they fascinate, they horrify,
and they illuminate the most shadowy realms of the human soul."
-- S.P. Somtow
Alan Rodgers is the author of Bone Music, Pandora, Fire, Night, Blood of the Children, The Bear Who Found Christmas, Her Misbegotten Son, Ghosts Who Cannot Sleep, Alien Love, The River of Our Destiny, Angel of Our Mercy, Light, and New Life for the Dead. Blood of the Children was a nominee for the Horror Writers of America Bram Stoker award; his first story (actually a novelette), "The Boy Who Came Back from the Dead," won a Stoker and lost a World Fantasy Award. During the mid-eighties he edited the fondly-remembered horror digest, Night Cry. He lives in the metropolitan Los Angeles area where he sees his two daughters, Alexandra and Andrea Rodgers, and his son, Abram Rodgers, and often as circumstances and custody arrangements allow.
If you'd like to talk to me, you can link here to my topic on the Greyware/SFRT Internet BBS.
If that link doesn't work for you (it won't work on all browsers) try this one. That'll bring you into the SFF Net news server through Jeffry Dwight's webnews, if I've done things right. Let me know if you have trouble with it.
Eventually I want to put a bibliography of my stories here. I've been meaning to assemble one for years, but I've yet to get around to it.
If you've met me online and don't know what I write like, here are the first 2000 words or so of "The Boy Who Came Back from the Dead." (If you'd like to read the rest, you can get it from Fictionwise.)
Copyright © 1987 by Alan Rodgers. All Rights reserved.
Walt Fulton came back from the grave Sunday evening, after supper but before his mom had cleared the table.
He was filthy, covered from head to toe with graveyard dirt, but all the things the car had crushed and broken when it hit him (things the mortician hadn't quite been able to make look right) were fixed.
"Mom," Walt called, throwing open the kitchen door, "I'm home!" His mother screamed, but she didn't drop and break the porcelain casserole dish she was holding.
There's something in an eight-year-old boy that lets him understand his mother, though he could never know that he had it or put words to what it told him. Walt couldn't have told anyone how when his mother saw him she first wanted not to believe that it was him -- the boy was dead and buried, by God, and let the dead rest -- but because she was his mother and mothers know, she knew that it was him returned from the grave.
Then Walt saw the shock setting in, saw her begin to paralyze. But she was stronger than that; she set her teeth, shook off the numbness. She was a strong woman. His return brought her joy beyond words, for she loved him. But she wanted him to go away and never come back, because seeing him again meant remembering the moment at the highway rest stop when she'd looked up to see him running out into traffic after his ball -- and then suddenly splattered like a fly across the front bumper of a late model Buick. And she couldn't bear to have that dream again.
Walt didn't resent any of it, not even knowing that she felt that way about him. The same thing that let him know what she was thinking (despite the fact that it was impossible) made sure that he would always love her.
After a minute and a half she composed herself. "Walt," she said, "you're late for dinner and you're filthy. Wash your hands and face and sit down at the table." His father and sister smiled; Dad had tears in his eyes, but he didn't say anything. Mom got up and set him a place at the table.
And Walt was home.
The morning after he came back Walt sat at the kitchen table for hours, coloring in coloring books, while his mother fussed about the house. There was a certain moodiness and elegance in his crayon-work; he wondered at the strangeness that grew on the pages as he colored.
"Walt," his mother said, peeking over his shoulder and humming in surprise, "you can't imagine how much trouble it's going to be to get you back in school." She walked into the kitchen and bent down to look into the cabinet underneath the sink. "They're all certain that you're dead. People don't come back from the dead. No one's going to believe that it's you. They'll think we're both crazy."
Walt nodded. She was right, of course. It was going to be a lot of trouble. He looked down at the floor and scuffed his feet against the finish.
"I ought to tell someone," he said.
"What's that, Walt?" His mother's head was buried deep inside the cabinet under the sink, among the cleansers and the steel wool and the old rusty cans.
"About being dead," he told her. "I remember it."
Walt knew his mother wasn't listening. "That's nice. You all ready for school this afternoon? We have an appointment with the principal for one o'clock, right after lunch."
"Yeah," he said, "school's okay." He scratched his cheek. "I know people need to know what it's like, about being dead, I mean. It's one of those things that everybody has needed to know for ever."
Walt's mother pulled her head out of the cabinet slowly. She turned to stare at him, her mouth agape.
"Walt! you'll do nothing of the sort. I won't have that." Her voice was frantic.
"But why? They need to know."
But she only clamped her lips and turned beet red. She wouldn't talk to him again until after lunch.
The principal, Mr. Hodges, was a man with dry red skin and grey-black hair who wore a navy blue suit and a red silk cloth in his breast pocket. Walt didn't like him and he never had. He never acted friendly, and Walt thought the man would do him harm if he only could.
"He's Walt all right," Mom told the man. "Never mind what I know; Sam and I went out to check the grave this morning as soon as the sun was up. All the dirt is broken, and you can see where he crawled up out of it."
"But it can't be done. We don't even have the files any more. They've been sent away to the fireproof vault downtown." He stopped for a moment to catch his breath. "Look, I know it's horrible to lose a child. Even worse to see him die while you're watching. Walt's not the first kid I've had die in an accident. But you can't let yourself delude yourself like this. Walt's dead and buried. I don't know who this young man is, much less why he's preying on this weakness of yours. . . ."
Walt's mother looked outraged, so angry that she couldn't speak. He wanted to settle things, to quiet them: "What kind of proof do you want?" he asked the man. "What would make you certain that I'm me?"
Neither his mother nor the principal could respond to that at first. After a moment Mr. Hodges excused himself and left the room.
For twenty minutes Walt sat staring out the window of the principal's office, watching the other kids at recess. His mother never got out of the seat by the principal's desk. She stared at the wall with her eyes unfocused while her fingers twisted scraps of paper into tiny, hard-packed balls.
Finally, Mr. Hodges opened the door and came back into the room. He looked tired, now, and even shell-shocked, but he didn't look mean any more. He set two thick file folders onto his desk.
"Any proof I'd want could be manufactured, Walt. But it isn't right for me to try to stop you this way. If nothing else, you've got a right to call yourself anything you want." He opened one on the files. "I can't connect you to these files without moving heaven and earth. But I don't think you need them. There's nothing here that would make us treat you any differently than we'd treat a new student." He began to read. "You're in the third grade. The class you were in has gone on, now, but your teacher, Miss Allison, still works for us. You haven't been gone quite a year; you've already been through this part of the third grade, but I don't think the review will do you any harm."
Later, before Walt and his mother finished filling out the forms, the principal called Miss Allison in to see them. Walt looked up when she opened the door to Mr. Hodges's office, and he felt her recognize him when she saw him.
Miss Allison screamed, and her legs went limp underneath her. She didn't faint -- she was never unconscious -- but when she fell to the floor it looked as though she had.
She screamed again when he went over to help her up.
"Wal -- ter!" long and eerie, just like something out of an old horror movie.
"It's all right," Walt said. "I'm not a ghost."
"What are you?" Her voice was still shrill with terror.
"I'm just . . . just Walt. I'm Walt."
Miss Allison glared at him impatiently.
"Really. I'm Walt. Besides, Mom said I couldn't tell."
Walt heard his mother snap the pencil she was chewing on. "Tell her," she said. Her voice was furious. "Tell me."
Walt shrugged. "It was the aliens. They were walking all around the graveyard, looking into people's dirt."
"A whole bunch of them, all different kinds. They landed in a spaceship over in the woods. A couple of them looked kind of like fish -- or snakes, maybe -- one of them kind of like a bear, a couple looked like mole crickets when you see them in a magnifying glass. Others, too.
"But the one I paid attention to -- he was the one telling all the rest what to do -- that one was really gross. It had this big lumpy head -- shaped like the head on that retarded kid Mrs. Anderson had --"
"Walt! Billy Anderson is a mongoloid idiot. You mustn't speak ill of those less fortunate than you."
Walt nodded. "Sorry. Anyway, the thing had this big, lumpy, spongy head, and this face that looked kind of like an ant's -- with those big pincer things instead of a mouth -- and kind of looked like something you dropped on the floor in the kitchen. It drooled all over the place --"
"-- and it kept making this gross sound like someone hawking up a great big clam.
"But it wasn't what it looked like that bothered me so much. What scared me was when it first got to my grave, and it looked down like it could see me right through the dirt. And its pincers clacked and rubbed against each other just exactly the way a cat licks its lips when it sees a mouse, and its elbows flexed backward like it wanted to pounce. It made this whining sound, like a dog when it begs, and I thought it was going to reach right through the dirt and eat my putrid body. And even though I knew I was dead and I couldn't get any deader, it scared me. It was bad enough being something trees couldn't tell from mulch, without being dinner for a ghoul. But then the thing turned away and went back to looking at other people's dirt. After they'd looked at everyone, they came back to me and broke up my dirt and shined their ray down on me. It didn't hurt -- but nothing does when you're dead. After five minutes I was alive again, and I felt things but I couldn't just know them any more, and I pushed my way out of the dirt.
"But when I got up to the ground the aliens had already gone. So I went home."
It was Miss Allison who finally said it.
"Walt, that can't be. How could you know all that when you're dead, buried in the ground? Even if your eyes were open, how could you see through all the dirt?"
Walt shrugged. "That's what I need to tell them. About what it's like to be dead. They've all been needing to know forever, because they're all afraid. It's like the feeling of your fingernails on a dusty chalkboard, like being awake so long you get dizzy and start hearing things. And you can't feel anything, and you know everything that's going on around you, and some things far away. It's bad, and it's scary, but not so terrible that you can't get used to it."
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