Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Friday, August 25, 2023

The Interloper on sale!


"action-packed, darkly witty thriller" Publishers Weekly

My crime/conspiracy thriller, The Interloper, is on sale for $0.99 for the next 2 days.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Everybody Lies in Hell excerpt

To celebrate Everybody Lies in Hell now being available as a Kindle ebook, here's an early excerpt from the book.

 The split second after I died I found myself standing on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, but I knew I wasn’t really in Brooklyn. First off, I was murdered in Newark, New Jersey, and I remembered my death vividly, but even without that I would’ve known I wasn’t really in Brooklyn given how unnaturally quiet it was without another single person in sight. And while Montague Street looked pretty much as I remembered it, some of the buildings were wrong, and some of the stores lining the street were from my childhood instead of the present day. I probably couldn’t have articulated at that precise moment that I was in a version of hell of my own making, but at some level I knew that was what had happened.

I started walking west on Montague Street so I could see whether the Manhattan skyline was still there, and it was, at least mostly as I remembered it. I’m sure some of the buildings were wrong, but it still seemed very real to me even though I knew it wasn’t. After I stood gaping at the skyline for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only minutes, I headed south toward Coney Island. I don’t know why exactly but I guess I wanted to see how much of my version of Brooklyn existed. I knew many of the street signs I passed weren’t right—they were from other neighborhoods, and some of them from other boroughs. And then there were other street signs that were too blurry to make out. But none of that mattered, because by then I knew where I really was. Still, though, I kept walking. At one point, I stopped to look at my reflection in a storefront window and realized that I was wearing a cheap suit and a fedora. When I was alive I never wore a hat, and almost never wore suits, and certainly never the fifty-nine dollar variety that I had on. At the time I was murdered I was wearing jeans, tennis sneakers, a polo shirt, and a leather jacket, which was what I usually wore when I worked my job as an investigator. Still, on seeing my reflection in that window, the suit, scuffed up shoes, and hat seemed right

I was somewhere in Bay Ridge when this man who looked like he’d been dropped in from the eighteenth century wandered into view. I was never much of a history buff, but that was the way he looked given his blue satin waistcoat, frilly silk shirt, and knee-length breeches, as well as his overall shaggy appearance. As he shuffled toward me, he looked almost like he could’ve been an extra from a zombie movie, although one set several hundred years in the past. His expression was a rictus of fear, and there was only deadness in his eyes. I gave him a wide berth as he ambled past me and watched as he staggered to the front of an eight-story brick building. He stood transfixed for a long moment, and then all at once started clawing at the brick wall and violently smashing his face against it, and he did this quietly without ever uttering a sound.

I picked up my pace after that trying to put some distance between us, and it was only seconds later that I left Brooklyn and found myself someplace entirely different. Instead of the Brooklyn streets where I’d been walking for hours, behind me now were meadows and a mountain range that was of such lush greenness that it seemed more like a painting than anything real. The sky that had been a grayish white in my version of Brooklyn was now a deep blue, and the sun that had earlier been missing behind New York smog and clouds was shining brightly overhead. Off in the distance were groves of a tall and thin variety of pine tree that I’d never seen before, as well as other types of trees, shrubs, and plants that were foreign to me, and up ahead past rolling meadows was a sparkling ocean made up of different shades of blues and aquamarines that were very different from anything I’d ever seen of the Atlantic Ocean from Coney Island.

I trekked across the meadows toward the ocean, and as I got closer I could see palm and coconut trees along a crescent-shaped beach, and in the middle of this a person lying on a lounge chair.

I had to climb down a steep incline of rocks to get to the beach, and as I did this, I could see that the person was a woman wearing a floral-patterned beach cover-up, her hair a perfect silver. There was an empty lounge chair next to her, and between her chair and the other was a small drink stand on which sat a glass containing a brownish-orange drink with a hibiscus flower floating in it.

She heard me approaching and turned her head toward me. She was wearing sunglasses so I couldn’t see her eyes, but her expression at first was one of disinterest. That changed as she smiled thinly at me, and with a wave of her hand, invited me to sit next to her. She looked ageless yet not young with perfect, unwrinkled skin and a slender, attractive body. If it wasn’t for her well-coifed silver hair, she could’ve passed for being in her thirties. After I settled into the lounge chair next to her she held out a manicured slender hand and introduced herself as Olivia Danville, her accent sounding as if she came from England and was from money.

“Mike Stone,” I said.

When I took her hand I expected to feel something cold and clammy. After all, we were both dead. I was surprised to find how warm and dry her skin felt.

“Where am I?” I asked.

That caused a wan smile to form over her lips. “Where do you think you are, Mike?”

“I’m guessing I wandered from my version of hell into yours. Yours isn’t bad. We’re on a tropical island in the Pacific?”

“Very good, Mike. Yes, my reality, or hell, ended up being Kapalua, Maui. We’re on probably the nicest beach on the island. Not the biggest by any stretch, but the prettiest.”

As I looked out at the ocean I realized it wasn’t just the two of us out there. There were others in the water. I could make out several bodies that were floating face down before they sank, and only a minute later an elderly woman’s face popped up out of a wave before she disappeared for good. Olivia must’ve noticed me staring at these drowning people, but she didn’t comment about them. Instead she asked me if I knew how I died.

“Yeah,” I said. “It would be hard to forget this soon. It only just happened.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“It was only a few hours ago that I was fatally shot, and then the next thing I knew I was in Brooklyn wearing different clothes than what I had on when I died and without my chest ripped open by a .45 slug. Except it wasn’t really Brooklyn, only a version of it that I somehow created. And now I’m in your version of hell, which lucky for you happens to be Hawaii.”

She shifted in her chair to get a better look at me. I couldn’t see her eyes because of her sunglasses but I knew she was staring at me intently. She shifted again in her chair so that she was back to gazing out at the ocean.

“Do you know what you did to end up in hell?” she asked.

“Yeah, I know exactly why I’m here.”

We sat quietly after that for several minutes. When she spoke next it was to ask me why I thought I ended up in her version of hell. I told her it was probably because her version was stronger than mine. “Somehow I got sucked into yours, although I’m guessing if I walked back to where I came from I’d find myself again in Brooklyn.”

She picked up her drink and brushed the flower away from her mouth so she could take a sip. She carefully placed the glass back on the stand. “Your level of awareness is quite remarkable,” she said. “Out of the billions of souls here in hell only a tiny percentage have any sense of awareness, and very few of those would know what you already do this quickly after dying. Do you feel sick yet?”

“I feel fine.”

“Incredible. You should’ve been feeling quite ill by now.”

“Why is that?”

“It’s what happens when you’re pulled into a stronger reality, at least for the first few times in that same reality.”

A larger wave than any of the others crashed onto the beach, and it washed a man’s crumpled body onto the shore. The suit he wore was badly torn and he was covered in seaweed, and from what I could tell it looked like the type of suit someone would’ve worn in the early nineteen hundreds. His face was hidden from me, but from how unnaturally bloated and white his hands and exposed skin looked I would’ve guessed he’d been in the water for months, if not much longer. It probably shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did when he pushed himself to his knees and crawled back into the ocean, and he soon disappeared under another wave.

“Those souls out there drowning,” I said. “What is it with them?”

“You should be able to explain that as well as I can.”

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Everybody Lies in Hell now available!


Everybody Lies in Hell is now available for purchase.  

"In Everybody Lies in Hell Mike Stone's eternal damnation is a private detective's office in a re-imagined Brooklyn. In Hell, the beautiful woman with a case opens a literal Pandora's Box, and Stone is soon inundated by all-too-recognizable evils and lies of Hell's tortured souls, powerful ancient demons and devils, and haunting personal ones. Classic pulp, noir, and horror--think James N. Cain and Bukowski and Palahniuk--are all ground up in a blender and the result is a nasty, wild, and ultimately redemptive novel that only Dave Zeltserman could write." Paul Tremblay