This month’s entry is from Tony Tremblay, author of many short stories and of a new collection, The Seeds of Nightmares, out now from Crossroad Press. Tony is also the host of a horror-themed cable television show, The Taco Society Presents. Besides being a talented author and editor, Tony’s also one of the nicest, most interesting guys you’ll ever meet, and he always has time to tell a good story over a cigar.
One question I am routinely asked at author readings is . . . why did I choose to write horror fiction? My reply usually goes something like, “When I was a kid, I used to read the Old Testament stories in the Bible. Those tales scared the hell out me, and I loved that feeling.” Although my answer is accurate, it doesn’t tell the whole story. You see, I have personally experienced supernatural events throughout my life. There have been too many occurrences to relate in detail, but here is one example.
I work for a company that at one time manufactured bowling alley gutters for a large corporation. As part of my job, I made the occasional sales call to their bowling pin facility located in the boonies of northern New York. It was not a location anyone would want to visit, especially in the dead of winter, but it was my job. Besides, I enjoyed spending time with the customer.
On one February trip, only one of the managers at the facility, Kent, could make it to dinner with me that evening. Kent and I met up around seven o’clock at the bar of a local restaurant. Having a drink and relaxing, our discussion centered around gossip and family life. When we moved to the dining room, Kent told me that after dinner, he wanted us to visit a nearby bowling alley to check out the new gutters they had installed. We were to arrive at ten o’clock, when the bowling alley was closed to the public. He added that he wanted to go snowmobiling with me after the inspection.
When he finished speaking, I reached to the back of my neck. It felt as if someone had jabbed a blunt needle just above my spine.
Being a city boy, the thought of spending the night outdoors in waist-high snow with temperatures hovering in the low twenties did not appeal to me, but that didn’t account for the pain. As the dinner went on, the pain traveled to the top of my head. A heaviness settled on my shoulders, and when I gazed around the restaurant, my view was slightly out of focus. What I can only describe as a feeling of dread overtook me, and I couldn’t shake it.
I’ve had this same feeling at other times in my life, and I’ve learned not to ignore it. I made the decision to get the hell out of the restaurant.
Before the meal was over, I explained to Kent that I wasn’t feeling well, and would he mind if we postponed the trip to the bowling alley until the morning? He stared at me for a second and said my face was as white as a ghost’s. He had no problem delaying the visit, though he was disappointed that I couldn’t go snowmobiling.
After dinner, I went to my hotel. Back in my room, I felt much better. After reading for a bit, I turned the lights off and went to sleep.
I slept well, until a phone call woke me up early in the morning. It was Kent. His voice was hesitant and shaky. “Tony,” he began, “at ten fifteen last night, the roof of the bowling alley collapsed. It fell on the lanes—the place was destroyed. We would have been on those lanes inspecting the gutters when it happened. You saved our lives.”
Whatever grogginess I had vanished. I remembered closing my eyes and sighing.
The company Kent worked for is no longer our customer, and the gutters are now made in another country. Kent and I are still friends, and we occasionally meet when I’m in the area for business or personal reasons (my son now lives in northern New York). When we meet, the events of that evening inevitably come up. I have never told him about how my psychic feeling of dread that evening led us away from that bowling alley.
The example I give above is only one of many weird occurrences that have dogged me throughout most of my life. Unfortunately, they have not all turned out as positive as this one.
You can meet Tony and hear more of his intriguing adventures on Thursday, July 14 from 7 to 9 PM at Pandemonium Books, 4 Pleasant Street, Cambridge, MA.