*2019 This Is Horror Awards ‘Cover Art of the Year’*
Welcome to Shady Hills, Florida, where death is the beginning and pain is the only true Art…
Harold Stoe was a proud Marine until an insurgent’s bullet relegated him to a wheelchair. Now the only things he’s proud of are quitting alcohol and raising his sixteen-year-old son, Dale.
But there is an infernal rhythm, beating like a diseased heart from the hollow behind his home. An aberration known as The Architect has finished his masterpiece: A god which slumbers beneath the hollow, hell-bent on changing the world into its own image.
As the body count rises and the neighborhood residents change into mindless, shambling horrors, Harold and his former lover, Mary, begin their harrowing journey into the world within the hollow. If they fail, the hollow will expand to infinity. Every living being will be stripped of flesh and muscle, their nerves wrapped tightly around ribcages, so The Architect can play his sick music through them loud enough to swallow what gives them life: The last vestiges of a dying star.
What makes this Horror novella so special?
Ben Eads: It's is full of characters that have taken the path less traveled, and face a harsh, believable world filled with fantastical elements which stretch readers’ imaginations. I wanted the horrors the characters face to do more than just scare. This story will force readers to see themselves in a mirror, relying on their subconscious fears. It also asks brave questions like: Can the cycle of physical and emotional abuse be stopped and healed? Can anyone live in peace after facing the horrors of war? Are we doomed to repeat the past? Is there really division, and can we unite on a common goal?
The main antagonist, The Architect, is justified in creating a god that will re-shape the world to its whims. Whims that are all too real. This one really pulls at your heart-strings. It’s like The Twilight Zone, Clive Barker, and Neil Gaiman all mixed together, to form one singular voice and experience that’s unique. There’s a lot of heart in this one.
Tell us more about Harold Stoe.
Ben Eads: Harold Stoe is a Veteran of the war in Iraq. After securing a village, he gives the OK for his fellow soldiers to move on, only to have an insurgent ambush them and kill two of his friends. One of those bullets hit Harold’s spine, which has relegated him to a wheelchair. Once he came home, the only comfort he found was in alcohol, not his family. Now, Harold lives not day to day, but minute by minute, due to PTSD, his divorce, and the struggle to have his son love him for who he is.
Once the being known as The Architect places the neighborhood on lockdown, turns the citizens into their true selves, and begins to awaken a god he’s created, Harold must reconcile all of these and more if he and his former lover, Mary, are to save humanity from this god re-shaping the world into its own vision. It’s a harrowing journey that delves into the darkest secrets in one’s heart, and the lengths we’ll go to for love.
Why should readers give your work a try?
Ben Eads: It takes the best elements of horror and fantastical fiction to create a unique experience that will stretch readers’ imaginations. But readers must be brave. It forces them to look in the mirror. This is a harrowing journey into the heart of darkness itself. Darkness from within, and from the outside. It starts at 100 MPH and never lets up, delving further and further into a world that is all too familiar, and a world within the hollow that can only exist due to our failures as human beings.
Since these characters have taken the paths less traveled, their yearning for redemption is paid for in blood. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Buckle your seatbelts, folks.