I recently read a riveting novel by the talented Jonathan D. Clark. You can read my review below:
Strap yourself in for a dark and twisted ride through the human psyche.
At its surface, Arcadia is a tale of the post-apocalyptic life, but lying just beneath that top layer is an in-depth journey into the human condition and how after the world essentially ends we are driven to follow our darkest desires. Dig even deeper and you’ll realize Arcadia is a commentary on humanity’s failures as a species, especially in regard to our violent tendencies. There is so much depth to this novel it will take several reads for me to fully dissect it, and even then I’m sure I won’t find everything.
Jonathan D. Clark is a brilliant story teller. Arcadia is both entertaining and surprising. It’s unpredictable in the best way possible. Clark gives you pieces of the puzzle along the way and you’ll have to discover where they fit. Arcadia is anything but ordinary, it’s extraordinary.
At times Arcadia reminds me of something akin to Silence of the Lambs mixed with the unique, surprising elements of a Philip K. Dick story, topped off with a lyrical, poetic style similar to legendary writers of the past such as F Scott Fitzgerald.
Clark’s exceptional artistic ability is showcased in Arcadia. His writing style is outside of the typical but dive in and you’ll find yourself pouring over the intricate imagery and insightful characterization as you weave together all the pieces to find yourself mesmerized by Clark’s understanding of the human condition. Simply put, this novel will blow your mind. It’ll have you questioning reality, all the way to the end. The story is engaging and fascinating. It’s definitely worth a read!
Now I’ll leave with this, two of my favorite excerpts from the novel which showcase Clark’s incredible talent as a writer:
“The past is only a dream, one which we look back upon with fond regret—hoping to fall asleep and relive it; making the false promise to ourselves that we’ll never let the fleeting moment pass us by a second time.”
“He even eventually took to recreating scenes of social interaction with the corpses of his former fellow soldiers, all of them having lost the will to live and (one by one) ate the barrel of their own firearm; the haunting echo of each well-placed pull of the trigger laughing at him whenever his mind found itself without a preoccupied thought.”
Arcadia is available on Amazon https://amzn.to/2lTZl85
Here is another look at Harley Unhinged, my Joker and Harley Quinn fanfiction. Read the previous excerpt here. This is an unedited first draft, subject to change.
The names and likeness of these characters are property of DC Comics. I am in no way claiming ownership to them. The story, however, is my own. If you steal it, Joker will find you, and burn you alive.
Ed is right on time. He knocks on the door to my aunt’s apartment at six on the dot. I’m thankful that she’s not home. The last thing I need right now is a lecture about boys.
I open the door and I’m greeted by a bouquet of gorgeous red roses.
“I can be broken but remain whole. What am I?” Ed asks.
I smile as I take the roses. “A heart.”
Ed returns my smile. “Okay, that was an easy one.”
I invite Ed in as I search for a vase underneath my aunt’s sink. I find one, place the roses in it, and give them a fresh drink.
“Thank you. These are beautiful.”
“Yes, they are. But their beauty is nothing compared to yours.” He puts his hand on top of mine.
I blush. “Thanks.”
I place the vase of flowers in the middle of the dining table. I’m sure my aunt will ask a thousand questions about them but they do make a nice centerpiece.
“You ready?” Ed asks.
I nod and we walk out of the apartment together. Ed doesn’t have a car, so we head down the block to the subway station.
“So what did Joker and his gang want earlier?” Ed asks as we make our way onto a train car.
I reflect on how they took me with to the private school so Joker could collect money from someone selling the stolen goods. I’m not sure why they brought me with. It had nothing to do with me. “I dunno. To hang I guess.”
“I find it hard to believe that’s all it was. Joker always has an agenda,” Ed says.
“What was he like? Before?” The question pops out before I even consider how it may affect Ed.
He seems a little annoyed that I want to keep talking about Joker but answers the question anyway. “He was a nice guy. The kind of friend anyone would want. We were close. Almost like brothers.”
“Wow, I had no idea.” I can tell Ed is still hanging on to a lot of hurt about their past friendship. I can see it in his eyes.
We get off the train and head back up to ground level. We are only a few blocks away from a well-lit marquee. He buys us tickets, popcorn, and candy, then we make our way into the theater.
“Hey, Eddie!” Joker’s voice comes from behind us. He steps up between us, puts his arm around Ed’s shoulder, and grabs a handful of popcorn with the other hand.
My stomach does a flip when I see him. I wonder why he came here? Did he come to see me? He knew I was going to be here. What will Ed think if he tells him we kissed?
“Oh great, you’re here too.” The sarcasm is thick in Ed’s voice.
“What movie are we going to see?” Joker asks through a mouthful of popcorn.
“You and I are not going to see anything. I’m here with Harley.”
“Oh, hey there, Harley,” Joker says, acting like he didn’t see me up until now. What kind of game is he playing?
“The popcorn here smells like dirty feet,” Ivy says to Selina as they approach.
Ivy slides up next to Joker and puts her arm around his waist. “Let’s go in, babe.”
Selina shoots me a glance. She’s trying to gauge my reaction to Ivy’s coziness with Joker. I hope I don’t look as mortified as I feel.
I’m not sure what I expected to happen anyway. I knew they were dating or whatever they are. He said she’s not his girlfriend but they clearly are something. But when he kissed me it felt soul-affirming. I wonder if he feels the same about it. Given the fact he just put his hand on Ivy’s behind, I’m guessing not.
The three of them head into the theater together and Ed and I reunite.
“Shall we go in?” I ask him. We both are deflated from the encounter.
He nods. We go in and find seats. Thankfully, Joker is nowhere near us. I don’t even see him in the theater. As the previews start up, I munch on some popcorn. I don’t know what to say to Ed. Ever since Joker showed up, I feel unraveled.
The movie starts and I find myself distracted. My mind keeps going back to Joker. He’s so mysterious. Violent at times but also sweet and caring. Did he mean what he said? Would he kill my stepfather if I asked him to? I’m not sure that’s what I would want but it’s nice to know that someone in this crazy world has my back. And that kiss. I’ve never felt anything like it. It was so powerful. Cosmic even. But then what’s his deal with Ivy? And why did he come here tonight?
Ed puts his hand on mine in an attempt at affection but it startles me from my thoughts and I involuntarily retreat my hand.
“Sorry, you startled me,” I whisper.
He tries again and this time I allow him to hold my hand. It feels forced. I don’t want to be affectionate with Ed. I see us as friends, even though he clearly wants more.
I imagine holding hands with Joker and a shiver runs through me. Why can’t I stop thinking about him?
A piece of popcorn falls into my lap. Another hits me on the top of my head. Then another grazes my shoulder. I turn around and see Joker sitting a few rows back. No Ivy or Selina. He throws another piece of popcorn at me and motions for me to come join him.
“I’ll be right back,” I whisper to Ed. I retract my hand and make it seem like I’m heading for the bathroom. I check to make sure Ed isn’t watching me before I slide in next to Joker.
“What?” I ask quietly.
“I wanted to see you,” he says with a grin.
I blush. He can’t possibly mean that, can he? Is that why he came here tonight?
“How’s your date?”
“It’s not a date. Ed and I are friends.”
“Then why were you holding hands?”
He saw that? I’m not sure what to say. “I don’t know.”
“Seems like the kind of thing friends don’t do.”
It’s hard to tell in the dark but I see worry in his eyes. Is he jealous?
Someone behind us shushes us. I almost forgot we’re in a crowded movie theater.
Joker takes my hand and for a moment I think he’s going to hold it. Instead, he flips it so my palm is up. Then he takes his other hand and traces his fingertips across my palm and down my wrist. It sends a chill through me. He continues to caress my hand as goosebumps cover my skin. His touch excites me and heat rises in my cheeks. I look at his lips and I want to kiss them again but I’m here with Ed and Ivy is also here somewhere. He doesn’t give me a chance to think about it too much as he leans over the armrest and puts his mouth on mine.
His finger tips tickle my palm as his tongue tickles mine. The sensation is incredible like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
I run my fingers through Joker’s hair as we kiss.
Oh my gosh, Ed! He probably thinks I died in the bathroom being gone this long.
I break our kiss. “I have to go.”
He drags me back into it and I let him.
“Don’t go back to him. Stay with me,” he whispers in my ear. I can feel his warm breath on my neck as he purrs in my ear. I feel like melted butter but I glance down a few rows and see Ed look toward the aisle.
“I have to go,” I repeat.
One final peck on the lips and then I slide out into the aisle.
On my way to Ed, I glance back at Joker. For once he’s not grinning. He’s pouting. Is he that upset that I left?
Here it is, your first look at my Joker and Harley Quinn fanfiction, Harley Unhinged. This story re-imagines Joker and Harley as seniors at Gotham High. It gets WAY hotter than this, but I didn't want to give away the best scenes yet. Keep in mind this is a raw, unedited first draft and is subject to change in the final product.
The names and likeness of these characters are property of DC Comics. I am in no way claiming ownership to them. The story, however, is my own. If you steal it, Joker will find you, and burn you alive.
Later in the day as I read in the library, I try to silence the nagging voice in my head that tells me I’ve already gotten myself into some trouble here in Gotham. I had enough trouble back home. I came here hoping to lay low and avoid the drama. Somehow I managed to land myself in a thick, steaming pile of it.
I turn my focus back to the words in front of me. It only lasts for a moment as out of the corner of my eye I spot Joker walking through the library. I watch him as he grabs a random book off the shelf and heads my way. I pretend to be reading, but I’m curious what he’s doing here.
He sits down at my table opposite of me. I still act like I’m reading.
I peek over the top of my pages to see that he has the book open and is also pretending to read.
“Is that a good book?” I can’t help but snicker.
“One of my favorites,” Joker says with a smile.
I hold back my laughter. “You do know it’s upside down…”
Joker looks at it quizzically.
“…And in French?”
I can no longer contain my laughter. He laughs along with me. The librarian gives us a dirty look.
He closes his book and sets it off to the side. I pretend to go back to my reading but I can feel his eyes on me. He slips his battered hand over the top of my book and forces it down to the table so I’m looking right at him. He smirks. Is he flirting with me?
I lift my book back up and continue to stare at words that no longer mean anything to me. Mine could just as well be written in French too.
Joker moves to the chair next to me and pulls the book from my hands.
“Hey, give it back.” I reach for it but he keeps it from me.
I frown. I won’t play his game. I sit there and wait for him to give it back to me.
He waits awhile but then slides it over. I go for it but he takes it again, holding back a chuckle so we don’t get kicked out of the library.
Okay, that’s it. I’m going to get the book back. I get up on my knees on the chair and go for the book. He puts it out of my reach again. His smile widens into that odd toothy grin of his.
I try for the book again, but lose my balance and fall into him. He catches me. I can feel his arms around me and our lips are almost touching. My heart beats faster. I’m frozen as I stare into his eyes.
Joker laughs. “You want to kiss me, don’t you Harley?”
“What? I do not!” I protest. My cheeks flush as I sit back, putting some distance between us.
More laughter. “You totally want to kiss me.”
“I’m not going to kiss you. You have a girlfriend.”
“Ivy’s not my girlfriend.”
“Really?” I try to hide the excitement in my voice but it comes out as a high-pitched squeal.
Joker laughs again. “You are way too excited.” He runs his hand through his green hair. “You can kiss me if you want.”
He starts leaning in but I shove his shoulder playfully. “The moment’s passed.”
I grab my book from him as he tries to recover his pride. Then I go back to reading. Or, at least I’m pretending to.
“Is he … dead?”
I knew the answer, but I needed to be certain.
The cop placed his hand on top of mine. My hospital room was frigid, but his hand was as warm as the summer sun.
His eyes answered before his words confirmed. “Yes.”
He clasped my hand; it was more professionally acceptable than a hug.
I didn’t know how to digest it then, and I still don’t. He’s dead, and it’s my fault.
A rap on my window startles me from my thoughts. It’s Todd. He frowns and taps on his watch. His expression says, “Typical Janelle, late again.”
I turn off the engine and exit the car. Then I follow my soon-to-be ex-husband into a brick building labeled “Schumer & Reed, PA.” He scurries down a hallway to Conference Room C, and never bothers to check if I’m still with him.
I join Todd at a long table inappropriately proportioned given there’s only three of us.
Mr. Schumer offers me a cup of coffee and I politely accept. The pot is almost empty. They’ve been waiting for me longer than I realized. He replaces the carafe and returns to the table, then hands me a packet of papers. I notice his Rolex, and then his suit which is much nicer than any of Todd’s. The self-proclaimed “best divorce attorney in the tri-county area” clearly isn’t starving for work.
He sails off on a dissertation regarding the divorce papers that sit in front of us. I’ve heard it all; we’ve been hashing out these details for months. His voice fades into white noise, as my mind once again enters the dangerous territory of my memories.
Images flash like slides in a projector, as I return to the horrors of that day.
There was so much blood. It pooled in the grass and dripped down my clothes. I had never seen anything like it.
I killed him.
“Janelle, are you listening?” Todd returns me to reality.
“Yes, of course,” I lie. I have no interest in being here. My life is unraveling and my divorce from Todd Holcomb has little to do with it.
I take a sip of the stale coffee in a maroon Harvard Law School mug. I’m not sure if Mr. Schumer attended, or if he’s just a fan.
He shuffles the papers in front of me. “Now, Mrs. Holcomb…”
“Ms. Dixon,” I correct him.
“Fine, Ms. Dixon,” he continues. He thinks I don’t notice his eyes roll. “If you’ll sign here, and here, and initial here, and here, then your divorce from Mr. Holcomb will be final.”
He hands me an elegant silver pen from his shirt pocket. Across the table, Todd takes a drink from his mug with a loud slurp like he always does. It’s annoying, but at this moment I feel I may miss it. His coffee slurps have been with me for the better part of a decade.
The pen hovers over the signature line as I reminisce about how Todd and I met. We attended the same college. I was in a sorority and he was in a fraternity. During the annual fall mixer in my junior year, he approached me and told me I was the most beautiful girl in the room. Sheesh, what a line. We finished out our college days and wed with an extravagant affair. My signature on these papers was the period at the end of that chapter.
I sign my married name, not yet legally able to use my maiden name, and then stare at the blank spot next to the word “date.” Oh, I know what day it is, how could I forget?
My hand holding the pen begins to tremble. I’m not afraid to end my marriage to Todd. I wanted this as much as him. My fear stems from the horrific images of this day 14 years ago as they flash through my head once again.
Todd clears his throat and shoots a glance at his watch. “Janelle, if we could wrap this up, that’d be great. I have a meeting in a half hour.”
Another meeting. No surprise there. Todd Holcomb’s whole life consisted of meetings. That I knew I wouldn’t miss. No more cold dinners and embarrassing no-shows at restaurants. Even though meetings are a necessity for someone with senatorial aspirations, Todd had more than normal. I’m pretty sure he’s just been fucking the new girl at his office. I peek over at him and I swear I can see the faint hint of lipstick on his collar, but maybe it’s only my paranoia.
I scribble today’s date in the provided space and shudder. How is it that my divorce would be finalized on this date as well? Coincidence? I think not. Bad things in life have a way of stacking up on one another. I’m not superstitious, but there is nothing about April 12th that brings me joy.
I sign the divorce settlement and scoot the pages across the table to the well-to-do lawyer. “Are we done here?”
“Yes, Mrs. Holco — I mean, Ms. Dixon. That is all we need for now.”
Todd shakes my hand as if we just closed a business deal that would make him a lot of money. He wore the shit-eating grin to match. “I wish you the best of luck, Janelle, I really do.”
I tip my head. There’s nothing left to say. Then I retract my hand from his politician’s grip. I take one last gaze at Todd Holcomb, knowing I will probably never see him again, other than in his campaign ads.
The divorce was relatively straightforward. His wealth acquired much of our belongings and nabbed him a better attorney, so he ended up with most of it. I kept my clothes, some dishes, and my car. I also insisted on keeping the crystal punch bowl set his Aunt Gerty gave us at our wedding. I’m sure I will never use it, but god damn is it gorgeous.
We don’t have any kids. That was Todd’s choice. He insisted they would derail his career. I just don’t think he likes children. My sister asked him to hold her 5-month-old daughter once while she located a pack of wipes. Todd held the baby out like a sack of trash. Granted, she had filled her pants moments before, so I don’t blame him. And that’s the closest we ever got to having kids. It makes the divorce easier though.
Mr. Fancy Suit hands me my copy of the settlement, and without another word, I step out of Conference Room C. The door closes behind me and I take a deep breath. As I linger by the doorway, I overhear my ex and his lawyer talking. It’s faint but distinguishable.
“Boy Todd, it’s a good thing you got this settled before you run for Senate. That girl is a total nut job,” Mr. Schumer remarks.
Todd chuckles. “She hasn’t been in her right mind for a while now. I’m ready to move on with my life and focus on my campaign.”
I wonder what he means by that. I felt fine until today. My brain is scattered. It’s the first time I’ve been alone for the anniversary of the horrible events of 14 years ago. Right after high school, I went on to college where my sorority sisters would throw me an extravagant party to help me forget. Then I met Todd, and he found a way to make this day bearable. This time, I’m all alone. That’s why I can’t stop thinking about it.
So much blood.
As the exchange between Todd and his lawyer falls into irrelevant banter, I shuffle down the hall and out of the building. I climb into the driver’s seat of my fuel-efficient Ford Focus. My purse and the divorce papers land in the passenger seat on top of a pile of junk mail I’ve been neglecting.
I stare at the steering wheel. Where do I go from here?
My name is Destiny Eve and I write romantic thrillers and horror flash fiction.
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