Friday, June 30, 2017


Author: U.L. Harper
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 235
Genre: Speculative Fiction/Horror/Magical Realism

While in the process of bringing his wife, Sandra, back to the living, Arthur journals about moments from his past that changed him.

During the journal writing, he rediscovers how, as an orphan, his ability to animate objects and people to life may have ultimately destroyed the lives of the few who grew close to him. The old stuffed teddy bear that helped him assemble puzzles when he was a child might have been too much of a secret for his adoptive mother to keep. His friend Quincy, who had abilities similar to his, might have been scared away by Arthur’s abilities. And his grade school teacher is still harboring a secret about his biological father that she can only hope to be true.

Once Sandra is alive again, things become more complicated. She claims Arthur is not who or what he thinks he is. Her ire shines a spotlight on the insidious but most likely true, unspoken nature of their relationship.

In the meantime, a mysterious smell envelopes the community—a stench so heinous it can be fatal. As the number of deaths from the stench mounts, Arthur must decide who to animate back to life and who remains dead. 

The Secret Deaths of Arthur Lowe is available at AMAZON.

Book Excerpt:

Arthur pauses the movie and watches his wife, Sandra, stroll barefoot down the hall to the bathroom.
Moments later, muffled bumps and knocks come from their bedroom.
“What’re you doing?” he calls to her. 
She doesn’t respond.
He casually sets his mug of tea on the coffee table, stands, and then heads to check on her.
As he walks into the room, she hurriedly points the barrel of the handgun at her head, her hand firmly on the grip.
Fuck you, Arthur.” Her voice trembles, as she pulls the trigger.


Shaking and in tears, it’s a struggle to lift her lifeless body off the bloody carpet and onto the bed.
With her finally on their bed, he relaxes his hand on her shoulder, lets the life-shaping energy he controls move through him and into her. In the past, he’s brought people who have not been too physically injured by their cause of death back to life. It never took long, but Sandra might take a while.
For decades he’s lacked a reason to animate objects or bring the dead back to the living. His wife dying is every reason to perform his ability.
He slips off her sweats and t-shirt, leaves her panties on. He stops redressing her in one of his shirts, realizing again how she’s dead in his arms.
Arthur maneuvers her onto her side, tucks her into the fetal position. To remedy looking at the gun wound to her face, he places a blanket over her, a temporary measure, merely until she comes back to him. In her curled position, when he places the blanket over her, it seems as if she’s asleep. Picturing Sandra asleep is far more comfortable than seeing her dead.
As weeks pass, he tells acquaintances she’s sick. They can see her when she’s better. In the meantime, a slight aroma gathers around her. Not as bad as it could be for a normal death. There’s a smell, nonetheless, like old wet food of some sort. Beans and yogurt, and some kind of old meat.
He checks on her regularly to see if her position has changed, if there are signs she’s come back to the living. The process never takes this long, but he’s patient because of her injuries.
If anybody suspects something is wrong they’ll ask too many questions. So to keep up appearances, he accepts an invitation to have dinner next door at the house of mutual friends Glenda and Raheem.
Knowing the best lies are half true, he knocks on their door.
Raheem yells from the other side, tells Arthur to let himself in, which he does.
Glenda and Raheem sit at the dining room table with their kids—Shelly, a stunningly cute little girl nine years of age, with thick, kinky dark hair like her mother, and Tracy, an energetic, yet obedient, young boy, ten years of age.
They have small talk about the needed rain in arid Southern California, and about the stupid patrons at Raheem’s work. And, yes, that awkward pungent scent the public smells seems to be getting more vile each day. Arthur appreciates the normalcy the conversation brings.
Glenda and Raheem cut the conversation short to bring in the food—chicken, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and water. The food all there, Raheem leads grace. Automatically the kids bow their heads. Glenda squints. Raheem bows his head. Arthur does not participate.
As they eat, the family members all hang their heads, politely chew. They clank plates with their utensils. It’s as if something is wrong, or at the very least, being hidden by their bowed heads.
Raheem’s muscles are thicker than anybody’s Arthur knows. The dining light glistening off Raheem’s bald head.
 “It’s hard to believe how sick she is.” Glenda cuts into her boneless chicken breast. Her tight pigtails with pink barrettes clipped on the ends.
“As suddenly as she got sick, you’d think it was contagious.” Although holding a spoon, Raheem speaks with his hands. “You’re not contagious are you?”
“Arthur,” Glenda’s voice is rhythmic. “How is she?”
Glenda is going gray, significantly more silver streaks in the last few months. Her complexion much darker than Raheem’s, who is more yellow than brown. On the other hand, she’s dark like Arthur. Some might call her skin color milk chocolate. In their forties, signs of the three’s aging are a tad more prevalent than years prior. Arthur has less hair and his belly won’t stop growing. Raheem is in great shape but weighs more than ever. He doesn’t go to the gym as often, because he lacks the give-a-shit.
Arthur bites into his chicken. “She’ll be okay, contrary to popular belief. Nothing she hasn’t faced before.”
Raheem scoops peas on his spoon. “I’ve heard people have died from this particular flu bug.”
“She hasn’t left the room for over a week,” Glenda says.
Raheem begins, “Hey, man, if you need help with anything…”
“Truth is, I’m good,” Arthur quickly responds. “I don’t need help. She doesn’t need help.”
Glenda gently places both of her hands on the table. “Nobody is trying to, I guess, seem like they know everything. I can hear you getting defensive. I hear you. We’re thinking she’s probably more sick than you think she is. We’re betting… I’m betting she needs a doctor.”
Raheem leans forward, squinting. “Dog, I’m going to chime in on someone I deeply care about and say, why don’t you get her checked out? She’s hella not good. You have to remember, she’s not just your wife. She’s a friend of ours too. I know sometimes you get a certain way…so you can’t hear what people are saying, but hear this. Arthur, go get Sandra some damned help.”
Damn it, an intervention. “We’re fine. We saw a doctor.”
“Kids.” Raheem jabs a finger towards the living room.
Their food mostly eaten, Tracy and Shelly excuse themselves.
“You’re being disrespectful as shit by lying to me in my house.” Raheem leans back.
“’Heem…” Arthur starts.
Ra heem.”
“I’m sorry if I come off rude. It’s just that it’s something that’s not up to me or you guys. It’s hard to see her like that. It’s harder with you calling me a liar.”
“Would she be better off in the hospital?” Glenda says.
Arthur drops his knife and fork on his plate, lets them clang together. “This isn’t going to work. Again, thanks for dinner.”
Raheem folds his arms. “You sure you talked to somebody about her?”
“I inquired,” Arthur boldly lies to them. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
Glenda stops mid-chew. “It’s because the Flu-like symptoms caused by the air. It might not be some sort of Flu. Just take her to the doctor. They’re probably dealing with it a whole lot down there.”
“Thank you for the meal. Thank you for being honest and exactly who you guys are.” Tracy and Shelly have settled in to watching television. “Beautiful family. You’re giving them the childhood I wish I had, you know that?”
“Okay, thank you.” Raheem says, pushing himself away from the table. “So you’re going to deflect the whole thing.”
Arthur leaves, now certain that by lying he’s making the situation worse. Deep down, since Sandra’s death, loneliness has been eating at him. Truly, the only person he wants to talk to about Sandra is Sandra.


In his home office, Arthur fires up his computer, begins a word processing file, and names it “Sandra”. To help in thinking about her, he’ll write to her. How can it hurt?


My dear Sandra,

When I think back to that moment when you shot yourself, I get stuck. Thinking about it, I spend my days watching the sun from the office window. Before I know how much time has gone, the sun has faded into nothing. I don’t know why I feel guilty, but I do feel guilty. Nearly twenty-five years of marriage and I never abused you, never cheated on you, and never intentionally lied to you, but I feel guilty as if you killing yourself is my fault.
I should have known whatever I did—and I don’t know what I did—was wrong. Because of my ignorance, I cleaned your blood from off the bedroom mirror, wiped bits of skull from the dresser, picked up pieces of forehead from the carpet. The puddles are gone, but the blood stains are still there, will always be there.
Seeing what’s left of your suicide makes me wish for my own death. I’ve thought about leaping off a building, wishing a stray bullet from somewhere would strike me in the gut and end my life. Plenty of people are like you and me and have pondered putting a gun to their head and pulling the trigger. We’re not the minority. People want to die. But they want people to have cared for them too. Me and you—people in general—have mental lists of who we think will give a damn about us dying. If I kill myself, with you gone, I wonder who will mourn me.
I keep racking my brain about how it happened. Where in the world did you gather the courage to kill yourself?

About the Author

U.L. Harper is a speculative fiction/horror author, influenced by magical realism. A former journalist from Long Beach, California, he now resides in the evergreen state of Washington with his wife. He is a soon-to-be father, and an avid Dodgers fan.
His latest book is the speculative fiction/horror/magical realism novel, THE SECRET DEATHS OF ARTHUR LOWE.



U.L. Harper is giving away a free e-copy of his book!

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  • This giveaway ends midnight June 30.
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