Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Weird - Strange - You Can Depend on Michael Phillip Cash to Provide it in The History Major...

She perused the vaguely familiar room, her mouth so dry it was actually painful.She got clumsily to her knees and pulled herself onto the bed, closing her eyes against the bright glare from the drapeless window. 
"You'll be late," an irritatingly cheerful voice warned. "Come on, lazybones. Time to get up. You have so much to learn." 
Amanda put a flattened pillow over her head, shutting out the voice. Someone was pulling it. 
"Manda," the voice sang. "You don't want to miss the first day! Isn't school fun!"
 "Who are you?" Amanda's voice was muffled by the bedding. She rolled over, snatching the pillow to hold it protectively over her abdomen. She heard the familiar melody of a nursery thyme, one of her least favorites, "The Muffin Man."

 "Stop!" she snapped. She looked up groggily. Two faces swam before her. They wavered and then settled into a single image. Amanda studied the unfamiliar girl. "Do I know you? Her nasal contralto drifted into every nook and cranny of Amanda's abused head until Amanda's teeth drummed in time to the ditty. Amanda squeezed her eyes shut, holding her hands over her ears, the music growing louder until it sounded as though it were filling her brain... Amanda cleared her gravelly throat. "What's your name?"
"You don't remember?" The girl pouted prettily. Amanda fought the urge to smack her. "I'm your roommate." 
Did she have to sing every time she spoke? Amanda thought sourly. "My roommate? I don't think so." Amanda glanced around the room. "What happened to Tonya?" Amanda glanced around the room. "What happened to Tonya?"...
"Tonya? Who's Tonya?" Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm questioned, her white teeth making Amanda squint from their brightness. She stared at Amanda as if Amanda were an idiot, her head cocked to one side...

The History Major

By Michael Phillip Cash

Don't be surprised if you think you've entered The Twilight Zone as you read this book... It's not the usual suspense, because both the reader and the main character, has no idea what is going on... Is it just a really bad trip from drinking so much the night before? Or, maybe, somebody put something in her drinks that were causing these hallucinations? Dare you proceed?

Amanda Green was waking to her first day of classes. But she awoke so hung over that she could not move...the room smelled musty, sour--probably she got sick from all the vodka. She called out to her friend, Danielle, to shut off the lights but nothing happened. Then she felt a lump under her and came out with her cell phone--17 missed calls! Most from her mother! Hey, we just separated, she can't possibly need to talk to me! She called to her friends, but nobody answered. Then the phone rang...her mother again... She was hoping it was Patrick. Would they ever be able to get over the big fight they'd had? She thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye... She wished Patrick was here; he always took care of her... 

She shuddered and rolled onto her back, a chill caressing her shoulders, the knowing feeling of something hovering just out of her line of sight. It was a rapid movement, both teasing and elusive...She lay sprawled on the bed motionless, watching the play of light against the white wall of her room. The shape altered, like a pulsing lava lamp. She dismissed the annoying outline. It waves again, persistently. She tried to calm herself, forcing the noise and light attacking her sensitive eyes and ears to close down. It was no use. Everything ached, and, for the third time, she tried to remember what had happened after they started drinking shots...Movement from the window competed with her wandering attention. This time it banged on the glass so hard that she recoiled, afraid the window would break. Blinking hard, she twisted, suspiciously watching the large pane of glass in the center of the wall. It remained whole, the silhouette gone. The quiet was so think, it weighed her down. The light flickered. Amanda craned her neck, feeling a muscle cramp paralyzing her with pain. "Ouch," she cried out, angry at the world, but mostly at the specter taunting her vision peripherally...

Finding out her roommate was not one of her friends--and somebody she already couldn't stand--was bad enough. But when she finally got around to looking at the schedule for her first class and saw it was History, she exploded. She hated history, had not signed up for it, and was not about to take it...

First stop was to get out of the class. She saw a group of women who sat busily working, while one came to help her. Amanda explained that she had not signed up for History... To make that long story short, she was told everybody had to take History...and if she didn't go, she would be late... Apparently it was very important on this campus to be on time, since everybody seemed to imply something was important about it... "I need to speak with somebody with authority," Amanda told her with as much imperious dignity as her pounding head would allow. Beatrice glanced at the window. The woman next to Amanda touched her shoulder, then shook her head, her voice a timorous whisper. "You have to leave. Now. Sorry. You better go . Class starts soon...She moved forward her pudgy hands reaching out to poke Amanda. "Go!" she said urgently...You better get going before... Before you miss the class." Beatrice dismissed her, spinning in her chair to type furiously at her keyboard. The women all resumed working with an indifference that rattled Amanda to her toes. She searched the room, looking for a door to a superior's office.
"Is there someone else who can help me?"
Beatrice held up a stick of gum, her face
closing up. The subject was finished.
"Gum?" she offered, her eyes narrowing.
Amanda crumbled the schedule in her
fist and left the office.

Walking across the campus was confusing as the buildings seemed to disappear much more quickly than they should. She finally reached the building for the History class, which she decided she would attend today and then work on getting out of it later. She watched as what seemed thousands of students entered the building, all going to a large lecture hall, which must have been huge! 

The students were pressing, picking out back seats so fast that soon, Amanda found herself in the first row, right in front of the teacher podium. She looked around the room, but was not able to see any of her friends who were also entered in the school. At last, she did enter into a conversation with the boy sitting next to her...

And he helped her get over the shock when the instructor walked in... Because she was looking at a man in his sixties with thinning hair but a full beard making him appear like a homeless man. But more shocking was that he was wearing a toga and leather sandals flapped against the stage floor... 

"You have got to be kidding me," she whispered, realizing that the professor had zeroed in on her face, his black eyes watching her intently.
"If this were a class on logic, I could spend the next ninety minutes discussing the reason for my appearance. It is explained extensively in my text Organon." He drew out the name slowly, his straight teeth showing brightly through his bearded smile.
There was the rumble of groans in the room. He held up a large square hand. "However, I have agreed." He wiggled bushy eyebrows to the group cheekily. "Under duress, but nevertheless, I have agreed to teach history this semester to you pack of beetle-witted, sorry excuses of humanity."
...So, instead, ladies and gentlemen, if you will open your texts to page four thousand eighty-five and discuss what you have read on the importance of dreams..."
"What...wait..." Amanda grabbed Nick's arm in panic, squeezing the spongy leather of his jacket. "Did I miss something? This is the first day...page four thousand eight-two. I didn't..."

Weird...Strange... there are no other words to best describe the book, except maybe horrible...because at some point there was a loud pounding on the entry door, so loud that it seemed the door would break down... The student next to Amanda turned around and seemed to put up his hand and the banging stopped. When she looked at him for an explanation, he merely said that if a student is late, he is not allowed into the class that day...  told you there was something strange about being late...

Actually Amanda didn't believe much of anything that was going on. And even Nick Fortune, with whom she started to spend time with, seemed to give her strange answers to most of her questions...

No wonder, the whole story will confound you, stunning you with an ongoing ease of wonder...What in the world is going on?

Thankfully, finally at the end, readers become aware of that very thing... But in the interim, Amanda is taken into various historical scenes, seemingly literally. And as each historical event occurs, something she sees, sets her into a flashback of her own life. But she can't quite figure out why... Nor can she escape from the monster that seems to always be there, just out of the corner of her eye...

OK,  I have to admit I hadn't a clue! In fact, I was relieved as the book got more toward the end. For someone who always asks the question "Why?" as I have done throughout my life, I found it difficult to become accustomed to not knowing and not even being able to guess what was happening. It was disquieting for me. Yet I could not stop reading until the book ended! I had to get the answers to the question on the back cover--Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Dare you...Can you endure the suspense of not knowing through an entire book? If you've read Cash before, you already know that he moves fluently from one genre to another--from one style of story to a completely different one next. I won't say this is a favorite, but I must acknowledge that from the very beginning it intrigued me...Note: I had entered The Twilight Zone and escaped happily... This novel is multi-genre, but closer to horror, I think. Check it out! There is an underlying learning experience to be had if you are astute. In fact, the author gives you two quotes at the beginning...I'll spotlight them for you as the only hint...

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.--George Santayana
History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.--Lord Acton

Thought-provoking, stunning, fascinating... but not an exciting read... You decide, but I must commend the author on once again surprising me with his ability to conceive of an idea and create an entire story surrounding the idea. History? Wasn't my favorite subject either...LOL...


Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning screenwriter and novelist. He's written eleven books including the best-selling Brood X, Stillwell, The Flip, The After House, The Hanging Tree, Witches Protection Program, Pokergeist, Monsterland and Battle for Darracia series.
Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island. He writes full-time with his screaming kids in the background.
Connect with Michael on:
Facebook: facebook.com/michaelphillipcash
Twitter: twitter.com/michaelpcash
Web: www.michaelphillipcash.com
Email: michaelphillipcash@gmail.com

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