Cages and Those Who Hold the Keys is a collection of five novellas from Gary A. Braunbeck.
In the Midnight Museum - Bram Stoker Award-nominated for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, 2005
Martin Tyler is a 44-year-old janitor whose life has come to a sputtering halt; he has no friends, no family, and no promise of better days ahead. In the grip of blackest depression, he attempts to take his own life, only to find himself waking up in a local mental health facility where he has been placed for observation.
But something more has happened to Martin than just a failed suicide attempt; certain doors of perception have been unlocked in his mind, allowing him to see fantastic creatures that lurk outside on the streets of Cedar Hill - creatures only he can perceive.
Over the next 48 hours, Martin will discover what these creatures are, who controls them, and why he must enter The Midnight Museum, a place with no doors or windows, but many entrances and exits; a place just outside the perception of everyday life; a place where Martin will discover how and why he inadvertently holds the fate of the world in his hands.
The Ballad of Road Mama and Daddy Bliss
In the novella The Ballad of Road Mama and Daddy Bliss, a man assigned community service duty with the city morgue after a DUI arrest is offered a simple deal: transport an old woman's body back to her hometown, and his record will be wiped clean. But this is no typical old woman, and -- as he soon discovers -- he is taking her to a town that is on no map. The old woman's identity, as well as the reasons behind the town's secret existence, will be revealed to him over the course of a few nightmarish hours between midnight and dawn -- the time when The Road demands its sacrifices.
Kiss of the Mudman
International Horror Guild Award for Long Fiction, 2007
A haunting story behind the lyrics of a rock song from the 70s. It is a story of music, stardom, death, and the combination of notes that brings dirty destruction to the Cedar Hill halfway house. Along the way, a visit from the "ulcerations" of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, John Entwistle and Keith Moon, Kurt Cobain, and Billie Holiday enlighten the legend of just why the greatest guitar player that ever lived was a woman. Music fans will love it, and Braunbeck's fans should not miss it. It has all the things that make his work special: the pain, the despair, and the fear, all combined but with each one allowed its own moment in the sun, each one getting its own time with your nerves before they all come crashing down, leaving you with just enough energy to turn the page.
A haunted, young actress returns home after the death of her father to discover that her brother has seemingly gone insane. Over the course of one unnerving night she first witnesses — and then becomes a part of — a Halloween nightmare that, piece by piece, physically brings back the past, rips a hole in her consensual reality, and allows demons, monsters, and even a miracle or two to shamble into this world and transform it into the darkest of fairy tales...
The Sisterhood of Plain-Faced Women
'The Sisterhood of Plain-Faced Women' is the story of Amanda, who gains beauty but at a terrible price as her new physical attributes are torn from other people, the tale never less than compelling and with a heartfelt moral at its core.
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