“It was pouring out when R.T. Robeson jumped on the bus that would carry him from downtown Orlando to the building in an older, somewhat less fashionable section of the city. He had never visited the building before, but a Miss Gardenia was expecting him …”
ORLANDO — So begins author Michael W. Freeman’s disturbing novel “Bloody Rabbit,” which is now available on Amazon and as a Kindle eBook.
In his book “Horror: A Connoisseur’s Guide to Literature and Film,” author Leonard Wolf writes that “Horror literature can do more than frighten us in a safe place. At its best, it provides us with images that speak to our subconscious because they resonate with myth …. horror literature touches the nerve of paranoia that many of us cherish by confirming our suspicion that there is a ‘they’ or an ‘it’ or a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ that is out to get us.”
Welcome to the world of “Bloody Rabbit,” a novel that takes readers on a brooding, dark — and darkly comic — journey into a long nightmare for R.T. Robeson — right up to the blood-freezing ending.
It starts in a world familiar to us all: the struggle to cope during an economic downturn. The book slow builds to an even more terrifying situation: the vicious persecution of those who become an angry society’s scapegoats.
Set in Orlando and loosely based on the author’s own experiences after being downsized in 2011 and his slow climb back up the economic ladder, “Bloody Rabbit” is a tense, haunting and sometimes grotesquely funny look at how quickly social norms crumble when times get tough.
The eerie tale sends readers into a surreal world where people are desperately struggling to find stability, as they cope with a harsh and lingering economic anxiety. “Bloody Rabbit” becomes a blurring of dream and harsh reality, simultaneously mixing the horrific and the comical.
The book follows R.T. Robeson, a middle-aged man who had it all — a good job, a home, a car — then loses everything. He finally finds a new, much lower-paying job, then happily discovers a tiny apartment available that he can afford on his modest income. He quickly agrees to rent the cramped unit — even though it has a violent and unsavory history.
If it seems like Robeson has finally landed back on his feet, he’s startled when complete strangers repeatedly and angrily confront him, insisting that he just did something crude and offensive. Robeson is baffled and can’t figure out who all these people are mistaking him for. These intrusive strangers chop away at his peace of mind, leaving him feeling disoriented and almost paranoid. An air of dread begins to suffocate the hapless Robeson.
His problems get worse — much worse — when he starts being stalked by a virulent anti-Semite who has somehow mistaken Robeson for the banker that foreclosed on his brother’s home. Robeson finds himself increasingly constricted, quietly brooding alone, afraid to venture outside and potentially see that stalker waiting for him. He feels isolated, and endangered. He stares obliquely out the window to see what’s haunting him on the city streets. Cracks appear in the texture of his existence. Robeson feels like he has reluctantly, and against his will, gone into hiding. He’s in solitary confinement.
Published by Freeline Productions, the book is available by visiting amazon.com or through the Freeline online bookstore.
“This is a book for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider,” Freeman says. “If you’ve ever sat in your cubbyhole, staring at the knob on your front door and been afraid to turn it and step aside — because it just feels too overwhelming to be exposed out there — you’ll relate instantly to R.T. Robeson’s struggles.”
Freeman, a resident of Orlando, has been a journalist since 1988, and currently works as a production editor at The Orlando Sentinel. He has also written and produced the original plays “Hooked” and “Copping a Craigie,” which premiered at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, and is a guild member at The Orlando Shakespeare Theater. He’s the founder of Freeline Productions, a writing and editing service that distributes “Bloody Rabbit.”
His most recent play, “Murder Sleep,” will premiere at the Orlando Fringe Festival on May 18.
Freeman was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, and has lived in Orlando since 2002. He enjoys reading, traveling, theater, and the great art of comic books. Freemen is also the proud papa of his cats Fluffy and Midnight.
Contact Freeline Media at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..