The loneliness was unbearable. Five long years of nothing but going to work. At my usual weekly stop at Barnes and Noble, I realized that I'd run out of Anne Rice novels to read, so I decided to take a chance on a short story collection titled The Books Of Blood, written by the director of the Hellraiser movie. I thought, "Well, he's cute and I really liked his movie, why not?!" The only thing that was making me hesitate was the quote by Stephen King on the cover. I was not a big fan of Stephen King's writing, but finally decided to take the risk. "He's British and most of the things in life that I appreciate have come from England," I thought. That was when the obsession began. I had to have everything this man ever put to paper (I was on a fierce hunt for the short story "Lost Souls" for months!!!!!). I was pulled in. I found my secret friend. I brought him in the bedroom, the bathroom ,the kitchen, and, before I knew it, he was going to work to spend lunchtime with me. We went on fabulous journeys! I was too smitten to talk to anyone about it ( well, except for my best friend Gabe who probably wanted to buy earplugs!).

Then I met my obsession, face to face, at a signing. He was everything that I expected him to be. The obsession got worse. I suddenly found myself at The Bess Cutler Gallery purchasing several pieces of artwork that he painted with his wonderful hands. This was to good to be true. Now I could even look at his work on my own bedroom walls.

I then found a small publication called Dread and decided to write to everyone on the pen-pal page. Stephen was the only one who responded! Finally, I found someone else with the same obsession! After many letters (sometimes whole notebooks!), we decided to meet on a weekend that Clive was going to be in New York City. We were lucky enough to spend that time with Clive, watching him paint The Metaphysics of Light, Wisdom ,and Sound mural. Together, we were instantly bonded. My obsession grew into total love and respect for this man called Clive Barker. Then travesty set in: The Breed became defunct. Stephen and I felt it was our destiny to do something to bring all the fans of Clive's work together. With Clive's total support, we went about our task with many hours of dedication, love, and work. It finally all came together and we became "Lost Souls."

Cheryl Bentzen 1996 July