"The creative mind plays with the object it loves." (Jung)

You are invited to play...


...the only game of psychological skill and chance to require murder, romance, and madness.

Object of game. Manipulate the minds of opponents in a personal pursuit of sanity, revenge, or redemption.

Roles in play: 5.

Blair Donovan: gifted pianist, secretive, Jack’s love interest
Philip Donovan: psychologist, exceptionally intelligent, adoptive brother of Blair
Jack Valentine: psychologist, man of compassion, meets Philip then Blair by chance
Maggie Miller a.k.a. Nana: the Donovan nanny for ten years
Bill Jordan: Philip’s lifelong friend and lover

Game pieces. The Donovan diaries, black gloves, brown case, beloved cat, gun.

How to play. Requisite opening move(s) by any player(s): parricide. Opponents then attempt to satisfy personal needs and achieve individual objectives arising from any or all murders. Key strategies must include psychological manipulation and re-creation of realities. Game pieces may be brought into play at any time by any player for any purpose. No move is prohibited.

End game. Resolution occurs when the loser dies, yet a definitive win is unlikely. Always comes another day, another need, another play.

Not sure if you’re up to the game?
Then live and learn vicariously through Head Games,
the novel, and delve into that intangible called mind.


Thanks for indulging me. I couldn't resist. :) A standard Book Description follows:

Craziness. If asked, could you recognize it? Most say “yes,” but are you sure? Even among psychologists and psychiatrists understanding is murky, and in Head Games the reader must decide what is “crazy” and who is crazy. Blair Donovan certainly has no doubt that Philip, her adoptive brother, snapped and murdered their parents; her lifelong fear and hatred of him say so. Philip Donovan, a gifted psychologist, insists that Blair’s accusation stems from paranoia and delusion and a baseless need for revenge; her psychiatric commitment seems to prove his point and perhaps her own culpability for the murders. Yet for Jack Valentine all is in doubt, despite his being a psychologist, and both his deep-seated guilt over his own mother’s death and his love for Blair compel him to discover the truth. Still, the noblest of intentions and the best laid plans can end in tragedy if born of deceit and head games…

I also invite you to read the beginning of the story, the prologue, in the next post.

Unpublished work © 2010 Cynthia Bias


“Took you long enough,” Marchand said. "The word I used was 'now.' Why the rush?”

“Small town traffic. Get this,” Williams said and hurried to the deskside chair, “you won’t believe the crazy mess we found. That place is a madhouse, and the techs. are up to their ears w--"

“In a minute. Check it out.” From the paper bag on the floor Marchand pulled out a plastic evidence bag. Inside was a black book. He grinned.

“Unsealed. Convenient.” Williams reached into his jacket pocket for fresh latex gloves. He handed them over.

“More than five years of games--we deserve the first good look. It’s a diary. 1998.”

“Hot damn!” He jumped up. “A confession?”

“I'd say we’re about to find out. And you, Detective, owe me a Scotch, a double, for the wait.” With care Marchand leafed through the Donovan diary. “Might as well start with those happy holidays…”


...Late Christmas Eve. I’ll never forget it. But doing something, anything, since then has helped to deal with it, so I write. And I write because every time I read this, I’ll remind myself that there can be not one more stupid mistake. Not ever.

To ignore caution, though, went beyond stupid. Neither of them could be trusted, I knew that. It started the second I saw my suitcase. Only she would do that, and no way could she miss my diary. And no way in this hell would she resist looking, spying, prying into the only thing closest to me and all mine, and then she would tell. Him first, then others, and they would ruin my life, make it more miserable than it is. It wasn’t my fault.

When I saw that suitcase my life changed. The room changed, but, my God, mere words may not describe it. Without warning came that fear and a vague thought about her. Then I was filled with the sense that everything was different while in every way the same. It was incredible. It was the raw reality of unreality, now I know, yet then all I could do was stare, because the four walls around me weren’t a simple bedroom but a vast--boundless--other space.

It was an enveloping universe somehow pervading my own, one I’d been blind to before but existed all along. I could feel it mocking me, my stupidity. And the light. Every inch of that universe was bathed in a brilliance, I thought, until I realized there was not the slightest speck of shadow. The fabric of that space was the light, and with reason, for some profound purpose.

Even so, the more I stared the more confused I became, and the more afraid, because in that brilliance every object looked less than real, as mere hints of things, but at the same time exceeded real as indisputable beings, alive, entities whose true essences and intentions I was expected to know without question, but had never seen, and couldn’t understand then because of my ignorance, so they mocked me, everything, and cruelest of all was my suitcase.

That it lay open just so meant something. A message. But in my confusion I could only doubt, so the suitcase mocked grew brighter then less, larger then smaller, nearer then far...and my fear exploded. I heard a whoosh like rushing wind while a fiery pain sliced through my neck. Behind my eyes was an excruciating pressure. It swelled and swelled until I (my mind? self? soul?) shot out my head.

Hovering before me in the brilliance was me, and staring back, astonished. Next, the suitcase blasted me with a blinding blackness of utter terror, evil, and when again I could see, I saw my other me but less--myself less blasted away bits. Left behind in these essential gaps was nothing. No light, no fear, no pain. No one. I was getting it. Because I was ignorant and dared to doubt, the threat against me was more humiliation and annihilation. My escape from that hellish universe would be earned...or not. I would do my very, very best to understand the message of the suitcase.

I’d rather die than go crazy again.

So I spoke to it, my other self, too--the sweater is here and not there, the pants left to right, isn’t all as it should be? Then a man’s voice boomed. “Look!” One word, yet its meanings were clear and real, brilliant. I looked. I understood. And when at last I believed, that terror vanished. In its place was agonizing rage. And a lifetime of hate. So I listened to the voice--choice was not an option--and did what I had to do to protect myself, my future and my mind.

It wasn’t my fault. For two days a freakish apprehension had been growing until not even a drink would curb it anymore. It was her fault for not minding her own damned business and daring to read my diary. Mom messed up, and Dad shares the blame for making this family as pathetic as it is. And despite the days and weeks to come, what misery could surpass those living miseries from my past?

But enough already. This day’s been intense, to say the least. For now all I want is to unwind, and maybe to sleep, and to bury this nightmare for the night...

Unpublished work © 2010 Cynthia Bias



Psychological Fiction by Cynthia Bias

Craziness. If asked, could you recognize it? Most say “yes,” but are you sure? Even among psychologists and psychiatrists understanding of the phenomenon is murky. Theoretical disagreements abound as how to label and to categorize mental disorders, how to treat them, their origins, their expressions, even whether or not mental illness exists. In Head Games the reader is invited to explore the concepts of “mind” and “mental disorders” via a blend of fiction, fact, and multiple theoretical viewpoints, and thereby begin to draw his own conclusions. The story’s primary questions are, Who is crazy? and What is “crazy”? Answers to these questions will likely vary with the reader; the inevitable commonality will be that each character’s experience is best labeled “tragic.”

Head Games is set in two fictional towns: Woodmont, West Virginia and Pelican Point, South Carolina. The critical event that launches the story is the double-murder of the Donovan parents on Christmas Eve 1998, what detectives suspect was an act of parricide and that both Donovan siblings had opportunity to commit. The plot is complex and inextricably linked to the personal psychologies and pasts of the Main Characters:

JACK VALENTINE (Protagonist). Psychologist, man of compassion, and unconsciously driven to solve the Donovan murders. By chance he meets the Donovan siblings, first Philip then Blair, and is captivated by what is extraordinary in each. Soon, though, Jack finds himself caught in a triangle, one of manipulation and deceit, and tainted with the deaths of the Donovan parents and his own guilty part in his mother’s suicide. Despite their troubles his love for Blair deepens, as do his suspicions about the severity of Philip’s instability and their mutual desire to rid themselves of him. When Blair’s mounting desperation unbalances Jack—again, as with his mother—his sound judgment and professional ethics give way to a plan. In the end, however, he makes a fatal mistake...Jack falls asleep.

BLAIR DONOVAN (Protagonist). Gifted pianist, librarian, and secretive. Her long-standing fear and hatred of Philip, her adoptive brother, lead psychiatrists to suspect paranoia and delusion when she accuses him of murdering their parents. Indeed, Blair’s fantasies of revenge given attributed wrongs by him are many. Over time her love for Jack erodes her core mistrust, so more and more she confides in him; so more and more Philip plays head games with them until Blair’s spiteful retaliation devastates him. Eventually she and Jack conspire to entrap Philip—literally, in Blair’s crawl space—and expose him for who he is. Nevertheless, Blair’s ultimate revenge is at hand when insight strikes into Philip’s own suffering, a revelation and regret come too late.

PHILIP DONOVAN (Antagonist). Psychologist, exceptionally intelligent, and adopted son of Gwen and Philip Sr. While his professional accomplishments are remarkable, Philip’s personal relationships and sense of self are in ruin. Philip’s ambiguous role in his adoptive family results in a personality disorder of pathological narcissism, as well as in sexualized relationships with Blair and Bill Jordan. Inherited, however, is his tendency toward psychosis that results in the parricide, the legal culpability for which, at Blair’s expense, Philip contrives to evade for over five years. In the end he turns his father’s gun on himself—a crazy act or not?

MAGGIE MILLER aka NANA. The Donovan nanny for ten years. Young Philip rejects her when she leaves the family to marry but reunites upon his parents’s murders. Blair rejects her and her blind support of Philip after the murders and never turns back. Nana’s love for the kids remains constant as does the depth of her denial.

BILL JORDAN. Philip’s lifelong friend, lover, and alter ego…or is he? It is he who confronts Philip the final time and saves Blair from a lethal gun shot. Bill’s failure to protect Philip from himself, however, plunges him into guilt and self-blame.

Head Games is written in revolving third-person points of view and interior monologues with an important exception—Philip. Other than the prologue’s anonymous diary entry that the reader eventually learns was his, one must infer the nature of Philip’s personal psychology objectively, in the same way that any of us comes to know about another person’s mind. Bill is presented similarly. The theoretical perspectives are psychiatric, Jungian, Szaszian, Jaynesian, and Neo-Freudian. Symbolism permeates the story and contributes to its various levels of meaning, while psychological suspense captures the reader’s interest. The reader is presented with a puzzle, both emotional and intellectual, and along the way shares in the characters’s immediate experiences of living with what is now labeled “personality disorder” and “mental illness.”

(Word Count: 152, 788.)

Unpublished work © 2010 Cynthia Bias