Monsters Never Sleep (Preview) – Chapter 1

In this gripping first chapter of Chris Rodgers’ novel Monsters Never Sleep, we delve into the mind of a young billionaire named Cody as he spirals into a state of deep paranoia.

Chapter 1

“You don’t hear that?” Cody asks. “The humming sound?.”

Cody’s dad shakes his head. “Can I please read this? It’s about you.”

Cody shrugs, more interested in the custom inlays of his rifle he’s holding.

“At only 17, he has amassed a fortune, owns four homes, a ranch in Texas, and sits on influential corporate boards. Adored by fans for his charisma, looks, and wealth, he is also passionate about his work and family, with a keen understanding of money and success; despite a poor upbringing and no formal training.  His parents do not question how he has achieved so much at such a young age. This is true,”  Dad looks at his son with pride and awe.

“Can you stop?” Cody growls, his voice barely above a whisper. He stares out at the endless stretches of West Texas wilderness, with the barrel of his rifle protruding from the window and the butt of the gun firmly grasped in his hand. “It’s embarrassing.”

 In the stillness of the dusty terrain stands a hunting blind like none other. It is forged from the finest materials, a testament to the wealth and indulgence of its owner, a billionaire. The walls are hewn from rough-cut lumber, dark and weathered by the elements; sturdy as the rocky cliffs that frame the ranch. The roof is made of tempered glass, reflecting the golden light of the slowly setting sun, as if the sky itself were on fire.

The interior is a symphony of luxury, with plush leather seating, mahogany paneling, and gleaming brass fixtures. The air is thick with the scent of cedar as if the very essence of West Texas. has been captured and tamed within these walls.

As he surveys the landscape, a sense of urgency and determination floods through Cory, fueling his desire to track down and bag the biggest and best game imported from around the globe and brought to his ranch for the hunt..

As Cody gazes out at the barren, brown landscape, he can’t help but wonder how he ended up so far from the green mountains of Vermont. His thoughts are interrupted by his father’s booming voice as he continues reading aloud from an article, extolling the numerous accomplishments of his son.

Dad continues. “They call him Bruce Wayne, or the Boy Billionaire. They flock to him for advice, hanging on his every word as he rubs elbows with presidents, hunts with CEOs, and shares ice cream with actresses. He calls himself an investor, a philanthropist, and a human—“

“Dad, c’mon,” Cody attempts to derail the speech, but fails. 

Dad looks over to Cody with a smile before continuing. “humanitarian, but there’s more to him than just a charming grin and an ‘aww shucks’ personality. Despite his public persona, he keeps his private life and irregular hours shrouded in secrecy. They call him Robin Hood after he took down the wealthy elite and invested in the poor.”

“His involvement sends companies into overdrive, with workers paid fair wages and shareholders no longer complaining about his unorthodox style. He’s on a mission, not just to amass even more wealth than the titans of the industry, but to use his money as a weapon against them, exposing the billionaires and world leaders as the villains they truly are. And on the day of his 18th birthday, August 7th, 2020, Cody Hawkins, hailing from the hills of Vermont and now a billionaire several times over, finally comes of age.”

“Oh god, Dad, can you please stop?” Cody pleads, covering his eyes with his hand in embarrassment. He presses his eye against the scope of his VO Falcon, his bright blue gaze sweeping across his massive Rhode Island-sized ranch in Texas. “That sounds like something they’d say at my funeral.”

“Grandma found it on Facebook.” Cody’s father explains, shaking his head as he folds the piece of paper back into his pocket. “But it’s true, ain’t it?”

“She needs a hobby,” Cody tells him, rolling his eyes “And no, it ain’t. Bruce Wayne inherited his wealth from his dead parents.”

Cody’s arm shoots up to the back of his neck, and he yelps in pain. “Dang, something stung me. Fark, that really hurt. Did you see what it was?” Cody shifts his body and pulls down the collar of his t-shirt to show his dad the source of the pain. Dad shakes his head.

Cody’s hand remains at his neck, rubbing the area where he felt the sting. “There’s definitely something there, I swear. It feels like it’s under the skin.” But before he can examine it further, something on the distant horizon catches his eye and he returns his right eye to the scope of his gun. “They didn’t talk about where I came from. How can you talk about someone’s success without mentioning their roots?”

In his youth, Cody Hawkins observed that the hue of gold seemed to dominate every trailer home he knew. At his grandparents’ trailer in Tinton Hills Estates, the floor was covered in dark gold carpeting that no one dared lie upon. His aunt Sharon’s mobile estate was so yellow that it seemed to resemble a golden brick, freshly rained upon. In his own childhood home, the walls were made of plastic that glinted with the color of goldenrod, stained by cigarettes. The walls were adorned with the mounted corpses of animals, with his father constantly replacing the deer heads. Just as Cody was getting to know the young deer with the foolish expression, it was replaced by a haughty stag. In the dilapidated shed in the back, there were half a dozen more deer heads, their fur tinged with mildew, stacked in a dank corner, their glass eyes observing any who dared to venture within. 

His boyhood home was situated in a field as if a tornado had plucked it from some other place and deposited it there. Vermont, however, is not a place prone to tornadoes. Rather, it is a land of long winters, spent cooped up in a cramped dwelling adorned with the preserved heads of deceased deer, and of families with insufficient funds to engage in anything beyond the contemplation of basic cable television. Cody, at the age of twelve, had rejected the lavish sports of the wealthy, such as skiing. All he could dream of was a pickup truck that belched diesel fumes, a dream shared by his father, his father’s acquaintances, and all the children he knew. To a young country lad on the cusp of adulthood, acquiring one’s first truck was the equivalent of a bar mitzvah.

But a strange thing occurred to Cody long before he reached the age of obtaining a driver’s license. In his early teenage years, he ceased the activity of sleep and seemed to forget that he required it. It was not as if he had ever been an exemplary sleeper, but by the age of fourteen, he did not even require a midday nap. Had his parents possessed the means of insurance, they might have taken him to Boston to discover the cause of this phenomenon. As they did not, they chose to leave Cody to his own devices.

Rather than use the additional eight hours every night that most people devote to sleep to play video games, Cody discovered a new pastime: investing. This pursuit became an all-consuming obsession, burning within him with an unquenchable fire. He ravenously consumed investment books, studied YouTube videos, and dedicated himself to becoming the most skilled investor possible. His focus was beyond his control as if someone else held the reins.

Cody discarded the bed that he no longer required into the backyard. He transformed his bedroom into the headquarters of his first hedge fund, Dominant Buck LLC, and at the age of fourteen, he swiftly made local farmers into millionaires through a bitcoin investment. At fifteen, he assumed control of his school district’s pension fund, and shortly thereafter, that of the entire state of Vermont. It was not long before he was able to relocate his family from their trailer into a state-of-the-art farm. He transformed this enterprise from the raising of dairy cows to the more lucrative cultivation of shrimp and hops. Every article written about him compared him to King Midas, but King Midas was a one-trick pony, whereas Cody’s talents were far more diverse.

The boy had good looks, a charming personality, and a bank account as vast as Bruce Wayne’s. He was the perfect hero: a blend of Captain America and Tony Stark. It would be difficult to find an actor to portray him in the film adaptation of his life, a tale of a poor child who mastered the stock markets and amassed billions before the age of 18. His intentions were pure, but his methods were harsh, causing discomfort among his fellow billionaires. He found ways to dilute their earnings and divest them, much like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning.

There was no doubt that Cody spent his wealth on himself. He purchased the Texas ranch as a gift for his parents weeks before his 18th birthday and had it stocked with wild game from all corners of the globe. The day the animals arrived was like the circus train from Dumbo, delivering rhinos, elephants, giraffes, lions, and tigers.

Cody’s passion for hunting animals dwindled, despite his fondness for slaying beautiful creatures. In its place, he pursued the villains of Wall Street, taking down investors who wagered against his company. Cody understood that he was not hunting a defenseless doe, but rather a tiger attacking other tigers. These villains had him followed, wiretapped, hacked, and studied. He hired a security team, only to discover that they remained on the payroll of another hedge fund, and he buried them in legal fees.

Cody retreated to his Rhode Island-sized commune, but that was not enough to satisfy him. On this morning the next closest person, besides his father, was miles away, where his mother was preparing a surprise birthday party.

“Hell, kid. You set your mind to something, and you achieve it. This deer blind is more luxurious than the trailer where we raised you. I don’t know how you friggin’ managed it, but you’ve accomplished more by the age of eighteen than anyone fucking ever has. I thought, at best, you would be laying asphalt on your eighteenth birthday, like Uncle Walt.”

“Once you realize the game is rigged, you can play it and then make it even more rigged. Yesterday, I went up to New England to give a research company a hundred-million-dollar check. They make digestible computers or something,” Cody tells his father. “Okay? So, then traders caught wind of it. People invested in the company, adding around two hundred and fifty million to its value. By the time the plane landed in Dallas, I had doubled my money. It’s gotten too easy. Now I have time for other things.”

“Like getting laid?” Dad teases.

“It’s all good,” Cody tells him. “I have a girlfriend.”

“You keep telling us that.”

“It’s complicated.”

“Okay? Complicated how?” Dad questions. “She’s not with you on your birthday?”

“She’s here,” Cody says, tapping his head with his index finger. “She’s in here. Perfect in every way.”

“I ain’t following. Whaddya mean here? You know what you want, and you gotta find her?”

Cody nods. “I know she’s out there ’cause she comes from the same part of my mind that my success does.”

“Describe her,” Dad begins. “What’s her ass like?”

“Dad,” Cody protests. 

“Big tits?”

“Your’s is the big tit generation.” He rolls his eyes.

“Like yours ain’t?” Dad laughs. “Everyone likes boobs. You didn’t need to grow up with Pamela Anderson for that.”

“I don’t know who that is,” Cody says. “My girlfriend, well, yeah, she has breasts, Dad. Round. Round? Cylindrical? Boobs. She has the whole package, plus freckles and blue hair. Dyed.”

“Blue hair? Like granny?” Dad chuckles. He lifts his binoculars to his eyes, replacing them with a rifle. “It’s trophy time, kiddo. Rhinos on the ridge.”

A cell phone rings. It echoes in the blind, startling Cody.

“Turn that damn thing off,” Dad says, noticing that Cody is more interested in his phone than the rhino. Cody puts the phone to his ear.

“Happy birthday, darling,” a woman’s sultry voice says on the phone. “I wish I had you all to myself.”

“Later. Tonight,” Cody whispers. He props his gun against the wall and rests his head on his folded arms in the open window. He watches the rhinos, and his dad watches him.

“There’s not going to be a later. Can I say your mom did a great job getting your party decorated? Can I describe it?” she asks.

“A party?” Cody asks. “A birthday party?”

“Jesus Christ,” Dad interjects. “Who the hell is spoiling the surprise? Your momma’s gonna think it was me.”

Cody ignores him. “Why? I’m going to see it in a few hours,” he says.

“I’m sorry, Cody. I didn’t mean to ruin the surprise. I just couldn’t wait to hear your voice on your special day. And yes, your Nana is here. She’s been asking about you nonstop since she arrived. She’s so proud of you and all that you’ve accomplished.”

“It’s okay,” Cody says with a smile. “I appreciate the thought. And thanks for the update. It’s nice to know what’s going on. I’ll see you soon at the party.”

“Why are you spoiling? It’s supposed to be a surprise. Aww, Nana’s there?”

Dad overhears this and hits Cody’s shoulder with the back of his hand before mouthing, ‘who are you talking to?’

Cody holds this hand over the mic, “My girl. She’s at the party.”

Dad signals to wrap it up, but the velvety voice on the line has Cody hypnotized.

“I’m letting you know because you won’t get to experience it,” the woman said before urgently warning him, “They’re on their way to get you right now, and you won’t get to enjoy all the luxurious things your mother planned for you.”


“You know who.”

The line goes silent. Cody jumps out of his chair and runs outside, climbing up onto a large boulder to get a better view. He scans the area, but everything seems normal – vultures circle in the distance and the rhinos have retreated behind the cliff. However, he can’t shake the feeling that something is off.

“What’s going on, Cody?” Dad asks as he joins his son in the sweltering Texas heat. “Who is that on the phone, ruining the surprise?”

“There’s nothing that can surprise me, Dad. How could you possibly surprise me? I’m in the business of predicting outcomes,” Cody says as he jumps off the boulder and joins his dad, exchanging his phone for his father’s binoculars.

As Cody scans the surrounding area, Dad examines the phone. It is powered off and cool to the touch. “Cody, who are you talking to on the phone? It’s not even on,” he asks.

“Can’t you hear that?” Cody interrupts, his tone stern. “Dad, can you hear that humming sound?”

Dad stands still, hearing nothing but the thoughts in his head. “No, but I’m concerned for you, son. The weight of trying to save the world may be taking a toll on you.”

“Jesus Christ!” Cody shouts. He drops the binoculars and runs back into the hunting blind, leaving the door open for his dad to follow. “Dad, come on, armed drones are coming right for us!”

Dad, a little too heavy to run, looks around but sees and hears nothing. Inside, Cody grabs the rifle and a box of ammo.

“This isn’t going to work,” he says as he drops the gun and the box of ammo, causing the bullets to spill out. He rushes to the gun closet, where an array of weapons are available.

Inside, Dad grabs his rifle and surveys the surroundings. “What do you see?” he asks.

“Hear. The hum. Drones,” Cody tells him as he straps a machine onto his back and tucks two guns into his waistband. “Armed fucking drones. They’re going to take us out.”

Cody returns to the window with the big gun at the ready and fires off two quick shots, the echoes of which can be heard in the distance before fading away.

“Damn my eyes. I can’t see a thing,” Dad says. “Did you get them, son?”

Cody answers with another round of shots. He shouts over the loud drones that only he can hear, “Yeah, why aren’t you shooting? There is a hundred of them right fucking there.”

Dad aims his rifle at the clouds and fires a shot.

“Nice shot, Dad,” Cody says. “You got one.”

“Really?” Dad asks confused. “Ain’t gonna lie my own man ears and eyes ain’t seeing shit.”

“Oh my god, Dad!” Cody screams, noticing his father standing right in front of the window. “Get down!”

Dad drops to the floor.

Cody reloads his gun, “We have to get back to the house! My security team is there.”

Dad nods and follows his son out of the blind.

Cody continues to shout for his dad to follow him, but Dad can’t see anything except for a slight breeze and some bugs. Cody jumps off the small rocky cliff, bypassing the path, and twists his ankle. He limps over to his four-wheeler and kickstarts it to life.

As Dad comes down the path, Cody shouts to him, “See you back at the house, okay?”

“Cody, stop,” Dad calls to him as he climbs onto his own four-wheeler.

But Cody is already speeding through the West Texas bramble, kicking up a cloud of dust as he goes. He has only been in Texas for a few days, and each day the paranoia deepens. Today is the worst.

He rides the four-wheeler too fast for the rocky terrain. But the drones seem to follow him even at high speeds, making it seem futile to try to outrun them. The house, twice the size of his grade school, appears like a mirage in the desert, with its symmetrical lines of palm trees and an Olympic-sized pool.

From behind, Dad sees nothing but clouds of dust. He catches glimpses of his son keeping a distance, too cautious to keep up. There is no way to warn the party of the danger that is coming. His son’s mind is too far gone to enjoy reality. It is supposed to be a big surprise party, but the surprises are all backward. It is his family and friends who will be surprised.

The partygoers watch as Cody hurtles towards them, preparing for the big surprise, but Cody doesn’t slow down. In his left hand is a handgun, and he uses it to shoot at things above and beside him, things that aren’t there.

He fires two shots behind him. There is nothing there to hit but his father, a quarter mile behind him. Dad slows down, realizing he is in the line of fire.

As the house nears, Cody maintains his speed, even when the terrain changes from rocky soil to imported Kentucky bluegrass. The quad tears up the manicured lawn. He doesn’t slow as he approaches the massive floor-to-ceiling windows of his home, until he drives right through them. Glass rains down like tiny diamonds. The four-wheeler slams into a long couch, and Cody flies head over heels, landing on the ground against the far wall. Blood starts pouring from his head onto the imported marble floor.

“Watch out for the drones,” Cody shouts, pointing his gun at a space in the sky above the pool. At the sight of the weapon, the guests scatter or drop to the floor. He shoots a balloon shaped like an eight, and photos on the wall are obliterated.

“Help me, momma,” Cody cries after running out of bullets.

His mother runs towards him, taking small, careful steps in her high heels. “What’s wrong?”

A family friend joins them.

“Cody, I’m a doctor. What are you feeling?” the man asks.

Cody screams. He is looking at something that no one else can see. The drones collect and swarm, the buzz louder than a billion bees. His heart races, the beats per minute climbing. Cody holds his head, but not where it bleeds. He feels something inside his head moving, chewing, and turning his mind into mush as it carves a way out.

Cody lies on the ground, his wealth unable to heal him. He spells out the word N-U-M-M-E-R-A-L, repeating it over and over until a thin girl at the party approaches him. Mom and the doctor focused on stopping the bleeding, paying no attention to the caterer-clad girl.

“He saw drones,” Dad says, joining the party. “Armed drones. There were none to be seen.”

The blue-haired girl gently places her slender hand on Cody’s bloody face, and he smiles faintly at her touch.

“Happy birthday to my dearest boy,” she says whispering in his ear. Unseen by anyone at the party. “I will love you forever.”

Cody’s heart seizes as the room erupts in chaos. The billionaire boy with his handsome features fades away, and for the first time in five years, Cody fell into a deep sleep.

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