Dr Eva Ross, a prison psychologist, works in Worcester, Massachusetts at an aging facility. Her boss, the brilliant and often unorthodox Gideon Homes begins to make decisions that Eva is forced to question. Between the trials at work, and her loveless marriage, Eva is forced out of the life she knows.
She encounters Madden Scott, a drifter with irascible charm and very quickly it becomes apparent all is not what it seems. Her life descends into chaos as everything around her crumbles into a new reality, and the secrets that were barely hidden under the surface all become revealed in a series of chilling incidents.
Join Eva and Madden as they undertake an adventure that takes them through nightmares and across continents as they are thrust without choice into the shadowy world of Anges de la Resurrection des Chevaliers, the last barrier between earth, and what lies beneath.
Print Length -353 pages
Kindle Price: $3.99, Paperback $12.99
Publication Date: May 2014
Chapter 10 Sneak Peak
Brian Ross stared through the glass at her, his wide eyes bulging, his whole body speaking of potential menace. For an instant, panic overwhelmed Eva, she had no idea what to do, but soon her reasoning reasserted itself and she saw an unorthodox solution.
Leaving the table, and a somewhat baffled waiter behind her, Eva exited the restaurant and came face to face with him.
“What do you want?”
Brian’s expression did not alter. “What have you told them?”
This was something new. The menace Eva could feel was tinged with panic. “Told who?”
“The cops,” he growled.
Insistent that he would not get the better of her any more, Eva put on her most nonchalant face and started ticking facts off using her fingers, every fiber of her being screaming ‘run’.
“Well, first I told them that I was once devoted to you no matter what. Then, I told them how you have had the proclivity to screw anything without a dick, despite that devotion. Finally, I told them how I have had enough of you, Brian.”
His eyes turned calculating. “You told them nothing more?”
“No, nothing more. However, before you think you can take me back there, to raise your little hell spawn, remember that we are within sight of the Worcester police precinct. If I scream, a dozen cops will jump you, maybe more. We are done, Brian. There is nothing you can say to change anything.”
“But I am sorry, Eva. I know now that I have done wrong, that I have sinned. I have changed since you left. I want to make amends.”
Eva couldn’t help but bark out a laugh. It didn’t seem to make any difference to the masses, who appeared oblivious to the argument in their midst.
“You? You have changed? In the course of one day? Brian, you haven’t changed in a decade or more. You are still the jock who thinks the world is at his feet. Time to wake up, superstar. You are going to be a father. I wonder if this is the first of your conquests you have managed to knock up. Quite frankly, I’m amazed you even knew the right spot to find. I can only thank God it is not with me.”
Brian had not heard a word she had said by all accounts. He leaned forward and enfolded her in a hug. Eva remained motionless, aware of the rage he could summon in an instant. It was all that she could do to not give in. The close touch of her husband had won her over in the past, too many times to count. This time he had gone too far. Eva was burning her bridges. She had the courage not to respond to him, remaining with her hands at her sides, giving him no sign of any acquiescence. It had the expected effect.
Standing back, his eyes full of tears, Eva watched as Brian’s muscles bunched. “You are my wife! You will obey me! You are my…!”
Something tugged at Eva’s hand. She looked away from her husband to find a small girl of perhaps six or seven years old looking up at her, eyes wide, face framed by a mop of curly blonde hair. She was terrified.
“I can’t find my mommy.”
Ignoring Brian, Eva knelt down and enfolded the girl in her arms. “Oh, you poor thing. Were you walking along here with her?”
Brian ripped the girl from her arms and shoved her away.
“You will listen to me now!”
“Brian! What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The girl had fallen onto the path and blood ran down her leg from a cut on the knee. Somehow, Eva felt the mood of the crowd change; although they still bustled past, the crowd felt more directed towards them. She reached down to help the, now crying, child to her feet.
“Let me see to that.” Eva took out a tissue and mopped up the blood. “Brian, you are going to be a father. I suggest you start acting like one and stop bullying every innocent that gets in your way. There, that’s better,” she said to the child.
Eva had finished mopping the blood, and held the tissue to the girl’s knee, stemming the flow. In truth, it was not a big cut, but to every child it was alarming. The girl had quietened, and Eva wiped the tears from her face.
“Now where did you last see your mommy?”
The girl looked around, blanching when she saw Brian still glaring. “I… I don’t know.”
Eva hugged her tight. “It will be all right.”
“What a mom,” said Brian sarcastically. “Get up, Eva; you are coming home with me.”
“Sorry Brian, those days have passed. You are on your own now. If I was parent to this child, and saw what you did, I would have had you arrested for assault.”
“No, it’s fine,” said a voice. “I’m sure it was just an accident.”
The voice belonged to the blonde woman from the restaurant, who now stood in the doorway. Eva had another flash of recognition. She had seen her somewhere before today, but the location eluded her.
“There you are,” she said to the girl. “I told you not to wander off.”
The girl had calmed the moment the woman spoke to her. In fact, her face was strangely expressionless. There was no relief or emotional outburst associated with a child finding their parent.
“I’m fine, now,” said the girl. “This is my mommy.” The voice was flat, chilling Eva. It made her want to leave. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
“Are you sure you are fine?”
“She is well,” the woman assured her. “She gets overcome sometimes when she gets lost. Thank you so much for pointing her in the right direction. You will make a wonderful mother one day.”
Full of petulance, she left him with a parting shot. “If you think that you will get anywhere near any child after that, Brian, you had better think again. I am going straight to the police and tell them everything. You won’t abuse Jenny and her child. I’ll make sure of that.
As for us, I regret the day I first laid eyes on you. I am no longer your wife. I am your nothing, you ill-tempered little boy.” Not giving Brian an opportunity to reply, Eva turned and walked away through the crowd. She wanted to run. A strange musty smell had begun to permeate the area and it scared her.
“EVA!” Brian yelled from behind her.
She stopped and turned. He was perhaps a hundred yards or so back, the crowd had bunched around him.
“If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!”
Brian was quoting the Bible? Before Eva could respond, the smiling woman lifted the girl into the air, and passed her to him. The feeling of hunger magnified a hundredfold, and the crowd began to growl, unutterable sounds that could not be recognised as human. There was an eager anticipation in the air, as if an abomination was about to be unfettered.
As one, the mob surged at Brian, and both he and the girl disappeared from view. Eva couldn’t see what was going on, but the mob piled into the space where Brian had stood, baying and scrapping.
Eva felt compelled to join them, but something inside her fought the feeling, preventing her from moving. She stood, immobile, as others ran past her to dive in.
Above it all, there was a piercing wail, tortured and desperate, extinguished almost as soon as it began. It wasn’t Brian they were after. He wasn’t protecting the child. He was slaughtering her! Then a flash of red sprayed up from the seething mass, and Eva began to scream.
She was a frozen nexus in the midst of chaos, powerless as more and more people dove in to the space where blood and gore were splattered over an unbelievable distance. She had her chance to remove the girl from this; Eva screamed as the horror of what she could have prevented permeated her to the very core.
Everybody ignored her, desperate in their hunger to attack the remains. Eva couldn’t help but watch the carnage unfold. The sounds of gristly clicking as joints were dismembered and bones snapped made her want to throw up and she could not stop screaming.
At one point, a shredded arm was thrown aloft only for the mob to jump up and grab it. There was no rage, just a desperation to feed. And all the while, the blonde woman watched her from beside the shop, a satisfied smirk on her face.
Eva realised now where she had seen the face. Memories began to trickle back from the night before.
“You were in the bar,” Eva whispered in horror.
It was impossible that she could have been heard amidst the yelps and growls of the humans turned animal, yet the woman turned to address her, and Eva heard every word of the triumphant whisper.
“Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. We shall meet again, you and I. Your little man can’t hide forever.”
She spread her arms as if having accomplished a task, and Eva looked at the mob, now milling around, some chewing, many licking blood from each other or from the sidewalk. The hunger compulsion dissipated in an instant, and people started to realise what they had been doing.
There were several different reactions. Some screamed. Many threw up. A few just stood where they found themselves, blood on their clothes and faces, blank in shock. One old woman sat down, and held herself, beginning to rock, her mind gone and her face covered in cuts. Many panicked and ran in random directions, seeking to escape the scene of carnage.
Of the girl, mercifully nothing remained that could identify her. Eva had expected a corpse of sorts, but as she watched from a distance, it was evident that there was nothing more than a few shards of bone. The mob had done its job with murderous efficiency.
Eva had hoped for a moment that Brian was one of the few that lay at the middle of the melee, unconscious, but that was only wishful thinking.
Brian rose, facing away from her, and slowly turned. He lurched a step as he did so; clearly, some damage had been done to him. His face caused Eva to retch. He was covered with gore from his head down; his jeans were soaked in blood. Unidentifiable parts of flesh from his victim still clung to his shirt, as if desperate to cling to the life that so recently filled them. His eyes were blank and, to Eva’s horror, he clung to what appeared to be the top half of a skull, gore dripping from within, and the surface licked clean.
Finishing chewing, he looked himself over, as if not quite sure what had happened, and began to laugh. A slight chuckle to begin with, flowering into a cackle that spoke volumes about his sanity.
Those around him, roused from their stupor by his noise, began to do the same. Brian regarded the skull fragment and threw it aside.
Then two things happened at once. In the midst of his insanity, Brian noticed her standing there and police sirens beginning to wail from the nearby precinct. Those people left milling around came to their senses and began to run. Of the blonde woman, there was no sign.
In the distance, the flashing lights showed that this had been noticed on a grand scale. After her recent interview, and contrary to the duty of care she felt as a doctor, Eva did not want to be seen around this. She began to back away, keeping her eyes on her husband.
Brian seemingly came to his senses as she did so. There was no remorse on his face. No shock at what had happened to him. “Eva! EVA!” He began to pursue her, zombie-like, his leg hampered by an injury apparently gained in the feast.
Eva turned and ran.
Born and raised in Bristol, England, Matthew W Harrill is an international award-winning horror author. His series, ‘The ARC Chronicles’ consists of Hellbounce (which has received acclaim at the Halloween Book Festival, the London Book Festival and most recently the 2015 International Book Awards), Hellborne and the final book of the series, Hellbeast is imminent.
In addition to his mentor David Farland (The Runelords, The Courtship of Princess Leia [as Dave Wolverton]), Matt is always thankful to know the British author Juliet E McKenna, who has helped him countless times. He is a fan of fantasy, loving Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ series. He also has a lot of time for the truly bizarre horror of H P Lovecraft, citing this as an influence on his work. He also cites the fictional author ‘Hank Moody’ as an influence.
Matthew has worked as a labourer, a barman, a cleaner, a joiners mate. In addition he has dabbled in commercial insurance and has for the past 12 years implemented share plans for Xerox.
When not working, Matthew enjoys tennis with his son, watching movies and television series such as Supernatural and Grimm, blogging and cookery.