What follows is the prologue to my next novel. It's all written, all edited and formatted, and all I'm waiting for is the cover, which should be coming together at the tail end of the month. Exciting to get another book out. This one was written in November, part of National Novel Writing Month, and I'm pleased I was able to get another bastard book done in a month. Means that January 2012 wasn't a fluke. It does mean that the entirety of 2013 has been a fuck of a time, writing-wise, as I've not been able to get anything out of any worth. Damn frustrating. But I'm hoping that I'm going to start churning the third major novel of the Richard / Scarlett Faraday series again before the year is out. We'll see how it goes.
The following events took place over one hot Summer night in 1968
Truman MacMullan was running as fast as he could, but he had nowhere to go.
He’d only pulled up in the drive ten minutes ago, but then things had gone to pot faster than even he could have imagined.
His mother had asked him to check in on his Uncle Larry. Now, Larry had never been the nicest of his uncles. He’d been a complete ass to Truman on a number of occasions but if there was one thing that overrode all common sense in the world it was family, so he got into his car and drove three hundred miles, all at the request of his mother, just to knock on a door. He’d arrived in the town fifteen minutes ago, and had actually been quite surprised to find that there was no one around. He’d driven through the town square, popped his head into the bars, but no, there was nobody about.
“Weird,” he had mumbled to himself.
Now all he was doing was cursing. “Fuck, fucking, fuck!”
He’d finally made it to his uncle’s new house, knocked on his door, but received no response. He wandered around the back of the house but couldn’t get anyone’s attention. He couldn’t see anyone, but the television was on and showing some blank wall somewhere. The kitchen light was on. A glass of half-drunk water on the side.
Reluctantly, Truman had taken the spare key his mother had given him and began to unlock the front door. He didn’t want to go in unannounced. But his mother had asked, so he had no choice in the matter. He entered, and immediately began to call out.
“Uncle Lar? Uncle Lar?”
He looked around downstairs and saw that the glass on the counter was full of tiny, stale bubbles. How long had it been there? He poured it down the sink and turned off the television.
“Uncle Larry, are you up there?”
Truman looked up the stairs and wondered if he should go up.
He was utterly exhausted. The drive down had taken most of the life out of him, and the beers he’d downed since that last truck stop did him no favours.
He had bought two six packs, drank them one every few miles.
His friends had told him that he shouldn’t drink and drive, but apart from his eyes playing a trick on him when he found the right road that led to Safehaven, he’d been fine.
A light had blinded him for a second. He thought about the dirt that peppered his glasses and the way that headlights could sometime spiral into a kaleidoscope of discomfort, but he had blinked the light away and all was well.
But oddly, there had been no cars.
There had been no visible causes of the light.
But it had come and gone and he was fine.
Truman had no luck upstairs. His uncle was nowhere to be found. Maybe he’d taken the boat down to the marina, maybe he was night fishing on the lake.
Night fishing for his family meant an icebox and beef jerky, and obscene amounts of littering in whichever lake they chose to float out on.
Truman then descended the stairs and looked around. He thought that he might as well collapse on the sofa and turn in for the night. If his uncle came in, he would hear him, and everything would be fine.
Sure, maybe Larry would get cranky at an uninvited guest, but he should have called or picked up the phone when Truman’s mother had tried him.
“Simple enough,” Truman thought to himself.
He had removed his boots when he saw the man in the window.
He swore loudly, put his glasses back on, but then saw nothing.
“God,” he whispered, catching his chest. His heart was pounding. “God.”
He stood, looked outside and then jumped out of his skin when the back door exploded with glass, a rogue fist smashing itself through the panes. The hand that reached through from the back garden was unlocking the door, Uncle Larry having handily left the key in the lock. There was a loud clunking sound and the door finally opened, and a man dressed in black and white stepped through. His face was a twisted expression of aggravation and rage. His hair was neatly parted, he had a mole under his bottom lip and his mouth was twisted into a sneer. The weirdest thing was the way he was framed by the sterile light of the kitchen. Light seemed to blur around the edges of the man. He looked like he was super-heated, like the air couldn’t stand the touch of him. Truman thought of summer barbecues, he thought of beef burgers on the griddle, and he thought of running straight out of the house.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” the man hissed.
When Truman scrambled out of his uncle’s house and into the front garden the first thing he had tried was his car.
After that initial eternity-long struggle to get the key into the door, and then the key into the ignition, he found that the engine wouldn’t start. He twisted and screamed and bucked against his seat, but the car made no sound at all, it was simply dead, like he would soon be if he couldn’t get out of this place. The man who had broken through the back door was now standing on his porch, breathing in and out deeply, his funeral attire covered in glass.
Truman threw open the driver’s side door and headed down the street, looking for help. His head darted from house to house, but he couldn’t see any movement at all. No sign of life. He ran, faster than he thought his legs could carry him, and during all of this he realised he was still drunk, that his perceptions were still blurry. He was hyper aware of the weight of his feet and how every footfall was silent because his boots were still on his uncle’s living room floor. He was struggling to breathe. He couldn’t think to scream, all he could do was run, completely absorbed in the action.
Truman found himself in the town square, and just up ahead there was a group of people who were, as he watched, wandering from one building to another. He stopped in his tracks, waved his arms, started to breathe in readiness to scream for help, but before he could draw their attention he was struck in the chest by an almighty force that drove the air from his lungs. His tired, aching legs were pulled out from under him, and he realised that he was being carried, lightning fast, from the middle of the street to one of the alleys.
Hidden from view, Truman was pinned down, one icy cold hand covering his mouth, the other driven deep into his side and against his kidneys, spreading agonising pain throughout his extremities.
Urine trickled down his inner trouser leg. He knew he was going to die any moment now, but he still felt shame at the action. The man on top of him laughed, and then moved very slowly toward his ear.
“Listen,” he said, menacingly. “Listen.”
A woman’s voice, far away but still audible under the silent conditions of the town.
“I thought I saw.” This was another woman’s voice. A girl, more like. They were both girls. They sounded so young. This one especially sounded so very scared.
You saw me, thought Truman. You saw me. Help. Help me.
“What?” pressed the first woman.
Yes, make her say. Make her get you to come find me.
The stink of urine filled Truman’s nostrils. He struggled to breathe. Vomit gagged up at the back of his throat.
“A shape, something, I don’t know, something moving.”
There was a long moment of silence.
The man pinning Truman down laughed to himself.
“HELLO?” bellowed a voice. Strong. Male.
Oh thank God oh thank God. Come on. Find me.
Truman struggled under the grip of the man but his attacker drove his fist deeper into his side, causing Truman to wince and swallow the vomit, a thick, acidic tang filling his throat.
There was a fluttering of conversation. Truman couldn’t make it out under the sound of his own heartbeat hammering away between his ears.
“LITTLE PIG, LITTLE PIG,” shouted another, the words filled with laughter. “LET ME COME IN!”
“They will never save you,” said the man, the lack of oxygen finally beginning to drag Truman into the darkest recesses of his own body. His heart beat was a frantic percussion of loud bangs, until finally it wasn’t, and he was finally gone, no hope left for him in the land of the living.