Happy Bank Holiday Weekend Everyone !
I hope you're enjoying the balmy late summer days....
I have a little bit of news... Monkspike is going to edits very soon, and I'm on target for the release date of October 20th. Now on pre-order, the links are http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VJHPD63 and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VJHPD63 I have to say this is possibly the darkest piece of work I've done to date, and one of the most daring in terms of what is covered! Certainly it's given me nightmares!
The next newsletter and blog will go out nearer the time with the launch party details - it will be at Halloween and there will be prizes, and a very popular fellow author is hosting it! She will be revealed next time... Oh, and there will be news of the audio, too. Anyway, here is the synopsis and prologue. Back with you soon.. The Witching Season Cometh... cackles...
AN OCCULT HORROR NOVEL
1149 was a violent year in the Forest of Dean. During the reign of King Stephen laws were lax, and landowners exacted high tithes from peasants forced to hand over their produce or face torture. One sector in society however, did not have to pay, and those were the monks. A fact which enraged local tyrant, Baron John Rivers.
Today, nearly 900 years later, the forest village of Monkspike sits brooding. There is a sickness here passed down through ancient lines, one which is noted and deeply felt by Sybil Massey, the new psychologist. What is wrong with nurse, Belinda Sully's, son? Why did her husband take his own life? Why are the old people in Temple Lake Nursing Home so terrified? And what are the lawless inhabitants of nearby Wolfs Cross hiding?
It is a dark village indeed, but one which has kept its secrets well. That is until local girl, Kezia Elwyn, returns home as a practising Satanist, and resurrects a hellish wrath no longer containable.
Burdo, the white monk, will infect your dreams....This is pure occult horror and definitely not for the faint of heart...
‘Stars hide your fires. Let not light see my black and deep desires.’ Macbeth IV. Shakespeare.
Six a.m. Kezia jumped off the bus one stop before Monkspike and waited for the taillights to disappear. The fog was slow to clear in the forest that morning, blurring the veil between dawn and the coming day, but she knew her way of old. Some things, not many, had come in handy growing up here, and the whereabouts of hidden tracks through the woods was one of them.
Sam Elwyn lived in a bungalow at the top of the hill - a decent brick place with several acres, workshops and a yard out back. Well concealed by trees, the walk was steep, and her breath steamed on the air as she climbed. Occasionally she stopped…to watch and listen…resuming a couple of minutes later. Although the path was very rarely used it terminated at Sam’s place. If anyone saw her it would be difficult to explain.
Deep into the forest now, the interior was gloomy and the going underfoot muddy. Fallen trunks barred the way at intervals and undergrowth concealed the path. She trod carefully. There couldn’t be so much as the snap of a twig or…
What was that?
It had been the smallest of sounds…a soft footfall, a gentle sigh…
The next intake of breath remained lodged in her throat as she scanned the trees. Tendrils of mist hovered between barren branches…
A few yards away a startled deer had stopped grazing and was staring at her directly. Motionless, relief rushing through her veins, she met its gaze, until finally a sense of calm settled upon the creature. Then bowing its head once more it nuzzled at the damp grass for a few moments longer, before turning on its heels and vanishing into the haze. Nothing else stirred, the only sound her own hammering heart. Satisfied she was alone again – not something to be taken for granted so close to Wolfs Cross - she continued at a pace, making sure to cover her tracks. Those from the village would know if there had been a visitor - Kade, her brothers, uncles - all hunted at dawn.
Trying to stifle her deep unease, she focused inwardly on her protector, guide and master. She kept fearful company these days, and creatures like the deer would see him dwelling within and cower, submitting instantly. Humans however, would not, which was why it was vital to work in the shadows until it was too late, far too late, for any of them to do a damn thing about it. People here would know soon enough what they were dealing with.
A few minutes later Sam’s house came into view, the windows unlit hollows, the yard empty, workshops chained and padlocked. Another hour and his labourers would arrive with trucks for the day’s jobs. Sam was a wealthy man with a thriving forestry business. Somewhat isolated and getting on in years, he may have been a target for theft in what was a poor area and a deprived village, but Sam had powerful contacts and a team of loggers depending on him to pay their bills. Not only that but he was a short, wiry man with a quick temper who wasn’t averse to using a shotgun. His aim was legendary. Back in Wolfs Cross they held competitions for who could hit the most rabbits or wild boar on a shoot, and old Sam would show up and win hands down every time.
She lurked behind one of the oaks for a couple of minutes, moulding her body to its trunk, slowing her breath, acutely aware of the moment, of the steady wash of drizzle dripping onto the canopy above.
At six-thirty precisely a lamp flicked on.
It was her signal.
Darting across the yard like a fugitive, she quickly scooted in through the back door. Shut it behind her and slid the bolt. Then turned around, her eyes adjusting to the gloom.
He was standing in the kitchen doorway, dressed in pyjama bottoms tied with string at the belly, and an old brown sweater pulled over the top. She could smell him – the stale sweat of his beer-soaked skin, the dried drips of urine, and the grease of his unwashed hair.
“I thought you’d never come,” said the man who churned her stomach. “Kept me waiting, you ’ave.”
She threw back her hood, dropping the rucksack on the table. “Did my best. Anyway, nice to see you too - I could do with a coffee, Sam.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, ambling over.
He was staring at her mouth like the lover he thought himself to be. Instinctively she put out her arms to keep him at bay. “I’ve ’ad a long journey, Sam. I need one now.”
The stench of his morning breath snagged in her craw, and she turned her face to one side, swallowing hard as he lunged forwards. One hand was already around her waist, the other tugging at the zip on her jeans.
“You definitely need one now.”
Wriggling backwards she pulled away, and forced herself to laugh flirtatiously, to feign a light-heartedness she didn’t feel.
“Down, wolf. Listen, I want a coffee first and I’m ’aving one. I feel dizzy. Then I’ll make it worth your while, I promise.”
His eyes flashed to steel and she cringed inwardly, summoning the effort needed to sound cajoling, hating the wheedling tone in her voice as she stroked his arm. “Seriously, I’ll be fine in a minute. But it’s taken an hour and a half to get here. Have a heart, Sam, I left before five.”
“Right. Well, I need a piss anyway. Get me one as well while you’re at it, will you? Two sugars. You can bring them through to the bedroom.”
Every bundle of nerve fibres twitched and fired as she hunted in the semi-darkness for cups, filled the kettle and switched it on. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize…
On reaching the doorway however, he paused. “You wouldn’t be messing with me would you, Kezia? You wouldn’t want to do that, you know – not after all that’s been said.”
Spooning in the coffee, she had her back to him. “No, of course not.”
“I mean, why come up ’ere if you’re not gonna–?”
She spun round to face him, forcing tears into her eyes. “Alright, well if I seem a bit off it’s because I thought we ’ad an understanding? I’ve been worrying myself half to death about it. Because the way I look at it, I’ve kept my part of the bargain - coming ’ere, risking life and limb - but you ’aven’t. In fact, I’d say you’re leading me a merry dance and not doing what you said you would. I mean, ’ave you thought about what will ’appen to us, me and Gul, if he finds out? If you want to know what’s upsetting me, it’s that!”
His lip curled. “Oh, that’s what it is, is it? Well, for your information I ’ave done what I said I would. Did it last week, in fact.”
She stared long and hard, watching the expression of suspicion begin to die in his eyes as he walked back towards her, replaced now with what she dreaded the most. Recoiled from.
“Course I ’ave. You and Gul mean the world to me, you know that.”
She tried not to flinch as he grabbed one of her breasts and began to knead it, grinding his hips against hers.
“Where is it, then? I mean, when did you do it? Only you understand my concern? It’s Gul I’m thinking of.”
His voice was becoming thick and syrupy. “Later.”
She eased him gently away. “Kettle’s boiling, my lover. Anyhow, I thought you needed a pee?”
He laughed, showing a row of small, nicotine-stained teeth. “You really want that coffee, don’t you? Alright, well bring them through and then I’ll prove it to you, alright? Thought you’d trust me, that’s all.”
“Yeah, I do but–”
“He’s made a fool out of me, you know that. And now he’s gonna pay.”
The smile stiffened on her face, his words resonating with the one inside. “Indeed,” she murmured under her breath as he wandered out of the kitchen. “Indeed he is.”
OUT 20TH OCTOBER.