The Shadow In The Darkness (Excerpt)

This novel follows two characters in parallel story-lines.  The one story arc involves a burnt out New York City detective who’s battling with alcoholism and the loss of  his family due to said abuse, as well as his attempt at trying to solve an enigmatic series of murders which seem eerily familiar to a case he solved a few years back.

The second story arc involves an Ex-Forensic Psychologist who now has her own Psychiatric practice after quitting her job with the Prison after an escape convict she treated murdered her family.  Dealing with regret and feelings of guilt over the death of her family she has a secret buried far below her stoic facade.  Her life is thrown once again into turmoil as the man convicted with murdering her family is executed.  What follows challenges her worldview and blurs the edges of reality.

Toying with concepts of the afterlife, reality, death and forgiveness, The Shadow In The Darkness is a high octane mind fuck from beginning to end. (sez me) 😉

The scorched plain in front of him shone with an eerie hue that didn’t seem natural.  The orange sand around him emitted wavy trails of heat that distorted his view of the lone house trailer in the center of the sun blasted plain a hundred feet away.

“It worked.”  He breathed as he cautiously took a step towards the decrepit house trailer.  “This is unbelievable.”

He should have been feeling the intense heat of the desert, where instead he felt nothing but an unsettling numbness that caused him to repeat: “This is unbelievable.”

Above him the rolling clouds danced from one hazy colour to another.  There was no sun shining though the thick canopy of clouds yet still the expanse around him was lit up brightly which caused him to squint as he came nearer to the house trailer.

The trailer was old and in great disrepair.  The formerly white paint had been stained a dull yellow by years of exposure to the elements and was peeling from the rotted wood of the trailer’s exterior.  About ten feet in all directions from the trailer, the ground was littered with sun-baked objects: a rusted car frame, various tools, and a lawnmower; among other things.

He reached the front door, or what was left of it.  It looked as if the door had been kicked in not long ago.  A one-foot portion of the door, where the doorknob was supposed to be, had been smashed in leaving it to swing freely in the odd desert winds.

“I remember that,”  He said, almost laughing.

The unnerving sound of the wooden door slamming against the metal frame was beginning to grate on him.  He gripped the door tightly before it could slam again, and entered into darkness.

The trailer was small and cramped.  He could hardly see the ground among the pots and pans, the moth-eaten clothes and other miscellaneous junk that was strewn about the interior of the trailer.  The brown ceramic tiling was bubbling and rising up, revealing hints of rotted gray floorboard underneath.

In the far corner of the room was a door that seemed incredibly out of place in the dilapidated trailer.  It was a deep blood red, with black trim around the border; but there was no doorknob, which he found exceedingly disconcerting.  At the center of the door was a bronze knocker in the shape of a gargoyle.  The statue peered out with blank, dark eyes; its’ pointed ears taught and alert, rising straight up from the sides of its triangular head.  The sharp beak was large and menacing, and seemed to twitch as he moved closer.  As well, the statue had a large pointed nose from which a bronze ring was attached through the nostrils.  Dark wings spanned the width of the door on either side of the gargoyle.  It looked so real.  He could swear he could see its’ chest slowly rising and falling as he neared the door.

Taking a few moments to think through what he planned to do, he slowly reached out a hand and touched the ring with just the tips of his fingers; but pulled he away as if he’d just been shocked.

He took a few deep breaths to calm himself.

Those eyes, he thought to himself, I saw them move.

He stared at the gargoyle for a long moment and then, after he was sure the knocker hadn’t moved and his eyes had just been playing tricks on him, he gripped the ring firmly and knocked on the door twice.

The gargoyle let out a loud screech, and its mouth moved with lightning quickness, snapping at his hand and taking two fingers with it.

He fell back, staring with wide unbelieving eyes at the mangled remnant of his right hand, but he felt no pain.  The oozing of blood through his remaining fingers and down his forearm sent no sensation whatsoever through his body.

With an eerie calmness, he stood up and let his gnarled hand rest at his side as he saw the door slowly slide open.  The gargoyle continued to shriek and squeal as it slid inside the wall revealing a marble staircase going further into darkness.

Taking in a deep breath and exhaling slowly, he began walking down the steps into the inky blackness.  The light of the surface quickly died as he ventured further down the staircase.  He stopped for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the darkness before continuing on.

Abruptly he hit the bottom of the staircase and almost tripped on his own feet.  He stumbled a few steps but regained his composure and took in his surroundings.  Gradually the room began to brighten, and he could hear the sound of water trickling somewhere beyond his view.  His surroundings brightened even more as his eyes continued to adjust and he saw he was standing inside a cave.  There was a shallow stream running alongside the cave wall flowing deeper into the shadows.

He heard the chilling sound of laughter; a child’s laughter.

As he ventured further alongside the stream he called out:

“Hello?”

The laughter continued and as he stepped closer he could see a shadowy figure just out of the reach of the dim light.  He couldn’t make out any features but he was sure he knew who it was.

“Patrick?”  He called out, but there was no response, only the haunting laughter.

There was a burst of light from further inside the cave, which flickered and faded, but began to grow in intensity only to fade again.

A torch? He wondered.

He started towards the light and noticed that the laughing had stopped.  He stood still, ears straining, listening for any sound of any kind but after a few moments of uninteresting trickling continued towards the light.  The walls around him were pressing in steadily, forcing him to walk sideways in order to fit.

The light was growing more intense the closer he came to it.  The tight corridor opened up into a larger cavern and at the lip of the corridor was the torch.  The flame fluttered about in the faint breeze floating through the cave.  He picked it up and looked out into the now lit cavern.  There were dozens of freshly churned mounds of dirt.

There were no gravestones or markers, but the way the mounds were laid out on the ground, it seemed as if they were in a specific order almost in rows.

He shuddered as a high-pitched laugh broke the oppressive silence; again the laugh of a child.

“Patrick?”  He called again.

Wait. He thought suddenly horrified.

“Seth?”  He questioned meekly, but got no response.

Shadows flitted about on the cave walls, and he almost didn’t see the boy standing just within the reach of the light.  But the boy turned and ran off immediately after their eyes met.

“Wait,” He called out to the boy and followed quickly after.

The walls were beginning to close in again.  He followed the boy who remained just on the edge of escape into the darkness beyond the light of the torch.

The walls fell away again as he entered another cavern.  This one was well lit with many torches circling the large pool of water in the center of the room.  The boy knelt by the black water, staring into it.  He recognized the boy immediately.

“Patrick!”

The boy stopped playing and stood up straight.

“Dr. Orson,” The boy smiled oddly.

No, it . . . it can’t be Patrick.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” The boy’s lips folded upward in a smile, revealing fanged teeth.

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