25 May, 2017
An excerpt from
My new novel came out: it’s on Amazon, and on the site of my publisher Dark Moon Press. It’s a supernatural thriller. I’ve been talking about it a while, but basically, it’s about a modern incarnation of the Jersey Devil, who has to save the world from a doomsday cult. Many monsters, blood and guts, and magic ensue. It’s pulpy and fast-paced, and I drew a lot of inspiration from Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft so if you enjoy that kind of thing you may enjoy this.
Here’s an excerpt from early on in the story, when the shape-shifting protagonist, Malcolm, and his girlfriend, Alleena, are setting forth on their quest to the cult’s nasty little town of Newbrooke, NY.
Not many people were up on an early Saturday morning in Chepston, so the car passed through Main Street quietly. The long drive up to and on the Interstate passed uneventfully. Bizarrely uneventfully, seemed to the two of them, considering recent events. All the rest of the world remained unaware for now, though the story of the kidnapping might reach the news in a day or two. A growing number of cars and trucks filled the highway, especially when passing the exit for New York City, but it was all essentially smooth sailing as the minutes and hours passed. Alleena took advantage of the time to nap. When she wasn’t sleeping, she told Malcolm more about Newbrooke.
The best known landmark of the isolated little New York town was the Newbrooke Infirmary, started by the infamous Doctor Benedict Holt towards the end of World War I. The “doctor,” who in fact lacked full-fledged medical training and whose true profession was fire and brimstone preaching, advertised his hospital far and wide as a healing sanctuary for the physically and mentally damaged. This included the criminally insane, war veterans, children stricken with infectious diseases, drunks, industrial accident victims, as well as unruly teenage girls conveniently branded as insane. Holt gathered many followers, who joined him in his declared goal of not only immediately healing the sick but also of more widely purifying society of the sins that led to sickness in the first place. All of it was in the name of the Lord. The Reverend-Doctor as people began to call him, increasingly combined religious ideology with his practice of medicine. Rumors, Alleena described, began to spread, of unnecessary surgeries, radical “therapies” more akin to bizarre religious ritual, strange chanting in the night, grave robbing, patients mysteriously vanishing from all sight and record, and horrific screams emanating from the asylum’s tower. The tower loomed over the town, and the rumors to this day spoke of it as Holt’s haunted and secret operating room, where he performed his most ghoulish disfigurations and tortures, pushing human bodies and minds to and then beyond the limits of their sanity.
Eventually, the Reverend-Doctor died in a mysterious accident which many suspected to be revenge, and the lid blew off the whole grisly affair. The Feds came in force, raided the asylum as well as the meeting places of the Order, (as the group was then formed and called,) and arrested as many members as they could. Interrogations of the fanatics revealed much of their true ideology, as Holt’s followers felt no need to hide what they saw as the most sacred truths; openly boasting of their crimes, and declaring their shared confidence in the Doomsday to be wrought by the Shining God Thag-Mishaolath . Those ravings were dismissed as madness, of course, but nothing could ever scrub from the eyes and minds of Hoover’s boys what they found in the operating rooms, altars, and labyrinthine tunnels of that asylum. Experienced crime-fighters, who had cut their teeth cleaning up the mean streets of Chicago and New York, vomited and fainted at the sights, smells, and sounds of variously disfigured, sewn together, frozen, burned, opened up, and blinded victims, some scarcely recognizable as human beings, from the way their flesh had been twisted. The lucky ones were dead, some of those killed at the last minute by their captors as the Tommy guns opened up and the doors were battered down.
As for the survivors of Benedict Holt’s reign…well, it was easy to keep things out of the papers back then, and no one from the Bureau ever offered any comment on the black clouds of foul-smelling smoke billowing from the closed-off crime scene for days on end. The same went for the other things found in Newbrooke Infirmary, beyond the implements and victims of the tortures rivaling what would take place in the death camps the second time the world went to war. Those other things, and the word “things” was the best anyone could manage for something neither animal, human, nor vegetable, scuttered and zipped about the hidden recesses of the Infirmary, always just out of sight, always watching, throughout the entire investigation. Some of the Feds swore they saw as well as heard them, throughout the grisly process of photography, body removal, and evidence collection. They only ever saw the things in quick glances of the peripheral vision, except for the one rookie who wandered off alone down the tunnels, was sent home instantly and quit the force weeks later, after he was found in a puddle of his own piss, babbling incoherently about “The Eyes beyond the walls,” “Hoary gory,” and a random mix of English and words in a language no one recognized. But he was just an orphan rookie with no family, and again, the press didn’t need to know such details.
The prosperity of the rest of the Roaring ’20’s passed the town by without a second glance, and the Great Depression slammed Newbrooke, down like an emaciated boxer knocked out by the heavyweight champ of history. Order members had been a bigger and richer share of the population than outsiders realized, and those who weren’t in the electric chair or jail cells laid low out west and down south. The bloody history chased away and kept out even the boldest entrepreneurs, plus, old folks and children alike whispered that the things that once went bump in the rotting rooms of the Infirmary, now went bump in the alleys and woods, on moonless nights. Maybe that’s why no one found the political will to “just go and dynamite” Holt’s damned old hellhole, as some suggested: whatever ghouls and goblins the Order loonies had called down, raised up, or stitched together didn’t feel the need to confine themselves to a single vacant building when they had whole abandoned blocks of town to themselves. The evil was out there now, and, some of those old houses hadn’t felt the warmth of a human family in many years…besides, TNT cost money that no one cared to spend, if they even had it.
And so Newbrooke Infirmary lingered and rotted like a dead parasitic worm, infecting and killing the host around it. The rest of the country quickly forgot about what happened there, exceptions occurring a couple times in the 1990’s and 2000’s as authors and paranormal investigation reality shows paid visits. All the while, the scattered remnants of the Order sought to reassert themselves. Holt’s original devotees, or their children and grandchildren, trickled back in among the tiny stream of oblivious fools who looked at the rock-bottom real estate and saw only dollar signs. Those devotees included Alleena’s parents, and so she found herself throughout childhood in the clutches of that cult, learning its scriptures and prophecies, witnessing its rituals, and carrying all the scars to this day. And now, on a dreary and drizzly October evening, she returned to where the horror began, and where, if there were any sanity or justice left in the world, it would finally end …
All this information Malcolm received from Alleena as they drove for the final stretch. They’d long since left New York City behind, and as cars and road signs became fewer and fewer, one could be mistaken for thinking one had traveled back to the times of the first Puritan colonists. It was nearly as poor and as Natural as the area of the Pine Barrens Malcolm had left, though more of the trees were deciduous. Just the same, Malcolm found no ability to admire the bronze and scarlet fall foliage as he reflected on the history of their destination, asking questions of Alleena here and there. He felt deepening disgust and dread in his chest, and it struck him as bizarre how utterly the crimes that took place in this tiny upstate town had been scrubbed from the popular conscious, in contrast to those of so many serial killers, terrorists, and gangsters. You’d think you’d hear more about it…but wouldn’t the Order want it this way? But then he was thinking like an Illuminati conspiracy theorist, and he didn’t want to think that way any longer. Instead, he focused on knowing his enemy, and the battlefield of the conflict to come. He wished he knew more about himself, but again, that wasn’t helpful thinking.
The drizzly rain grew into a downpour, and the sky exploded with lightning. The great cannon fire of thunder shuddered through their chests. The half-obscured exit for Newbrooke led them down a narrow gravel road. They passed a few farms which had seen better days, and then the cornfields and cow pastures were again replaced with trees and looming hills which closed in with each passing mile, forming an increasingly muddy valley. The headlights, even with the high-beams on, were as useful as a glowstick tossed into the Marianas Trench.
Malcolm slowed down to avoid hitting any obstacles, as much as to preserve traction on the pebble-and-mud river flowing beneath his car. His natural night vision didn’t do much against solid walls of icy water.
“Shit, I can barely see out there,” Alleena said, her voice barely heard over the constant hiss and roar of the rain. “I I’m sorry…I think we missed the last turn.”
She stuck her face close to the window-glass and squinted. “Yes. Yeah, we missed the crossroads. Slow down, pull over here.”