The Devil and the Doctor is my first novel. It’s a supernatural thriller, inspired by a combination of Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Resident Evil, and Silent Hill. It took me a long time to write and revise, and I know my future books will be a lot better, but I’m still proud of it. The story follows a supernatural hero on his quest to save his girlfriend, and the world, from a murderous and supernatural cult. It’s packed with action, gore, monsters, and intrigue. My goal was to write something pulpy, fun, and hopefully just a bit original: I’d say I succeeded. The Devil and the Doctor is also the first book in a series following the adventures of the Malcolm Leeds character.
It’s available through Amazon and from my publisher, Dark Moon Press’ website, in Kindle and paperback formats. (Click the picture above for the link.)
From the back cover:
Apart from his own mysterious past, Malcolm Leeds lives a simple life in a small New Jersey Pine Barrens town. He’s had a couple adventures, he has a good job and time to hunt, and he may be falling in love. But that life is utterly upended by the nefarious designs of a doomsday cult that threatens to burn away all that he holds dear.
He instantly finds himself rushing headlong into a deadly quest of justice, revenge, and supernatural conflict, centered around the mysterious and dreaded little town known as Newbrooke, New York. Malcolm must move fast, shoot straight, and unleash his own latent abilities to overcome the Mad Doctor of Newbrooke’s monstrous plans before it’s too late. It’ll take all his skills and powers as the embodiment of a creature from ancient legend to overcome the horror of Newbrooke and get himself, his loved ones, and the world out alive …
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.”
Fearing the quagmire of mud on either side of the road, Malcolm turned on the emergency flashers and stopped the Taurus as soon as they reached flat ground. He punched the overhead light button and yanked the state roads map from the glove-box. GPS was a no-go in this country, in this weather, and he wanted to be on the same page as Alleena. He unfolded the map across the steering wheel and began to trace their route with a steady finger.
Then, Alleena saw something outside. Something moving, something alive. The rain had formed a strange, thick fog around the sides of the road, obscuring the terrain almost completely. But she had definitely seen something bounding or galloping out there, even if her brain couldn’t fully process what her eyes had sensed. She thought and prayed for a second that it had been only her imagination, but then in a flash of lightning, she saw it again: something as long as a jungle cat, weaving through the trees and bushes, then vanishing again, like a shark passing through the oceanic as it circled its prey, always there, but just out of sight. The creature’s silhouette was like nothing she’d ever seen, except maybe in childhood nightmares: a long and flexible body which waved like that of a sea dragon, an oversize head which hinted at large jaws and teeth, and on that head…protrusions, reminiscent of antlers, but entirely too flexible.
The glimpse sent shudders through Alleena’s soul, and she would have given her right hand to have kept the car moving. The thunder exploded again, and the sound spoke doom to her heart.
Malcolm felt her hand tap his shoulder. He kept his finger on the map. “Hm? Were you sure about that turn,” he looked carefully at his compass. The needle was slowly rotating for no discernible reason. Maybe the hills were rich in magnetic elements? “You know the area better than I do, but I think we have about a mile and a half–”
“Something’s out there,” and she tapped his shoulder again, hard. Her eyes, reflected in the window glass, gazed wide as dinner plates. Then the lightning flashed, and Malcolm saw what she saw: three of the fearsome predators, their scaly bodies slick with water, and their many eyes gleaming through the pouring rain. “Malcolm, go, go drive!”
Tossing the map aside, he slammed the gas pedal.
The engine roared, the wheels spun, but they got no traction, and the car just rocked forward and back slightly. Something pounced on the trunk with a loud thud, making the vehicle bounce on its suspension, and sit at an awkward angle. The lightning flashed again as if the sky were taking a snapshot of the beasts which prowled through the mist and leered at the car. Their faces were nearly spider-like, with spiked appendages protruding and feeling, fangs rubbing hungrily together. Alleena screamed.
Malcolm swore and let off on the gas, put it in reverse, revved again. “Grab the gun from the glovebox, it’s loaded, just don’t forget the safety!”
The wheels again tore up gravel and mud, but then they found a grip and the car jerked back. The metal on the back of the car crunched and squealed as the creature’s claws dug in. Then, a crack, then a crash, as the thing bashed its head against the rear glass. The rain and wind poured in, and the intruder hissed like an enormous cockroach. Alleena twisted around in her seat, raised the handgun and fired at the creature.
Malcolm’s ears rang from the gunshots. He had no time to look back himself, and there were too many of the things out there. Just get out of here. He slammed the gearshift back to “D,” and pushed the gas pedal down in a smooth but quick motion.
To his relief, the car surged forward, knocking aside one of the other creatures just as it darted at the driver’s side window. The one on the trunk hissed, gurgled, and slid off, bleeding green blood from several holes. The drop in weight let the Taurus move faster, and the needle crept up from fifteen, to twenty, to thirty-five miles an hour, and counting. The thunder roared back, as if with primal rage at the duo’s escape. The wind howled through the broken rear windshield.
“They still back there?” yelled Malcolm. He kept his eyes on the road as it reached a tight upward bend. The worst thing would be to spin out and hit a tree, or even roll. The road was slick enough for that to happen if he wasn’t paying attention.
“Not sure!” she replied, squinting to see through the downpour. Then, Malcolm could hear her spirit sink before the words left her mouth. “Wait, they’re still coming! Malcolm, they’re keeping up!”
Malcolm sensed the relentless, predatory instinct of the beasts behind them, and knew for once the cruel oddity of being prey. He eased the pedal down further, still mindful of the danger of hydroplaning and spinning out. This prey had fangs of its own and would fight back. “Shoot ‘em again,” he ordered Alleena, “I gotta keep my eyes on the road!” He knew hitting anything would be a long shot in these conditions, but it was worth a try.
Seconds later, she was again firing the handgun. The beasts were catching up, she could tell now. Not quickly, and if the road had been dry and straight the car would smoke them, but they were gaining. In the flashes of the lightning and the gun’s muzzle, she could see those eyes, those eager fangs. No vapor of breath came from the creatures’ mouths, rather, “breath” seemed to puff from slits on their sides. Between the turning of the car and the irregular movements of the monsters, she didn’t think any of her shots landed a hit.
Malcolm’s focus meanwhile was on reaching the relative safety of a town, even if that town was Newbrooke. If he transformed now he could fight, but Alleena would still be at risk, and his other Form needed rest. His eyes kept scanning for a turn for another road. If they found that, they could get back around in the right direction.
But the valley remained tight and one-way, and the rain remained heavy, and the whole thing was reminiscent of being in a small boat swept down through raging rapids, with nasty fucking gators chomping for your ass.
There! The headlight beams lit up a road sign, with a white arrow. On reflex, Malcolm yanked the wheel to the right and hit the brake.
The car’s back end swung around, and the tires squealed and kicked up gravel. It wasn’t a huge slowdown, but it was more than enough. One of the creatures leaped and slammed against the driver’s side door, shattering glass and puncturing steel. The car spun, then leaned up on two wheels, preparing to roll over. But the lifted tires found earth again, albeit at an awkward angle, as the vehicle jerked forward, the front bumper hit the ground, and the vehicle found itself stuck in a muddy ditch.
Now all urgency was gone from the beasts. They prowled off the road like mutant jungle cats, muscles rolling with deadly, potential energy. There were six of the things now, and they took up positions surrounding the car, as orderly as a well-drilled marching band.
Malcolm and Alleena had a couple tiny cuts from the glass, and their heads were ringing again, but they were physically otherwise fine. He pushed the deployed airbag to a more convenient position, and drew his other Glock “Get ready,” Malcolm said, wishing the shotgun was in his hands rather than in the trunk. “Aim for the head, make every shot count.” He had no idea the internal anatomy of these creatures, and normally it was best to aim for the center of mass, but, they had to have brains in those heads. Right? He unlatched his seatbelt and braced himself awkwardly against the angled floor with this feet. Car’s going nowhere. Nowhere to run. Fight or die.