Hello again! With the forthcoming release of my novella MANIAC GODS, I thought I’d offer a little teaser and post the book’s prologue. Hopefully it gives a small taste of the madness and cosmic horror to come…
The girl stood at her window, watching the rain in the night, and saw the thin man in white robes slump to his knees on the road outside. Within the shadows thrown by the streetlights, he put his hands to the bronze mask upon his face and bowed his head. She thought he was crying, and wondered what he was crying about in the middle of the road beyond the front garden of her mother’s house.
She wiped condensation from the window, breathed softly through her nose to keep the glass clear, and wiped her damp hand on her opposite sleeve. Droplets pattered against the other side and ran in vertical trails down the glass, turning the street outside into abstract smudges and smears. The man became no more than a forlorn ghost waiting for her in the downpour and the keening wind.
The girl squinted, watching the man while her hands pinched at the edge of the windowsill and the walls of her bedroom creaked as cold draughts rushed through them. She was vaguely aware of the sound of her mother switching on the shower in the bathroom down the hallway.
Aside from the erratic trembling of his shoulders the man didn’t move, and for a moment the girl thought he was merely a product of her imagination, an illusion in the rain, until he raised his head towards the window where she stood, and took his hands from his face and gestured for her to come outside to see him. She stepped back from the window, surprised at the warmth of his smile within the mask he wore.
The voice inside her head was gentle and friendly. It was the voice of a kindly grandfather who loved his children and would never hurt any of them. Come outside, dear one. Come outside and be joyous with me in the rain.
Her hands shaking at her sides, she turned away from the window and left the darkness of her bedroom, passing into the pale light of the landing. She stepped quietly past the door to Mum’s bedroom and went downstairs. The man’s voice was in the wind, circling the house, low and wordless but comforting.
Pulling on her coat, she opened the front door and stood at the threshold as rain lashed the doorway around her. She squinted against the building storm. She swallowed, felt her throat working, and looked out at the man in the street. She couldn’t stop the brief smile that curved her mouth.
The man spoke inside her head again, warm and honeyed, encouraging her forward, and she complied and left the house to walk down the garden path. She went out to him, leaving behind the shelter of the house. The rain on her shoulders, on her head, and then on her face when she looked up at the sheer black sky.
She shivered in the cold and stopped before the man in the road, returning the smile he gave to her. Their proximity revealed the full vision of his bronze mask.
She told him her name.
The man held out his hands and looked down at them, the smile fading from beneath his wet mask, his eyes glassy with sudden confusion and something like awe. Then he looked up at the girl and told her to come closer. And when she did, he put his dripping hands to her face, and she felt such warmth from his touch that she began to cry.
The man spoke to her, said her name, and comforted her. The rain went away and there was nothing but the warmth.
She only screamed once when the man’s hands reached inside her head and found her thoughts and little dreams.
Here’s a related image created by the genius Daryl Duncan 🙂