He had been warned, yet the sight before him threatened to break through his hardened defences. Calcifying drops of water ensured the starkness of the scene, moulding bones into wax-like effigies of their original owners. Melted screams showed on the faces of tormented statues and the young priest swallowed bile.
“How long...?” he could not finish.
“At least two centuries, we believe, but it could be longer.”
The young man stared hard at the local official.
“Impossible. Our records show that these people were buried here in the late nineteen thirties.”
The fat politician laughed and shook his head.
“Rumours, nothing more than rumours...”
His voice trailed off as the priest withdrew a wicked-looking dagger from with the confines of his habit.
“I was warned...”
“Ah,” responded the official, “but did they tell you the truth?”
Father Alfonso DiMatteo smiled for the first time; here his rage could be vented safely, the official had not disappointed. He raised the crucifix he held in his other hand and stepped forward. The official screamed in agony, his face beginning to blister.
“HOW COULD YOU KNOW?”
DiMatteo ignored the question, as he did the evidence of real possession; he had a job to do. Words steeped in centuries of faith fell from his lips, each one smashing into the demonic face contorted in pain before him. Smoke rose slowly from the confines of the official’s clothing and the young priest felt the exultation of victory.
The single word accompanied a massive blow to the side of his head, leaving DiMatteo helpless.
“YOU SHALL NOT HAVE HIM...”
DiMatteo felt excruciating pain as skin was pared from his bare legs.
“...BUT YOU WILL REMEMBER ME...”
No welcoming blackness enfolded him; he lived and breathed the cruel torture, as a new adversary carved his name and intentions into DiMatteo’s unwilling flesh.
Vomit sprayed against the white-painted wall, creating a decorative effect of brown and green.
The girl tied to the bed arched her body up, straining against the cords which held her at wrist and ankle.
Her voice deepened, the echo of a multitude of tormented souls resounding chillingly round the room. A rank stench crept out from the emaciated figure as wounds formed, rotted and burst into putrescent life on her exposed skin. She writhed her hips seductively and blew a kiss at the figure hunched at the foot of her stained mattress.
“YOU KNOW YOU WANT ME...”
The slap of wood against flesh drew a horrific scream. It was ignored, the only response the monotone repetition of unintelligible words, which ended in a roar.
“THAT DIDN’T WORK LAST TIME...AND IT WON’T DO SO NOW!” With a wrench the girl’s right hand was free. It tore at the restraining straps, shredding the cord in manic frenzy. Now the figure moved. A man rose from his kneeling position, flicking the sleeves of his robe away as he unclasped his hands.
“I am sorry, my child,” he murmured.
Two sharp cracks interrupted the cursing girl’s movements, stopping her in mid-leap in a welter of blood and brain-matter.
Father Alfonso DiMatteo stared intensely, focusing his eyes past the smoking pistol barrel onto the remains of the girl’s skull. Lambent light looked back.
“DO YOU THINK THIS A VICTORY, PRIEST? I WILL BE BACK. WATCH FOR ME WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT. I WILL NOT...”
The gun spoke again. DiMatteo had heard it all before.
Juan gloried in their fear; each broken breath urged him on. Where did they think they could hide? Tortured souls strained up from the ground to clutch at him as he passed and he slapped their bony fingers away. On he flowed, his ethereal substance aiding his passage, yet something nagged at him.
As the ground rose towards the small cemetery he felt the earth begin to hold him. His anger was being sucked inexorably away. Ahead he watched the last of his prey fall over the tumbled walls and screamed. Still, this hateful place held consecrated ground within its very heart. The purity of prayer burnt him, forcing him to change his direction. At first it was a minor irritation, but the closer he came to the hallowed place the more pain he felt.
He struck an impenetrable wall but feet from his enemies, rearing backwards from the love and devotion which rested there. How could that be? The strange young man stared at Juan, his dark eyes boring deep into the twisted soul. He recognised him and now his anger knew no bounds. Spiritual fingers tore at the earth in anguish, a pitiful moaning accompanying Juan’s every effort. Moonlight illuminated Toni’s face further and the gravestone on which his hand casually rested. Juan now knew what Toni was and his anger boiled viciously, causing blue flames to spark again. An abomination!
The Professor fought for breath. Their flight from the van had all but taxed his last remaining strength and he wheezed painfully. All of the others had made it but seemed to have fared better than he; youth he supposed. They were arrayed in a semi-circle around Toni staring fearfully out over the open ground. Snarling and spitting sounds drew his attention, causing him to lurch back away from the inferno whirling but feet from the cemetery’s walls. It had followed them, but could not cross; the first hope he had felt from what seemed an age entered his breast. With a fluttering sigh he hobbled across to stand by Toni who appeared transfixed, almost as though he was communing with the evil spirit.
“It knows you now,” he whispered into the young man’s ear, “and cannot give up. It has forgotten the others. Just as your television station planned, there will be a spectacle.”
“It’s a shame they can’t get any pictures then,” mumbled Toni, “my death would have made quite an ending to the show.”
“Oh, I have a camera,” Manolo corrected him, “but my sodding hand is shaking so much, it’s useless.”
Toni had turned to look at Rosa who cowered before him.
“Me? I knew nothing of this,” she said, shaking her head in concert with her words.
“Tell it to someone who believes you,” snarled Toni, “your public, perhaps? For me, you can go to hell!”
“Don’t say that,” pleaded the Professor, “it is listening...”
El 26 de Septiembre, 2008. 01:25 am
“How much longer do we have to wait?” asked Toni, beating his arms slowly against his body, “I’d forgotten how cold it gets up here.”
“We have a whole day ahead of us,” replied the Professor as he studied the journal by torchlight.
“What is that thing,” Manolo asked as he peered over the old man’s shoulder, “I don’t know about you guys, but I have no intention of wasting all day here in a sodding cemetary. Surely someone will be on their way?”
Here he looked questioningly at Rosa, who was studiously ignoring them, her mobile on the floor where she had dropped it. In anger, Manolo siezed the telephone and cursed.
“Shit!” he spat, “The fucking thing’s not even turned on…”
“No…!” squealed Rosa, clawing for it, but Manolo skipped out of her way and activated the phone. Once it had warmed up, it began to chime with the incoming message signal.
“You stupid bitch!” roared Manolo, “The studio’s been trying to call us all this time!”
He hit the redial button and waited.
“Hi. No it’s Manolo, Rosa’s just a little bit out of it now. What? Fine!”
He handed the mobile to Rosa, “He wants to talk to you....and he’s pissed!”
* Emilio had passed being angry long ago, now he was scared. The ratings were through the roof and they had nothing. No feed, no on-site representation, absolutely nothing and that would mean the death of his greatest operation. It was with a mix of relief and spite that he answered the call from Rosa’s phone, although Manolo’s intervention brought him back to his senses for a short while. Once Rosa came on the line though, he let his control slip.
“Just listen,” he snarled, “all I want from you right now is a little of your vaunted professionalism. In particular, if you want to get out of there, you will do exactly as I say. No more and no less.
“I am going to cut in this call to the debate we are currently using to waste time. You will tell us a little about what had happened, but nothing about death and dismemberment. Those people are missing, that is all. You will describe the atmosphere, do a little heavy breathing and then I’ll sever the connection. You though will remain on the line and talk to me. Do you understand?”
“I don’t know...”
“Do you understand!”
“Yes, Emilio,” she replied, “but please get me out of here.”
His voice became softer, “Rosa, of course I will get you out of there, just as soon as we close the show. Just work with me, okay?”
“Okay,” she agreed. There really was no other option but trust him, even though she knew deep down that it was a bad decision.
Emilio waved frantically through the window of his office, pointing at the phone and holding up five fingers. He received a nod and he went back to reassuring Rosa. Maybe he could save this after all.
Now here's a thing, one more learning curve to climb. It seems that TAGS on Amazon are really important. Yes, I know everyone else but me knows this fact, but I have an excuse...I'm slow.
The more TAGS you have, count wise, in a particular category, the more visible you are. This is especially so in the .co.uk version as there are (right now) less eBooks versus the .com version. So here's my plea...those of you with either .co.uk accounts or .com accounts who are feeling generous, why not help 26-S by sliding along and clicking your agreement with the tags of Paranormal and Horror. Hey, if you want to click more that's good too, but Paranormal Tags are just up my street.
As strange as it seems, actual sales in the plural. All of them via Amazon.com. There are some encouraging downloads via Smashwords too. No Kindle purchass in the UK yet, but I'm working on the marketing and tagging like mad.
Yes, it's true, 26-S is uploading (#2235 in the queue) on Smashwords as we speak, and is being checked out for Kindle too. I should be able to say that's it's live on both by tomorrow p.m.
This one has taken a long time to finish, as I needed much more confidence in both detail and plot before taking the plunge. From seeing Manolo Guerrero's original photo, to reading about the Spanish Civil War and experiencing the hurt and anguish which still lives in Spain there passed some time before I felt that I could write this.
Of course the characters and actual events are 100% fictional, however some of the tales of the time are in their own way more harrowing than my own attempts.
It has expanded my own writing style and self-confidence and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did the process.
I have finally finished my novella 26-S. It has been a long time coming, as it's a new venture for me - Historical Fiction and Horror. There are twenty four short, sharp chapters. My intention was to write this as a fast-paced horror, whose storyline grabbed you by the throat and didn't let go.
We'll see how I did!
26-S will be available on Smashwords and Kindle at $0.99/£0.71.
Obstacles always appear; mounds of bones, rivers of blood or just plain writer's block. For me though, it's been the tortuous and soul-sucking process of self-publication. Yeah, I know that others have trodden the path...but it's just more real when it's you.
So, we are now in the final edit of 26-S. History, misery, despair and vengeance add to the mix and that's just the formating and editing...