Lots of treats I hope! Happy Hallowe’en to all who are enjoying the celebrations.
Here’s a suitably ghostly excerpt from Black Dog… enjoy!
The cellar door was low and arched, with a heavy iron latch. He lifted it up and pushed the door open. It creaked dramatically and would have made a great prop in one of those haunted house movies. Garrick winced at the thought—he’d had enough of ghosts to last a lifetime.
Cool air from the cellar washed over him, and he peered down into the gloom. There was a torch on a ledge inside the door because there were no lights down below, and it was pitch black. The beam split the darkness, lighting up ancient wooden shelving, as he descended the stone staircase. Rows of dusty bottles sat cradled in their racks, and he picked his way carefully between them. Younger whites were, inconveniently, right at the back and he ran the torch up and down the shelf so that he could read the labels.
He was just reaching for a bottle when there was a resounding crash from the direction of the stairs as the cellar door slammed shut.
Garrick dropped the torch in shock and it went out, leaving him in absolute blackness. He dropped to his knees to grope around on the ground and banged his head on the corner of the shelving. He cursed when a trickle of warm blood slid into his eye. As he scrubbed at the stickiness a scratching noise sounded from the other side of the room and every muscle in his body froze.
They’d never had a problem with mice or rats at Faversham—Merlin’s voracious appetite saw to that—and this sounded bigger, anyway. His hand brushed the torch and he snatched it up, leaning against the wall as he fought to get it back on. The scratching was getting closer and closer. His heart was pounding and his imagination conjuring all kinds of wild images. Why wouldn’t the fucking torch work?
The noise suddenly stopped, but the silence was even more unnerving. There was a rush of air and Garrick yelled in pain as claws raked his chest. He lifted his arms to protect his face and the torch came on, flooding the cellar with light.
There was nothing there. Nothing. Garrick grabbed a random bottle and ran for the stairs. He yanked the door open and lurched out into the passage, then leaned against the cool wall, breathing heavily.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” He slammed the door shut and tried to calm down with a few deep breaths. There was a mottled old mirror farther along the passage, and he went to check out the damage to his face. A wild-eyed reflection stared back at him. There was a small cut above his eyebrow and a dried rivulet of blood leading from it. His chest was on fire, but when he plucked up the courage to look down at the damage, his shirt and skin were intact. He could feel every inch of the slashes but there was nothing there. What frightened him most, though, was the sudden flash of blue that lit up his eyes in the reflection.
Image by Cindy (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons