Question for the Author

What’s your latest book about?

My latest novella is called Unearthed and this is the blurb.

Five staff members from Innsmouth University break into a church to unearth a secret that should have remained buried. Deep beneath the church’s ancient sepulchre there is a grave, labelled with a warning that promises hell on earth if it is ever opened. And still, because they believe they know better, the graverobbers ignore the warning.

As the more astute readers will have noticed, this is also set in Innsmouth, as was my previous novella, Fearless.  Does this mean you’ll need to read Fearless to understand what’s happening in Unearthed? No. The two titles work as standalones that simply exist in the same fictional universe. Some of the characters do appear in both books but that’s just done for my entertainment.

So, what is it about?

Well, you’ve read the blurb. If you go Amazon you can see how the story beings. And, if you want to read more, this is how I start one part of the story.

Sharon had half-expected Christopher Moriarty to pause at the locked door of the crypt and make some sort of sanctimonious speech. He was a pompous bastard at the best of times, and never failed to take advantage of any excuse to demonstrate his air of snooty superiority. In a spirit of uncharacteristic charity she figured, given the conspiracy of issues that had forced him to break the law this evening, he could have been forgiven for pontificating.

But he said nothing. They were standing on the steps of St Joseph’s parish church, Innsmouth. Christopher simply pressed the stolen key into the lock of the church door, twisted it once, and then pushed the door open for the five of them. The hinges groaned as though they were luxuriating through an orgasm.

The five of them hurried in like a row of poorly trained, out-of-condition ninjas. Each was wearing black. All of them wore bulky backpacks and had their shoulders hunched, as though the burden of breaking the law weighed heavily on them. The only sounds were the wheezing of Dennis’s early onset COPD, the heavy footfalls of Harper’s steel toe capped boots, and the racing of Sharon’s frightened heart.

Anjali went first. She was followed by Dennis, Harper and then Sharon. Christopher took up the fifth place and closed the door behind them as they filed into the narthex. He locked the door after stepping into the church.

“You’re locking us in?” Harper asked. Surprise was evident in his voice even though it was little more than a whisper. The words echoed eerily around the hollow acoustics of St Joseph’s. “Isn’t that a little-”

Christopher didn’t allow him to finish.

“We’re all needed in the crypt,” he explained. “We don’t have the manpower to spare a lookout waiting in the knave. Securing the door means we shouldn’t be disturbed.”

Sharon didn’t like the way he stressed the word shouldn’t. The thought came back to haunt her afterwards. She later wondered if Christopher had known what they were going to face in the crypt, or if he had possibly suspected how events might develop. But, at the time, she simply felt a tickle of unease bristle along her spine as she thought of the way he stressed that word: shouldn’t.

Harper nodded curt agreement with Christopher and stepped back into the church’s shadows. He stood between the bulky silhouette of Dennis and the skeleton-thin frame of Anjali.

There were doors to the north and south of the narthex, each leading to one of the towers that flanked the church’s west-facing main doorway. The southern door, as well as having stairs that went up to the top of its gothic tower, also had stairs that led to the crypt beneath the church. Amongst his collection, Christopher had the key to the southern door and he worked on the lock with hands that only shook a little.

“Do you want me to shine my torch on the lock?” Sharon whispered.

“No,” he grunted. “No lights until we’re in the crypt.”

It was something they had all agreed in the meeting prior to breaking into the church, but Sharon hadn’t realised how dark and unnerving an unlit church was going to be. With the door closed, the narthex was almost impenetrable blackness. Her colleagues – the word friends would have been stretching things beyond the bounds of the truth, she thought honestly – melted into the shadows. It was so dark there seemed to be little difference between having her eyes open or closed and she began to understand why some people had an overwhelming fear of the dark. Given the way her heart was racing, she worried that the fear was going to overtake her and either drive her insane or strike her dead with some sort of coronary episode.

Dennis placed a gloved hand on her shoulder.

She took more comfort from the silent gesture than she would have thought possible. In the darkness, she smiled at him and, even though she knew he couldn’t see her face, she felt sure he understood that his offer of comfort had been appreciated.

The lock on the door relented with a brittle click like the sound of an ancient tree-branch breaking. Sharon wouldn’t let herself think that it was probably the same sound her late mother’s hip had made when the woman fell on Boxing Day two years earlier, never to get up again. She hurried past Christopher, into deeper shadows, and listened to the lumbering trudge of everyone’s footfalls as they stepped through the doorway and stood at the base of the tower.

Unearthed

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