As I may have mentioned, I’m thrilled with the covers of these six novellas, and delighted by the way the story pans out. What began in Fearless as a story that echoed my own concerns over the ways we address our personal demons, has gone on to follow a surprising turn of events that I could never have predicted at the start of the journey.
And, for anyone unfamiliar with how the story begins, these are the opening pages from Fearless: A Dark Tale from Innsmouth
The Randolph Carter Memorial Tower stood 200 feet tall overlooking the university quadrangle. Moonlight from a midnight sky illuminated its smooth, bleached stonework. The shape of the tower, combined with the pillared columns of the rotunda at its base, looked vaguely like a huge skeleton’s hand flipping a defiant finger at the night.
“He’s doing it,” Graham muttered.
Robert grinned. “I told you he’d do it.”
“He’s fucking doing it,” Graham insisted. His voice was breathless with incredulity. His eyes were wide with disbelief. He shook his head, stared up at the faraway full-length windows above the memorial tower’s eastern clock-face, and watched intently as a scrawny figure stepped out onto the thin ledge that circumnavigated the tower. “We should stop him,” Graham decided.
Robert placed a hand on his shoulder before Graham could hurry to the compromised door of the rotunda. “We’re not going anywhere. We have a bet.”
Graham shook his head. “He’s going to kill himself.”
“He’s going to walk on the ledge,” Robert corrected. “If he fails to do that, you win the bet. If he achieves that, I win and-”
“Fuck the bet,” Graham broke in. Anger made his tone brittle. “If he dies there’ll be repercussions and I’m not getting expelled from another uni. Not because of some dumbass bet.”
Robert continued to hold onto Graham’s shoulder as they both glanced up at the figure so close to the top of the Memorial Tower. He was wearing Converse, skinny jeans, and a loose T – hardly the most appropriate gear for such daredevil antics. The night was chilly and a sharp breeze tugged at his shirt and toyed playfully with his long hair. Seeming unmindful of the elements, the figure pressed his back against the wall and, with both heels firmly on the ledge, he began to inch around the building.
“That’s insane,” Graham whispered.
Robert nodded silent agreement. He had no idea about the most efficient way to walk on a decorative cornice but, on an instinctive level, he felt sure that back-to-the-wall and facing out-into-the-night was the wrong way to do it. As he watched, the scrawny figure waved down at him and shouted something. The wind made his words meaningless and only allowed his cheery tone to reach them.
“We’ve got to stop him.”
Robert shook his head. “It’s too late.”
“He’s going to fall.”
Robert shrugged. “He might.”
Graham wrested his arm from Robert’s grip and glared at him with sullen fury. “I’m not getting expelled for this shit.”
Robert glanced at him and said, “If you go into that building, you’ll almost certainly get expelled from Innsmouth University. There’s CCTV pointing at the rotunda doors. There’s camera coverage up the staircase and all the way to the top of the tower. Campus Security will see you and, even if they don’t recognise you immediately, they’ll know that someone was with that dumb fucker.” He nodded in the direction of the man creeping around the thin ledge. In a solemn voice he said, “I don’t think either of us wants Campus Security digging into this, do we?”
Graham hesitated and Robert watched the indecision flutter across his features.
“Go in there,” Robert said quietly. “And all three of us will be expelled. He’ll be expelled for his act of dangerous stupidity. We’ll be expelled for being accomplices. Stay out here, away from the cameras, and they won’t expel any of us.”
Graham rolled his eyes and nodded at the figure atop the tower. “Except for him?” he suggested. “They’ll only expel him, right?”
“No,” Robert said coolly. “If he makes it all the way around the tower, the administration here will not want to kick up a fuss about his achievement because they’ll be scared it will start some lemming-like trend of copycat daredevils. They’ll tell him he can keep his place here on the condition he doesn’t tell anyone what he did.”
“And if he falls off and dies?” Graham asked.
Robert’s shrug was a model of indifference. When he spoke, his tone was oily with disdain. “If that happens, the idea of his expulsion becomes somewhat redundant.”