Author: Amber Gulley
Genre: Dark Fantasy
It's 1879, and James, a time-wasting escapist, is trying to win a bet. His challenges include purchasing a lighthouse, hosting a séance, and spending the night with his father's prize-winning stallion in a notoriously haunted attic. But the Carnival is in town for the All Hallows' Eve celebrations, and the London Fog has other ideas for James. Something vicious is waiting to pounce and lead him unwittingly towards a destiny he could never have imagined.
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This night seems still, yet the wind pushes galleons of stormy intent in an unbroken flow across a web of moonlit clouds that stretch, sticky and endless, in all directions, perversely trapping the outer greatness of the universe and occasionally revealing a cold, white blink of starlight.
It was a night very much like this one, the night that I lost everything. Which is hardly surprising, because that night was exactly one year ago to the day. Of course, I’m not at all drunk, the way I was back then. I sometimes wonder if I might remember things differently if I had been sober at the time or perhaps even just less drunk. I don’t know. Hindsight makes fools of us all, at one time or another. Still, no matter how I remember it, it is nights like these that keep me coming back here, to stand in the spot where the gates of my old home used to be.
As I stand here so still in the darkness, waiting for what I cannot tell, there is tension in my shoulders and a lump in my throat. And it’s not just the deep anticipation of the terrible things conjured by my psyche and the darkened wilderness before me. It’s not childhood reminiscences or even regret for the loss of my home, although I will admit that I miss my old life very much.
I stand here waiting for answers, but even the voices in my head, the voices of conscience, have left me. I suppose silence is their way of punishing me. Because, without them, the reality of everything that happened cannot be buried or put away or sorted through to make me feel better. And so here I stand, remembering all the terror, the madness, the memories of blood and fear, each event that led to that one final, terrible event. The moment when I lost the treasure of my treasures, my Laura. Oh, Laura! This world is a terrible place without you!
But, of course, she does not answer my silent cries. Not a creature stirs within the woodland where my home used to be, but I dare not set foot inside its boundaries. Even when I fancy that I can hear laughter or whispered voices through the trees, I dare not search its cursed pathways. Why? Because I am a coward.