Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Crow Man Chapter One. Exclusive Pre-Release viewing.

The Crow Man, my adult horror novel, comes out on October 3rd 2017. 5 Years in the writing, it has been a labour of love and torment. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

It can be pre-ordered on Amazon
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0758JMKZ1
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0758JMKZ1

In the meantime, if you're curious about this project, here is the blurb and the first part of Chapter One.

BLURB


When your worst fear is your own mind.
Grace Waters lost a baby and now stands amidst the ruins of her marriage. Trapped within the loneliness of grief, her perfect and beautiful life as a GP’s wife begins to quickly unravel around her. With her husband increasingly concerned about her state of mind, she begins to doubt her own sanity – especially when she begins to see the terrifying figure of The Crow Man.

Referred to psychiatrist, Doctor Daniel Rose, Grace dares to hope for healing and recovery, but what she finds is an unending nightmare in which those pretending to be the voice of reason are the most dangerously insane of them all. 

Doctor Rose believes he has found the cure for insanity, for fixing the broken. And in his noble and ambitious mind, it doesn't matter that the methods are barbaric because the result is something perfect. 

A terrifying Frankenstein of the psychological age. An exploration into the dark recesses of the human mind and the terrifying psychological experimentations of the 1950s.

Readers' Note:
This is a horror novel with strong themes of female disempowerment and empowerment. It contains scenes that are violent and sinister. Some readers may find these distressing and triggering. It is recommended 18+ reading. 



1.

It was the kind of hour, in the kind of day, where the sky bled grey into the ground. The mist circled the base of the tree trunks. The grasses of the fields beyond the garden, looked like shards of cruel glass spiking the earth. From behind her, Grace heard the ticking of the kitchen clock. It was a heavy sound for a heavy time of year. Aside from this, the house appeared silent, although she knew it was only a trick of distance. Two stories up, the twins were playing in the attic playroom. It would be far from quiet there.

She paid little attention to the dishes she was washing in the sink. She was too busy staring out onto the grey swirling light. It reminded her of her marriage. The bare trees like the skeletal bones of affection she now held for her husband. She sighed heavily and broke her stare away from the distant fields to take the tumbler of gin and tonic from the worktop. She allowed herself ‘just the one’ at lunch time, although the measures had been getting more generous of late.

By the time her eyes travelled back to the space beyond the garden, the figure was there, standing ominously under the ancient oak tree. The glass slipped from her hand, either from shock, or from the soap suds on her hand. Her chest heaved. She blinked, hoping the sight of the freakish figure was nothing more than a figment of her imagination.

He still stood there.

Instinctively, she glanced towards the back door, praying it was locked. She wasn't sure she'd make it in time if it wasn't. There was a supernatural quality to the figure that made her think all efforts to out-run him would be futile.

The figure was a tall man, dressed in a well-tailored suit. Even though he was far away, she could see the cut of the suit was well tailored – sharp and expensive. The kind her husband, Doctor Paul Waters, wore. The figure was neither tall nor short. Neither fat nor thin. He was entirely non-descript; except for his head, which was covered by an old hessian sack, tied at the neck by a piece of worsted thread. Eye-holes had been cut crudely into it, giving the impression of two gapping mouths instead of eyes. The contrast between the rough-cut sack and the suit was startling. Fear beat hard wings in Grace’s chest and she thought for a moment that she might faint.

“Muuuum,” James called as he ran towards her, “I'm hungry!”

Momentarily, she turned, automatically responding, “Just a minute, sweetie.” By the time she looked back towards the monster in the garden, it was gone. Instinct told her that just because she couldn't see him, it didn't mean he wasn't there. Her breath was ragged and sharp in her throat.

He was hiding. Amongst the shadows. In the folds of the mist. Watching.

She wiped a stray piece of her straight, greying-blonde hair from her forehead with the back of her hand. She'd like to cry but her husband had told her it was damaging for the children to see her in an emotional state. Crying was poor form.

She retrieved the pieces of crystal tumbler from the bowl of washing-up water, half-hoping a glass slither might find its way onto her husband's dinner plate, and then his stomach. It was an unusually horrid thought for such a gentle woman. She'd been brought up to believe gentility was a strength, but there were a lot of things about her up-bringing she had started to question. The bin-lid clanged unnaturally loudly in the otherwise quiet house.

Satisfied the tumbler had only cracked into three, she drained the bowl and wiped her hands on her wool A-line skirt. She'd chosen it to go with the beige cashmere roll-neck her husband had brought her for Christmas. She hated it, it reminded her of his mother. Wearing it was a silent act of revenge against him.

“Do you want me to make you some toast?” she asked James, who was hopping from foot to foot with excited energy.

“Yes, please. Can I have jam?”

She smiled and ruffled his hair. “Yes, you can have jam,” she said bending over and whispering conspiratorially. “Just don't tell daddy. You know how he disapproves of sweet things. Does your brother want some?”

James shrugged as if the needs of his brother were the furthest care from his mind. As she watched James run around the kitchen doing an impression of a fighter plane, she smiled, suddenly feeling very foolish she should have let her imagination get the better of her.

At this time of year, the isolated landscape joined hands with the eerie weather and made her prone to flights of fancy. She had always had a vivid imagination. In another life, she might have been an artist. But art was too messy for their perfect existence; too full of feelings and chaos.

When they had moved into the Old Vicarage, she had sworn the house was haunted. An idea Paul had told her was, “Quite ludicrous.” Of course, he had been right. He was always right, she thought bitterly. The spooky banging and clattering had been the antiquated hot water system. The cold draughts of air on the stairs, the fault of a loose window latch. The sound of a baby crying in the night ... her grief at having lost her infant daughter. Never their grief, but hers.

A botched job of the after-care ensured there was no hope of Grace Waters ever having a daughter. The knowledge was like a constant blade in her heart, which dug a little deeper each time she walked. 

She busied herself making toast for her two blond-haired, blue-eyed boys. They were handsome and wholesome. Peas in a pod. Even she had difficulty telling them apart, and they constantly took great delight in playing tricks on their relatives, swapping jumpers and names. From the day they were born, they had been happy children. Grace knew she was blessed, and she knew she should be more grateful for what she had. But sometimes, the human heart doesn’t understand that as it should.

Grace opened the state-of-the-art refrigerator, (a Christmas gift from Paul) and pulled out the home-made jam. Her mother-in-law, Millicent, continually scorned this 'modern' approach to food storage, and the last time she had visited, there had almost been blood-shed over Millicent's precious jam being held prisoner by such a wicked contraption. The memory of it made Grace smile. Millicent was a total bitch but at least she made decent jam.

Catching the toast just in time before it welded itself to the AGA, she proceeded to spread butter and jam like the automaton mother she had become. George, the eldest by five minutes, came galloping into the kitchen on the back of his hobby horse and Grace startled. He was wearing a pillow case as an impromptu helmet, and looked unnervingly reminiscent of the figure she'd conjured in her mind just quarter of an hour before. She pushed the haunted feeling aside and cheerily handed out the plates of hot buttery, jammy toast. The smell of it was enticing. It would be easy enough to make another couple of slices, but instead, she reached for her silver cigarette case and lit one of the French menthol cigarettes. Paul Waters hated overweight women in a way only a true chauvinist pig could.

Grace watched her boys eat and bicker, and play games they didn't think she could see. She smoked the cigarette and crushed the tip into the heavy glass ash-tray. She looked at the clock. It was four o'clock in the afternoon. It was a long time until bed – longer still until Paul would arrive home after a day at the surgery. She ought to start preparing his dinner. She ought to hoover the rug in the hallway, and refresh the vase of flowers, but increasingly, these things didn’t seem to matter, especially as Paul often arrived late and too drink-soft to notice such details. 

Grace put it down to the stresses of being a GP. People now waited until the evening before calling for the doctor. It was a sign of the times. Or at least this was what Grace reasoned in order to stop the wild and dangerous allegations of him possibly having an affair.

She knew in her heart that he was; but she wasn't going to admit it. What would be the point? She could hardly leave him. She had nowhere to go. She owned nothing. It was all his. She had no home to return to. As Paul often reminded her, he had dragged her from some dump of an industrial town and made her into, “The lady you are today. A woman fit to be a doctor's wife.”

He had given her a clothes allowance, furnished their home with solid wood furniture, and all the latest technology. She wore enough diamonds to remind her of his respect for her as the mother of his children (although he failed to mention the word, “love”) and he allowed her to pursue her own hobbies, as long as they didn't interfere in the smooth running of the household or make a mess.

'Yes, I am truly blessed,' she said sharply inside her head.

The boys requested their leave from the table with mouths still stuffed with toast and jam. She smiled and waved them away, hoping she might get at least a half-hour nap on the settee before one of them tried to grievously harm the other. If she could get some rest, she might be able to face the horror of the bath and bedtime routine without the need for another stiff gin.

She walked over to the sink and slipped the plates into the water. Part of her was curious to look back over the garden towards the grey space of fantasy where her mind had conjured such a terrifying figure, and part of her feared the monster might still be standing there.

The grey had inked to a darker light, making it impossible to make reality out from the distant shadows. Her view was further distorted by the emerging reflection in the window of a once very beautiful woman who, over the course of six cruel months, had morphed into the very mask of sorrow.

“Something needs to change,” she whispered. “Or else I'll go mad.”

*

1 comment:

  1. foreshadowing??? can't wait to read this book!

    ReplyDelete