The cottages within this gated community seem simple enough, and even though what lurks beneath them is more ancient than mankind itself, can anything be more evil than the people worshipping it?
If you dare follow this UK invasion of five prime authors as they each tell their own story of the people living behind Priory's steel gates and high walls, you'll quickly find yourself an outsider, as well.
Stephen Bacon – James Everington – Gary Fry – V.H. Leslie – Rosanne Rabinowitz
The Priory. A community of one mind and purpose. A place of order, commitment, peace, and service. A perfect world, building on mind shattering secrets from beyond the pale. Enter…if you dare.
After that, Claudia still heard her mother crying at night, but there was less despair. She was grieving, but now she also had something to look forward to. Perhaps they both did.
When the article was published, it stirred up controversy. Claudia didn’t understand what it was about, though Lorraine read some of the emails to her.
The article, Lorraine explained, was about bioluminescence and communication in deep sea creatures. There is no doubt they communicate with each other this way, but Lorraine speculated about how humans could read these signals. And perhaps there was much more to these creatures than we realised...
And then came an email from Mr Charles Erich at Priory, near Exham.
Excerpt from “Impossible Colours” by James Everington
I met him today, met Erich!
He didn't disappoint, and I hope I didn't – but that's the kind of phrase he would use. That's how much he impressed me!
But before him, there was her.
I was outside Priory again and it was as if those odd colours in my sight were swirling through the gate, animating the strange squid like creatures on the bars, and there was a secret there that I almost saw...
Excerpt from “Stolen From the Sea” by Stephen Bacon
He went to his son’s room and pushed open the door. Memories collided with emotion as he viewed the room, smelt the gentle aroma of familiarity. An odour of soap hovered somewhere in Ryan’s head, but the talcum powder bunny, the plastic pretend food, the oily tang of his son’s train set, won the overriding battle. He stepped inside. His son’s old dressing-gown still hung from the corner of his bed, its belt draping across the carpet like a snake. There was a photograph on the chest of drawers – a laughing Ben staring down from the highest point of a see-saw, taken just months before his death – and Ryan picked it up and stared at it. He knew he should go, but the idea of leaving things like this behind arrested his movement. Instead he twisted the back of the frame and slid out the photo, tucking it into his pocket.
Excerpt from “The Subprime” by Gary Fry
Lee looked away from the picture and then forced himself to ignore a new impression, one involving a kind of chanting nearby, maybe even back in the dining room from which he’d just fled. Surely he only imagined this; the words, muttered in the rhythms of a chant and perhaps even a religious one, sounded like no language he’d heard before – in fact, he couldn’t be certain it actually was language.
Excerpt from “Precious Things” by V.H. Leslie
She reached the bottom and bent to retrieve the torch. She was too old for this. Bernard was too old for this. He’d been descending deeper and deeper into the earth all these years, while Petra was doing his laundry or preparing dinner. Picking up the torch, its beam caught a dark shape ahead, low to the ground.
Petra recoiled and the shape shrank from the light. She held the torch firmer, outstretched her arm and brandished the beam across the width of the tunnel as if it were a weapon.
A rat? No, it was too big for a rat and Petra knew it. Besides, it had slithered out of the way, as a snake would. Petra held the torch firm. She tried to control her breathing.
Joe is the owner of Crystal Lake Publishing, which he started in August, 2012. He has published and edited short stories, novellas, interviews and essays by the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Graham Masterton, Adam Nevill, Lisa Morton, Elizabeth Massie, Joe McKinney, Edward Lee, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Mick Garris, and hundreds more.
Crystal Lake Publishing believes in reaching out to all authors, new and experienced, and being a beacon of friendship and guidance in the Dark Fiction field.
You can read more about Joe and Crystal Lake Publishing at www.crystallakepub.com or find him on Facebook.
Joe is also an Associate member of the HWA.