Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hollow House by Greg Chapman

Release date: July 25, 2016
Sub-genre: Horror

About Hollow House:

No one in Willow Street pays it any notice, not the disgruntled Campbell family next door, not Alice Cowley and her suicidal daughter, or Mr. and Mrs. Markham down the road. Not even Darryl, the loner at number seventy, who is abnormal himself, thinks much about it. It is just the old Kemper House, forgotten and abandoned.

Until it makes itself known.

When the stench of death wafts from Kemper House through Willow Street, and comes to the attention of recent resident and newspaper reporter, Ben Traynor, it starts a chain of horrors that brings Kemper House's curse into their own homes and leads others direct to its door. Kemper House not only haunts its neighbours, it infects them with an evil that traverses time and reality itself.


Zac lay flat on the ground beneath the Kemper House and watched the police officers walk around the perimeter, and then back to their car. Fear froze him to the spot, and he realised that scoping out the house had been a bad idea—despite the fact that his assumptions had been right all along.

There was an actual dead body inside the house! Although the officers’ conversations had been muffled, Zac had heard the subsequent radio transmissions well enough. He knew what “Homicide” meant. He watched the two officers get back inside their cruiser and close the doors, probably to get away from the smell. The fact they weren’t leaving told Zac things were about to get a lot busier in Willow Street and he’d be best be getting himself gone.

Crawling on his belly through the dirt, he started to make his way back to the rear of the house. His clothes were coated in filth, but he didn’t care. He just had to get back home before the police found him. His foot snagged on something and he looked over his shoulder at what was slowing him down. The tip of his sneaker was wedged under something long and flat with a hard edge. Zac pulled his leg muscles taut and the object lifted out of the dirt for a moment before falling once more. Curiosity burning, he turned about to get a closer look at what he had unearthed. Using his hands, he brushed away the loose soil.

The object was a long piece of rotting wood. Zac brushed more dirt away. The piece of timber seemed to be as long as he was. It was barely holding together, and had many markings etched into its surface. They almost looked like words, and despite the wood’s obvious age, he believed the markings had been carved by careful hands.

With most of the dirt removed, Zac saw the piece was cut into a particular shape, with a long rectangular half and a shorter, more angular top. He realised he was looking at some sort of lid. Thoughts raced through his head. Not only had he been one of the first to confirm there was a dead body in the Kemper House, but he’d also possibly stumbled upon a chest of hidden treasure.

Licking his lips eagerly, Zac plunged his fingers under the edge of the lid and lifted. But the lid only rose so far before coming to an abrupt halt. Frowning, he craned his neck and saw there was a large, rusted padlock holding down the lid. At first he thought about giving up on it, until his father’s voice emerged in his head.

If it’s rusted, then it’s weak.

His enthusiasm renewed, Zac scraped away the dirt to expose the lock. He saw it was tethered to the side of the chest, and to his dismay, the rust only appeared to be superficial. And yet, the wood it was bolted to was as soft as the earth around it. Gritting his teeth, he pulled on the lock and its fastener came free with a crack like a branch being wrenched from a tree. The boy’s smile widened as he opened the box.

Strangely, the chest was filled only with darkness. He crawled closer, hopeful that it wasn’t empty. He bent over the lip of the chest to peer within and stretched his right arm inside, desperate to feel anything. All his fingers touched was more dirt. Zac moaned in frustration and began to claw at the dirt, shoving it aside like a dog with a scent. The exertion drew him farther into the chest and before he could stop himself, he fell inside. The lid came down with a thud, and every skerrick of light vanished in an instant. He let out a cry of fright and reached to push it open—only to discover the lid was no longer there.

Confused, he strained his arms in every direction, searching for the walls of the box, but they too were gone. Even the soil beneath him was lost. He seemed to float in a sea of darkness. The boy screamed for help—for the two police officers, for his parents—but his voice no longer carried any weight. Heart pounding fiercely in the black vacuum, Zac tried to move, but it was as if his entire body and all his senses, were totally paralysed.

All but one.

He was granted back his hearing just in time for the screams. They rose softly at first, like the rush of air from the end of a distant tunnel. With each thrum of Zac’s terrified heart, the shrieks intensified, octave after octave until the boy’s ears—and his very skull— vibrated. Inside the box, Zac’s body became a tuning fork until the screams became a message from the centre of Hell itself.

About Greg Chapman:

Greg Chapman is a horror author and artist from Australia. Greg is the author of five novellas, Torment, The Noctuary (Damnation Books, 2011),Vaudeville (2012), The Last Night of October (Bad Moon Books, 2013) and The Eschatologist (Voodoo Press 2016)His debut collection, Vaudeville and Other Nightmares, was published by Black Beacon Books in September, 2014.
He is also a horror artist and his first graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Bram Stoker Award® winning authors Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton was published by McFarland & Company in 2012. Witch Hunts won the Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel category at the Bram Stoker Awards® on June 15, 2013. Lycan Valley Press will re-release a second edition of Torment in 2016 and Omnium Gatherum Media are publishing his debut novel, Hollow House in July 2016.