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by Scott Bradley, Peter Giglio
Description: The Dark by Scott Bradley and Peter Giglio "An ass-kicking one-night-only L.A. Apocalypse of the soul." -- John Skipp, from his introduction. Ben Pilot was a TV star, until some bad decisions cost him his career, wife, and child. Now broke and alone, he manages a video store in the shadows of Hollywood. But tonight, the shadows just woke up, crawling across the face of Los Angeles. It's a sentient Darkness that can shut down your power, tear you to pieces, or peer deep into your soul. If Ben wants to save his family, he will have to move fast, across a blackened nightmare landscape of rampaging death and possession. Where the light is the only safe place to hide...too bad it's dying fast in THE DARK. "Bradley & Giglio are one hell of a writing team, and I say read anything they produce. It's bound to be unique." --Joe R. Lansdale, author of Edge of Dark Water "In The Dark, Bradley & Giglio have taken the Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler, updated it with the electric pacing of James Ellroy and the hip, pop culture savvy of Quentin Tarantino, and given it a savage poetry all their own. I loved The Dark. This is the perfect example of why horror matters. And with this book, Bradley & Giglio have cemented their star in horror's big leagues." -- Joe McKinney, author of Flesh Eaters and Dead City
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: November 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [257 KB]
Reading time: 143-201 min.
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Chapter One -- Ben
Los Angeles, California
All things considered, the fourth day before Christmas could have been worse, but Ben Pilot wasn't sure how.
He'd already dealt with his coffee maker pulling a HAL-9000; yet another none-too-subtle warning from Chuck the landlord about the overdue rent ("I like you, Ben, I really do, but the only thing worse than an empty unit is an occupied one that ain't making no money, capische?"); and more desperate phone calls to his ex-agent that would never be returned.
Good times and happy holidays.
Then, just for hell of it, things got worse.
Sipping lukewarm coffee, Ben listened for a couple of minutes to his favorite AM talk radio maniacs as they ranted about the evils of illegal immigrants (Ben disagreed) and high taxes (Ben agreed). He cut the engine of his car. The exhaust sputtered a cough-'n-shudder as Ben pocketed his keys, steadied the Starbucks cup on his chest with his chin, and opened the door.
He lost balance for a moment, and the coffee tumbled into his lap.
"Fuuuuuuck," he groaned.
The liquid, not so very lukewarm hotter to the touch than as to the taste, --in fact, goddamn hot--soaked his jeans. Ben snatched up the cup and stumbled from the car. He used a napkin to dry the evidence of his fuck-up, then slammed the door and raced against a flashing crosswalk countdown.
Safely on the other side, sweating now, he glanced at his watch. Good. Enough time for to grab a quick smoke and toss the mostly empty cup. Buying overpriced chain coffee was a luxury he couldn't afford, and he hated to waste what was left, but drinking the bilious shit felt wrong, like apologizing to a bully. Senseless rationale, but he'd already taken enough shit the last couple years--even if most of it was his own damn fault--to last a lifetime.
The finale of the gorgeous, smog-filtered sunset glinted on his silver Zippo as he walked toward the strip-mall supermarket. He rolled the lighter--a first anniversary gift from Claire--between his fingers, a nervous habit of which he was unaware. Drew hard on the butt and fought back tears.
Engraved on the lighter and burned into his mind, a heart with an inscription inside: Ben ~ Forever Yours/Forever Mine ~ Claire.
"Why do I torture myself?" he muttered. "Why do I hang on to these things?"
The damn thing had leaked fluid for more than a year now. Not much, but enough that the faint smell hung in his apartment and car and clothes. He didn't care. But others informed him of the offense, more with their eyes than their words--the So Cal way.
He pitched the rest of his coffee into an overflowing trashcan; had a stray thought of tossing the lighter as well, when a gravelly voice pulled him out of his head and back into the too-warm dusk.
"How's it going, Detective McDevitt?" said the voice from behind him. "How ya livin' yer life?"
Ben turned. Pocketing the Zippo and holding his breath, he smiled at Stinky Stu.
Stinky Stu was the local homeless guy. Though Stu more than lived up to his nickname--his clothes and skin and biblically thick beard were so matted with filth that it was hard to differentiate what was what--Ben, and the rest of the neighborhood, liked him. Part of it was because Stu, while clearly schizophrenic and in desperate need of care, never asked for money or ranted scarily; the guy, in fact, seemed something like happy.
Sewn on the sleeve of Stu's worn overcoat was a faded yellow-blue-red patch with a sword on it, denoting U.S. Army service in the Vietnam War. That was another thing that heightened his affection for the homeless man.
Ben's father, whom he loved deeply and lost to pancreatic cancer as a teenager, was a Vietnam vet, and had shared his experiences with his son, mostly through movies like Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket; films that, along with Ben's childhood loves of Star Wars and James Bond, had fueled his decision to ditch the Midwest and make a try in Hollywood.
Stu sat on the pavement, his back against the side of a bright red soda machine.
"Clean living, my man," Ben replied. One last drag, then he flicked away the butt of his Marlboro. Playing along with Stu, who'd offered him the only warmth of the day so far, he stayed in character as LAPD homicide detective Malcolm McDevitt, his once-famous role on the TV series True Blue. "Keeps me sharp, in control, always ahead of the perps."
"Still got it, Mal," Stu said with a laugh.
"Thanks, pal. Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta jet or I'm gonna be late."
Stu patted the machine behind him and cracked an unhealthy grin. "I'm fightin' the competition for ya!"
A closer look at the monstrosity. Not a soda machine; rather a Redbox filled with one-dollar video rentals. Christ, how long had that been there? Ben laughed, then reached in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled dollar. He handed the bill to Stu and said, "You're a good man in a bad time. You need a smoke?"