I must find The Machine.
Darkness and prisons. The gargoyle of modern architecture turned inside out so that it enfolds me. I’m running through thickets of barbed wire, searching laser lights and glowing alarms like wolf eyes.
Deeper and deeper winding down to some cosmic and infernal core. The belch of fumes from a gut. I am in its oesophagus, deeper than I have ever been before. My breath is too quick. The passage slopes, steeper, until it is impossible to retain footing. A splash of oil, like refluxed acid from a belly, and I tumble and slide down the metallic gullet into the smog-thick depths.
No scream leaves my mouth. I land in a puddle of oil that reeks: tar and dead flesh. There are floating things in the black water. Everything is lit with crimson light, the rear-lights of a car in the dead of night. The floating things: are they parts or bones? Parts, it seems. The smog is too thick to breathe and I choke.
Stumbling through the oily waters, splashing. In the background a hissing noise as though serpents rear behind me and follow – I’m a snake charmer drawing the reptiles through the redlit dark.
Ghosts in the smog. Shapes of people. The sensation of moisture sticking to the flesh, over-hot, like the sweat of an orgasming lover as they fall away, passion spent at last.
I am afraid.
A sound like a thousand, thousand engines activating at once. A shudder of countless limbs creaking inflexible, rusted joints; a million pistons spasming into unnatural life.
And something else beneath it all, a low, repeated decompression, but ever so similar to the sound of breath.
Another day. The sun feels like a blip, a mistake with programming. Still, the heat is itching.
The hard metal of the bike underneath me is the only thing that feels real. The city is a blur, as though made of mirrors. Nothing looks solid. If I veer now, bike and body will be obliterated against concrete, but it does not feel that way. It feels like I will rend reality and pass through. When I ride, it is like I am slicing time.
I reach my destination.
Hair sticks to the back of my neck, ugly. It doesn’t stop the cat calls as I cross the street.
‘You can ride me instead of that bike baby.’
Sure I could, loser, but I do what I want.
Open the metal door. I descend three flights of stairs to the bottom floor of the carpark. The smell of urine assaults the nostrils and tastebuds like the aftermath of disease. Grime smeared into the cracks in the walls. It looks like the world is falling apart, or at least the city: the glue holding it together has been dissolved.
In the carpark, I find what I am looking for, with the feeling one gets when about to reach a memorable scene in a play – the skull in Hamlet’s hand the dead giveaway.
Yellow tape maps the dimensions of an invisible room. Police cars. Headlights to answer for the faltering ceiling lights. A few cops with notepads staring at nothing.
Detective Beckett walks up to me. His eyes are torches next to his ebony skin. I once told him his eyes hold their own inner light; he looked at me like I was crazy. Most people do.
‘Couldn’t you have parked down here?’
‘Don’t want people to confuse me for a real cop now.’ I offer what is becoming an increasingly rare smile. ‘Besides, it would have made an over-dramatic entrance.’
Beckett’s lips twitch, which means he is laughing.
‘What’ve we got?’ I ask.
But I already have an idea. The headlights shine on one of the concrete walls, illuminating a message daubed in red. Beneath it is a body. The message is old, or rather, familiar. I’ve seen it scrawled six other places around the city. The body is new though. Not a graffiti artist with delusions of grandeur then. A psychopath. The case just got a whole lot more serious.
‘Guy found him at 6:45 this morning. Says he parks here every day. Goes to work across the road. Story checks out.’
‘That him?’ I say, nodding to the scrawny guy being interviewed by one of the officers.
‘He’s not tall enough to have written it anyway. Assuming whoever wrote the message also killed the victim.’
Beckett’s lip twitches again.
‘You go do your thing, Kate.’
I nod and duck under the yellow tape.
GOD IS THE MACHINE
The letters glow like neon; perhaps only in my head. A sense of strange perversion, of not rightness, emanates from them like a sour memory. What could they mean? A deus ex machina is a god in the machine, a resolution that is cosmic, unforeseen and shallow. The magic wand syndrome.
But God is the machine. Is. God is the universe? God is the drama? Or could it mean God is somehow robotic, a slave to our notions and creative impulse? It is a jigsaw in which some segments fit together, but the whole will not join up.
I stand with my nose 2 inches from the wall and sniff. Not paint this time. The last few messages had been made using Positive Red SW 6871.
Now it’s blood; partially coagulated.
The officers are looking at me strangely again, but I have grown used to ignoring them. I step back and crouch so I am eye to eye with the corpse. He returns a glassy stare which reminds me of a stuffed animal’s. The guy is maybe 5’ 10”. Short crew-cut hair. Leather jacket, coloured a mauvy red. Work shirt on underneath and black trousers. Strikes me as the kind of guy who causes no trouble, who just gets his head down; turns up to work every day thankless and unrecognised. The officers are trained to dismiss these flights of fancy, but I’m not an officer, and flights of fancy have their uses. The imagination is the greatest tool of any consulting detective.
An overview tells me the cause of death. Stab wound to the chest located just below the line of the ribcage. I’m sure the officers have already noted this, taken the dimensions and made their guess as to the type of knife employed. No point me doing the same. I’m here for a different reason.
I pull on rubber gloves with a smacking sound and open one side of the jacket, delicately, so as not to disturb the body’s weight. I rifle through the inner pocket. The wallet and keys that once resided there have no doubt already been found by police and bagged up, but there is always more to find.
I search his pockets. They are empty save for a second hidden pocket at the back of his trousers. This contains a well-thumbed business card. There is no name on the card, only a logo and GRAPHIC DESIGN printed beneath. The logo draws my eye: a kind of impossible-shape network of intersecting lines, forming what loosely resembles three mushroom sprouts, or perhaps three brains and the spinal stem. It is difficult to dissect, like dense literature, almost as though it is issuing a challenge.
I stand and turn to the officers.
‘What you taking that for?’ an officer on the side asks, frowning at the card.
‘Might be someone who knows a thing or two about this,’ I say. ‘The card obviously mattered to him.’ I do not say that I am already thinking the graphic designer could have been the one to draw the words, because that would be too much of a leap for them.
The officer frowns.
‘How’d you figure that out?’
‘Thumb prints,’ I say, showing him the smudges.
The officer nods and makes a shape with his mouth that says he’s thinking about it.
I approach Detective Beckett with the card.
‘Might be a good place to start. Get the feeling this guy went to the designer regular.’
‘And you think it might have been the designer who did that piece?’ He indicates the graffiti. Beckett’s a sharp one.
‘Your ride or mine?’
I grin at the thought of Detective Beckett on the back of my bike, arms around my midriff and cheek pressed to my back like some helpless cover-girl. His lips are twitching too – we are having the same thought. It is bizarre that at times I believe no human being can possibly understand another, and at others, I see we are more alike than we imagine.
‘Mine is good,’ he says, and indicates the hulking Merc, sitting like a prize-winning stallion between its lesser brethren. ‘Get in.’
The designer’s apartment is quiet and filthy, like most of the buildings in this city. We approach it warily, exorcists expecting demonic resistance. The place has the look of a haunted house, and I am familiar with spirits. My mother was a Red Indian mystic whom my father never fully understood. She used to chant, and weave dreamcasters and smoke tobacco leaf from long pipes, and speak of consecrated earth and sacred things. Terrors also. She tossed and turned at night like a restless child. I never slept in the same bed as her, even as a kid.
The door is solid, like something out of a medieval age. I knock on it three times, questioning why I take the lead, and why Beckett is so ready to fall behind. He is the detective managing this case. Surely he should be in front? I look back and catch his eye.
To my great surprise the door opens, as though whoever waited for us on the other side had anticipated this visit. I turn back to see who has come to greet us and see a strange man. He looks like a kind of alchemist. He is bare chested, splattered with paint so intermixed and blended it looks less like warpaint and more like the bile of experiments. It makes me fearful of touching him. A sense of corruption pervades, like the stink of off-milk. He wears baggy ripped up jeans. Smiles, and reveals missing teeth. The remaining ones are thin and poke out from the gums like the straggling remnants of a shattered barricade. His hair is army short; face ratlike and narrow. A stink wafts from inside the apartment. His flesh prickles at the cool fresh-air.
‘Good morning,’ he says, slightly breathless, as though moments before he has been labouring about some great work. ‘Glad you found me. Come on in, officers.’
I exchange another glance with Beckett, who shrugs and puts his hand on the baton at his belt. I step through, past the designer into a claustrophobic, ill-lit hallway whose floorboards creak as though about to fall apart on me. There is a musty-looking living room through one doorway; old furniture stacked up in it. Another door leads to a bedroom that is filled with looming canvases and easels. A staircase doubles back on itself. I can’t hear anything in the house and that worries me.
The sound of the door shutting sends a shiver through the building, as though it is excited.
‘Please, this way.’ He points to the living room. We file in and perch on the arms of a sofa that looks like it could transform into a mimic at any moment and swallow us whole. The designer sits cross legged before us.
‘We found your card on the body of someone who’d been stabbed in Weyland Carpark, around 4 or 5 this morning.’
The designer nods. He is not baulking and not afraid. Of course, that could simply mean he has nothing to hide. But I doubt it. My instincts, what my mother always called spirit urges, are telling me this is the quiet confidence of a sociopath.
‘And you found the body beneath a message, didn’t you? God is the Machine. Yes? Written in blood? And you found the card, which said I was a designer. When you came in you saw my paintings in the room out there. Like good detectives, you put two and two together.’ The designer began to laugh as though that was a hysterical joke. It made his teeth seem even sparser. ‘Well, I’m going to tell you what happened. I was there the night Ben was killed.’
‘You confess to being at the crime scene?’ Beckett butted in, not hiding his disbelief.
‘…I was there.’ Without breaking his rhythm. His speech has meter, like a school teacher accentuating the iambic pentameter in an old sonnet. ‘And I’ll tell you what happened. But you have to promise to listen to the whole story.’
Myself and Beckett exchange glances. That he knows the message is not evidence in itself, but that he also knows it was written in blood is hard to refute. My hair is rigid down my spine; a droplet of sweat itches my armpit. I mark the signs of fear but do not let the emotion master me. This is something my mother taught me well.
I and Beckett nod to one another. Neither of us saw the case moving this quickly, and are wary as trench-soldiers about to go over the top.
‘We’ll listen to you. If you promise to tell us the truth,’ Beckett says.
The designer smiles and bows his head, as though about to conduct a sermon.
‘Ben Drood was the kind of man who no one could take issue with. You know: Gentle Shakespeare type. But the last couple of days there’d been something odd about him. He wasn’t right. Not at all.’
‘And you knew this how?’
‘We were lovers.’
‘Please, continue,’ I say, before Beckett plunges into a fully fledged interrogation.
‘We were lovers… and though things had sometimes been strained between us, they had never broken down. We were soul mates, if you believe in the concept. He was a poet and I was an artist. I first met Ben doing some freelance work for the company he worked at. A boring logo. Nothing to stimulate my artistic sensibilities. But Ben was there. A few formal remarks and we leapt into a new discussion: about things which mattered. I realised he had a mind like my own. We shared so much. So… I was very forward. Invited him out to dinner. Against my expectations he said yes. And we started a passionate relationship.’
The artist sighs; his eyes seem to change colour, or perhaps deepen, just as the words written on the wall of that carpark deepened now they were written in blood.
‘Ben changed. Something happened to him. For a long time I couldn’t understand it. But then, it came to me. In a dream of all things. You people of the Law might think nothing of your dreams, but we artists, we know to listen to them.
A chill passes through me.
‘You see…’ His grin returns, carnival and huge. ‘It was The Machine that took him.’
The blind urge to strike seizes my limbs. I am on my feet, fingers on the verge of plunging into his scrawny neck in order to asphyxiate the truth from him. A thought pounds in my head like a drum: he is raping my mind. How could he possibly know of my dreams? Of the mechanical labyrinth into which I delve each night?
Beckett has his hand on his baton and is looking at me in a way he has never done before. The artist’s eyes widen.
‘Would you like to see it?’ he asks quietly.
‘What?’ Beckett says.
‘The Machine,’ I answer.
‘Yes,’ the artist says. ‘Would you like to see The Machine? I drew it. Best I could. From my dreams.’
‘Kate.’ A note of warning in Beckett’s voice. ‘Am I missing something? You gunna tell me what this is?’
The artist stands and makes his way into the corridor. We follow. Beckett looks uncomfortable, like a teenager who’s been offered drugs for the first time and doesn’t know how to act. The artist pushes the door of his bedroom wider and steps in. As I cross the threshold I have the sensation of entering a sanctum, filled with holy secrets.
Shimmering from every direction, a collage of square canvases like machine plating, and on their surfaces, portals to worlds all too familiar. Each painting depicts a different secret of the maze, and I am awed by what his brush strokes have captured. The strange biomechanical corridors, retreating like endless reflections of two facing mirrors. The organic, living quality to every component. Purples and greens are mixed with the blackening steel colours, suggesting rust and also vital fluids. Cables throb with electrical currents, the veins of some colossal mechanical whale. He has captured it all, the robotic eyes, sockets, wires, and the shifting walls. Even the subtle presence of electricity is suggested with a faint bluish mist. I am at once transported by his skill and haunted by the revenant of my dreams. I almost feel that if I touched one of those canvases I could step through into a painted world.
‘What in God’s name is this?’ Beckett’s voice breaks the silence I and the artist share.
‘The Machine, detective. This is The Machine. First, you dream about it. Then, you see it while awake. Last, it takes you and leaves a shallow drone in your place.’ The artist looks at me, his eyes deeper than fissures in the earth and just as jagged. ‘That’s what happened to Ben. That’s why I killed him.’
Beckett seizes his cuffs and baton quicker than a cowboy drawing a revolver in a standoff. The artist, however, merely holds out his hands, palms down. Bare and rake thin, he strikes me for a moment like an ancient painting of Christ, submitting to his tormentors.
‘It wasn’t Ben,’ he says, as Beckett cuffs him. ‘It was just a body and whatever The Machine put there in place of his soul.’
Beckett begins reading him his rights. The artist does not look at him. His eyes are on me throughout. They speak louder than a prophet’s declamation.
If you are dreaming of it, it will take you next.
Another dream. I wake.
The city looks different. The labyrinth has become living. Every window an eye. Every alleyway a vein. Every crawling procession of traffic a series of parasites and cells. We are all conglomerate, I think. We are all part of it. Drawn into it. It is already happening.
Why? What purpose does it have with a soul?
And what happens when the whole city is with it?
I must find The Machine.
Beckett greets me as I walk towards the line of tape, only, his eyes do not light with recognition when they rest on me. Something is wrong. Deeply wrong. The terror of it strikes a chord so deep it shakes the spine out of sync; I cannot hold myself right.
I try to tell myself I am imagining things.
‘I’m almost becoming full time at this rate,’ I say with a forced smile.
‘PI Kate Darkfeather.’ He extends a hand. I shake it, the chord growing louder and louder. ‘Thank you for coming. I thought it best to tell you in person. We no longer require your services. Good day.’
He turns his back on me.
He does not turn.
‘Beckett?’ I reach out and grab his shoulder, knowing it is a mistake, but unable to suppress the compulsion.
He wheels and draws his baton, holding it aloft with mechanical stillness and precision. His other hand rests on the cuffs.
‘Assaulting an officer is a punishable offence. You are barred from this crime scene. You have exactly five minutes to leave or you will be forcibly removed. The time starts now. Good day.’
Beckett turns without another glance and walks to the line of tape. He promptly stops at it and stares ahead, like an AI in a video-game that has run out of script.
‘Don’t know what’s up with him.’
I turn to see it is the officer who asked me about the card.
‘He’s had a funny turn, all right. But I guess it happens to them all in the end – they go corporate. Career-furthering. Stop caring about the people around them. That or they resist the corporate pull and start hitting the bottle. You ought to watch yourself. Can happen to PIs too.’
I take to my bike and hurtle off towards the station.
The artist looks somehow at home in the cell.
He looks up at me as I enter, showing me a sparse grin.
‘I didn’t expect to see you here so soon,’ he says. ‘I thought you might at least wait until after the trial.’ He stands and walks to the bars, puts brittle fingers around them and pushes his narrow face into one of the gaps. His face is unnervingly thin, birdlike. For a moment I imagine he could pass through to the other side.
‘The dreams are getting worse,’ I answer. There is no point in concealing my purpose. Otherwise, he will not talk.
The artist’s smile crumbles.
‘The Machine is coming then. So quickly. Good God.’ He chuckles without mirth. ‘Perhaps it is getting more powerful? Who knows. I don’t understand it. It’s been toying with me for a long time now. But it never comes. I don’t know why. I don’t know how I keep it away. Maybe it’s saving me ‘til last.’ He cackles. ‘That would be funny.’
‘I have to stop it.’
The artist’s eyes grow freakishly large, like a cat’s that have alighted on a wondrous scurrying animal in the dark. Something like awe radiates from his face like poisonous beams of light. I do not know what to say. My tongue feels leaden.
‘You are something special, aren’t you?’ he says. ‘Special indeed. Stop a thing that comes in your dreams…’ He seems to be mulling something over. I wait. ‘I suppose it could be done.’
He looks up, as though he’d forgotten I was there.
‘You have to go into a lucid dream. It’s the only way I can think of; can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before.’ He smacks his lips and withdraws from the bars into the darkness of the cell, which has become substantial and thick, as though gathering around him. ‘You must go into the dream and destroy it in the dream world.’
His eyes glint like embers.
‘Yes. A vision-quest.’
I sit in the artist’s room, surrounded by his canvases, feeling like a pilgrim at last come to the monastery, only to discover this is where the journey begins.
I cross my legs and lay my mother’s smoking pipe before me. Her flags are placed in a square. One red, one black, one white, one yellow.
It has been hours since I last ate or drank. My lips ache as they rub together. My tongue investigates the dry ridges of the cracked flesh. How easily the body transforms.
I sway, in time with some unheard rhythm.
The canvases rotate around me, like the contents of Dorothea’s house in the whirlwind. Dizziness brings the faint taste of acid to the very back of my mouth. I can smell undigested food. Revulsion.
Beneath the floor is hard as a monk’s bed. The plain wooden boards are splashed with paint, like chemical remnants in an alchemist’s lab, forming patterns which change the longer you look at them like Rorschach designs.
I am seized with sudden fear, as though a bucket of cold water has been poured over my head. Why am I doing this? I am going willingly into its domain where I will have little or no power.
But you cannot fight it in the waking world, my mother says. She often speaks. Sometimes I think she speaks more now that she’s dead.
You have one chance. And that is now. Here.
The floor is hot.
I look down and see I am sitting on a metal slab.
I am here. In The Machine.
Labyrinthine corridors stretch without closure.
Diaphanous walls, thick with wire like colossal tube-worms, emitting a purple glow that strikes to the heart of the brain like epileptic flashes.
I stand. Smoke surrounds me; the smell of petroleum and something deeper beneath it. Old flesh. Flesh kept alive beyond the lifespan of its cells.
A hiss, like serpents awakening. Gas floods the corridors, bringing with it the taste of corrosive chemicals.
I run, and the cloud floats after me, like a sentient ghost. The tunnels shift, a kaleidoscope twisting around me. The footing is treacherous.
Wires – barbed like fish lures – I jump them and continue to run. Pistons rage into existence at my passing, like mechanical insects whose nest has been disturbed.
Wires throb, as though with the flush of blood.
The floor gives way and I tumble scraping at air. Red liquid swallows me and I am dragged under by gravity. The liquid fills my nostrils and evokes a smell, a wretched and familiar smell.
The smell of the writing.
GOD IS THE MACHINE
I hear those words as I think them, as though something in the depths of the water uttered it, deep as whale song, but metallic and hard. I begin to struggle with the water, climbing, dragging. I break the surface and gasp for air. I cough and iron fills my mouth. I spit it out in a bloody spray.
The ceiling is descending on me like the trap of some ancient tomb in an old movie.
I take a breath and dive, swimming down, kicking at the water as though I can pulp it into shape.
Down, down, my lungs aching and swollen in my chest.
At last I glimpse the bottom, lit with channels of subdued underwater light. It is a map of microchip wiring that looks hieroglyphic, ancient, anti-technological.
There is a handle set into a square maintenance trapdoor. I grasp it and pull, lowering my feet to the surface. I begin to heave. It hardly gives even with all my strength applied.
Something else lights up. The red water darkens as laser-spears of a deeper red pierce through it. I can feel an eye on me.
Frantic, I pull at the trapdoor.
It jerks open an inch and bubbles flood up from it like hot breath. The liquid begins to rush past me and I have the sensation of being in a jet stream. I feel my throat tighten and stabs of pain drive into my chest. Seconds remain.
The red light dims and darkens. I sense that soon the waters will become black with it, and then, I do not know.
Your name is Darkfeather, my mother intones, solemnly. A memory or a vision? Never forget it. Yours is the legacy of the spirit. Yours is the legacy of wisdom. Yours is the legacy of the natural world. You will not fear the thunderstorm. You will not fear the snake or eagle.
Nor will you fear the terrors of the mind.
A wrench and the trapdoor bursts. I am sucked with the flood of liquid down through a narrow shaft, a gullet.
Exploding into open and air. I fall again, spinning. Lights and mechanisms churn around me like the workings of a digestive tract.
I land on soft, springy substance like a trampoline. I lie, coughing a few moments, stinking of blood. I roll over.
Beneath me, flesh. Stretched flesh.
I start up, horrified. Standing I try to walk across it but trip and fall. The flesh reeks of age. Of timeless time.
Ahead there is a chamber partitioned off by a doorway. The ordinariness of the oblong shape amidst the impossible architecture is disconcerting. It is placed too deliberately, an invitation. Regardless, I stumble for it.
Emerging into a room. First, I get the impression of entering a cathedral. At the far end of the gigantic room is a long white slit, like a door ajar, which looks like it might stretch up forever and pierce the stars. Its top vanishes behind the forked connections of electricity, raging like a lightning storm. The sound of thunder and a reverberation as of hymnal music:
GOD IS THE MACHINE
Beneath the storm of power-surges is a crowd of people, their faces intermittently lit pale blue by flashes of electrical current. There are thousands of them. They walk with slow deliberation towards the back of the vaulted chamber as though hypnotised by the light. It is the people who chant these words. Over and over. Worshippers, all.
I look for Beckett and Ben Drood amongst their number but there are too many by far. With them, but not with them, I make my way towards the back of the chamber, where the white line is.
And then I see what that line is.
It is a video-screen as tall as a skyscraper. Its surface shines a light without colour, paler than bone, than the skin of the White Whale, than any imaginable substance. It is blinding and intoxicating, drawing the eye like grotesque but intriguing painting.
The worshippers fall down before it, kneeling, their eyes colourless and drained. Their faces now entirely white. But still, their lips forming around the words:
GOD IS THE MACHINE
There are some worshippers, those who have sat before the screen longest, whose flesh is sloughing from their faces, revealing rusted bone beneath. Their bodies are coat-hangers hung with translucent skin. Their eyes have melted.
And even then the sockets continue to stare.
I know now what this is. It is so simple and yet the terror of realising it fully causes my bones to quake, as though doubting their own strength.
We are feeding The Machine. We are giving it our souls.
I feel the moment of a dream changing direction, the entire reality of it reshaping; the white glow suddenly turns its attention on me, like a searchlight. Everything else falls away. There is no sound, no taste, no colour. Memories of mother and the city fade like dissipating stars. There is only whiteness, a universe robbed of all form and substance and poetry. Everything homogenised and empty, save for The Machine, full to the brim of dying spirits.
I let out a shriek and the white void fractures, cracks appearing like gridlines of a virtual map. Its intent slides from me, like the weight of the sky once slid from the shoulders of Atlas. I know that weight will return, just as it did to Atlas. I have one moment, one gasping breath to stop this cycle.
I close my eyes to shield them from the whiteness, and to draw into my mind the image that can save me, perhaps save all of us.
I imagine its shape, its form, the beautiful circles, the lights like two shark eyes, its sleek form and motion, all that it represents, the freedom of a steed…
I hear its engine, but it is more like the roar of a spirit bear. I open my eyes and see the cycle like a comet, hurtling through the Cathedral of Drones, leaving behind imprints of vivid flame.
The white light blazes, a last attempt to claim me, but the cycle cuts past and drives into the screen. It shatters, splintering into a hundred thousand fragments with a shriek that bursts my eardrums and leaves all sound dead. The drones drop to the floor, like insects caught with killing spray.
I’m falling with them, into myself, into depths, the last imaginative act already fading.
Like a banished ghost.
Joseph Sale is a Graphic-Horror writer, editor, gamer and creative. Originally from Bournemouth he studied English with Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.
He is a regular contributor on GameSpew. His short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as Silver Blade, Edgar Allan Poet Journal 2#, NonBinary Review and Fiction Vortex. His story ‘Descent’ was chosen for Dark Hall Press’s Technological Horror Anthology. His first horror novel The Darkest Touch was released in April 2014, published by Dark Hall Press. He was nominated for the Sundress Award for Literary Excellence 2014. He has since authored Seven Dark Stars, Across the Bitter Sea, Orifice and The Meaning of the Dark.