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From The Archives: F/41923/SM

Other noises surfaced between the static, sometimes soft, sometimes louder. He tried to concentrate on possible words, but his mind refused. Twice he rewound the tape to listen again, but to no avail. All he heard were inarticulate sighs and whispers. Sometimes his filters hadn’t removed his own groans and snores, but these whispers were different. More frantic, going on and on.

Second cassette; same noise. Same whispers.

‘…me…’

Martin sat bolt upright. Did he just—?

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Preview: “The Devourer”

Excerpt of Chapter XXI

Despite the darkness, Mercedes sensed the demon stagger. His granite resolve was cracking at last.

‘…to refuse my nature as I have done, is to deny justice. A crime in itself. Yet to obey justice is to confess myself to be an abomination. A criminal…’

The shadows, the faces; they shot past, faster and faster, as if caught in a maelstrom. Too near, the water of the ghostly Seine gurgled a promise of relief. Mercedes recognised its call, and knew to fear it. The demon’s dark currents had quelled her fire. Now she scrambled to clear the tumultuous thoughts that threatened to pull her down, into the abyss of his corrupted mind. She clawed at every shadow that was less black than the rest, but her fingers

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“Directions” – short story

The saturated soil squelched under his feet and mosquitoes buzzed around his head. He tried to ignore them and focused on the nigh on invisible path instead. These marshes were treacherous under the best of circumstances. What had possessed him to cross them with less than a full day’s light ahead and after heavy rains, he couldn’t say, but he cursed himself for it.

Before every step he prodded the swamp ahead with his long walking stick, searching for the next bank of solid ground. More often than not, however, the tip of the stick sank so deeply under its own weight that he dared not use it for support, even when he was about to lose his balance. If he fell, he might not be able to get up again.

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“Paradise” – short story

When the lonely road through the barren desert dunes led his pick-up truck into a luscious green village, Abdel knew he had taken a wrong turn. Which wasn’t possible on a road that had always been straight.

He stopped his truck in the village square to consult his map. By the well in the centre of the square, a group of women in traditional garb interrupted their nattering to observe his arrival. He ignored them and checked his route. It wasn’t new to him, but this oasis was.

A tap on his window. He rolled it down.