This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The night air in the Scottish Highlands was always bitingly cold, even more so during September with the autumn months just starting. Richard Butler glared up at the gathering dark clouds and the ever present threat of rainfall as he made his way through the makeshift camp, his path over the uneven and damp ground illuminated by a number of portable floodlights, the low rumble of their generators drowning out any natural noise. He hated these sorts of research expeditions, out in the wilderness where they were constantly beset by the whims of Mother Nature, especially in the temperamental weather of Scotland. But, with the type of find that they had uncovered it was inevitable that the Association would want an experienced crew looking into it.
Pulling his dark coat tighter about his shoulders, the dark haired researcher quickened his pace in the direction of one of the larger dark green tents that made up the camp, a large metal contraption with a small satellite atop it sitting just outside of the opening declaring the tent as the research team’s communication hub. Noise to his left caused Richard to freeze, a shiver running up his spine that had nothing to do with the chilly night air.
Turning towards the noise, the dark haired man stared warily out into the darkness just outside of the floodlight’s illumination, brow furrowed as he tried to focus on exactly where the sound had come from. Heart thundering in his chest and breath beginning to fog in front of his face, the brunette researcher’s brow furrowed while his eyes narrowed in concentration. There, in the deepest part of the shadows, there was definitely movement and if he strained his ears, rapid scraping, almost like something was chittering.
A sudden weight on his shoulder startled a terrified yell from the researcher and as he spun to regard his assailant he came face to face with a grinning redhead, another researcher within the Association.
“Osborne”, he near growled out as the ginger haired man chuckled and slapped Richard’s shoulder again, a jovial light in his brown eyes.
“Sorry, sorry” he laughed out, throwing an arm around his fellow researcher’s shoulders and turning the pair back towards the communication tent, “I just couldn’t resist. What’s got you so spooked anyway?” he continued on, curiosity only barely tingeing the question.
Glancing back over his shoulder towards the shadows lining the path, Richard tried to spot the movement again. Failing he shrugged the other man’s arm off of him before declaring empathically, “Everything!” while gesturing at the scattering of large tents around the pair and the ring of floodlights surrounding them, his gaze then following further into the woods and mountainside that were just barely illuminated by the light. Beyond them, in the distance and looming over the entire camp was the eerie silhouette of a surprisingly intact ancient castle.
“We’ve been here for weeks now!” Richard continued on, continuing to gesture wildly around him as he turned wide almost manic eyes to the redheaded researcher, “and ever since they brought in the new guy I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being watched everywhere I go and don’t think I haven’t noticed how jumpy some of the workmen have been getting in the caves, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that some have been injured and some have even disappeared!”
One hand rising to grasp at his dark slightly messy hair, the stressed researcher shook his head weakly, his shoulders slumping as the energy that had animated him just a few short seconds earlier suddenly left. Wearily he turned tired eyes back to his friend.
“I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Morriss or MacBride for two days now, and when I radioed it in all I got was a “don’t worry.””
Richard watched as Osborne crossed his arms over his chest, the redhead’s jovial nature replaced with a sombre frown as he stared into the darkness, focusing on something that wasn’t there and seemingly lost in thought, “Yeah, it’s had me worried as well. He isn’t even part of the Association, last I heard someone pulled some strings to bring him in, real suspicious if you ask me. MacBride disappeared after he-“
Before he could finish his statement the lights all around the camp began to flicker, slowly at first but sporadically quickening as the two men turned confused gazes towards them. All around the camp, other researchers and workmen were stopping what they were doing, some even leaving tents to investigate the strange happening.
It was then that Richard heard it, the chittering noise from earlier, only louder and steadily getting louder, seemingly coming from all around, increasing in pitch until a high piercing whine filled the air, forcing many to flinch and cover their ears. The smell of chemical smoke drew Richard’s eyes to the centre of the camp, where he saw a shadowed figure stooped over one of the main generators.
Suddenly all of the lights shut off, dropping the entire area into pitch black darkness, even the light of the moon was hidden, cloaked by the dark clouds above. In the sudden darkness all sound seemed to stop, the chittering whine vanishing for a moment leaving the only sound the heavy breathing of the researcher and his thundering heart beating in his ears.
As quickly as it disappeared the chittering was back, louder and more insistent, almost like a screech that pierced through the darkness and left Richard’s ears ringing and an ache behind his eyes. A panicked yell could just be heard over the ear splitting sound, followed quickly by others, men stumbling about in the darkness as the chittering scream seemed to close in from all sides. For a moment Richard thought he heard a voice calling for help from the communication tent but it was quickly drowned by the resonating shriek.
Disoriented and terrified, the researcher reached out for his friend at his side only to find the redhead no longer beside him. It was then that he felt it, something skittering across his boot, then up his leg, not just one thing either, but hundreds perhaps thousands, tiny needles poking and digging into his legs as they made their way up his body and all around him the chittering shriek continued. As the crawling needles reached his neck Richard opened his mouth to scream, only to be choked silent by something skittering over and into his mouth.
When the lights flickered back into existence, the camp was empty; the only sounds the rumble of electric generators and the static of a radio transceiver swinging by its cable in the communications tent.
JanThompson: This book gives a beautiful description of a country which one rarely gets to see. The contrast between rich and poor is very evident too.The storyline actually sheds a compelling light on why women in certain countries sell themselves just to help their families or even to survive themselves. I ...
Jan Imonti: Loved the story, but didn't like the delivery...had to read this on my computer on line. Wasn't able to download it to my kindle. Excellent story, lots of twists and turns. Fairly quick read. Love the versitility of Mitchell's writing. Keep up with the great mysteries.
alias: I loved the reason the two of them got together - it was different and very sweet! The pace of the story was good, the characters were well-drawn, and the plot was not overly complicated. There was some good humor, and Flinn's family was a hoot. There were a couple of doubled words, misspelled wo...
M.L. Bull: Hello, Aalia!Your story compelled the emotional pain and struggle of a teenage girl very well.. The imagery was also convincing and well-written, showing the different personalities of your characters and their actions. However, I do think that many of your sentences are too lengthy and could use...
Jordan Young: *ALERT FOR POSSIBLE SPOILERS* Where to start? I don't know how to sum up this review, this story was absolutely sensational. Brilliant. Flawless. I loved every single bit of this story, it is truly amazing. I read this story in fifteen hours, it is magnificent. I loved everything about it, the p...
Tony Lee: Great ideas. Some mistakes here and there, but not too much to break the immersion :) This was my second book here, and I'm pretty satisfied! Well I can't think of anything else to write so I'm just gonna fill the space up with random words. Magazine holder sidney sheldon first bible shack tom ha...
Karl12: This is a very unusual sci-fi mystery. I enjoyed the suspense which was present throughout the story. I loved how I never knew what to expect from the characters. This made the story thrilling and made me suspicious of everything and everyone. You have a great style of writing – one which captiva...
lopezmariana97: I loved everything about this book. I read it in a weekend because it was so hard to put down. I real liked that it wasn't a typical demon story and that It didn't involve vampires. I pictured the cast for this book if it ever becomes a movie. 100% love
Someone: This was a fun, entertaining read. Although the novel wasn’t stylistically polished, and although the first couple of chapters struggled to hold my attention, the rest of the novel was engaging and beautifully done. You had me fooled until the end. The rest of this review will contain spoilers fo...