It was supposed to be a fresh start, a place for Steve & Melody Samson to start their new life together away from the noise and crime of the city. However, their new home – an idyllic cottage nestled deep within the dense solitude of Oakwell Forest has a disturbing history, hidden for generations by the local villagers, who are desperate to keep their sleepy town free from potential media attention. As Steve and Melody begin to notice the strange and bizarre things that are happening to them, they begin to unravel the complex web of lies and deceit perpetrated by the locals.
Told both in a modern day narrative and flashbacks to the Buildings construction in the 1800s, we learn of the terrible things that reside within Hope House, and the reasons for the history of murder, suicide and insanity for the previous owners of the house.
As Steve and Melody delve ever deeper, they are plagued not only the malevolent forces that reside within the house, but also the very real attention of the increasingly unstable realtor Donovan, who has horrific secrets of his own that he will go to any lengths to keep a secret.
THE SMELL OF DEATH hung heavy in the morning air. The child ran through the forest, snatching quick glances over her shoulder as the Gogoku elder followed, crashing through the undergrowth in pursuit. She veered to the left, ducking under a gnarled, overhanging branch, and hopped over a protruding root as she tried to put some distance between herself and the elder. Her bare feet were bleeding, but in her fear, the child barely noticed. Her only concern was her pursuer, and ensuring that he didn’t catch her. She angled back towards the village, her instincts driving her back toward her home, even though she knew it was now a place for the dead. The elder was closer now; she could hear him grunting as he drew closer. She snatched another quick look over her shoulder, and as she did, her foot twisted under her, sending her sprawling to the ground. The pain from her twisted ankle was explosive, and although the child tried to scramble to her feet, it was too late.
He had found her.
The Gogoku elder stood above her, breathing heavily, and streaked with the blood of his fellow people. His eyes glared with fury from behind his painted face. The frightened child scrambled backwards, for the time being, the agonising pain in her ankle forgotten, her eyes were instead fixated on the spiked club held in the muscular Elder’s hand, which was matted with sinewy clumps of flesh and slick with blood.
He followed her gaze and unleashed a bloody grin, his yellowed teeth filed to points as was customary for Gogoku elders. They were supposed to be the village protectors, guardians and hunters, but something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. A shallow breeze pushed through the trees and the elder blinked, casting his eyes to the dense canopy, his brow furrowed as he listened.
The child also looked, the fear within her for the time being replaced with curiosity at the absolute silence which had fallen over the forest. She glanced back to the elder, her brown eyes full of fear, horror and betrayal. The elder looked back, and smiled.
He had done as they had asked of him, and now all apart from this one child were now dead. Another breeze moved the trees, and this time, both child and Elder heard it. The trembling child closed her eyes and waited, as the elder reared back and brought the club down hard with a guttural roar of rage.
Michael Bray is a Horror author based in Leeds, England. Influenced from an early age by the suspense horror of authors such as Stephen King, and the trashy pulp TV shows like Tales From The Crypt & The Twilight Zone, he started to work on his own fiction, and spent many years developing his style. After completing his debut novel in May 2012, he signed a deal with the highly reputable Dark Hall Press to print and distribute the book, which was released in September 2012.
A brand new anthology titled FUNHOUSE is scheduled for a 2013 release.