Coming October 24th!
A new novel from Brantwijn Serrah and Breathless Press
There's a woman in the
Conall Mackay never put stock in ghost stories. Not even
after thirteen years serving as the cemetery keeper in the village of Whitetail
Knoll. But things change. Now, his daughter is dreaming of a figure among the
tombstones. The grounds are overrun by dark thorns almost faster than Con can
clear them. White fog and gray ribbons creep up on him in the night, and a
voiceless beauty beckons him from the darkest corners of the graves.
When the world he knows starts to unravel, Conall might
finally be forced to believe.
He hadn't slept long before he heard
sounds from down in the kitchen below.
"Shyla!" he called gruffly.
"Weren't you heading into town?"
No answer came from below, but the
sounds of pots clanging told him his daughter toyed about down there. Perhaps
she'd decided not to leave him after all and taken it into her head to now
re-organize the house, since he'd so clearly wanted her to stay out of the
cemetery. With a low groan, Conall rolled out of bed and stepped out into the
"Shyla!" he called again,
coming to the head of the stairs. If she had stayed home, she could at least do
it without making a lot of noise.
He staggered then, as the hallway
dimmed. Afternoon light flickered strangely, lightning cracking a dismal sky
outside, and in the space of time afterward everything else darkened. Conall
darted a glance around him as the house fell into shadow.
From the top of the stairwell, he saw
the first whispering tendrils of white fog.
The heat of adrenaline shot through his
limbs. Conall stumbled back into his bedroom, even as the fog pursued. His gaze
shot to the window as the last gray light of day faded away and eerie darkness
replaced it, like an eclipse sliding over the sun.
More cold mists veiled the glass, dancing
and floating. Trembling overtook him as he spun to find another escape.
He froze, finding himself face-to-face
with the broken mask of the cemetery doll.
"You—" he gasped. His breath
came out white as the fog enveloped them both, leaving a space of mere inches
between them, so he could still see her expressionless face. Gray ribbons wound
and curled through the air around him.
"Who are you?" he asked.
The doll stared up at him. He sensed her
searching, looking into his eyes even though hers remained covered. She held
him there with her unseen gaze, until her cool, cold hand came up to touch his
Conall let out a low breath. He closed
his eyes, and a shudder of strange ease rippled through his body. The cool pads
of her fingers ran down his sternum, to his navel. The silky ribbons brushed
along his side.
Then he noticed her other hand. She
lifted it up, to her own chest, and she held something tightly in her fingers:
Shyla's stuffed dog.
"I made that...for my daughter,"
he whispered. The woman with the broken mask tilted her head down toward the
small toy, studying it. For a fraction of a second, her fingers appeared to
tighten around it. She returned her gaze to him, then, and the toy fell from
her grip into the fog, forgotten.
"Wait—" he said, but she
brought her other hand up to his chest to join the first, and he recognized
eagerness in the way she pressed her icy skin against his. Her face tilted to
him, and then came her lips again, ivory and flawless.
"I—" Conall breathed.
Her fingers slid up, around his neck,
but he pulled away.
"No, this...this can't real. I'm
asleep. I must be."
Gray ribbons danced, pulling him back to
her, and she stroked his face. He sucked in a breath at her touch and found his
own hand coming up to brush hers.
"You're so cold," he said.
Her cool touch thrilled him; it made his
skin tingle and the heat of his own body sing. Her perfect flesh did, in fact,
prove soft under his hands, as if the contact with his worn calluses infused
cold ivory with yearning. She caressed his cheek, and Conall leaned into it.
Before he could stop himself, he bowed his head to her and kissed her frozen