Monsters

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The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim: Demon
Excerpt

Far away from home, from comfort and sanity, up in the arctic mountains of Spitsbergen Island, the sound vibrates in the frigid air, comes racing toward the sea and enters Edgar’s soul. It is a cry of anguish and it terrifies him. He stands on the little ship amidst the human blood and severed limbs and smashed skulls that the great whale has left in its wake, unable to move. Lucy and Jonathan are on the shore just an arrow shot away, motionless too. Tiger lies beneath them on the hard ground, awfully still.
“That sounds like the devil,” whispers the wounded captain, still on all fours.
“Bring her,” Edgar calls to Jonathan as he motions toward Tiger, a tear rolling down his cheek.
Though his friend is a young man with arms like a strongman, he cannot do it. Instead, he drops to his knees and buries his head in his hands. Lucy bends down and, summoning a strength beyond her physical powers, lifts her fallen companion and then staggers toward the boat with her, Tiger’s limbs limp and extending toward the rocks. Edgar gets to them in an instant, reaches over the railing, and takes his dearest friend from Lucy, shocked to feel how light she is. He stares down at her twice-broken nose and pale face, framed by short, raven-black hair. She is still so beautiful, even in death. Tiger. The indefatigable, the unconquerable, the inimitable Tiger, laid low by the monster they had pursued to this godforsaken place. The tilted boat is jammed against the high, rocky shore. Lucy clambers up and onto it as Edgar walks with Tiger in his arms across the deck, holding her close. He puts his forehead to hers and then sets her down, away from the blood. He presses his finger to the jugular vein on her neck and tries to tell himself that he feels a very slight pulse.
The cry echoes across Spitsbergen again and the captain cowers.
“Do you have binoculars?” asks Edgar in a monotone.
The captain points to them, their straps somehow still holding fast to a hook on a mast, but their lenses smashed. Edgar takes the binoculars in both hands and points them upward into the mountains. The cry comes one more time. Edgar stares through the broken glass, seeing a thousand images, but he focuses on one: a distant figure, only slightly less white than the snow. It is holding its face toward the sky as if it has just let out a howl. Below it lies the broken body of another polar bear, the one the monster had killed with his bare hands less than an hour before. Did the horrific cry come from this looming animal, or from something else?

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The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim: Monster
Excerpt

Edgar Brim is running for his life on the dark streets of London after midnight, Tiger Tilley by his side and fear in his heart. A demon is pursuing him: the creature that has just murdered Lear. Edgar can hear its footsteps thudding behind him, feel its presence in dim alleys, sense it peering down from the rooftops of buildings, but he cannot see it, cannot even imagine it or what it might do to him. And as he runs, the shriveled arms of the supernatural old woman who has terrorized him since he was in his cradle are squeezing his chest so he can barely breathe. He had thought this was over—the fear, the visitations of the hag, and the monsters. But it is all here again: as real as the thick London mist.
Edgar’s flame-colored hair is like a spotlight in the darkness as he rushes past the weird denizens who populate the night like actors in a dream—ragged, staggering women, swerving swells and deformed beggars. This is where civilization has brought us in the greatest city on earth, thinks Edgar, this is progress. The shop windows are black, some boarded up for the night. Whispers and shouts and screams echo up and down the streets. Edgar feels the monster getting closer. Tiger moves at lightning speed, quick in her black trousers and loose shirt. She flies around a corner and up Drury Lane in front of him and he is desperate to keep up. His breath comes in heaves. The Crypto-Anthropology Society of the Queen’s Empire and the madman who operates it are just a few doors away. He has their guns.
They had left Jonathan and Lucy at the Langham Hotel, one-armed Professor Lear growing cold in his bed and his face whiter and stiffer by the hour, as if it were becoming a mask. The moment before he died, his eyes had stared at them as though he had seen the devil and he had spoken in a croak from dried lips, his larynx quivering in a mutilated throat marked with red lines like the imprints of a huge hand. “Monster,” he had whispered. And then: “Worse!” The creature that had been in the room had frightened Lear more than the living-and-breathing vampire they had destroyed two days before!

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