My novel DANCES SACRED AND PROFANE: A Gothic Romance... my deepest, richest, most ambitious work is available for Amazon Kindle all this week at a reduced price of £0.99. You can GET IT HERE... Here's a sample chapter to whet your appetite.
15./ I resumed my search for Anabella, clutching at her elder sister's suggestion that a second look at her bedroom would likely find her back beneath the sheets. Reaching her door, I found it closed, as I had left it, no illumination showing beneath. I pressed my ear to the wood, heard nothing, gave the door a discreet knock and then, when this went unanswered, clicked open the door.
My lamplight fell across Anabella. She lay face down beneath freshly-smoothed bedsheets, body animated solely by the slight rising and falling of her upper back in time to breaths drawn in deep slumber. I crossed to the bed, the doll on the wickerwork chair by the window watching me with those inescapable eyes often dispensed to humanity's simalucrums.
I sat on the edge of the bed, stroking aside a few wine dark curls that sprawled across the white pillow, better revealing the profile beneath, Anabella’s youthfully plump features bunched in sleep, a tiny sheen of saliva on the fabric below her half open lips. I turned to rise and found myself facing the figure in the wickerwork chair.
This was not the glass-eyed doll that had sat there a moment before, but the seated form of a tall, thin man, wizened skin taut across his skull, a widow's peak of dark grey hair equally tight across his scalp, a crumpled black suit loose as shovelled earth about his bones. His position in the chair suggested his staring at either myself or Anabella, but for the single moment I saw him the sockets of his eyes appeared either sunk in shadow or obscured by black spectacles, like those of a blind man. He was rising from the chair, or so I suppose, although my impression was more of his remaining seated but elongating his top half towards us, accompanied by a half sweet scent suggestive of wet earth and withered flowers.
I noted too, in that same instant, that his lap was heaped with what I took for half a second to be dead leaves, but which I then realised was a mingling of the corpses of small and scruffy birds with the limbs and severed heads of torn-apart dolls, all burnt black or bathed in oil, eyes of glass and eyes of flesh staring at me from the tangle. As the man’s lap began to rise in pursuit of the upper half of his body, this mess slid from his knees. As it slid, I saw two of the doll-eyes blink as if alive and helpless.
A bolt of flame flared up my lamp's glass chimney, dazzling me, then plunging me into darkness.