A triple-feature boxed set of three suspense and horror thrillers - Purity, The Words, and The Attraction. In these full-length novellas, bestselling and Bram Stoker Award-winning author Douglas Clegg's brings us three of his most frightening and fascinating chillers of suspense, horror and...coming of age.
In Purity, the darkest force is love. From award-winning author Douglas Clegg comes a twisting, dark psychological thriller of dangerous obsession. For Owen Crites, there is no girl for him but Jenna Montgomery. When he meets his rival, a rich young man named Jimmy McTeague, Owen discovers a hidden secret about this intruder. And Owen will stop at nothing -- including murder -- to keep Jenna all to himself.
In The Words, two boys discover a secret realm of monsters...When teenager Mark befriends outsider Dash, he believes his new friend to be an outcast rebel. But a dark horror unfolds as Dash leads Mark into dangerous games and rituals involving stories of the occult and a strange drug that allows Dash to see into another world -- a place of absolute darkness and terror.
The Attraction is a drive-in movie-style horror chiller of roadside terror. The signs along the desert highway read “Come See the Mystery!” But some mysteries should remain buried forever -- like the terrifying creature at the back of the Brakedown Palace Gas & Sundries Emporium. When a group of college friends on a road trip across country stop in to check out the roadside attraction, they unleash an ancient horror.
"Clegg is the best horror writer of the post-Stephen King generation."Bentley Little, author of The Store, The Policy, and The Haunted.
"Clegg's stories can chill the spine so effectively that the reader should keep paramedics on standby."Dean Koontz, author of Watchers and 77 Shadow Street.
"Douglas Clegg knows exactly what scares us, and he knows just how to twist those fears into hair-raising chills..."Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series, The Apprentice, The Surgeon, and Harvest.
"Purity is a gripping, shocking story of love, turning 18 and murder."Doubleshot Reviews
"Douglas Clegg turns the screws dexterously in this sleek, multifaceted suspense story...in a vacation paradise saturated in alcohol, entitlement and hypocrisy..."Publisher's Weekly, on Purity.
"Clegg writes gut-wrenchingly beautiful horror, painful adolescence, abuse, sociopathic alienation, and coming home - are all at play here, as are characters who play each other and themselves...for keeps."Chizine
"Douglas Clegg's The Words is a real stunner ...Using the novella form to its utmost..."Somebody Dies Blog Reviews
"...A vivid story that will separate the timid from their sleep and the bold from their complacency whenever they next visit a sideshow or museum mummy display!"Midwest Book Review, on The Attraction
"Clegg takes the idea of a cheapjack tourist hustle for a decrepit gas station in middle-of-nowhere Arizona and turns it into a terrifying quick punch of horror…"Alternate Reality Web Zine Reviews
"I couldn't put this book down. It grabbed me on the first page and wouldn't let go. I ended up reading most of the night away...The story moves at an incredible rate and never lags."Horror World Reviews, on The Attraction
"Clegg delivers!"John Saul, bestselling author of The God Project and Perfect Nightmare
"Douglas Clegg is one of the best!"Richard Laymon, bestselling author of The Traveling Vampire Show, Savage, and Beast House
After the last match goes out, he mouths the words to the Our Father, but it brings him no comfort. He remembers The Veil. He remembers the way things moved, and how the sky looked under its influence. He doubts now that a prayer could be answered. He doubts everything he has come to believe about the world.
The echo of the last scream. He can hear it, even though the room is silent. It seems to be in his head now: the final cry.
Hope it’s final.
The scream is too seductive, he knows. He understands what’s out there. It’s attracted to noise, because it doesn’t see with its eyes anymore. It sees by smell and sound and vibration. He has begun to think of it by its new name, only he doesn’t want to ever say that name out loud. Again.
Your flesh won’t forget.
Prickly feeling along the backs of his hands, along his calves. In his mind, he goes through the alphabet, trying to latch onto something he can work around. Something that will give him a jump into remembering the words.
He presses himself against the wall as if it will hide him.
Rough stone. No light. Need light. Damn.
He thinks he must be delirious because the goofiest things go through his mind: Michelle’s phrase, Unfrigginlikely, Spaceman Mark.
Those aren’t the words. Spaceman Mark. Hey, Space! What planet you on today? Planet Dark, that’s what I’m on. Planet Midnight.
And out of matches.
The wind dies, momentarily, beyond the cracked window.
The damn ticking of the watch.
The sensation of freezing and burning alternately – a fever.
The sticky feeling under his armpits.
The rough feeling of his tongue against the roof of his mouth.
The interminable waiting.
Seconds that become hours in his mind. In those seconds, he is running through sounds in his head – the words? What are they? Laiya-oauwraii…no. That’s the beginning of the name. Don’t say it again. It might call it right to you. You might make it stronger. For all you know. What the hell are the words?
He clutches the carved bone in his left hand. It’s smooth in his fist. Like ivory, a tusk from some fallen beast. Slight ridges where the words are carved. Like trying to read Braille.
If only I could read them. Need to get light. Some light.
Distracted by the smell.
That would be the first one it got.
Over in the corner, something moves. Darkness against darkness.
Someone he can’t see in the dark is over there.
Eyesight is failure, Dash once told him. Perception is failure. All that there is, all that there ever will be, cannot be perceived in the light of day. At night, the only perceptions turn inward.
The words? he thinks. The words. Maybe if you remember them, you can stop it. Maybe it reverses. Or maybe if you just say them...
Moves his lips, trying to form vowel sounds.
The dry taste. Humid and weather-scorned all around.
In his throat, a desert.
Every word he has ever heard in his life spins through his mind. But not the words he needs.
Not the ones he wants to remember tonight.
A beautiful night. Dark. No light whatsoever but the ambient light of the world itself.
Summer. Humid. Post-storm. One of those rich storms that sweeps the sky with crackling blue and white lightning, and the roars of lions. But the storm has passed – and that curious wet silence remains.
Taste of brine in the air from the water, a few miles away.
He remembers summer storms like this – their majesty as they wash the June sky clean, bringing a gloom on their caped shoulders, but leaving behind not a trace of it. The smell of oak and beech and cedar and salt and the murky stink of the ponds and bogs. Their years together, all in those smells. All in the dark.
The night, summer, perhaps just a few hours before the sun might rise.
He wonders if he’ll ever see another storm. Another summer.
Those damn words.
“Your flesh will remember the name even if your mind forgets,” Dash had told him, and he had still thought it was a game when Dash had said it. “The name gets in your bones and in your heart. Just by hearing it once. But the words are harder to remember. They don’t want you to know the words because it binds them. So, listen very carefully. Listen. Each time I say them, repeat them exactly back to me.”
He’s shivering. Sweating. Nausea and dizziness both within him, the pit of his stomach. Something’s scratchy around his balls – feels like a mosquito buzzing all along the inside of his legs. Twitching in his fingers. Tensing his entire body.
Afraid to take another breath.
A conversation replays in his head:
“It’s not that hard. Watch.”
“I can’t. I just…”
“All you do is take the thing and bring it down like this. Think of it as a game.”
“I can’t do it.”
“Don’t think of it like that. Pretend it’s a game. It doesn’t mean what it looks like. You’ve been trained to think this is bad by church and school and your parents. And the world outside. But it is not real. It is just a game, only nobody else knows this. They’re stupid. Nobody’s going to get hurt. Least of all one of us. Least of all you or me. I would never let it happen. You’re like my brother.”
“I know. But I can’t.”
“All right. I’ll do it. I’ll just do it. Just remember what you’re supposed to do. As soon as it happens. As soon as my eyes close. Promise? Okay?”
“And the words. After. If it’s too much. You know what to say. You remember?”
“You know how to pronounce them? You have to know. If this gets out of hand, you can stop it. The name for me, and the words to stop it. If it’s too awful.”
“I know, I know.”
“’Cause it might get too awful. I don’t know.”
“Sure. Of course. I remember how to say them.”
“And the name?”
He has no problem remembering the name. He’d like to blot it out of his mind. The name is on the tip of his tongue, and he can’t seem to forget how to say it, how to pronounce it perfectly. The words have somehow vanished from his mind.
He tries to remember the words, now. How they sound. The language was foreign, but he couldn’t read them off the bone. Especially with no light. But even if he had some light, he knew the letters looked like scribbles and symbols. They didn’t look like sounds. All he can remember is the name, and he doesn’t want to remember that.
A name like that shouldn’t be said in a church.
A New England church. Saint Something. Old Something Church. Older than old, perhaps. Nearly a crypt. Made of slate and stone. Puritanical and lovely and a bit like a prison, now. Church of punishment. Rocky churchyard behind it.
He remembers the graves with the mud and the high grasses and the smell of wild onion and lavender, as if it were years ago rather than the past hour. Smell of summer, wet grass, and that fertile, splendid odor of new leaves, new blossoms.
The smell of life.
He is inside the church. In a room. The altar is at the opposite end.
Danny had the lighter, he thinks.
If I get it, maybe I can at least save her.
He wasn’t sure if the shape in the doorway was Danny, or the thing that he didn’t even want to name. Not Dash. Not anyone he had ever met or known.
An ‘It’. A Thing. A Creature. Something without a Name.
But it has a name. He knows the name, but he does not intend to ever say it again. He knows the name too well, but it’s the words he keeps trying to remember. The ones that are on the bone. The words that might stop it from continuing.
He tries to lick his lips, but it’s no use. His mouth is dry.
Dry from too much screaming.
Nearby, there’s a very slight noise. A sliver of a noise. He is sensitive to sound.
In the Nowhere.
Someone might’ve just died outside. He doesn’t know for sure. Who? He just heard the last of someone’s life in a slight moaning sound.
The open window. No breeze.
Just that sound.
A soft but unpleasant ohhhhhh.
The puppy whimpers. Somewhere nearby.
Other sounds, barely audible, seem huge.
Branches against the rooftop. Scraping lightly.
His heartbeat. A rapping hammer.
In the dark, the ticking of his watch is too loud. He slowly draws it from his wrist. Carefully, he presses it down into the left-hand pocket of his jeans. The watch clinks slightly against his keys. He holds his breath.
Needs to cough.
Fight it. Fight it. Swallow the cough. Don’t let it out.
Closes his eyes, against the darkness. Closes his eyes to block it out. To make it go away.
Holds his breath for another count. The cough is gone.
Someone’s breathing. Over there. Across the room. Small room. More than closet, less than room.
Her? Thank god. Thank god. He licks his lips. Mouth, dry.
After a few minutes, he can just make out her shape.
He’s staring at her, and she’s staring at him, but they can’t really see each other. Just forms in the dark. Michelle? Ambient light from beneath cracks in the walls creates a barely visible aura around her as he stares.
Dead of night. Dread of night.
The dread comes after the knowledge. He remembers the line from the book. That awful book that he thought was fiction.
But the words do not come to him. The sounds of them, just beyond his memory.
Breathing hard, but as quietly as he can.
Smells his own breath. The stink of his underarms. Glaze of sweat covering his body. Shirt plastered to him. Hair wet and greasy against his scalp.
The chill that hasn’t left him, not since he came up out of the earth. Burning chill.
She’s going to do it.
Or I am.
One of them is going to scream again. He knows it. He wasn’t even sure if he had stopped screaming a half hour before.
Problem is, when the screaming starts, it happens.
And neither of them wants it to happen.
But the puppy is okay.
It doesn’t want the puppy.
That’s what someone said before. How many minutes ago? Did he say it? Had he said it and just not remembered it? “It doesn’t want the puppy.”
She whispers something. Or else he imagines she whispers.
Or it’s the sound of the leaves on the trees, brushing the rooftop.
If it’s her, it’s wrong for her to whisper. Neither of them knows what decibel level it needs to find them, but she whispers anyway, “Please say it’s a game. Please god, say it’s a game.”
He’s not close enough, but he wants to hold her. Hold her tight. Rewind the night back to day, back a year or more, so he can undo it all. He wants everything to turn out okay, but he knows it won’t.
Most of all, he wants her to shut her mouth up. He wants to hold her and press his lips or his hand against her mouth and keep in whatever she’s trying to let out.
Silence. Come on, silence. Don’t...
Even her whisper is too loud.
And it hears her.
And it wants to make her scream.