Ginger Nuts of Horror
To celebrate the launch of his new novel Relics, Tim Lebbon has embarked on a blog tour. ( details of which can be found here). Today Tim's tour makes a stop at Ginger Nuts of Horror with an excerpt from the book. We loved Relics, and you can read our review of it here.
“This is the one relic I can never sell,” Fat Frederick said, standing beside the door set in the basement’s end wall. He smiled. “My precious.” A coded electronic lock was fixed there. He reached for it, then glanced back.
His face was soft again, all pretence gone, all the self-awareness giving way to an expression of sheer delight. This was his reason for living and his drive, and he was about to share something very special with her.
Angela didn’t want it at all, but Fat Frederick rapidly tapped in a code, the door whispered open, and she smelled the thing that lay beyond. Choice had long since been taken from her.
“Come on,” he said. “I like to keep the door closed, even when I’m inside.”
“Why?” Angela asked.
“Makes it feel more alive.”
They entered the room, and for a few seconds Meloy obscured her view of what that small space contained. Then he reached back past her to press a button that brought the door closed again.
And she saw his angel.
It lay on a waist-high platform in the center of the small room. There was just enough space all around for one person to walk. Lights were fixed in the ceiling and hung from the plain white walls, casting a soft glow across that strange, impossible form.
Any doubts that Angela had retained—at the flying ointment, the unicorn horn, footprints and tentacle and oily blood—instantly vanished. The creature that lay before her was so alien, unreal, and unbelievable that she had no option other than to believe.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Frederick breathed.
Angela stayed close to him. His presence was a comfort. Whatever else he was, Frederick Meloy was still human.
“It looks…” Angela began, then she frowned. She couldn’t say it aloud.
The angel was the size of a young teenager, laid stretched out on its side with left arm extended, left leg bent at the knee and protruding slightly as if in mid-step. Its head rested on its upper arm. It was naked, with no sign of sexual organs. Its face was strange, eyes open, and as Angela tipped her head to one side its expression manifested. It was in pain.
“It looks alive,” she said, so softly, afraid to wake this sleeping thing.
“I know,” Frederick said.
“But it’s… dead.”
“Of course,” he said. “All these things are dead. They have been for thousands of years.”
“It looks so soft. So recent.”
“There’s no decay. Nothing to show that it’s dead, other than…” He moved around the dais and signaled her to follow.
The angel’s back was a scene of ruin. She hadn’t known exactly what to expect, but as the word wings whispered across her mind, so she set eyes on where those objects of angelic legend should have been. The wounds glistened as if still fresh. Nubs of bone glimmered white in the artificial light, broken and splintered from the huge trauma perpetrated on this wondrous creature. The skin and flesh of its back was parted in several places, torn rather than cut, the exposed meat still appearing wet. A single white feather, the size of her little finger, was stuck in a splash of blood at the base of its spine, its ivory hue speckled red.
“I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “No history, no name. No clues about where it lived, or even when, nor what happened to it. It’s like owning a billion-year-old fossil that you knew was once alive, but its life is so remote from you that it seems almost impossible.”
“It looks like if you touched it, it might wake,” she said, and she shivered.
“I’ve thought that.” Meloy reached out and held his hand above the angel’s head for a moment, looking Angela in the eye before resting his hand on its skin. Sadness painted his features. Tears formed, and his mouth screwed up, as if he was experiencing the greatest sorrow of his life. It shocked her to see him like this, and she wondered at a man like him letting down so many barriers.
“Try,” he said.
Everything told her not to do it, but before she could question her actions she had reached out and placed her hand on the prone creature’s bare arm.
Its skin was cold and as hard as marble.
An awful sadness filled her, and she felt her whole body slump as the weight of unbelievable grief pressed her down. She sobbed, and in those distorting tears she caught sight of Vince’s face.
He was also crying.
Stepping back, banging into the wall, Angela struggled to compose herself. The feeling of deep melancholy evaporated as quickly as it had arrived, but like a dream it left dregs of itself behind.
I’ll never get over that, she thought. But also like a dream—or like severe, crippling pain—she was already forgetting the details of what she had felt.
“Now can I leave?” she asked softly.
“A minute,” Fat Frederick said. “You’ll want another minute, just to look and wonder.”
He was right.
Beneath the surface of our world, mythological creatures and their artifacts still exist—corrupt people pay fortunes for a sliver of dragon bone, a basilisk's scale, or an angel's wing. Angela Gough is an American criminology student in London whose fiancé Vince disappears, and her investigation leads her into a black market specializing in arcane relics. She meets Mary Rock, a criminal of mythic status who also wants to find Vince… to kill him. Angela and a growing team of adventurers must stop this horrific trade, yet they face a growing menace as the hunted creatures begin to fight back.