Posted by demonik on June 17, 2009
Stephen Gallagher – Chimera (New English Library, 1991)
No School Until Further Notice.
The village schoolhouse is in use as a morgue. There has been a tragedy at the remote Jenner Clinic. It has always been a place of secrets — and now, something terrible has happened.
Meanwhile, high in the valley by Ravens’ Crag Farm, the Gaskell children reach home. The farmyard is quiet. The gate stands open. The Gaskell boy tugs at his sister’s sleeve. ‘Look,’ he says, and Sarah nods.
In the middle of the yard, the Strange Boy is waiting for them.
WAITING TO PLAY …
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Posted by demonik on October 6, 2007
Stephen Gallagher – Valley Of Lights (Nel, 1988)
Phoenix Police Sergeant Alex Volchak is having a hard enough time holding together the somewhat battered remains of his life even before the call to the Paradise motel. It is at this sleazy location that he finds the bodies – inert and barely clinging to life – that the local press are quick to label ‘zombies’. And when one of them seems to have got up from a hospital bed and simply walked away, Volchak has a major problem on his hands. It is a problem, furthermore, which no-one else seems anxious to share, even when Alex becomes convinced that the incident is related to a gruesome set of murders.
Is it me, or is that a deathly dull cover? Either way, it’s the reason why I passed on Valley Of Lights until Jerrylad kindly gave me a copy at Zardoz. More fool me.
Part 1: The Shell Game
Sergeant Alex Volchak lives for his job because, as he points out, since his wife left him his world outside is an empty void. All that might be about to change. Lately he’s struck up a friendship with single mum Loretta and her little daughter Georgina and romance is in the air.
On the professional front, he’s been called to a sleazy dump in Skid Row central to investigate the pseudo-‘death’s of three men from wildly different backgrounds who have no business sharing a room, but there they are, slumped before the TV, literally brainless. Their breathing borders on the non-existent and when he attempts to move one the guy gives up the ghost altogether.
Volchak learns that the room was rented to Gilberto Mercado, a Mexican with a badly beat-up face on account of his hanging around playgrounds sizing up infants, and decides to wait for him to return. However, when Mercado sets eyes on him, he legs it, dropping his grocery bags which smash on the pavement. His shopping consists of umpteen cans of baby food in various flavours which he’s evidently been using as sustenance for the trio in suspended animation. When Volchak eventually nails his man, the Mex deliberately drops dead on him. At that precise moment, one of the ‘zombies’ springs up on its trolley and beats it out of the Hospital.
Shortly afterward, it commits the first of the child murders.
Volchak realises that the zombie, the two other brain-deads and the late Mercado have each of them been used as a host body by a terrible elemental, although how he can make his superiors buy his enlightened theory is another matter. Thinking to put an end to the body-thievery, he locates the next zombie-in-waiting and garrottes him, dumping his corpse in the waste disposal. Locating the escaped patient, he drives him out into the desert. The parasite admits to what he is but warns Volchak that he can’t be destroyed. When the sergeant informs him that he no longer has a body to flee into, the entity seemingly panics. Volchak blows him away. The End.
Or so he thinks …
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