Ghosts in a mansion. A home invasion. A group of friends haunted by a murder. An unlikely friendship, a dead body in an abandoned house. A girl falling to her death, and another falling into the viewless darkness.
Unseen Moon collects five suspenseful stories by award-winning author Eliza Victoria.
Story excerpts, ebook link, and pre-order form after the cut.
I’ve always wanted to publish a collection of dark fiction, so here it is. The stories here have never before appeared in print form. (Save for “December”, which first appeared in Story Quarterly.)
The wind was so strong Cedric and Cleofe had to hold onto each other’s arms to prevent themselves from walking backwards. When they reached the cemetery, a piece of wet bond paper hit Cedric smack in the face. Cleofe could have laughed, but she was too busy covering her face with her arm. The wind was liquid; it brought rainwater with it, and it hurt her eyes.
The grocery store was virtually empty when Cleofe got there, so she had no trouble moving about the shelves. She took four Coke-in-cans, chips, several varieties of canned food, and a chocolate bar for herself, hauling all of this onto the counter.
The cashier was elderly and wore what looked like a self-knit gray sweater over her uniform. “Business is slow,” she said as she rang up the items. “You’re one of the few the Guillermo rape-slayer didn’t scare away.”
“Maybe they’re just afraid of the storm.”
The cashier scoffed. “Houses here get submerged in floodwater every year. They’re used to storms. It’s murder they’re not used to.”
“But I don’t think whoever killed that poor girl lives here.”
“Really.” Cleofe hadn’t heard this theory before.
The Ghosts of Sinagtala
“No.” Ben picked up his phone and saw that it had gone back to home screen. He glanced at the doorway. Something white glided into the sala.
The lights went out.
“Oh, no,” Emma said. “Tell me this house has a backup generator.”
“It’s okay,” Ben said. He flicked open his lighter. In the glow of the tiny flame he saw Emma yawn and rub her eyes. Ben stood up and let her hold his left arm.
“Come on, sleepyhead,” he said, walking to the doorway, the furniture barely visible in the darkness of the sala. The flame only threw a small circle of light in front of them. Emma’s arms were wrapped around his, her dress swishing against his legs. “See how a smoker saves the day?”
“Where are you going?” Emma said in a plaintive voice. Ben turned around in shock.
Emma was still sitting on her chair.
“Well, don’t leave me here,” she said. “I’ll get lost.”
The pressure on his arm disappeared. The lights went back on in a blinding flash.
“Jesus,” Ben muttered under his breath.
On the fiery front porch, her back to the screen door, Amarilis stretched her bare legs and stared at the parked car. It was parked right across their house, almost in front of their gate. Amarilis was holding a yellow bell she had plucked from the garden in one hand. She played with the flower, twiddled the stem with her fingers. A few minutes later two men approached the car. She didn’t see where they came from. One had stubble on his face. This one took his time opening the door of the car. He was looking over his shoulder. Amarilis knew he was looking at her, at her bare legs. She was wearing a short denim skirt. Amarilis placed the yellow bell lightly against her knee, twiddled the stem with her fingers. She didn’t like the look he was giving her.
Upstairs, Nathaniel packed his bag. He was going to Tagaytay, so he packed several thick shirts, a jacket, sweaters. He felt silly looking at these clothes. Outside the sun shone brilliantly, like it wanted to burn a hole into the pavement.
Nathaniel stooped down and pulled a box from beneath his bed. It was a black box, with a lock. Inside was a .38, oiled and ready to shoot. He took it out, wrapped his fingers around it, checked the barrel.
I know a place, Gabriel told him, and he came to him, the old man’s trusty helper in that small store, as they always did, like children to the Pied Piper. Rats to the Pied Piper. Jeffrey, his name was, serving in that store too small to carry paints and brushes and heavy muslin. But the store carried the usual necessities – instant coffee, instant noodles, sugar, chips – and Gabriel found himself walking the two blocks to get to it, entering its door almost every day. The old man (Gabriel couldn’t remember his name) had a different helper before, a young girl who looked like she didn’t shower much. The girl didn’t interest him, even as an experiment. Then the girl was replaced by Jeffrey. He could have easily lured Jeffrey out of that store if he wanted to, there was no need for the small talk and the eye contact and the small sighs and chuckles, but Jeffrey actually responded to the game. So Gabriel said I know a place that morning a storm was brewing in the atmosphere, that day the old man, frightened, ordered his helper to close up shop, saying, “Who would want to go out on a day like this?”
At the edge of town was an estate covered with trees, and on the spot where the trees met the road were a vast lake and a ramshackle house. Probably a guard’s house years and years ago, battered down now to resemble a poor man’s shanty. The day was as dark as midnight, and the wind cold and sharp – Gabriel pushed Jeffrey against one of the many swaying trees lining the road and kissed him hard on the lips, on the neck. He moved back and they walked again, kept on walking until they reached the stone steps carved against the incline. The steps led to the small, one-bedroom house.
End of excerpts. © Eliza Victoria, 2013.
For residents of the Philippines only: Pre-order the print edition by filling out the form below.
Pre-orders will be accepted until May 10 (Friday) The pre-order period is over. Contact me directly if you want a copy.
Pre-ordered books will be signed by me. :) The form is just to determine the number of books I need to have printed initially, so I will reply to you with details about the book price (which shouldn’t exceed PhP 500) and payment after the deadline.
The copies, of course, will only be delivered after payment.
The ebook edition is now available via Smashwords for $2.99 (approx. PhP 120). It only contain four stories, as the fifth story, the novella The Viewless Dark, is available as a separate ebook from Flipside Publishing. I hope you’d also consider buying the Viewless ebook, or the paperback. :)
The paperback is now also available via CreateSpace and Amazon, to help those living abroad order print copies, if they so wish. More details here.
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