Nightmare Rising: Nightmare Series Book 6
Nightmare Rising: Nightmare Series Book 6
Nightmare Rising: Nightmare Series Book 6

Nightmare Rising: Nightmare Series Book 6

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Humanity’s final nightmare has begun…

After discovering the existence of the monstrous Interlopers, reporter Denny Purcell’s life has become a living hell. She has been hunted, tortured, and experimented on. Her flesh has been fused to an alien symbiont, and every day is a struggle to keep her humanity. But her nightmare has only just begun.

The Interlopers launch an all-out attack, releasing a bio-weapon that plunges London into chaos. As panic tears the city apart, Denny fights to lead a band of survivors to safety. But even if she can escape the devastation, the sadistic invaders have unleashed a bloodthirsty horde to hunt down the remnants of humanity. As Denny and the others flee for their lives, the psychic abilities given to her by the symbiont reveal a chilling secret. The Task Force assigned to hunt down the Interlopers has been infiltrated by beings known as Nomads. These strange inter-dimensional wanderers have manipulated both humans and Interlopers alike. And their insidious lust for conflict will ultimately end in the destruction of both races.

Caught between two sinister forces, Denny is forced to fight for humanity and her life…but is she already too late?

190 pages

The nightmare always began in the same way.

Denny was walking in a forest, golden summer sunlight dapping the undergrowth. Birdsong and the hum of bees surrounded her. She glimpsed blue sky through the leaves, felt a gentle breeze on her skin. Small creatures clambered, leaped, or scurried through the bushes. A butterfly, wings richly patterned in red and black, fluttered in front of her face.

She almost smiled. But she knew the idyll would not last.

With dream-logic, she could suddenly see through the earth, foliage, the roots of trees. It was as if the ground was made of glass. Beneath her feet, she saw a vast network of burrows. Not tunnels, these were not engineered but dug with claws, their walls cemented with mucous.

It was a huge nest of Interlopers.

As the vision became clearer, she saw the inhabitants of the underground hive. Pale and naked, scuttling along like anthropoid ants, the Interlopers swarmed in their thousands. One passed directly below her, paused, turned its face up to her. Above its elongated muzzle, a blended mouth and nose, tiny black eyes gleamed.

The Morlocks, she thought. Soon it will be time.

Sure enough, the sirens began to sound, the wailing tone rising and falling. Suddenly she was no longer alone. All through the forest, people were walking, blank-faced, purposeful, heading the same way. The great multitude looked to be of all ages, all races. Mothers carried babies in their arms, old folk were supported by younger men and women.

"No," she said, as she had to, every time. "No, you don't need to go!"

Denny ran to the nearest man, tried to make him stop, but he ignored her, kept walking. She went through the same futile process again and again. But eventually, the crowd of vacant-eyed walkers grew so dense that she was simply carried along by it.

The sirens were very loud now. She did not want to see where the mesmerized people were going, but she had to turn, had to look. A great edifice of white stone stood on the margins of the forest. It was topped by a colossal head of an Interloper, fearsome maw ringed with vicious teeth, tiny eyes set in deep sockets. Beneath the massive stone head, humans trooped into the pedestal, vanishing into the shadows. From within Denny heard snarls, screams.

Eaten alive, she thought in despair. All eaten alive.

She was very close to the gateway now, and the sirens were blotting out all thought. She could see pale figures lurking inside the vast stone pedestal, pouncing on defenseless humans as they walked inside. And the crowd was still carrying her forward, so that Denny knew she would soon be in the killing zone. She looked down. Her bare feet were treading in patches of fresh blood. She battled against the human tide, but in vain.

Then she was inside. As soon as she had crossed the threshold the sirens stopped. The great gateway closed, trapping Denny and the other human cattle in twilight. Interlopers moved forward, crouching, predatory, masters of their dark domain. One by one, they pounced and fed, cracking open skulls, feasting on the bloody matter within.

And then, only Denny was left alive.

"No!" she cried. "You can't have me, you won't take me!"

She pounded on the metal doors that sealed her only escape route, knowing that it was futile. She waited for the attack to come. But she stood unmolested, untouched.

"You have nothing to fear," said a low voice.

Turning to face the semicircle of creatures, she saw that they had changed. They had all taken on human form. The same form, a specific female. Thirties, slim, average height, and a bright, inquisitive expression.

Each one had Denny's face.

"What is this?" she gasped. "Why are you doing this?"

The nearest fake Denny smiled, shrugged.

"You know why," said the creature. "You're one of us, now."

Denny woke abruptly, heart racing, her limbs tangled in bedsheets. For a moment, she wondered if Frankie would knock on her door, check on her. Then she remembered her roommate was in Fordham on Task Force business.

"Mopping up operations," Denny muttered.

She grabbed a notebook from her bedside table and tried to note down details of the dream before they faded. As it were a recurring nightmare, she had assumed that it was somehow connected to the surviving Interlopers. It was also, obviously, based on an old science fiction movie that had scared her as a kid. After she had finished the latest page of notes, she flipped back and saw that it was consistent with earlier attempts to summarize the dream.

Could just be my subconscious, being a jerk, she mused. Or something else. Information leaking through. Thanks to Jabba.

Denny threw back the covers and padded into the bathroom. She felt herself compelled to check on her symbiont several times a day now. The organism had become so short and narrow that it no longer merited its nickname. As she angled the mirror in her hand, she saw that the glistening tube of alien tissue had shrunk again. It was less than six inches long, and no wider than her finger.

"Once it was you and me," she murmured. "But soon it will just be us."

Again, she wished Harriet Zoffany were still around to consult. The biologist had established that symbionts slowly blended their genes with those of their human hosts. Zoffany's experiments on rats had also hinted at a merging of nervous systems. But what that might imply for humans, no one knew.

"But we're gonna find out pretty soon," Denny sighed, putting down the mirror. "In the meantime, Jabba, let's try and get some shuteye."

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