Nightmare Spawn: Nightmare Series Book 5
Nightmare Spawn: Nightmare Series Book 5
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A terror from beyond lurks within a shadowy English town...
Reporter Denny Purcell is on the run. After exposing the existence of monsters known as Interlopers, she has earned the wrath of their queen, Casandra. Implanted with an alien parasite in her spine, Denny has managed to fight the queen’s telepathic control for now. The sluglike symbiont grants her psychic abilities, but each day, she fears she may lose her mind and become Casandra’s slave.
When Denny travels to the Northern English town of Fordham, she uncovers massive Interloper activity in the area. But she is not the only one hunting the sinister invaders. A clandestine government agency known as the Task Force contacts her with shocking new intelligence: Cassandra herself is lurking in the shadows of the nearby Interloper nest.
Using her new abilities, Denny and the Task Force stage an assault on the terrifying monsters’ headquarters, hoping to end the nightmare once and for all. But Denny has a secret objective, one she has kept hidden from her new allies. And she’s willing to strike a deal with Cassandra to make it happen.
As human and alien blood alike is spilled, Denny must decide. How far is she willing to go to reclaim her humanity?
Denny heard her words twice, once in her head, and again in the other woman's. Trisha was afraid, confused, and so desperate for love that she struggled to acknowledge a threat to her own daughter. She saw Denny as a stranger, pretty but oddly stooped for a young woman. Someone passing judgment on her, making her out to be stupid. A hectoring man-hater, not a helpful adviser.
She doesn't want to hear some stranger telling her what she already knows. A very human response.
Trisha pulled her hand away, tears streaming down her cheeks. Denny leaned back on the stool, exhaling. The stress of contact was always severe. The people who came to her were usually unhappy, frightened. Denny did her best to make them feel better if she could. But sometimes she could not reel off comforting lies.
"I've got to go," mumbled Trisha, getting up, not meeting Denny's eyes. "I - I don't think - I don't believe - I reckon you're just making it up!"
The plump woman clumped to the door and struggled briefly with the loose knob before opening it. Denny decided not to call after her. But Trisha stopped in the hallway, head down, back to Denny. Then she half-turned and threw a couple of banknotes onto the floor. Denny stood up, the crouched carefully to pick up the cash.
Twenty pounds. Well, it's enough for a pizza and a beer.
She closed the door, shutting out the sound of Trisha's heavy footsteps on the stairs. It had not been a good week. After a few lucrative clients, things had tailed off. Word-of-mouth business was always problematic. Denny had stayed briefly in three towns since leaving London, making a little money with her psychic act to top up her meagre savings. She had the conviction that remaining too long in the same place would invite trouble.
Could be this particular seam is mined out, she thought. Or maybe my act needs work.
The symbiont twitched and sent a mild shaft of pain through her spine. The creature, though damaged, was still vigorous at times. It usually reacted strongly if Denny had had psychic contact with a client. If there had been intense emotion involved - which was normal - it seemed to dislike it.
"Sorry, Jabba," Denny muttered. "I know you didn't ask for this gig."
Her initial revulsion at the alien creature had been replaced by a weary acceptance that bordered, at times, on affection. Jabba was at least a living being that shared her life, not to mention her blood supply and nervous system.
All things considered, I'd have preferred a hamster.
She had just gotten comfortable when there was a loud rapping at the door.
"Who is it?" she called peevishly.
"Your rent's overdue."
No it isn't, you creep, she thought. But you won't let me rest until I pay, will you?
Desmond the landlord was a bloated, unshaven fifty-something with a shaved head and a neck tattoo that was now unreadable thanks to folds of colorless flesh. He always stank of beer, sweat, and cheap cologne. As she handed over a few crumpled notes, Denny's hand brushed hers, and she got a familiar flash of his mind. He was peering down at her breasts, despite her loose sweatshirt. He was also imagining what he would like to do to her. And what he would like her to do for him.
Denny snatched her hand back as if she had been scalded.
"Nervous little lady, aren't you?" the man leered, shuffling forward a little so that his belly was across the threshold. "No need to be scared of anything. I'm just downstairs, remember."
"How could I forget, Desmond?" she said sweetly. Then, on a sudden impulse, she added, "I feel so safe knowing you're around."
Denny reached up and briefly pinched his cheek, seeing his eyes widen in surprise. In the brief span of contact, she forced herself to delve deeper into his mind for something to use against him. She skimmed over the surface of a vast swamp of degrading images, murky secrets, and squalid impulses. What passed for Desmond's mind was a near-random agglomeration of greed, ignorance, and animalistic impulses. But one stood out, one dark impulse that she could use against him to devastating effect.
"Hey!" she said brightly. "I'm a huge fan of Barry Manilow. How about you?"
The confusion on the landlord's face as he stepped back in alarm was worth the renewed protests from Jabba. She slammed the door, smiling to herself.
Psychic ninja attack, she thought. But that settles it, I can't stay here any longer, she thought. I'd better move on.
Denny took out her phone and looked at a map of central England. She frowned at a dozen half-familiar place names, towns and cities she had sometimes heard on the news when she had lived in London. She needed a place with a large population, so she could rely on word of mouth to bring in some more clients. This ruled out most English towns. She finally settled on a place called Fordham. The data she found was not exactly cheerful.
It can't be any worse than here, she thought. Might even be nice. You can never tell.
As she made a train reservation, she caught herself humming 'Bermuda Triangle'.
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