Jim Catapano's Shadower Series
"You are very much awake, Melody McClean," said the cow. "Though I'm afraid that the nightmare is just beginning."
Melody McClean, champion monster fighter from the realm known as the Shadowverse, is sent to Charles Gosgrove’s Inn at Lighthouse Hill, NY, to investigate a ghost sighting and a bizarre death. Melody soon learns that there are sinister forces at work at the Lighthouse trying to prevent her from learning its secrets—forces that will destroy her if necessary.
What terrible tragedy lies in the mysterious Cosgrove’s past? What is the hidden agenda of the fallen Cosmic Power known only as the Dissenter? Why have a dog and a duck gone missing? And why are giant spiders protecting the portrait of a sad-eyed little girl?
This is the second of a series of adventures featuring Melody McClean and the Shadowers.
A creature that should not exist is catapulted backwards through time. It has unexpectedly been freed from a dimensional prison, a living death arranged by the gods of the universe that succeeded its own.
The creature materializes underground, on the planet that it should have ruled. It has a body, but it knows it will not last long, as it does not obey the laws of this retched universe. Before long it will crumble to nothing, leaving only consciousness.
A will that must find itself a new host, before the rulers imprison it again.
A new mind will be necessary. A vulnerable one that will not fight, that will allow it to gain strength. An animal? No, they will not last long enough. Though it loathes the thought, it will have to be a human.
Its mind reaches out, looking for a suitable candidate.
Richard Sullivan paces the foyer, puffing nervously on a cigarette. His wife, Katherine, is in the bedroom, howling with the pain of bringing forth the new life inside her. Their first child is arriving 6 weeks early, and there are complications. Richard mops the sweat from his brow before it stings his tired eyes.
The baby should have been born in the hospital, but Katherine wouldn't hear of it. She insisted on a home birth and a midwife. Richard curses himself now for not being able to stand up to her.
The midwife's voice is barely audible above her cries; she urges Katherine to keep pushing. He hears her say that the tiny baby's head is finally appearing.
Suddenly, Katherine's anguished screams are halted. Richard stops pacing, waiting for the first cries of their child.
They don't come. Richard fears the worst.
There is a deathly silence, pierced finally by Katherine’s muted sobs.
Richard sinks to his knees, pounding the floor in despair. Then, slowly, he rises, and pushes his way into the room. He must be with his wife; He must see their baby for the first and last time.
He arrives just as the baby girl's eyes finally pop open, and she gasps her first breath. Richard cries with joy at the miracle.
Gingerly he takes the child from the midwife. He cries softly as the midwife attends to Katherine. He does not notice the strange, dark mist of energy seep into his child's body.
"We'll call her Katherine, after you," he says to his beloved through sobs of joy.
It is a quarter past 11, February 7, 1967.
Katie Sullivan plays by the Christmas Tree, near the warmth of the fireplace. Her mother sits at the piano. It’s old, sad sounding music, and she asks her mother to play ”Jingle Bells.“ Her mother laughs and says she has to practice.
She sees the man enter the house, though her father doesn't want to let him in. He is not part of her family. She has never seen his face before. Her mother gets up from the piano, looking frightened. She follows the man into the kitchen.
She hears the man’s voice coming from the kitchen, but it does not frighten her; it is calm and soft and she doesn’t understand the words.
”You can’t take her from us!” cries her mother. Katie freezes. The ball she has been tossing in the air eludes her grasp and bounces away. Her mother begins to cry.
She knows they are talking about her. Why does the man want to take her away?
She tries to run. And finds that she cannot move.
Her eyes are still as well. They focus on the fire.
Suddenly, her mother stops crying. From the kitchen there is no sound.
The man comes to stand before her, and kneels to her eye level. Katie stares at him, terrified. She tries desperately to control her trembling. She does not want Mommy and Daddy to know that she’s scared too. They always taught her to be brave. She would be strong for them.
“No one is going to hurt you Katie.” The man smiled down at her.
“Where are mommy and daddy?” Her eyes strain to see into the kitchen. She can just make out the shape of her father, still as the statue at the bottom of Lighthouse Hill. Why isn’t he moving? Daddy?
There is a deathly silence, as if the whole world had stopped and left just Katie and the strange man.
“Please don’t take me away.” Katie begins to sob. Unable to continue speaking, her brown eyes plead with him.
He stares at her, unmoving.
Katie’s fear gives way to another emotion. She feels the anger welling up inside her, overwhelming her being. It is an unnatural feeling, one that doesn’t belong.
“DON’T TAKE ME!” She sees her hand swipe at the man’s face. It passes right through him. She screams.
“That won’t work, Katie,” he said without a trace of anger. “You see, it so happens that I’m not really here.”
Katie’s hatred subsides once more, leaving only fear.
“Please…don’t take me away,” she repeats.
“I wouldn’t dream of it, Katie,” whispers the man. “You’re staying right here.”
It is a quarter past seven, December 24, 1976.