Sunday, November 7, 2010

Whispering Bones: an excerpt

Today Toad welcomes horror author Rita Vetere to her corner, to share an excerpt from her recently released Whispering Bones (Lyrical Press). Rita's writing offers the classic retro horror feel evident in such classics as The Omen, Rosemary's Baby and their ilk. Her characters are real, three-dimensional people who go through harrowing experiences. I'm happy to say this is not a book you read late at night when it's storming outside. Or you could... **grins**

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“Let’s get on with it. It’s the last load. I want to get back.”

The men began emptying the cart of its gruesome cargo, jostling her. Terrified, she listened to the sickening thuds as corpses were thrown into the pit, colliding with the bodies already there. Suddenly, shockingly, Isabella was lifted up. “No... No!” She felt herself falling. Then, the blinding pain of impact as she landed among the dead.

The stench, the slimy feel of rotten flesh... Death surrounded her. More bodies landed beside her, on top of her. Panicked, she screamed, “Take me to the Lazaretto... please! It cannot be far, I beg you.”

The cloaked and masked monster towering above the pit said as he grabbed a shovel, “There is no place at the Lazaretto for the sick any longer. It already overflows with the dead and dying. You have been brought to Poveglia.”

Isabella moaned in despair. Poveglia was a disposal site, nothing more.

The other man spoke. “Tomaso... We could try on our way back to the mainland. Perhaps the Lazaretto will take her. She is but a child—”

“Shut up. I’ve no intention of stopping there, only to be turned away. Then what? Return here to do what we should have done in the first place? No. Look at her. She is already dead.”

The cruel words struck Isabella like stones. Although close to death, a smouldering rage began to build inside her. She looked up at the pizzicamorti, leaning on their shovels at the pit’s edge. Her gaze slid back and forth between the two men and came to rest on the dark form of the man who had refused to help her.

In that moment, something happened.

Her delirious mind cleared. For a split second, Isabella perceived her situation with complete lucidity. She could surrender herself to God’s will. Accept her fate, knowing her immortal soul would soon be reunited with Mamma and Papa in the afterlife. Or she could choose another, darker path—one which had opened before her as a result of this outrage. Isabella heard a sinister whisper. Take revenge. The callous man showed no mercy, no remorse for what he was about to do. She could go unforgiving into the darkness, her soul be damned.

Perhaps if the evil man had not chosen that exact moment to fill his spade and send a shower of dirt over her; perhaps if he had not acted at that precise second, Isabella might have followed the path of light. Perhaps. But the man made his choice and Isabella made hers. She opened and allowed the dark entity which had spoken to her to slither inside.

When the earth struck her open sores, Isabella’s rage exploded. A powerful force surged in her, a roiling, dark energy that breathed life into her once again. Lifting her head, she spoke directly to the man, the one called Tomaso, who had condemned her to be buried alive.

“A curse on you...and on your house... You will be made to pay for this deed... With a death worse than that which you have decreed for me... All of you. Until the very last...perishes.”

Isabella fell back onto her deathbed. The knowledge dawned that she had only been a vessel for the dark power which had risen in her, causing her to speak the words. She found she did not care. A cold satisfaction took hold of her when she saw the masked man hesitate before lifting his spade again. For a moment, instead of the stink of corpses surrounding her, she smelled only his fear. Suddenly, spade after spade of earth rained down on her as the man began to rapidly shovel. He carried out his execution, cursing as he buried Isabella alive.

Isabella could no longer move. Layer after layer of dirt covered her. It entered her nostrils when she tried to breath. It covered her open eyes, blinding her. Earth filled her mouth. It tasted like death, but her heart was cold now and she welcomed it.

* * * *


  1. What an excellent excerpt! Really quite horrific.

  2. The title alone is gorgeous, in an awful skull-grimacing way:)

    Very gruesomely written, and in a way, that background detail that says the author really knows her subject. *Shudder*

  3. Thank you, Leatherdykeuk... so glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

    And Carol, I have to admit the title just felt "right" to me from the beginning.

    Thanks to you both for stopping by to read--much appreciated!