There's a maniacal murderer on the loose, brutally slaughtering young women with a ferocity that rivals that of vampires Harry Koegh has spent his life combatting. The Necroscope's been asked to solve the crimes...asked by the dead spirits of the madman's victims.
Harry cannot turn down a request from the dead...even if it costs him his soul. In the climactic battle with the vampires, mankind prevailed and purged the vampires from earth--thanks to Harry, his team of psychically-gifted spies, and Faethor Ferenczy, long-dead 'father' of the world's vampires, who betrayed his own kind.
But Harry's alliance with Faethor has a terrible cost--Harry's very humanity is under attack from the vampire evil coiled in his mind!
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Brian Lumley is the author of the bestselling Necroscope series of vampire novels. The first Necroscope, Harry Keogh, also appears in a collection of Lumley's short fiction, Harry Keogh and Other Weird Heroes, along Titus Crow and Henri Laurent de Marigny, from Titus Crow, Volumes One, Two, and Three, and David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer, from the Dreamlands series.
An acknowledged master of Lovecraft-style horror, Brian Lumley has won the British Fantasy Award and been named a Grand Master of Horror. His works have been published in more than a dozen countries and have inspired comic books, role-playing games, and sculpture, and been adapted for television.
When not writing, Lumley can often be found spear-fishing in the Greek islands, gambling in Las Vegas, or attending a convention somewhere in the US. Lumley and his wife live in England.
NECROSCOPE V: DEADSPAWN
PART ONE1CHARNEL KNOWLEDGE"Harry." Darcy Clarke's voice was twitchy on the phone, but he was trying hard to contain it. "There's a problem we could use some help with. Your kind of help."Harry Keogh, Necroscope, might or might not know what was bothering the head of British E-Branch, and it might or might not have to do with him directly. "What is it, Darcy?" he said, speaking softly."It's murder," the other answered, and now his twitchiness came on strong, shaking his voice. "It's bloody awful murder, Harry! My God, I never saw anything like it!"Darcy Clarke had seen a lot in his time and Harry Keogh knew it, so that this was a statement he found hard to believe. Unless of course Clarke was talking about ... "My kind of help, you said?" Harry's attention was suddenly riveted to the phone. "Darcy, are you trying to tell me--that--?""What?" The other didn't understand him at first, but then he did. "No, no--Christ no--it's not the work of a vampire, Harry! But some kind of monster, certainly. Oh, human enough--but a monster, too."Harry relaxed a little, but a very little.He'd been expecting a call from E-Branch sooner or later. This could be it: some sort of clever trap. Except ... Darcy had always been his friend; Harry didn't think he would act on something--not even something like that--without checking it out every which way first. And even then Harry couldn't see Darcy coming after him with a crossbow andhardwood bolt, a machete, a can of petrol. No, he'd have to talk to him first, get Harry's side of it. But in the end ...... The head of the Branch knew almost as much about vampires now as Harry did. And he'd know, too, that there was no hope. They'd been friends, fighting on the same side, so Harry guessed it wouldn't be Darcy's finger on the trigger. But someone's, certainly."Harry?" Clarke was anxious. "Are you still there?""Where are you, Darcy?" Harry inquired."The Military Police duties room, in the castle," the other answered at once. "They found her body under the walls. Just a kid, Harry. Eighteen or nineteen. They don't even know who she is yet. That alone would be a big help. But to know who did it would be the biggest bonus of all."If there was one man Harry Keogh could trust, it had to be Darcy Clarke. "Give me fifteen minutes," he said, "and I'll be there."Clarke sighed. "Thanks, Harry. We'd appreciate it.""We?" Harry snapped. He couldn't keep the suspicion out of his voice."Eh?" Clarke sounded startled, taken aback. "Why, the police. And me."Murder. The police. Not a Branch job at all. So what was Clarke doing on it--if it was real? "How did you get roped in?"And suddenly, the other was ... caught on the hop? Cagey, anyway. "I ... I was up here on a 'duty run,' visiting an old Scottish auntie. Something I do once in a blue moon. She's been on her last legs for ten years now but won't lie down, keeps on tottering around! I was scheduled to go back down to HQ today, but then this came up. It's something the Branch has been trying to help the police with, a set of--God!--gruesome serial murders, Harry."An old Scottish auntie? It was the first time Harry had heard of Darcy's old auntie. On the other hand, this had to be a good opportunity to find out if they knew anything about ... about his problem. Harry knew he would have to be careful; he knew too much about E-Branch to just go walking right into something. Yes, and they knew too much about him. But maybe they didn't know everything. Not yet, anyway."Harry?" Clarke's voice came back again, tinny and a little distorted; probably the wires swaying in the winds that invariably blew around the castle's high walls. "Where will I see you?""On the esplanade, at the top of the Royal Mile," the Necroscope growled. "And Darcy ...""Yes?"" ... Nothing. We'll talk later." He replaced the telephone in its cradle,went back to his breakfast in the kitchen: an inch-thick steak, raw and bloody!
To look at, Darcy Clarke was possibly the world's most nondescript man. Nature had made up for this physical anonymity, however, by giving him an almost unique talent. Clarke was a deflector: he was the opposite of accident-prone. Only let him get close to danger and something, some parapsychological guardian angel, would intervene on his behalf. Which meant that if all of Clarke's similarly ESP-talented team of psychics were photographs, he'd be the only negative. He had no control over the thing; he was only ever aware of it on those occasions when he stared deliberately in the face of danger.The talents of the others--telepathy, scrying, foretelling, oneiromancy, lie-detecting--were more pliable, obedient, applicable; but not Clarke's. It just did its own thing, which was to look after him. It had no other use. But because it ensured his longevity, it made him the right man for the job. The anomaly was this: that he himself didn't quite believe in it until he felt it working. He still switched off the current before he'd even change a light bulb! But maybe that was just another example of the thing at work.To look at him, then, no one would suppose that Clarke could ever be the boss of anything, let alone head of the most secret branch of the British Secret Services. Middle-height, mousey-haired, with something of a slight stoop and a small paunch, and middle-aged to boot, he was middling in just about every way. He had sort of neutral-hazel eyes in a face not much given to laughter, and an intense mouth which you might remember if you remembered nothing else, but other than that there was a general facelessness about him which made him instantly forgettable. The rest of him, including the way he dressed, was ... medium.These were Harry Keogh's perfectly mundane thoughts in the few seconds which ticked by after he stepped out of the metaphysical Möbius Continuum onto the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, and saw Darcy Clarke standing there with his back to him, hands thrust deep in the pockets of his overcoat, reading the legend on a brass plaque above a seventeenth-century drinking trough.The iron fountain, picturing two heads, one ugly and the other beatific, stood:... Near the site on which many witches were burned at the stake. The wicked head and serene head signify that some used exceptional knowledge for evilpurposes, while others were misunderstood and wished their kind nothing but good.The bright May day would be warm but for the gusting wind; the esplanade was almost empty; two dozen or so tourists stood in small groups at the higher end of the broad, walled, tarmac plateau, looking down across the walls at the city, or taking photographs of the great grey fortress--the Castle on the Rock--behind its façade of battlements and courtyards. Harry had arrived in the moment after Clarke, vainly scanning the esplanade for some sign of him, had turned to the plaque.A moment ago Clarke had been alone with his thoughts and no living person within fifty feet of him. But now a soft voice behind him said:"Fire is an indiscriminate destroyer. Good or evil, everything burns when it's hot enough."Clarke's heart jumped into his throat. He gave a massive start and whirled about, the color rushing from his face and leaving him pale in a moment. "Ha-Ha-Harry!" he gasped. "God, I didn't see you! Where did you spring--?" But here he paused, for of course he knew where Harry had sprung from ... because the Necroscope had taken him there once, into that everywhere and -when place, that within and without, which was the Möbius Continuum.Shaken, heart hammering, Clarke clutched at the wall for support. But it wasn't terror, just shock; his talent read no sinister purpose into Keogh's presence.Harry smiled at him and nodded, touched his arm briefly, then looked at the plaque again. And his smile at once turned sour. "Mainly, they were exorcising their own fears," he said. "For of course most if not all of these women were innocent. Indeed, we should all be so innocent.""Eh?" Clarke hadn't quite recovered his balance yet, wasn't focusing on Keogh's meaning. "Innocent?" He too looked at the plaque."Completely." Harry nodded again. "Oh, they may have been talented in their way, but they were hardly evil! Witchcraft? Why, today you'd probably try to recruit them into E-Branch!"Suddenly, truth flooded in on Clarke and he knew he wasn't dreaming; no need to pinch himself and start awake; it was just this effect which Harry always had on him. Three weeks ago in the Greek islands (was that all it had been, three weeks?) it had been the same. Except at that time Harry had been near-impotent: he didn't have his deadspeak. Then he'd got it back, and set out on his double mission: to destroy the vampire Janos Ferenczy and regain his mastery of--Clarke snatched a breath. "You got it back!" He grabbed Harry's arm. "The Möbius Continuum!""You didn't get in touch with me," Harry accused, however quietly, "or you'd have known.""I got your letter," Clarke quickly defended himself, "and I tried a dozen times to get you on the phone. But if you were home you weren't answering. Our locators couldn't find you ..." He threw up his hands. "Give me a chance, Harry! I've only been back from the Med a few days, and a pile of stuff to catch up with back here, too! But we'd finished the job in the islands, and we supposed you'd done the same at your end. Our espers were on it, of course; reports were coming in; Janos's place above Halmagiu, blown off the mountain like that. It could only be you. We knew you'd somehow won. But the Möbius Continuum, too? Why, that's ... wonderful! I'm delighted for you!"Harry wondered: Oh, really? But out loud he only said: "Thanks.""How in hell did you do that?" Clarke was still excited. If it was all a sham he was good at it. "I mean, wreck the castle that way? If we've got it right it was devastating! Is that how Janos died, in the explosion?""Slow down," Harry told him, taking his arm. "We can talk while you take me to see this girl."The other's excitement quickly ebbed. "Yes"--he nodded, his tone subdued now--"and that's something else, too. You won't like it, Harry.""So what's new?" The Necroscope seemed as calm (resigned, soulful, sardonic?) as ever. And though he tried not to show it, Clarke suspected he was wary, too. "Did you ever show me anything I did like?"But Clarke had an answer to that one. "If everything was the way we'd like it, Harry," he said, "then we'd all be out of work. Me, I'd gladly retire tomorrow. I keep threatening to. But when I see something like ... like I'm going to show you, then I know that someone has to do it."As they started up the esplanade, Harry said: "Now, this is a castle!" His voice was more animated now. "But as for the Castle Ferenczy: that was a heap long before I got started on it. You asked how I did it?" He sighed, then continued:"A long time ago, toward the end of the Bodescu affair, I learned about an ammo and explosives dump in Kolomyya and used stuff from there to blow up the Chateau Bronnitsy. Well, since the easy way is often the best way, I did it again. I made two or three trips, Möbius trips, and put enough plastic explosive into the foundations of Janos's place to blow it to hell! I'm not even going to guess what was in the guts of that place, but I'm sure there was--stuff--there which even I didn't see and still don't want to. Youknow, Darcy, even a finger-end of Semtex will blow bricks right out of a wall? So you can imagine what a couple of hundredweights will do. If there was anything there that we might call 'alive'"--he shrugged and shook his head--"it wasn't when I'd finished."While Harry talked, the head of E-Branch studied him. But not so intently that he would notice. He seemed exactly the same man Clarke had come to Edinburgh to see just a month ago, a visit which had ended for Clarke in Rhodes and the islands of the Dodecanese, and for Harry in the mountains of Transylvania. He seemed the same, but was he? For the fact was, Darcy Clarke knew someone who said he wasn't.Harry Keogh was a composite. He was two men: the mind of one and the body of another. The mind was Keogh and the body was ... it had once been Alec Kyle. And Clarke had known Kyle, too, in his time. The strangest thing was this: that as time progressed, so the Kyle face and form got to look more like the old Harry, whose body was dead. But that was something which always made Clarke's brain spin. He skipped it, put the metaphysical right out of his mind and studied the purely physical.The Necroscope was perhaps forty-three or -four but looked five years younger. But of course that was only the body; the mind was five years younger again. Even thinking about someone like Harry Keogh was a weird business. And again Clarke forced himself to concentrate on the physical.Harry's eyes were honey-brown, occasionally defensive and frequently puppy-soulful--or would be if one could see under those wedge-sided sunglasses he was wearing in the shade of his broad-brimmed 1930s hat. If there was one thing in all the world Clarke hated to see, it had to be Harry wearing those dark-lensed glasses and that hat. Anyone else, no problem. But not Harry, and not now. Especially the sunglasses. They were something Clarke had told himself to look out for; for while it was a common enough thing to wear such in the Greek islands in late April or early May, it was quite another to see them in Edinburgh that time of year. Unless someone had weak eyes. Or different eyes ...Grey streaks, so evenly spaced as to seem deliberately designed or affected, were plentiful in Harry's russet-brown, naturally wavy hair. In a few years the grey could easily take over; even now it loaned him a certain erudition, gave him the look of a scholar. A scholar, yes, but in what fabulous subjects? But in fact Keogh hadn't been like that at all. Hadn't used to be. What, Harry, a black magician? A warlock? Lord, no!... Just a Necroscope: a man who talked to dead people.Keogh's body had been well fleshed, maybe even a little overweightonce. With his height, however, that ought not to have mattered a great deal. But it had mattered to Harry. After that business at the Chateau Bronnitsy--his metempsychosis--he'd trained his new body down, brought it to a peak of perfection. Or at least done what he could with it, considering its age. That's why it looked only thirty-seven or -eight years old.And inside Harry's body and behind his face an innocent. Or someone who had used to be innocent. He hadn't asked to be the way he was, hadn't wanted to become E-Branch's most powerful weapon and do the things he'd done. But he'd been what he was and the rest had come as a matter of course. And now? Was he still an innocent? Did he still have the soul of a child? Did he have any soul at all? Or did something else have him?Now the pair had passed under the archway of the military guardroom, where several police officers had been interviewing a group of uniformed soldiers, into the cobbled gantlet which was the approach alley to the castle proper. All of the officers in the guardroom seemed aware that Clarke was "something big"; they weren't challenged; suddenly, the bulk of the castle loomed before...
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