Authors: Tim Marquitz
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any form, including digital,
electronic, or mechanical, to include photocopying, recording, or by
any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior
written consent of the author(s), except for brief quotes used in
This book is a work of fiction. All characters, names,
places, and incidents are products of imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead,
events or locales, is entirely coincidental.
When I first started processing the idea of Fading
Light, it was very much a testosterone-laden attempt at following in
the footsteps of my friend/mentor/motivational Chihuahua, Lincoln
Crisler. He put together the amazing
showed me what could be done by an underdog when he puts his mind to
As Fading Light came together it evolved, but my vision
was firmly rooted in the imagery of Lovecraft and the stark
atmosphere of Stephen King’s The Mist. I really wanted to dig
into the idea that something lurked in the darkness, just waiting for
the right moment to reveal itself. I wanted to experience the horrors
of the unknown, terror looming.
Thanks to the wonderful authors involved in
, I believe I did just that. Jessy Lucero set the tone with
her amazing cover art, and the cast of Fading Light pounded the
So, it is with humble pride that I unleash
Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous
upon the world. I can only
hope you find the same pleasure in reading these pieces as I did
El Paso, Texas
May 1, 2012
Amanda glared at the television screen, her breaths
coming in short, sharp intakes. She was unsure if she had heard
correctly. Was it even
As the newsreader moved on to the next story—though it was clear she, too, was shaken—Amanda had a
thousand thoughts all at once. She knew she had to call somebody.
. Her mother was out on the farm by herself; she
probably hadn’t heard the warnings. It was a rarity for her
mother to even switch on the television set during the day.
Maybe she had heard it on the radio.
, but not enough to settle
Amanda’s nerves. She picked up the telephone and dialed. For a
few moments, she didn’t think anybody was going to answer. Her
heart raced. Inside, her stomach was doing somersaults, almost enough
to bring up the breakfast, which she had not long consumed. When her
mother finally picked up, she heaved a massive sigh.
she said. “I just needed to call you.”
There was a nervous laugh before the elderly voice on
the opposite end of the line said, “What is it, dear?”
“Mom, haven’t you seen the TV ... or ... or
heard anything on the
“You know me, Amanda,” her mother replied,
chuckling to herself. “I can’t bear to watch that
rubbish. I’ve got my books, and that’s all I need.”
Amanda allowed herself to lean against the wall. She
hadn’t realized but she was pulling the phone-cord so hard that
it was only an inch from being yanked completely out of the receiver.
“Mom, there’s been a volcano eruption in Spain. A
one. They think it’s going to—”
The sound of her mother laughing on the other end of the
line interrupted her. “You’ve called me to tell me about
a volcano going off miles away? There’s an ocean between us and
“It’s not the fucking lava I’m
you about,” she spat, trying not to get too worked up, though
it was difficult. “They said on the news there’s a
massive ash-cloud that’s going to reach the UK in the next six
Her mother was silent, obviously trying to digest the
information. “We had one last year, didn’t we?” she
asked, and then without waiting for a reply, she said, “I
remember it. They had to ground all the planes. It was a nightmare.”
Amanda sighed. “This one’s much worse than
that,” she said, and it
. Mayhem at the airports was
the least of their worries. According to the newsreader, the cloud
was black, darker than anything they had ever recorded. The volcano,
Teide, had erupted with such force the surrounding villages
were destroyed within moments. There had been no warning, no rumblings
from the belly of the beast prior to the eruption; not even seismic
tremors, which would have, at least, offered the villagers below the
chance to evacuate.
And it was only the beginning. The cloud would be over
the UK in six hours, and according to the report Amanda had just
watched, the best thing to do was to stay inside and remain calm.
When Amanda finished the call to her mother, calm was
the last thing she felt.
It was 2:27 p.m. when Paul turned up at the house drunk. She
hadn’t been expecting him, nor did she want him anywhere
near while he smelt like a brewery, but he seemed to be genuinely
concerned about the cloud, so Amanda made them both coffee and
listened to what he had to say. It was only fair. They had been
together for four years before finally separating six months ago.
He sat across from her, his coffee mug trembling in his
nervous hand. “I just needed to talk to someone,” he said
as he glared towards her with watery eyes. “This whole thing,
fucking thing, it’s made me realize how
insignificant everything is.”
She knew where he was going, and tried to preempt him.
“We broke up months ago,” she said, trying desperately
hard not to add to his palpable woe. “You know things were
never going to work between us.”
His head dropped forward;
, he knew, but that
didn’t mean he had accepted it yet. He sipped morosely from the
mug and sighed. “Are you just going to stay here?” he
asked. “When the cloud reaches us?”
She nodded. “That’s what they said on the
news.” She gave her watch a cursory glance and hissed as she
noted the time. There was less than two hours to go if the scientists
and God knows whoever had worked it out right. The last thing she
wanted was to be trapped in the house with Paul for the next day or
two. It was rude to just ask him to leave, but there was no harm in
They drank their coffee in relative silence; Paul didn’t
mention their relationship, though he brought up the cloud a couple
more times, which only further convinced Amanda that he was genuinely
scared. It wasn’t like him, but his emotions had changed, and
she couldn’t be sure of how much alcohol he had consumed.
He finally left at 3:15, less than an hour before a
terrifying shadow enveloped the sky above.
It was times like this that Amanda wished she still
She was standing at the kitchen window when the sky
turned yellow. In the background, the sound of a rolling report
continued to blare from the TV. The neighbors—fools that they
were—had wandered out into the garden for a better view.
Amanda watched as Douglas West pointed towards the sky. His wife,
Maggie, nodded as she listened to what must have been her husband’s
take on the cloud. Amanda wanted to yell, to tell them to go back
indoors where they would be safe, but it was none of her business.
There were idiots everywhere, even if they weren’t aware of it.
She poured herself another cup of coffee—her ninth for the
day—and stood at the window as the orange miasma began to
tint the atmosphere.
It said on the news that the yellow would come before
the gray and black, which wasn’t comforting in the slightest.
Amanda wanted to climb the stairs, fall into bed and pull the sheets
up over her head until it was all over and done.
She lit a cigarette and exhaled a plume of blue smoke
into the kitchen. The irony was not lost on her, and she nervously
laughed as she realized it was probably safer out in the garden with
the Wests. She walked across to where the phone hung on the wall and
picked up the receiver. Only after punching in the first six numbers
did she realize how silly she was being; her mother would have told
her exactly the same if she had continued to dial. She replaced the
phone in its cradle and turned back to the window.
It was getting darker. The kitchen was gloomy, ominous,
and shadows that had been visible only a moment before were now
nowhere to be found.
Amanda took two aspirin and moved into the living room,
where she could no longer see the nightmare unfolding through the
kitchen window. She returned her attention to the TV,
unsurprised to find the news still covering the volcano and subsequent ash cloud.
A reporter stood on the roof of the BBC center. Wearing
a dust-mask—the kind which could usually be found on someone
inspecting asbestos—it was difficult to understand what he
was trying to say, but he was certainly frightened by the strange
phenomenon and kept fluffing the report. The camera panned around,
skyward, and it was almost impossible to pinpoint just what the
cameraman was looking at, such was the darkness.
The sky was the color of strong coffee. Around the
clouds there were highlights of orange, but they did little to create
any sort of visible light. The sun was up there somewhere, through
all of that mire and ash, according to the reporter, who was shifting
from one foot to the other as the temperature suddenly dropped.
“We have no idea how long this is going to last,
or how much worse it is likely to get.” The camera moved back
around to his masked face. “If you don’t have to go out,
then please remain indoors. The cloud is toxic and
If you, or anybody you know, are asthmatic, make sure they are kept
in a room where there are no openings and no way for the noxious dust
to get in. Daniel Brown for BBC News.”