BVC Announces Murmurs in the Dark

Murmurs in the Dark edited by Marissa Doyle and Shannon Page
Murmurs in the Dark
edited by Marissa Doyle and Shannon Page

Open this book at your own risk…of a spooky good read.

Book View Cafe presents thirteen (of course) brand new (mostly) tales of ghosts, hauntings, and things that might or might not go bump in the night–tales that will inspire an involuntary glance over the shoulder, an unexpected shiver, or an uneasy chuckle.

Open this book at your own risk…of a spooky good read.

Stories by Alma AlexanderMaya Kaathryn BohnhoffChaz BrenchleyMarie BrennanBrenda W. CloughMarissa DoyleKatharine Eliska KimbrielShannon PagePaul PiperSteven PopkesDave SmedsJennifer StevensonJill Zeller

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Read a Sample
an excerpt from
The Summer House: a Fable
Chaz Brenchley

Oh, he was golden, in my house that summer: or better than golden, he was radiant, bright and burning in the perfect moment of his youth and knowing it, knowing that it would never be better than this.

Not that he cared, or needed to. Why would he ever move on from this? He was like an ant in honey, caught in the sweetest instance of his life.

Me, I was twenty years older, twenty years darker and more bitter. We were, I suppose, an exercise in contrasts. You could say that we were complementary, that we could each complete the other.

I did say so, when I was driven to it, when I was goaded.

Juliet was my oldest friend, and she did love to goad me. All my adulthood she’d watched me with a species of amused astonishment, and delighted in poking me just where I was tender.

“It can’t last,” she said, laughing at me. “It is magnificent, you’re extraordinary together; but it can’t last. It’s a folly, a folie à deux, he’s as culpable as you are. I give it the summer, no more. Three glorious months, and goodbye. You’re meteoric, you and Jack; and you know the thing about meteors? They don’t rise, my love. It’s not about rise and fall. Meteors crash to earth, that’s what they do. One beautiful blaze, it’s a privilege to watch, but it never will be anything other than catastrophic. And you really, really don’t want to be underneath. Trying to catch them as they fall, give them a kinder landing? Seriously not a good idea.”

That was Juliet: practical, clear-sighted, confident in her own analysis. Promising not to be there at the end.

I wasn’t about to argue. I agreed with her, in more or less every particular: only not in her unspoken conclusion, that all this was a bad thing. His eternal summer should not fade, should not be allowed to. A boy has to keep his tan topped up. Come the autumn, I knew he’d be off to some other hemisphere that tipped the other way, dragging his daisy-chain of broken hearts behind him, mine only the latest, not the last.

Except that I was forewarned and not liable to break, in the heart or otherwhere. I don’t chase sunshine, I don’t pine for my lost youth. Come a change of season, I have my winter house to dwell in, in the valley, on my own.

This, though: this was high summer, high on the hill. We had views with breakfast, owl-calls with our Armagnac. Betweentimes we might run into town for a meal or a movie or a party, an art gallery with his friends or with mine, but I thought it was best when people came up to the house, long idle days of scratch lunches and gourmet dinners, cocktails on the terrace, those conversations that you get between youth and experience, all heat and laughter and unbridgeable gulfs.

One afternoon, he said, “Gideon? Can I have a swimming pool on my terrace too, when I grow up?”

“You? You never will grow up,” I said. “Eternally nineteen.”

“I’m twenty-three.”

“That’s what I mean. You’re stuck already.”

“Yeah, yeah. Ant in honey. I know, you told me.” And he sprawled at my feet, half naked and all glorious, all child, ready to be told again.

I said, “Not that. What I mean, to qualify as an adult, you need to stop moving. Cherish stillness, put down roots. It’s not in your nature. You’ll always be looking for the next thing, eyes on the distant horizon, waiting for the lightning to strike. When are you going to have the time to acquire a swimming pool? Where are you going to put it? Oh, you’ll never be short of a pool to swim in, Jack, it just won’t ever be your own.”

* * *

The corollary of that, of course, was that I wouldn’t always be picking up his sodden and abandoned towels from the poolside. Someone would, beyond question; just not me. While it lasted, though, at least I could enjoy it. Beauty may only be skin-deep, but heedlessness goes all the way through. It was a legitimate privilege to pick up after him, to gather his neglected things, to be careful of what he gave no thought to. It allowed me access to something that ran core-deep in him, one aspect of his soul.

And no, I did not say any of that to Juliet.

Picking up towels in late afternoon sun, wringing water in a spatter from his trunks, I caught something in the corner of my eye, a cold shadow rising in the water.

And looked round, startled, sure until that moment that the pool had been empty, that Jack and all his cohort had gone indoors in search of drinks and cricket scores and snacks.

And was right, of course, there was no one, nothing in the water: only in my eye, in my memory, a vagrant hint of purpose. Some trick of breeze and light, no doubt; but sunlight dazzles on a wind-ruffed pool, and this had been a darkness, an absence, like lost information, data gone astray.

I shivered, momentarily as chilly in my body as the thought of it was chilly in my head, unreachable by sunlight.

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