Fires Rising

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A New York City church holds the key to a series of ghastly murders and will become the scene of the ultimate battle between good and evil.

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A New York City church holds the key to a series of ghastly murders and will become the scene of the ultimate battle between good and evil.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780843960648
  • Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Fires Firing
By Michael Laimo Dorchester Publishing Copyright © 2008 Michael Laimo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8439-6064-8

Chapter One In his dreams he witnessed the past, hundreds of faithful worshippers-men, women, and children-flocking to share their beliefs within the walls of the church where he now slept. They'd built the church by hand, working endless hours until they lay fatigued and bleeding. Ultimately, some men even perished beneath the perfection they aimed to create, their bodies laid to rest in the cement foundation poured beneath the wooden floors.

And what colors! The statues, the altar, the tapestries, the pews, each erected with utter devotion for those waiting to worship. The columnar supports, artistically carved to portray the story of Jesus's birth; the vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, and arched doorways, constructed to inspire reflection of the heavens. Here was heaven on earth, a sanctuary that offered peace, solitude, and gratifying conformity to the appreciative masses.

Something is calling me. And I must follow.

But these were just dreams-dreams of a past more than a hundred years gone. He'd been having them ever since he forced his way into the abandoned church nearly two weeks before. He remembered how the grates leading from the subway tunnel to the church's ventilation ducts had been old and rusty, proving easy enough to remove; the ducts just wide enough to crawl through. He'd made every effort to keep his special place hidden from the others-there were actual beds on the second floor of the rectory! But soon word got around, and the church filled with his street brethren in a few days, all of them marking their territories upon the damp mattresses and carpets, like stray cats on a doorstep.

When Jyro had been a young boy and his mother was still alive and called him Jerry, she would tell him that All good things must pass. Time and time again the adage proved true. And here it was again: Just as things were already growing uncomfortably crowded in the rectory, the construction crews arrived to tear up the floor below.

Some of the vagrants fled back into the streets and subway tunnels, unable to cope with the round-the-clock clamor. Others found the beds good enough reason to keep their heads buried and suffer through the noise, so long as the crews remained downstairs. Jyro, on the other hand, was unaffected by the sound of the jackhammers and circular saws-years on the city's streets had made him immune to loud noises-and slept soundly.

And in his sleep, dreams of the mysterious past continued, seizing him like a fly in a spider's web.

Something is calling me. And I must follow.

After six days and nights of endless toiling, the workers stopped. As the sounds faded into the night, the dreams left Jyro, and sleep escaped him. He tossed and turned, the moans and snores of the others-Jyro had counted nine in all-driving him toward madness. How is it that grinding machinery lulls me to sleep, but snoring hits my brain like a shot from a nail gun?

He sat up and gazed at the sleeping bodies lying side by side in the shadows. One of the squatters, a man named Larry who had one ear and two teeth, kept a collection of pilfered tools beside him as he slept. Jyro thought it strange that the workers below never saw Larry rummaging through their things. It's also strange that the workers haven't come up here and found us.

Unable to sleep, Jyro decided to investigate the quiet goings-on in the church below. Carefully he reached beneath Larry's blanket and "borrowed" a halogen flashlight. Then, while the others slept, he left the bedroom and padded down the dark hall, tailing the wide beam, looking left and right and turning around to make certain that none of the others saw him.

He went down the still-carpeted stairs, each creak like a firecracker beneath his footsteps. He reached the bottom and went into the rectory lobby.

The lobby was fairly large, and at one point perhaps had served as a living area for the priests and deacons. Cracks twisted up the walls and across the ceiling. A sole emergency beacon on the ceiling provided a dim light, revealing a desk, a sofa, and a number of metal folding chairs leaning against the wall.

Jyro stepped to the center of the room, swinging the flashlight back and forth. To his left he saw a hallway, ominous as it trailed away into darkness. He narrowed his eyes but didn't see any evidence of work being done here.

He moved into the dark hallway.

On his right he passed a doorway that led into a small white-tiled lunchroom. A row of rusty combination lockers followed, lining the wall like soldiers. Ahead, piles of splintered wood came into view, burying the threadbare carpet.

Soon he came to a large double doorway. He crossed the threshold, facing what appeared to have once been the church's recreation center: a fifteen-hundred-square-foot gymnasium with a small stage running the entire length of the far wall. He shined the flashlight upon a lone basketball hoop anchored to the ceiling, then swung the beam downward, where he immediately beheld the hideous work of the construction crew.

In the hardwood floor was a hole so large that it swallowed nearly half the gymnasium, the edges jagged and splintered upward. Jyro could see a folding card table dangling precariously at the far edge.

He stepped forward. In the trembling beam of the flashlight, he could see a variety of tools shoved against the stage and wall. Something is calling me, and I must follow. The words surged through his mind again, grasping him and forcing him to press on.

His frayed boots crunched on bits of debris. A sudden flash of heat enveloped him, making it difficult to breathe. Encroaching grayness created a tunnel of vision, forcing him to focus solely on a lone dark spot in the hole. He stretched his arms toward the spot. It's calling me. Something there ...

The uneven edge of the opening met his feet. For a moment he remained still, frozen in place. Then the floor dropped out from under him. He pinwheeled his arms for balance, but slipped down, the flashlight falling from his hand and clunking somewhere nearby. His tattered jacket got snagged and tore down the back. He thudded on the rock-hard bottom six feet below amidst a pile of talus, his breath escaping in a painful whoosh. He rolled over and something jabbed painfully into his ribs; he cried out and rolled back.

He opened his eyes.

And saw bones-human bones-jutting from the ground.

He skittered away in a panic, grabbing the flashlight. A cloud of dust rose around him. He aimed the flashlight around and saw in the wavering beam a long line of skeletons-complete rib cages, leg bones smattered with bits of gristle and rotted flesh, skulls with snarled clumps of hair still attached.


I saw them being buried in my dreams. But ... there are more here than what I saw. What is this?

He moved the beam away from the graveyard of bones and focused it ahead.

Here he saw a solid wall of fill, the lower strata of the church's foundation open like a wound: asphalt and cement layered over brick and soil. Here is where the workers would lay a new cement foundation. He shined the beam across the fill and saw what appeared to be a wooden crate protruding from the lower layer of soil. He shook his head, gathered his composure, and struggled to his feet. Taking a deep breath, he stepped toward the crate. The aged bones in the soil crunched beneath his weight.

Using just his fingers, he began to dig away at the hard earth packed around the crate. He worked gingerly at first, but then more furiously as his heart began to pound with inexplicable excitement.

Something is calling me, and I must follow.

He cleared more and more of the surrounding soil away. The box seemed to grow warm ... or may be it was just his head playing with him. Regardless, he worked and worked until a chunk of earth below the crate broke off, allowing it to fall free.

He gripped the edge of the crate and jerked his hands away in pain. It was hot. He scratched the gruff on his face. Then, like a child cooling soup, he blew on the surface. Dust burst up in a cloud, assaulting his nose and making him cough.

He retrieved the flashlight and angled it at the top of the crate. The wood was branded with foreign words. He brushed away as much of the soil as he could, but couldn't make any sense of the writing.

He whispered as he read: "Castigo laudible, corpus meum ..." An odd disquiet washed over him.

He wedged his fingers of one hand beneath the edge of the lid, which had come loose. With a grunt, he yanked it off. That was too easy, he thought.

He slid the lid off the crate, let it fall to the ground.

He aimed the flashlight's beam inside.

His heart leaped in his throat. My God ... And yet there seemed to be no logical reason to be so frightened at what he saw inside the crate: two very ordinary-looking burlap cloths, stiff and tattered.

He reached for one of the cloths.

Laden with dry rot, it crumbled into pieces. A heady sea-salt odor rose up as a string of wooden beads slipped free of the cloth, into his hand.

He cleared bits of the rotten cloth away from the charms. Yes, he knew what this was. His mother used to carry one everywhere she went. It's a string of rosary beads. But ... it's different from the one my mother had: These beads are as big as marbles. The cross is almost the size of my index finger. And what are these oddly shaped trinkets that look like stars?

He allowed the beads to cascade through his fingers. His body shuddered at their nearly tangible offer of otherworldly comfort: They were warm to the touch, human warm.

Quickly, he shoved the beads into his left pocket.

And peered back inside the crate.

The other burlap bag was moving, as though a mouse or a large insect were fighting its way out from beneath it.

Jyro reached for it. It stopped its undulations and he jerked his hand away, gooseflesh rising across his back.

He stared at the bag for a few seconds. Then, ever so slowly, reached for it a gain.

A splay of red light burst out from below the shred of burlap. Jyro flinched back against the hard wall of the ditch. He coughed, holding an arm up, wincing as something heavy turned in his stomach.

A tiny flame burst from the burlap bag, swallowing it up. Black ashes and glowing embers fluttered up like moths, revealing what appeared to be a goblet inside the crate.

Leaning forward, Jyro could see that it was perhaps eight inches high, black and glossy, with a coat of shiny, smoldering residue. Like a magician's assistant, it floated up out of the crate into the air, emitting the same soft red glow he'd seen beneath the burlap cloth just moments earlier.

Unmoving, Jyro could only stare wide-eyed as it climbed to a height of ten or twelve feet. On the outside of the chalice he could see etchings similar to those of the surface of the crate.

The red light grew brighter around it, the chalice itself swelling before his eyes, like a great pupil focused solely on him.

The room grew hotter. Sweat gathered on his brow as fear and anxiety roiled in his blood. He shoved the flashlight into his pants, then with a gasp stepped onto the crate and gripped the sheared edge of the wooden floor. He hoisted himself up, feet scrambling against the exposed bricks, fingers digging into soil, face in the dirt, hands cramping as he pulled himself up out of the hole onto the dusty floor. Quickly, he climbed to his feet and scampered to the room's entrance, where he grabbed the doorjamb and peered over his shoulder to look at the chalice again.

It floated far above the hole: a widening spot in the aura of red light still aimed at him, looking at him.

From within the hole, a din of raging fires surfaced. It filled his ears with dense pressure that dulled his shouts. A wind sprang up, stinking of rot and sulfur, shoving him back into the hall way.

He looked around wildly and staggered away, following the flashlight's beam back to the dark lobby. When his breath returned, he released a sharp gasp and looked back down the hallway. Red light spilled out of the rec room, illuminating the hallway as though a fire were raging nearby.

He fled up the steps to the second-floor landing, where he collapsed breathlessly onto the threadbare carpet, trying to rid the image of the floating chalice from his head.

These will help me, he thought, seeking the rosary beads in his pocket. Hands trembling, he gripped them tightly, staring at them with a we and wonder.

They're beautiful, and they'll protect me like my mother's beads protected her until the day of her death.

He grasped them into a tight ball, thoughts focused solely on the calming magic they seemed to possess. Exhausted, he lay down on the carpet and stared into the darkness, listening to his heart pounding, feeling his skin tingle.

Soon, sleep took him, and in his dreams he could vaguely hear his own voice repeating the same phrase over and over: "The evil that promises man the end of days."


Excerpted from Fires Firing by Michael Laimo Copyright © 2008 by Michael Laimo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

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    A reviewer

    Father Pilazzo oversees the renovation of the once abandoned church. He dreams of the flock returning and the ancient church regaining the respect it once had. As the workers tear up the floor, they find a pit underneath inside this man-made excavation is a long forgotten buried wooden crate. The workers excited by their find open the box.------------------ None knew what they have unleashed on humanity. The demon interred is free causing havoc as it leaves a trail of death with every person the monster touches. Father Pilazzo blames himself for liberating the demonic killer as his sin of pride led to his ignoring his nightmares that warned him to stop the repairs. He knows he must end the abomination even if it means he spends eternity in hell for releasing this evil on the innocent.-------------- Although the releasing of an incarcerated buried demon has been done many times in movies and books, Michael Laimo provides an entertaining horror thriller. The demon never rests once liberated while Father Pilazzo is filled with guilt that he knows he will take to the afterlife with him, but also feels accountable as he plans to take the evil one with him even if it means being stuck in hell with this malevolence for eternity. Readers will enjoy this good and evil confrontation as the innocent become casualties.------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013


    (Shadowstar is a creeper. :P )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013



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  • Posted December 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Dark and powerful

    Relentless action and terror that builds way past sane levels to a John Carpenter-esque climax of gore, horror and religious profanity that satisfies all the tension of the preceding events.

    From the same pen (keypad) that brought you Atmosphere, Fires Rising is again set in the seething human story of New York, replete with Catholic zeal, the desperate plight of the homeless and the growing signs that the End of Days is approaching. Only Father Pilazzo and his ragtag band of the desperate can overcome the evil possession of the Construction workers bent on releasing the Dark Chalice to it's Master and taking the Divine Rosary from the forces of Good.

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  • Posted January 21, 2009

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    Very frightening!

    This definitely had a great story with great characters. One of the few books that actually frightened me. The ending was the only thing that was not good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2011

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    Posted October 23, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

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