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Tom Piccirilli is the most dazzling writer of occult fiction of his or any other generation. He's an American original and a national treasure.
All right reserved.
Professor Yokver ranted in front of his mahogany desk, leaping
around the aisles like a lunatic minister preaching judgment
and hellfire, just waiting for the speaking in tongues to take
him over. He threw his pipe-cleaner arms up and gestured
wildly, fingers waving like tendrils as he chanted, "What is
evil, children? What is good, what is evil? Do you know?" He
bashed erasers against the blackboard for emphasis, and
everyone else in the class actually seemed to be enjoying the
show. "Do you know, children? Do you?"
A freshman in the first row scribbled notes so quickly he
looked like a Boy Scout trying to make a campfire by rubbing
two sticks together. Intent on recording every word of
Yokver's tirade, the kid's tongue hung panting from his mouth.
What could he possibly be writing?
Cal looked at his own empty pages.
It was a good question, though, and he wondered if he had the
On the other side of the room sat Candida Celeste, smiling
that say-cheese, sensuous leer that still made his entrails
buck when he wasn't ready for it, showing off those perfect
teeth. They made him squint, and he couldn't stare at her lips
straight-on without groaning. She kept primping night-sky
black hair, her cheerleadersweater opened to the fourth
button-the way she'd done it back in freshman year-and dragged
a pink fingernail down the length of her perfectly tanned
cleavage. His first thought was that she must've gone to
Florida over the Christmas vacation. And then, with sudden
awful clarity, he realized, Oh hell, the Yok's actually
turning her on. Cal felt a painful twinge behind his eyes,
this scene so surreal in its own way.
He coughed, shook his head, and checked his watch. 8:15 am.
Another hour and twenty minutes of doom in the morning.
"Are we keeping you from some appointment of great importance,
Mis-tah Prentiss?" Professor Yokver asked, wheeling in
mid-stride, pacing down the aisle, up the aisle, down the
aisle. The Yok knew how to throw in this funky southern drawl
when he wanted to, playing into the juice of a Flannery
O'Connor character, or maybe a Georgian Peach from Carson
At last, he stood before Cal's seat and bent to examine him
with a humorless smirk.
Glancing to the left, Cal gave the professor the slow
once-over as they watched each other, nearly chin to chin. Up
close he saw the polka-dotted tie hanging askew, the finely
trimmed goatee slightly off center and pointing at an odd
slant, long hair tied into a ponytail that trailed to
mid-spine. Chalk dust clung to him like mist. His spindly arms
flailed so fiercely that he knocked his own glasses off, made
a wheeling save, and caught them before they hit the floor. It
was a nice move, actually, like the kung fu guys who toss the
knives and catch them spinning as they come down, and Cal was
sort of impressed.
"Please, don't let us stop you, Mr. Prentiss. Huhhh.
Hessssss." Yokver hissed against the lenses of his glasses and
wiped them on his lapels. The swank patterns in the hipster
sports jacket entranced Cal for a moment as he tried heading
into the swirls. You could ease yourself down into them,
diving deeper, and never surface again. "And where were you,
hmmm? What reverie snared you away from us, eh?"
An oncoming migraine set a tightening pair of pincers that
took a mean hold. Early morning rush of red sunlight streamed
in and caught Cal directly across his face, brighter than
Candida Celeste's smile, the venetian blinds open just wide
enough to nail him. He winced and reared his head back out of
Everyone turned in their seats and stared at him. It got like
this sometimes. What were they all checking out? ... as if
someone was going to stand and point a finger and shout,
"J'accuse!" It was easy to get a complex in a place like this,
and he felt himself heading in that direction. The freshman in
the first row overtook his burning notes, slowed his incessant
writing, and finally stopped. The kid now swiveled in his
chair and looked too.
Candida Celeste chuckled when the Yok repeated his, "Hmmm?"
and so did the neckless football player sitting diagonally
from her trying his damnedest to play footsies from that
angle. He wasn't going to make it, straining so hard that Cal
heard the guy's ankles pop. A couple of the others picked up
on that "Hmmm" as well, echoing the tone and swinging into it.
Willy and Rose added even more exaggerated "Hmmmms?" of their
own, Willy swaying in his seat, doing a little Stevie Wonder.
They kept it up until they were in tune, key of F flat. Cal
almost grinned. The girl seated directly in front of Candida
Celeste made eye contact with him and smiled. It took a couple
seconds but then she winked, startling the shit out of him.
"Eh, Mr. Prentiss? Where are you?"
"Right here in my seat," Cal answered.
"Okay, I'm not here at all." Maybe it was true. Sometimes it
seemed to be. Anyway, the Yok liked droll answers, so let him
chew on that one for a while. All Cal wanted to do now was get
up and bolt. The paranoia came on pretty damn strong for this
early in the morning, his high blood pressure-160 over 90 at
twenty-two-jackhammering in his wrists, other thoughts
caterwauling beneath the moment. The bottoms of his feet felt
way too slick, as if the tile floor had been freshly waxed,
and you'd take a header if you got up too quickly and tried to
Yokver liked to frolic in your nerve clusters. Cal said, "I'm
nowhere," and tried to let it go at that, knowing, a part of
him even hoping, it wouldn't be so easy.
"Hmm, Hhh-mmh-hhhmmm hmmm hhmm ammm," Willy and Rose went,
bonding in laughter, gazing lovingly at each other even though
they had no idea what they were really doing.
"Eh?" Candida said, those incisors so white and lovely.
Yok gaped, those eyes filled with pride, a sorrow of some kind
in there, but also a rich gratitude and appreciation for the
focus. Cal knew that Yokver liked picking on him because it
drew the rest of the class together. Perhaps they'd find out
what was good, and what was evil, right here and now.
Cal swallowed, searching for saliva and finding only grit and
moss on the roof of his mouth. "Sorry," he said, doing his
best to sound sincere. Could that really be the end of
it? ... could he shimmy off the hook? It was an okay effort, but
that probably wasn't going to cut it.
Yokver didn't go away.
Like a wooden clack puppet the professor flapped around the
chair with arms akimbo. He had real rhythm and athletic grace.
"I didn't quite catch that, Mr. Prentiss. Did you say you were
sorry?" He'd dropped the drawl, and didn't sound half as
pleasing without the Dixie lilt. "And what are you sorry for?"
Plenty, Cal thought, concentrating on the middle dots of the
Yok's tie. There was a strain there. Cal sniffed. Garlic.
Shrimp Scampi sauce? He glanced up and saw that Yokver was
actually waiting for an answer. What was the point of this
kind of a drag-out? Why keep on pushing even after you'd
shoved somebody up against the wall? For the theater of it? To
impress the Boy Scout, to bag Candida? Could be, but probably
not. Those reasons were too identifiable, too human.
Cal already knew that his one other class of the day, The Art
of Romantic Poetry in the Modern Age, had been canceled. He
just wanted to get some scrambled eggs with extra bacon at the
diner, go back to his room, get a few more hours of sleep,
maybe drink a six-pack later on this afternoon. He could flop
for the rest of the day, do laundry, tool around on ebay for a
while, and finish reading a novel he'd borrowed from Willy.
He'd wait for the night before daring to slip into the library
basement, and getting some real work done.
Clearing his throat, Cal made the effort to grin but couldn't
get his lips to skid the right way. "Sorry for becoming
distracted in the middle of your lecture. I wasn't anywhere
special at this particular instant, Professor Yokver, sir."
That should have been more than enough, really, Jesus. But
sometimes he just couldn't stop. The cloying need in him
started rising, an urgency to press back some. He couldn't
tell if he was breathing anymore, and really hoped he hadn't
begun to pant. "Maybe I was fondly recollecting the pleasures
and safety of the womb."
The Yok held his pale hands over his head, those long pale
bony fingers going on and on and on, and said, "Pshaw, young
master. Don't be sorry."
Cal nodded. "I'm not, really."
He heard Jodi gasp in the seat behind him, one of those
peevish, oh please don't get us into even greater misfortunes'
sighs. She had them down cold. She knew better than anyone how
he dreaded this course, but she still expected so much out of
him while he was here, and he didn't exactly understand why.
Jo was the reason he'd taken Yokver's PHILO 138 class in the
first place. An 8:00 a.m. meeting usually proved to be more
than enough to scare him off, but they spent so little time
together lately that he signed up at pre-registration for it
anyway. The timing also made it more convenient to sleep over
in her room, although that hadn't been playing out quite the
way he thought it would, either.
The chummy light that danced in Yokver's eyes last week when
Cal dropped the withdrawal slip on the professor's desk showed
just how big a kick the Yok got out of him, now that he knew
Cal hated being in here. The air had gotten so frosty that Cal
thought he had seen his breath. Crumpling the slip silently,
Professor Yokver dumped it into his waste basket and went back
to crossing out large sections of Nietzsche's Twilight of the
Ten days ago Yokver had lectured that there was no such thing
as motion-using an arrow as an example, saying that at each
interval of time the arrow was stationary, solidified within
the space it occupied at that precise instant. It was the kind
of capricious rationale that could open kids minds so long as
they'd never taken physics. He drove the point home by doing
cartwheels across the front of the classroom, shouting, "I am
not moving!" That sounded fun when you told it, but being
there threw a different, ugly spin on everything.
Later, Cal told the Dean, who had doctorates in Physics and
Chemistry as well as Theology, the entire situation. Cal
begged him to over-rule the drop-add forms and set him free.
But the Dean only gave him a lingering glare that told him he
should know better than to involve the man in something like
Catch the Yok's good side as he smiled and waggled his
eyebrows now, putting on a whole floor show, doing some
vaudeville. "You're not sorry, eh? No, of course you're not.
Then why ...?"
Hey, everybody had their breaking point. So just quit tearing
"... did you say ..."
"... that you were ..."
Okay, so there they were. It was the wormy, depreciating
accent Yokver put on "Calvin" that did it; the same way a
bully taunted you by singing your full name while holding your
lunchbox out of reach. By jabbing you in the chest, just under
your heart, until the bone hurt. His name was Caleb, not
Calvin, so the cheap shot failed anyway. But that wasn't the
point. Were things really this out of control? Was the Yok
waging a serious head-game, or was it just his cholesterol
getting to him again?
Cal's breath came in bites. "I thought it would be a polite
way to get you off my back." He closed his empty notebook. He
sort of looked forward to receiving a failing grade now.
Anything to get the hell out of here.
Removing his glasses with one grand gesticulation, like Clark
Kent snatching them off in an hour of need-the river flooding
out the train trestle, the school bus without brakes careening
on a curving mountain road-just short of yanking wide his
shirt to reveal blue spandex, Yokver massaged the bridge of
his nose and rubbed the indent of his eyes frantically. His
ponytail wagged over his left shoulder, then his right, as he
shook his head and loudly tsk tsked. "You apparently think
you've all the answers and therefore don't need to deal with
the true substance of this course. So, Calvin, why don't you
tell me what's really on your mind?"
Caleb smiled, and the Yok's eyebrows dropped a notch. It felt
much better to be smiling. Something liquid and boiling inside
suddenly became solid. His pulse was no longer thrashing
around inside his wrists, but his hands still hurt a bit. He
brushed his hair off his forehead and said, "If I wanted to
watch a clown I'd have gone to the circus."
"Is that so?"
"It is. For a lousy ten bucks fifty midgets will come out of a
Volkswagen and I can even buy one of those neon baby
flashlights to spin in the dark. Even those dancing poodles
are more fun than watching you cartwheel."
Jodi snorted a bothered, "Uyh, Cal." A few of the other kids
aahed and hmmed like a choir warming up. Did they think they
were in grade school or sitting in church? ... did they want to
see someone get decked, were they really that bored? Of course
they were, everybody always was.
"I think the socially acceptable term currently being used is
"I've been in this class for three weeks, and so far you
haven't taken a second from your Atlantic City lounge act to
address any ethical, moral or social dilemmas, nor such
involved issues as the afterlife, racism, censorship,
pornography, abortion, or ..." He searched for something
relevant, and everything came together in one long flash of
images, even though he hardly ever thought of any of it
himself. "... prostitution, jihads, incest, Ruby Ridge,
hedonism, war, or those peabrains who want to toss AIDS
victims behind a fence in the desert, the new welfare laws,
social security, Oklahoma City." He swallowed, and his spit
was thicker than syrup. "Suicide."
Other pictures came but he'd already run the gamut, seeing his
sister again in his mind, the red washing up her arms as she
reached for him. "You squash Nietzsche, insult Camus, belittle
Sartre, and ..." The Yok flicked his tongue, giving him a
helpful hint. "... and flick your tongue at Bertrand Russell
and Socrates." Cal knew he had to go for one final twist.
C'mon already, the kidneys are soft tissue. "And I've caught
you looking at my girl's cleavage."
Jodi grunted as if she'd been knifed, and Yokver glanced at
her, focusing on her chest, that smile swinging up way higher
than it should, until the corners of his mouth nearly touched
his earlobes. Cal wondered when he'd let it go.
Neckless asked Candida, "Who's Jihad?" She shrugged and gave
Cal a sharp look that had something encouraging, frenzied, and
carnal in it.
Professor Yokver snickered, mimed panic by pulling his hair,
mouth wide, then waved on for more, Bring it on home, Calvin.
There was too much blood in his face, and there was a flame
somewhere inside his cloudy eyes. Caleb knew the furrow that
bisected his own forehead had grown dark and deep. "But more
than that you wouldn't let me withdraw when I wanted to, you
son of a bitch, and I'm not squandering any more of my life in
"No?" the Yok asked. "You've got a better hell waiting, have
"Probably." Cal pointed. "And there's chalk on your tie. I'm
bugging out of here. Have a nice day, everybody."
He grabbed his coat and was out the door and down two flights
of steps before the crimson tinge left his vision and the full
measure of what he'd done set in. Jodi might have to take the
brunt of it now. He might be expelled, so that he couldn't
complete the final piece of work that needed to be finished.
His mouth hurt from the tightness of the snarl he'd been
holding back, the ridge of his nose ached. Sweating in the
hall, he glanced at the faces of other professors as they
lectured with their doors open, echoing voices snapping down
the corridors of history, all of them seeming to make sense.
The acoustics were good, and their words echoed and resonated
in his sternum. He calmed down a little and walked outside,
feeling the cold of the morning hitting hard, the February
breeze tickling his hackles. He had to force his brow to
un-furrow, caught up in a wave of different anger and
disappointment because Jo hadn't followed him.
Caleb listened to the clock tower chime once, indicating the
He'd been alive today for only forty-five minutes.
Jesus, God. Ethics would be the death of him.
Excerpted from The Night Class
by Tom Piccirilli
Copyright © 2002 by Tom Piccirilli.
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.
Posted February 12, 2005
A satirical, brooding novel about the crushing weight of the real world that invades the safe santum of a college campus. When Cal Prentiss returns from his winter vacation to find a woman's been murdered in his dorm room, he sets out on an obsessive quest to discover who she was and why she died. The mysterious woman seems to have had created every aspect of her identity. Cal is beleaguered on every side as he does his best to finish up his last semester at the university. The ghost of his sister (a nun who committed suicide) haunts his every step; his straight-A girlfriend is driven to succeed no matter what the cost, and Cal knows he can only hold her back in the world; and his professors seem to be part of some unnamed sinister cabal. Or is it all in Cal's head? Since the day Cal's sister killed herself, he suffers from stigmata whenever someone close to him dies. In a single night he races across campus in an attempt to save those he loves as his hands constantly bleed. Who is dying? And why? This book is thick with atmosphere, dread, and mystery. This isn't a novel where killers leap out from behind trees (booga booga!) but instead a slow and entrancing series of stranger and more unsettling scenes of betrayal and death. Highly recommended. Winner of the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel
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Posted May 1, 2013
Species: grey wolf
Color: white with grey-stripes and eletric blue eyes
Past: i dunno
Personality: light hearted and fun to be with... respective
Quote: heros will be remembered but legends never die
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Posted April 30, 2013
night : medium black she wolf with blue swirls and blue eyes and wings : rank : alpha female : mate:crystal: pup(s) thunder : personality : is loyal and wise also kind hearted but mess with her pack and she will make you regret the day you were born : history: was born a spirit wolf and grew up with a pack of spirit wolves untill a wolf by the name of shadownight took overh er pack and killed her mother and father the curent alphas and was forced by the grand alpha to become his mate she then excaped and fled to a forest were she hid her wings and past and built the pack of the riseing moonWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 12, 2013
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Posted November 22, 2005
This is the strangest book I've read so far. It took one twist and turn after another. By the time you start predicting what's going to happen next, something completly different happens. You have to read it carefully to fully understand the whole story line. It's an interesting but strange book. I recommend it to the reader who likes books about the supernatural.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 8, 2005
I'm a fairly intelligent individual, I love horror/fantasy/sci-fi...but I'm amazed by the unanimous 5-star reviews of this book! It's not scary and the mystery/suspense is gone with the wind by the halfway mark...and, contrary to the author's bombastic attempt at trying to convince us by the last page that his main character has learned something spectacular from 'the night class,' he learns one thing: (SPOILER)... his school is populated by sex-crazed dingbats (oooohhh scary!...NOT!). And where does the phenomenon of the 'stigmata' fall into place here?? The same place this book takes its reader: NOWHERE.
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Posted July 8, 2004
Let me start off by saying that I love stories that take place in 'real time.' This book unfolds over a single day and night. Caleb Prentiss comes back to school after his long winter break to discover that his dorm room has been the site of a horrible killing. Part mystery, part ghost story, and never, NEVER boring.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 16, 2003
The Night Class by Tom Piccirilli just won the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in ('Best') novel, and I wholeheartedly agree with their choice. This book is haunting, daring, evocative, and full of the complexities of the human condition. A dark tale that's part mystery, part ghost story, part existential exercise, and part supernatural horror. Piccirilli knows how to capture the atmosphere of a haunted University's winter setting and use it to the fullest capacity. This one will keep you talking for quite a while after you've finished the last page.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 1, 2002
There have been many mystery/crime thrillers that have crossed over into horror territory through use of graphic violence and viscera. But few have approached that gray area between genres with such subtle supernatural currents as in Piccirrilli's Night Class. This is a story told in the course of a single day and night as a young man, weeks away from graduating from his university, finally discovers what kind of evil forces are at work on campus. From his own darkest heart he journeys through betrayal, fear, and other revelations that will draw the reader in until he's on the edge of his seat. I read this one in two long sittings because I loathed to put it down. I bet you feel the same way.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 1, 2002
A deeply affecting novel that takes the college life and spins it on its ear. Here is the story of a man who returns to campus after the winter break to find that a murder has been committed in his dorm room. He grows more and more obsessed with not only finding the killer, but discovering the true identity of the victim. Slowly our protagonist, Caleb Prentiss, comes to fear that he's haunted not only by the dead girl, but also by his own sister--a former nun who committed suicide in his arms. Ever since that time, Cal has suffered from stigmata whenever someone close to him dies. Despite the backstory, the book itself takes place in a 24 hour period. Cal learns more in this day than in his four years of higher education. He discovers secrets about his university, his teachers, his best friends, and even himself. A gripping, thrilling, suspenseful read, I urge you all to sign up for this night class immediately!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 28, 2002
Few writers know how to create such an unsettling atmosphere as Piccirilli. Here he uses his talents to show just how bizarre, frightening, and dark the college experience can be. Cal Prentiss returns from the winter intercession to find that a girl has been murdered in his dorm room. Although the police and campus security say they're trying to solve the case, Cal begins his own investigation. He suffers from stigmata whenever someone on campus is murdered...and his hands begin bleeding a lot. Little by little he's drawn into a secret "night class" where the students and teachers are both experiencing the truth of how the world really works. By turns humorous, enlightening, twisted and macabre, THE NIGHT CLASS is a novel you won't be able to put down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2002
Few writers are as talented as Tom Piccirilli when creating an all-consuming atmosphere of dread. Even the most innocent details can have touches of evil. Here he turns campus life on its head and topples it over, giving us one night in the life of a student who finds that nothing in his academic world has been what it seems. Cal Prentiss returns from the winter break to find that a girl has been murdered in his dorm room. Half-heartedly, he decides to write about his fantasies of her as his senior thesis. Is her ghost, and the spirit of his dead sister, actually haunting Cal or is he simply coming apart as he prepares to enter "the real world"? Another bit of weirdness is tossed in: Cal suffers from stigmata whenever someone on campus dies. And from that single plot element Piccirilli takes us on a frenzied investigation into the heart of university malevolence and student activities of the most bizarre kind. This edition is also signed by the author and artist, which makes it that much more worthwhile.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 4, 2012
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