"They kept monsters." That’s what Tom overhears in the bar that night. And he hears more things that can finally lead him to the truth about his son’s death ten years before. The army had said it was a training accident. But why had the coffin they sent home been sealed?
So on a dark night, in a deserted field, Tom begins to unearth the mass grave where he hopes-and fears-that he will find his son’s remains. He finds instead madness: corpses in chains and dead bodies that still move and grasp and clutch. And one little girl, dead and rotting, who promises to help Tom find what he’s looking for, if only he will free her...
|Publisher:||Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||4.42(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.99(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Tim Lebbon
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
Ten years after Steven's death, Tom never thought that his son
would change his life again.
Tom held dear every precious memory of Steven, especially
those times that affected him so much that he believed they
had altered his perception of things forever. His toddler son,
pointing to the sky in wonder and gasping his first word,
Cloud! Older, learning to ride his bike, Tom letting go and
Steven only falling off when he realised he was riding on his
own. At thirteen he won a bronze swimming medal for the school
in the national finals, and the photograph of his presentation
showed a boy on the cusp of manhood, his expression delighted
yet reserved, full of self-awareness. At seventeen Steven
joined the Army, and at nineteen he was accepted into the
Parachute Regiment. Tom still had the photograph of his son
wearing that red beret hanging above his fireplace at home. It
made him proud. It made him sad. It was the last picture he
took of Steven before he died.
Tom sat staring into a half-empty glass, listening to the
bustle of the pub serving after-work pints and meals,
wondering whether he should go home to Jo or stay for one more
drink, and Steven suddenly popped into his mind. This often
happened - he had been their only child, and his loss had
stabbed them with a blade that timekept twisting - but mostly
it was when Tom least expected it. He blinked tears into a
blur, drained his drink and tried to imagine what Steven would
be like now, were he still alive. After ten years in the
Parachute Regiment he would have likely seen action, either in
Eastern Europe or the Gulf. He would probably be married; he
had always been one for the girls, even as a youngster.
Maybe Tom would be a grandparent.
"Hello, wherever you are," he muttered as he stood and walked
to the bar. He often pictured the ghosts of those not yet
born, shades of lives unlived, and sometimes he craved to be
haunted by his own grandchildren. He hoped they would be
proud, but he thought not.
"Same again, Tom?"
Tom had placed the glass on the bar with every intention of
going home, but now he nodded and handed over a fistful of
change. Glass replenished, he returned to his table, but two
men had taken his place. He considered asking whether he could
join them, but the thought of entering into conversation with
strangers did not appeal to him right now. Not when Steven was
so fresh in his mind.
It's almost ten years. He sat in the window seat close to his
original table and sipped from his pint. Ten years since he
died. Jo has changed so much in that time. Gone from a lovely
young mother into middle age barren of all but her hollow
hobbies. And I still love her. He drank again, closed his
eyes, tears threatening. She loved him too. It was strong,
their bond, and passionate, perhaps the single positive
outcome of Steven's death.
He wondered just how much he had changed.
The two men were talking quietly, yet Tom could not help
overhearing some of their conversation. He had never been the
sort who could shut out background noise, and even if he had
no real interest in what was being said, the words still found
their way in.
The men were talking about their time in the Army. They looked
around thirty. Steven's age, were he still alive.
Tom drank some more ale, already beginning to regret this
third pint. Jo knew he stopped off for a beer on the way home
every Friday. What she did not know was that he was invariably
on his own. He had led her to believe that a few colleagues
from the office went along, and that small white lie did not
bother him greatly. There was no reason to make her think
otherwise. She would only worry. And for Tom it was just a
couple of quiet pints, during which time he could muse upon
the week gone by and contemplate the weekend ahead. He
sometimes chatted to the couple who owned the pub, and
occasionally he entered into conversation with one or two of
the regulars. But more often than not this was his own time.
It was when he could really think about whether or not he
liked himself. The answers usually came in thick and fast, and
that was why he was often home after just a couple of drinks,
to immerse himself in life with his wife once again. Smother
his thoughts. Bury the aching feeling that he should have done
much, much more with a life so scarred by Steven's death.
"... never knew what it was all about," one of the men said.
The other nodded meaningfully and drank from his pint. He
caught Tom's eye momentarily, then glanced away.
"Well if he didn't know what they did there, he deserved it."
Tom turned to the side in an effort to hear more of the
conversation, but somebody hit a jackpot on the fruit machine.
The celebratory clunking of their ejected winnings drowned the
bar for thirty seconds, and by then the two men were sitting
in silence once again.
Tom looked around the pub and felt a familiar disquiet
settling in. He spent only a couple of hours here each week,
and yet sometimes it seemed more familiar than his own living
room. Perhaps this was the only place he ever truly relaxed.
He closed his eyes and sighed, and when he opened them
somebody said, "Porton Down."
He looked at the two men. They were hunkered down over their
drinks, leaning in close, but they were not catching each
other's eyes. One was staring into his pint glass, the other
had found a fascinating snag of lint on his jacket sleeve.
Porton Down! That's on Salisbury Plain where ... Where Steven
was killed. 'Training accident', they had told Tom. When
pressed, they gave a few more details, and he had always
wished that he had not asked. And yet ... there was that
ever-present doubt. 'Cover-up', Tom's own father had muttered
at the funeral, but he was long lost to Alzheimer's by then,
and Tom did not pursue the matter.
There came one of those rare moments of silence that haunt
bars and wait to manifest, a brief second or two when
conversations falter at the same time, the fruit machine falls
silent between turns, the bar-staff pause for a drink or go to
change a barrel, and the juke box takes a breather between
tracks. And into that silence - still so quiet that probably
only Tom could hear it - one of the men whispered, "They kept
* * *
Later, Tom would spend some time musing on destiny, and what
cruel fate had deigned that he hear those three whispered
words. If he had gone home after his second pint he would have
never heard, and life would have gone on, and perhaps he and
Jo would have grown old together, their love doing its best to
fill the void where Steven and his family could have been.
But by the time he thought that, he already knew the monsters
of which the man had spoken. And in the face of their
ferocity, regret had no place at all.
Excerpted from BERSERK
by Tim Lebbon
Copyright © 2006 by Tim Lebbon .
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was the cover that caught my eye, but it's the story that will keep me reading TL. Berserk was a refreshing change to the Koontz, Saul, and King stuff. Well written and fast paced, Lebbon's storytelling doesn't waste your time with too much unnecessary language, yet it still paints a wonderful and vivid picture of character and setting. In this genre (horror/suspense) a writer needs to evoke an emotion pretty quickly or the book is thrown to the ground. Lebbon does this and does it well. I look forward to reading many more of his books.
If you like original horror stories, this is the book for you. Another great book from Tim Lebbon!
Almost ten years have past since their son Steven died, but neither his father Tom or his mother Jo have been able to come to grips with the death of their beloved son though they somewhat have each other. In a bar to drown his sorrows he overhears two men discuss monsters on Salisbury Plain where his Parachute Regiment child died in what the Army claimed was a tragic training accident. His coffin was sealed when it arrived-------- Upset and thinking about his deceased father who mumbled cover-up during Steven¿s funeral, Tom opens up his son¿s buried casket to find it empty. He quietly travels to Salisbury Field where he sneaks into a forbidden zone to excavate the mass grave site that he finds amidst the secret contained area. Shoveling away the dirt, Tom uncovers rotting corpses that are somehow alive, but chained somehow talking with him especially the little girl. Thinking he lost his mind anyway he agrees to liberate the child from her chained internment in exchange for her helping him with his quest to learn what truly happened to Steven, but also ponders if he has made a Faustian pact.------ This action-packed horror thriller is not for everyone as the tale does turn graphically grisly once Tom decides to heed his late Alzheimer¿s suffering father¿s advice to uncover the cover-up. The gruesome, ghastly story line focus on the results of an experiment gone horribly bad rather than the human testing or the cover-up. Still readers who like in your face horror will enjoy BERSERK, just do not eat prior to, during, or just after reading.------ Harriet Klausner
Tim Lebbon is an established horror author and Berserk is one of his best. It's creepy, and finds a way to get under your skin. Worth reading, for sure.
I think that for horror lovers, Tim Lebbon's Berserk must be a great read. The story is gripping, and I effortlessly enjoyed the mystery and the exploration of humanity in the book. But like a lot of the horror I've read, it's too gory for me. The incidents of blood-gushing and brain-spattering and claws-rending are distracting, and I find myself backing out of the story at just the point when I think I'm supposed to be horrified and further motivated to discover the true nature of the monsters. Still, although I felt distanced from a good deal of the story, I did enjoy it enough to want to recommend it to any horror lovers I might come across.