Black Creek

Black Creek

by Gregory Lamberson

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Overview


In 1979, the US government relocated more than eight hundred families from Love Canal, New York, after decades of toxic contamination. Not all of the residents left: some remained in their homes on the outskirts of the disaster area. Others went underground. Hiding. Changing. Breeding.

Almost four decades later, Love Canal has been renamed Black Creek Village and restored for inhabitation. The residents there and on neighboring Cayuga Island remember the tragedy of Love Canal but have no knowledge of the monsters living below the surface. When the worst snowstorm in forty years isolates all of western New York, the forgotten inhabitants of Love Canal emerge from hiding to reclaim what once belonged to them.

And they are hungry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781605425993
Publisher: Medallion Media Group
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author


Gregory Lamberson is the author of the occult detective series The Jake Helman Files (Personal Demons, Desperate Souls, Cosmic Forces, Tortured Spirits, Storm Demon, and Human Monsters) and the werewolf series The Frenzy Cycle (The Frenzy Way, The Frenzy War, and The Frenzy Wolves) as well as Johnny Gruesome, Carnage Road, and The Julian Year. He is a two-time winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror, a three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist, winner of Dark Scribe Press’s “Best Small Press Chill” Award, and winner of the Anubis Award for Horror. Lamberson is also an award-winning filmmaker whose work includes the midnight movie cult classic Slime City, its sequel Slime City Massacre, and Dry Bones. Fangoria called him “the hardest-working man in horror.” His website is gregorylamberson.com.

Read an Excerpt

Black Creek


By Gregory Lamberson

Medallion Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Gregory Lamberson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60542-599-3


CHAPTER 1

October 17

Paul Goodman did not see the winged insect until after he had said good morning to his twelve-year-old son, Evan, who stood staring at the window at the opposite end of the dining room table. Outside, a lawnmower droned: Saturday chores.

When the boy failed to respond, Paul circled the rectangular table. At first he thought the silhouette on the glass was a smudge of mud applied by a human thumb or maybe a small feather. But as he drew closer to his son, he saw the translucent wings spread open. At least the insect, whatever it was, acknowledged his presence. "What have we got here?"

"I'm not sure," Evan said.

Paul leaned closer. The body of the insect stretched two full inches in length. In shape, it resembled a wasp; in size, a dragonfly. Black-and-yellow stripes ringed its fur coat, like those of a yellow jacket. The window was raised, the metal screen admitting a warm breeze, and the insect had become trapped between the two overlapping panes of glass. It clung to the inner pane, its antennae moving in a steady rhythm, its legs motionless. Paul felt as if he were being sized up by the accidental prisoner. The wings closed and he shuddered. He had never cared for bees, particularly the bloated queens that populated Helen's flower garden in the side yard. This seemed different, somehow: alien.

Evan's eyes did not leave the visitor. "Do you think it's a yellow jacket?"

"Not like any I've ever seen. It's too big. Too ... thick." He imagined the size of the insect's stinger. "Maybe your mother knows." Paul called for Helen, and the insect's antennae straightened.

"What?" Helen called from the den they shared on the first floor.

"Could you come out here, please?"

The French doors separating the den from the living room swung open and Helen entered the dining room, her dark hair spilling over the shoulders of her sweater.

"I'm trying to finish grading papers before I start lunch," Helen said. She taught social studies at Niagara Falls High School, where their daughter, Piper, was a junior, while Paul taught English at Niagara Falls City District School, where Evan attended.

"I already started lunch," Paul said.

"You're kidding."

"I peeled the potatoes, stringed the green beans, washed the meat, and preheated the

oven."

"That was nice of you," she said.

"My mama raised me right." He gestured at the window. "Look what your son's captured."

Helen moved close to the window, and the insect moved in a circle like a centipede. Its sudden movement caused her to jump back with a startled cry. Paul and Evan stifled their giggles, but Paul experienced a deep, unexplainable feeling of revulsion that gave way to territorial hatred. The urge to kill the insect clenched his fists.

"What the hell is that?" Helen said in a shrill voice.

"We were hoping you could tell us," Paul said.

"How should I know what that is? You've lived here two years longer than me."

"Only because I'm two years older," Paul said.

They had both been born and raised in Niagara Falls and had been high school sweethearts.

"You said you were more experienced than me," Helen said. "That should include entomology."

Evan turned to his father for the first time. "What's that?"

"The study of insects," Paul said.

Helen narrowed her eyes at the visitor. "It looks ... prehistoric."

"Dinohornet?"

"Maybe Mr. Johnson knows," Evan said.

"Good idea," Paul said, taking his phone from the pocket of his jeans. Ken Johnson taught science at NFCDS. Like the Goodmans, he lived on Cayuga Island, known as Teacher's Island to the locals.

"Is this really necessary?" Helen said.

Paul selected Ken's number from the menu on his phone and pressed it. "I'm trying to educate our son."

"Can't you just use Google?"

Paul clucked his tongue. "Google's no substitute for a teacher-pupil dynamic." The phone on the other end of the signal rang.

"The living room's a mess," Helen said. "Tell him to meet us outside. He can see it just as well from the other side of the window."

"Hello?" Ken said in a cheerful voice.

"It's Paul."

"Good morning. What can I do for you this fine Saturday?"

"It's afternoon."

"The hours blur with a new baby in the house."

"I remember those days well." He found it hard to believe a dozen years had passed since he and Helen had brought Evan home. "Just keep telling yourself —"

"'It gets better in six months.' I've heard it many times. Only three months to go ..."

"I know you're busy, but can you stop by? Evan thinks he's made the scientific discovery of the century."

"As luck would have it, I was just on my way out to get Pampers. I can swing by on my

way."

"Great."

Outside, Helen mouthed.

"I'll meet you in the driveway," Paul said.

As soon as he saw the mail truck pass his house, Dan Bartkowitz pulled on his Windbreaker and opened the front door, which brought Trapper, his bloodhound, circling his ankles. He had lived alone for four years, since his ex-wife, Marie, had left him and the state. He had brought Trapper home from the pound soon after.

"Out," he said to the dog, who wagged his tail and obeyed.

As Dan stepped outside, damp air clung to his cheeks. Even though the temperature felt unseasonably warm, his bones told him winter would come early this year. Closing the door, he strode across the porch and descended the steps while Trapper raised one hind leg and squirted a bush on the lawn. Dan made his way along the paved driveway to the mailbox, which rested on a post at the edge of the sidewalk. The mailbox resembled a classic 1950s convertible with a red body and a white top. Across the street, Henri Metzger pushed his mower across his lawn in neat rows, his hair and beard snow white. Henri waved to Dan with one hand, offering a crooked smile. Dan returned the wave to the Gulf War veteran to be polite. Henri's wife, a math teacher, had left him, too.

"Hey, you Polack!"

Trapper wagged his tail and Dan turned to see his next-door neighbor, Jim Makowski, lumbering toward his own mailbox, posted on the far side of Dan's front yard. "What do you want, you Polack?" Dan said.

A retired police officer and widower from Arizona, Jim had moved to Cayuga Island two years earlier and had become Dan's closest friend. Jim wore his hair in a crew cut, and thick glassed rested on the edge of his nose. He was ten years older than Dan and attended church every Sunday. The two men rendezvoused midway between their mailboxes every day, at least until winter set in.

"I'm getting my mail, you Polack," Jim said. Despite his height, he had a slow gait due to arthritis.

"Why don't I get it for you? I could read it all out loud before you reach that damned

box."

"The worst kind of Polack is a blaspheming Polack."

They opened their mailboxes at the same time. Dan used his left hand, keeping the stump where his right hand had been in his jacket. He had lost the hand in a machine shop accident six years earlier and refused to wear any kind of prosthetic device. Holding the mail, he closed the box and used his fingers to examine the return addresses on the envelopes: bills and ads, the usual junk.

Jim stood reading something beside his mailbox. Trapper took a few steps toward Jim, then looked back at Dan.

"Go on," Dan said, and Trapper trotted along the sidewalk toward Jim. "What do you got there, you Polack? You need some help reading it?"

Without looking up, Jim said, "No, I've got this. It's a postcard from my daughter, Faith. She uses big letters and small words so I can read it. Hello, Trapper." Jim reached into his pocket with his free hand and produced a Milk-Bone. Trapper sat on the sidewalk, and Jim tossed the treat into the air above the dog's head. Trapper leapt off the sidewalk and snapped his jaws, then landed on all fours and crunched it.

Dan moved closer. "What's it say?"

"She and her husband can't make it up for Thanksgiving this year. They want me to come to Florida instead."

"So go."

"Maybe I will."

"It gets cold here by Thanksgiving. The bees built their hives high in the trees over the summer. That means it's going to be a bad winter."

Jim fixed him with a flat stare. "Every winter's a bad winter."

"So why didn't you stay in Phoenix?"

"I got tired of the heat and the scorpions."

"The ducks and geese migrated early. That means winter's coming early, and it's going to be cold. You should go."

Jim looked at him with mock impatience. "I said, 'Maybe I will.' What part of that didn't you understand, you stupid Polack?"

Dan slid his mail into his jacket pocket and took out his pack of Seneca cigarettes. "Florida's nice."

"I know that."

Dan shook loose a cigarette and stuck it between his lips. "The fishing's great down

there."

"I don't like to fish."

Dan lit his cigarette. "What kind of a Polack don't like to fish?"

"You like it so much, why don't you go to Florida?"

Exhaling, Dan smiled. "I've thought about it."

"Somehow I doubt that."

"I like it down there."

"So move down there and fish, and stop your useless yapping."

Dan removed his stump from his pocket. "I can't fish with one hand."

"Then stay here and freeze. What kind of a Polack loses his hand in a machine shop, anyway?"

A Subaru passed and slowed down to turn in to the driveway on the far side of the Goodmans', his other next-door neighbors. Francine Kaminski got out of the Subaru, her expression as grim as every other time she visited her mother. Those visits had become more frequent since Joanne's diagnosis. Joanne and her late husband, Bill, had lived in that house since before Dan and Marie moved into the neighborhood twenty years ago. She had been an English teacher until she had Fran, who had grown up in the house. Fran lived in Tonawanda now, with her husband and two sons. She did not bring the boys to see their grandmother. Dan hadn't seen Joanne outside the house in over a month.

"She doesn't look very happy, does she?" Jim said behind Dan.

"She's having a tough time."

"Why don't you mow Joanne's lawn?"

"I have a hard enough time mowing mine with one hand. Why don't you mow it?"

"She's not my next-door neighbor."

Dan smirked at Jim. "It would be the Christian thing to do."

"All right."

The front door of the brick house across the street, next to Henri's, opened and Ken Johnson exited. He made straight for the street and crossed it, avoiding Henri. A black man with a short beard, Ken wore khaki slacks and a leather jacket over a burgundy shirt. Dan could not remember having ever seen the science teacher in jeans. Behind him, Henri stuck out his tongue like a wild man and shook his head, then laughed. Dan and Jim ignored him.

"Good morning, gentlemen," Ken said as he approached them.

"It's afternoon," Jim said.

"So it is. Hey, Trapper Dog."

Trapper offered a tentative wag of his tail.

"Where are you off to in such a hurry?" Jim said.

"To see the scientific find of the century, apparently," Ken said as he passed them.

"Come on," Dan said to Jim.

The two men and the dog followed Ken to the property bordering the opposite side of Dan's yard. Paul Goodman and his son Evan exited their colonial house and greeted Ken. Paul had a slight build and wore his reddish-brown hair parted at the side, his mouth surrounded by trimmed whiskers. Evan wore his sandy-colored hair in bangs, his T-shirt emblazoned with superheroes poised for action.

"It's in the side window," Paul said.

"Hi, Mr. Berkowitz. Hi, Mr. Makowski. Hi, Trapper," Evan said rapid-fire.

"Hello, young man," Jim said.

"Hey, kid," Dan said.

Helen Goodman exited the house and closed the door. Paul and Evan hurried alongside the house, and Helen joined Ken behind them.

"I see you brought backup," Helen said, nodding at Dan and Jim.

Ken looked over his shoulder. "Why not? The more witnesses to this moment in history, the better."

Dan flicked ash from his cigarette onto the concrete driveway. "Let's get on with the show."

Helen and Ken followed Paul and Evan, and Dan and Jim brought up the rear.

"How's Jenny?" Helen said as they passed her minivan.

"Still fat," Ken said in a tired voice.

Helen's expression registered shock, and Ken raised his hands.

"Her words, not mine."

"Maybe you shouldn't repeat them."

"Maybe you're right."

The entourage joined Paul and Evan, who stood with their backs to Paul's black Jeep. Paul pointed at one window of the house.

"There," the English teacher said.

Ken's eyes followed Paul's finger to the glass. He moved closer. "What the hell?"

"Not you too," Helen said.

Dan and Jim stood behind Ken, gazing over his shoulders. The insect clung to the glass, offering a view of its underside, its antennae moving.

"Jesus," Dan said.

Jim's features contorted with disapproval.

"Do you know what it is, Mr. Johnson?" Evan said.

Ken peered at the window. "I have no idea. I've never seen anything like it. I mean, I've never seen anything so big."

"Do you think Evan's made a discovery?" Paul said.

"That's unlikely. There are enormous insects in the tropics and South America, even Florida. But how on earth did it get this far north, at this time of the year?"

Evan's features sagged.

"I blame Hooker Chemical," Dan said.

"You blame everything on Hooker," Jim said.

"I blame Hooker for the VD I got in the war."

"You weren't in any war."

"I still blame Hooker."

"Polack."

Ken took out his smartphone and recorded the insect.

Helen crossed her arms. "If it's not a candidate for cataloguing at the Smithsonian, no one will object if one of you kills it."

"I'll go get my rifle," Dan said.

"You can't shoot it with one hand," Jim said.

"You want to bet?"

"Quiet, Polack."

"I think we should just put it in something," Paul said. "Wouldn't you like to show it to your classes, Ken?"

"And drive to work with it? Just the two of us, in my little car? No, thanks. And where would I keep it all weekend? Jenny would never stand for it. She'd toss it out the front door, and me with it."

Paul looked at Dan and Jim.

"How would I protect myself?" Dan said. "I've got only one hand."

Jim frowned. "You can keep it in my garage, but I'm not feeding it."

Paul set his hand on Evan's back. "Go into the basement and get one of those mason jars. Make sure it has a lid."

Evan started forward, but he stopped when Helen yelped. All eyes turned to the window as the insect crawled to the bottom of the wooden frame. It disappeared for a moment, then emerged upside down along the bottom of the frame, freed from the glass panes.

"Oh my God," Helen said.

The insect peered at the group. All of them backed up.

"It's big and it's ugly, but it's still just a bug," Jim said.

"Says the man who keeps a loaded revolver on top of the Bible beside his bed," Dan said.

"Hold still," Ken said. "No sudden movements."

Trapper barked at the insect, which launched itself into the air, spreading its wings and circling the spectators at Dan's eye level. Helen turned her head away and Paul jerked Evan close to him.

"Whoa!" Ken said, raising his hands.

The insect flew straight at Jim, who stood tallest. His mouth and eyes widened, and he turned sideways, allowing the insect to soar through the space where his head had been.

Dan picked up a thick branch from the ground and brandished it like a club.

"Dad!" Evan threw his arms around Paul, and Helen joined them.

The insect darted between Ken and Jim, and Dan swung his weapon, missing his target and Jim.

"Watch it, you Polack!"

The insect rose to the sky and disappeared. Everyone gazed upward, searching.

"I'm going inside," Helen said. She took Evan by the hand and pulled him toward the

house.

"Thanks for coming over," Paul said to Ken. "Did you get good footage of that thing?"

Staring at the screen of his phone, Ken shook his head. "I wasn't close enough to get much of an image."

"Next time."

Ken's expression turned serious. "Unless it was one of a kind."

"A mutation?"

Ken pocketed his phone. "I don't know."

"It's going to be one hell of a winter," Dan said.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Black Creek by Gregory Lamberson. Copyright © 2016 Gregory Lamberson. Excerpted by permission of Medallion Press, Inc..
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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Black Creek 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ksprings More than 1 year ago
This review was first published on Kurt's Frontier. Synopsis: For decades, hundreds of families lived above a toxic waste dump in a place called Love Canal, New York. There were reports of birth defects, cancer, and deaths. In 1979, the United States government finally relocated over eight hundred families. However, not all the residents left. Some remained in their homes just outside the disaster area. Others went underground. They hid from the authorities. They breed. And they mutated. Forty years after the evacuation, Love Canal has been restored. Renamed Black Creek, the people in the region remember the tragedy. However, they are unaware of the monsters living under Black Creek, descended from those who did not leave. When the worst storm in four decades isolates western New York, this forgotten tribe emerges to hunt and reclaim what was once theirs. They have also developed a taste for human flesh. Review: Gregory Lamberson’s story had a special appeal to me. I lived in western New York when I was working on my Ph.D. Though I didn’t often travel far past North Tonawanda, I recognized many of the places. Paul Goodman and his family have been living on Cayuga Island, a short way from Black Creek. In the opening chapters, people begin noticing strange things. Paul’s son, Evan has a friend who saw a strange, man-like creature in the woods. The boy begins displaying signs of post-traumatic stress. In February, three major storms converge on western New York. (I still remember lake effect snow.) Snow piles up fast and the monsters come out of hiding. As the story progresses, the residents have to contend with mountains of snow, frozen pipes, power outages, and cannibalistic monsters. The book was hard to put down. The characters became more sympathetic as they faced adversity and would either rise or fall. While I wasn’t particularly scared, I did find the story suspenseful.