Throughout history, the forces of darkness and light have battled for control of mankind. Living among us, The Guardians are capable of drawing light into a deadly weapon against The Dark Ones--those who inhabit the shadows, conjuring instruments of torture from the darkness itself.
Sixteen years ago, guardian Charles Pennington buried the leader of The Dark Ones under an abandoned brewery in Buffalo, New York. Now Lars Engels has returned from hell, and The Dark Ones are gathering in numbers and power. Spreading their cloud of death across the region, they seek out the one soul who can stop them. . .
Heading to Buffalo in search of her birth mother, Sara Pennington, granddaughter of Charles, is about to discover her true identity--and her ultimate fate. A guardian of intense power, she was taken into hiding as an infant. Now, she is the only one who can save the world from going to hell. . .
"Izzo drags you into the shadows but doesn't leave you in the dark. A keeper." --Scott Nicholson on Cruel Winter
Anthony Izzo received his Bachelor of Arts in English from D'Youville College. He currently resides with his wife and two children in Upstate New York where he is working on his next novel. When not writing, Tony enjoys reading, music, and playing guitar.
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THE DARK ONES
By ANTHONY IZZO PINNACLE BOOKS
Copyright © 2008 Anthony Izzo
All right reserved.
Engel awoke in the darkness. Moist earth pressed against his nostrils. He breathed no more, so he had no fear of suffocating, even though he felt the dirt packed into his nose. The wet feel of the grave dirt weighed on his eyelids. The darkness was all encompassing, and he could not move his arms, which were folded across his chest and held in place.
He was back, ready to walk the earth again. The Light had diminished and now he was awake. He only needed something to free him from the grave.
His taste for blood and death was immediate, like an itch he could not scratch. It had been the same during the Dark Ages, when they would bring a cowering maiden before him and tie her down. In a frenzy, sometimes breathing like an aroused lover, he would swing the hammer, breaking shoulders, elbows, kneecaps, but never vital areas of the body. The crowd would mostly cheer. Some would cry, others would vomit on the cobblestone square. When the victim's body was nothing more than a tangle of broken limbs, he would weave the broken arms and legs through the spokes and hoist the wretch onto a pole, wheel and all. The crows would take care of the rest.
He had felt no pity for his victims. When he was a child, his mother told him his eyes were like two stones, cold and hard. His father, watching himbutcher the family livestock, commented, "That boy, he enjoys spilling blood." It was no surprise to anyone, then, the path he took in life.
Now, he wished to bring that same pain on the ones who put him in the grave. The Light, which kept him prisoner, was extinguished, and he knew soon he would be free.
My Dark Master, set loose my children. Find those who wronged your servant. Bring slaughter upon them. This I ask of you.
His Dark Master. Satan, the Devil. Known by many different names on earth, the Devil himself had chosen Engel to lead his army. You have a thirst for blood and no pity in your heart. You will bring darkness to the earth. A legion of angels could not stop you. You will rule beside me, and the earth will belong to hell and its Dark Ones. So the master had told him upon his descent into hell.
In his tomb, he waited. Eager to please the Master.
Laura Pennington awoke in a fit. She had had the dream again, the one about Megan. Around her the covers were twisted and her pillow hung half off the bed. She had been thrashing in her sleep. She looked at the sleeping pills on the nightstand and shook her head. There was no way she was downing them again, even if they did help her sleep. Sleep was not the accurate term. The pills had practically put her in a coma, one from which she awoke with heavy limbs and fuzzy thoughts. A night's sleep wasn't worth the sluggishness induced by the pills.
Besides, she had to be sharp. Being an ER doc meant having little or no time to think. If it came down to deciding which drug to administer or needing steady hands to perform an intubation, she did not need sleeping pills slowing her down. The dream this past night was the same. Megan was asleep in her cradle and it squeaked gently as Laura rocked it back and forth. Sixteen years ago, as a nineteen-year-old mother, she had set the cradle next to the bed for fear of SIDS, and she awoke fitfully at every yawn or quickened breath the baby took. In the dream, she heard Megan gurgle, looked over, and watched the baby smile her toothless grin. It seemed terribly real, and if there were smells in dreams, she would have smelled the scent of powders and lotions and the baby shampoo she had used on Megan.
Now, lying awake, the fitfulness of her sleep seemed to contrast with the pleasantness of the dream. The dream itself was not bad, it was the urge that came over her when she awoke. I won't do it, she thought. Won't.
The baby seemed so real, so concrete. In Laura's first few minutes of waking, she fought the desire to get up and look. She rolled over, hoping to doze off, not having to get up for another half an hour. She pulled the sheets up tight to her ear and listened to the soft tick of the wall clock in the apartment's living room.
Do it, you fool. Go ahead, torture yourself.
She threw the covers aside, slipped into her robe, and padded out to the living room. There was no cradle. Only the sofa, her television, and an apothecary-style coffee table. What did she expect? Megan was sixteen years gone, and only a fool believed that she would be there, that the abduction never happened and a cooing baby girl would be waiting in a cradle for her mother to pick her up.
Maybe I need a psych consult, she thought.
The Megan dream was a version of one of Laura's childhood dreams. Every so often, she'd dreamed of Christmas presents under the tree. Barbie dolls, Strawberry Shortcake, and an E-Z Bake Oven, all new and unwrapped, just waiting. She had gone so far as to sneak downstairs at six a.m. before her father awoke to go to the office. She was always crushed when it wasn't actually Christmas. But the images of presents had been so vivid, as were the emotions that came with Christmas morning, that she had to check. She was always disappointed. The dream of her long-gone baby daughter brought the same disappointment. That feeling like it should be real, like she had been cheated, upon waking and finding that the strong memory had vaporized into nothing.
Thinking too much again. About Megan, about things she couldn't change. After Megan's disappearance, medical school had offered a refuge for her, someplace she couldn't think about Megan, with nonstop studying, popping uppers to stay awake, professors who told you you were crap and couldn't cut it, and later on residents who treated you like a subhuman species. The ER had been a good place for her. You thought on your feet, no time to dwell on a long-gone little girl when the medics brought in a blood-soaked gangbanger or a kid practically turning blue from an asthma attack.
She decided to get moving. She showered and shaved her legs, thinking in the shower about Dad and his wacky behavior lately. He'd been on a quest to save the Iroquois brewery from demolition, and the old building was nearing its date with the excavator, with no pardon coming from the Common Council. It was like he was possessed. He'd been featured on Channel 2, interrupted numerous Common Council meetings, and nearly been arrested twice for seeking a private audience with the mayor. She hoped when the building was nothing but bricks and dust his lunacy would subside and he would go back to playing eighteen holes at Byrncliff twice a week and bitching about the greens fees.
After her shower, she got dressed and threw her scrubs in a small duffel bag. She then fixed herself a bowl of oatmeal and washed it down with cranberry juice. Time to get to the hospital, another day among the sick and the hurt. But it beat the alternative, which was dwelling on the wound Megan's disappearance had left in her.
She threw on a leather jacket, grabbed her bag and keys, and left the apartment.
* * *
David Dresser hurried toward Lexington Christian Church, a newspaper tucked under his right arm. It was early fall, and leaves whirled around his feet, stirred by a chilly breeze. He turned right into the church parking lot and spotted Reverend Frank's white Escort. As he approached the rear door of the parsonage, he peered back over his shoulder. He was not a nervous man by nature. In his early twenties, he had spent days camping in the most isolated wilderness with little more than a tent and a buck knife. Once a black bear had come within ten feet of his campsite and Dave had squatted by the fire, watching the bear until it lost interest and ambled back into the woods. He fancied himself a cool customer, not prone to ragged nerves or bad sensations, but he couldn't deny the feeling of dread that tickled his spine. He expected to whirl around and see a dark shape duck behind a tree, trying to remain unseen.
The parsonage was a gray Dutch Colonial, and next to the back door was a redwood deck. Reverend Frank had left his Adirondack chair out. On a warm day you could spot him from the street, arms hanging over the edges, a magazine flopped across his belly. David was never so anxious to see the man as he was now.
He knocked on the door.
Reverend Frank appeared, his gray hair spilling out from underneath the familiar Baltimore Orioles cap. Thankfully he took it off before service, although David suspected if the good Reverend had his way, the cap would go with him to the pulpit.
"Did you run over? You're sweating," the Reverend said.
"The meeting room. Now."
The Reverend took a key ring from a peg hanging near the door. David followed him to the church, and while he unlocked the door, David kept watch on the street. They had always been safe in the daytime, but after seeing the newspaper article, David wasn't so sure.
They entered the church lobby and descended the steps. David could smell the faint aroma of garlic and onion, left over from the spaghetti dinner two nights before. The two men went through the church meeting hall, where rows of steel chairs and tables were still set up from the previous night's dinner.
Reverend Frank took out his key ring and opened a door off the kitchen. He and David slipped inside, David noticing the metallic, dusty smell and the soft hum of the church's furnaces. Behind the furnaces were a card table and four chairs. He still felt safe in this room, and he remembered suggesting it for their meetings. Mainly because it lacked windows.
The Reverend sat down, and David sat opposite him. Dave set the newspaper on the table and unfolded it. Then he pointed to an article midway down the front page. The headline read, IOWA FAMILY BRUTALLY MURDERED.
The Reverend took a pair of reading glasses from his front pocket, scrunched up his nose, and picked up the newspaper. David watched him, trying to gauge the man's reaction.
The news had been a hell of a welcome back for Dave, who had spent the last two days on a drywall job in Bixby. A woman named Eleanor Cade had paid him a grand to gut her living room and drywall and mud it. No finish work. He had taken the job. It was easy money, and Mrs. Cade had kept a steady supply of sweet iced tea and turkey sandwiches coming. After roofing work had dried up, he had needed the money, and was willing to travel to find work. Leaving town meant leaving Sara behind, which was not a problem, because unlike other sixteen-year-olds, he could leave her alone and not find the house trashed from some wild party. Reading the article had made him fear for her. She would not be left alone in the future.
The Rev set the paper down, removed his glasses. "You go home yet?"
"I stopped at a convenience store on the way into town. I spotted that at the counter."
"The whole Little family. Murdered. You're sure it's Them that did it?"
"Frank, there's some sick people out there, but this?" "Then it's a warning," the Reverend said. "They're coming."
"Will the Everlight keep Engel in the grave?"
David had never seen the Everlight, which Frank had described to him as a black, smooth stone. It could ward off the Dark Ones by emitting pure white light, and it had also kept Engel sealed in his tomb. There were two left in the world, one with Engel, and the other in a small Pennsylvania town.
Frank said, "If the Dark Ones are loose, the power of the Everlight holding Engel may be diminishing."
Officer Rollie McPherson popped a stick of Black Jack gum in his mouth and chewed, hoping to work up some saliva. Ever since he had gotten the call to investigate strange noises out at the Little farm last night, the inside of his mouth had tasted like he'd chewed dust for dinner. He had known Harold Little, seen him at the farmers' market in the town square on Saturdays. Little's girls, Maura and Tina, had often come up and asked questions ("What's that on your belt? Is that a real gun? You ever shoot anyone?") when he stopped at the stand to buy corn.
So when it had come over the radio, he had gone out there with a sick feeling in his belly. It wasn't cop instinct or anything like that. He didn't think he possessed that skill (if it existed), and he would most likely spend his days writing out speeding tickets. Instinct was for detectives and maybe Bureau guys. But that was okay. Instinct or not, a part of him hadn't wanted to go to the farm. He had pulled up to the driveway, and through the open car window, he heard the dry cornstalks rustle.
The Littles had a Lab named Sharkie that usually made its home on the porch, but as he approached there had been no barking. It had been just after two a.m. and he had crept up on the house with the cruiser's lights off.
The front window was dark, the curtains drawn. He climbed out of the cruiser, hand on the butt of his revolver. Somewhere out back, a loose board clapped in the breeze, maybe a plank on the barn. He stepped onto the wraparound porch, where two pink bikes with streamers on the handles lay against the house. Everything looked normal so far.
He rang the bell, and when no one answered, he started getting nervous. He went around back, shining his Maglite so he didn't step in a rut and bust an ankle. In the back of the house he found trouble. The screen door flapped back and forth in the breeze, and its center looked as if someone had punched a hole in it. The inside door was also open, the glass broken in a spiderweb pattern.
Now, he pulled his sidearm and crept into the house. In the kitchen, he found two chairs tipped over, and sugar from a dumped canister had scattered across the counter. He listened, and heard only the drip of water from the kitchen sink faucet.
Rollie assumed the bedrooms were upstairs, and he ascended the steps, where he found the spilled contents of a trash can, mostly tissues. He guessed it had been dragged out from a bedroom or bathroom.
At the top of the steps he got a whiff of something like spoiled meat. He looked in the first bedroom on the left. This one was done up in Powerpuff Girls decorations. The bedclothes were in a heap on the floor. There was no sign of the girls.
He found the other two bedrooms in similar disarray and began to think that the Little family had been taken somewhere against their will.
He was about to go and radio for help when he heard a scream. From the pitch, he thought it was a woman's scream, but could not be sure. It sounded like someone was tearing the guts out of the screamer.
He ran downstairs. He flew out the back door and in the darkness could see the outline of the barn silhouetted against the sky.
Rollie stopped about ten feet from the doors. One of them creaked open, and all of the sudden he felt like that scared ten-year-old boy who was too afraid to fetch his father's jigsaw from the basement. His insides seemed to curl up on themselves.
He looked at the opening as if the blackness might eat him up and make him disappear like the Littles. If someone was on the other side of that door ...
Glock in hand, he made himself move ahead. He took out the flashlight with his free hand. He opened the barn door. A small dust cloud kicked up. He looked inside and pointed the beam.
He saw the girl's face, looking at him upside down. Bruised and bloody, the mouth open, the eyes bulging, he couldn't tell if it was Tina or Maura. The girl's back arched where the sharpened stick jutted from her belly. There were others. He trained the light on each of them. The other Littles had been impaled on spears, slick fluid running down the poles accompanied by the smells of blood and shit.
He ran to his car and got on the radio. As he sat in the car and called into headquarters, he saw the cloud. Black as the sky around it, rolling backward across the cornfield behind the barn. Never seen anything like that before.
Now, he leaned on his patrol car, which was parked at the end of the Littles' driveway. He crossed his arms and watched the assortment of news vans parked across the road.
A good looking, dark-haired woman, whose last name he thought was Olivencia, a TV reporter, crossed the road and came toward him. Her skirt was just short enough to give you a glimpse of thigh, and she took long strides on long legs. (Continues...)
Excerpted from THE DARK ONES by ANTHONY IZZO Copyright © 2008 by Anthony Izzo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was so disappointed in this book. The premise sounded promising but the book didnt deliver. The dialogue was forced and the writing was not good.
An abandoned brewery in Buffalo is planned for demolition, but Charles Pennington goes to extraordinary lenghts to prevent that from happening. Charles is a Guardian battling the forces of darkness with his ability to shine light on those who can only live in the dark. Sixteen years ago Charles defeated Satan¿s demon Engle and buried him in the brewery with the Everlight that keeps this evil from rising.------------------------------ However, the machine operators dig up Engle separating him from the Everlight. Sara, who just learned that her mother Laura Pennington, Charles¿ granddaughter, is alive is heading to Buffalo while the father of her heart follows her because he loves her he fears Engel being on the loose will come after her. She is the most powerful Guardian walking the earth today and knows she is the only one who can stop Engel if she can recover the Everlight. Failure means hell on earth.-------------------- Initially no one believes demons exist except for the Guardians, but hideous clues pile up that prove the DARK ONES walk the earth continuing an eternal war as Engel sends his evil horde out to spread death. The story line is creepy yet an excitng horror thriller filled with plenty of gory action scenes that are critical to the characterization of how malevolent the Dark Ones are. Told from the viewpoint of multiple characters, the audience feels for those brave souls risking more than just their lives knowing some will die battling the Dark Ones.------------------ Harriet Klausner