Dont go alone, p.1

Don't Go Alone, page 1

 

Don't Go Alone
 


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Don't Go Alone


  Don’t Go Alone

  Christopher Golden

  Story collaborations with

  Charlaine Harris

  Mike Mignola

  Amber Benson

  James A. Moore

  Tim Lebbon

  & Thomas E. Sniegoski

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electrical or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the author or publisher, except where permitted by law.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  DON’T GO ALONE © 2017 by Christopher Golden

  ISBN-13: 978-0977925650

  ISBN-10: 097792565X

  Cover design and illustration © 2017 Jose Nieto

  All rights reserved.

  For more information, address:

  Haverhill House Publishing

  Haverhill House Publishing

  643 E Broadway

  Haverhill MA 01830-2420

  www.haverhillhouse.com

  “A Hole in the World” © 2016 by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon first appeared in SNAFU: Unnatural Selection, edited by Geoff Brown and Amanda J. Spedding.

  “Mechanisms” © by Christopher Golden & Mike Mignola and first appeared in Hellbound Hearts, edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan.

  “Blood for Blood” © 2016 by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden and first appeared in Urban Allies, edited by Joseph Nassise.

  “The Nuckelavee” © 2004 by Mike Mignola and first appeared in Hellboy: Odd Jobs, edited by Christopher Golden. It is reprinted here by permission.

  “In Their Presence” © 2015 by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore and first appeared in The Gods of HP Lovecraft, edited by Aaron J. French.

  “Illusions” © 2005 by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden and first appeared in print in Ghosts of Albion: Initiation. (Previously, it was available online at the BBC website.)

  “Joe Golem and the Copper Girl” © 2012 by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden and first appeared in a digital edition.

  “Fault Lines” © 2016 by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon and first appeared in Library of the Dead, edited by Michael Bailey.

  “Wellness Check” © 2017 by Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski and is original to this collection.

  This book is dedicated to John M. McIlveen.

  One of the finest men I know.

  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  I’m deeply grateful to all of my collaborators, especially those whose work with me is represented in these pages. Thanks so much to Amber Benson, Charlaine Harris, Tim Lebbon, Mike Mignola, James A. Moore, and Thomas E. Sniegoski for your friendship and creative inspiration, and for allowing me to include our stories in this book. Thanks to Tim as well for his introduction. Massive thanks to Jose R. Nieto, one of my oldest and dearest friends, for his excellent cover and design work, and to John M. McIlveen for letting me be a part of his fulfillment of his dream, Haverhill House. Finally, as always, thank you to Connie and our kids for your love and faith.

  Don’t Go Alone

  Contents –

  "... and Christopher Golden." -- Introduction by Tim Lebbon

  A HOLE IN THE WORLD -- with Tim Lebbon

  MECHANISMS -- with Mike Mignola

  BLOOD FOR BLOOD -- with Charlaine Harris

  THE NUCKELAVEE: A Hellboy story – with Mike Mignola

  IN THEIR PRESENCE – with James A. Moore

  GHOSTS OF ALBION: ILLUSIONS – with Amber Benson

  JOE GOLEM AND THE COPPER GIRL – with Mike Mignola

  FAULT LINES – with Tim Lebbon

  WELLNESS CHECK – with Thomas E. Sniegoski

  "... and Christopher Golden."

  An Introduction by

  Tim Lebbon

  In truth, the byline always reads "...and Tim Lebbon," but that's purely alphabetical. In every regard, when I'm collaborating on a story, novel or screenplay with Chris, it's an even split of ideas (although I have to tell you, his well of ideas is deep), work (sometimes the effort is weighted one way or another, but there's always a good balance reached across each project), and input. And that's because we both enjoy collaborating so much. Yes, I'm speaking for Chris as well as myself when I say that, because I know it's true.

  After so long, I can read his mind.

  At last count we've written eight novels together, a couple of short stories, a screenplay for Fox, a TV proposal or two, and a comic outline. And there's plenty more to come (he said teasingly). Our first collaboration was the novel Mind the Gap, the first in the Hidden Cities series that went on to four volumes. After that we wrote The Secret Journeys of Jack London trilogy, which sold into several foreign markets and ended up being optioned by Fox2000 (and not made ... such is life). Our latest, Blood of the Four, is a big fantasy novel due soon from HarperVoyager.

  We never tire of working together, and I think that's mainly because when we collaborate we end up producing something neither of us would ever have written on his own. That's the joy of working with someone else. Some writers ask me about it, contemplating how difficult it must be to write something with another writer. But I don't find it tough at all, and I don't think Chris does either. In some ways it's easier than writing on my own, because not only do I have an instant editor to tell me what I've done wrong––and we do tell each other––but also someone equally as involved in the story with whom I can thrash out plot problems and other difficulties.

  Sometimes I really wish I had that for my solo work! It's okay if you write yourself into a corner whilst collaborating, because there's another set of eyes to search for a way out.

  In truth, Chris and I have styles that don't follow the same tracks, but they do complement each other well. This is true in our planning and outlining processes, as well as the actual writing. I honestly think that if we had very similar styles and techniques, it just wouldn't work so well. Surprising each other, keeping the partner on their toes, goes a long way to making the work fresh and exciting.

  A Hole in the World is a case in point. I can't recall even who had the original idea (and that's another great thing about collaborating ... forgetting who wrote what!). But when we were asked to come up with a story for SNAFU: Unnatural Selection––military horror stories, featuring monsters––we knew we could have a whole lot of fun. Soldiers! Monsters! What's not to like? We launched into the story with gusto, and it was one of the fastest stories we've written together. One of the best, too? That's not for me to say. But it did inspire us to consider adapting it into a novel (that might still happen), and pitching it as a movie (who knows?).

  The process is pretty smooth by now, although each project still has its quirks and differences. Our planning is probably more detailed than either of us undertakes for our own books ... but then we'll often go off-piste and see where inspiration takes us anyway. We write a chapter at a time, or sometimes two, then pass it along to our partner. He Goldenises my Lebbonisms, I Lebbonise his Goldenisms, and by the end of the process we have a story, a structure, and a piece of writing that neither of us would have achieved on his own.

  That's one of the finest aspects of collaboration: a third distinct voice. It's almost like magic.

  Oh, and the other pleasing part of collaborating? When you're good friends with someone who awkwardly chooses to live 3,000 miles away, it's always nice to see their smiling mug on Skype, and to see if you can pre-guess which tee shirt they're going to be wearing that day.

  It's ofte
n said that writing is a lonely business, but I've never felt that way. I've been collaborating with other writers since I first began, and you'll see from this collection that the same can be said of Chris. I guess it was only natural that two keen collaborators like us would end up working together, and I can tell you that work is far from over. I know, because I can read his mind.

  Tim Lebbon

  Goytre

  September 2017

  A HOLE IN THE WORLD

  by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

  Vasily Glazkov was warm. He reveled in the feeling, because he had not been truly warm for a long time. His fingers and toes tingled with returning circulation, and he could feel a pleasant stinging sensation across his nose and cheeks. Beyond the open doorway Anna held a steaming mug out to him. She was grinning. Around her was the paraphernalia of their mission––sample cases, laboratory equipment, tools and implements for excavating, survival equipment, and clothing. As he entered the room the door slammed shut behind him, the window shades lowered, and they were alone in the luxurious warmth. Nothing mattered except the two of them. He took the mug and sipped, the coffee's heat coursing through him and reaching even those deepest, coldest parts that he'd believed would never be warm again.

  Anna started unclipping her belt and straps, popping her buttons. She dropped her rifle and pistol, her knife, shrugging out of her uniform to reveal her toned, muscled body. He felt the heat of her. He craved her familiar warmth and scent, her safety, but he still took time to finish the coffee. Anticipation was the greatest comforter.

  "Vasily!" A hand grasped his arm and turned him around. He frowned, stretching to look back at his almost-naked lover. But however far he turned, she remained out of sight.

  "Vasily, wake up!"

  Glazkov's eyes snapped open. His breath misted the air before him, and he sat up quickly, gasping in shock as his dream froze and shattered beneath gray reality.

  "Amanda?"

  Amanda Hart stood in his small room, bulked out in her heavy coat. There was ice on her eyelashes and excitement in her eyes.

  "Vasily, you've got to come."

  "Where?"

  "Down into the valley. It's stopped snowing, the sun's out, and you have to come. Hans is getting ready."

  Glazkov looked around and tried to deny the sinking feeling in his gut. His room was small and sparse, containing his small supply of grubby clothing, a few books, and a single window heavily iced on the inside.

  "You've been out alone again?" he asked. They had all been warned about venturing beyond the camp boundary on their own. It was dangerous and irresponsible, and put all of them at risk. But Amanda was headstrong and confident, a woman unaccustomed to obeying orders. He wondered if all Americans were like that.

  "That doesn't matter!" She waved away his concerns.

  "So what's down in the valley?" Glazkov asked. The cold was already creeping across his skin and seeping into his bones. He wondered whether he would ever be warm again, even when he and Anna were together once more. It was only twelve weeks since they'd last seen each other, but the inimical landscape stretched time and distance, and the sense of isolation was intense. In this damned place, the cold was a living, breathing thing.

  "Come and see," Hart said, and she grinned again. "Something's happened."

  

  Outside, the great white silence was a weight he could almost feel. It always took Glazkov's breath away––not only the cold, but the staggering landscape, and the sense that they might be the only people alive in the whole world. There were no airplane trails to prove otherwise, no other columns of smoke from fires or chimneys. No evidence at all that anyone else had ever been there. Old footprints and snowcat trails were buried beneath the recent blizzard. The three interconnected buildings that formed their camp––living quarters, lab and equipment hall, and garage––were half-buried, roofs and upper windows protruding valiantly above the white snowscape.

  "We taking the snowcat?" Hans Brune asked.

  "It's only a mile," Amanda replied.

  The German tutted and rolled his eyes. His teeth were already clacking, his body shivering, even though he was encased in so much clothing that he was barely identifiable as human.

  "Come on, Hans," Amanda said. "I've already been down there once this morning."

  "Stupid," Brune said. "You know the rules."

  "You going to report me?"

  Hans shook his head, then smiled. The expression was hardly visible behind his snow goggles.

  "So if we're going to walk, let's walk," he said. "I'm freezing my balls off already."

  "You still have balls?" Amanda asked.

  "Big. Heavy. Hairy."

  "Like a bear's."

  They started walking, and Glazkov listened to the banter between his two companions. He knew that there was more than friendship between them––he'd seen creeping shadows in the night, and sometimes he heard their gasps and groans, when the wind was calmer and the silence beyond the cabins amplified every noise inside. None of them had mentioned it, and he was grateful to them for that. On their first day here, they had all agreed that any relationship beyond the professional or collegial might be detrimental to their situation. While they weren't truly cut off, and their location was less isolated than it usually felt, there were no scheduled visits to their scientific station for the next six months. Hart and Brune probably knew that he knew, but there was comfort in their combined feigned ignorance.

  He knew that Amanda had a husband back home in America. Hans, he knew little about. But Glazkov had never been one to judge. At almost fifty he was the most experienced among them, and this was his fifteenth camp, and the fourth in Siberia. He'd been to Alaska, St Georgia, Antarctica, Greenland, and many other remote corners of the world. In such places, ties to home were often strengthened by isolation, but sometimes they were weakened as well. Almost as if such distances, and the effects of desolate and deserted landscapes, made the idea of home seem vague and nebulous. He had seen people strengthened by their sojourns to these places, and he had seen them broken. He knew the signs of both. Most of the time, he knew better than to interfere.

  Amanda led them away from the research station and toward the steep descent into the valley. The trees grew close here, hulking evergreens heavy with snow, and beneath their canopy the long days turned to twilight. But once they were into the thick of the forest, the snow was not so deep, and the going was easier.

  Glazkov, Hart and Brune were here as part of an international coalition pulled together to study the effects of climate change. While politics continued to throw up obstacles to meaningful action, true science knew no politics, and neither did the scientists who practiced it. Sometimes he believed that if left to real people, human relations would settle and improve within a generation. Sport, music, art, science, they all spanned the globe, taking little notice of government or religion, or the often more dangerous combination of the two. So it was with their studies into climate change. Deniers denied, but Glazkov had seen enough evidence over the past decade to terrify him.

  "So what were you doing out here on your own?" Brune asked.

  "Couldn't sleep," Hart said. "And I heard a noise. Felt something. Didn't either of you?"

  "No," Brune said.

  "Not me," Glazkov said. "What was it?"

  "A distant rumble. And something like ... a vibration."

  "Avalanche," Brune said.

  "It's possible," Glazkov agreed. "Temperatures are six degrees higher than average for the time of year. The snowfall's been less severe, and there's a lot of loose snow up in the mountains."

  "No, no, it wasn't that," Hart said. "I've seen what it was."

  "What?" Glazkov asked. He was starting to lose his temper with her teasing.

  "Best for you to see," she said. They trudged on, passing across a frozen stream and skirting several fallen trees, walking in silence for a while. "I thought it was an avalanche," Hart said, quieter now. "Wish it was. But the
mountains are ten miles away. This thing ... much closer."

  For the first time since she'd woken him, she sounded nervous. Glazkov frowned.

  "Should we call this in?"

  "Yeah, soon," she said. "But we need photos."

  "We can do that afterward."

  "Not if it goes away."

  They trudged on through the snow, emerging from the forest into a deeper layer, grateful for their snow shoes. Brune shrugged the rifle higher on his shoulder, and Glazkov glanced around, looking for any signs of bears. There was nothing. In fact...

  "It's quiet," he said.

  "It's always fucking quiet out here," Brune replied.

  "No, I mean ... too quiet." He almost laughed at the cliché, but their expressions stole his breath. Heads tilted, tugging their hoods aside so they could listen, he could see realization dawning in both Hart and Brune.

  Far out on the desolate Yamal Peninsula, three hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, there were few people, but they were used to hearing the calls, cries and roars of wildlife. Brown bears were common in the forests, and in more sparsely wooded areas there were elk. Musk deer were hunted by wolves. Bird species were also varied, with the great eagle owl ruling the skies. Some wildlife was dangerous, hence the rifle. Yet after twelve weeks here, not a shot had been fired.

  "Nothing," Brune said. He slipped the rifle from his shoulder, as if the silence itself might attack them.

 
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