Here’s another sample from my book HE HAS MANY NAMES available now!
Our hero Noelle has one month to ghostwrite a novel in a creepy hotel where her benefactor claims to have encountered a demon. Noelle is skeptical, but strange things keep happening…
I was pacing the 19th floor at three in the morning. I was more than a little tipsy. To make matters worse, the light fixtures had started flickering. This hall was where I did the bulk of my thinking, writing, and verbal processing since I’d checked in. Something had to be done.
I decided to place a call to the front desk. I dug my phone out of my pullover. The voice memo application was still running from God knows when. A little waveform trailed across the screen. In the upper right corner I saw that my battery was at 10%.
Then the screen blinked off, and I heard a screech, like someone pushing furniture across a hardwood floor, followed by a crash and a door creaking open.
I checked the rooms. The suites with the vampire bat knocker, the wolf, the octopus, and mine were all shut.
A dozen ice cubes scattered across the floor. The icemaker tilted forward and spat out another mouthful of blocks and fell on its face. The condom dispenser, behind it, stood diagonal from the wall. There was a tall black door where the dispenser had been. The top of the door was adorned with a carving of three figures, holding hands, pointing downward.
What kind of hotel puts a condom dispenser in front of a door? The Oralia, of course.
I approached with caution. By the time I stepped onto the tiles the ice cubes had started melting. Water seeped into my cat slippers while I was busy examining the scene.
This new door had a knocker in the same place as the others. It featured a figure sitting atop the big brass ring with his fist to his chin. It took a moment to recognize Rodin’s famous sculpture The Thinker.
I moved closer and the other engravings revealed themselves as well. At first I thought they were simple floral designs, until I shifted my footing and a glare caught the finish—naked figures jumped out of the woodwork, twisted, writhing, and anguished, a collage of biceps, buttocks, and breasts. Each carving looked like it had melted into position, a liquid orgy of delight and despair.
The lights flickered and the figures seemed to crawl over each other. I jumped back and they vanished back into the varnish. I was too tipsy to trust what I was seeing.
I squeezed my eyes shut, raised my palms, and inhaled; I lowered my palms, exhaled, and opened my eyes. The Thinker watched me from the knocker waiting for me to make my move.
My curiosity got the better of me. I took the ring and knocked three times. Each hit echoed into the distance. When the last fell silent the door opened.
I stepped through the entryway to find not carpeting but cold stones. I felt the wall for a light switch and found more stones. I dared to announce my presence. “Hello?”
The door swung shut behind me and there was a clicking not far from where I stood.
I froze a few steps from the archway. Behind me was only darkness. Ahead was the crackling of a flame drawing me into the room. I followed the light toward the bedroom, taking in my surroundings as I went. The furnishings were made up of inquisition era torture devices: Catherine wheels, Judas Cradles, and Iron Maidens. Cat o’ nine tails, riding crops, and stocks were scattered on the floor while the walls were lined with shackles.
Something about that flame beckoned me. I followed the light to a pair of torches mounted to an archway. Standing at the threshold a breeze hit me harder than anything I expected from any bedroom.
I stepped through the archway and entered a cathedral so grand there was no way it fit inside the city, let alone the 19th floor of the Oralia. Torches ran from the floor to the dome of the ceiling. Firelights went so far off into the distance they seemed like constellations.
Each torch sat in the eye socket of a slick red skull. The skulls were stacked higher than any catacomb, and held together with a mortar of musculature and organs.
Support beams marked each of the columns. They looked like thighbones, with curved bodies and rounded joints, but they were longer than anything on the fossil record, longer than canoes, longer than limousines.
The vestibule was a cobblestone platform the size of a tennis court. Beyond that were steps so wide and so deep they could’ve been coliseum seats. They led to a swirling volcanic cauldron at the heart of the cathedral.
Tall flowing banners hung from the walls. Light danced down their fabric revealing a patchwork of hair, veins, and nipples. The banners were made from human flesh, flesh that had been branded with a ghastly coat of arms. I couldn’t help but examine the nearest banner. There was a rendering of Adam and Eve, naked as the day they were made, shackled to a shield, topped with a crown of horns, framed with raven wings. Upon the shield were the beasts of the sea and the dragon of the earth as described in Revelations.
The worst part of the cathedral was the cages hanging from the ceiling like a colony of bats, some were filled with people I’d known: producers I’d pitched to, agents I’d tried to court, and screenwriters who’d vanished.
I inched toward the stairway that went around the cathedral. Something was happening at the bottom. Lava shot up like a glowing orange geyser and all the cages rattled.
There was a pulsing hum, whoosh whoosh whoosh, followed by a series of sharp metallic clinks like an aircraft carrier haling up an anchor. Something terrible was swimming in that fire.
And then it emerged: a hulking titan with four giant batwings. At first I thought it was covered in boils, big white puss filled sacks, but then the boils squinted and I realized I was looking at eyeballs.
The titan’s head was a lopsided jumble with the profiles of beasts in place of his ears. The fangs of a lion roared out of his left side, while the snout of a bull flared out from his right. The grimace facing forward was human, as human as a chiseled brick could get. I tried to read his face, but despite his size, the titan was so far away it was hard to make out his expression.
This was the entity Ezekiel described in the bible: a Seraph of the highest order of angels, one of the Cherubim corrupted by his fall. This was no mere Devil. This was Satan.
Something told me not to look him in the eyes so I shifted my gaze to the ceiling. The cages started rattling. The captives went into violent convulsions. Their backs stiffened, their legs jutted out, and their toes pointed straight down. The prisoners gripped their bars as electricity surged through them. They gritted their teeth until their eyes rolled back and their jaws went slack. Light burst from their eye-sockets, nostrils, and mouths.
The prisoners sat up in a uniform position. “COME CLOSER.” They spoke as one, a congregation echoing a sermon.
“I can hear you just fine up here.”
Thunder boomed. The floor quaked. The platform tilted downward. I looked for the archway, but it was high above me now. I could already feel a pull toward the cauldron. I fell back desperately trying to lower my center of gravity. I dug my heels into the gaps, but my slippers offered no traction and I lost my footing.
From the edge of the platform all the way to the pit, the steps fell like dominos. The coliseum transformed into a mile-long ramp. When the platform tilted I slid fast. The traction peeled my sweatpants up to my knees. The stones scraped my calves, chaffed my thighs, and battered my ass. They struck my tailbone, every column of my spine, and slammed into the back of my skull.
Satan’s caged congregation followed my movements. I fell so fast their eyes passed like comets.
I looked down into the cauldron. Satan’s wheels lowered into the lava, making it swirl and bubble. He waded in to meet me head on. CLOSER. When I neared the pit he opened wide to swallow me whole.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?