Recent Titles by Graham Masterton from Severn House
The Jim Rook Series
TOOTH AND CLAW
FACES OF FEAR
FEELINGS OF FEAR
FORTNIGHT OF FEAR
FLIGHTS OF FEAR
HOLY TERRORINNOCENT BLOOD
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
First world edition published in Great Britain 2005 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9â15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DF.
Copyright Â© 2011 by Graham Masterton.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
1. Motion picture industry â California â Los Angeles â Fiction
2. Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.) â Fiction
3. Horror tales
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-118-7 (epub)
ISBN-13: 0-7278-6189-1 (cased)
ISBN-13: 0-7278-9136-7 (paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
Wednesday, September 22, 8:34
As usual, the school gateway was jammed with mothers awkwardly trying to maneuver their oversized SUVs in and out, so Lynn steered her Explorer over to the opposite side of the street and parked it with two wheels mounted on the grass.
âRemember it's your dance class today,' she told Kathy, turning around in her seat. âThat means no dawdling after school, OK?'
good,' Kathy protested, flopping in her seat.
âNonsense. I've never seen you look healthier. Just because you have a math test.'
âI think I'm going to barf. I
I'm going to barf. I can feel all of those mushed-up pancakes in my tummy, and they don't
it down there.'
Lynn snapped her seat-belt buckle back into place. âOK, then. If you feel so bad, I'll just have to take you back home to bed and cancel your dance class.'
âNot my dance class! That's not till three thirty! I'll be better by then!'
âNo, I'll have to cancel it. You can't jetÃ© with a tummy full of mutinous pancakes.'
âBut I want to be an actress like you. Why do I have to learn math? You don't have to know math to be an actress, do you?'
âYou don't think so? Supposing you're an actress and you make squillions and squillions of dollars like Julia Roberts and your agent takes three and a quarter percent more than he's supposed to? How are you going to know?'
agents take more than they're supposed to. Agents are chiselers and shysters and they all work for Satan.'
âOh for goodness' sake! Who told you that?'
âCome on,' said Lynn, unbuckling her seat belt again. âLet's get you into school before Ms Redmond gives you another demerit for being late.'
Kathy climbed out and tugged on her beret. She was a small girl for ten years old, with blonde braids and a pale, elfin face like her mother's. Her eyes were that same luminous green as her mother's, too, like pieces of a glass bottle found on the seashore. Her legs were so skinny that she kept having to pull up her long white socks.
âWhat do you want to do after your dance class? We could go to De Lunghi's for spaghetti if you like.'
âSo long as Gene doesn't have to come with us.'
âI thought you
âI don't like his nose. He looks like an anteater.'
âHe does not. You're just being obnoxious.'
âHe does too. Every time he has soup the end of his nose dips right into it.'
They crossed Franklin Avenue to the school gates. The Cedars private elementary school didn't look like a school at all: although it had no religious affiliations, it shared the First Methodist Church building, with its tall square tower and its gray stone walls, and several of the classrooms, even though they were large and airy, had stained-glass windows, with scenes of Christ surrounded by little children.
âYou won't forget to bring home your hockey kit, will you?' asked Lynn. But at that moment Kathy caught sight of her friend Terra, and waved, and jumped, and immediately skipped off. Terra's mother, Sidne, came up to Lynn and the two of them watched their daughters run through the school gates and into the yard, where thirty or forty other children were jumping and screaming and tearing around in circles.
âSome tummy ache,' said Lynn.
âOh, the math test,' smiled Sidne. âTerra said she had leprosy.'
âThat's right. On the spur of the moment, it was the only illness she could think of. At least it shows she's reading her Bible.'
âThey really kill you sometimes, don't they? I love Terra's braids.'
âJanie did them. I don't know how she has the patience.'
They walked back to Sidne's car together. âDid you hear from George Lowenstein?' Lynn asked her.
âNo, nothing. If you want to know the truth, I think he's looking for somebody younger.'
âBut you'd be
as Corinne, you know you would!'
âI don't know. Maybe. I used to wonder when I would have to stop playing wayward daughters and start to play harassed mothers, and maybe it's now. I think I'll go to Miska's and have a massage and a pedicure. And then I'll go to Freddie's and order a treble strawberry sundae with extra cream.'
âI'd join you, believe me, if we didn't have a read-through.'
Lynn said goodbye to Sidne and crossed the street. A short, crop-haired man with a neck like a stovepipe and a maroon polyester shirt was waiting beside her Explorer. His face was the same maroon as his shirt, and beaded with sweat.
âWhat the fuck do you call this?' he demanded.
âWhat the fuck do I call what?' Lynn didn't want to show that she was the slightest bit afraid of him.
âWhat, you're blind? Where's your goddamned guide dog? You parked on the goddamned grass, for Christ's sake.'
âWell, I'm sorry, but there was no parking space anyplace else.'
âOh, and you think that's some kind of excuse? If there was no parking space anyplace else you should've gone around the block again until there
. You're all the same, you women. You think you can
whatever you damn well like and
whatever you damn well like and
wherever you damn well like and you don't give squat for nobody else.'
Lynn opened the Explorer's door and climbed into the driver's seat, but the man clung on to the door to prevent her from closing it.
âListen, lady, I don't even have to take care of this piece of grass, but I do, because it's outside of my house and I'm proud of my house, and then somebody like you comes along and drives their goddamned vehicle all over it. How would you like it if I came around to your house and drove my goddamned vehicle all over
âI think you'd better take your hands off my door,' said Lynn.
âAnd what if I don't?'
âI'll call for the school security guard, that's what.' All the same, her heart was thumping wildly. The man had a large maroon wart on the left side of his nose and she couldn't stop looking at it and she was convinced that he
she was looking at it.
He turned his head around for a moment, as if he were looking for somebody, and wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. Then he turned back to Lynn and said, âOK. I'll tell you what
going to do. I'm going to curse you for this. I'm going to wish on you the shittiest day that you ever experienced in your entire life.'
He took his hands off the door. Lynn immediately slammed it and locked it. He stood beside the Explorer, not saying anything more, but he lifted his finger and pointed it at her as if to say,
you mark my words, lady, you're going to remember this day for ever
Wednesday, September 22, 8:43
Ann Redmond looked out of the window of her study and frowned. A group of children had gathered around the bench on the far side of the schoolyard, ten or twelve of them at least, and she was experienced enough in grade school crowd patterns to see at once that they were
Huddling was what children did when there was something exciting to look at and they didn't want the teachers to see what it was. As far as Ms Redmond was concerned, they might just as well have raised a placard announcing WE ARE BEING NAUGHTY. She took off her half-glasses, marched out of her study, and went out on to the front steps where Lilian Bushmeyer, the physical education teacher, was sitting on the wall and supervising the schoolyard by reading a dog-eared copy of
The Bridges of Madison County
âOver there, Ms Bushmeyer,' she said curtly, nodding her head.
Lilian Bushmeyer shaded her eyes and peered across the asphalt. After a while she shook her head and said, âI don't see anything.'
âConspiratorial body language,' said Ms Redmond impatiently. âGo and see what they're up to.'
Lilian Bushmeyer reluctantly put down her book and plodded across in her Birkenstocks to see what all the fuss was about. As she came closer, she could hear the children giggling and squealing, and then suddenly there was a flustered â
Shh! Shh! It's Bush Baby
Put it away!
' Some of the children broke away from the huddle, leaving a small knot of girls right in the middle. Lilian Bushmeyer walked right up to them and held out her hand.
âWhat?' asked Jade Peller. She had just turned eleven, and she was taller and more mature than most of the girls in the sixth grade. She had long black hair, a thin pale face, and she always dressed in black, with silver bangles around her wrists. Her father was Oliver Peller, who had written music for Wes Craven and John Carpenter.
âWhatever it is, give it to me,' said Lilian Bushmeyer.
âWell it's obviously a very interesting nothing. Hand it over.'
âIt's only a stupid
, Ms Bushmeyer,' complained Helen Fairfax. She was plump and pink-cheeked but she had a mass of curly blonde hair and it was obvious that once she had lost her puppy fat she was going to grow up as stunning as her mother, Juliana. Her father, Greg, was one of Hollywood's most talked-about independent producers and had recently bankrolled the stalker movie,
Lilian Bushmeyer waited patiently, her hand still held out. Maybe she hadn't yet developed Ms Redmond's radar for subversive crowd formations, but she knew how to deal with the spoiled children of minor celebrities. You had to act resolutely unimpressed, which Lilian Bushmeyer genuinely was.