The hiss of the hydraulic doors dragged Kat Nellis from an uneasy sleep and she came awake with a thin gasp of hope. Her neck ached from the way she’d been huddled in the corner of the bus seat, her skull canted against the window, but at least the dream had come to an end.
The same fucking dream.
It wasn’t an every-night sort of thing, but frequent enough that whenever she went a few days without having it, she began to feel not relief but a creeping sort of dread. Ironic, because what made the dream verge on a nightmare was that same feeling, the inescapable knowledge that something terrible was about to happen.
The dreams were always of Iraq, of the time she’d spent escorting convoys along the worst stretch of highway in the world. In the dream, she would hold her breath as the truck rumbled over ruined pavement, waiting for a tire to smash down on top of a mine or for a broken-down car to explode with a planted IED, or for an old woman or a child on the side of the road to step aside to reveal a suicide bomber. Kat had done hideous things in the war—things that would haunt her waking hours for the rest of her life—but when she slept, it was the dread of the unknown, of waiting, that plagued her dreams.
“Come on, honey,” the bus driver called back to her. “If you’re gettin’ off, this is the place. Wish I could get you closer.”
Kat stretched her stiff muscles and felt her joints pop as she stood. She’d kept fit in the years since she had left the army, but there were some wounds the human body could heal but never forget. Down in your bones, you would remember. Blown fifteen feet by a roadside explosion, she had survived with little more than some scrapes and bruises and a wrenched back. Kat felt grateful that she still had all of her working parts, that she hadn’t been closer to the explosion, but her back had never been the same. She had no shrapnel, no bullets lodged in her body, but her spine always ached, and in warm weather, she had a tinny buzz in her brain that kept her company everywhere she went.
It was autumn now, though. No more buzzing.
She slipped her backpack over her shoulder and walked to the front of the bus. Passengers studied her curiously, wondering why she would be getting off in the middle of nowhere. A seventyish woman in a head scarf squinted at her, and Kat smiled in response, unoffended by the scrutiny.
“How far is it from here?” she asked when she reached the front of the bus.
The October morning breeze blew in through the open door and a man in the first row muttered something, half asleep, and tugged his jacket tighter around his throat as he nestled back in his seat.
“Gotta be eight or ten miles,” said the driver. He took out a handkerchief and blew his big red nose, then sniffled as he tucked the rag away. “Sorry I can’t run you down there.”
“No worries. I could do with the walk.”
She stepped down onto the road and the door closed behind her. The bus rumbled away, the morning sun hitting the windows at an angle that turned them black. Kat inhaled deeply, calming herself. The bus was on its way to Montreal, but she had gotten off about twenty miles south of the Canadian border. She stood on the side of Route 118 and glanced around at mountains covered in evergreens and patches of orange and red fall foliage. Most of the leaves that were going to fall this far north had already fallen.
October, Kat thought. She’d grown up in Montana, and though the landscape looked different, the chilly breeze and the slant of autumn light made Vermont feel like home.
Across from the spot where the bus had dropped her, a narrow road led through the trees. The morning sky might be blue, but the trees cast that street into dusky shadow. No sign identified this as King’s Hollow Road, and the bus had already pulled away. No way to confirm her location with the driver. A quick check of her phone confirmed her expectation of crappy cell service out here in the middle of mountainous nowhere.
Kat pushed her fingers through her short blond hair, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, and set off into the shadows.
For the first few miles, she doubted she had found King’s Hollow Road at all. She passed several farms and spotted a handful of people collecting pumpkins from a field. No cars went by, but she did pass two narrow roads heading off to the southwest. If the bus driver had left her in the right place, this road should take her right into Chesbro, Vermont, if the town still existed.
Not a town, she reminded herself. Chesbro was officially a village, or it had been the last time anyone had noticed there had been a village at the end of King’s Hollow Road. She’d had no trouble finding its location on the Internet, confirming its existence on Google Earth and studying three-year-old satellite photos of its small village center. But her Internet searching had turned up virtually nothing else—no local newspaper, no listing of obituaries. Nothing of note had transpired there in the past forty years.
At the bus station in St. Johnsbury, she had found only one person who could tell her anything about the town, an old man who ran the kiosk that sold candy and magazines. The skinny fellow had stroked his beard and told her that there’d been a mill in Chesbro once upon a time, but it had been closed for ages and most of the locals had drifted away. That sort of thing happened more often than people knew. Kat understood that, but the only address she had for Ray Lambeau was in Chesbro. If she intended to find him, that was where she had to begin.
An hour after she’d set out from where the bus had dropped her, Kat rounded a corner and came to a stop on the leaf-strewn pavement. Half a dozen massive concrete blocks had been laid across the road and onto the soft shoulder. The blocks on the left and right had steel hooks set into the concrete, and heavy chains looped from the hooks to enormous pine trees on either side of the road. A dirty signpost reading STOP HERE FOR DELIVERIES had been plinked with bullets, some of which had punched right through the metal. There was no other hint that Chesbro lay ahead—only the certainty that whatever might be down that road, outsiders weren’t welcome.
“Fuck it,” Kat said, moving between two of the concrete blocks.
She had spent her life going places she wasn’t welcome.
* * * *
The pavement over the next five miles was broken and rutted, weeds growing up from the cracks. Nobody had cut back the trees in years and they had spread into a canopy over the road. Most of the people in the region seemed to have forgotten Chesbro, and the story she’d heard of the whole place being abandoned seemed more plausible with every step. Then she crested a rise in the road and paused to stare at the little village that lay before her.
A white church sat on one end of an idyllic village green with a bandstand at the center. On the other end of the green was a main street with brick buildings, little shops, town hall, and a little diner on a corner. There was even a little theater with a marquee overhanging the sidewalk, the sort of place she had only ever seen in old movies. If not for the large gray building that sat on the edge of a narrow river farther up the road, it would have looked like a New Englander’s idea of Heaven. In contrast to her expectations, the village seemed well cared-for, certainly not abandoned.
As she walked toward the green, Kat felt her pulse quicken. Chesbro might not look empty, but it certainly felt that way. She passed several large houses and a brick building that might once have been a bank. Unsettled by the silence, Kat had begun holding her breath, but now she heard the squeak of hinges and saw motion in her peripheral vision. She swung around to see a bearded man in green flannel and blue jeans exiting Chesbro Hardware with a small plastic bag in one hand. The other held a can of paint.
The man’s eyes went wide and he dropped the can, which plunked to the ground. His reaction—as if she were the ghost—struck her as odd, but not nearly as odd as the way he closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. He pressed his fingers against his wrist as if checking his pulse. When he opened his eyes, he had a wary smile on his face.
“You gave me quite a fright,” he said, picking up the paint can and starting toward her. “Looks like I startled you as well.”
“That’s all right,” Kat found herself saying. “I’m guessing you don’t get a lot of visitors around here.”
The man picked up the paint can, shifted it into the hand holding the plastic bag, and put out his free hand to shake.
“Elliot Bonner,” he said. “And that’s one way of putting it. If you came down King’s Hollow, I’d guess you know we haven’t exactly laid out the welcome mat.”
Kat shook his rough hand and introduced herself. She stood five foot nine, taller than the average woman, but Bonner was half a foot taller. Another day, somewhere else, she suspected she would have found him quite attractive, but something about the set of his eyes made her uneasy. Elliot Bonner looked worried.
“Sorry,” she said. “I’m looking for someone and I guess I was too focused on that to pay much attention.”
“Not too late to turn around,” Bonner said quietly. “Not yet.”
Kat frowned. “Are you being funny? ’Cause I’ve come a long way and maybe I’m too tired to get the joke.”
The man laughed nervously. “Just joshing ya. Who are you looking for? Might be I can help.”
“His name’s Ray Lambeau. We served together in Iraq. We’ve been keeping in touch the old-fashioned way for a while, writing letters. Ray said there was no Internet and not much phone service up here. But I haven’t heard from him in six months or so, and that didn’t seem right. So, here I am.”
“Ray,” Bonner said, as if the name tasted like shit in his mouth. He sighed, and his smile vanished. “Listen, miss—”
“Kat,” she said. “Or Sergeant Nellis.”
Bonner narrowed his eyes. Looked her up and down like he was sizing her up, wondering if he could take her in a fight. Kat had seen that look a hundred times before.
“I’m gonna make a suggestion, Sergeant,” Bonner said, and he pointed to a split-rail fence on the other side of the road. “If you go and sit there and wait for me, I’ll run over to the diner up the street and get you something to eat, packed up all nice for your trip back to the main road. On me. Trust me when I say that accepting my hospitality and my advice would be the smartest decision you ever make.”
Something in Bonner’s eyes, a frightened animal skittishness, reminded Kat of Iraq in the worst way. The guy felt to her like an IED packed into a broken-down truck on the side of the road, ready to explode if you nudged him wrong.
“I guess I’ll find Ray myself,” she said, and strode toward the village green.
The diner seemed like the most obvious place to start. This late in the morning, there wouldn’t be many customers, but there had to be at least one server and a cook. In a tiny community like this, odds were good they would know pretty much everyone in the village.
Bonner caught up with her as she stepped onto the green, still carrying his purchases from the hardware store.
“Hold up, Sergeant,” he said tersely. “You need to listen.”
“I don’t think so.”
An elderly woman came out of some kind of clothing shop a couple of doors up from the diner. She had a fall knit scarf around her neck, and when she spotted Kat and Bonner, she clasped it to her chest like a church lady clutching her pearls. As Kat started to cross the street, she could see the old woman’s lips moving in a silent mutter. Fearful, the woman pushed her way back into the shop and Kat heard her calling out to someone inside.
“Damn it,” Bonner murmured as he caught her arm from behind.
Kat spun, tore her arm free, and stood ready for a fight. “You want to keep your hands off me.”
Bonner held up his hands and exhaled, uttering a small laugh. “I don’t want trouble—”
“I didn’t come here to make any,” Kat said, studying his face. “I’m just looking for my friend.”
Bonner’s mouth pinched up like he’d been sucking a lemon. He exhaled loudly. “I know how crazy this must seem, but you have to leave right now. For your own safety.”
It was Kat’s turn to laugh. “Are you threatening me?”
“Please calm down—”
“I’m plenty calm,” she said, and meant it. In combat, she’d earned a reputation as an ice queen. “When I’m not calm, you’ll know it.”
“Lot of that going around,” Bonner said.
Kat cocked her head in confusion. Then she heard voices behind her and turned back toward the diner. A waitress in an apron had come outside with a silver-haired man in a brown suit. Other people had come onto the street, and as she glanced around, she noticed a pair of teenagers crossing the village green in her direction. They paused at the bandstand and draped themselves over its railings in classic American teenager poses. Studying her, like there was a show about to start.
“Get her out of here, Elliot,” the waitress called from in front of the diner.
Kat could only laugh. What was wrong with these people?
“Look!” she snapped. “I’m trying to find Ray Lambeau. If he’s here, I just want to talk to him. If you hate outsiders so much, I’m happy to be on my way as soon as I’ve talked to Ray.”
Bonner grabbed her by the backpack and shoulder, turning her toward the road out of town. “I’m sorry, but you just need to—”
Kat twisted and pulled him toward her even as she hammered a fist into his face. Bonner staggered backward, arms flailing, and went down on his ass.
“I told you not to put your hands on me,” she said, a trickle of ice along her spine.
Bonner’s lips curled back in anger as he scrambled to his feet. “You little bitch,” he said, stalking toward her, fists raised, “all I wanted to do was—”
She stepped in close and hit him with a quick shot to the gut, followed up with a left to the temple, and then a knee in the balls. Bonner roared as he went down.
“Kat, no!” a voice cried out.
She turned to see Ray Lambeau running across the green. Her first thought was that he looked like shit, pale and too thin and with dark circles under his eyes.
“Sarge, please,” Ray said, rushing up to her and grabbing her arm. “You don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t be here.”
He started hustling her away from Bonner and she let him, startled and hurt by his reaction to her arrival. Her backpack felt much heavier all of a sudden, and she looked over at the hardware store and the beginning of King’s Hollow Road and realized that Ray was propelling her back the way she’d come, just the way Bonner had. Corporal Ray Lambeau wanted her out of his hometown.
Behind her, Kat heard cussing and shouts of alarm.
“Kat—” Ray began, his breath warm at her ear.
She shook loose and turned to stare at him, saw the fear in his eyes. “You’re all insane. . . .”
“Go,” he pleaded with her, shaking his head in frustration as he glanced toward the village green. “Please, just go.”
More shouts came from that direction, but she kept her gaze fixed on Ray. His eyes had begun to moisten and he seemed to realize it the same moment she did. Letting out a breath, he struggled to keep his emotions in check the same way Bonner had. Then they both heard a clanking of something metal, followed by the unmistakable sound of someone cocking a rifle.
Ray lowered his head. “Kat, please . . .”
She’d been so wrapped up in her hurt and irritation that she had focused entirely on him. Now she turned toward the spectators again and saw that they had lost all interest in the spectacle of her little drama with Ray. They had surrounded Bonner. The man hunched over and a keening wail began to issue from his lips. He dragged his fingers through his hair and tugged at his beard and bent over further, arms folding inward.
One of the spectators stepped forward, a rifle hung in his arms.
“Jesus,” Kat whispered.
The teenagers who’d been loitering by the bandstand dragged a net across the grass, its edges weighted with cast-iron pans and a hodgepodge of other metal objects.
All these people had wanted her to leave. For the first time, she wished she had.
“Ray?” Kat said, taking several steps back onto the village green.
People were talking to Bonner the way they would talk to a toddler holding a gun, or a loose dog with a penchant for biting. Nobody wanted to go near him, but the guy with the rifle took a bead and then nudged the teenagers forward.
“Listen—” Kat said.
At the sound of her voice, Bonner whipped around to snarl at her.
She froze, her mind trying to make sense of what she saw. Bonner’s mouth opened impossibly wide. Rows of needle-sharp black teeth glistened in the morning light, viscous saliva drooling onto his beard. His skin had turned a bruise-yellow leather, run through with thick crevices and dry cracks in the flesh. His eyes were sickly orange and they fixed on her as he opened those deadly jaws and hissed wetly.
Jaw slack, body numb, Kat flinched and reached for her hip, where she would’ve had a gun if she were still in the army. Her fingers closed on empty air and she blinked, understanding that all of this was real.
As Bonner took a step toward her, Kat stumbled back.
“Ray,” she mumbled, “what the fuck is that?”
Bonner leaped at her. Kat twisted out of the way, let him sail right by, and punched him in the back of the head. As people shouted, she followed through with a blow to the kidney. Ray called to her to get back, but she kicked the back of Bonner’s leg and his knee buckled. She felt the familiar sensation of ice sliding into her veins, the calm that always came over her on the battlefield.
She drove a fist into Bonner’s skull, then pistoned her arm back for another blow. He turned on one knee and lunged, tackled her around the waist, and drove her to the grass. Kat hit hard, all the air bursting from her lungs. Bonner threw back his head and roared in savage triumph, and she saw those black teeth again. Pink spittle hung in webs from his jaws and dripped onto her face. Kat bucked against him, kidney-punched him again, but Bonner slapped her arms away.
The crack of a rifle shot echoed across the village green and off the main street façades. Bonner jerked. Blood sprayed as the bullet punched through his right side and kept going. Enraged and off-balance, the berserker turned toward the man with the rifle. Kat bucked harder, reached up, and threw him off, scrambling away as Bonner roared again, trying to recover.
The teenage boys were there with the net. They threw it over him and Kat wanted to shout at them, thinking no way could a simple net hold a man so monstrously strong, even with the metal weights tied around its circumference. But Bonner cried out and smacked against the ground. He thrashed once and then was still, wide-eyed and panting like a dog, as if something about the cast-iron pans and other weights caused him pain.
A second passed as they all stared.
Kat turned on Ray. “What the fuck? Shit like this does not happen in the real world.”
Ray put his hands out. “Kat, calm down—”
“Don’t tell me to calm down! Talk to me about this!” She gestured toward Bonner, netted and moaning on the grass. “This isn’t just a freak-out. Look at the guy’s face! Look at his skin!”
In combat, her ability to remain calm could be eerie. But with the fight over and the reality of what she’d just seen sinking in, panic began to unravel her. Kat could practically feel her self-control shattering.
Ray approached her, hands still up. “Kat, stop. Just breathe and listen to my voice—”
“I’m listening!”She looked over at Bonner again, glanced at the bloody fissures in his leathery skin, and saw the murder in his eyes, trying to match this visage up with the man who had walked out of the hardware store with a can of paint.
Ray put his hands on her arms. “Kat—”
She recoiled from his touch. “What is he? What is . . .”
Kat felt it then. Panic, fear, and anger had all been roiling inside her, and now the anger surged upward in a wave of malice. She snapped around to glare at Ray and her lips peeled back in a snarl. His eyes widened in alarm and he stepped backward, but she pursued him, swinging a fist. Ray tried to block, but too slow. She struck him in the cheek and heard the bone crack, then followed up with a left to the gut that sent him reeling across the grass.
She ran her tongue over her teeth and felt their sharpness . . . and their number. Horror seized her. Thick drool ran out over her bottom lip and dribbled down her chin. Raising her hands to lunge at him, she saw that her skin had darkened and split, and she understood, but Kat could do nothing to stop herself. She grabbed a fistful of Ray’s hair, and she laughed as she dragged one yellow fingernail across his cheek, opening up a bloody furrow.
When the gunshot rang out and the bullet punched through her back, she felt only relief.
* * * *
Kat woke with a groan. Her throat felt parched and she ached all over. When she shifted on the hard cot, bright pain seared a place on her back just below her left shoulder blade. She rolled onto her side and opened her eyes to see metal bars and flickering fluorescent lights.
A jail cell.
She shifted on the cot and saw Ray leaning against a desk out in the room beyond her cell. Village jail,she thought. Police chief’s office, one cell. Fucking Mayberry. Sitting up, she felt like she might pass out again, but she forced herself to sit there and she stared at Ray . . . at this man who had been her friend under fire. More than a friend.
“It started in Iraq,” he said quietly.
Ray gestured toward the door and whatever lay beyond it.
“That. Out there,” he said. “It started in Iraq. Since then, I’ve done some research. Different stories come from different parts of the world, Greece in particular, but the name translates pretty much the same in Arabic as in Greek. Both call it ‘the Bad Hour.’”
Kat tried to clear her head. “Are you making zero sense or am I just not—”
“You remember the day I lost it?”
She stared at him, a hard knot in her gut. Images slid through her mind of a shattered door and a dead family, a grandmother with her head caved in, two little bloodstained boys full of bullet holes, and a grief-mad mama shot for trying to take revenge. Kat had seen worse in her time in Iraq, but not at the hands of a friend, someone she trusted. After that day, it had been weeks before she had let Ray touch her again.
“That wasn’t the only time something like that happened. Just the only time you were there to see it.” His voice was a guilty rasp. “A couple of days before the incident you remember, Harrison picked me for a squad to search a little enclave on the outskirts of Haditha for insurgents. Local informants told us the place was off-limits—nobody ever went there and nobody ever left. Merchants brought supplies up from the city and left them at a drop point. People from the enclave came out to get them after the delivery men had gone.”
Kat blinked, alert now, remembering her walk into Chesbro and the sign she’d encountered at the roadblock. The parallel was not lost on her.
“I don’t know if we got intel that insurgents were hiding there or if we just figured what better place for them to hide than somewhere considered off-limits, but we went in hard,” he continued.
Ray stared at her, his eyes so damn sorry. She remembered those eyes well, even that look, and she hated him for making her remember how she’d felt on those dark nights in the desert.
“What you saw out there with Bonner?” he said. “We saw it with everyone in the enclave. Killed every last one of them because once they went rabid like that, killing them was the only way we could stop them. When it was over, Harrison told us the rest of what the locals had fed him, the story about the enclave and the Bad Hour. It’s like an infection. You let yourself get too angry or too emotional in general, and it just . . . takes over. The people around Haditha said the Bad Hour was a demon, that once it touched you, it stayed with you always, ready to take over if you couldn’t control yourself.”
“Bullshit,” she whispered, the weight of the story crushing her. If she had heard about it before coming here, she’d never have believed it. But now?
“They also said it was contagious,” Ray went on. He closed his eyes and breathed evenly, and she recognized the effort he made to stay calm. Remembered him doing the same earlier, and Bonner as well.
The ice in her gut grew heavier. Kat stood and grabbed the bars of her cell. “Let me out of here, Ray.”
“In a while.”
She smashed an open palm against one of the bars of the cell. “Let me out, asshole. I can’t stay here!”
Ray pushed away from the desk and walked toward the cell. He stopped a few feet from the bars and studied her with those I’m-sorry eyes.
“You can’t leave, Kat. We’ll let you out in a little while, but the Bad Hour’s in you now. Harrison’s squad killed everyone in that enclave, but we brought it out with us. Some of the guys in that squad are dead. Others are probably out there infecting people the way I did in Chesbro. I didn’t mean to. Even after the times I lost it in Iraq, I chalked it up to the war. PTSD, maybe. But once I came home . . . once I was in one place long enough . . . I started to see it happen to other people.”
Kat remembered Bonner’s face, the way he’d changed, and the strength and rage that had filled her when she had turned on Ray. Then she remembered the day she had seen him go berserk, the day he’d killed that family.
“When you lost it, you didn’t look like Bonner,” she said. “Yeah, you were a fucking lunatic, but—”
“At first, none of us looked any different when it came on. The way I’ve got it figured, once the Bad Hour takes root in a place, it gets stronger. The people in the enclave looked like Bonner when they went rabid—”
“But I . . . This just happened to me. If you don’t look like that at first . . .”
Ray grabbed one of the bars. “I’m explaining this badly. It’s the Bad Hour that’s getting stronger, taking root. Maybe it’s one demon or maybe it’s a bunch of little ones, like parasites, but it gets stronger. Doesn’t matter if it’s your first time giving in to it . . . it’s the strength of the Hour that matters. Not always an hour, either. The stronger it gets, the longer it can hold on to you.”
Kat laughed softly, but it wasn’t really a laugh at all.
She rested her forehead against the bars. Impossible. All of this was simply insanity. For a moment, she wondered if she had fallen asleep on that northbound bus and still sat there, dreaming with her skull resting against the window. But that was mere fantasy.
“What you’re talking about . . . it can’t be,” she said softly.
Ray wrapped his fingers around hers, him on one side of those bars and her on the other. “I’ve seen the way you can rein in your fear, Kat. You can do this. You have to.”
Kat began to tremble. She pressed her lips together, trying to stay in control, but tears welled in her eyes.
“You don’t know what you’re saying. I have to . . .”
Ray squeezed her hand sharply, and she snapped her head up and stared at him.
“Stop. You know what will happen,” he said.“Calm down.”
Kat pulled her hand away and wiped at her eyes. She nodded, took a shuddery breath, and straightened her spine. Another deep breath. Terrified of the Hour taking her over again, that madness . . . She didn’t want to believe, but she could not erase from her mind the things she had seen. The things she had felt.
“I’m all right,” she told him firmly. “But you can’t keep me here. I have to go home, Ray.”
“I have a daughter.”
He frowned, staring at her.
Kat inhaled. Exhaled. Felt that familiar battlefield chill spread through her. This was an altogether different sort of combat.
“I have to leave,” she said, “but I get it, Ray. And I’ll come back.”
Ray held onto the bars from the outside as if worried he might fall over if he let go. “How old is she? Your girl?”
Kat embraced the combat chill in her bones. Met his gaze. “She’s four.”
“Four,” he said, a dull echo.
“I wanted to raise her myself,” Kat said. “You were my friend, but I’d seen what kind of man you could be. What kind of father you might be. I thought it would be better—”
“You started writing to me,” Ray said, gaze pinning her to the floor inside her cell. “Then when I stopped replying, you came looking. If you didn’t want me to know—”
Kat approached the bars again. This time, it was she who put her hands over his.
“At first, I just wanted to reconnect. I guess I figured someday I’d tell you. Then later . . . I needed to talk to you,” Kat said. Breathing evenly. “Her baby teeth started falling out at the beginning of this year. That’s early. Really early. The new ones have been growing in ever since . . .”
She breathed. Steadied herself.
“Tell me,” Ray said through gritted teeth, and she saw that he was doing it too. The both of them just breathing. Slow and steady. In control.
But they couldn’t stay in control every second of every day. Not forever.
Nobody could do that. Especially not a toddler.
“The new teeth are coming in and she has too many of them, Ray. They’re tiny things, sharp and black, and there are too many—”
She let the cold fill her, stared into his eyes.
“And, Ray,” Kat said. “Your little girl has such a temper.”
CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN (christophergolden.com) is the New York Times bestselling author of such novels as Snowblind, Of Saints and Shadows, The Myth Hunters, The Boys Are Back in Town,Strangewood, and the thriller Tin Men. He has cowritten three illustrated novels with Mike Mignola, the first of which, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was the launching pad for the Eisner Award–nominated comic book series,Baltimore. His graphic novels include the Cemetery Girl trilogy, coauthored with Charlaine Harris. As an editor, he has worked on the short story anthologiesThe New Dead, The Monster’s Corner, and Dark Duets, among others. Golden has also written and cowritten comic books, video games, screenplays, and a network television pilot. He was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world.