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Authors: Bentley Little

The Town

BOOK: The Town
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Table of Contents
 
 
PRAISE FOR BENTLEY LITTLE
The Revelation
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award
“Grabs the reader and yanks him along through an ever-worsening landscape of horrors. . . . It’s a terrifying ride with a shattering conclusion.”
—Gary Brandner
 

The Revelation
isn’t just a thriller, it’s a shocker . . . packed with frights and good, gory fun. . . . A must for those who like horror with a bite.”
—Richard Laymon
 
“I guarantee, once you start reading this book, you’ll be up until dawn with your eyes glued to the pages. A nail-biting, throat-squeezing, nonstop plunge into darkness and evil.”
—Rick Hautala
 
The Ignored
“This is Bentley Little’s best book yet. Frightening, thought-provoking and impossible to put down.”
—Stephen King
 
“With his artfully plain prose and Quixote-like narrative, Little dissects the deep and disturbing fear of anonymity all Americans feel. . . . What Little has created is nothing less than a nightmarishly brilliant tour de force of modern life in America.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

The Ignored
is a bizarre psychological drama that readers will not be able to ignore as they peruse it in one sitting, from first page to the last. Anyone who desires to emulate the famous will choose the obscurity of the ignored after reading this tale. It is that chilling a shocker. Bentley Little is a giant when it comes to the weird thriller.”

Painted Rock
 
“Inventive. Chilling.”

Science Fiction Chronicle
 
“A spooky novel with an original premise.”
—SFSite (website)
 
“Little is so wonderful that he can make the act of ordering a Coke at McDonald’s take on a sinister dimension. This philosophical soul-searcher is provocative.”

Fangoria
magazine
 

The Ignored
is not average at all.”

Locus
magazine
The Store
“If there’s a better horror novelist than Bentley Little working today, I don’t know who it is.
The Store
is . . . frightening. The perfect summer read.”

Los Angeles Times
 
“Must reading for Koontz fans. Bentley Little draws the reader into a ride filled with fear, danger, and horror.”
—Harriet Klausner,
Painted Rock
 
The Mailman
“A thinking person’s horror novel.
The Mailman
delivers.”

Los Angeles Times
 
University
“Bentley Little keeps the high-tension jolts coming. By the time I finished, my nerves were pretty well fried, and I have a pretty high shock level.
University
is unlike anything else in popular fiction.”
—Stephen King
Also by Bentley Little
The House
The Store
The Ignored
Dominion
University
The Summoning
Death Instinct
The Mailman
The Revelation
SIGNET
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane,
London W8 5TZ, England
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood,
Victoria, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road,
Auckland 10, New Zealand
 
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England
 
First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.
 
First Printing, May 2000
 
Copyright © Bentley Little, 2000
All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
eISBN : 978-1-101-11923-5
 
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
 
BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT QUANTITY DISCOUNTS WHEN USED TO PROMOTE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO PREMIUM MARKETING DIVISION, PENGUIN PUTNAM INC., 375 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10014.
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

For the Dobrinins, the Tolmasoffs, and all of my Molokan relatives
Prologue
L
oretta Nelson hated working at night.
The real estate office stayed open after dark only during the weeks preceding the Copper Days celebration each August. The rest of the time, the doors closed at five, like a normal business, and that was the way Loretta preferred it. Still, she recognized the importance of the celebration, and that was why she never put up a fuss. Copper Days was the town’s big claim to fame, and it was the closest thing to a tourist attraction that McGuane had. Each year it brought in people from all over the state—hell, all over the Southwest—and a lot of local shops, restaurants, and hotels were able to survive only because of the business they did that weekend. Last year an estimated ten thousand people had descended on their sleepy little town during Copper Days, and the huge and sudden influx of cash had helped offset an otherwise dismal season.
Their office had sold more homes that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday than in the combined months of June and July.
This year they had a jump on things, though. Gregory Tomasov had bought the Megan place, which had been on the market for years now and which they thought they’d never be able to unload.
She hadn’t seen Gregory since junior high school, but he hadn’t changed at all. He was the same arrogant know-it-all he’d always been, and he still acted as though his shit didn’t stink. He was rich now. He’d won several million dollars in the California lottery, and he’d apparently come back to town to lord it over everyone else. He
said
he just wanted to raise his kids in a good, wholesome small-town environment, and he
pretended
to be nice to her when he found out who she was, but she knew better. She sensed the real reason for his return to Arizona, and she could feel the smug disdain behind his casual conversation.
His wife looked like she was a Molokan, too—which was not a surprise because those people always stuck together—and she seemed as stuck-up as he did.
As petty as it was, Loretta was glad Call had conned them into buying the Megan place, and she couldn’t wait to tell her friends that the sucker they’d finally hooked was old Gregory Tomasov.
Although she would be grateful if Gregory were here right now. Or if anyone were here.
She did not like being alone.
Not at night.
Loretta stood, walked over to the front window, looked out at the highway.
Nothing.
Only darkness.
In the decade and a half she’d been Call Cartright’s secretary, she could count on one hand the number of people who’d called or stopped by after dark.
She shivered. It was the mine behind the building that spooked her. She knew it was a childish fear. She’d lived in McGuane her entire life, and there was nothing in the pit at night that wasn’t there in the daytime. It was empty, abandoned. But after nightfall, having that black hole behind her gave her the heebie-jeebies. It
was
abandoned, and that absence of human activity was one of the reasons she felt unnerved here at the edge of the pit.
It had been abandoned since before she was born.
That made it even scarier.
She shook her head. She’d been watching too many monster movies lately.
Lymon was supposed to have shown up to keep her company, but he was even more unreliable than he was slow, and it didn’t surprise her that he hadn’t arrived. She continued to scan the highway, searching for the lights of his four-by-four, but there was no one on the road at all tonight. She glanced up at the clock. Nine-forty. Twenty minutes to go.
She walked around the edge of the office, looking out the windows, ending up back behind her desk, straightening the brochures she’d had printed this morning and peering out at the inky blackness of the mine. The moon was new, a pale sliver in the sky, and its faint illumination made the pit seem even darker. It was as though the mine was a light vacuum, sucking the slightest hint of radiance out of the land and sky.
She was about to turn away, about to call Lymon and give him a lecture on laziness and thoughtlessness, when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Something white against the blackness of night.
Movement.
Loretta sidled next to the window and peered out. It was a light. A light down in the bottom of the pit.
But there hadn’t been a light down there for nearly half a century.
A cold chill passed through her. She was afraid to look into the mine, but she was afraid to look away, and so she remained in place, staring, as the light, a vague, shapeless glow of indeterminate size, first floated upward, then began darting around, moving not with any visible motion but winking on and off, appearing at different points around the massive pit in rapid succession.
It was accompanied by a sound that reminded her of rats screaming.
Loretta looked away, concentrated on the warm, friendly, illuminated interior of the office, trying to tune out everything else. She checked to make sure the windows were all closed, then hurried over and closed and locked the front door.
BOOK: The Town
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