In the the thrilling conclusion to The Timeless Ones, Merry finds that sometimes power isn’t enough to save the ones you love. As she fights to gain control of her memories and her life, William struggles to overcome the Tall Man’s mark and maintain any good that remains inside him.
Meanwhile, unnatural disasters plague Salem, intensifying with the approach of William’s birthday, the day his light is strongest. As Salem prepares for its annual Halloween celebration, the Tall Man’s plot unfolds, and when the doors to the dead open on October 31st, Merry, William, and the people of Salem will face their greatest challenge.
It came then, the wickedness she’d been seeking. The Tall Man’s presence sliced through her skin like a piercing blade, dirtying her mind with his vile intentions.
He stood in the crowd as if he were any other reveler. Dressed in a dark suit that hung off his tall frame, wispy white hair fluttering in the breeze—he looked like an ill-dressed funeral director. This evening, even though his eyes glowed like red-hot coals, he failed to truly stand out among the elaborate costumes of the revelers. Yet as others passed by—a winged gargoyle, a purple-headed witch, a dead bride and groom—they all unwittingly gave wide berth to the Devil in their midst.
Merry pressed back into the shadows of the brick buildings lining the street, hand against her chest, heart pounding as though to meet it. This has to be done. She knew it. But, all these people didn’t deserve to be brought into this fight. Her fight. There had to be some way to get the Tall Man away from here. Her breath hitched as the Devil turned his gaze in her direction. She pressed herself further into the darkness, and though a large group of costumed partygoers stood between her and her nemesis, she didn’t trust that her presence had gone unnoticed.
A woman stopped and took a picture of Merry. “Great costume! You look like a real pilgrim.”
“Puritan,” Merry automatically corrected, but the woman had already moved on to photograph a knight and his horse. Merry moved parallel to the procession, peering between people to try to spot the Tall Man, but he too had disappeared into the multitude. His iniquity remained, hanging in the air like a suffocating poison.
Once again, Merry’s toe caught an uprooted brick. This time a man wearing a dark coat caught her. Her gaze fixed on the pale face of the man who supported her. Blood dripped down his chin as he grinned at her surprise with a fanged smile. “Careful there,” he said with a wink and released her arm. One side of her lips lifted in an embarrassed smile, but he’d already moved on. Merry observed the cobblestones at her feet, once again finding a broken line of bricks. She didn’t recall Essex Street being in such bad repair.
She nudged a stone with her toe, coming to the slow realization that people had unconsciously arranged themselves on either side of the broken line of stones, forming a thin gap down the center of Essex Street. With a turn of her head to the right, Merry followed the divide all the way past the Peabody Essex Museum and to the left, as it continued toward the Witch House. She wrinkled her nose as the odd scent of decay once again assaulted her. Merry frowned and knelt, placing a tentative hand upon a lifted brick, pulling back when it trembled beneath her.
A foot away, a brick shifted, while another pushed upward a few inches beyond. One cautious step after the next, Merry followed the crooked bricks. A woman stumbled as she crossed the imaginary line, and Merry thought she saw a hand dart out from beneath the bricks. She scurried forward, but found nothing.
“Hey,” a nearby man shouted. “What the hell?”
Merry looked up. A man stomped on the ground attempting to tamp the bricks back into place. This time Merry was certain she saw squirming fingers beneath the man’s boot.
Something tickled her ankle.
Merry leapt backward with a shriek. More hands pushed through the cobblestone. Keeping a safe distance from the searching fingers, Merry knelt and placed her hand upon the cracked street. A pulse of yellow flew from her fingers and coursed through the crack. With a rumble that only someone concentrating may have distinguished from the general din, the earth shifted and bricks pressed and sealed the hands back into the soil.
A man, dressed in a ridiculous chicken costume, crouched beside her. “Did you lose something?”
Merry startled at the unexpected intrusion and leapt to her feet. She spared one last glance at the man and took off running. She ran away from the hustle of Essex Street, following the glow of the corpse trail. A sense of urgency overwhelmed her, and she summoned a bit of wind beneath her heels to increase her speed. She practically flew past the Witch House, at some point realizing where she was headed. Her neck itched with phantom discomfort as Merry raced toward Gallows Hill.
About the Author:
Susan Catalano spent most of her youth in a one-traffic-light town in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. Her first act of writing consisted of scrawling a murderous confession on a crumpled piece of paper. She then told her 3rd grade friends that she’d found it in the wall of the spookiest room on the scary, vacant floor of the Victorian Hotel her family owned. Eventually, Susan ended up in Massachusetts where Salem, known as Witch City, captured her heart and imagination and inspired her first novel, The Timeless Ones.