I’m happy to announce that my latest novella is now available as an eBook. While many of my books have been historical and set in the isolated wilderness, THE VAGRANTS takes place in modern-day Boston. Shorter than my novels, this is another quick read, about the same length as my novella The Witching House.
Below is an excerpt of the opening prologue. Enjoy.
Beneath the city of Boston evil is gathering.
Journalist Daniel Finley is determined to save the impoverished of the world. But the abandoned part of humanity has a dark side too. While living under a bridge with the homeless for six months, Daniel witnessed something terrifying. Something that nearly cost him his sanity.
Now, two years later, he’s published a book that exposes a deadly underground cult and its charismatic leader. And Daniel fears the vagrants are after him because of it. At the same time, his father is being terrorized by vicious mobsters. As he desperately tries to help his father, Daniel gets caught up in the middle of a war between the Irish-American mafia and a deranged cult of homeless people who are preparing to shed blood on the streets of Boston.
“Brian Moreland writes a blend of survival horror and occult mystery that I find impossible to resist. His writing is clean, precise, and, best of all, compulsively readable. I know, when I’ve got one of his books in my hands, that I’m going to be lost to the world for hours on end. He’s just that good.”
—Joe McKinney, author of Dead City and Flesh Eaters
“Brian Moreland writes horror on a level that soars above the usual fare, and THE VAGRANTS is no exception. Chocked full of scares and suspense, Moreland delivers a tale that will soon be a classic. This is the kind of story horror lovers need.”
—Kristopher Rufty, author of OAK HOLLOW and THE LURKERS
“I am in awe of Brian Moreland.”
—Ronald Malfi, author of Snow and Floating Staircase
The darkness beneath Boston was calling him.
No one walking along Tremont Street seemed to hear the whispers coming from the grates and gutters, but Rex Rigby heard them. Their raspy voices sounded like a dozen people whispering all at once. He cupped his hands over ears, but it didn’t stop the madness. They had chosen him. And they weren’t going to quit until he joined them in the cold, black core of the earth.
He drank from his bottle of vodka and tried to fall back asleep on the bus-stop bench.
The whispers persisted. “Rex Rigby…”
He sat up and looked around the busy street. Cars and taxicabs drove by. On the sidewalk, throngs of people moved past him in a hurry. Most of them acted as if he were invisible.
A little girl met his eyes only to gawk at him and quickly look away. Rigby didn’t blame the girl for being disgusted by him. He had a long scraggly beard, greasy hair that hung to his shoulders, and he was wearing the same gray suit he’d worn the day he walked out on his wife, his job, his miserable life.
That was eons ago, and the man he’d once been was now dead to the world that lived above ground. But below ground…the whispers were offering him a way out of his hell.
“Take the Red Line…” They showed him visions of the routes to take and the glory that would be his once he reached them.
Rigby’s mind became sober. He stood and left behind his vodka bottle. Propelled by a sense of purpose he hadn’t felt in a long time, he walked to the T’s Park Street Station and went underground.
The subway at noon was crowded with people coming and going. He walked among them and the crowd parted for him. The stampede of sneakers, high heels and men’s dress shoes echoed off the tile walls. A train on the Yellow Line shrieked by, blowing a warm, unnatural wind across the underground terminal.
He caught the Red Line train. The other passengers kept their distance. Rigby smiled at this.
They weren’t one of the chosen.
One day he’d hear their cries of agony and suffering. He’d see his wife’s face among the damned, bleeding tears from eye sockets devoid of eyes. Her new husband—the man she had been cheating on him with—would be skinned alive and then skewered with sharp instruments. And Rigby’s former asshole boss would be torn apart, one limb at a time, until the only thing looking up at Rigby was a torso and wailing head.
All of this and more, the voices promised.
A few stops later, the automatic doors hissed open and he got off at Broadway in South Boston. While clueless pedestrians hurried past him to catch the train, Rigby walked to the edge of the station to a door with a sign: MBTA employees only. It was locked, so he waited until two subway service men exited, chatting about the Red Sox.
Rigby slipped through the door before it closed and walked through a narrow service tunnel that he imagined ran parallel to the train tracks. The whispers guided him as he meandered through a network of dimly lit passages until he found himself in an old subway tunnel covered with dust and cobwebs. Only the first few yards were lit from the pale light behind him. Straight ahead was an infinite blackness that beckoned.
As the darkness swallowed him, the voices grew louder and clearer. He heard footsteps and felt the presence of others. They welcomed him with pawing fingers and heated breath on his face.
Then came the pain of a thousand needles.
“No, no!” he cried out.
Rex Rigby’s screams and their chittering voices echoed off the subway tunnel walls and traveled upward to the grate of a nearby street. But no one heard them except a homeless woman who was awakened by the calling of the darkness.
The Abandoned Subway Tunnels of Boston
Parts of my book take place in the abandoned tunnels that run beneath Boston and have been sealed off for decades.
Here’s an article about the Boston subway that I find fascinating. It has a great video of a tour through the abandoned Boston tunnels. Below are 2 other videos that will give you a personal experience of exploring abandoned subway tunnels. The first one is an unnamed tunnel system that could be in any city, but it’s what I imagined while writing THE VAGRANTS.
The second video is a Red Line subway train running through one of Boston’s abandoned subway tunnels. There’s a scene in my book where I have a man standing next to the tracks when the train passes. Below is an example of what he would have seen.