Somna was a periphery villain in dEaDINNBURGH: Book 1 and will come to prominence in the second book.
A relentless killer of survivors in the dead city, Somna collects the eyelids of his victims and worships the reanimated corpse of a famous footballer.
The following excerpt is set before the city of Edinburgh was sealed, is unedited, contains no Book 1 spoilers and shows Somna’s beginnings:
I follow her along Carnaby Street the sound of her heels clacking on the concrete becoming a metronome, accompanying the pounding of my heart in my chest. It doesn’t irritate me, this monotonous soundtrack, rather it acts as an overture, joining the other London sounds building in intensity, stoking my bottomless appetite.
My imp giggles as he catches our reflection in the blackened windows of the vans store. I shush him and he glares at me with undisguised contempt.
“It’s my night, killer. It’s me who’s in charge tonight, don’t fucking forget who I am.” The vitriol drips from his sneer.
That’s what he calls me, killer, like it’s a curse and reverence in one word. I nod once in reply. In deference. Now’s not the time. Besides, he’s right. It is his night. He’s in charge, he controls what happens, how it happens and to whom. These days, I’m just a passenger. No, that’s not right. I’m more of a tool for him to use to enable his insatiable urge to kill. Of course, I’m hardly one to judge having held those same appetites and compulsions all of my life. My imp merely……sharpens those instincts and gives me so many new, delicious ways to love my victims.
Once, maybe two years ago, I moved through this world of stalking and loving and blood and joy alone. I’d killed dozens by then, men women, teenagers, but no children. They didn’t make the urge beat and pulse the way older people did. They felt too…familiar. Too much like me. Too…human.
My imp joined me after I’d killed a man in an alleyway in the Lanarkshire town of Motherwell. He was mildly drunk, his five year old skipping along beside him. Normally when my prey is with a child I walk away. I lose all urge to kill when a child is present, and decided to return to stalking him another night but as I turned to leave, I saw him land heavy blow with meaty hand to the back of the boy’s head. His son fell to the stony ground as I leaned in from a misty distance to listen.
“Too fuckin’ noisy.” He barked down at the lad.
The kid glared up at him from the ground. I caught the shadow of what looked like faded bruises around his angry stare.
“Don’t look at me like that Matthew.” The man raised his hand to threaten.
His action did nothing to dampen the fire in the boy’s eyes. He stood glared at his drunken father then lowered his head.
The man nodded and continued walking, his son running ahead towards their home, no longer interested in skipping alongside the bully he called dad.
I’d taken him then of course. As soon as the boy had left, my urge came rushing back on the crest of a hundred beatings from my own father. A thousand insults of eternal mocking about my obsession with footballers.
He died very quickly- which was which a disappointment- but cried and begged with shameful cowardice, which was wonderful, if too brief. I hadn’t had the opportunity to repay my own father for his love and this man’s death had proven a wonderful substitute, and one that made a significant change happen within me.
My imp joined me afterwards and has been my constant companion throughout life and death since. Initially he’d been unobtrusive, an observer. An ever-present facet of myself in many ways. Keen to offer suggestions, but largely a passenger. Over time, he’d sharpened my appetites.
My kills had been careful in the past, after all, I’d killed dozens, from all walks of life in many cities and countries. No police force had so much as linked any of my kills together. Once my imp began speaking to me, exerting his will, I became very creative.
I used different methods of dispatch and never stayed true to a certain type of victim. I’d like to say that this was all my own inventiveness, but truly, my imp has had so many good ideas these past two years. More and more it’s made sense to just let him, take control. To direct, to command.
As she passes Merc Clothing my victim’s heels screech a little, breaking the build-up of the moment for a split-second as she turns along Broadwick Street. Perfect.
As my victim passes Mozzino, my imp hisses at me.
I check up and along the narrow little road and then rush at her. She’s in her mid-forties, very fit and much smaller than I am. Most people are. I place my hand over her mouth, pulling her head back sharply, so that her hair presses against my chest.
Wrapping one beefy arm around her waist I lift her into myself and slightly to the side to avoid her kicking legs. Quickly I dart through the half-shut gates into a service yard my imp laughing that sissing laugh. The one that reverberates around my head and makes my skin crawl. I ignore it. My imp’s as excited as I am, maybe more so. He’s entitled.
I put the woman in a choke hold and she passes out. My imp looks at her and smiles broadly, his face a twisted mirror of my own.
As soon as she’s unconscious, I walk to the gates and close them firmly. Retrieving a canvas bag with a few implements suggested by my imp, I kneel beside her and begin placing my tools at her side. Sometimes I tie them and wait until they awake whilst I do this. The terror in my victims eyes as they see what toys I’ve thought ahead to bring for them is a wonder like no other. For her, she gets to stay asleep.
My imp issues a series of instructions, making my hands his own. I simply obey. The pleasure I feel washing over me isn’t diminished by this act of near servitude. Quite the opposite is true. Surrendering myself to the imp’s voice, to his needs and his commands, amplifies my experiences to a plane I could never have achieved alone.
Cut the artery. Remove the trachea. Crush the kidney in your fist. Kiss her.
My imp laughs as he commands. I’m in the moment, entirely, when my mind starts to drift. I pull my attention deliberately back to the beautiful act of deconstruction I’m doing to this once hard-earned muscular body, but I can’t seem to stay focused. I think of the kills I’ve done since my imp joined me. So many. We learned so very much together. Something feels wrong. Something is……not pleasurable. Something hurts.
Dozens of kills flash before my eyes. Disembowelment, hangings. Arms severed, genitals eaten. Livers fed to stray dogs. Strangulations, beheadings, skulls caved in, eyes gouged. So many beautiful communions with my prey. My imp, learning from me. My imp teaching me. Football, always football, my only other love. My imp loved Manchester Utd even more than I did. We enjoyed the history of the club, the greatest players. Sir Alex. All our heroes in red. We stalked one of our heroes, the hero actually, through the streets of Paris, but my imp cried out that we must not. He was special.
I drop the gore-covered surgical scalpel and part of her intestine from my hands and turn to look into the face of my imp. His smile is toothy and wide. He looks different, I’ve never seen him so happy. I blink hard several times and smile back, mostly out of reflex. He smiles so rarely, it just seemed the thing to do, to smile back.
My eyes narrow and drop to his hands. He has a large kitchen knife form our bag. It’s dripping with warm, bright blood. Blood too fresh to be hers. My fingers feel around to where the pain lanced in my spine and disappear into the stab wound.
I feel my imp slide the eight inch blade into my neck, plunging it through the trapezius.
“Why?” I gurgle, a clump of blood splattering from my mouth.
My imp laughs.
“Don’t need you anymore, killer.” His voice is slap of sarcasm.
I feel the blade being pulled out. It’s actually quite a pleasant sensation. Not unlike defecating. I fall to the ground my face coming to rest on my victim’s open abdomen.
“I’m proud of you.” I whisper with my last words.
He stands over the body of the killer and sighs. A sort of sadness passes over his being, only briefly but long enough for him to notice the desolation and be surprised by it. He hadn’t considered that he would feel a sense of loss. Still, he supposed, two years is a long time, and I have learned an awful lot from the killer. He absent-mindedly flicks the knife sharply to his right imitating samurai he’d seen in movies cleaning their katana.
Cocking his head to the right he moves his eyes dispassionately along the bodies in front of him. The man at his feet, face plunged into the growing pool of blood of their victim. He coldly removes his own clothes. Standing in only his Spiderman underwear, he walks slowly to the gate, rearranging his face into one of a traumatised seven year old. With a final look over his shoulder he whispers, “Goodbye, killer.” And slips through the gate in search of a policeman or Samaritan.
Steven takes another long pull on his cigarette and jabs at the volume minus button on his remote. He nods towards the door.
“”Can you check in on him again, love?” His wife, Sharon, smiles at him, indulgingly.
“If it’ll make you feel better, of course.” Sharon creaks quietly half way up the staircase leading from their living room to the two bedrooms on the second floor. Pausing, he lifts one ear in the direction of one of the doors and listens.
“All quiet love. Turn that up a little will you?” she asks, descending the stairs and taking her seat once more.
Dermot Murnaghan speaks a little louder as Steven jabs the volume up button.
“It seems that Matthew Houston, the seven year old who disappeared two years ago on the night of his father’s murder, is settling in well with his aunt and uncle.”
Dermot’s kindly face is replaced by the head teacher of Noble Primary School.
”Yes, we’re very pleased with Matthew. Despite his ordeal, he’s adjusted very well to normal life once again and is proving to be one of our brightest pupils.”
Dermot nods sympathetically and looks into the camera as the footage from Noble Primary disappears.
“After two years held captive by what appears to be Britain’s most prolific serial killer, young Matthew Houston’s bravery and spirit is an inspiration to the people of Scotland and Britain. Dermot Murnaghan, news at ten, in absolute wonder at a genuinely heroic little man.”
Steven jabs the red button, turning the image off.
“He’s a special kid, isn’t he, Sharon?”
He is, love. To have been under the control of that monster and fight his way free, is amazing, but to have come home such a confident, assured young man, it’s a blessing, Stevie.”
Steven nods his agreement. “He’s some boy. Only thing he’s asked for since he’s been back is a poster of David Beckham.” Steven’s face drops a little.
“He’s a wee bit obsessed is he not?”
Sharon shook her head. You were the same with football at that age. It’s good for him.”
Steven smiles. “Aye, I suppose so.”
Rising he makes for the kitchen to brew another cup of tea for them.
“Looking forward to taking him through to Edinburgh next week for the New Year fireworks?”
Sharon smiles broadly.
“Can’t wait, love.”
End of Excerpt
dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus Book 3 is due for publication by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in March, 2015