The road to hell begins inside the mind…Bill Minto is a world-weary property developer. His marriage is on the rocks. His health is failing. His cut-cornered projects constantly threaten to come back and haunt him. So when a mysterious caller offers him the job of a lifetime - all he must do is excavate the hidden tunnels under a country house—he jumps at the chance. But it soon becomes clear Bill is not alone in the tunnels. A past he’d long believed hidden lurches after him in the darkness, smelling blood. And guilt.
Bill peered into the gloom, tried to pick out the scurrying things. He could imagine them going for his fingers first. Eating them away so that there was nothing holding him up any more, and then just swarming over him in the water, feasting.
He tried splashing at the water with his free hand. Heard water slapping back off the rock. Felt it raining down on top of his hard hat. Felt it trickling down his cheeks too, though that may well have been something else.
He saw movement.
It came vertically on the rock face, moving slowly down the incline. He’d only seen it because of the light emanating from its core. The creature looked like an animated Egyptian artefact. It shone gold, royal blue, racing green. At times, the creature’s shell was transparent. Bill could see all of its inner workings: the pumping heart, the roiling stomach, the panting lungs. At other times, the shell hardened, glistened like diamonds.
He thought it might be put off by the water, but it wasn’t. It skittered with a new purpose, heading straight for his fingers, which whitely gripped the rock.
Bill couldn’t find the strength to flick the bug away. He feared that if he touched it, it could shock him. But as it crawled onto his left hand, he shivered. Hell, the bug was smaller than his hand, not much wider than his ring-finger, but he didn’t dare bash it flat. It started to scramble over the mark where his watch had once taken up residence on his wrist, onto his arm. His eyes widened. The tiny hairs on his arm stood to petrified attention.
The bug continued to creep over him. Bill itched to flick it away, but he knew he couldn’t use his right hand, couldn’t let go of his precarious hold on the rock. And his left hand, the one the bug had already crawled over, was frozen. For a beat, he thought about trying to edge his chin down, somehow knock the thing off him with a twist of his neck, but he quickly dismissed the idea. The thought of that thing anywhere near his face was too much to bear.