Mercury: a planet of two faces – one side cloaked in eternal darkness, the other blistered by eternal sunshine. And balanced between the two is the World River, encircling the globe.
Professor Nathanial Stone and his ward, Annabelle Somerset visit Mercury for what they imagine will be a pleasant trip to visit Annabelle’s uncle.
But tragic death precedes them – a death that provokes a chain of mysterious and terrifying events that challenge Nathanial and Annabelle’s long-held beliefs. Before long, they – with the assistance of French geologist, Arnaud Fontaine – discover something ancient and powerful that has designs on humanity.
There was a sudden, sharp knock at the door. Nathanial looked from one colonel to the other. There was a moment of awkwardness before the ghost colonel suddenly caught on.
“Oh, you think I should go?”
“Probably wise,” said the Shawbridge with a curt nod. “Whoever it is, seeing two of us in here might be a bit much—for now at least.”
The ghost nodded. “Fair enough. I’ll, um, see you chaps later then?”
“I do hope so, Colonel,” said Nathanial.
And then, without a sound, the ghost simply winked out of existence. There was another, firmer, knock.
“Come in,” said Nathanial, and the door was opened by Iris McConnon, looking very pale and shaken.
“Colonel,” she said. “Professor Stone. Sorry for the interruption, but something very strange is happening and I thought you ought to know.”
“What is it, Iris?”
“These ghosts, sir…”
“What about them?”
“You need to come and see. They’re everywhere.” Her eyes were wide and her face pale. “It’s like we’re being invaded.”
Shawbridge and Nathanial followed Iris out into the gloom; in the distance, they could hear much muttering and a few astonished cries.
“They’re everywhere,” Iris said as they reached the main square of Princess Christiana Station. Little huddles of people were standing around, pointing and crying. Some of them were shouting, their fists raised.
And around each little group, there were ghosts.
Some of them were as solid and concrete as Shawbridge’s own ghost had been earlier, but most of them were hazy phantoms, displaying the same flickering and shifting that had been reported in earlier sightings.
“Right!” bellowed Shawbridge at the top of his voice. “There’s no need to panic.”
A woman in a nurse’s uniform with a coat wrapped around her shoulders came running over. “Sir,” she said, her voice heavily accented. Nathanial caught sight of her name badge: Nurse Juanita Lopez. “I have seen one—and it was me!”
Shawbridge threw a glance at Nathanial. “Is that so, Nurse? Well trust me, there’s no need to worry—”
“But it was me!” she repeated, patting her chest. “I am going to die, aren’t ? I’m going to die!”