#SneakPeek – Strange Ink by Gary Kemble @garykemble @titanbooks #Debut

 

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  • Horror
  • Thriller
  • Fiction

♥ Blurb ♥

Spine-chilling horror in the vein of Joe Hill. After moving into a new house, journalist Harry Hendrick wakes up with tattoos that aren’t his…
When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares – so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past. One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.

Sneak Peek

Harry pulled into the Chronicle’s undercover car park, head still spinning. On the drive back he replayed the conversation over and over again, vacillating between anger at Vessel for basically reiterating Bec’s prime criticism of him, and anger at himself for saying no. He wondered if he could phone Ron back, tell him he’d changed his mind. Then he wondered if he wanted to phone Ron back.

The story was good.

 Harry rubbed his face. His lecturer had certainly thought so. To begin with. Harry had been looking into allegations that elements of the former Bjelke-Petersen government were engaged in rorting the Brisbane City Council’s planning process. The word was, they had the

ear of a Labor Party councillor, who was taking kickbacks in exchange for smoothing the approval process for certain property developers. Brian Swenson, then just starting out, was the one developer named in the article.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s party was kicked out in 1989 after investigative

journalist Phil Dickie uncovered widespread corruption throughout the Sunshine State. There was a Royal Commission; people were sacked, disgraced, in some instances jailed. The broom went through. A decade on from the Fitzgerald Inquiry, the idea that someone from

the Labor Party – pitched as saviours who promised a clean slate – was in cahoots with the bad boys from the old days was too good to be true. It was the sort of rumour that did the rounds but never went anywhere.

Harry had dug through mountains of newspaper clippings and public documents. Found someone who’d give him details, off the record, and provide documents backing up the claims. His lecturer had insisted that he confirm the information from at least one other source. For weeks it looked as though this wouldn’t happen, and the story would never be told.

He remembered Swenson’s secretary, breathless over the phone, telling him she knew the real story. Harry’s world exploded. No-one wanted to believe that a journalism student had landed such a scoop. Harry had, in effect, shamed his potential employers.

Then the secretary recanted, saying she’d been taken out of context. No problem, Harry thought, I have a tape recording of the interview. He had the documents. The tape – handed in with the assignment – went missing. The documents were dismissed as fakes. ‘Correct’ documents appeared. The newspapers and TV stations took great delight in saying, ‘I told you so’. Harry’s lecturer, who had guided him each step of the way, took a few steps back, scared for his future.

With nowhere else to go, Harry apologised to Swenson. Retracted the story. And lost his taste for investigative journalism. Why put yourself out there when you could earn the same money writing colour pieces and advertorials? He graduated, somehow landed a job at the Chronicle, and put it all behind him. End of story.

He walked into the office, relishing the cool air. He sat at his desk, logged on and reached for his glass of water, hand shaking slightly. He took a drink. Christine, the other half of the Chronicle’s reporting staff, watched him, peering over the top of her hipster glasses.

‘How was the Ronmeister?’

‘Yeah. It was . . . interesting.’

‘Interesting? Doesn’t sound like our Ron.’

Harry waved it away, and Christine went back to her work. He didn’t want to get into it while he was still processing the information himself.

He hadn’t told her about Bec yet. Telling her would require admitting that it was not just a temporary thing. Maybe it was a temporary thing. He tried the idea out like trying on a pair of pants. It didn’t fit. There were many things he could bounce back from, but not from the bombshell that Bec couldn’t imagine spending the rest of her life with him. After six years. Harry had thought that if you could spend six years with someone, you could spend eternity with them, but clearly not. His parents lasted thirteen. He and Bec lasted six.

‘You okay?’ Christine asked.

Harry nodded. ‘I’ll be fine.’

‘You don’t seem fine.’

She peered at him. Harry tried to imagine that there was more in her eyes than concern for a colleague. But again, it didn’t quite fit. She was sweet and, yeah, Dave’s observation that she was also ‘hot’ wasn’t too far wrong. But she wouldn’t be around for long. She was marking time, waiting for her big opportunity. He could picture her on commercial TV but thought she could do better. He’d miss her, but he didn’t want the youngsters to get stuck at the Chronicle, doing the same stories over and over again like some journalistic hell.

Youngsters? Fuck me. I’m only thirty-six.

He felt much older today.

Strange-Ink-Gary-Kemble

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