Necroscope: The Touch

Necroscope (Volume 6)

Brian Lumley

Tor Books

Chapter One

A RÉSUMÉ OF SORTS

At 3:33 a.m. on a wild and rainy Sunday in mid-February, 1990, thirteen members of E-Branch---the strangest, most esoteric of England’s several Secret Services---experienced something that astonished even them: the destruction of a man who was once one of their own, but no longer. They experienced, in fact, the death of Harry Keogh, Necroscope, transmitted to E-Branch HQ via some fantastic and unknown psychic medium from a world in a parallel universe, a world known only as Sunside/Starside.

Harry had gone there to escape the persecution and death---though not necessarily his death---which must surely follow if he remained in the world of men. For no longer a man, other and far more than a man, ordinary mortals would attempt to hunt him down because of what he had become as a result of his selfless services to mankind: a Great Vampire, a Lord of the Undead, the last of a race of beings who called themselves Wamphyri!

Neither an old wives tale nor a grotesque myth, since time immemorial these Great Vampires had hidden among us, preying on men and secretly inhabiting our planet---but their source-world was Sunside/Starside. As to how they came here:

Certain Wamphyri Lords---“victims” in their own right, the vanquished of Starside bloodwars---had been banished through a wormhole gate on their world, only to reemerge on Earth in old Wallachia, the ancient source of all vampire “legends.” And for centuries Wallachia, now Romania, was their secret seat.

But when their plague had looked set to explode across the world, inundating mankind, then it had been time for the Necroscope, Harry Keogh---the man who talked to dead people in their graves and used a metaphysical medium known as the Möbius Continuum as an instantaneous means of conveyance---to seek out and destroy them one by one. But when dealing with the most devious of all Earth’s Wamphyri, that Father of Lies, Faethor Ferenczy, Harry had come too close and had been infected.

And so when he left our world for Starside, the Necroscope wasn’t simply running for his life but for ours. E-Branch might kill him, true, but what if they failed? He was by far the most powerful being in creation, and if he should unleash his plague on Earth . . . what then? The end of mankind, which he had fought so long and so hard to forestall.

Harry’s problems were only just beginning. On Starside the Necroscope discovered that far from being extinct, the Wamphyri had risen again in a new, yet more terrifying form. And Shaitan---the Devil himself---was their leader! Crucified and burned, even as Harry’s life force drained from him, he was transferred by the will of Others to the metaphysical Möbius Continuum. And there, hurtling across the centuries of past time, he underwent a final metamorphosis. And this was what those thirteen members of E-Branch witnessed in their HQ on a wild, wet Sunday morning in mid-February, 1990:

A nebulous telepathic projection, a fading 3-D hologram of the Necroscope’s smoking corpse, falling or receding faster and faster into unknown depths. But as his twirling figure dwindled to a speck, a mote, and finally nothing, there where it had been the observers saw an awesome, silently expanding novalike sunburst of pure golden light! And despite that it existed only in their group mind, still the coven turned away from the blinding intensity of the glare---and from what flew out of it!

Only two of them caught the final moment, saw those myriad golden splinters speeding outward from the sunburst---angling this way and that, sentient, seeking, disappearing into as many unknown places---those “pieces” of the Necroscope Harry Keogh. But were those golden shards all that remained of him? Perhaps, in a way, they were. While in another way they were not.

For on Starside, as Harry’s incorporeal mind fragmented in that glorious bomb burst, he had been aware that each and every one of those fragments, those golden shards, were him! And that wherever they were bound---into whichever time or place---some echo or knowing part of him would go with them.

But at a time some three and a half months prior to the Necroscope’s passing . . .

Copyright © 2006 by Brian Lumley