is a dangerous collision of rich historical drama and epic horror. Beautifully written, completely disturbing… and highly recommended."
Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of
Dead of Night
"Forbeck effortlessly blends history and horror, the
and vampires, along with adventure and romance, in a fast-paced, chilling novel that moves like a bat out of hell."
Aaron Rosenberg, author of the bestselling
No Small Bills
"What happens when Bram Stoker hits James Cameron with an iceberg?
tears a bloody hole in the side of the
legend. It plunges you into the icy waters of horror and holds you under. Chilling!"
Ken Hite, author of
Matt Forbeck has taken a why-didn't-Ithink-of-that concept and woven it into horror gold! If you like your vampires scary, your plots compelling, and your prose solid, you've got to pick up this book."
Jeffrey J Mariotte, author of
Cold Black Hearts
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
The Marvel Encyclopedia
More Forbidden Knowledge
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Drawing Manga
Secret of the Spiritkeeper
Prophecy of the Dragons
The Dragons Revealed
Eberron: Marked for Death
Eberron: The Road to Death
Eberron: The Queen of Death
Guild Wars: Fall of Ascalo
Dedicated to my wife, Ann, and our children: Marty, Pat, Nick, Ken, and Helen. They make all the voyages in my life so much better.
"What in hell was that?" Quin Harker said as the ship rumbled beneath him. The words had escaped his lips without him meaning to release them. He blamed the whisky and cigars with which his friend Abe Holmwood had been plying him.
Abe grinned at him with a wide, easy smile. Tall, blond, and broad of shoulders and chin, the young man never seemed at a loss for words. The world suited him in a way that Quin could never hope for, as if he'd been born into it with his purpose etched on the palm of his hand, along with the silver spoon in his mouth.
"It's nothing, I'm sure." Abe clapped Quin on the back, and Quin choked on the whisky that had been swirling around his tongue. "We're in the middle of the ocean, dear boy. What could it be?"
"Lots of things, I suppose," Quin said with a shrug. "German torpedoes? Atlantis rising?"
Abe spread his arms wide, carelessly spilling some of the drink in his hand and taking in the entirety of the first class smoking room, which stood empty but for a single steward and a few other stalwart passengers. Like Quin and Abe, the other men lounged in their now-rumpled dinner wear as the hour slid toward midnight. The mahogany paneled walls still smelled of fresh varnish, and the brass on the fixtures gleamed in the soft glow of the electric lights.
"The problem with you, my friend, is that you don't know how to enjoy what you have." Abe brought his drink back to his lips and squinted at Quin. "You're not still feeling guilty about leaving Lucy behind, are you? What else could we do? They closed down the lounge, and despite our little suffragette's protests, women aren't allowed in here."
Quin squirmed in the chair's plush green upholstery. "Perhaps we should have followed her to bed."
Abe winked at Quin. "Hey, there. That's my girl you're talking about, you know."
Quin looked out of the window behind Abe and blushed. "I know that all too–"
His jaw dropped as he spotted a white wall emerging from the darkness. It loomed so large that he couldn't think of what it might be. For an instant, he wondered if the moon had somehow landed in the middle of the North Atlantic and meant to crush the ship beneath its silvery bulk.
Abe cocked his head at the way Quin's mouth hung open, then turned around in his seat, which, like most of the furniture on the ship, sat bolted to the floor. "Of all the…" he said, as he spied what had torn Quin's attention away from their conversation. "I do believe that's an iceberg."
Quin pushed himself to his feet and wove his way through the smoking room until he reached one of the bay windows that lined the room's starboard side and overlooked the wood-floored promenade that encircled the entire deck. Abe padded along behind him on the pristine carpeting.
"How do you know?" Quin stared up at the massive tower of ice. It stretched up and down and left and right as far as he could see, filling the entire vista. "Have you ever seen one before?"
Closer now, Quin noticed that the ice was moving past them. No, he corrected himself. It was standing still. The ship was moving past it.
"Certainly," Abe craned his neck around, trying to get a better view of the iceberg as it slipped past. The far edge of it appeared to the left and sailed by, leaving nothing but the inky black of the moonless, night-shrouded sea behind. "Unlike yourself, this is hardly my first time across the Big Pond."
"Are they always like this?" Quin watched the white slab recede until it moved too far into the darkness to be seen.
Abe pursed his lips. "Usually they're not quite so close. Do you think we hit it?"
"That would explain that rumbling from before." Quin strove to keep any note of concern from his voice. "How bad would that be?"
Abe clapped Quin on the back. "Another day, on another ship, that might be trouble, but not here and now," he said with a smile. "The ship we're on is unsinkable, after all."
Quin suppressed a shiver by heading for the forward exit. He didn't put much faith in this "unsinkable" label the press had slapped on the
. The arrogance of it bothered him.
As he walked, Quin downed the last of his whisky and handed the glass to the steward, resplendent in his stiff white uniform, who held the door open for the two young men. Abe held on to his, raising his glass to the steward as if offering a toast. They emerged next to the aft Grand Staircase, and Quin felt the pull of their stateroom just two decks below. He hesitated there for a moment.
"You're not heading for bed?" Abe gestured toward the wide stairs sweeping downward into the ship. "I'm impressed. Finally learning to put that job of yours behind long enough to enjoy the journey of your lifetime?"
Quin shrugged off Abe's ribbing. It had been a long day filled with food, drink, and far more sunshine than Quin was used to seeing as a solicitor with his father's firm. "I'd like to see what happened." He abandoned the stairs and walked out onto the promenade instead.
The icy winds cut into him the moment he shoved open the door, and if Abe hadn't been right behind him, Quin might have turned back at that point and headed for his warm, safe bed. Instead, he tugged his thin dinner jacket closer around him and stuffed his hands in his pockets, heading for the ship's bow.
"You sure you don't want another little something to ward off the cold?" Abe swirled his whisky in his glass as he caught up with Quin. "I have a little left in my flask still."
Quin shook his head. "I just want to see what happened," he said.
Abe smirked. "That's right," he said. "Find new experiences. Squeeze everything you can out of life. I like this new side of you. A new Quin for the New World."
Quin snorted at the image. "I don't have an idle life ahead of me when I reach New York. Unlike you, I still have to work for a living."
Abe grimaced. "Yes, and that's a damn shame, that is. 'International law.' Sounds like the sort of thing that shouldn't be discussed in polite society."
"Fortunately, there's only you here," Quin said.
"Not so true." Abe pointed up the deck at a group of people standing alongside the forward railing and peering down at the side of the mighty ship. "But I don't think they'll mind."
Quin and Abe joined the rubberneckers and stared down at the ship below. Spotlights illuminated the lower decks all the way out to the gigantic vessel's prow. Quin spotted chunks of ice scattered across the forecastle, and a handful of passengers from steerage had picked them up to launch an impromptu snowball fight with each other.
"What happened?" Abe asked one of the men leaning over the railing, a middle-aged chap dressed in an overcoat flung over his nightclothes.
"You had to have seen the iceberg go past," the man said. "We hit it, best I can tell. Doesn't seem to have done the ship a smidgeon of harm though." He pointed over the railing at the side. "Not a scratch on her."
"Not that we can see," said Quin. "There's a lot of this ship that rides below the waterline."
Abe nudged Quin in the shoulder. "Do you hear sirens going off? Do you feel the ship listing to the side?" He gestured in the direction of the bridge. A pair of officers stood there chatting. "Do those seasoned professionals look panicked?"
Quin sighed. Trained as an attorney, he could argue each and every one of Abe's points, but he knew it wouldn't be worth the bother. Nothing he could say would change his friend's belief that the ship was invulnerable to harm, and to press the issue would only cause Abe to taunt him for being such a worrier.
"Shall we repair to the lounge?" Abe polished off the last of the whisky in his glass and held it up to the light. The cut crystal looked like a chunk of clear ice.
Quin shook his head. "To bed, I think."
Abe smirked. "Got someplace to be? We're trapped on this ship for the next few days at least."
"I hear the captain's lit all the boilers to try to capture the Blue Riband. Word is we might make it to New York by Tuesday night."
Abe scoffed. "I put ten pounds down with old Astor that it won't happen.
's a magnificent ship, but it's hard to imagine something so large moving so fast."
"Either way, that doesn't give us much time on board." Quin bowed his head. The trip across the Pond had been a slice of fantasy so far, a chance to live the wealthy life, but it would only last until they reached land. Then Abe and Lucy would be off on their cross-continental excursion, and he'd be starting his new and far more austere life in Manhattan.
Abe put a hand on Quin's shoulder. "Chin up, my friend. Life's too short. Enjoy the moments you have while you can." As he spoke, he pulled a silver flask out of his jacket's inner pocket. He unscrewed it and handed it to Quin.
Quin hefted the flask in his hand for a moment, then took a stiff belt from it. Abe laughed as his companion handed the flask back to him. "That's the spirit!"
"Hell!" Radioman Harold Cottam stared at the message he'd just taken down over the
's wireless set. He stared at the Marconi-branded form in his hand and double-checked the Morse code to make sure he'd read it right.
"Come at once. We have struck a berg. It's a CQD OM. Posi
tion 41.46 N. 50.14 W."
"What's that then?" Brody Murtagh said to Harold in his harsh Irish brogue as he peered over the man's shoulder at the distress call.
Brody had been standing there all night, ever since the sun went down, bored enough to practice mumblety-peg with his pocketknife over and over, not much caring if he cut his fingers open or not. He resented being assigned such a dull duty, no matter how important it might be, but he had just tossed that onto the pile of resentment he already bore the man who'd given it to him. He'd decided to grit his teeth and bear it for now, at least until he spied a chance to register his complaint in the violent manner he preferred best. And this was the first bit of excitement that he'd seen the whole trip.