Been abit quiet recently as life has been seriously busy recently so apols for this. But today I am able to share the 1st Chapter of The Coffin Maker with you all and I hope you enjoy it,
Thanks Caroline for asking me to take part in the tour.
About the Book
The Coffin Maker lives and works alone in the Kingdom of Death. When he completes a coffin a life on Earth ends. That’s how it’s always been. One day as Coffin sits writing in his journal, The History of Death, trying to sum it all up in one perfect sentence, a note sails past his window. Is he about to gain a glimpse of the elusive Divine Plan that has eluded him for centuries? Is life in the Kingdom of Death about to change forever? There are rumours that the devil is finally arriving in the guise of Colonel Gouge. Rumours started by a priest who has upset the Church by writing a book: Coffin Maker. A book written to comfort a bereaved nephew. A book that appears to prophesy not only the arrival of Gouge, but of the cataclysmic events about to unfold in the Kingdom of Death…
So here is the 1st Chapter as promised..
I love them I hate them.
The Coffin Maker sat hunched over his journal, the monumental History of Death, wondering if this book didn’t represent his greatest achievement.
Even greater than making coffins?
Even greater than boxing up the human race?
It was a tough call.
The fingers of his right hand were hammering at the side of his desk, while his left hand strangled the pen that he held like a dagger over the page.
I love them I hate them.
Had he done it? Had he finally written the perfect sentence?
Something in the room twitched. The Coffin Maker looked up from his journal. “What was that?” he whispered, his ears straining at the echo of his voice as it returned the question, scanning for imperfections that might reveal a hidden presence.
His question unanswered he turned back to look again at the words still drying on the page of his beloved book.
I love them I hate them.
There was no doubt about it. He had done it. Perfection. The Poet of Death’s finest hour. What balance. What symmetry. Not a syllable, not even a letter, misplaced.
He shook his head at the miracle of it. “Why can’t humanity be so succinct?”
The stillness flinched, again breaking the spell, the Coffin Maker’s eyeballs grating in their sockets as his searchlight gaze trawled every nook and cranny of the high-ceilinged room.
Something was coming, though. He could feel it.
He waited, not moving a bone.
At last he turned back to the page, again admiring his beautiful words. What more was there to say about the human race? Over the centuries he’d watched them pulling backwards and forwards over scraps of knowledge, stuffing it all vainly into their little editions, filling page after page with tired speculation about time and space and freewill and gods and devils. Yet did a single sentence in any of those feeble-minded volumes reveal even a glimpse of the Divine Plan?
“1+1=2. That’s all they know. And some of them aren’t so sure about that!”
For the third time the Coffin Maker’s concentration was breached, the room seeming to turn inside out, as though an immense hand had entered to its extremities, and was now withdrawing, taking the fingers of the glove back with it and folding them within the palm.
Tiredness, thought the Coffin Maker, determined to resist. But the force of curiosity was too strong. And so for the third time he looked up from his journal, his senses straining into the black silence. In Earthly terms it felt like a storm coming. Yet no storms had ever reached the Kingdom of Death.
A thought entered the Coffin Maker’s head. A question.
Do I love them?
He looked down at the page.
His beautiful words.
Somehow leaked their wisdom.
I love them. I hate them.
Suddenly the questions were piling up.
Love? How can Death, if that’s what I am, love the thing that it works so tirelessly to destroy?
And can I even say that I hate them? I’m doing a job. Doing what I was created to do. Love and hate don’t come into it. So where did these words come from…?
Anger rose up through his marrow, pulsing beneath his parchment skin.
“This is what comes of trying to write about mankind. There’s nothing to fathom. They’re born and they’ll die. In the process they’ve ruined another perfect day.”
Fighting to retain some composure, he reminded himself that he still had his solitude. His precious, priceless solitude.
Then it happened.
As though the first flake of snow was falling in the Kingdom of Death. There, floating down past the window.
Scrambling from his desk, he pressed a cold face against the glass, following the uninvited object with fierce disbelief as it sailed casually to the ground.
It wasn’t a snowflake, rather a sheet of paper.
Who in creation would send him a note?
What games was the Creator playing?
Was this the day..?
The Creator finally sending – revealing –
The Divine Plan!
In an instant the Coffin Maker’s mean carcass was scurrying outside to investigate.
No winds blow in the Kingdom of Death, and the Coffin Maker didn’t have to chase after the paper. There was no teasing gust to keep it all the time an inch out of reach. It simply lay there, waiting for him, bearing its message in coloured lights.
He picked up the note, the iron in his gun-grey eyes sparking as he read it.
Looking out across the infinite wastelands, he felt tears of rage bubbling inside. This desolate kingdom was his, his alone and had been from the beginning. What had changed?
His pride spluttered and beneath it something darker stirred.
He held the note to his skull, against the furnace stoking up inside. But the paper would not ignite. Fire had not yet come to the Kingdom of Death, though it would, soon enough.
Every bone in his skeleton-frame was vibrating with such violence that he thought he might topple under the weight of his own fury. Storm clouds of raw plutonium, sufficient to obliterate worlds, settled across his face.
The note fell from his fist. He watched it go. It lay on the seething ground, twinkling back at him.
And why now..?
About The Author
Mark L. Fowler is the author of the novels Coffin Maker, The Man Upstairs, Silver, and Red Is The Colour, and more than a hundred short stories. His particular interests are in crime and mystery, psychological thrillers and gothic/horror fiction.
His first published novel, Coffin Maker, is a gothic tale set between our world and the Kingdom of Death. In the Kingdom the Coffin Maker lives a solitary existence, and every coffin he completes signals the end of a life in our world. One day he discovers that he is to be sent two apprentices, amid rumours that the devil is arriving on Earth.