Ghost-hunter Tom Monaghan stops for coffee in a small roadside diner in Maine on his way to Boston. His ears prick up overhearing snatches of conversation among the local: “mutilated bodies,” “some kinda spooks,” and “I heard it was the Devil hisself!”
Sometimes you just get lucky, Monaghan says.
After getting directions, he heads up McGinney Road to find the (yep) Innsmouth House. By this time, he’s switched to “clericals” so he can present himself to the cops on scene as “Fr. Beauregard of Our Lady of the Snows” and ask about “an evil force at work in the house.”
He does indeed find three murder victims, each with a pentagram carved into their torso, with the apex star pointed to the “One below the floorboards.” His instruments detect electromagnetic radiation—which all spectral entities give off. This calls for the deployment of the Delving Industries model P-157 Plasmatic Cell.
Of course, not all is as it seems.
Ghost-hunting, it seems, is a business with a bottom line. Whodathunk. Any trades-offs one might make to improve the bottom line is simply the cost of doing business.
The author explains the title comes from an old Army joke: “We have to get out of this hole, boys! Dig faster!”
“Innsmouth” is a fictitious town from the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, where all sorts of untoward things happened. The relevant allusion probably has to do with the religion that involved human sacrifice.
I enjoyed reading this story. The mixture of Satanism, cold-blooded murder, and corporate cynicism was perfect. However, the ending struck me as a little fuzzy. Even after several readings, I wasn’t sure precisely what happened, other than things did not return to normal, as odd as normal was to begin with.
According to his blurb, author J.B. Toner studied Literature at Thomas More College and holds a black belt in Ohana Kilohana Kenpo-Jujitsu. He has published two novels, Whisper Music and The Shoreless Sea, and numerous shorter works. Toner lives in Massachusetts (not far from Lovecraft’s old stomping grounds of Rhode Island) with his lovely wife and two daughters.
“Dig Faster” can be read here.
Title: “Dig Faster”
Author: J.B. Toner
First published: Theme of Absence, July 24, 2020