Dark Matter is a police-procedural horror/mystery/scifi thriller. It has two major inspirations: the weird fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, particularly “The Dunwich Horror”; and the hard science of astrophysics and particle physics popularized by the likes of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Matt O’Dowd.
The main character is Frankie, a single mother and FBI agent whose obsessive pursuit of a serial killer/kidnapper of young women leads her unwittingly into the clutches of a real monster, an evil cult, and a terrifying truth lurking at the edges of human understanding.
The following is an early scene set at the FBI field office, where Frankie discusses a strange book found at her crime scene.
“It’s called the Necronomicon,” Chad told Frankie. She had left Lucy to dig up the hospital security camera footage and walked down the hall two doors to Evidence. “Ever heard of it?”
“From the Evil Dead movies?” Frankie asked.
“Ha! No, but well done.” Chad, the second-most-senior forensic analyst, always brought Pablo, his little Pomeranian, to work with him. Pablo started yapping furiously at Frankie when she walked in, as if he had never met her before. Frankie had tried, but she was better with the bigger dogs. Maybe it’s because she liked bigger dogs better, and Pablo could sense that.
“No,” Chad continued, brushing potato chip crumbs from the front of his faded, ill-fitting polo shirt, “this Necronomicon is O.G. Written circa 738 A.D. by Abdul al-Hazared, aka the ‘Mad Arab.’”
A mad Arab? The Department of Homeland Security was going to love that. “So you’re saying the book we found at John’s house is over a thousand year’s old?” Frankie asked.
“Well, not that exact book. It’s a copy. No originals exist. The original text was written in Arabic, but the one you pulled out of that house is a Greek translation. Super rare. Scribes and printers had a way of dying mysteriously and awesomely in the process of reproducing it. Want me to pull it out?”
He stood awkwardly, knees popping under the weight of his substantial beer belly.
“No, that’s not necessary,” Frankie said. A little crestfallen, Chad sat back down. Pablo, his leash tangled into a cat’s cradle around the legs of Chad’s chair, caught a fit of barking.
“Pablo, hush!” Chad barked back. “Too bad. This volume? It’s jizz-worthy. Great condition, no missing pages, illustrations from hand-carved wood cut, printed in 1950-something, and — wait for it — bound in human skin.”
Frankie’s blood chilled. “Seriously?”
Chad cackled. “I’m just fucking with you. It’s calf-skin. But there was never a market for a book this wacky, so every printing is a custom job.”
Frankie huffed. “What’s the book about?”
Chad shrugged. “Mostly spells and legends, but a few parts of it are super weird – whole pages of text in a language that no one has ever identified, not even down to the language family. Plus pages and pages of Arabic numerals, like math equations or something.”
“Do we know where it came from?”
“Actually, you’ll like this,” Chad said. “It was stolen from the John Hay Rare Books collection at Brown University in Rhode Island a few years back.”
Frankie perked up. She did like that. Pablo did not like Frankie. He growled at her.
“Tell me there’s security footage of the theft,” Frankie said.
“I asked. They’re digging it up.”
“What about records of who checked it out most recently?”
“They keep better records than we do,” Chad replied. “They work with some rare shit over there. The same guy was looking at it repeatedly in the year leading up to its theft. Henry Armitage, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Astrophysics.” He handed Frankie a notecard with the name scribbled on it.
Astrophysics? Frankie thought. What does an astrophysicist care about a thousand-year-old spell book?
Pablo barked at her.
What do you think of this excerpt?