Book excerpt: Kelly Evans – The Mortecarni

I am always open to writers and publishers should they want to promote their work via a book excerpt or guest post here at Grim Reader Reviews. Today, Kelly Evans brings you a sample of her Zombie novel The Mortecarni-a tale of historical horror fiction set during the Black Death!!!


THE YEAR IS 1348 AND THE BLACK DEATH IS RAVAGING ENGLAND. For Brother Maurice, a monk and physician, the disease is the most terrifying he’s ever seen. But Maurice soon learns of an even more deadly threat: the exanimate Mortecarni. After his first unexpected encounter with the creatures, Maurice is pulled into a world of savagery and secrecy. As he travels across the country, investigating both the plague and the Mortecarni, Maurice questions how such unholy suffering is possible. When his own family is struck down, his beliefs falter. Can he regain his faith and save both England and himself?

The Mortecarni – Kelly Evans

How could this happen? How could such an evil and vile deed have happened within these grounds? I could scarce record these tidings, so in shock was I. Two days had passed when I was woken by a knocking on my cell door, a novice with a message from the prior: I was to meet with him as soon as possible. Back then it was the custom to sleep in our habits, so all I needed to do was don my sandals and cowl. I rushed to the priory with the novice, who was dismissed upon our arrival.

“Brother Maurice, terrible tidings!” He bid me sit and, wringing his hands, spoke. “The bodies of our beloved novices, slaughtered by the unknown danger, are missing.” I leapt up, shocked. The prior waved me back down. “We awoke this morning to find that both corpses were gone.” He shook his head. “I don’t have the capacity to fathom how twisted a soul need be to commit such an atrocity.”

“But what happened? Who discovered this evil?”

“A few of the brothers heard some small noise last night, but dismissed it as animals. When they went to pray for the souls of our departed brothers they discovered that the bodies were gone. A search was made, but neither corpse could be found.”

None of us knew what to do; the monks tried to continue with their daily duties, but the thought of the desecration of the young brothers was too distressing and many retired to their cells to pray, leaving only a few to continue with the harvest.

Brother Roland’s novice came to make his daily report of the healer and I’d hoped that the brother would have recovered from the infection in his body, but the novice’s news was not promising. The young monk told us that Brother Roland was now nearly as ill as the stranger who interrupted the feast. I visited the brother’s cell and found that he no longer had the capacity to deny me entry. The stench upon entering the room was overwhelming, and caused me to back away a number of steps, retching. I wrapped the edge of my cowl around my face, leaving my watering eyes free to observe, and started towards the monk. I saw that someone had tied the brother down, and assumed it was the novice, for there had also been attempts to bandage Brother Roland’s wounds. But the bandages had done little, if any, good; large brownish-green stains had seeped through, and the infection had leaked out of the sides of the cloth. I noticed another wound on the brother’s leg, one which I’d not previously seen. It looked to be the same type of injury as on his arm and I surmised the healer had been too ashamed to tell me of it. It only took a cursory glance to convince me there was nothing more I could do for Brother Roland save offer something to calm him. But he wouldn’t take the valerian syrup I offered and I left his cell feeling entirely helpless.

I next visited the stranger, who was still being kept in the infirmary. I could smell the foul corruption before I reached the main room and knew before even seeing the man that once again my skills wouldn’t be sufficient to give any comfort. The closer I got the stronger the smell of putrid meat became until I could barely stand. I found violets stored with the other medicinal herbs and took a few, holding them to my nose as I approached the sick man. Even from a few feet away I could see the thick fluid running from the open wounds, yellow and streaked with dark red ribbons. The bile in my stomach rose suddenly and I fled the infirmary, heading for the open air. Tears blurred my eyes as I breathed in as much air as my chest could hold, as if by this action I could clear the memory of the corruption from my mind. But the image of the stranger, tied to his bed and growing more and more delirious, his flesh wasting away, would not leave and only grew worse with the remembrance. I felt as though my senses were fleeing and fell to my knees in the cloister, clutching at the earth itself to steady myself. It was in this prone position that I was discovered by the prior.

“Good Lord, what’s happened?”

I stood slowly, aided by the arm of the prior. Breathing deeply I described both the stranger and Brother Roland’s condition. To my great puzzlement he showed no signs of shock or surprise. “You’ve encountered this disease before?” I gasped.

The prior led me to a bench at the side of the cloister. “Aye,” was the man’s only reply. I could see that he didn’t want to speak further, so drawn and distressed was he. Together in silence we prayed for both the healer and the stranger, and that the bodies of the novices would be found and laid to rest as they deserved.


Sunday mass was interrupted by agonising screams, but by the time the source was discovered it was too late. A grizzly and horrific scene awaited us in Brother Roland’s cell; I barely had the words to describe it. We burst into the room and what we saw stopped us cold. On the floor beside the bed was the physician’s poor novice, his arm hanging by a thread of bloodied flesh from his shoulder and the contents of his chest and stomach spilling onto the floor. Brother Roland was hunched next to the novice, scooping the slimy entrails into his mouth like fat greasy sausages. I don’t know what sickened me more, the sight of the healer tearing through the internal contents of the novice’s stomach, the wet internal matter running down his chin, or the hollow sucking sound he made as he chewed and groaned in pleasure. He looked up as we burst through the door and hesitated only a second before rising clumsily and stumbling towards us, bloodied hands outstretched, white eyes dull with hunger and want.

We carefully avoided injury from Brother Roland by keeping our arms to our sides and by being aware of our bodies at all times, and with great effort managed to subdue him. We had no choice but to bind him once more to his bed, this time securing the bonds so he couldn’t escape again, and tried our best to move the poor novice’s body from the room. A basket was eventually used to help carry the rest of the remains. What could the cause of this illness be, if it was indeed an illness? A growing number of brothers had started speaking of possession but I’d yet to see enough evidence of this, and dared not alarm the villagers with these thoughts, for they would have hidden in their homes and the fields would have remained unharvested.



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