We are delighted to welcome Jonathan Whitelaw as this month’s Featured Writer. Jonathan has won critical acclaim for his novels which are unusual thrillers with a metaphysical, indeed a devilish twist. The excerpt below will whet your appetite for more.
Jonathan is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. The Man in the Dark is a sequel to the bestselling HellCorp. His debut novel was the critically acclaimed Morbid Relations.
Extract from The Man in the Dark
The Pope’s private quarters deep within Vatican City were quiet. Only an old, ticking clock on the mantelpiece disturbed the stillness of the place. It was peaceful, serene even, just what you’d expect from the office of an elderly man of great power.
All the hallmarks were there. The mahogany desk, the lack of computer, a set of reading glasses perched neatly on top of a writing ledger. There was even room for an old fashioned inkwell, two fountain pens with the Pope’s sigil branded up their shaft.
Light was easily flowing into the room from an open window. The sky outside was warm and blue, the first hints of a Roman summer making everything very comfortable. The clock ticked on and on, stopping for no one, even if there was nobody around to hear it. Nobody but the large, ornate crucifix that hung from the opposite wall. It wasn’t going to mind the noise.
It was just as well. The second hand ticked over, then over again, then over for a third time. But, where the fourth consecutive tick should have sounded, there was nothing. Ordinarily this would have been cause for concern. However, this was the heart of the Catholic church. Out of the ordinary wasn’t always out of the ordinary. For an institution founded on fable, legend and tradition, the non-ticking of a clock was hardly a reason to think the world was ending.
And besides. The battery had probably just run out. Not that there was anybody around to hear or notice the silence. The crucifix on the wall wasn’t going to change the double As.
Only there was cause for concern. A pretty big cause for concern. The last time the clocks had stopped in Vatican City, there had been a visitor. In the short time since that incident, the story had become the stuff of myth. This was the Catholic Church, it liked to keep its secrets secret. But this one had, pardon the expression, spread like wildfire.
The Pope had never been the same since that night. His hair had turned whiter, his eyes a little wilder. Gone was the good sense and diplomacy expected of a modern world leader. In its place the rantings and ravings of a Dark Ages fanatic.
© Jonathan Whitelaw 2019