Chiaroscuro-The Mouse and the Candle
The Mouse and the Candle
by Matthew S. Cox
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Genres: Horror, Dark Fantasy,
Release date: July 18, 2016
Synopsis of Chiaroscuro-The Mouse and the Candle
God’s will be done.
After eleven years as a priest living by these words, Father Antonio Molinari never imagined who would teach his strongest lesson of faith―a vampire.
Part of a secret order within the Vatican, he is sent to investigate and debunk supernatural events. A case of possession brings him to the French countryside, where two local clergy offer him the chance of a lifetime. They claim to have captured a vampire, and beg his expertise in helping them study the fiend.
When their monster turns out to be a little girl, cursed to spend eternity hiding from the sun, he cannot bring himself to destroy her. The priests, mistaking his compassion for diabolism, panic, and his efforts to protect an innocent child prove fatal.
He awakes caught between light and darkness.
Hunted by the Church he once served as well as the fiends he once destroyed, Father Molinari clings to the faith there is still room for him in God’s plan.
But God is quiet, and the darkness tempting.
Excerpt from Chiaroscuro-The Mouse and the Candle
“Five strides brought him to an archway twelve feet wide, separating the front room from a secluded area filled with sunlight and eight easels. Two held blank canvases, the rest paintings of fields, flowers, and a river in various stages of completion. Red spots on the floor by one of the easels resembled blood, though looked more like the castoff from reckless strokes.
A thin, barefoot girl with thick jet hair down to her waist laced through with green ribbons stood with her back turned. Paint smears adorned the sleeves of her plain white dress, which looked on the threadbare side. She held a wooden palette in her left hand, a brush in her right, and flitted over the canvas like an excited sprite, dabbing bright green paint onto the scene of a meadow.
Molinari stilled, watching her. She made triumphant grunts and happy squeaks, with the occasional ‘a-ha’ or giggle when paint seemed to strike the canvas in a way that pleased her. A number of older canvases, half covered by grey cloth, lay on the floor against the wall at the far end. They appeared to be attempts at portraits, all of the same middle-aged woman, though her impressionistic techniques that lent themselves to the landscapes did not translate well to the human figure. Based on the lack of portraits in the house, and the attempt to cover these, he assumed she considered them failures.
“My dear, there is someone to see you,” said Henri behind him.
Josephine whirled. Her large grin flickered past alarm to embarrassment. “Father! I am in rags. This is my painting dress; it is not for guests.”
“I am pleased to meet you, Miss Baudin.” He approached and rendered a slight bow. “I am Father Antonio Molinari. Your father is… concerned about you.”
“He should be concerned about manners.” She gathered some yellow paint on the brush and poked some flowers into the grass. “Well. I suppose you are already here. I’m sorry my father’s letter has taken you so far away from where you would rather be.”
“You are quite gifted.” He clasped his hands behind his back and approached. “The scene comes alive with light.”
“Thank you, Antonio.” She kept dabbing, not looking back. “I have been painting since I was twelve.”
Henri stifled a gurgle and made an apologetic face.
Molinari ignored the informal address. “Your father seems to think you have suffered an ailment of the spirit. Disappeared into the woods for days.”
“He is worried and does not wish to be alone when I marry and go to live with Marcel.”
Pink paint, more flowers.
“He tells me Marcel is worried too.”
“I know you think the ones in the back look like a twelve-year-old made them.” Josephine sighed. “I wished to give Henri a picture of my mother, but none are fit to see the light of day.”
Father Molinari raised an eyebrow.
“What do you think, Antonio?” Josephine stepped back with a smile. “Should I add a goat or sheep?”
The crisscross lace up the front of her dress hung open enough to expose a little skin, also daubed with paint. Her emphatic work left her breathing hard, and the way she’d angled herself gave him a clear view of her cleavage. That the area between her breasts was as tan as the rest of her caused him to shift with awkward discomfort. He snapped his gaze up to her wide brown eyes. She grinned.
“Do you like?”
Father Molinari coughed.
“The painting?” Josephine tilted her head, nothing but innocence in her eyes.”
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Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.
He is also fond of cats.