The Gina Harwood series caught my attention when it was compared to the X-Files, of which I’m a huge fan. It centers around homicide detectives Gina Harwood and Morgan Snyder who investigate supernatural mysteries and crimes. Descending, the second installment, has recently been released, and the first chapter of the book is available for you to read. I’ve also included information on the first book in the series, Behind the Veil, which introduces readers to this fictitious world where police procedure and the paranormal intersect.
Descending: A Gina Hardwood Novel by Indi Martin
Publication Date: February 2014/ 210 pgs.
Genres: Paranormal, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Described as a cross between the X-Files and Call of Cthulhu, the second title in Indi Martin’s Gina Harwood promises even more suspense and surreal action! In Descending, Gina discovers a mysterious portal in an ordinary wall that leads somewhere few humans were meant to go, while a group of friends set out to make a music video in a creepy old house that goes terribly, horribly wrong.
Read the first chapter here:
Gina Harwood tried to calm her breathing, which was teetering on the edge of hyperventilation. Her heartbeat pounded heavily in her ears, a nonstop drumming flurry that caused her to clap her hands to her ears and squeeze her eyes shut, counting in her head to quiet herself. Experimentally, she cracked one eye open again and peered across the room at the hole that had suddenly appeared in her wall. Her strawberry hair was slick with fear-sweat, dangling limply in her face and partially obscuring her vision, but not enough for her to miss the hellish black void that didn’t belong. She peeled her hands away from her ears and ran them roughly through her hair, pulling the damp locks away from her face. Forcing her trembling hands down to the recliner arms and her other eye fully open, she glared at the blackness that stood beyond the peeling plaster. Anger boiled inside her, shoving her fright aside, but re-quickening her heart.
That shouldn’t be there, she thought, quite logically. It wasn’t there before and it shouldn’t be there now. She nodded. That seemed true.
Standing at the edge of the hole, she looked back at her recliner, wondering briefly why she didn’t remember padding across the hardwood floors. Looking back into the abyss, she noticed a dull yellow glow emanating from deep below her. As she watched, the light expanded slightly, revealing edges that seemed to shimmer sickly, as though covered in some viscous liquid. She realized she was peering down a staircase.
Startled by the discovery, Gina took a few involuntary steps backward from the precipice.
“This is a dream,” she murmured weakly, wincing at the smallness of her voice. Steeling herself, she cleared her throat. “This is a DREAM,” she announced, clearly and strongly.
There was no indication that her surroundings cared a whit about her announcement. Her apartment still looked real and normal, except for the unwelcome portal that looked as though it had erupted forcefully from behind her wall. Unwilling to turn her back to it, she minced sideways until she reached the kitchen bar. Reaching over, she flipped the switch up. Cold white light immediately illuminated the room, blinding her, so she turned it back off again. Gina was not a total stranger to lucid dreaming, even lucid nightmares, and she stared in surprise at the switch. Light switches usually did not work, at least not as expected.
Frustrated, she grabbed her cell phone off the counter. “This definitely won’t work,” she whispered, glancing sidelong at the dull glow emanating from the hole in her wall. At her touch, the screen flickered on, reading 2:09am on October 10th. Gina’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and she brought the phone to her ear, tapping the speed dial as she did so.
She heard a faint click as the line went active.
A thin spiderweb of grey cracks started pulsating out from the hole, sending bits of drywall and paint flakes into the air.
She heard the first familiar ring in her ear, frozen.
The cracks accelerated across her walls and ceiling, seeming to burn her scant pictures with invisible fire. Gina heard herself gasp as she watched one curl up and blacken to ash in an instant.
A second ring. Her hand gripped the phone to her head with such force that it made her ear ache, but she was only dimly aware of the pain. Her apartment tore itself apart around her. Deep, thunderous cracks sounded as her hardwood floor panels split and burst up into the air.
“…Hello?” Gina’s eyes widened as Snyder’s familiar but groggy voice answered the phone. Fear was finally fully loosed from its bonds, shooting ice water through her veins as the apartment destruction suddenly quieted around her, as though mindful that she were on the phone.
“Muh… muh…” she stammered with lips that felt too thick, trying to force her voice into a whisper, thoroughly unnerved by the sudden silence.
“Harwood? What the hell, it’s two in the morning, are you ok?”
“Morgan,” she managed. “Help.” Her voice was still barely more than a whisper, her tongue fighting against forming words.
An animalistic keening sound erupted, loud and alien. Startled, Gina dropped the phone with a loud clatter, watching helplessly as the battery and backplate skidded across the floor and the comforting screen light blinked out of existence. “SHIT,” she cried, noticing with frustration that her voice had no issues being loud and clear now. The cry sounded out again, a long whine following by an inhuman click-hiss. Gina whipped her head around, scanning behind her for the source of the noise, while her feet propelled her backwards toward the hole.
BAM! She heard the sound and saw the bedroom door reverberate from the force of whatever hit it. BAM! Turning her head, she saw her front door also straining against something trying to force its way in. Her body hit the wall with a soft thud and her fingers ran their way along the portal’s nearest ragged edges. The air beyond the wall was neither warm nor cold, nor thick as she’d expected from the impenetrable blackness. It felt like nothing at all.
The creatures outside her living room threw themselves against the doors in a strangely syncopated rhythm. She heard herself shriek as the handle of the front door was ripped out by something awful and nameless, some sickly oozing thing with claws and suckers that moved in twitches and undulations. Unthinking, Gina leapt through the hole, surprised to be standing on something that seemed solid enough. She could barely make out the faint edges of the black staircase, but threw caution to the wind as she bounded down the steps toward the yellow glow. Keening cries of anguish followed her descent, floating eerily down through the hole and seeming to dissipate in the darkness.
Gina slowed a bit as she could see the staircase’s end, a torchlit platform with two ornately carved, massive stone doors. Two cloaked figures stood guard in front of the gate, heads down under ponderous, heavy cloaks whose stitching seemed to dance at the edges of her vision.
She stopped in her tracks, confused.
“Morgan?” she called out tentatively, though she knew neither man was her partner. The two figures raised their heads to reveal ancient-looking men with long, braided beards and clouded white eyes. Their faces were etched with age, but their expressions were blank. She shivered.
“Harwood, wake up.”
She awoke with a start, eyes flying open, to see Morgan Snyder squatting in front of her. He was gently shaking her arm. Gina shook her head and looked around, fighting off an intense feeling of wrongness. She was sitting on her recliner. There was no hole in her wall. Her pictures still hung, safe and sound, and not charred to ashes. She shook her head again. “What the hell?” she whispered slowly.
Snyder sighed and stood up. Gina saw that he was wearing only boxers under a long brown coat and grinned, some of the shock and confusion floating away as reality reasserted itself. “That’s what I’d love to know,” he muttered, following her gaze and whipping his coat shut. Gina noticed he was slightly flushed in the soft lamplight. “You call me in the middle of the night sounding scared off your head and when I get here, you’re dead asleep.”
Startled, Gina noticed her phone sitting on the end table next to her. Swiping her finger across the screen, she viewed her call log, frowning. “Huh,” she said. “I did call you.” She looked back up at the current time. “Damn, you got here fast.”
“Oh? Even after the long drive and the stop for donuts?” he retorted, faintly mocking. Since inclusion with the Unit, they’d been provided their own cushy living quarters on “base.” It had taken some getting used to for her, as she’d been living independently since she was sixteen. Now she knew virtually all of her neighbors and saw them nearly every day, unless she or they were on assignment somewhere. His run over had taken him three minutes, according to the logs. Even so close, he’d have had to be moving like lightning. “It’s not exactly far,” he finished, tiredly, eyeing the door.
“No, I uh… I guess not,” she stammered, feeling suddenly exhausted as the adrenaline started to wear off.
“If you’re okay…?”
Gina nodded, eyes down and embarrassed.
“Good. I’m going to try to rescue what’s left of my sleep then. You can tell me what this was all about in the morning.” Belting his coat up, Snyder strode across the room to the open door.
“Morgan, please stay,” the words escaped Gina’s lips before she knew what she was doing and her mind fumbled around for something to undo the sentiment. “…safe,” she finished lamely, clamping her mouth shut to prevent any more damage. ‘What am I doing?’ she thought, confused.
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “I think I’ll be alright in the next five minutes, and then I’ll be in bed,” he replied without much edge to his voice. He took a half-step back towards her. “Are you sure you’re okay? I could…”
“No, I’m fine,” she chuckled mirthlessly, scrambling for words. “I’m sorry I woke you. I don’t really remember doing it.” This was a blatant lie. She remembered the dream as clearly as any she’d ever had. In fact, it felt more real to her than Morgan Snyder standing in her door with only his underwear on, offering to… ‘stay? Was he going to offer to stay?’ she mused foggily. An ache started in her belly and worked its way up through her body and she observed it clinically. Did she want him to?
“Okay.” His face hardened back into the all-business visage she was so used to seeing on her partner’s face, and she winced. She opened her mouth to call after him, but he’d already walked out the door and was closing it behind him. “Lock up,” he ordered gruffly, and then he was gone.
Buy Descending from Amazon: Descending: A Gina Harwood Novel (The Gina Harwood Series) (Volume 2)
Infected with terminal wanderlust, artist, author, and traveler Indi Martin spent her childhood voraciously devouring fantasy and science fiction alongside her father. She is perhaps best known for her graphic novel serial “Dissolution,” as well as penning the paranormal mystery Gina Harwood novels. Indi currently resides in Maryland. She is a founding member of Tortoise & Hare Creations.
Blog: dissolutionnovel.blogspot.com (Graphic novel I do weekly as a webcomic, sometimes I speak about the novels, but it’s not necessary to include)
The Beginning of the Series:
Behind the Veil: A Gina Harwood Novel (GHS # 1)
Published August 2013/ 252 pgs.
A grisly murder scene of a middle-aged housewife with no apparent enemies introduces homicide detectives Gina Harwood and Morgan Snyder to a dark world they didn’t expect to find. They discover that the ropes that bind a family together stretch across states and into the blackest recesses of what was, what is… and what could be. Can they save the family before the ropes fray completely? Or do they stand to lose more than just their lives?
Described as a cross between the X-Files and Call of Cthulhu, the inaugural title in Indi Martin’s Gina Harwood Series will please fans of police procedurals, mysteries, horror, and paranormal investigation. In Behind the Veil, we are introduced to Gina Harwood, and her partner, Morgan Snyder – two homicide detectives who stumble upon a bigger and more frightening crime than they anticipated. Just as they begin to grasp the outlines of the case, they are forced to make the biggest decision of their lives in order to save the crumbling remains of a family touched by horror.
Buy Behind the Veil from Amazon: Behind The Veil: A Gina Harwood Novel (The Gina Harwood Series)