When Harry put his hand on her clay-cold brow she recoiled as from a serpent! Not physically, for she was dead, but her mind cringed, shrank down, withdrew into itself like the feathery fronds of some strange sea anemone brushed by a swimmer. The Necroscope felt his blood turn to ice and for a moment stood in horror of himself. The last thing he'd wanted was to frighten her still more. Wrapping her in his thoughts, in the warmth of his deadspeak, he said: It's all right! Don't be afraid! I won't hurt you! No one can ever hurt you again! It was as easy as that. Without even trying, he'd told her that she was dead. But in the next moment he saw that she had already known: KEEP OFF! Her deadspeak was a sobbing shriek of torment in Harry's mind. GET AWAY FROM ME, YOU FILTHY... THING!

PROLOGUE

Resume:

Harry Keogh inherited the psychic skills of his mother and grandmother, which in him have evolved to unparalleled heights of parapsychological power. He is a Necroscope: he talks to the dead like other men talk to their friends and neighbours. And indeed the teeming dead are Harry's friends, for he is the one light in their eternal darkness, their only contact with the world they have left behind.

For the common perception of death is incorrect: the minds of the dead do not accompany their bodies into corruption and dust but go on to explore the myriad possibilities of their leanings which were unattainable in life. The writers continue to 'write' great works that can never be published; the architects design fabulous, near-perfect cities which will never be built; the mathematicians explore Pure Number to exponentials whose only boundary is infinity.

As a boy Harry utilized his esoteric 'talent' to help with his studies; since he himself did not appear academically inclined, certain of his deceased specialist friends were able to show him the short cuts around otherwise impossible classroom problems. As a result of which he discovered his own affinity for instinctive or intuitive maths.

Harry Keogh was not the only one who 'talked' to the dead. In the USSR the Soviet E-Branch (ESP-Branch) made use of Boris Dragosani, a necromancer, to tear the secrets of corpses from their violated bodies. But where Harry was beloved of the Great Majority, they feared and loathed Dragosani. The difference was this: where the Necroscope merely conversed with the dead, befriending and consoling them, and asking nothing in return, the Russian necromancer simply reached in and took\ Having been instructed in his obscene talent by a long-buried but still undead vampire, whose seed had been passed on to him, nothing could be hidden from Dragosani: he would find his answers in the blood, the guts, the very marrow of his victims' bones. In all other instances the dead can't feel pain - but that was part of Dragosani's talent, too. For when he worked he made them feel it! They felt his hands, his knives, his tearing nails; they knew and felt everything he did to them! It was never his way simply to question the dead for their secrets, for then they might lie to him. No, his way was to rend them apart and then read the answers in torn skin and muscle, in shredded ligaments and tendons, in brain fluid and the mucus of eye and ear, and in the very texture of the dead tissue itself!

... While avenging the cruel death of his murdered mother, Harry Keogh became aware of the existence of the ESP-agencies of East and West. Recruited to the aid of British ESP-Intelligence in the secret war with Russia's mindspies, he pitted himself against Boris Dragosani. And now his intuitive maths came into play.

With the assistance of August Ferdinand Möbius (1790-1868) Harry gained access to the Möbius Continuum, a fifth dimension running parallel not only to the mundane four but to all other material planes. He could now in effect 'teleport' instantly to anywhere in the world, just as long as he had the mathematical co-ordinates or a dead friend in that location to act as a beacon. In addition, he had discovered his terrible power to call up the dead from their graves!

To rid the world of the vampire Dragosani, Harry used the Möbius Continuum to invade the Chateau Bronnitsy, Russia's secluded E-Branch HQ. There he called up from death an army of mummified Tartars whose bodies had been preserved by the peaty ground. Dragosani was destroyed, and along with him many of the staff and much of the apparatus of the Soviet mindspy agency.

But Harry paid the price too, and his body was also destroyed. Except...

... As the Necroscope knew well enough from personal experience, death is not the end.

Incorporeal, pure mind, he escaped to the Möbius Continuum and later, by involuntary metempsychosis, came to 'inhabit' the brain-dead body of a British esper. By then, however, Harry had also come to realize the role he must play in the eradication of vampire spawn from the world of men. This recognition of his purpose (his destiny?) came about through the discovery of a vampire's scarlet thread among the pure blue life-threads of humanity where they permeate the past and future time-lanes of the Möbius Continuum.

Yulian Bodescu, contaminated with vampirism by Thibor Ferenczy - the same centuries-dead vampire who infected Dragosani - threatened both Harry's life and the life of his baby son. But this time it was Harry Jr who turned the tables and made possible Bodescu's destruction; for he too was born a Necroscope, with talents the same as (or greater than?) those possessed by his father.

Following the Bodescu affair, Harry Jr vanished (apparently from the face of the Earth) and took his poor demented mother with him. Harry Sr, searching far and wide for his wife and infant son, despaired of ever finding them: in the Möbius Continuum their life-threads disappeared mysteriously into some otherworldly place where even he could not follow.

Harry quit British E-Branch and devoted himself to his search, which soon became an obsession. Years passed and the Necroscope turned recluse, living in a rambling, ramshackle house some miles outside Edinburgh.

Then... E-Branch contacted him again. They were badly in need of Harry's help and guessed he'd be reluctant, but there was also a carrot. The Branch had a similar case on its hands: a Secret Service agent had gone missing, not presumed dead. Just like Harry Jr and his mother, so now a young spy had disappeared into thin air. The mindspies had reason to believe he was alive, but still they couldn't find him. Harry checked it out with the Great Majority, who denied that the missing man had joined their ranks. And yet E-Branch swore that he wasn't 'here' on Earth. So ... where was he?

Could it be he was in the same place as the Necroscope's wife and child?

Eventually Harry's inquiries led him to the Perchorsk Projekt, a Russian experiment buried deep in a ravine under the Ural Mountains. In an attempt to create a force-field barrier as a counter to the USA's Star Wars scenario, the Soviets had accidentally blasted a 'wormhole' out of this space-time dimension into a parallel plane of existence. And in so doing they had also discovered the ancient source of all vampiric infestation of Earth! Things were coming through the Perchorsk Gate into our world. Unbelievable things - unbelievable except to the Necroscope and certain members of the British and Soviet E-Branches.

Through his contacts with the dead, and especially with the assistance of August Ferdinand Möbius, Harry discovered a second Gate and used it to venture into the world of the Wamphyri, whose skyscraper aeries gloomed gaunt and nightmarish over all Starside, the world where the vampire Lords held sway. There he discovered his son, grown now to a young man, but, alas, infected with vampirism!

Known as The Dweller in this weird parallel world, Harry Jr had so far managed to hold his vampire metamorphosis in check; he commanded a small band of Travellers (the original Gypsies), and a regiment of 'trogs', the aboriginal men of Starside. But his enemies were monstrous and far outnumbered him. Only his 'magic' - his mastery of the Möbius Continuum, and of superior science - had so far kept him safe. But under the guidance of the great and sinister Lord Shaithis, the warlike Wamphyri had recently put aside all personal grievances and banded together into an awesome, alien army. Jealous of The Dweller, his garden and works, they would move in unison against him.

The two Harrys must stand alone against this force of monsters, else total Wamphyri domination of Star- and Sunside would become a grim and horrific reality. But they did not stand entirely alone; in the bloody battle for The Dweller's garden, the Lady Karen joined sides with them. A vampire, indeed Wamphyri, Karen was as beautiful as she was clever. She could read the minds of the vampire Lords and forecast their every move. Still Shaithis and his fellow Lords, their lieutenants, and all the vast and terrible warrior-creatures they had created from the flesh of men and trogs alike must surely have won the battle... had it not been for the awesome powers of the Necroscope and his son.

Using the raw light of the sun itself, the garden's defenders defeated Shaithis's vampire army, and went on to level the towering stacks of stone and bone which were the aeries of the Wamphyri. All except Karen's, who had been their ally...

Afterwards, Harry Keogh visited Karen in the grimly forbidding aerie which was her place. She was not long a vampire; the thing within her had not yet gained full ascendancy; if the Necroscope could drive out her vampire and destroy it ... perhaps there was yet a chance for Harry Jr.

Harry's method was crude, cruel, even brutal - but hideously effective. Except... how could he have foreseen the consequences? Karen had been Wamphyri! And now? Without her vampire she was nothing but a pretty, empty girl. Where was her power, her freedom, her raw, unfettered Wamphyri spirit now? Gone.

And when Harry awoke from his exhaustion, gone too was Karen!

From on high he saw her body wrapped in the white sheath she wore for a gown, bloody and broken on the flanks of her aerie, where she had thrown herself down from the uppermost levels.

The Dweller saw what his father had done, and knew why. If Harry Sr had found a cure for Karen, he might well have applied the principle to Harry Jr, too. Fearing that one day his father might return to Starside with just such a 'cure', The Dweller used his superior vampire powers to reduce Harry's skills to nothing. He took away his deadspeak (his ability to talk to the dead) and also his numeracy. And then he returned Harry Keogh, ex-Necroscope, to his own world, the world of men...

Forbidden to speak to the dead - a rule he must obey or else suffer terrible mental and physical agony - and denied the use of the Möbius Continuum as a result of his enforced innumeracy, Harry Keogh was as close as he had ever been to being a 'normal' man. Which, after what he had known, equated almost to a prefrontal lobotomy. He had been the Necroscope - and was now powerless.

But although incapable of conscious communication with the teeming dead, still they could speak to him in his dreams. And their message was monstrous. Another Great Vampire had come to stalk the world!

Harry had dedicated himself to the eradication of vampirism; but what could he, ex-Necroscope, do now? As the world's foremost expert on vampires, he could at least advise. He must do something, for unless he and E-Branch found the vampire first, then sooner or later the undead monster would surely find him! For Harry had grown into a legend: he was the vampire-slayer, and locked in his 'crippled' mind were all the secrets of the Great Majority and mathematical formulae governing the Möbius Continuum itself. If the born-again monster should use its necromancy to steal his forbidden metaphysical talents... the result would be unthinkable!

The dead, forbidden to talk to Harry except in his dreams, rallied to him. They used other methods to get their messages across: to tell him that a vampire was at work in the islands of the Aegean. Once more in league with E-Branch, Harry Keogh and the girl who loved him went out to the Mediterranean to see what could be done.

But two British espers had already been vampirized and their esoteric talents added to those of Janos Ferenczy, the bloodson of Fa��thor and 'brother' to Thibor, the old Thing In The Ground. Janos was back to reclaim his territories and dig up again certain antique treasure-hoards which he himself had long ago buried as a safeguard against the changes which centuries of immobility in undeath would bring, treasures which would lie lost in the earth until his planned 'resurrection'. These preparations had been made back in the fifteenth century, when Janos had known that his powerful vampire father, Fa��thor, was returning again to Wallachia after almost three hundred years of bloodthirsty adventuring with the Crusaders, then with Genghis Khan, and finally with the Moslems. For Fa��thor hated Janos and would try to 'kill' him (as he had already put down his brother, Thibor, undead into the earth), for which reason Janos had made these provisions against an uncertain future.

When Harry saw what he was up against with Janos, and after the vampire had taken Harry's woman for his own, then he knew he must somehow regain his dead-speak and his command over the mysterious Möbius Continuum. Without these powers ... he just wouldn't stand a chance.

The ghost of Fa��thor Ferenczy, whose place was the crumbling, deserted, overgrown ruins of a house close to Ploiesti in Romania, contacted Harry and offered to help. The damage done to Harry's mind was the work of The Dweller, Harry Jr, a vampire with hugely enhanced mentalist powers. If Harry would now allow Fa��thor's spirit into his mind, perhaps that 'father' of vampires could remove the blockage and unlock the closed-off regions. Harry did not like the idea (to allow a vampire, this vampire, into his mind?) and knew it was an experiment fraught with the most terrifying dangers. But beggars can't be choosers.

As to why Fa��thor should want to help: he could not bear the thought of his bloodson, Janos, up and about in the world while he was nothing but a fading memory, shunned even by the dead. He wanted Janos put down again, indeed he actively desired to be the instrument of that termination. And Harry Keogh was the only one who could do it. At least, this was the explanation which Fa��thor offered to Harry...

In Romania, Harry slept overnight in the ruins of Fa��thor's last refuge, and while he slept the father of vampires entered his mind and reopened certain mental 'doors' which Harry Jr had closed there. Waking up, Harry discovered his deadspeak returned to him. Now he could contact the long-dead mathematician Möbius and have him enter his mind and, he hoped, give him back his numeracy and mastery of the so-called Möbius Continuum. But Fa��thor had lied: once inside Harry's mind the vampire would not leave it - the Necroscope now had an unwelcome tenant.

Finally, at Janos's castle in the Zarandului Mountains of Transylvania, Harry recovered his powers in full, returned Janos to dust and committed the spirit of Fa��thor to an eternity of emptiness and utter loneliness in the infinite future time-streams of the Möbius Continuum.

But his victory was not without cost.

Strange urges are part of Harry now, and stranger hungers. His life-thread unwinds as before into the unending future of Möbius time. Except... where once that life-thread was pure blue, as are the threads of all entirely human beings, now it is tinged with red!

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