The Searching Dead by Ramsey Campbell (an excerpt)

Though the Liverpool blitz had ended before I was born, all the bombed streets on this side of Kensington lay in ruins. Every roadway was strewn with fragments of houses, and the smell of stale fire caught in my throat. Apart from the infrequent shrill clink of bricks as our footsteps disturbed a stray dog or cat in the rubble, ours were the only sounds for miles of devastation. Here and there a street or at least a block of houses appeared to have survived intact, until you saw how empty the windows were, bereft of glass and the rooms they’d belonged to. Some solitary houses were framed by the remains of their neighbours, where jagged bricks sprouted weeds. Crutches of fallen timber propped up crumbling frontages, and everywhere we saw remnants of bedrooms, their floors bitten off in mid-air… Beyond several streets we could see a church. I had an odd sense that it was trying to look less than itself. It was the only church in sight, a long low red-brick building with a blunt spire at one end. Even at that distance I could see it had been rebuilt, new bricks filling gaps in the original frontage beneath a new slate roof. As we made our way through the rubbly streets I saw the spire was incomplete, lacking the point it must once have had, which had been replaced with a cap of incongruously bright red bricks. A couple of stained-glass windows were intact, undistinguished images of angels gazing up at Mary with her baby in her arms and of the disciples with a radiant bird above their heads. The rest of the windows were new, with perfunctory arches that looked secretive with frosted glass. We were nearly at the entrance to the church at the far end from the crippled spire before we were able to read the noticeboard that stood on two poles to the left of the shallow porch. The poles and the board had been painted black as if to disguise the newness of the wood. Cheap plastic capitals spelled out TRINITY CHURCH OF THE SPIRIT – SERVICES BY APPOINTMENT, and I wondered if the sign was meant to look uninviting so as not to attract the uninitiated. We’d taken care to make no noise as we approached the church, and now we gazed at each other while we listened for noises within. At last Bobby whispered “Aren’t we going in?”

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