And the Heavens Wept
Swann Saga - Book Three
The Altinoma Valley has been the catalyst of the Swann family's destruction for nearly twenty years. As new terrors face the family's surviving members, someone must journey back to the place where the legacy of deceit and horror began—where the haunted dead have a way of seeking retribution from their graves and those that want more blood wait to strike.
Human history is full of evil deeds and maybe we
ought to think of them with tears, not fascination.
Elizabeth Kostova—The Historian
In the center of a valley basin stands the town of Altinoma. Half of its businesses are closed, and many buildings are falling into disrepair. But still it stands even as unseen, yet tangible, forces swirl across the landscape. Altinoma remains a place where the dead do not always rest—a place where the winds whisper of past sins and the heavens weep for the righteous and the forlorn.
For a half century, some have believed Utah’s Altinoma Valley to be cursed or at least haunted. Some say the soil itself produces some form of evil along with its lettuce and potato crops. Others believe the evil was first spawned from the people raised within its confines.
As near as anyone can substantiate, the valley’s woes began on a dark night fifty some-odd years ago when the dwellings on the outskirts of Altinoma were caught in a fire’s deadly embrace. The townspeople burned out a group of inbred shantytown unfortunates and banished them to the surrounding woods. The ones responsible considered it a purification process. As a result, two separate and distinct societies arose within the pristine mountain peaks, one group shunning the other.
Two decades after the expulsion, men of some importance took the cleansing process a step further. A committee formed to exploit outsiders with the express purpose of strengthening their own kind. Captive to their genetic past, men chose to play God as if there were an impenetrable wall between their valley and the rules that govern the rest of society. Passers-through began to disappear, and soon babies seemed to spring from the land itself. Two generations of women served to provide the powerful ones with offspring believed to strengthen the local gene pool. Babies were given to a select few or, in some cases, the highest bidder.
When the day of reckoning arrived, many believed it to be a biblical prophecy initiated by a vengeful creator. Fire and death engulfed much of Altinoma just as fire had destroyed shantytown forty years earlier. Some managed to escape the latter day conflagration. The Swanns and the Hardings were two such families.
Some believe the Valley’s legacy of destruction has not yet ended. They believe the curse still lies in wait. It whispers its dastardly plans in the harsh winds that blow across the valley and in the hard spikes of raindrops that nail the heavens to the earth. If it is true that evil is in the very soil or bred into those born in the valley, then that evil is insane and exhibits but one goal: To destroy those that remain who are responsible for exposing its wicked deeds.