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I'm trying to identify a story that I read roughly 12-15 years ago. At the time I read it the book was probably several years old as it was a paperback and, I'm fairly sure, was donated to some sort of charity bin, which I think is where I found it.

I remember very little of the plot, save for some key elements.

The story involved a town, at the centre of which was a well. I believe that the well contained a creature, as I seem to remember it climbing from the well. The creature was, or possibly became later, a large, white, lizard like creature.

I remember that the town was being covered by some form of impenetrable darkness. I also remember a scene where two (or more) characters in a car were trying to escape the town. At one point the lizard creature stood in the middle of the road to block their escape. The author described its height (taller than a man, I think) and, for some reason, its genitals. For some reason this scene has remained with me even though the details of the rest of the book have been forgotten. Read into that what you will.

I don't remember if the encroaching darkness and the creature were linked, but I suspect so. I also can't remember the nature of the creature itself, beyond its general appearance. I don't know, for instance, if it killed anyone, or what its purpose was to the story beyond being a scary monster.

Does anyone recognise this story?

Edit: the moon might have played a part - I seem to remember that the moon traversing the sky over the well had something to do with the creature in it.

  • This sounds a bit like F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack series, but it doesn't match with any of the plotlines I remember. – FuzzyBoots Oct 23 '17 at 17:33
  • Just had a quick look through the synopses on the Wikipedia page and at the titles of the stories, but none of them sound similar to what I remember. The character of Repairman Jack certainly doesn't ring any bells. – Andy F Oct 23 '17 at 22:38
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    Wilson's "Nightworld" does have Jack's girlfriend and her daughter fleeing the city to hide out in a bunker somewhere. You might have read the original edition, which fits your timeframe, but the book has been revised within the last few years and Jack's role greatly expanded. Basically he went from being a "bit player" in the original to a "co-star" in the revision. – Emsley Wyatt Oct 23 '17 at 23:38
  • Describing the lizard-man's genitals- that's hilarious! – n00dles Oct 24 '17 at 3:43
  • @Emsley Night world seemed promising, but after reading the synopsis on Wikipedia I'm fairly sure that's not it. In the story I read there were fewer traditional fantasy elements - no magic swords or demon big bads as far as I can remember. – Andy F Oct 24 '17 at 7:42
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I've found it.

The book was called The Hungry Moon by author Ramsey Campbell. It was first published in 1986.

Once I remembered the detail about the moon having something to do with it, it occurred to me that it might be on the cover. Sure enough, a quick google image search threw up this, which instantly struck a chord:

The hungry moon cover

Reading reviews online they mention some details that definitely ring true:

Regarding the creature

When Mann descends into the cave [an evil force changes] him into a humanoid "spider made of moonlight", with long spindly arms and reptilian eyes

...

[An] Endless commentary about light, the moon, darkness and lizard leavings (emphasis mine)

Regarding the darkness

Meanwhile, darkness covers the town, the phones go dead, deliveries from the outside world dry up: Moonwell has been cut off, turned into an staging ground for the advent of cosmic horror.

...

Turns out, there was a good reason for the druidic ceremony of the cave. It kept an ancient, powerful entity from emerging. Soon the Moonwell is plunged into darkness, cut off from the rest of a world which seems to forget its existence.

The town was called Moonwell, so there may not have been an actual well, but reviews and synopses describe a cave or a pit. The townsfolk seem to have been turned into various not-quite-human monsters, one of which could have been the lizard creature, but I can't be sure without tracking down a copy and re-reading.

Evidence suggests this is the one.

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