I remember reading a short story, possibly online, approximately 8-10 years ago.

The protagonist is sent undercover, possibly by the police or secret service, to investigate a cult living on an island. I think the island might have been off the coast of Scotland, and it might have been mentioned that the climate there wasn't sufficiently warm to support the population.

The island inhabitants live a largely agrarian existence. The protagonist notices that the innermost circle of the cult are keeping secrets. And all the while members of the cult keep getting sick and dying.

While most of the story is written as a "Lovecraftian horror story", and the protagonist assumes that the cult's practices are causing the illness. They eventually discover that the island was the site of a (covered up) crashed nuclear bomber, and the cult members have been using radioactive material from the bomber to generate heat and light, hence the cause of the sickness.

  • I gotta tell ya, the title gives me the shivers! Looking forward to an accepted answer. :) Also, welcome to SFF.SE Joe!
    – Lexible
    Sep 1, 2021 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


I had an epiphany shortly after posting the bounty.

The story was "Serpent Eggs" by David Langford, first published 1994.

I read it in the collection "Different Kinds of Darkness".

Some of my details were wrong, the inhabitants were members of a commune centered around alternative energy, not a cult. The protagonist wasn't sent by the police, but was interested in the island as a nexus for UFO related events. And while the commune members understand that they're working with radiation, the protagonist never quite figures this out.

The location was right; the fictional "Droch Skerry" in the Shetland islands.


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