by G. Wells Taylor
.....I was in my office chewing
the cold, wet nub of a cigarette. The moisture in the air had
soaked into everything, and I was resting now between frustrated
attempts to light it. I didn't crave nicotine as much as the
tangle of twisted and broken matches in front of me suggested.
Nobody could want a cigarette that bad. But it was more about
the weather, the fiftieth consecutive year of rain. It was the
struggle against the ocean that squatted on Greasetown, that
colored everything a dark gray. It was my hatred for the incessant
spatter of droplets that soaked all my clothes permanently, and
was responsible for the deep damp cold that ate its way into
my kidneys and stayed. It was the rain. Greasetown's rain. The
rain that came with the Change and never really stopped. I was
determined to win this time.
.....It was a serious fight.
Bad weather was the leading cause of death in Greasetown. Death
of the spirit anyway, very few people actually went through with
suicide in a world where they would rise from the dead after
a short amnesia-like period we call Blacktime. But we all contemplated
it. It was as common a fantasy as dreaming about a day on a sunny
beach. Wouldn't it be nice to whack yourself and stay dead? Wouldn't
it be nice to get out of the rain?
.....But the world had Changed.
And the dead rose up, and went about their afterlives.
.....My partner Elmo was one
of them. He sat across from me in a deep leather chair as he
usually did between cases. Somehow he had managed to light a
cigarette that smoldered in the dark lifeless fingers of his
left hand. I tried to look him over without envy. Even as a corpse
he was better dressed than I was. He always was. Where he wore
the best suits his meager income could afford, I was relegated
to my strange coveralls. White with faded colored spots and pink
skipping rope belt. The look was almost completed by the big
black army boots I wore. And we can't forget the greasepaint.
White powdered with black nose, lips and garish clown's eyes.
.....It was obvious I didn't
choose the way I looked. It wasn't my appearance anyway.
It was the way I had to dress when in possession of my host's
body. That's the way he liked it. Otherwise, I'd be expelled
like so many cold germs. One big sneeze and I'm a curious phenomenon
.....Usually, I enjoyed being
in him-the sensations were sweet to someone who spent his time
between possessions wafting about stucco ceilings. But Greasetown
had a way of numbing the senses, and making even me yearn for
the null nervous void of disembodiment. Maybe that's why Tommy
Wildclown let me use his body. He was sick and tired of the rain.
....."Elmo," I startled
my partner. "Can I have a light?"
.....Elmo's dark face wrinkled
in concern before he levered himself out of his chair, one dead
hand going for a pocket and lighter. I shook my head, gestured
in the lamplight.
....."That will do"
One of my hands went for his cigarette. I huddled over my desk
blotter a few minutes trying to breathe life into my smoke like
some hysterical comic caveman at an AA meeting. I only stopped
when both cigarettes were cold and damp in my hands.
.....I gave Elmo's back to him;
his eyes gave a forlorn roll.
....."Sorry." I said,
dropping into my chair. I pondered pulling my office bottle out
and starting the opening act of the drunken clown opera; but
the phone rang before I could cause any damage.
....."Hello." I shuddered
at the receiver's clammy kiss. "Wildclown Investigations."
....."Hello." The voice
a man's came hesitantly back. Behind it, I could hear the dull
murmur of other voices on other phones. "I have a question."
....."Please ask it."
My guts wrenched a bit, genuinely pining for a cigarette.
....."Would I be correct
in assuming that you could deliver something for me?" He
had the clipped diction of someone who knew how to talk through
a handkerchief. A phone rang in the background.
....."You could assume that."
I was watching the expectation rise in my eavesdropping partner's
expression. "Though, what I could deliver might demand a
....."It isn't anything
illegal." That time I caught a flash of emotion as he lowered
....."Sure." I knew
there were legal implications to the hush that had entered his
tone. "Why don't you come over and discuss this."
....."Mr. Savaridge will
come to your office shortly." His voice drifted away. "Thank
you, Mr. Wildclown."
.....I hung up the phone, smiled
at Elmo's nervousness. For a full second I didn't ask the obvious
question. Why hire me to deliver something that you're about
to deliver to me?
A Missing Wife
Mr. Savaridge's disguise was a poor one. In fact, I penetrated
it the moment he entered the office. It was the clumsy hand play
at his extended coat collar and the low hanging droop of his
hat brim. I recognized him from a crime scene some years before.
It was the investigation of a headless woman's body showing up
in line at a movie theater. We'd met at the front door to her
apartment and he'd done the same collar and hat trick before
shoeing me from the building. It was an affectation brought about
by the weather, by the incessant rain that left his shoulders
dark and heavy. I could also say that the absence of the double
take on seeing my clown's face had given him away. He hadn't
raised an eyebrow. I don't care how jaded you are or where you've
been in this great miserable world, when you walk into a detective's
office and find a six foot, 200 pound clown, you're going to
look twice. You're going to blink. Savaridge had seen me before.
....."My name is Savaridge."
He dispensed with the pleasantries of handshaking and his designation
of Authority Inspector. His face was dark, lined and wore a pair
of middle-aged jowls. A large nose emerged from the gloom. His
eyes flickered in shadow.
....."Sit down, Mr. Savaridge."
I decided to play along, pointing to my company chair. Elmo had
taken up position in the waiting room. He'd be listening for
signs of trouble. Savaridge climbed into the chair with some
effort, damp wool binding on leather.
....."What can I do for
you?" I moved around my desk, leaned a hip against the windowsill.
I shook a long errant lock of hair from my face then flicked
a crack open in the plastic slats-looked out at nothing. The
streetlight was a white blue haze in the rain.
....."I have a package I'd
like you to deliver." Savaridge's manner seemed nervous.
He had a hard time holding my gaze. "But I'll have to ask
you for confidentiality."
....."It's between you and
me." I declined showing him my detective's license or reciting
the confidentiality agreement that went with it. "That's
how I keep my license."
....."My wife was kidnapped
three days ago." He pulled his hat off to reveal a twist
of thinning hair. "I need you to deliver the ransom."
.....I reached out and snatched
a cigarette from the damp pack on my desk. Instead of lighting
it, I opted to absorb the nicotine through my lips. "Why
don't you talk to Authority?" Authority was all that remained
of law and order after the Change and though they were corrupt,
excessively violent and frequently unjust, they did frown on
....."I-I can't." He
dropped his eyes, crushed his hat in his lap.
....."I'd think it would
be second nature" I decided to hit the nail on the head.
"I recognize you as an Authority Inspector. Just thought
I'd mention that. Did you quit or did they kick you out?"
.....A sensual heaviness convulsed
the muscles of his face-something bloody. "I'm still in
the force. But, I can't-it would-it would be too embarrassing.
It would ruin meif it were known."
....."Fine." I was
so used to the run around that I moved effortlessly between lies.
....."A drug dealer that
I was going to give evidence against kidnapped her. Said I'd
have to keep my mouth shut in court. That was no trouble. I agreed
right away, he's got my Anna after all. But then I guess I agreed
too quickly because he decided he wanted twelve thousand dollars
for her return." He looked up at me during pauses; his fingers
kneaded his hat.
gave him the most earnest look possible in clown makeup. "Sure
you're not involved with something"
.....He was quiet for a full
minute. "Okay. I was in business with him briefly. It was
supposed to be easy money. Lots of people do it in the force.
But he got greedy and I wanted out. It was a bad idea. I think
he kidnapped Anna to show me he could. To keep me quiet, in case
I ever got an attack of conscience."
....."So he's shaking you
down, and shutting you up." I grabbed a match and in a lucky
moment managed to light my cigarette. "You shouldn't take
any chances. You should come clean and tell Authority."
....."He said he'd kill
her if I did. He said he's got friends in Authority." He
leaned forward. "I know how Authority works. He has friendsbelieve
.....I knew Authority's ways
well enough to agree with Savaridge. Everyone had friends on
the inside. It was possibly as corrupt as it was huge. "How
are you supposed to pay the ransom?"
....."I can't bring it myself."
Savaridge looked at me, then pulled a slim nylon satchel from
inside his coat. "He said I was to hire someone to drop
it off at an address he gave me-tonight at seven. If he sees
me or Authority, he's going to kill her." My guest's knees
disappeared in his fists. "That's the frustrating part.
I know where she is. But I can't take the chance of Anna being
caught in the crossfire."
....."And when he gets the
ransom?" A hot stream of smoke curled out of my mouth-I
....."He will hand Anna
over to the courier, you, immediately. Case closed." He
looked exasperated. "And when she's home, I will not look
....."Why'd you pick me?"
....."Your name's around
Authority. People say you can be trusted to do the right thing
but no one's likely to believe you if you talk later." His
hands went to his chin-his nails scratched the stubble there
....."It's my special charm."
I gave him my steely glare, tried to see past his watery eyes.
"I want seven hundred to do it." Savaridge's eyebrows
rose momentarily. "And when she's home we don't look back."
....."Fine. That's fine."
....."You have the address?"
I asked. He nodded "What's the kidnapper's name?" I
pulled out a notepad as a grimace passed over my client's face.
Another Drive in
It was pouring rain again. The streets of Greasetown were
in an advanced state of decomposition from the ceaseless downpour.
It was getting to the point where walking would be faster than
the pothole to pothole obstacle course Elmo lurched and wheeled
through. His driving had condensed my back into a jar-proof slab
of bone and muscle. It was a practical adaptation. I kept my
shoulders permanently hunched against the rain. The brim of my
hat dripped slowly into my lap. It was a dark fedora, nothing
with big bows or balloons. I wore an overcoat too-dark gray.
As long as I wore the other clown gear I was allowed to possess
my host and take certain liberties-I had some leeway. I could
feel the clown's greasepaint ride my face with claustrophobic
density. I wanted to scream. Most days I wanted to scream. With
the streaked windows up all I could smell was old tobacco smoke
and the oils that Elmo applied to his dead black skin to preserve
.....I decided to distract myself
from fruitless efforts to see through the heavy curtain of rain
by going over the information Savaridge had given me. I didn't
like the idea of stepping into something with Authority connections
but my financial life had suffered in the preceding months and
it required a transfusion of cash or the doctors would pull the
plug. It was that bad.
.....Savaridge had given me a
Gritburg address. That put me in an area of Greasetown I rarely
frequented. While it lacked the unpredictable and dangerous dead
populations of Downings District it made up for it with competing
gangs of drug dealers, prostitutes and gunmen. It lay along a
lawless tract of the city between bad and worse and existed only
as long as its participants paid for Authority protection.
.....Elmo drove the Chrysler
with his usual alacrity. There was no such proscription in the
ransom arrangements and I always preferred his back up. I'd get
him to park a couple blocks away where he could wait in the car
and if all went well, drive Mrs. Savaridge and me back to civilization.
....."Keep your eyes peeled
for Hollingsworth Manufacturing." Elmo watched me from the
corner of his eye as I spoke. "Tupov's set up in an old
....."I hear the Russian
mobsters kill quick." Elmo's dead voice rustled like a whisper.
....."I've heard that too."
The drug dealer who had kidnapped Savaridge's wife was named
Peotor Tupov. Savaridge said the dealer was a distant relative
of a highly connected Russian mobster. Myself, I'd heard the
Tupov name before but had never crossed paths.
....."I heard they'll shoot
you even if you're dead!" Elmo's imagination always ran
neck and neck with reality. "Terrible business."
....."It's all terrible
business, Fatso." The appellation referred to Elmo's overweight
days among the living. Now he had wasted away to lots of dead
skin and bone. "Hopefully, you won't even have to meet him."
I glared out the window and up at the relentless rain. "When
we find the building, I want you to park a block away so we don't
spook him. I'm not back in thirty minutes, come get me."
.....Elmo vowed with a nod of
.....I grumbled, already feeling
the rain. "I'll walk."
Mr. Tupov's Receptionist
"You fucking Wildclown?" She asked through the downpour,
a quiver of disbelief or humor on her red lips. Every kid loves
a clown. I met Tupov's receptionist on the crumbled steps of
the Hollingsworth Manufacturing warehouse-an abandoned and decrepit
red brick structure that covered most of the block. Its first
story windows were boarded and bricked-the upper floors were
broken and covered sporadically. A cracked and pitted sidewalk
staggered away from me to left and right as far as the eye could
see. Fifty feet from me the burned out body of a truck leaned
against the warehouse and cast a spreading shadow of rust.
My guide stood across the battered steel door. She looked about
twenty, pre-Change years of age, and showed little of the slow
aging that affected the living. Perhaps at the roots of her tall
green Mohawk there was some mention of it, I could see a twist
of gray. She was thin, but wiry and managed to keep her low-riding
denims up with attitude alone-her hips were conspicuously absent.
Tiny flat breasts poked hard nipples against a dark green tube
top. An ugly iron ring pierced the navel in her sinewy belly.
Mascara clawed out of her eye sockets like witch's fingers. A
pair of tattered black sneakers made squishing noises when she
moved. There was a pack over one shoulder festooned with many
slangy buttons and peace signs. I saw the whole outfit with a
tint of green through the large lime colored plastic poncho that
was draped over her.
....."Yeah." I answered
her with a dip of my dripping hat brim. The plan was that Savaridge
would phone the kidnappers-let them know the ransom was on the
way. He'd already introduced me.
.....The receptionist sneered
or smiled giving me a second look, then turned, pulled the door
open with a single action. A flick of her chin told me to follow.
She moved into the hallway's low light with the insolent, provocative
carriage of a woman who had experienced the worst the world could
offer and no longer feared anything. This woman would not run-there
was no retreat. I saw the green tinted butt of a revolver poking
up from her pants between her kidneys.
..... Thirty feet in, we passed
through a doorway into a huge open space. The warehouse had been
painted a dull blue from its corrugated iron and concrete floor
to the cracked walls and high vents that traced the ceiling.
Dim lamps hung from wire every twenty feet. The receptionist
led me across an open floor marked by abandoned barrels and crates
toward a brick and steel structure that formed a central platform
about two stories high. Beside it was an ancient rusted van.
All around me, I could see the floor was dotted and scarred marking
out places where equipment and heavy machinery once stood.
.....I climbed the iron stairs
after the receptionist to the first level of the central structure-at
one point I was close enough to identify her weapon as a .38
snub-nosed. A grated floor ringed in with tube steel railing
was at the top of the stair. This formed a square roughly twelve
feet on a side. A long line of plastic chairs followed the railing.
Across from me another stair rose to another similar level fifteen
feet up. A thick haze hung over this, and I could just make out
the movement of a hat or head. I smelled tobacco-cigars and cigarettes-maybe
a pipe. This odor barely made it over the palpable stench of
oil, garbage and exhaust fumes.
.....Noises came out of the fog
up there-a throat was cleared, a harsh laugh followed and then
a queer female titter. The receptionist told me to raise my arms
as she gave me a quick frisk. She did this in a brusque distracted
manner then told me to give her the satchel that hung from my
shoulder. With a glance that clearly suggested I sit in one of
the plastic chairs, she climbed the second set of stairs with
the ransom hanging casually over one arm.
.....I sat down thinking. Something
was wrong here. The pat down, everything was way too casual.
There was clearly no fear that Mr. Savaridge might break and
rat them out to his coworkers in Authority. The receptionist
could have cared less and if I wasn't mistaken, I could hear
the quiet rustling of cards from the next level up. Tupov wasn't
a big enough player to be this relaxed. Or was he? The only thing
that kept me from weeping was the .9 mm Glock I had tucked in
my boot. I'd just have to keep my eyes peeled. Truth was, my
career was hardly something to rival Pinkerton's-and my biggest
cases had barely made mention in the papers. When considering
that at the end of the day I was a detective who dressed like
a clown-my credibility usually drained away at the first meeting.
In fact, it was half the reason I had gone along in the first
place. Savaridge had involved me for a reason-first sight of
me usually deflected an impressive amount of apprehension or
suspicion. It got me kicked out of places, but I was no threat.
To Tupov's crew I might be a private dick who had gone over the
deep end with the rest of the world after the Change. Spent his
time being a bagman on kidnapping deals. I decided that my biggest
problem now was remaining insignificant without becoming expendable.
....."This it?" An
angry voice came clanging down the stairs. It carried a Russian
accent that was barely audible over the streetwise, hip-hop gangster
twang. "The hell is it?"
.....I heard a few muffled voices,
then the clatter of chairs moving and boots striking metal. I
lifted my head and watched the receptionist lead Tupov and some
friends down the stairs. I stood up as they approached.
.....I could tell Tupov by his
manner when he almost pushed the receptionist down the stairs
going past her. He had a stiff brush of iron gray hair which
wove into a long set of dreadlocks covering his shoulders. His
face had the look of a pre-Change thirty. The hair color was
either premature or altered-his face did not look ready for gray.
A dagger was tattooed onto his left cheek-its blade traced the
rout of his carotid artery before disappearing under the collar
of his denim shirt. He wore a medium length leather coat over
dark trousers. Chrome tips drew attention to his cowboy boots.
....."The hell is it?"
He glared at me with light blue eyes, moved quickly toward my
.....I took a second to gauge
the caliber of his help. Thug One looked like he'd died by gunshot
wound to the face. The right side of his jaw was wired into place
and covered by some kind of flesh colored tape or bandage. In
many places there were tiny tears that showed flesh and bone
underneath. The eye in his right socket protruded slightly and
must have given him a distracting fish-eyed view of the world.
His hair was combed over from the left, and barely hid an ugly
exit wound above his right temple. The flesh was a tangle of
green stitches and wire. Like the others he wore a heavy overcoat
that exaggerated his bulk.
.....Thugs Two and Three were
dead also but otherwise unremarkable, making up for their fairly
normal appearance with exaggerated, aggressive movements. The
blond was shorter and his limbs had a muscular appearance. The
cause of death was unknown for both. I could tell they were dead
by the ghoulish gray of their untreated skins and deathly purple
darkness around their eyes.
....."The hell is it?"
Tupov repeated with barely a trace of an accent. His light eyes
ran over me. "Wildclown a clown?" He stepped in close.
His cologne had already started dissolving my makeup.
He shook his head, pushed the satchel at me. "Fucking thief!"
I grabbed the empty satchel. "The rest of it?"
....."$12,000." I said,
opening the empty bag then dropping it between my boots. "$12,000."
....."Should be 15 G, thief!"
He glared at me hard enough to draw blood. I watched thugs One
and Two moving to my flanks.
....."Savaridge gave me
$12,000 for the ransom." I began, shifting my weight slightly,
getting ready for the worst of it.
....."Ransom?" A quizzical
half-humorous look crossed Tupov's face. "He calling it
the receptionist. "He want to get his bachelorhood back
safe and sound."
....."What do you call it?"
I spat the words, the hairs on my head starting to crawl.
....."Short three grand!"
He lashed out fast and caught me on the left cheek. I felt a
ring grind into the bone. Before I could return fire his thugs
were on me. One of them must have been carrying a bathtub because
something about that heavy landed on the back of my head. I tried
to keep my balance, but a number of knees and well-placed kicks
made it impossible.
.....Next thing I knew I was
looking up at the receptionist. Her gun was out and pointed at
me. She was still smiling at the clown. Tupov stepped into view
over my head; he knelt.
....."Savaridge pay me fifteen
G to whack his bitch wife." He patted my cheek. I noticed
his hand came away red. "I ain't getting ripped by no clown."
.....The receptionist laughed
and couldn't resist kicking me in the head.
of Mrs. Savaridge
I awoke to find myself still in possession of Wildclown's
body-lucky, except for the many aches and bruises that went along
with the exchange. In the past when I was knocked out, I'd find
myself hovering overhead like so much cigarette smoke-then I'd
have to hustle to regain control. This time I was fortunate and
could feel the cold cloth being pressed against my cheek. I was
sprawled on the floor, could feel the corrugated metal cutting
into the flesh on my back. I opened my eyes and looked into Tupov's
....."Look." He pressed
the cool cloth against my head. "Sorry for my friends. They
angry people. And the dead men work for peanuts, and they don't
want no peanuts." He chuckled. "They like to do things,
you know? Specially to live people."
....."You killed Mrs. Savaridge?"
I growled through clenched teeth.
....."We did." Tupov
grabbed my arm and pulled me upright until my back rested against
the railing. We were still on the first level. "For fifteen
....."You work cheap."
I grumbled then took the cigarette he lit and offered me. For
a minute I enjoyed the taste of the smoke. Behind Tupov I could
see Thugs One to Three pacing, getting rested up for a little
.....A flash of violence sparked
behind Tupov's eyes, then he laughed. "Not cheap, clown.
I know Savaridge, he a dirty Authority Inspector, and now I own
his ass." He knotted his fingers in my collar. "I talked
to Savaridge while you were sleeping. He said he gave you fifteen
....."You spoke to him?"
My brain suddenly fired a mixture of synaptic juice and terror.
....."Said you took three
from me." Tupov pulled me upright, until I fell onto a chair.
The world spun momentarily. When I looked down, I saw that the
shoulders of my coverall were scarlet.
....."We're dead now."
I looked into Tupov's eyes.
....."We" He frowned.
....."Where's Mrs. Savaridge?"
I looked at Tupov's companions this time. A flash of doubt flickered
over their expressions.
....."In the van."
He scowled. "You fucking my head around?"
....."She's all we've got."
I ignored the vertigo and climbed to my feet. Tupov tried to
push me down, but his doubts had weakened him. I pushed back.
The dead thugs stepped forward; the receptionist raised her gun.
"Wait." I pulled hard on my cigarette. "Let me
.....A loudspeaker rang through
the shadowed warehouse. "All right Tupov! This is Authority,
you are surrounded."
.....Tupov glared at me. "You
....."Lay down your weapons
and exit the building" The bullhorn continued.
....."Damn it! Use your
head." I grabbed Tupov and shoved him hard against the rail.
"Savaridge sent the money short so we'd fight, so he'd have
time to get into position."
....."Savaridge hired me
to whack his wife." Tupov insisted.
....."Did you really think
he'd let you get away with that?" I slapped my own forehead.
"Damn it, I almost deserve this." I grabbed Tupov's
shoulder. His bodyguards were hurrying down the stairs to take
up positions against the force I knew would be gathering. One
of them must have paused to kill the overhead lights. Darkness
collapsed around us.
....."How did you kill her?"
I couldn't resist. I punched him hard in the temple. His head
snapped back but I kept him on his feet. "After Blacktimecan
she talk?" I caught the forms of the thugs flitting across
the dark warehouse floor. Their guns glinted blue.
....."In the heart. I shot
her heart." Moisture glistened in Tupov's eyes. "The
boys grind her up when we get paid."
.....I flinched when the first
string of shots echoed in the air. Someone screamed. Floodlights
illuminated the warehouse's windows-threw crazy shadows across
....."In the van?"
There was a loud report, and I saw smoke begin to creep from
the hallway and out across the warehouse floor. Tracer bullets
ricocheted. I turned to Tupov. "What were you supposed to
do with me? When you called him. What did he tell you to do?"
....."He said he pay the
difference that you ripped." Tupov's whole body shook when
a blistering line of gunfire strafed and sparked on the walls
around us. The smoke billowed in. "Plus said we whack you
for another two."
.....I needed time to think and
I didn't have any. I was about twenty-five feet from the van
that contained the remains of Anna Savaridge. I had her cold-blooded
murderer in my hands. His boss her husband had brought gunmen
with him and was unlikely to leave any witnesses.
.....I pulled my Glock and without
hesitation placed the mouth of the barrel between Tupov's eyes.
Some Time Alone
.....I could hear the van doors
open through the rubber sheeting that was wrapped around Anna
Savaridge and me. The gunfire had died down some time ago. Voices
had bellowed, bad guys were captured or killed. I imagined that
the dead thugs had been difficult to overcome. How do you kill
a guy who's dead? My initial theory that Savaridge would bring
an army was wrong. Most likely he'd bring a few loyal guns, or
underlings he could either trust or silence with a bullet.
.....I felt Anna Savaridge's
recently killed body go stiff when her husband's voice echoed
in the van.
....."Oh my god!" He
said. "They killed her."
.....I could smell Mrs. Savaridge's
blood on the rubber sheet that bound us together. It was pooled
under us. I was sticky with it, my own too.
said. "No. No. You look around for others." I heard
muffled voices. "No, you look for them. I saw them head
that way. To the back." There was a thick sobbing sound.
"I need to do this for her. You look for themdon't let them
get away." He paused mid-soap opera. "I want them to
.....And I knew he wanted to
be alone with his dead wife to be sure the job was done properly.
I heard footsteps move away, there was silence for a full minute.
Then the rubber sheet was flung back.
.....Through closed eyelashes
I saw that Savaridge stood at the rear of the van, his long black
overcoat gleamed with moisture. "Anna?"
.....I felt some minor stiffening
of her dead limbs but she did not answer. We had already had
a talk. Mrs. Savaridge and I had a plan. Tupov was out cold across
the front seat. I had bound and gagged him.
.....From the shadow I saw that
Savaridge had a gun, its barrel drooped as he looked at his wife-there
was nothing on his face. He looked at me and a cold sneer curled
his lip. He mumbled something like "Clown, too" then
looked back to his wife.
.....I reached up, snatched Savaridge's
gun, then grabbed his coat and pulled him into the van. His wife's
dead arms and legs wrapped around him and her eyes snapped open.
I slipped a hand over Savaridge's mouth.
....."When I came in here
to hide, I was going to tell her." I whispered. Savaridge's
face was barely an inch from his wife's. Her lifeless eyes stared
into his. "But she was out of Blacktime. She'd already heard
Tupov and the others talking about your deal, talking to me."
.....The dead woman's limbs vibrated
as they tightened; I felt them go rigid as steel over her husband's
ribs and hips. I heard a harsh exhale of breath. He whimpered
something into my hand.
....."I think you two need
some time alone."
.....Savaridge tried to plead
when my hand left his mouth, but Anna's arms grew tighter around
his ribcage. A breath squeaked out. He gasped something. Anna's
lips curled back. Her teeth gleamed like fangs.
.....Slipping out of the van,
I saw that a smoky haze still rolled over the floor-it would
help cover my escape. I closed the doors and moved. When I was
no more than twenty feet from the van, there was a horrible scream
and then the vehicle shook on its old axles.
.....Distant footfalls followed.
I used the distraction to melt into the shadows.
Copyright (c) 2003 by G. Wells Taylor
G. Wells Taylor lives in Canada and has worked
as a journalist, copy writer and web graphic artist. In addition
to polishing the sequels to his horror detective novel When
Graveyards Yawn he edits and designs The
Wildclown Chronicle, a strange new breed of online magazines.
Taylor has written numerous novels and screenplays that
he plans to fit into a burgeoning publishing and production schedule.
The works feature genres ranging from horror and science fiction
to contemporary fiction.
He lists Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, Jack L. Chalker
and D.H. Lawrence among his greatest inspirations.
NOTE: A revised version of this story forms part of the opening chapter of G. Wells Taylor's new collection of short stories, Wildclown: Hard-Boiled.
Please direct further comments and
inquiries about submissions to the fiction
editor, or check out this page.
"And I'll tell you right out that I'm a
man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk."
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