Our tale begins in fair Verona. Where two families, Costi and Moretta, equal in iniquity, unite in discord. From ancient grounds froth new dispute, and uncivil words make civil hands unclean.
From two foes sprang forth our lovers, Julia and Romolo, fair of form and well-composed. For was ever thus that fine similarity does lead more to foul difference.
But they end not their lives with the feud. For youth heeds not parents’ consent and flights are cheap. And so our end is distant Winchester where our lovers dwell, uncaring whether coffee is served with biscotti or biscotti with coffee.
“Preston Williams, your life is spent.”
That’s one realistic mask. Obviously, some new road safety campaign. “That’s not cool! Last thing I need is like a heart attack.”
Bony as fuck. Let’s see how committed they are. “If you’re Death, then you’ve got to let me play a game. Not chess. We’ll play Hide and Seek. You hide. If I find you, I win.”
“On one condition. My scythe is obvious enough you would find me easily; yet it cannot be left unattended.”
I take it and close my eyes.
When I open them, I know my duty.
The Akathi gave us unlimited clean energy. And then the murders started.
At first, no one connected them; one more death a week somewhere in the world. Then someone noticed the pattern: torn apart by nails and teeth; no attempt made to hide the body, but never any witnesses.
A few whispered about the Akathi. But we had no proof and each victim was depraved: rapists, abusers, murderers. So, we treated it as a price for our better world. Until the first video.
Ordinary people turning on a man and tearing him apart, then acting as if nothing had happened.
My mother always said I could be anything I wanted, so I became your friend.
Wasn’t easy, learning all the ways of being popular; the signs of just being better than ordinary people. Developing a sense for when cool was about to become dated.
But in the end, that wasn’t a burden. Getting to be close to you inspired me to keep going even when things seemed difficult; until it seemed natural to care more about the things you liked than the things I used to.
No, the hard part was getting her skin off without tearing any delicate areas.
Shadows’ve howled three nights running; same as before Jeb and Eph disappeared. Sally reckons I’m loco, says they’ve sniffing after some woman or running from a deal.
But she’s wrong. Them dead Injuns cursed us for messing with their grave. The three of us and Cyrus Barron. Took my share back after they got Eph, and two other shares when the shadows howled again.
Barron slammed his door when I told him to give his back though.
I ain’t getting took. Brought a shotgun; one for the door and one for him.
Barely midday. Why’s his place black as pitch?
Shoulders hunched, Tom placed a small package on the desk. “Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you.” Corinne folded the paper back with one perfect nail, revealing a rod with a three-lobed end. “What is it?”
“Lockheed Tri-Wing. Asked Sandra what you liked. She said screwdrivers.”
Sandra sniggered. “I meant the vodka cocktail, you numpty.”
“Sorry.” He shrank further.
Corinne wrapped porcelain fingers over his rough ones. “You can tell me about over drinks.”
Tom frowned. “I got it wrong but you’re going out with me?”
“I’m going out with you because you didn’t question that I liked tools.”
Jaspar Fuzzy-Breeks, Jarl of Sofar, Chare, and the Boxen Isles, stretched. Winter had come to Ut-Garden, bringing cold and damp to the very sill of his hall. And, as they did every year, the thumb-giants had failed to drive it back.
Una the Deep Meowing counselled yowling at the winter, but Jaspar favoured a different course. He would sleep until the thumb-giants opened the door of Nom. Then he would feast and fight until the hour when the thumb-giants settled back onto their resting places.
The moment they did, he would steal the thumb-giant’s heat.
And then sleep some more.
Our first plan was Semtex. Once we factored in the cost of drill bits, we realised an X-ray laser was cheaper. And there’s something symbolic about severing cleanly.
Some might say that we compromised our purity a little on power; but if you think about it, we turned the enemy against itself.
We’d have got away with it, if we hadn’t added the umbilical. The temptation of cheap wine and fags was too much though.
I am insulted by the verdict: not guilty by way of insanity. We’re not mad. We were doing what the country wanted: separation from Europe.
The tang of oil, cut with dust. No hint of burning. More importantly, no blood. Probably safe.
Tap. Tap. Duff.
Something soft in the doorway.
I crouch. Feels like a coat. Empty pockets. Rough untorn wool. Probably stained, but who’ll notice?
The shutter judders, but locks eventually.
I borrow the last of the coffee and huddle under my new acquisition. The chill still bites. Another reason to miss Snoop.
I risk the radio. The same emergency broadcast: Stay in your home. Don’t look at the symbols.
Almost out of cans. Should I head for the country? Are there blind farmers?
Started the way it always does, officer, with a dame and a deal. I’m sitting in Murphy’s when this broad sways over. She’s invented something like a photo filter but for life. Testing and paperwork’s expensive. So, she’s looking to make some lettuce.
Always had a thing for noir, so I give the nod.
She’s got gams that go all the way, but ain’t up for a journey; so I split.
Block later, this hood takes a fancy to my wallet.
Laid me out, but I got a good look. 5’ 7”, ashy hair, charcoal jacket, cream slacks.