Saturday, 2 October 2010

Chapter Thirty-Four

The girl had eluded her. She felt helpless. And so, Dr Katherine Reece had done the only thing she could think to do. It was frightening how easily the thought of vengeance came to her, growing quickly inside, frightening how at home the idea had felt. She would stave off fear and panic with a swell of righteous rage, hack a path through the rampant chaos around her. She would share a measure of her hatred.
Katherine drove down through London, chain-smoking all the way. Strangely, she thought about buying her dead son a birthday gift. A good horror movie, or maybe a book – something by Ian McEwan? ‘The Cement Garden’, perhaps. Or ‘Hunger’ by Knut Hamsun. Sean had loved all that stuff. He’d always been a voracious reader and an avid film fan. Yes, when all this was said and done, if she was still alive, she would buy him something. Something that he would have liked.

The house was on a corner, only a five minute drive from Victoria Station. Getting inside was not a problem.
She stood silently in the darkness of the hallway, beside a grandfather clock that ticked soothingly. Katherine felt a current of dark excitement go through her. She would enjoy this so much. She couldn’t do this and not savour every moment of it. She pulled the gun from her jacket and disengaged the safety. It made a satisfying click and she began moving softly up the stairs. As she ascended, she heard the low melody of music. Jazz. Something passionate and freewheeling, maybe Miles Davis.
She stepped up onto the landing. The bathroom door was closed but she could hear a shower running.
Gun poised, she treaded carefully into the bedroom. The music was coming from a tiny but expensive-looking sound system. The room was large and plush, decked in pale greens and blues. The bedcovers were unmade and a glass of red wine sat on the dresser.
Katherine walked up to the dresser, listening to the sound of the shower beneath the music, and took the wineglass in her free hand, noticing a mirrored credit card on the dresser-top. She downed the contents of the glass.
She put it back and picked up the mirrored card, thinking, He’s been doing coke…how predictable. Turning it over, she saw there was a red code etched into a black strip. 03330. It wasn’t simply a mirror, she realised, it was a security key-card. Katherine frowned and slipped it into her pocket. She heard the shower stop, and the sound of someone stepping out into bathroom.
She left the dresser and stepped quickly behind the bedroom door.
She waited, perfectly still, breath held. She waited for the bastard, and she was struck by how thrilled she was feeling at this moment. Her employers wanted her dead, and yet the possibility of ensuing violence by her own hands filled her with a disturbing sense of freedom. This wouldn’t be like the men she’d killed for Locus. This wouldn’t be a faceless, meaningless death. No. This would be beautiful.
This would be a piece of fucking art.
Wesley Morgan stepped into the room, a towel round his waist, his muscular brown-skinned torso gleaming like some exotic predator in the lamplight. Miles Davis continued his sumptuous playing. Wesley had his back to her. He pulled open a polished oak closet, searching for fresh clothes, humming along atonally to the music. He seemed to freeze and Katherine tensed. He had glanced at the empty wine glass on his dresser.
A low trembling breath escaped him. Katherine slowly shut the door with a creak of the hinges and she saw him shudder slightly. He didn’t turn to face his intruder. He kept his bare back turned. She had her weapon pointed square at the back of his head, waiting silently.
Eventually he muttered, “Kathy…?” She smiled, knowing he couldn’t see it. “Kathy is that you…?”
“It’s your misplaced conscience, Wes.” He seemed to cringe at the sound of her voice. Although she couldn’t see his face she knew that a tirade of possibilities were coursing through his mind, all of them very bleak. It was delicious. “Turn around, big boy.”
Slowly, he did as he was asked. His eyes met hers and she saw tears in them. He was trembling, afraid. She laughed out loud at the expression on his face.
“Kathy, please…don’t-”
“Shut the fuck up.” Wesley Morgan nodded quickly and did as he was told. She appraised him for a moment. She remembered the feel of him beneath her fingers. “Take off the towel.”
He pulled it and it fell. The bastard stood naked before her.
“Not as big as I remember,” she told him. “Must’ve overestimated it, what with all the myths about black men.”
She watched tears roll down his handsome face. His trembling was worsening.
“Are you afraid, Wes? Are you afraid of me now?” He grimaced and nodded, pressing his eyes shut, as through he were trying to hold back a sob. “Sit on the bed.”
He walked over to the bed and sat on it’s edge, looking up at her with fear in his eyes. He looked like a boy to her now, a big, muscular child. All the confidence and poise was gone.
“Tell me what you know about Interregnum, Wes. And if you lie to me…I’ll paint these walls with your clever brain.”
Wesley Morgan was hunched naked on the edge of the bed. “There’s so much,” he began, and had to look away. “Kathy, please don’t do this…I was only following orders…I swear…I meant you no harm.”
Katherine had to laugh. “You’re a terrible liar, Wes.” She gestured at the bed on which he sat. “Do you remember, babe? We fucked all night on this bed. You wanted to get as deep inside me as possible, remember? You barely looked at me.”
He looked so afraid, like all people do, she supposed, when they realise death is approaching. “You better start talking, Dr Morgan.”
Afraid and naked, water from the shower still wet on his skin, he nodded.
“Interregnum is older than you think. They have lots of power…they’re like a prism. They collect and refract light. Please, Kathy – don’t kill me…”
She stared but he couldn’t look at her. “What do you mean they’re like a prism?”
The naked psychologist began to cry but stopped himself. “They’re…they can travel between worlds…into other dimensions of existence.”
“Bullshit,” Katherine hissed, cocking the hammer of the gun.
“It’s true,” he said quickly, pressing his eyes shut again. “They’re into some very dark things…sacrifices and energy…like stuff from a delusion. I’m not talking about amateur supplication, this is real. They’ll kill anyone that gets in their way, even you, Kathy. Even me. There’s a whole other world that goes on in this city…stuff that would reduce you to despair, and I’ve cried myself to sleep more than once. I know they want Cole for something very important to them. Something they call the dawning of the Altar Sun…the War Of Miracles. Kathy-”
“Stop,” she ordered. “No begging. What else?”
Wesley was shaking terribly now, tears streaming silently. She took a few steps towards him.
“Angelina Rose; the fake albino…she’s not like us.”
“What the fuck does that mean, Wes?”
He shook his head slowly. “She’s dying, I think. She can take things from people. Pigmentation, blood, hormones, even life-energy….all through touch.”
“Are you telling me that woman…is a fucking vampire?”
He nodded fearfully, glancing up at the gun. “She’s a very powerful witch.”
Katherine felt a chill skitter through her and she lowered the gun just a fraction. It was enough.
Wesley Morgan lunged at her like a wild, honed thing, shoving her arm away so fiercely that she felt the muscles in her shoulder pull. No, was all she managed to consciously think. He caught her off-balance and drove a fist deep into her gut, the breath bursting from her lungs. She didn’t have time to pull the gun back round. He slammed her up against the dresser, snatching her hand and pulling her wrist so hard that she dropped the gun.
He had her braced completely, trapped in a position in which she couldn’t move. Fear closed her throat at how easily he’d disarmed her. She’d pissed away her edge by underestimating him. Now she was going to die, murdered by a man she’d slept with, not only slept with but gave herself to him in a way she had never truly given herself to Bobby.
A grin spread across Wesley Morgan’s face.
“Kathy…angry young gal,” he hissed in her ear, pressing himself against her, crushing her against the wall. “Guess what, darling? Interregnum is turning me into a genuine wrath & thunder god. Like the old gods of the mountains. This girl is a precursor to a new world…but it’ll be a world of their design. I have a place in that world. Everyone else, the entire human race, is fucked. Listen to me; they’re here. They’re walking amongst us now. This is what pisses me off; you could’ve been there with me, Kathy. You’ve got bigger balls than any man I know. I could of brought you in eventually but you forfeit that honour, you reckless bitch…”
Those words sent a plume of rage up through her. She could feel his penis against her left hip, rigid, erect.
She head-butt him as hard as she could and he jerked back, just enough for her to grab at the empty wineglass on the dresser at her side. She whipped it round and lashed at his face, the glass exploding, fragments of it driving into his cheek and into her hand. They both cried out.
He stumbled backwards, bringing up a hand to clutch at his ragged, bloodied cheek. Katherine swung, curling her hand into a fist a moment before it connected with the side of his face, driving the glass fragments deeper into his cheek. She cried out too as he staggered and then tripped over the edge of the bed, landing at an angle. The back of his head slammed against the corner of the bedside cabinet.
He grunted hard and was silent, still. Eyes closed.
Katherine realised all she could hear was her pulse throbbing in her ears. She was afraid to move. She glanced down at the gun on the floor. As she reached down to grab it, Wesley Morgan’s eyes snapped open, his face almost feral, and he kicked out brutally with his right leg. He caught her in the crotch as his foot slammed into her sex. Katherine gagged and crumpled to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut.
A white hot pain she had never imagined before; spiralling through her vagina, her entire pelvis, up into her belly – twisting her insides like some hideous torture technique. She gagged again on her own breath as the world fell away, like a dream, into a violent ocean of streaming lights and silent shrieking. Sean…Bobby…Mum and Dad…all of it dissolving around her. The torture that was eating her from the inside went on, relentless and merciless.
She wondered if this was what death was like.

Wesley Morgan watched Katherine Reece shudder on his bedroom floor, her eyes rolled up in their sockets. The back of his head was pounding from where it had caught the corner of the cabinet, and his cheek burned like it was on fire.
He dragged himself into a sitting position and touched the base of his skull. He felt blood, lots of it. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he stared at Katherine lost in her own private hell. But the pounding intensified and his vision began to sparkle with lights.
“No…” he managed at the pain, as if ordering it to stop. He tried to climb to his feet but his legs felt only semisolid. He snatched at his bedcovers and hauled himself halfway up onto the mattress. He saw his mobile phone. The pain at the base of his skull seemed to intensify three-fold. “Oh shit,” he murmured in a breath of agony. More glinting lights swarmed his vision.
She’d fucked like a real whore, a consummate professional, and now the whore had tried to kill him; the redheaded bitch that he actually liked, almost admired. God…the pain was unbearable. Like someone was slowly driving a thin metal spike deeper and deeper into the back of his head.
He reached out and clutched at the mobile phone. The screen swam in and out of focus, obscured by the glinting lights. He punched at the Send button, causing the phone to re-dial the last number he’d called. He could feel liquid warmth rolling profusely down his bare back. And then the glinting lights seemed to fade into an encroaching blackness.
“Oh, God, no…”
Dr Wesley Morgan slumped off the edge of the bed and thudded to the floor, the phone slipping from his grasp and bouncing on the carpet. He lay there, naked, only a few feet from where Kathy was curled in her own private universe. Darkness seemed to be swallowing him whole. And now a real fear, not feigned and calculated, began to fill the dark.
Dad with the belt. The brown dog that attacked him when he was sixteen. Studying for the PhD. Zoe’s slow death from stomach cancer. His first murder. His second murder, his third, his fourth, fifth, sixth.
Meeting Angelina Rose for the first time.
Making love to her for the first time. He was struck by the realisation that he had, in fact, always been afraid. He had lived his whole life in a secret, unacknowledged terror. At this thought his terror parted for a brief moment. He saw a stark vision of himself, as naked as he lay now. He was oddly grateful at this new self-awareness, before the terror collapsed in on him again.
But he was special...he was chosen. Angelina had saved him, loved him. Dark brown hands on milk-white skin. Like making love to a ghost. But Angel wasn’t a ghost. She was a goddess. Wesley couldn’t believe these would be the final moments of his life.

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