Saturday, March 31


The bloodshot sun falls from the sky. I sit in my apartment, a not-so welcome change of scenery, and watch the hazy sky turn from deep blue to violent red. The sun glows brightly, darkly, agonisingly, leaking blood into the falling skies. The redness flows along the crest of the distant rise of Hollingdean, spreads out and across Lewes Road, and inches towards Moulsecombe and myself, sitting in the dark, watching the desperate death of the day.

As I watch the sunset - so powerful and beautiful in its bold and terrible colours, so slow and dramatic in its stark artistry - I am reminded that everything bleeds.

I still haven't heard anything from K. I'm beside myself, outside myself. Did she betray me after all? Worse, was she captured? I can't understand my obession with the woman; beyond the arrogance, power and grace in that slender body, something about her has claws in me. I make a silent oath to my whiskey that if she gets hurt in this even Thornton won't stop my thirst for revenge.

I've tried to keep myself distracted during the day. I've gathered up everything I have on Seth's over-acheiving cousin. I've collected all the accounts and the family historys. I've found the areas that are just too clean. I'll give that to Seth as a start. The guy is beside himself now. Last time I saw him he was practically shacking with the anger and humilation of his cousins' higher position.

But even as I work through the details of the investigation, I keep one I fixed on the door, the window, the phone, anything which might betray some hint as to K or Thompson's whereabouts.

Friday, March 30


The Thompson Project has exploded again. I don't know where to go or what to do. But the clock keeps ticking, and it's only a matter of time before things start to burn.

I head into town, find a nice quiet joint called Henny's. It's a nice place to lie low and think things through. There aren't many shadows in that clean, white café. Besides, the serving girls there always have a nice smile for me.

Henny's doesn't sell whiskey though. I make do with a coffee, and tell myself that if it was the kind of place that sold whiskey to guys like me, it wouldn't be the kind of nice quiet joint where I could think. Doubtless the watiresses wouldn't smile so easily either.

I write out a note for K. I tell her to leave a message for me here, tell her not to come back to the office. I don't like to think that she crossed me deliberatley yesterday. It woudn't be the first time a pair of glittering eyes had deceived me, but K didn't fit the pattern. I warn her that Thompson might be onto her.

All I can do is leave the note with the nervous barman at The Bridge. I almost feel bad for not folding the thing into some work of art. I seal the envelope and leave the barman with some instructions and some extra paper notes. God knows whether K will ever see the message, but I have to try.

Thursday, March 29


I head out to Pevensey in the car. Rain hammers on the metal roof, screaming in my ears as the vehicle roars down the highway. The cacophany of nature and machine makes a tense, hissing soundtrack as I consider the encounter ahead.

K tells me I'll see Thornton in Pevensey this afternoon. Seems he has some sort of business in The Crown in the town centre. I still don't know if K is to be trusted. Just the scent of that perfume makes my head spin like some horrific theme park attraction. Only enter if you are this emotionally insecure.

I park the car around the corner from the pub, and walk inside. I keep to the walls and circle the place, trying to avoid notice. Why is it that being deliberatley inconspicuous always attracts suspicious stares? But there's no sign of Johnson. I'm just about to leave when I detect a trace of perfume in the air. My stomach lurches. K was here. A shadow moves across the room and slips out the back door, heading for the beer garden. An inconspicous shadow. I reach inside my jacket and settle the Twins, flicking off the safety switches.

I open the back door and look out over a courtyard garden. A children's play area sways in the slight wind. The rain has stopped, so I step into the courtyard to get a better look around.

That was my mistake. The shout was theirs.

Everything happened at once after the shout. Movement came from either side of me, shadows seperate from the sides of the building. Instinctively I drop to a crouch. My hands cross my chest, draw the twins, and fire a single round either side of me. A shadow drops to the ground to my right with a scream. But the other shadow keeps coming. I rise to meet him, and we struggle backwards, locked in a voilent embrace. I twist and push, sending him tumbling over a wooden bench. My foot stops him rising. My fist sends him into darkness for a while.

All this voilence makes me thirsty. I head back into The Crown and order a whiskey from the bar. It was a trap after all. The question now is, did K set me up deliberatley, or was she discovered? I'll find no more answers here, Thompson will be long gone.

The barman asks after the fresh swelling on my face. I give him a stare that sends him skuttling across the bar to a fresh batch of customers, and walk out.

Tuesday, March 27


I walk into the office today to be suprised again. Another paper crane sits on the only blank space on my desk, a tower of calm grace among a chaotic litter of papers and files. I try to slow my heartbeat. It's a time bomb, I remind myself. Sooner or later, this will end in blood and tears. It always does. Still, my hand trembles slightly as I reach out - gently, as if any sudden movement might scare it into flight - and lift the crane from the desk.

I unfold it, fingers fumbling in haste. My only lead in days, and chance to get closer to K. I can barely contain myself. But I can't lose myself now. I stop, put down the crane, and steady myself with a glass of whiskey. Its fire at the back of my throat helps burn off the nerves. Strange how I can only think straight when my mind is swimming.

The crane is from K alright. She wants to meet with me again, at the Bridge. I walk out of town right away. The gentle exercise gives me time to think and collect myself. But the sun is too bright. Too many days inside pouring over bits of paper. My tired eyes wince against the light. Eyes to the pavement, I walk.

I get to the bridge and wait at the bar. I eye up the joint: balding men hide behind thick puffs of cigarette smoke. The place stinks of nicotine and stale beer. She gets the drop on me again, her perfume a kick in the nuts as soon as I taste it. I don't say a word as she takes a seat by my side, save to catch the barman's eye and order a glass of red wine. She takes my whiskey and throws it back. I order another before the barman skuttles away.

K tells me that Thompson is hiding just out of town. Seems he'll be in Pevensey on Thursday afternoon. I accept my whiskey with a nod to the barman. I don't know how to play this, it reeks of a trap. But if she wanted me dead for Thompson, she could have had me at any time in the past week. I ask her where she'll be on Thursday. She just gives me a cool smile, and leaves me alone with my alcohol and the cigarette smoke of strangers.

Wednesday, March 21


Nothing makes sense. The walls are closing in again. Thompson is out there, but where? Where? And all the while I'm driven round in circles by the hint of a scent of a womans perfume. Damn Blue, you're getting in too deep already.

I've been over everything I have today. Every contact, every file, every old clue and every memory in the dark corridors of my mind. Nothing has brought me any closer to Thompson. I have half a mind to march in on Thornton and demand to know what he knows. Or to offer my services, to punish Thompson for his failure. I even take my long coat from the door and rest Faith in her holster. But I know it's foolish. Thornton would have me shot on sight if I went anywhere near him. K made that perfectly clear.

So here I am, shouting at the walls and kicking over furniture. It's cabin fever and there's no way out, no-where to hide. I need something new, something fresh. Seth and Baltam are forgotten, I have to track down Thompson.

Or have the rules changed while my back was turned? Some instinctive fever for revenge and vindication courses through my veins like hydrolic fluid, burning oil tearing through an engine, red hot flames chewing up a building. I begin to think that it's not Thompson who lit this fire though. Why does it now burn so brightly, and so hot? No, there's something more to this.

K stands always over my shoulder, just out of reach, a glowing cigerette in one hand and burning match in the other.

Tuesday, March 20


The meeting with K has had me all mixed up, scattered my thoughts like ashes on the wind. I can't understand why she's helping me. Might just be my winning smile, but I don't like the taste of that biscuit. No, she has some sort of motive. Could be that she's working for Thompson herself, to gain my trust and put me off the scent. But why go to the trouble? Why not just kill me and have done it with it?

To top it all, everytime I turn my head I get a faint taste of that perfume, and it all comes rushing back in an arctic breeze.

Lights off, whiskey cradled in my hand, I gaze through the blinds of my office at the world outside. It's cold tonight, no-one moves. I try to decide whether to sleep here, or head home to my apartment. These days, the office is more home to me. Besides, the flat has dreadful views. I feel trapped there, stuck in the dark, waiting for the alcohol rush to pass and a new day to dawn.

None of it is getting me anywhere. I still don't know where to find Thompson, and I've still got nothing on Seth's cousin.

Monday, March 19

Red Wine

Today, I wait.

I tidy the office. I look at my watch. I fill out the paperwork on Baltam. I look at the clock. I stare out of the window, and wait.

Eventually, darkness falls over the world like a gloved fist closing around around a candleflame, suffocating and drowning the light. Midnight approaches, and finally I can head out to the Bridge.

It's located at the edge of town. It's a place only the locals know about. There are so many fights and killings there, I'm surprised they still have any locals. I find the bar and order a whiskey.

I notice the perfume first. Like a faint mist teasing through the air, it strikes me for its subtlety and power. I can barely notice the fragile scent, but it sends my head reeling. I'm suddenly glad for the whiskey.

She takes a seat next to me, orders a red wine. The barman is flustered, says their out. She lights a cigerette - it mingles with her perfume intoxicatingly - and asks again for a glass of wine. The barman hurries away into the cellar. I'm not too proud to reach over the bar and top up my whiskey.

When she speaks, I finally recognise her. K was one of Thornton's secretaries. She had been one of the kinder ones as I was ushered out of the building. There was no sign of that sweet smile now though. She was a stilletto knife, finely honed and glinting in the candlelight.

K tells me about Thompson. He is one of Thornton's pen pushers, responsible for tidying up the off-record business interesting. From his plush, leather cushioned oaken throne, Thornton controls half of the prostitution, drug distribution and human trafficking across the city. Thompson just checks the figures, sees to the authorities. Seems I helped uncover one of Thornton's pimps about a year ago. A crazy bastard by the name of Whitby, I remember him all too clearly. Thompson was responsibly for closing me down quietley.

But Thompson screwed up. He went too far and showed me too much. Thornton has cut his chain and disavowed all knowledge. That sounds like good news to me. It means that when I find the little weasel, he'll have no bigger brother to come knocking on my door.

K promises to be in touch, and rises to leave. The barman comes running from the cellar, dusty bottle and glass in hand. Smiling nervously, he pours out a glass and offers it to K. She puts out her cigeratte on the bar, takes the glass, and drinks it down in one great swig. She drops a couple of coins on the table, and walks out.

Sunday, March 18


I don't like surprises.

In this job, a surprise tends to be something which blows up, catches fire, stabs you in the back or kicks you in the balls. I deal with the unexpected all the time. The unexpected and the unwarranted pay my bills. But surprises? I spend most of my day trying to avoid them. The more you know, the less you're surprised.

The thing with surprises is that they come when you think there's nothing left to explode.

I'd all but given up on ever tracking down Thompson. His personals page had drawn blank across the column. Thornton had locked me out so quickly it wasn't worth following up. And the smoking trail of corpses has gone cold.

This morning I walked into my office to find a surprise wrapped in shadows, giving off a faint ticking sound which I couldn't quite hear with my ears. I stand and hold the thing in my hand, thinking about how much I hate surprises.

The time bomb is a paper crane, folded every so delicatley into a starkly beautiful form. The white paper almost shines in the dark office. Writing is scrawled across the wings, but I can't read it because of the folds. I listen carefully. It doesn't quite tick. But that doesn't stop a shiver running down my spine. It had been left on my desk. That meant someone had got into my office which I was out.

I really hate surprises.

I carefully unfold the crane. Nothing explodes. Nothing catches fire. The sick feeling in my stomach only gets heavier, waiting for the inevitable bad news.

The note is a message, signed simply "K". It tells me to meet at The Bridge at midnight on Monday if I want to find Thompson.

I stare at the note, and wait for the explosion. Surprises never go my way. But I have to meet this K. If nothing else, I'll figure out how the bastard broke into my office, and break one of his knees as payment.

Thursday, March 15


The whiskey burns down the back of my throat. I feel its warmth spread through me for a moment, close my eyes to savour it, close my mind to keep the sensation in.

I'd let Baltam back down badly. Hell, I'd let myself down. Staring into that kid's lifeless brown eyes. I carried him to the edge of Stanmer Park, forcing myself to carry the load through the morning air and hide the body, before I can take it to Baltam.

Staring through the office window into the night, I catch my reflection in the glass. But instead of my own eyes staring back at me, I see two brown eyes staring into infinity. I turn the light off, and te reflection fades.

Baltam handled it well. He stood in silence a while, just trembling. But he didn't say a word, he didn't blame me. I left him in the dark and quiet in the end.

City lights are bright outside the window now. Car headlights sweep across a road nearby. So many people out there, so much life. Even in the dark, I can still see the shade of my reflection. I close the blinds.

It sickens me to my very core, but I still need to get paid by Baltam. At least I was able to bring the body back. Damn, I can't believe I'm thinking this. But I need to eat. I've put the time in. I've risked myself. Baltam owes me something. Damn. I need another whiskey.

Between the shutters of the window, I can just about see the black of night. I stare into it, praying for some kind of absolution.


I'm awake and out of the flat early. I walk outside into the inky dawn to find the world smothered by a blanket of fog, squeezing and choking the life out of the Earth for its sins.

I walk across and out of town. I got lucky last night, I heard the Eigonvectors are hiding out in Stanmer House, and they have a hostage. It can only be Baltam's cousin. I try to focus, center and calm myself on the hour long walk. The air is thick and heavy, cool on my face. It hides the corners and edges of the world from me. Secretly, I thank it.

The estate stands grand and square in Stanmer Park. Grey light fills the world, fog seems to swirl around the building. Last I heard, it was recently restored a usable state. I wonder that no-one has forced the gang out. How high does their influence spread?

I sneak in the back, through a kitchen door, Faith resting loosely in my hand. This time of day, none of the bastards will be awake. Inside the house is all stone floors, grand ceilings and dust sheets hiding furniture. I sneak around, poking my head through doors. In the entrance hall a set of stairs leads upwards. I follow it. Chinese gangsters lie in some of the rooms, most collapsed in a heap of empty bottles.

The Baltam kid is chained to a radiator in on of the bedrooms. A guard starts up when I sneak inside, drunk and confused. I tell him to sit down. I insist. He doesn't get back up. I cut the teenagers handcuffs, and lead him back out onto the corridor.

My luck runs out when I reach the entrance hall again, standing on the landing. Someone heard something, and the Chinese are waiting for me. Shots ring out as I round the corner. I fire back meekly, staggering behind some cover. I call to the Baltam kid to hide behind me. He lies on the floor, unmoving, blood seeping underneath him like he was a leaking bag.

That sick feeling rises in my stomach, stretching icy tendrils through my gut and up into my throat. For a moment, it threatens to consume me, to drag me under, to pin me down and hold my breath. But I force it down. The kid was dead. After everything. I draw Providence from inside my jacket.

By this point, I can't even feel angry any more.

I rise up in a daze, swing out onto the balcony, and open fire. Everything seems to move slowly. For a time, I can't hear anything above the rush of blood in my ears. Then a wave of something dark passes over me and everything goes red.

The Twins roar their shame and fury with all the bloodshot zeal of a tumor-crazed preacher. Shots echo around the room, kicking up dust and plaster and blood.

Then, after a second, a minute, and eternity of moments, a nothingth of forever, a heartbeat and a lifetime, it's all over. The Twins run out of lessons to preach. I stand and catch my breath in the silence, straining to listen. My throat is red raw, my breaths ragged, and some noise dully echoes through the room, clinging low and rough to the corners. But I don't remember screaming out.

Everything is quiet now. I carefully raise the corpse of the missing Baltam. The kid can't be more than seventeen. I walk out through the front door.

Walking back down Stanmer park, the air begins to clear. To one side of me, rich blues seep through the air, getting stronger and brighter by the minute as the air comes to life. To the other side, the thick fog boils and rolls, burning away before my eyes at the pure touch of the Sun. I stop and watch, straining to watch the movement of grey air which vanishes moments after I look at it. It is an eerily beautiful moment, the sky torn smoothly between pure white and brilliant blue.

I shift the Baltam kid on my shoulder, and keep walking.

Friday, March 9


After a cold night in the warehouse, it's good to be back in the office. At least, it was until Seth showed up with his ultimatums. Seems his cousin is getting all the fun. He doesn't seem to notice the blood streaming down my face as he rants about holidays and giggling secretaries. I tell him to come back tomorrow, and head into my office. He starts to follow, but regrets it when the door slams into his nose. I barely hear his threats. Soon enough, he quitens down and heads home. He can wait.

Sam and the Eigonvectors had their fun, then left me locked in the warehouse for the night. Unnatural orange light filtered through the blacked out windows, and trains rumbled nearby all night. It took me a while, but I managed to wiggle out of the ropes that tie me. The cord was too thick to make lasting knots. Lucky me.

I hid in the dark of the warehouse until the Eigonvectors came back. I had a nice suprise for them. When the light of a new day shone through the windows, they came back laughing and playfighting. Like a pack of kittens mauling each other on the kitchen floor. They stop when they see the ropes coiled up on the floor. In a torrent of firey rage, I leap down from my hiding place. Faith screams her fury and two of the gang fall to the ground, unmoving.

One of them made a lunge for me. Clumsy and slow. I sidestepped the punch and kicked his feet out from under him. The kid who took Providence is fumbling in his pockets. I shoot him, once in each leg. Sam is the only one left standing, and I turn my bloody gaze to him.

In the end, I lost count of the punches. It was more than I could give back: I was tired and hurting. For Sam, I tied a knot in one of the thick ropes and swung it at him a couple of times. He told me where the other Eigonvectors were hiding. He didn't recognise the Baltam kid in the picture. I leave Sam alive as a warning to rest of the gang. I was onto them, and I had a lot of blood to pay back.

Thursday, March 8

Rope Burns

The rope is thick and coarse. It cuts deep into my wrists, making them itch from the blood that trickles down over the burns. My hands, pulled tight behind me, are a dead, numb weight. I wait for the next blow.

When it comes, the world turns to black for an endless second. The Chinese bastard has been tickling me for a while now. This is the first I actually feel. As blackness fills the world, shadows in the dark carry me back to the morning.

Yet again, the sun shone a false cheeriness on the world around me. I stumbled my way to a meeting with Baltam in some cafe on St James' Street. Greasy bacon and barely-cooked eggs. I left him to pick up the bill. I wandered the town trying to pick up the scent of the Eigonvectors. Baltam is getting restless. He seems to gain a new worry line in his forehead every time I see him. Besides, I need to get paid.

The roads and whispers lead me to Hove. Wretched place to get lost. The wide roads, terraced houses and brick walls never seem to end. I didn't recognise the Eigonvector hideout until I'd walked through the front door of the warehouse. Seems they don't like strangers. They're kids, mostly, Chinese teenagers looking for some fun. Providence helps me send two of them down screaming before the brick hits my chin.

I don't know how long I've been here. It must be before dinner time. These kids haven't been called home yet. They stagger around the empty building, drunk on alcohol and false power.

One of the Chinese has taken a liking to me though. He comes over to punch and kick at me, screaming nonsense at me all the while. I call him Sam, because he's like a short samurai. He doesn't know why I'm grinning at him. Poor little bastard gets so angry, it only makes my smiles larger and more bloody. I count the punches though. Twenty-five. And six kicks, for good measure. He'll get everyone back by the end.

Faith lies on a table not too far away. Some little bastard took Providence, decided he wanted some target practice. He'll soon learn that it's not wise to seperate the twins.

They'll all learn that it's not too smart to piss me off.

I wince. Twenty-six.

Wednesday, March 7


Today dragged on and on, like a boiling highway leading to no-where, melting in the hot sun. With no clear desination in sight, it's all I've been able to do to keep going. My eyes feel like they're going to melt in the heat, unnatural tears streaming down my cheeks. Damn, but I need a good night's sleep.

Respite came from meeting an old informant of mine. He used to work in a forensics crime lab, in the morgue more often than not. The poor lads there get it pretty busy, especially around the times I need information. Most days, they don't have time to get out for a lunchbreak. For the price of a sandwich, I managed to get a good deal of information. It helped me stay one step ahead of the cops. He ran into some trouble a couple of years back, so I helped him disappear. It's good to see a friend still in one peace. Poor bastard still spends half his free time with stiffs though.

I've plugged just about every contact, favour and meeting point I know, trying to get a lead on Baltam's cousin. But I've got nothing. The more questions I ask, the more I end up with. The Eigonvectors seem pretty well spread. I'm gonna have to hit several hideouts before I get anything solid.

This evening will be an opportunity to get some quiet time with the Twins. They get lonely at night. I need to make sure they're in good spirits though. Me, Faith and Providence: we're gonna have us a ball.

I throw back another whiskey, hoping it'll keep my eyes open for another hour.

Tuesday, March 6

Velvet Threats

There are days when I can't stand the four walls of my office, staring at me, trapping me, breathing down my back like some cruel overlords of purgatory. But there are days, like today, when it feels good to come in, shut the door, watch the rain and throw back some whiskey.

Thornton turns out to be every bit the royal cat he puts himself out to me. I managed to bluster my way into his office this afternoon. It's all about the food chain. Once you know who to scare, intimidate, charm or bribe: it's just a matter of time before you're knocking on the right door. Thornton's throne lies in a grand office, all oak panels, gold ornaments and glass decanters. The kind of style you buy to show how much money you can burn. The kind of room which makes anyone feel small and untidy.

Thornton sat with his feet up on the huge desk, cigar in one hand and fine brandy in the other. He beckons me in with a voice of velvet and thunder, smiling that charming grin. He's a figure cut in silver and black, short hair, smart suit and glinting eyes. His smile never faltered for a moment as threatened my head if I didn't back off the case. He didn't know any Thompson, and it wasn't my business if he did. Bastard almost made me feel grateful for letting me out of there alive, such was the charm and grace of his voice.

He didn't win all of the cards though. In my office, I put down the whiskey glass and lift a slim, black leather organiser from my coat pocket. Thornton's address book. I raise a toast to Amoe and his parlour tricks. It'll take some time to leaf through and get the information I need. But I've got all night.

Sleep with one eye open Thompson. I've got a silver bullet with your name on it.

Despite my promises, I still haven't followed through on the Eigonvectors. I caught up with Arbon to try and figure out their plans for the evening, but he didn't have anything to offer.

Some good did come from the day though. An old contact of mine resurfaced. Sometimes it feels like the world is getting smaller: I keep bumping into ghosts from the pasts. Half the time I think I'm imagining them, rising out of the ether to drag me away for my sins. But sometimes the ghosts look me in the eye and say hello. I smile to think of him, and find myself glad to find another friendly face.

Monday, March 5

Enter Thornton

Today I pay another kind of bill. I always knew the moon would come back to haunt me. But I turned my back, damned fool that I am.

The Eigonvector Gang were up to no good on Saturday night. Seems some girl got hurt. It was her blood which stained the moon. If only I'd been quicker, sharper, and got to the gang. If only I was sober. Instead I sit here, still clutching my bottle of whiskey. Still clutching my regret.

Tonight I'll lie awake, trying to shut out the ghosts of my past and hide from the shadows of my future. That won't change anything though. I need to track down the Eigonvectors soon, and teach them the hardest lesson of all.

But I did get a lead on Thompson. I've tracked down the five personals, and one of them looks to be promising. One of the ads was left by some guy calling himself Thornton. The name rang a distant bell, but I couldn't be sure if it was an alarm or a reminder. I looked it up, checked him out. Seems Mr Thornton is a big cat, stalking the prairie with no fear of getting bitten. He runs various business syndicates, sits on more chairs than they have acronyms for, and has an empire of children and bastards which sink their claws into just about every country around. This guy is big time. He cries bingo, snap and go fish all at once.

So why is this man, powerful enough to sell the world, advertising himself in some sleasy personals? It doesn't add up. Maybe the guy is just lonely, but I'm not a big enough fool to buy that. This guy knows something, and he's communicating with Thompson to get it. I don't know how it fits together yet, but they're part of the same trouble.

Getting hold of this Thornton is proving hard work. Even his secretary's secretary won't respond to me. I'm going to have to come up with a better way to get close to him.

He wants personals? I'll give him personals. Ain't nothing in the whole damn town more personal than a call from The Twins. Then maybe we'll see what this is all about.

Sunday, March 4

Grey Days

I wake up this morning feeling like I jumped onto a bicycle with no saddle, then fell off of it, tumbling into a frosty river and careening over the edge of the world into a darkness blacker than HTML colour code #000000.

Needless to say, I've not made much headway on any of the cases today. Luckily the rain helps to keep all of the light from my dingy apartment, leaving me to my shame and pain in private.

Tomorrow is another day. Thank God for small mercies.


Tonight, the moon runs red with blood.

I've tried to give myself the evening off. I headed to a favourite bar in town - the Earth and Stars - and spent the evening in a mass of bodies, shouting and laughing. A game of football played in the background, prompting raucus cheers from the back of the dark room. With the job being so intense lately, it's been good to relax a little. My body whispers threats of payback for the chemicals I drown it in: but tonight, I don't care. Tonight I turn off, close my mind, and think of nothing.

Walking back through the streets to my apartment, paving stones moving uncertainly beneath my groggy feet, the moon rises high, dark and bloody. Someone will pay a heavy price for a moon like that tonight. Someone, somewhere, will get hurt.

I stand still and stare at it a while, hunched against the cold air. It's not my problem. It's not my fault, it's not my responsibility, and it's not my head.

Not tonight.

Saturday, March 3

Shiny Bright Lies

The clouds parted again today. The sky, at least has offered me some benediction. But even as the sun shines down, illuminating the streets falsely, dazzling in the promises of clarity offered by shiny windows, I know that the Earth has little to offer. The world looks so sickeningly, wretchedly clean that I suddenly want to tear my eyes out. It's all a lie. Nothing is that clean. Not the dirty streets, not the windows that hide sins behind trecherous light, not Seth's cousin. The lies shine brighter in the sunlight. That's all. I yearn for shadows again, where the evils are hidden from sight.

I close the blinds and throw back another whiskey.

I had a hint of a lucky break this morning. I tracked down a newspaper to match the one I found in Thompsons' hotel room. His copy has a section torn out from the personals. My copy is untainted, giving me five adverts which might have been interest to Thompson. If I can track down who posted the adverts, I might be able to find what he was looking for. Then I can hold him to account for his lies.

Friday, March 2


I decide to get some air, visit some informants. I'm drowning in the stale air of the office again: the streets welcome me, cobblestones whispering their stories as I pass over them.

I find Arbon and Amoe doing a routine near the jewellers. These guys are artists. Arbon sits on an upturned milk pallet, strumming away on a bass guitar. I stand and watch from the corner. A small crowd has gathered round - it's a nice day, and Arbon is putting on a good show. I spy Amoe creeping round the crowds. If you didn't know what to look for, you'd never notice him pinching wallets and phones from pockets. Today's his lucky day: a girl takes out her white earbuds to listen in. Quick as a flash, Amoe unplugs the headphones and swipes the iPod from her pocket. I wonder how long it takes people to realise they've been swindled.

I prefer the 'free hug' scam, myself. They'll stand in Churchill square with big poster signs and warm, fuzzy hats. As giggly school girls and lonely parents are coaxed into a hug, the boys swipe whatever they can get from rear pockets and handbags.


Arbon finishes up the song, and I walk over. These two know the streets better than anyone. They give me some background information about the Eigonvector Gang. Not much - their turf, typical activities. No names, but it's a start. The boys are good to me, I barely even have to coax the information out of them.

Amoe and Arbon are always good to me. Ever since I helped them out with a police officer who got wise to one of their games. It was easy enough to do, but it bought their loyalty. Maybe even their friendship. All it took was a hooker, a video camera, and a jar of vaseline. The case was dropped the next afternoon.

Arbon packs up and heads off. Amoe waves, turns and walks off. I call to his back, politely asking for my wallet back. He grins wolfishly and hands it over. I know that the twenty pound note inside will have vanished. Service rendered, service paid.

The boys are good to me.


I reach the office this morning in a mood blacker than my coffee. Another sleepless night, clues and mysteries racking my brain. The office phone rings all morning. I ignore it. It keeps ringing. I pick it up. An old friend is own town, she wants to meet up, buy me lunch. I can't see when my next paycheck is going to arrive. I'm not too proud to accept. Besides, it'll be good to see a freindly face.

Well, friendly as it gets.

We eat, we talk. She's well. I'm working hard. The job is fine. Lies burn my throat and a smile threatens to tear my face in two. She gets a phone call, apologises for leaving early, and rushes out. A grumpy waitress puts the bill in front of me. Have I just been cheated of my lunch?

It doesn't matter. It shouldn't matter. She's a friend. But as I count the change in my pockets, my stomach sinks deeper and deeper. The expensive meal turns dark inside me, turns to poison, turns to sickness and bile.

But it does matter. I've been robbed by someone I took to be a friend. One hand drifts inside my jacket. Providence awaits inside.

The mist descends. What am I doing? Damnned fool, it's just lunch. Pay the bill. Go home. Find some dirt for Seth. With trembling hands, I pay the bill and thank the waitress. What is becoming of me? I'm getting paranoid. Jumping at shadows, seeing deamons where there are none, always assuming the worst.

I head back to the office, unplug the phone, and sort through the accounts Seth gave me. Numbers aren't out to get me, but I make sure to keep Faith in sight as I work.

Thursday, March 1

Four Seasons

When you don't sleep, mornings and evenings lose meaning. Night and day fade, merge, and get confused. Everything becomes an eternal twilight. Things start to lose absolute meaning and shift around on scales. You become constantly part awake and part asleep; part dreaming and part seeing; part in the world, and part out of it. Constancy becomes a myth, a rumour, a dream. How I dream to put my head down and have the world go quiet.

But I can't sleep. Not now. Thompson is out there, somewhere. A kid worth a months rent is held by some unknown gang. I don't know which is more terrifying anymore: the clients, or the jobs.

At some stage in this grey dream, I managed to find a moment of clairty. The letters '4C07' have bounced around my skull for days now, a pneumatic drill bearing on my nerves. But in a moment, a half-forgotten daydream, it makes sense. 4C. The Four Seasons hotel. Room 07. Before doubt can cloud my mind once more, I holster The Twins and drive over. I can only hope that the trail hasn't gone cold.

Midnight, and the road stretches before me, dazzling and burning under streetlights and neon signs. I have to wind the window down to stay awake: the cold air whips and stings my skin, soothing and agonising like a sadists wet dream.

The Four Seasons is a tiny hotel just off the sea front. If I wasn't trying to track down my potential murderer, I might have thought the place quaint. I walk up the steps to find the door locked. No suprise. Luckily enough, I've done this before.

I steal inside, keeping Faith close. Room seven is on the top floor. The floorboards creak, but there's no other sound. I wait on the landing for a moment, listening for sounds of life. A seagull caws somewhere in the distance. I pick the lock and creep inside the room.

It's tiny. Single bed and wardrobe dual in the dark for space. But there's no one here. The bed is neatly made and turned. The wardrobe is empty. The toilet roll in the en suite is fresh and untorn.

I'm about to leave when I notice the newspaper, tucked between the bed and a tiny bedside table. I draw it out and move to the window, straining to read the paper from the fuzzy glow of the streetlight outside. It's dated the 27th, the day of the Chichester Arms stakeout. I flick through the pages, expecting nothing. But someone is smiling on me: a section of adverts has been torn from the personals page.

Thompson you stupid bastard, I hope it's a bodyguard you're looking for.

The Eigonvector Gang

It only took one day of sheltering behind my four office walls to get restless. A man can only stick to one place for so often before he turns into a rat. Seth's cousin has, so far, proved to be the most boring executive to walk the Earth. I've found nothing in his background to use against him. No one can be that clean. Cleaning up after yourself always leaves a mess somewhere else. It's only a matter of time before I track it down. But with my eyes aching like they've just cycled the London-Brighton marathon, I decided enough was enough.

I've been hanging around The Gladstone, trying to get a lead on the Baltam case. An afternoon cradling whiskeys and watching barmaids is no bad thing. After about an hour of flashing Baltam's photo around, I hit upon a lead. Some Korean almost coughed up his drink when he saw the picture. Poor kid. He let slip that Baltam's boy is being held by some group calling themselves 'The Eigonvector Gang'. And here was me, thinking I had an easy case on my hands. The kid ran off when he got a glimpse of Faith inside my jacket. Hopefully he'll be wise enough to keep his mouth shut. My guess is, if the gang founds out he's squeked, he'll have more to worry about then holding his drink down.

These Eigonvectors will take more looking into. I'm still jumping at shadows after Thompson's games. Next time I walk into a darkened corridor, I want to be damned sure who turned out the lights.