For those tuning in today, I'm posting my short story, "Dark Days in Bright City," in five easy-to-read installments. The story originally appeared in Fissure Magazine's November issue (available for purchase through Shadow Archer Press). Catch up on the story here before you read Part Four below:
“Gloopoye dyer'mo.” I run down street. If I can catch carriage, then plan could still work. Carriage turns corner ahead. Rain-slick road makes it hard to run well, but I reach carriage when it slows through puddle. I grab hold of bar on back and jump to roof. Carriage halts. I nearly fall off, but hold tight.
Man’s face appears. “What in the —?” Swift kick knocks him to ground.
“Davidson!” Butcher says. Door opens and closes. I jump down. In clock’s tick I have Butcher pinned against carriage and revolver shoved in face.
“Into seat of driver,” I growl. Butcher’s eyes cross at gun. I shove him toward front of carriage. He scrambles into seat of driver, and I climb into back. Levers and gears click when engine engages. We trundle toward three-story building on corner.
“Turn left at next road.”
Butcher turns. I keep pistol aimed. Is good to make clear I control events.
“I can give you anything you want,” Butcher says after right turn at second street. “Money. Power. Women. I have the ear of the Lord Premier.”
“Bribe attempt is unappreciated.” I click hammer of gun. First click removes safety. Second primes bullet. Knuckles turn white on wheel of steering. “I will shoot if offer repeated.”
Three more turns. I order halt.
“Out of carriage.” I gesture with barrel of gun. Butcher runs when door opens. I leap from carriage. Capture is easy; I tackle Butcher before one block. I jerk him to feet and shove toward building. “Inside,” I say. “Now, before I shoot.”
“In there?” Butcher frowns. Warehouse looks ready to fall down. Windows near roofline are bereft of glass. Graffiti decorates lower portion of structure. Butcher hesitates. I fire shot at feet. He jumps away like legs on spring.
“Inside warehouse. Road will not be next target.”
Butcher walks to building. He pushes door beside huge gate of iron slats. Door creaks open and he enters half-step ahead. I direct past rat droppings and leavings of homeless men to metal chair in center of warehouse. He starts turn. I slam butt of pistol into head. Butcher crumples to floor. I holster gun, and lift under arms. He is heavier than I expect, but still I prop up in chair.
I chain him to arms and step back. Now he is secure, and will not rise until I release. Good. Is time for working. Vial of smelling salts cracked under nose shocks Butcher awake. Chains rattle when he tries movement.
“What are you doing?” Fear fills voice. Slap across face echoes through room.
“I will ask questions, Butcher.”
“What did you call me?”
“Name is Henri Desmarais, Butcher of Kirvan Mountains, yes?”
“I am a doctor.”
“Nyet.” I slap again. “Doctor heals people. You turn into mechanical abominations.”
“Please do not hurt me.” He pleads now. Perhaps he sees in eyes anger that heats blood. Perhaps he fears chains. Is unimportant which one. “I will give you anything,” he says. “Anything at all.”
I draw gun, and lean in until we are eye to eye. He gulps at pressure of pistol on his temple. “I want my wife back.”
Tomorrow: The thrilling conclusion to "Dark Days in Bright City."