A Prison of Worlds (The Chained Worlds Chronicles Book 1) (4 page)

BOOK: A Prison of Worlds (The Chained Worlds Chronicles Book 1)
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Chapter
3

 

There
was no more excitement on the way to our destination.  This just happened to be
in the middle of the Blight.  I was actually surprised; I had heard from Jeremy
that no police would dare to go there.  Even if it was a first, considering the
welcome we got on the way, it's amazing that anyone called the police, and more
so that someone actually came.

We
landed outside the remains of an old tenement house from the 2060's.  The
windows looked blasted out and gaping holes covered the walls; bricks and
mortar littered the ground outside.  It looked only a little worse for wear
than the apartments on either side. The original damage was probably from the
Aussie Meltdown riots, the rest from time and abandonment.  

As
we approached, I started to get a crawling sensation on my skin.  The aura of
the city had always been... dark, violent.  It was why there were so few true
psychics in town.  It was a very uncomfortable feeling to be engulfed in the
emanations of millions of very unhappy people that had lived, and died, in the
city for decades.  Or perhaps the city was built over some evil pre-Aztec
temple.  Who really knows what happened?  However, it was significantly worse
in this building.  My tolerance for this kind of thing is pretty high.  Being a
creature of magic with many supernatural traits, my kind has lived and thrived
in some very harsh environments.  Still, I felt edgy, like there was some
supernatural evil just around the corner.  No problem.

Outside
the door, a shattered police buoy rested on the ground.  Apparently, the locals
didn’t like the police leaving their markers in place.  Continuing up the
stairs, I noticed claw marks in the stone and mason of the walls.  I paused a
moment to look closer, and Cromwell quietly paused next to me and let me
examine the gouges.  I placed my hands close to the wall, and the officer
coughed.

“Excuse
me sir, but please don't touch the evidence.” I was about to make a sarcastic
remark when he continued. “Wouldn't want your genetic evidence to get mixed up
with the perpetrators when the scanning crew comes through.”

Ah. 
Genetics.  That would be a problem for me.  “Yeah, wouldn't want that.”

“Here
use these,” he offered helpfully, while handing me a pair of disposable
gloves.  I was starting to feel like an official deputy.  It felt far too
familiar for my comfort. The difference between now and back when my team was
alive was at that time I was the junior member.

After
rolling the gloves on, I felt them react to the heat of my hand by shrinking
into a skin tight film. Raising my hands again, I compared the marks in the
stonework to my own.  A little larger but not that much.  I did the same to the
marks just a little over and found them smaller.

Without
saying anymore, I walked up to the next floor.  Walking through the door with
all the old style sticky warning tape surrounding the area, I saw a scene from
a bad horror film.  Bodies covered the floor, some torn apart, some simply
sprawled on the ground.  All seemed to be adults, which was a welcome miracle,
but other than that there seemed little else in common.  The corpses ranged in
age from late teens to probably over sixty and numbered around twenty.

Walking
over to one of the more intact male bodies, I noted there was only a little
blood, though the bruises on the neck and protruding tongue made me think that
he was choked to death.  Smudges on the forehead caught my attention, and I drew
a startled breath in recognition.  I deeply regretted this, and the breath that
I had been holding was expelled as I drew some not so fresh air into my lungs. 
I can hold my breath for a very long time and was extremely sorry for letting my
surprise release it.

I
immediately got up and staggered to the window to suck in a breath of fresh
air.  I hate the smell of rotting meat.

“It's
hard to believe that one human did this to another,” a deep baritone sounded
behind me.  Turning around, I scowled at the figure.  I was getting surprised
too often for my comfort.  Perhaps I was getting too dependent on my sixth
sense to keep me aware of my surroundings.

Behind
me stood a very large man with the physique of a body builder.  A body builder
wearing a heavily armored SWAT style bodysuit.  He looked like a pumped Arnold Schwarzenegger
ready to crack down on evildoers everywhere.

“Geez
man, why do you wear that thing,” I complained.    It was hard to take someone
seriously that looked a hair breath away from walking off an old
Robocop
movie.  I don’t know where he got the armor, but it was definitely not standard. 
“Can't you wear long johns like every other respectable hero?”  I heard a gasp
behind me as one of the other officers on the scene goggled at me mocking the
most respected officer of the city.

“It
works,” was all the man in the armored suit said. 

“Right. 
Whatever.” I love that human catch phrase.  It conveys the perfect amount of
dismissal.  We had met a while ago. He was one of the few officers with the
nerve to go alone into the Blight, and while we were far from friends we had
gotten used to one another’s quirks.  He seemed to haunt the bookstores and
more specifically the occult section.  I would have thought he was staking it
out, but he is not at all subtle in that armor.  He also knew how I felt about
his tank of a suit.  I tease him about it almost every time we meet.

“So
if you're done criticizing my wardrobe, perhaps you could give us your opinion
of this,” Officer Conrad asked seriously.  He did everything seriously.  It
probably came from being the first official shifter on the police force.  A
shifter in armor is the very definition of over the top.  I was betting that if
the mayor had his way, he would be the center of the new supernatural
department.  I believed this because he had been on many news clips.  He was the
mayor’s favorite and seemingly the new face of the police department.  Jeremy
insisted on showing me the reruns.

“Well,”
I drawled. This was the tough part, so I kind of put it off.  “Do you believe
in magic?”

“I
am familiar with Faramond,” he stated simply.  That stopped me cold.  Faramond
was a vigilante in the city, famous for having the power of a champion of fairy. 
He was reputed to be monstrously strong and a nigh invulnerable hulking brute
of a man. But that wasn't why I turned away and groped the window sill as I
desperately tried to keep myself from breaking down into a giggling mass. 

You
see, where I come from, fairies are tiny magical humanoids about a foot or two
high. The good fairies are notorious for playing relatively harmless magical
pranks on humans while the evil fairies play rather deadly tricks.  I had never
actually met him, but the mere thought of a champion of the little clowns just
cracked me up.

“Are
you all right, Professor?” That calmed me down fast.  Even the flipping
pinnacle of officialdom was calling me the Professor.  Gathering myself, I
wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes and slowly turned around, putting a
serious look on my face.

“Yes,
it's just the tragedy of all of this finally hit me,” I said seriously.  It was
indeed sad to see the dead lying about me, but it's hard for me to get
emotional over humans unless they are close friends.  I still mourn my friends
killed by Mr. Evil, but dead strangers just don't do much to me even if the
smell was a bit much.

“Yes,
but we'll find the people that did this and bring them to justice,” Officer
Conrad said, his voice quivering with determination. He was a very serious man.

“There
may be a slight hitch in that plan,” I cautiously offered.  I hate to get
between and man and his dream.  “What did this wasn't people.”

“What
do you mean?” he said, spearing me with his eyes.

I
opened my senses and scanned the area around us quickly to confirm my
suspicions, and then locked down my senses again from the unpleasantness around
me.

“Notice
the general lack of blood from these corpses?” I asked, waving my hand to
encompass the bodies around us.  “Only these two corpses actually bled
anything.  The others were just torn apart while fighting.”

“Torn
apart?  While fighting?” Conrad seemed startled, but at least he wasn't calling
me an idiot or charlatan yet.  The day was still young.

“This
body actually has a part of a circle inscribed in blood on the forehead.” I
trailed off in thought.  “Looks like it wasn't completed.”

“What
wasn't?” the shifter officer asked, confused.

“Oh,
sorry,” I mumbled.  “Got ahead of myself.  Zombies.  Most of these are zombies.”
Gesturing to the two bloody corpses, I continued.  “Except for those two. 
Looks like the ritual got interrupted.”

“So
someone was creating zombies and someone else broke in and killed them all,” Conrad
asked, looking as if he was coming to grips with the situation.

“Well,”
I paused for a second. “No.”

“Then
what?” he asked, starting to get an impatient note in his voice.

“Zombies
take some time to animate from the dead. All of these were already up and
about.  Only those two were fresh and the ritual seems to have been
interrupted.”

“So
someone was creating zombies and someone else broke in and killed them all,” Conrad
repeated.

“I
said no,” I said, slightly miffed that he had ignored that part.

“Then
what...”

“I
was getting to that part,” I interrupted.  “A bunch of humanoids with
supernatural strength broke in and tore the zombies apart, and probably drove
the maker away.”

“Okay,
so how is my interpretation incorrect?” the supernatural officer asked with reined-in
patience.

“Well,
the zombies aren't dead and although the two on the ground look dead, in a
couple of days they'll be up and about again.”

“That
doesn't sound good,” the officer deadpanned.

“It
gets worse,” I offered pessimistically.  He just gave me a long stare.  In the
background, I heard the police shuffling around nervously.  This was beginning
to sound like a grade B horror movie.

“Yeah,
the zombies will pull themselves together and go seek their master soon, unless
they have other orders,” I started to say.

“They're
wearing the colors of Baron Samedi,” a very pale Cromwell offered.

“The
whosis?” I asked.  These human packs were impossible to keep track of.  And
that name sounded familiar.

“They
are a gang of thugs that are a bit infamous for their blatant operation outside
the law.” The officer gulped as he put together the pieces in his mind.  I
looked at him puzzled.  I had thought everything was blatantly open and illegal
in the Blight. “Murder, drugs, extortion, you name it, they do it.  Out in the
open and fearlessly.”

Looking
at the temporarily inanimate zombies around us, I nodded. “Fearless.  The dead
don't know fear.” I corrected myself.  “Sorry, the undead.  Actually they are
animated dead.  I am not sure how they are classified.  Amusing, that he took
the name of the vodoun spirit of the dead.  At least he has a sense of irony.” 
I had read some books on the subject; it was just as misguided as most of the
other ideas, but it had some interesting insights to spirits.

“So
how bad is this?” Officer Conrad took control of the conversation again.

“Well,
the zombies are bad,” I admitted.  “They can only be damaged by silver and killed
by destroying the body with fire.  I think you have to separate the head too.”

“So
they can be destroyed.  The police can...” I coughed to interrupt him.

“Ahem,
invulnerable juggernauts of supernatural force,” I inserted as a reminder.  “I
think you may need some of the supernaturals help on this, unless you shoot
them from the air with silver bullets.  And I think we have seen that the
police shouldn't fly around here too much,” I said, looking knowingly at
Cromwell.

“Still,
we can work this,” the well-built shifter stated confidently.

“Against
the zombies, probably,” I nodded thoughtfully.  “I really think the vampires could
possibly cause a problem though.”

I
admit I play to the crowd just a teeny bit.  Moments like this, the people
surrounding me with their jaws agape, were the times I lived for.  I guess I'm
petty, but I do enjoy it.

“Wait
a minute,” Officer Conrad spluttered.  It was the first time I had seen
anything resembling uncontrolled emotion in his face since I met him a few
months ago.  “Zombies and vampires?  Together?  That’s a bit hard to believe.” 

I
had been wondering where the suspension of disbelief would end.  People that
deal with the rational, even the not-so-rational of shifters and vampires,
technology and super science and so forth, always draw the line at magic.  He'd
lasted longer than I thought.  I shrugged eloquently.

“At
the same time? That's stretching probability,” Officer Conrad floundered on.

“Well,
it's not really a coincidence,” I said, catching his attention again.  “It's
fate.”

“What?”
he barked, once again agitated.  I loved it.

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