The Business Of Death, Death Works Trilogy

BOOK: The Business Of Death, Death Works Trilogy
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THE
BUSINESS
OF
DEATH

The dead girl, her skin glowing with a bluish pallor, comes toward me, and the crowd between us parts swiftly and unconsciously. They may not be able to see her but they can
feel
her, even if it lacks the intensity of my own experience. Electricity crackles up my spine—and something else, something bleak and looming like a premonition.

She’s so close now I could touch her. My heart’s accelerating, even before she opens her mouth, which I’ve already decided, ridiculously, impossibly, that I want to kiss. I can’t make up my mind whether that means I’m exceedingly shallow or prescient. I don’t know what I’m thinking because this is such unfamiliar territory: total here-bedragons kind of stuff.

She blinks that dead person blink, looks at me as though I’m some puzzle to be solved. Doesn’t she realize it’s the other way around? She blinks again, and whispers in my ear, “Run.”

B
Y
T
RENT
J
AMIESON

The Death Works Trilogy

Death Most Definite

Managing Death

The Business of Death

Copyright

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-748-11646-1

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Trent Jamieson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital
Little, Brown Book Group
100 Victoria Embankment
London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

For Diana

CONTENTS

The Business of Death

By Trent Jamieson

Copyright

BOOK 1
Death Most Defintite

Part One

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Part Two

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Acknowledgements

BOOK 2
Managing Death

Part One

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Part Two

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Acknowledgements

BOOK 3
The Business of Death

Part One

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Part Two

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Acknowledgements

About The Author

BOOK ONE

DEATH MOST DEFINITE

But lo, a stir is in the air!

E
DGAR
A
LLAN
P
OE
, “T
HE
C
ITY IN THE
S
EA

Brace yourselves.

O
LD
RM H
UMOUR

PART ONE

THE SCHISM

1

I
know something’s wrong the moment I see the dead girl standing in the Wintergarden food court.

She shouldn’t be here. Or I shouldn’t. But no one else is working this. I’d sense them if they were. My phone’s hardly helpful. There are no calls from Number Four, and that’s a serious worry. I should have had a heads-up about this: a missed call, a text, or a new schedule. But there’s nothing. Even a Stirrer would be less peculiar than what I have before me.

Christ, all I want is my coffee and a burger.

Then our eyes meet and I’m not hungry anymore.

A whole food court’s worth of shoppers swarm between us, but from that instant of eye contact, it’s just me and her, and that indefinable something. A bit of
deja vu
. A bit of lightning. Her eyes burn into mine, and there’s a gentle, mocking curl to her lips that is gorgeous; it hits me in the chest.

This shouldn’t be. The dead don’t seek you out unless there is no one (or no thing) working their case: and that just doesn’t happen. Not these days. And certainly not in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD.

She shouldn’t be here.

This isn’t my gig. This most definitely will not end well. The girl is dead; our relationship has to be strictly professional.

She has serious style.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint what it is, but it’s there, and it’s unique.
The dead project an image of themselves, normally in something comfortable like a tracksuit, or jeans and a shirt. But this girl, her hair shoulder length with a ragged cut, is in a black, long-sleeved blouse, and a skirt, also black. Her legs are sheathed in black stockings. She’s into silver jewelry, and what I assume are ironic brooches of Disney characters. Yeah, serious style, and a strong self-image.

And her eyes.

Oh, her eyes. They’re remarkable, green, but flecked with gray. And those eyes are wide, because she’s dead—newly dead—and I don’t think she’s come to terms with that yet. Takes a while: sometimes it takes a long while.

I yank pale ear buds from my ears, releasing a tinny splash of “London Calling” into the air around me.

The dead girl, her skin glowing with a bluish pallor, comes toward me, and the crowd between us parts swiftly and unconsciously. They may not be able to see her but they can
feel
her, even if it lacks the intensity of my own experience. Electricity crackles up my spine—and something else, something bleak and looming like a premonition.

She’s so close now I could touch her. My heart’s accelerating, even before she opens her mouth, which I’ve already decided, ridiculously, impossibly, that I want to kiss. I can’t make up my mind whether that means I’m exceedingly shallow or prescient. I don’t know what I’m thinking because this is such unfamiliar territory: total here-be-dragons kind of stuff.

She blinks that dead person blink, looks at me as though I’m some puzzle to be solved. Doesn’t she realize it’s the other way around? She blinks again, and whispers in my ear, “Run.”

And then someone starts shooting at me.

Not what I was expecting.

Bullets crack into the nearest marble-topped tables. One. Two. Three. Shards of stone sting my cheek.

The food court surges with desperate motion. People scream, throwing themselves to the ground, scrambling for cover. But not me. She said run, and I run: zigging and zagging. Bent down, because I’m tall, easily a head taller than most of the people here, and far more than that now that the majority are on the floor. The shooter’s after me; well, that’s how I’m taking it. Lying down is only going to give them a motionless target.

Now, I’m in OK shape. I’m running, and a gun at your back gives you a good head of steam. Hell, I’m sprinting, hurdling tables, my long legs knocking lunches flying, my hands sticky with someone’s spilt Coke. The dead girl’s keeping up in that effortless way dead people have: skimming like a drop of water over a glowing hot plate.

We’re out of the food court and down Elizabeth Street. In the open, traffic rumbling past, the Brisbane sun a hard light overhead. The dead girl’s still here with me, throwing glances over her shoulder. Where the light hits her she’s almost translucent. Sunlight and shadow keep revealing and concealing at random; a hand, the edge of a cheekbone, the curve of a calf.

The gunshots coming from inside haven’t disturbed anyone’s consciousness out here.

Shootings aren’t exactly a common event in Brisbane. They happen, but not often enough for people to react as you might expect. All they suspect is that someone needs to service their car more regularly, and that there’s a lanky bearded guy, possibly late for something, his jacket bunched into one fist, running like a madman down Elizabeth Street. I turn left into Edward, the nearest intersecting street, and then left again into the pedestrian-crammed space of Queen Street Mall.

I slow down in the crowded walkway panting and moving with the flow of people; trying to appear casual. I realize that my phone’s been ringing. I look at it, at arm’s length, like the monkey holding the bone in
2001: A Space Odyssey
. All I’ve got on the screen is Missed
Call, and Private Number. Probably someone from the local DVD shop calling to tell me I have an overdue rental, which, come to think of it, I do—I always do.

“You’re a target,” the dead girl says.

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