I stalked out of the conference room, frustration boiling inside of me. She was a police officer. A half-decent one, from her records. I’d pulled them up, and they’d all been in order. Li Fang Fen had joined the force in Binghamton about eighteen years ago, and she barely looked like she was out of her 20s. I guess people just didn’t notice these things.
It was… disturbing. Disquieting, maybe. The idea of one of them, one of the things in the darkness, being a police officer. The police had been my thing. The place where I could have meaning. To see that the supernatural was there, too, trod on my too-small territory. It felt like a betrayal of what they were supposed to be.
My family has always been police officers. The eldest son joined the force. I’d been an only child, so I got honorary Son status from my father. And as police officers, we seemed to attract weird shit. My father had died soon after I graduated, and the autopsy had cited an animal attack, which I’d already learned was a euphemism for ‘We don’t want to say what did this’. The funeral had been closed casket. I never saw what the thing had done to him, how it had taken my father from me. For years, I’d sworn I would find whatever did it to him, and make that unknown terror pay.
Then, a few years back, I’d gotten gutted by a rat-thing during an eviction. I’d watched two good men die, and I’d finally had some face that represented the monsters in the dark. I had a goal. I would find the monsters, I’d kill them, I’d make things safe. I did it for a while. Got awfully good at it.
Then I met Queen Betty.
Metaphor’s not my strong suit. Imagine you’re a mouse who knows how to box. As mice go, you’re in the top of your class. Imagine that you can take on rats and punch them clean out. Imagine that you once held your own for several seconds against a terrier. And then, imagine that you met Muhammad Ali, or Mike Tyson. Imagine they told you how well you were doing, for a mouse. Queen Betty had demonstrated the true scale of the monsters out there. The whole reason I hadn’t died in my silly little quest was because anything bigger than what I’d fought, anything more dangerous, more powerful, ran into her first. And she killed them stone dead.
Shortly after that, I’d met my assailant again, the rat-thing. Mary. It was right after I’d failed to save the day, and had instead served as a distraction to provide an advantage for Betty. I watched one of my allies, an immortal serpent in the guise of a human, snap my nemesis’ neck like a twig.
Humans get very attached to the idea of closure. Moby Dick warns about the dangers of this attitude. You get this idea that if you can achieve this goal, if you can just solve that one niggling problem from childhood, if you can kill the right person, you’ll solve everything. You’ll be whole again. But the world doesn’t work like that. You can’t undo the past. Worse, if you aren’t careful, closure might become impossible, and then you’ve hitched your sanity onto a train with no brakes. So I’d made the most important rule of my life: Closure is a lie. I wasn’t doing things for a sense of completion. I didn’t beat Jack Black into a pulp and lock him in a perpetually lit room to get back at the darkness. I did it because it saved two people’s lives in the short term, and countless lives in the long term.
“The doctors say she’s recovering quickly. She should be ready to leave by Thursday.”
Ryan sat in the waiting room next to me, staring into space. Marco was sitting across from him, giving him the good news. He was going to be alright. He hadn’t lost the woman he loved, Jack Black would never do anyone else harm again, and all charges against Ryan would be very publicly dropped. I still felt guilty. He’d been held in prison, made to think he’d been betrayed, all to save his life. It could be necessary, and still make me feel shitty for the pain I’d inflicted.
“My suggestion is to take some time away from the city. Visit somewhere with a beach for a week or two. It’s one of those times of year. Heat’s getting intense, the crowds get crazy… I don’t know why they keep the city running during August, it’s just a waste of people’s time.” Marco gave a broad, supportive grin. Ryan tried to return it, with absolutely no success.
“You mean that the supernatural shit is getting strange.”
“Ryan,” I growled, and saw him cringe. It wasn’t long ago the man had been scarred by that kind of authority, betrayed on a fundamental level. Even knowing that we’d done the right thing, he’d never trust cops again. “Ryan,” I repeated, softer, trying to introduce a bit of gentle calm into my words. “The best way to ensure this happens again is to keep talking about the supernatural. In my experience, most people will never have any kind of experience with the supernatural world. Of the ones who do, most of those will only ever have one. There are two reasons for you to worry about falling afoul of this shit again. First, if you’re cursed. Or second, if you’re trying to find it.”
He blanched a bit, and swallowed. Then he looked up at me. “So which one were you?”
“The supernatural found me twice. I didn’t wait for a third encounter to start looking back. You had one traumatic encounter with the world of monsters and magic, which is one more than I want any civilian to have. From here on, your job is getting back to your life. Having a good time with your girlfriend. Bricking away this awful weekend from memory with the help of a happy life, and a good job. I’m glad you have those things. It means you can make a better world. All I can do is try to keep your world from getting worse.” I stood up, and clapped him on the shoulder. “Have a good week. Travel well. And with any luck, we’ll never see each other again.”
Marco and I walked out, into the brutal summer heat. “So. We getting the Neighborhood Watch back together?” he asked, giving me a bright smile.
“No.” His face fell. “We didn’t accomplish enough. We wanted closure. It was a foolish thing to be doing, and it got people hurt more than it made them safe.” I opened the cruiser’s door, taking the wheel as Marco sat beside me, a dubious frown on his face. “We’re making progress. Taking care of the things that the police can take care of. Serial killers, we can deal with that. If they’re in the big leagues, like that detective said, then we have to leave it to Betty.”
“If you say so, ma’am.” He gave me another questioning frown, but didn’t press me on it. “City hall politics going fine?” I nodded. “Sooo… You’ve been having conversations with your nightstick.”
I’m not a cartoon character. I didn’t hammer the brakes, endangering the lives of those around me. I didn’t run into the car in front of me. My knuckles did go white as the leather steering wheel creaked under my grip, though. I wasn’t made of stone, though my grip on the wheel might have said otherwise. “Who the hell says I’ve been having a conversation with my nightstick?”
“Well, I walked in on you that time last week.”
“I was talking to my nightstick. It’s a pretty big difference.”
“There were pauses, chief. You were asking it questions.”
“That…” I drove in silence for another few seconds, and we stopped at a red light.
“Look, I mean, I’m not jumping straight to section 8, Dane. Remember the talking goddess house-cat? Remember the murderous apartment? Remember the magical weapons that we personally used to fight a cult of rat-men? If you say your night-stick has a personality, that it’s some awakened item or something, I will believe you, no questions asked.”
“It’s not,” I said, and the car was quiet for another few seconds as the light turned green, and I accelerated back into traffic. “It was my dad’s. He had it since the day he joined the force. Hell, it was his grandfather’s. Polished Australian Buloke.” I rested a hand on it, where it sat in my belt. “He died with it in his hand. I thought… I don’t know. It was gathering dust on the mantle. I thought it was a bad omen, and didn’t pick it up. But after the Cult of the Survivor, those objects, things made powerful by meaning… Meeting a living apartment…” I bit my lip. “I thought it might be magic. It isn’t. But it reminds me of my dad, you know? It’s like I can still talk with him, through it. Ask him what he’d do. How he’d deal with all of this shit.”
“What does he have to say to you?”
“Fuck if I know. I don’t even know how much he knew about this. But it’s like… There’s some of him still in there. The him that knew that I was in over my head, that I had no idea what to do, and who encouraged me, who damn well flogged me, to be the best I could be. He thought I could take on the world and win.” I looked out the window. “It helps, sometimes. Even if I don’t believe in taking on the world anymore.” I pulled to a stop in front of the bar.
Shoolbred’s was quiet. A handful of other people were in the Scottish pub at this hour. It was where the Neighborhood Watch met, nowadays.
“So, boss,” said Hector, after he gave Marco a kiss on the cheek. The four of us sat around a table. John had arrived before us, and had a shot of whiskey in front of him. Several empty shot glasses sat next to it. “This serial killer shit. It seems… I don’t know. Scary. You know what’s going on with it?”
I frowned. “Alright. Here’s what I do know. That woman, Fang Fen, she’s a Jiangshi. I’ve read about them a couple of times in some of the books Horace lent me. Chinese vampires, basically. They don’t drink blood, but they prey on humans. I’m not sure what her deal is, but she protested pretty hard when I suggested that. I’d say don’t trust her, but keep an eye out. I didn’t get…” I frowned. “You know, we’ve run into a fair number of supernatural shit. A lot of monsters, a few things that went way beyond that. She didn’t… feel like them. You know? She felt stable. Directed. Like a person. Not like some crazy ninja snake or some psychotic apartment or a bestial goddess.” I tapped my fingers on the bar. “Is it weird that I’m having hunches like that? She seemed like she needed help.”
“What about us?” asked Hector, frowning. “These two, the Natural Born Killers. How dangerous are they?”
“Jack and Jill, the Rippers,” I said. ” Better name. And… I don’t know. There have been a lot of deaths lately. Twelve people dead over a week, in unexplained killings? Some of the shit that’s been happening-”
“Thirteen,” said John, muzzily. I nodded.
“Thirteen. Well, shit, I don’t know. Maybe we do need to call Horace and Betty in.” I frowned. “Give it a couple of days. Whatever they were into upstate, it seemed like it was serious. I don’t want to get them involved unless there’s no other choice. Those killings have been happening all across the United States. If they can figure out what it’s about… That’s probably for the best.”
“If you say so, boss.”
I sighed, and leaned back. I gave Hector a look. “Knee doing alright?”
“Eh. Still bothers me from time to time, but nothing I can’t deal with. Reminds me to keep it stretched, you know? Stay limber.” He grinned, brushing a hand across his dark scalp. “Marco’s the one who’s been bitching non-stop about his injuries. You should hear the way he complains in the morning.”
“Aw, c’mon, man, I got shot. Anyone would feel a bit out of sorts after something like that!” He sighed. “Besides, you know how the boss feels about mentioning the whole N-word fiasco.”
I turned my head towards John. “How are the dreams?”
The entire table went still. The bar itself seemed to grow silent, the clinking of glasses and the chatter dying down until everything sat still, as though holding its breath. “I’ve still been having the dreams, Dane,” he said, suddenly sober. “Not every night, not anymore, but every week at least. I go to sleep, and I’m back there. Yam-” He stopped, and looked down.
“The words don’t have any power here. Or fear. Yam Hamawet,” I said, by means of demonstration.
Spirit, grit, they didn’t mean a thing against some threats. We’d gone up against a rat, though not a rat-thing. One of the threats just on the edge of Betty’s list of priorities. Some kind of fucked up otherworldly oil that possessed the corpses of men. It’d broken Marco’s hand, and driven John into a coma. Both of them had been fixed, more or less, thanks to Horace. Enough to fight again. That’s where Marco’d been shot, and Hector’d had his knee twisted. All three of them had been no good for combat after that. Marco still joked about getting the Neighborhood Watch going again, but we both knew that it wouldn’t happen. The only scars I’d had were learning how weak I really was, and how little I could do.
“Hey, fuck it,” said Marco, grinning. “We helped save the world. Best damn reason I could think of to take a bullet. And those two have been out of town for the better part of a month with no major problems. So we’ve gotta be accomplishing something by being here.” He snapped his fingers at the bartender, ordering us a round of beers. “And we went into that other world, and came right back. We saw the kind of shit that’s out there. Sure, it was bad. But we can handle it. What’s got you so spooked, John? You’re never this edgy.”
My stomach caved in on itself. “Blake Weiss?” I asked, my voice small.
My father’s partner. He’d always been one of the best men my father had ever introduced me to. A hero cop. Someone who threw himself into the jaws of death, who laughed at the darkness. I’d never known whether he’d been involved in the supernatural alongside my father, but they’d been partners for years at a time, backing each other up. John shook his head. “They found him in his bedroom, with his wrists slit. They think someone cleaned up the scene, but they’re pretty sure he killed himself.”
“God,” said Hector, frowning softly. “You never would have thought. But that’s kind of the way it goes, isn’t it? It’s always the quiet ones-”
“Blake wouldn’t take his own life,” said Marco, frowning. “Come on. That’s bullshit. We all know what this is really about.”
“Marco?” asked Hector, frowning.
“Fucking A, man, mysterious suicides of a healthy and functioning person? That’s the scary stuff. No fucking doubt.”
“Not every problem’s caused by supernatural shit. Sometimes a man can hide how he really feels for decades,” said John, before pounding back another slug. “It’s going down as a suicide. They’re trying to figure out who was in there, but there aren’t any traces, no DNA, no finger-prints, last I heard. All they found was a notebook. Seems like he’d been thinking about you, lately, Dane.” He shrugged.
I stood up sharply. “What’s his address?”
“Dane… Come on. You don’t think this was something supernatural too, do you?”
“Crime scenes with no traces stand out a lot.” I rested a hand on the nightstick. Its tonfa design was heavy, unusually heavy for wood. It was a reassuring kind of weight. I wanted so badly to hit something right now, but that wasn’t a good reaction when you were around friends. Instead, I placed the unused drink on the table. “Marco. You good with getting the cruiser back to the station?” He gave me a nod, and I stepped out, and made my way to the subway.
The uniform helped keep the massive press of humanity at bay. I could almost breathe, despite the sweltering underground heat. People were nervous about police on the subway. Not necessarily because they were committing a crime, but because everyone thought that getting too close to a police officer was a crime. That brushing a police officer was a crime.
That had annoyed me, too. Listening to that Jiangshi woman talking about what we had gone through. It felt like a lecture, delivered by a hypocrite. The police weren’t supposed to be people’s enemies. We were supposed to protect them. People didn’t always seem to understand that. They saw the bastards, and they didn’t realize the people like Blake were there too. The people like Blake didn’t matter to them. Intellectually, I understood their reasons. I knew why things were the way they were. But that didn’t mean that I had to like it.
The sun had set by the time I reached the apartment. Police tape was set down, and a patrol officer stood at the door. He snapped off a quick salute. “Go get some coffee, officer. I’m going to be in here a bit. Don’t worry.” I took a set of latex gloves from the box by the door. “Not the first crime scene I’ve avoided polluting.”
He gave me a smile, and was off. I stepped into the room, and stared. I’d been here more than a few times, with my father, and without. I’d always loved Blake’s stories. I stared at the medal of honor, and the newspaper clipping next to it.
‘The key to these things is acting decisively, Dane. Maybe you’re going to do something dangerous. It won’t get less dangerous if you’re vacillating back and forth. If you want to act, you act, right away. Rush into the burning building, or don’t. When you feel that moment of hesitation, you listen to it. Don’t go. That instinct saved my life more than once.’
‘You mean you’d let people die?’
‘Not if I could help it. But if you think you’re going to die, you’re not going to be saving anyone. There are times I’ve done nothing. There are times I’ve given up. But there sure weren’t a lot of them.’
I shook my head, latex-clad fingers trailing down the wall. I looked up at the words. What the hell did he have to be sorry for? What regrets did a man like Blake have? I closed my eyes, and took a breath. The scent of blood was thick in the air. I looked over towards the bedroom.
‘Sometimes, you don’t solve the case. Sometimes, those clues just don’t come together, and you don’t get the right questions. Sometimes, bad people get away with things. You can’t help that. What you can do is try to help people. Some folks get into all of this because they think it’s about justice, you know? But what people really need is a protector. Someone who’ll stop them from getting hurt. Someone who makes them safer just by being around’ ‘What’s the difference?’ ‘The difference is what matters to you. Do you punish criminals, or save people?’
I had so many conversations with the dead, nowadays. I stared down at the tape outline on the bed. A few drops of blood, nothing more. He’d not died there, that much was clear. “Who killed you, Blake?”
‘That was me.’ Blake sat up from the empty bed. He didn’t really, of course. It was just me, talking to myself. Thinking things through. ‘You know it’s true. Regardless of the suspicious things, I was the one who wound up cutting my wrists in the end. That makes things simpler, really. There are a lot of people who could kill me. But how many people could make me cut my wrists?’
I stared down at the bed, and turned to look around the room. “Why were you sorry, Blake?”
‘Well, that’s simple. Two possibilities, right? Two things I cared about. First, someone got away. Or second, someone died.’
“A lot of people died on you, Blake. You weren’t God. And you weren’t one to get wrapped up in the past. You held onto the good times. You let the bad times fade away.” I stared. Something down there, by the kitchen table. A book. Something the evidence boys hadn’t found. “Maybe it was both.”
I picked it up. A list of names sat within. I only recognized Blake’s, and my own. I slowly closed the book, and thought about that.
I’d never met something that could make someone commit suicide if they didn’t damn well want to. But that doesn’t mean there’s no such thing. If there’s one thing that Betty and Horace had taught me, it was that the world was deeper and darker than I’d ever dreamt. I took out the phone, and stared at it for a few second. Horace’s number was there. I could call him. Ask Betty to get involved. If this was something supernatural, it might be better to do that. Humans weren’t supposed to deal with these kinds of nightmares.
“Hey. Who are you calling?”
My eyes snapped up. The girl was young. Asian, though she looked like she might be mixed-race, her eyes just a little rounder than most, no sign of the epicanthic fold. They were a bright blue that contrasted with her brown hair. She looked young, too, though in a nebulous way. Different from Li Fang Fen’s ageless youth, she looked… The word that jumped to mind was ‘innocent.’ A simple pair of denim jeans, and a tight white shirt that emphasized her scrawny frame. Her ribs were visible through the fabric. I also recognized her from the snatches of footage.
I’d heard people talk about auras. The indefinable things they felt around someone else. I’d never experienced it before. Even in front of Betty, or Horace, or Nergal, some of the most powerful beings I’d ever met, I hadn’t felt something like this. In front of this slender Asian girl, I was shaking. It was like a heart attack, a tightness in my chest that made my pulse race. It felt like being a mouse in front of a snake. The bone-level instinct that the slightest movement would be a fatal mistake. I fought it with humor, like any good human.
“Jill the Ripper, I presume?”
“Hah.” She smiled. It was a fake smile. Hollow, empty. I’d seen those kinds of looks before. Never on anyone good. “That’s funny. You’ve got a real sense of humor there. But it’s supposed to be Reaper.”
“I can’t say it was my joke.”
“Hey, that’s fine. All the best comedians steal. Hey, speaking of which, whatcha got there?” She pointed at the book. “Looks important. Looks like the sort of thing that might have clues, huh?” She tilted her head, continuing to smile.
I’d learned a thing or two about recognizing expressions. A fake smile is easy to pick out, under normal circumstances. There’s this crinkle in the folds around the eyes that shows up when you smile for real, and not when you’re just faking a smile. People smile with just their mouths, and it stands out to the human brain as a danger sign. This girl was different. Her teeth showed. Her eyes crinkled. But her mouth was just a bit too wide, her teeth a bit too clenched, her eyes a bit too focused on me. It was a snarl that pretended to be a smile. “Oh, yeah. The best. Tell you what. Come down to the station with me. We’ll talk all about them.”
“Hey, that sounds awesome. But there’s something important, first.” She reached over, and picked up a marker. I remembered the report of the john doe in the hotel room. I remembered the picture, vitreous humors pouring down his cheek. So little blood. “I hear tell you’ve got friends in high places. The kind of people who could make some real problems. Fat cats.”
She lunged. I was ready for it, and swung my leg in a roundhouse kick. I had at least six inches on the girl, and close to forty pounds of muscle. The advantage in strength, in reach, in experience. I should’ve caved in her cheek.
As I was spinning for the kick, she leaned back. I tried to adjust, but something in my movements destabilized me. I pulled my leg in before the spin could grow wild, only to find her hand on my ankle. She skidded across the ground on her bare knees as my reflexive yank pulled her in close. The magic marker grew larger in my vision, and I closed my eyes, ready for that moment of pain, and then oblivion. I felt a line of fire drawn across my eye, and screamed as I fell to the ground.
I opened my eyes, a thin line of black from the magic marker across my eyelid and down my cheek. The girl stood on the far side of the room. I was between her and the door. She flashed that snarling grin again. “Let me be frank. We’re not here in town for you. You’re a murderer, it’s true, plenty of times over. Innocent cultists in over their head. But you don’t enjoy it. It wouldn’t be worth my time to kill you, y’know? I don’t do that shit for kicks. I’m here on business.” She tapped the marker twice against the wall. “Give me that phone. From what I’ve read, you’ve got a link to someone me and… Well, you already know his name, ‘Jack’, want. It’d be pretty awesome if you’d just hand it over, like the good little mundane piece of shit that you are.”
“You know, you’re fast. And good.” I took out the phone, and tossed it up and down a few times. I kept my eyes on her. “You know, if you were so fast, I’d think you could’ve just snatched this off me as you passed.” The girl kept grinning her feral grin, and her eyes narrowed slightly. She was good, but I wouldn’t feel ashamed of giving her Betty’s information. I didn’t think she was that good. It wouldn’t be a betrayal to send her on her way. Not of Betty, anyway. “Tell me. What are you?”
“The most evil thing on the earth. A human being.” She laughed, and it was like someone who’d seen laughs performed badly, in another language. “Just a human being. Well, aside from the deal, but still human.”
“Yeah.” I tossed the phone up and down twice, and with my other hand, I rested my fingers on the tonfa. I’d promised myself I wasn’t going to make things personal. Wasn’t going to get involved. That I’d learn my place. “Scary scary.”
“I should be. Look, we’re not with the rest of them. That’s just, you know, shit happening. We’re here on our way to somewhere else. We could be out of your hair, just like that. All you have to do is give me the phone, and you get to live. Maybe you’ll even be able to deal with the crazy shit that’s coming your way. But you need to learn to pick your battles. You don’t stand a chance against me.”
‘You know, hon,’ said my father, ‘sometimes, in this world, you’re going to meet shit that scares the hell out of you, and you’re going to hesitate, and you’re going to think you might be about to die. I know Blake told you about this.’
“Yeah.” I wasn’t the hero. I wasn’t the badass monster slayer. I wasn’t even the protagonist of my own story. I was just some cop, in over her head.
The Asian woman smiled. “Good. There’s no shame in knowing your limitations. Now give me the phone.”
‘And sometimes, when you’re scared you’re going to die, what you need to do is clench your fist, ram it down the throat of whatever’s threatening you, and rip its throat out from the inside.’
“Yeah.” I nodded, and took a few steps towards her, putting myself within arms length. I tossed the phone up into the air once more. This time, I didn’t catch it on the way down. It hit the floor, and I stomped down hard on top of it. The case cracked under my boots, the SIM card shattering under the force. Jill looked down, and then back up at me, her expression resigned.
“Well, fuck. You just made things tough. See, now that phone number’s stuck with you, rather than with the phone. And I’m going to have to get it anyway. So-”
I lunged. She moved even as I did. Just slightly before, in fact, which kept me from clubbing her across the skull with the tonfa. It shattered a jagged groove in the wall as she dodged down and to the side. Her wrist came up, spinning with her whole body to add momentum as she slammed it into the back of my elbow, trying to force it in the wrong direction with the help of my grip on the wedged tonfa. I let go of the tonfa, and caught it as it fell with my other hand. I jabbed mindlessly, aiming for her throat. She tilted her head to the side, just a few inches, and brought her head down, trapping the wooden shaft between cheek and shoulder. I was stronger than her, but I didn’t have the right grip to yank it away. She twisted her body, and ripped the tonfa from my hand, while bringing her body in close to mine. She slammed a petite, weak fist into my solar plexus, exactly hard enough to make me choke and gag. As I tried to recover, she spun, and slammed her elbow into my kidneys. An explosion of pain filled me, and I dropped to the ground.
“I’m going to tell you something important,” she said, as I groped blindly for the tonfa. I used it to push myself up. “See, I have this power. It’s what I got, in exchange for… Well, a lot. I-”
I lunged, and she pivoted, the heel of her right foot catching me in the hip. Something went pop, and I fell like an oak. “Rude. As I was saying, I gave away a lot. Pretty much everything. My family, my humanity, everything I had. And in exchange, I got the power to kill. I can look at you, and ask myself ‘How do I kill her?’ And I can see every single way to make you die. Some of them are quick, and simple. Some of them are slow, complicated. But it works for everyone. Humans. Monsters.” She grinned down at the shattered phone. “Gods. I just get a look at them, I ask myself, and I know. Do you want to know how many ways there are to make you die, in the next ten seconds? It gets trickier when I don’t want you dead, mind you. But I can follow them half-way. I can make you suffer.”
She looked over, as did I. She sighed. My stomach dropped into a pit. The patrol officer stood at the doorway. Officer Blanski, I remembered. “Oh, for gods sakes, this is a private conversation.”
“I will shoot you stone dead. I’ve called the SWAT team. They’ll be here in three minutes.”
“Oh yes? Well, time enough to make my escape.”
She took a step towards him. He opened fire. Three rounds, from maybe twelve feet away, on a still target. She swayed slightly, moving in a simple little dance. Three holes opened up in the wall. None of them had the good grace to be reflected on her own body. “How in the hell-?” he began, staring. She took another step towards him.
“Killing you? The first step to that is not getting killed on my way.” She grinned toothily, and moved to take another step. My hand around her delicate sneaker kept her from doing so. She looked down, and growled. “You fucking-”
Blanski was no idiot. He fired again, and this time, Jill dodged more dramatically. She rolled back, the shoe coming free of her foot, and narrowed her eyes. “This is getting fucking inconvenient. Look, I could still kill both of you, but it’d make it a lot harder to get things done. So, congratulations. You’re too inconvenient to kill right now.” She spun, and her heel lashed out, striking the wall where the bullets had fractured drywall and brick. A hole about a foot across fell open, as stonework crumbled out onto the streets. “Hey, Dane. See you on Saturday. Cop-boy? Make a will, and do it before Wednesday.” She leapt through, as Blanski fired the remains of his magazine. If any of those shots hit…
Well, let’s be frank. I knew none of those shots hit. I pulled myself to my feet with the tonfa, as the sirens grew louder outside. “Ma’am, I’m sorry-”
“Nah,” I said. “Good job. Really damn good job.” I stared out of the open hole. The weight of the book in my pocket reminded me of why I’d come here. “Pardon my french.”