HARRY: WEIRD WARNINGS
BONNIE JEAN: SHE WONDERS AND
Beyond the bay window, low over the distant hills and gleaming palely on the rim of the clouds, the waning moon was five days past full strength. B.J. 's powers - or some of them, such as her metamorphism - had waned with it. But others had been hers from birth; they were hers by right. Her Master's greatest talents had been his mentalism and, upon a time, his metamorphism, of course; and B.J. was blood of his blood. She would have all that was due to her in the fullness of time ... even if it took another two centuries for full development. But for now -
- She was a beguiler. That was her art: hypnotism. Aided by the wine, her eyes and mind would exercise such power even over this awkward subject, this Harry Keogh, that he would become as a toy in her hands: hers to command, to do with as she willed. And because she had never failed, B.J. never once considered the idea of failure.
In this she was surely fortunate, for Harry Keogh's metaphysical mind wasn't at its best. It resisted the Necroscope's contours; echoes of Alec Kyle's precognitive talents continued to shape it; its defences had been undermined by previous tampering. But Bonnie Jean knew none of this.
Now, drawing the small table to one side, she positioned her chair so that the chandelier hung just to the right of her head, where its scintillant pendant crystals continued to turn to and fro but on a level with her eyes. And in this position she faced the man on the lounger across eighteen inches to two feet of space, and said, 'Harry, now we'll do something else. When I tell you to, I want you to look into my eyes. Not now, but when I tell you. Is that understood?'
'Sure,' he said. 'But it's still your turn.'
Oh, he had willpower, this man! But so did B.J., and she also had the wine - and powers other than will - to subvert the will of others. 'But that game is over now,' she insisted. 'And at my command you will look into my eyes.' And before he could answer, if he'd intended to:
'Harry, this is no longer a "normal" conversation. Your mind isn't yours to control. You feel the effects of the wine. You feel ill as never before. Your brain is swimming. The room is spinning. Only I can stop it. Only my eyes can stop it!'
Harry's head began to loll on the cushions, to and fro, backwards and forwards. More beads of sweat stood out on his brow, forming damp spots in the permanent creases of forgoten frowns. But his pin-prick pupils never once left the pendants, even though his eyes roled to the motion of his face and head.
'You do believe me, don't you?' she went on. 'You do feel those effects I've described?' In combination with her purring, persuasive voice, the action of the delusion-inducing, suggestion-enhancing wine worked on Harry's mind to the desired effect. He was pale as death, panting now and beginning to convulse. As rapidly as that, he displayed al the symptoms of physical illness; in a little while he might even be sick!
And: Now! thought Bonnie Jean, reaching behind her back to the top of her sheath dress, finding the zipper, drawing it down, down, and shrugging the garment off her shoulders. Let it be now! For a moment the dress clung to her breasts, then fel forward and exposed her to the waist. She stood up, stepped out of the dress as it fel, and pushed down her panties. And once again: Now! Let it be now!
This would take some effort; it wasn't her time; the ful moon was B.J.'s time. But she needed more than her own strength now, more than the strength of her human eyes. Oh, Harry Keogh would listen to her as a woman, and obey her to a point. But as the Other she would be more powerful yet and have complete control over him, or so nearly complete that it wouldn't mater.
And seating herself naked before him, she turned her gaze on the chandelier and let its light fill her brain. It formed a softly glowing moon floating right there in her room, a gloriously full moon. A moon of strange powers, and one of change. And Bonnie Jean ... changed!
It was as if her flesh rippled; it was as if her colours flowed, especialy the colour of her hair, out of her head and into her body. The grey highlights were highlights no more but solid colour; she was grey, almost white. Her coat, pelt, fur, was white! And her eyes: their shape was angular now, triangular, or at least framed in triangles of white fur. And their size was huge, and their colour - was blood!
And Bonnie Jean's lips ... her mouth ... her teeth!
It was metaplasia, but almost instantaneous. It was metamorphosis, monstrous and immediate. If the Necroscope had been awake, or other than entranced - if he'd seen it, experienced it - then he would have known what it was, would have known to cry out. And the one awesome word he would have cried: 169
But he hadn't seen, didn't know. And the breath he might have felt upon his face, which came from scant inches away now, was still sweet - not with the sweetness of perfume but an animal sweetness, or musk - and the words he heard when she spoke were more a cough, a grunt, a growl, but still her words which he must obey:
'My eyes, Harry. Only my eyes. If you would put an end to your sickness, your misery, then look into my eyes.
Don't look at me ... but only into my eyes.'
And he did. Into her furnace gaze, into those eyes which had fascinated Mesmer himself, into a hypnotic whirlpool that was easily the equal of Doctor James Anderson's; except James Anderson had been here first, and his post-hypnotic commands still applied. They were buried deep, but they were here and they were still active.
And: There,' the creature that was Bonnie Jean husked, binding Harry to her gaze. 'And all your pain is eased, your sickness is washed away, the whirling of your brain has been stilled. Now tel me, is it good, Harry?'
The Necroscope tried to answer but couldn't; his tongue was swollen, his throat parched. But she heard his sigh, and saw how the heaving of his chest gradually subsided. And finally, completely under her spell, he nodded.
And his pinprick pupils were like crimson motes burning in the reflection of her gaze, or tiny planets swayed by the lure of twin suns ...
In the morning, starting awake from some instantly forgotten nightmare, Harry had a splitting headache and felt like death warmed up. Then he saw where he was, knew that he'd spent the night here without remembering a thing about it (well, except for the really important stuff), and felt even worse. B.J.'s living-room, her lounger ... herself, emerging onto the stairwell landing in a towelling robe. She'd showered and her hair was still damp on her collar. The smells of coffee and toast came wafting from the tray she was carrying.
'God!' said Harry, sitting up and laying aside the blanket she had thrown over him. And he meant it when he repeated: 'God!' For the last time he'd felt like this was on that morning in London, after taking Darcy Clarke's sleeping pill...
She smiled at him where he screwed up his eyes, fingered back his hair and gritted his teeth, and told him: 'When you went, you went really fast and never knew what hit you. But I have to admit I asked for it. After all, you'd warned me that you weren't much of a drinker.'
The wine?' Harry grunted. That stuff? How can anything that tastes so good be so wicked?'
'But isn't that always the way is it?' She laughed at his pained expression. 'Anyway, it was either the wine ... or the life of a secret agent is very, very strenuous!'
'Ah!' he said. 'I told you about that?' (But how much? Had he been that drunk, or ill, or whatever?)
'Nothing specific - but I would have known anyway. I mean, you were so calm and controlled in that awful situation in London. You would have to be something special just to be able to get us out of that place the way you did!'
With which most of it came flooding back - or so the Necroscope thought. The words 'that awful situation in London' were a mental trigger, a trip to release his stored 'memories.' And now they were there, dropping neatly into place ...
... Her motive had been revenge pure and simple. Her girls were very special to her, and she felt like a mother to them; in almost every case they'd been in need of care up until the time she employed them. Also, she had known that Skippy was 'a bad one.' If the police weren't able to pin the murder on him, he might easily put two and two together and work out that B.J. had fingered him. After that, he might even have come looking for her! It seemed like a perfectly sound motive - to the Necroscope, at least. Because B.J. had told him it was sound.
And the silvering on the heads of the ornamental crossbow bolts? Perfectly acceptable. Even the odd little chap who had been watching the place: the father of one of the bar's hostesses, maybe, checking that she worked in a decent place? Or perhaps a private detective following one of B.J. 's more dubious customers? Wel, if she had any more clients like Big Jimmy, that would seem reasonable enough, too!
And so his memories seemed whole, complete as some well-remembered tune, and not a single discordant note to jar his mind awake to its errors. As far as last night was concerned, that page of the Necroscope's mind had been re-written.
Maybe he frowned once or twice, and blinked as B.J. sat down beside him and poured coffee, but that was all. Harry's main concern right now was that he hadn't been bothersome to his lady host. For after drinking her red wine . . . well, the night's events were vague, to say the least!
'Have you decided, then?' B.J. broke into his thoughts.
Startled, he looked at her. 'Decided?'
She nodded, sighed, said, 'My, but you're having a really rough time of it, aren't you? Have you decided when you'll continue your search for your wife and baby! It was the very last thing you said to me before you, er, turned in? No, I can see that you don't remember. You said that you'd have to sleep on it. You told me it could be as early as today. But looking at you this morning ... I can't say I'd advise you to travel anywhere too far too fast, Harry Keogh!'
Too far too fast.' The word sequence opened another door in the Necroscope's mind. Brenda and his son. He had come here to find out if there was a connection between Bonnie Jean and their disappearance. Forlorn hope! No, B.J. was just a strong-willed young woman who believed in taking matters into her own hands. And Harry couldn't deny that if he'd been in her place he would probably have done pretty much the same thing. An eye for an eye. Her connection therefore was purely coincidental.
And despite his false memories, this time Harry was absolutely right: where Brenda was concerned, BJ.'s coming on the scene had been entirely coincidental.
So, back to her question. Til think it over - think it out - a while longer,' he said. 'Well, for a couple of weeks, anyway.' (A couple of weeks? Yes, he was decided. Three weeks at least... to think it out.) And fingering his scalp again: That is, when I can think again! But I'l need at least that long to work out some kind of plan - won't I?'
She nodded and shrugged. 'Well, it's none of my business, of course. It's just that I wish you luck. But whatever you do, you will stay in touch, right? Let me know how you get on?'
Harry wasn't looking at her; he was sitting there holding his head between his hands, blinking his stinging eyes and trying to focus them, looking at his left sock where it hung half off his foot. But her words rang in his mind like a bel:
'Stay in touch ... "
He gave a slight involuntary jerk, was unable to stop his reaction, as a short, sharp series of vivid scenes flooded his mind:
A full moon, brilliant yellow, like burnished gold, sailing a clear night sky. That was al he should have seen, and he knew it - knew something - remembered something however briefly, like a name on the tip of the tongue that comes ... then slips maddeningly away: 'When the moon is nearing its full, stay in touch!' That was all there should be, yes. But there was more: A snarling visage: the merest glimpse of dripping fangs, salivating leathery lips, pointed ears and grey fur; and commanding eyes, red as sin - ful of sin - carrying some secret message that Harry couldn't read. Then the moon again, showing the wolfs head in silhouette, thrown back in a silent, throbbing howl!
The kaleidoscopic scenes were there ... and they were gone. And even the knowledge that they'd been there was gone, except for a fading shadow on Harry's metaphysical mind.
And of course he jumped to the wrong, or not entirely correct, conclusion: it had to be Alec Kyle, his precognition!
But had it been a warning, or what? Or was it simply an echo not of the future but the past, a flashback to the madness and mayhem down in London? And if so, why? But already it was gone ...
B.J. had seen him start; he could feel her watching him. He jerked up his head and looked at her, catching her off balance. There was a smile on her face - or the vestiges of one - that she hadn't quite managed to drop. And knowing she'd been caught out, as it were, she shook her head and said: 'So there we have it: no drinking man, you, Harry! Man, ye're rough!'
So, she'd been smiling at his discomfort - right? But a very secretive sort of smile. Or maybe a knowing smile? Again Harry jumped to the wrong conclusion:
B.J. must see a good many heavy drinkers in her bar. Alcoholics even. Let's face it, you could find alcoholics in just about any bar anywhere in the world. Couldn't you? The trouble was the Necroscope didn't know much about them.
Only what he'd heard. For instance: one drink is enough for some people, while others can drink all night and never show it for a moment. What kind of drinker had Alec Kyle been, really? A heavy one, maybe? Too heavy? A secret one? Secret enough to hold down his job at E-Branch? And here was Harry Keogh, lumbered with Kyle's body. And his addiction?
He looked at the tray where B.J. had set it on the pine table. The coffee looked good but he really didn't fancy anything to eat. His throat was sandpaper-dry and his brain felt like a wet sponge! But Bonnie Jean had asked him a question. God, he felt so stupid! What was it she'd asked?
'Won't I be seeing you again?' She obliged him.
'I... I have your number,' he told her. 'I'll know where to contact you.' (But why in hell would he want to contact her, apart from the obvious reason? What arrangements had been made last night? He was sure that nothing had happened here.)
Mulling it over, he drank his coffee ... '
Half an hour later he left, walking off along the street into a dreary morning. And not long after that one of B.J. 's girls reported back to her and said: 'I followed him, like you said. But... I lost him!'
'What?' B.J. was angry. She had obtained Harry's telephone number but that was all. It was a simple oversight, an error on her part. She'd wanted to know where he lived, how to get there and what it looked like - things that she could have asked him last night. It had seemed such a perfect coincidence: the fact that he had a place up here close to Edinburgh! But she'd known that Harry would 'stay in touch' with her, and so hadn't really considered the possibility that he might be hard to locate. She had only sent the girl after him on an afterthought. Now, however, taking time to give it a little more thought:
Harry was (or had been) some kind of agent. What if this place of his wasn't 'his' place at all but a safe house?
Perhaps it was a good thing her girl had lost him. Perhaps these 'people' of his had been waiting for him, to whistle him away, and the telephone number was merely a contact number. She knew it was listed, which meant she couldn't use it to discover his address. All very irritating! And because the girl hadn't answered her yet: 'How could you lose him?' she snapped.
'He went into a newsagent's,' the girl told her hurriedly. 'I thought he'd be buying a newspaper and waited in my car.
But he didn't come back out.'
'Maybe he'd spotted you!' BJ. snapped. 'I told you to be careful. He's no fool, that one.'
'I thought I was careful,' the girl looked bewildered.
B.J.'s attitude softened, and finally she said, 'Maybe he went out the back way.' And she left it at that. For after all, Harry was that kind of man. And in his line of work it must be second nature to take precautions against being tailed.
Indeed, he had said as much. He was just good at his job, that was all.
Again she remembered that damp, dangerous night in London: the action in the garage, and how ... something had happened to her, before she came to her senses in the alley; then how Harry had seemed to disappear into the mist.
Oh, yes, he'd been good at his job, all right! But in any case, what difference did it make? For BJ. knew he would be in touch again, and even when he would be in touch: in just three weeks' time.
Glad to be let off the hook, B.J. 's girl went down to tidy up in the bar room. For in fact she, too, was lost for an explanation as to how she had so stupidly, even ridiculously, lost her target. Because as far as she knew - having checked and double-checked - the newsagent's shop in question didn't have any back way out!
Harry's coat was of the voluminous variety, a big heavy thing that John Wayne might have worn in some wintry Western. Shrugging out of it in the old house near Bonnyrig, he became aware of an oblong shape swelling out the left-hand side pocket, and of extra weight on that side. He would have noticed it sooner, except he wasn't up to noticing much of anything this morning. It was a small, flat bottle of B.J.'s wine; no label, but the same unmistakable red, and loaded with sediment.
A gift, obviously. What, from B.J. ? But after last night anyone would think she'd know better. Red wine and Harry Keogh didn't mix! Maybe she'd simply dumped it on him before someone else suffered the consequences. Well, cheers, B.J.! He gave it no further consideration ... because he'd been told not to.
There was something else that B.J. hadn't mentioned about her 'Greek' wine: the fact that it was savagely addictive, far more so than any cocaine derivative. But even if the Necroscope had,known, right then he wouldn't have been able to so much as look at the stuff. Not yet, anyway ...
It was mid-morning, and Harry was stil tired; he had a stiff neck from B.J.'s lounger, not to mention a hellish hangover. Taking aspirins, he tried to think straight. There were things he had to do this morning - if only he could remember what they were! But -
- Call your superiors. The people you worked for. Get me of the hook. We don't want them carrying out any unnecessary investigations on an innocent girl, now do we?
No, of course not. But. . . Bonnie Jean wasn't on the hook, was she? They didn't even-know about her! Even as these pseudomemories and thoughts crossed his mind, Harry had picked up the 'phone and dialled Darcy's number. It was a Saturday, but still Darcy might be in his office. And he was.
'Harry? What can I do for you?' And more quickly: 'If it's about Brenda, I'm sorry, but - '
'No, it's something else,' the Necroscope cut in. And now he knew what it really was about. 'Darcy, check and see if the police down there have an unsolved murder on their hands, won't you? An Edinburgh girl or young woman, murdered in London about a year ago? If they have, you can tell them the case is closed. Tell them it was down to Skippy or our would-be werewolf - or both of them.'
'You're still working on that?'
'No, it was just something that came up.'
'Oh. Well, thanks anyway.'
'Oh, and you remember the silvering on the heads on those crossbow bolts? Well, it was ornamental. They once decorated a wall over a fireplace in a hunting lodge or something. The silver was to stop them from rusting.'
'You have been working on it!'
'No,' Harry sighed. 'Just checking back on everything that was going on at that time, that's all. The time when Brenda and my son
... you know.'
'Sure,' said Darcy. And: 'Well, thanks again, Harry.'
'Also,' the Necroscope blurted, before Darcy could put the 'phone down, 'you might be able to tell me something more about Alec Kyle.'
'If I know, I'll tell you,' Darcy answered.
'I asked you if he liked a drink. You told me he wasn't a heavy drinker, but that when he did take a nip, then he really went to town on it.'
'Could he have had a problem that you didn't know about? I mean, is it possible he was an alcoholic and knew it, but he had it more or less under control? Except on occasion, when it would break out and he'd have to feed it? Wait! Don't give me your answer right off but give it a moment's thought. It could be very important, and I know how loyal you are, Darcy ... "
Several seconds ticked by, then the other said: 'Well, it is possible, of course. In this game I've come to realize that almost anything is possible! But I wouldn't have thought so. I never knew a steadier man,
Harry. On the other hand ... he was a precog, as you know. They all have this thing about the future; they're all a little scared of it - and sometimes a lot. If, and I mean if, Alec had a problem, he kept it pretty wel hid. And if he had one, you can bet your last penny it would have to do with his talent. "Talent": that's a laugh! I sometimes wonder if we're not all cursed!'
Harry thought about that, then said, Thanks, Darcy.'
'No, it's me, we, us, who should be thanking you,' Darcy told him.
'You're welcome,' Harry answered, automatically, and he started to put the 'phone down - then paused and said:
'Darcy, I'll be up here for maybe three more weeks, then I'll probably be out of the country. I think they must have gone abroad. But when I go ... I may be gone a while. I mean, I won't be coming back here each night. And I'll need funds.'
'I can swing that,' Darcy told him, without hesitation.
'No,' Harry answered, 'I'm not going to hit on you or E-Branch for money. But there is something you can do for me.'
'Just mention it.'
'Find out where the Russians keep their gold.'
'What?' (Astonishment). 'Where the Russians - ?'
'I mean, their repository? Like Fort Knox or something?'
As the last word fell from his lips, so Harry reeled. It was as if for a single second he was no longer in his room. It was just like that time in Darcy's office, in the moment folowing the warning of an imminent IRA attack. Except this time nothing had prompted it, there was nothing to explain why -
- Why Harry stood in the open, somewhere else, in bright daylight, and craned his neck to look up, and up, at stark yellow and white clifs .. . and at the squat, white-walled castle, mansion, or chateau that was perched there on the edge of oblivion. A fortress on a mountainside (from Harry's viewpoint), at the very rim of a sheer drop that must be all of twelve hundred metres to the sloping scree of a rubble-strewn gorge. The scene was ... Mediterranean? All sun-bleached rocks, brittle scrub, a few stunted pines, and a salty tang from the unseen ocean.
Their repository?' Darcy answered, abruptly yanking the Necro-scope back to the here and now. 'Why, I'm sure they must have! And I can probably find out about it, yes. But - '
Harry quickly pulled himself together. It could only have been a manifestation of Alec Kyle's precognition. As to what it meant. . . who could say? He tried to carry on the conversation as if nothing had happened. 'Or if not the Russians, someone or some outfit - maybe the Mafia, or some other organization like that, with bullion - who you'd like to see lose some big money? Maybe to our advantage? Like, gunrunners, or drug traffickers? I'm sure you know what I'm saying.'
Darcy laughed out loud ... but the Necroscope didn't even chuckle; he was still recovering from the effects of his inexplicable - what, visitation? Finally the head of E-Branch said, 'Ahem!
You know, if I didn't know better, Harry, I might accuse you of planning something decidedly ilegal?'
'I suppose it depends whose side you're on. You'll do it?'
'If that's what you want, yes,' Darcy said.
Harry nodded, despite that the other couldn't see him, and said, Then do it soon. And Darcy - see if you can find someone who'l give us a decent exchange rate, no questions asked.'
This time, putting the 'phone down, Harry was smiling despite his headache. Because he knew that on the other end of the line, Darcy Clarke wasn't.
But even as the 'phone settled in its cradle -
- He was there again! But this time he was up there on the rim of the clif, and the walls of the keep rising before him. Its medieval turret towers seemed semi-sentient - like stone sentinels - where he craned his neck to look up at them. And he felt his hair moving on his head, perhaps blown by the winds of the gorge.
It came and it went, and Harry sat there beside the telephone again. With his hair still standing on end ...
Bonnie Jean was worried. About E-Branch: how successful she'd been in throwing Harry, or 'them', off her trail.' About Harry Keogh himself, because she believed there was still something about that one that wasn't connecting. Where he was concerned, no sooner was one mystery cleared up than another surfaced!
Like how he moved so quickly and came and went the way he did, and the way he had eluded her tracker. As to the matter of his drugging her that night at the garage in London - the more she considered that, the more utterly ridiculous it seemed!
But any alternative was even more ridiculous, indeed impossible! So it could only be true. If only she had been a little more thorough when he was in her power. She could have discovered a lot more about this E-Branch he'd worked for, for one thing ...
And as if all of this weren't worrying enough, now there was the question of the watcher. A detective, or the father of one of Bonnie Jean's girls? She thought not. But from the description Harry Keogh had given her, B.J. believed she knew who - or what - it might be. Well, it had happened before, on several occasions down the decades. And now it could be happening again. She supposed she should be grateful Harry had brought it to her attention, except grateful wasn't part of the equation.
But forewarned is forearmed. If indeed this should prove to be the worst possible scenario come or coming to pass, then B.J. must look into it and, if necessary, draw their fire away from her Master. She had done it before - all of a hundred and seventy-five years ago - to lure them from the true spoor; and twice more in the years flown between. Inexperienced though she had been on that first occasion, still she'd won; and likewise ever since, else she wouldn't be here now! It was why she was here, after all; to guard over the dog-Lord in His immemorial sleep, where He patiently awaited the advent of the One Foreseen, the Mysterious One.
The right one, aye. And yet again BJ. thought of Harry Keogh, if only for a moment ...
... And the time of the calling so close now, when again she must go to Him. But this watcher:
If he (or they) were that close, and if they had been allowed to follow B.J., all unbeknown, perhaps to the very lair?
That was unthinkable -that she might so easily have betrayed a secret so well-kept for six long centuries! Well, at least it excluded Keogh's involvement with them. ! For if he were one of them he never would have offered his help in the first place. And when he had her under the influence of his drug, he ! could have done whatever he wanted with her; could have ... removed \ her, and so dealt with her Master, too. For without BJ. what was her Master but a poor defenceless thing in a cavern tomb? But Harry had done nothing except bring her to safety.
But oh, what she wouldn't give for Harry Keogh's extraordinary skills now! The way he seemed simply to vanish like that. Why, with him on her side, B.J. would have nothing to fear during the coming visit to her Master! Harry would lose any would-be trackers as easily as he'd eluded her girl.
With him on her side ... or, him by her side?
Keogh ... Keogh ... Keogh!
Why was he on her mind so? For after al she, Bonnie Jean Mirlu, was the beguiler, with the power of fascination! And yet somehow this Keogh fascinated her ...
Oh? And did that mean something?
His eyes, so warm and innocent: neither brooding, conniving, nor flirting (or flirting only a very little); not even especially beautiful, yet extraordinary in their depth, in the way they echoed the soul behind them. They were oh so soulful, those eyes of his. And at that B.J. gave an involuntary shiver, for the thought of his soul was . . . delicious! And if her Master were to give the word, why, she might yet taste it, steal it from him in one raw red moment!
Aye, and that would put an end to his mysterious ways, for sure.
His mysterious ways ... ?
Bonnie Jean started into shocked awareness where she sat thinking things out and brooding in a chair in her living-room. Harry Keogh: a mystery man appearing on the scene from nowhere, as if on cue. And BJ. feeling this attraction, a weird affinity that was hard to place, as if she already knew him. So much so that when she should have let him be killed - or killed him herself - instead she'd entrusted herself to him! Then, later, he had sought her out, to bring her a warning. This mysterious Harry Keogh.
What was she thinking? That he might actually be that mysterious one, the Mysterious One, for whom the dog-Lord waited? And if he was, and she had simply let him walk out of here ... ?
Bonnie Jean had lived too long to panic, but for a moment that's what it felt like. Then logic took over. So Harry Keogh had come and gone ... so what? He would be back, and she knew he would be back -whenever she called!
Through her hypnotism, her fascination, he was now as much in thrall to her as she was to her sleeping Master.
Except he didn't know it yet and probably never would. She could be with him -use him, deal with him, however she chose - and afterwards he would remember only what she required him to remember.
Her immediate instinct, to call him on the telephone - now, at once -gradually eased. He was at her beck and call, and not the other way around! And anyway, he wasn't going anywhere for at least three weeks. And when he did he'd be going with B.J., to see her Master. Yes, and then all would be well. If by some miracle Harry should prove to be the one, then she would reap her reward: her Master's eternal gratitude. And if he was not the one, still she would be rewarded, and the dog-Lord's most urgent need satisfied. For it would also be the time of replenishment, the time of nourishment.
Bonnie Jean's time, too, as well as that of her Lord and Master and ancestor, the dog-Lord Radu Lykan ...!
Meanwhile, she would put a watch on the watcher, and perhaps discover who or what he was. Using her girls, it would be an easy thing to arrange a roster of observers - a stake-out? - on the street outside the wine bar. A tiny garret window in BJ.'s bedroom looked out over the rooftops, but could just as easily look down across the street into the very doorway where Harry had seen him. A person might sit there, unseen and unsuspected behind the window's net curtains all day long, and keep watch on the street. All night long, too, if B.J. desired it. Then, if someone was watching the place, and if he should be a terrible someone, B.J. would soon know about it. And the next time one of her girls followed someone, be sure she would not lose him!
She would not dare lose him!
Not for her life. Not for all their lives ...
It was that same afternoon. Some miles away in the study of his house outside Bonnyrig, the Necroscope Harry Keogh sat absorbed in - and occasionally nodding over - the list of faraway places which he'd spent hours compiling in the reading room of a local library. His 'system' had been elementary, and flawed:
Take a modern World Atlas and track the lines of longitude west from the north-eastern region of the British Isles to discover areas of similar climatic characteristics and habitability in the rest of the world; not forgetting the west coast of England itself, of course, but with all coastal regions given the same priority.
The idea sprang from what his Ma had said, and what he had later thought: that Brenda might have found this place, Bonnyrig, ideally suited to her personality. From which Harry had gone several steps further, extrapolating an imaginary - yet persistently 'real' - world or place of dramatic scenery, misted nights, slanting sunlit days, long grasses, leaning trees and wild flowers. Indeed, a vast garden run wild, all hidden away from the eyes of men. Hidden from Harry's eyes, anyway.
So where to find such a place? And would the climate prove to be similar along the same lines of longitude? For the imagined scene - at least with regard to its weather patterns - wasn't especially dissimilar to the north-east coastal region of Brenda's childhood. And the Necroscope had simply extended that region one hundred and fifty miles north to take in Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. And Bonnyrig, of course.
It gave him a band round the Earth bordered by lines of longitude 55 and 56 North, including parts of Antrim, Donegal, and Londonderry in Northern Ireland; which was something that Harry hadn't previously considered - that Brenda and his baby son could be as close as Ireland. It had given him pause, but not as much as the discovery that if he followed the same lines east, they would also enclose Moscow, several thousands of miles of frozen tundra, the Bering Sea, and Alaska!?
Which would seem to put paid to that theory, at least.
And Harry had shaken his head and grinned, however wrily, thinking himself a fool that he hadn't paid more attention in school. If only his knowledge of the world's geography was as good as his understanding of maths! But there again, the Necroscope's amazing skill with numbers had very little to do with his education. Nothing he'd learned from the living, anyway ...
It was then, as he tossed his pencilled list aside to let his head loll against the back of his easy chair, that the telephone rang.
Harry sat up, reached for the telephone on the occasional table, paused and frowned. B.J.'s bottle of red wine was there, beside the telephone where he'd set it down. And the Necroscope was thirsty. He - or Alec Kyle's body - was thirsty. His eyes stung like there was a pound or two of grit in them; his throat hurt as if someone had wire-brushed it on the inside; his mind felt equally desiccated, dried out. And somehow he knew that a sip of the wine, just a sip, would ease everything and he'd be able to face up to things. But face up to what things? Just a moment ago he had seemed okay, and now ... ?
For his life, Harry couldn't say why he had frozen like that, with his hand stretching halfway to the 'phone. But the room was suddenly darker, as if a storm was about to break. Or maybe it was just the grimy patio windows; he hadn't found the time or energy to clean them, and what litle light forced its way in from the overgrown garden was usually grey.
The telephone rang again, insistently, drawing his hand just a few inches closer, to where it hovered nervously above the top of the dusty table. Yet still he held back from picking up the 'phone. He felt a chill on or in his back, as if a cold wind was blowing along the marrow of his spine, and shivered uncontrollably. In the last few seconds it was as if the whole room had gone cold as the grave! Now what the hell... ?
Pick it up, idiot! he heard his own voice demanding from deep inside his head. Pick up the damn telephone! What in the world's wrong with you?
But he wasn't expecting a call, was he? Or was he? There was something he should remember about the telephone, but when he went to think about it, it kept giving him the slip. Like a word on the tip of his tongue that he simply couldn't remember. And his brain was fuzzy from all the planning he was ... well, supposed to be doing! Was he expecting a call? Maybe he was, but not yet, surely? And what call was it anyway?
The 'phone rang yet again, and this time - despite that he knew it was coming - it caused him to start in his chair.
So why not pick the fucking thing up, answer it and find out? But find out what? Something that he really wouldn't want to know? Maybe. And what had made him think that, anyway?
Questions, questions! And nothing in his head but a ball of fluff, or rather a tangle of barbed wire. His stinging eyes ... his sore throat ... and B.J.'s bottle of red wine sitting there oh-so-temptingly ... and the -
- Damned telephone!
Harry went for it, curled his fingers around it, picked it up ... and the room went dark as night, so that he knew it had to be a storm. Now the thunder! he thought. Now the lightning! But the thunder and lightning never came.
Something else came.
Almost involuntarily, Harry tightened his grip on the fur ruff of the telephone as he drew it from its cradle towards his face ... the telephone that wasn't. He drew it at first, but in the next moment it was drawing him! A straining, bristling ruff that dragged on his arm as if he was walking an unruly brute of a dog. And he simply couldn't believe his eyes as he looked at his hand and saw what it was holding in check, but barely:
Not a dog, but a snarling, coughing, choking wolfs head, red-eyed with feral yellow pupils! The thing didn't have a body but grew out of the telephone's speaker. And the cable was like a leash that lashed with the living head's frantic motion, then stretched itself taut as the awful thing it anchored strained on it, turning Harry's arm inwards towards his gasping, utterly astonished mouth! The head was trying to get at him, bite him, crush his face in its slavering, fetid mantrap jaws!
'Almighty G-God!' Harry gasped, tightening his fist to a knot in the ruff of coarse fur, trying to force the head back while bringing his left hand into play as he fought to protect his face. The wolfs gaping, snarling muzzle was black leather flecked with white foam; its unbelievable teeth were ivory yellow; its ears lay flat to its head, seeming to streamline the horror of its intentions as they pointed the whole gnashing, clashing monstrosity of a visage at the Necroscope. Then -
- That tunnel of teeth closing on Harry's flapping left hand, where he felt bones snap in at least three of his fingers, and the searing agony of flesh severed, shorn through!
And paws as big as his hands were elongating themselves out of the telephone's speaker, followed by a long grey slime-damp body, as if the telephone was giving birth to this Thing! And the jaws were clashing inches from his face; they slopped blood and bits of mangled, twitching finger! And the grey fur of the beast's ruff tearing in his right hand, coming out in scurvy, matted tufts!
He ... he couldn't hold it off!
And worst of all, the intelligence in those yellow-cored, murderous, oh-so-knowing eyes, as the red-ribbed throat of the monster expanded to engulf his face, his head!
Harry screamed gurglingly but unashamedly, thrusting himself back so spastically, with such force in his driving legs, as to topple his chair over backwards.
And as if from a million miles away, the heavy pattering of raindrops on glass, and a flash of lightning at last. Then thunder clattering mightily close by, and a gust of wind hurling open the patio doors.
Harry's Ma came rushing in through the doors, crying:
Harry! Good God, son ... what sort of a dream was that!?
And his Ma was all mud and bones and weed, but that was okay because it was how she had always been. But he also knew she shouldn't be here, that she wasn't here except... except in his head ... ?
And, 'Ma!' he gasped, panted, choked, where he lay sprawled on the floor, with the rain hissing in his face, and a wind howling from the garden, whirling his pages of loose-leaf notepaper in a dervish dance all around the room.
Dream? Of course it had been a dream! But had she really needed to ask what sort?
'A nightmare, Ma,' he told her, where her drowned spirit lay deep in mud and weeds in a bight in the river that was her grave. 'A f-fucking godawful n-n-nightmare!' For the first (and probably the last) time in his life, the Necroscope Harry Keogh had uttered a curse word in the presence of his beloved Ma.
But he needn't worry, for his Ma had 'seen' his dream and understood ...