The night was still young when Harry laid his head on the pillow, but the moon was up and the stars were bright, and it was his time. His senses were no longer strong in daylight, but in the dark of the night they were sensitive as never before. Even those which governed or were governed by his subconscious mind. And his dreams were stronger, too.
He dreamed first about Möbius and sensed that it was more than an ordinary dream. The long-dead mathematician came and sat on his bed, and while his face and form were indistinct, his deadspeak voice was as sharp and no-nonsense as ever.
The last time we can talk, Harry - in this world, anyway.
Are you sure you want to? the Necroscope answered. It seems I can't help giving people a bad time lately.
The vague, weightless figure of Möbius nodded. Yes, but we both know that's not you. That's why I've chosen to come to you now, while your dreams are still your own.
I think so. Certainly you sound more like the Harry I used to know.
Harry relaxed a little, sighed and sank down in his bed. So what is it you want to talk about?
The other places, Harry. The other worlds.
My cone-shaped parallel dimensions? The Necroscope gave a wry, apologetic shrug. They were mainly bluff: I argued for argument's sake. We were practising, my vampire and I.
That's as it may be, Möbius answered, but bluff or none you were right anyway. Your intuition, Harry. The only thing your vision didn't take into account was how.
More rightly, who, said Möbius.
How? Who? Are we talking about God again?
The Big Bang, said Möbius. The primal light, back at the dawn of space and time. All of this couldn't have come out of nothing, Harry. And yet we've already decided that before The Beginning there was nothing. Which was foolish of us, because we both know that you don't need flesh to have mind!
God, Harry nodded. The Ultimate Incorporeal Being. He made it all, right? But to what end?
Möbius's turn to shrug. To find out what would happen, maybe?
You mean He didn't already know? What's that for omniscience?
Unfair, said Möbius. No one can know before the fact. And it's dangerous to try. But He's known everything since.
Tell me about the other places, said Harry, fascinated despite himself.
The world of Starside and Sunside is one, Möbius told him. But it was ... a failure. There were unforeseen paradoxes and things went disastrously wrong. Starside, the vampire swamps and the Wamphyri themselves: they were cause and effect both! But that's for the future, and for the past! To tell it now might be to change it, which would be presumptuous.
Space and time are relative, Harry argued. Haven't I always said so? And in their own way they're fixed. You can't damage them by talking about them.
Möbius chuckled, however sadly. Clever, Harry, I'll grant you that. But you can't work your vampire wiles on me, my boy! And anyway, Starside isn't the place I'm talking about.
Well, I'm listening, the Necroscope answered, just a little disgruntled.
Once when we talked, Möbius reminded him, you mentioned the balance of the multiverse, with black and white holes shifting matter around between all the different layers of existence and delaying or even reversing entropy. Like the weights governing the swing of an old clock's pendulum. But that's only one sort of balance, the physical sort. Then there's the metaphysical, the mystical, the spiritual.
The balance between Good and Evil.
Which all had origin in the same source? Your argument, August Ferdinand! Remember, 'there was nothing before The Beginning'. Right?
We're not in dispute, Möbius shook his head. On the contrary, we're in complete agreement!
Harry was astonished. God had a dark side?
Oh, yes, which he cast out!
The mathematician's words and their delivery had riveted Harry. And I can do the same? Is that what you're saying?
I'm saying that the other places are like levels, some of which are higher and some lower. And what we do here determines the next step. We go up or down.
Heaven or Hell?
Möbius shrugged again. If it helps you to think of it like that.
You mean that when I move on, I can leave my dark side - maybe even my vampire - behind me?
While there's a difference, yes.
While we may still distinguish between you.
You mean if I don't succumb?
I have to go now, said Möbius.
But I have to know more! Harry was desperate.
I was allowed to come back, Möbius said, simply. But I am not allowed to stay. My new place is higher, Harry. I really can't afford to lose it.
Wait! Harry tried to stir himself, sit up and take hold of Möbius's wrist. But he couldn't move and anyway, it would be like trying to grasp smoke. And like a set of his own esoteric formulae, the great man mutated into nothingness and was gone...
If anything Möbius's visit had wearied Harry even more than before. He drifted deeper into sleep. But his vampire-influenced mind was full of a certain name, which tormented him and wouldn't let him be. And the name was Johnny Found.
Harry was a telepath; he had a quest, a task which he must finish; and he had a vampire in him. When he had gone to face Fa��thor Ferenczy's bloodson Janos in the mountains of Transylvania, the Ferenczy had warned him that only one of them would come out of it alive, and that the winner would be a creature of incredible power. Janos had read the future, seen the same thing, known he couldn't lose. Except... one should never try to understand the future. Read it if you must, but don't try to understand it. Harry had been the one who came down out of the mountains. And though he didn't yet have the measure of his powers - especially his most recent acquisition, telepathy - still they were incredible. They had been incredible before, but now, with the booster which was his vampire...
Dreaming, he no longer had control over his talents, which were active nevertheless. Dreams are the clearinghouses of the mind, where the balance is kept, the cutting-room where all the junk and trivia of life are discarded and the meaningful set in order. That is the function of men's dreams. That and wish fulfilment. And also, for anyone with a conscience, the elevation of suppressed guilt. Which is why men sometimes nightmare.
Harry had his share of guilt, and more than sufficient of desires requiring fulfilment. And what he himself had failed to put in order during his waking hours, his subconscious self - and the vampire which was part of it - would try to put in order while he slept.
His enhanced awareness spread outwards from him to form a telepathic probe which, in a moment, unerringly, leaped all the miles to its target in Darlington. For that target was the sleeping mind of Johnny Found, a mind with a talent as weird as it was warped. Which Harry desired to know about.
And with the sinister guile of the vampire, he need only hint, suggest, propose, strike this chord or maybe that, and with any luck at all Johnny Found would tell him.
All of it ...
Johnny was dreaming, too, of his childhood. This wasn't something he would do voluntarily, but a night spectre kept rapping on the door of childhood memories and demanding that he open it.
Childhood memories? Oh, he had them, but he wouldn't say they were worth remembering or dreaming about. Which was why he didn't. Usually.
He tossed a little in his bed; his subconscious mind moaned and went to take up a hammer to nail shut the door to his past; something pushed the hammer aside, beyond his reach, and Johnny could only watch helplessly as the door creaked open. Inside, all the Bad Things of yesterday were waiting for him: the many small crimes he had committed, and the range of punishments and penalties he'd been made to pay for them. But he'd been a child then and innocent (so they said) and would soon grow out of it; and only Johnny himself had known he wouldn't ever grow out of it, and that they'd never be able to find punishments severe enough to fit his crimes.
They'd tried to convince him that the things he did were bad, and had almost succeeded, but by then he was old enough to know that they lied to him, because they didn't understand. And because they didn't understand, they would never know how good the things were which he did. How good they made him feel.
Yes, it had been a lonely place, childhood, where no one understood him or wanted to know about... the things he did. Because they didn't want even to think of such things, let alone know about them.
Lonely, yes, the place beyond that beckoning door. And how much more lonely if he hadn't had the dead things to talk to? And to play with. And to torment.
But because he'd had that - his secret thing, his clever way with creatures which were no more - being an orphan hadn't been nearly so bad. Because he'd known there were others worse off than him, whose plight was far worse. And that if it wasn't, then Johnny could soon make it worse.
The open door both repelled and attracted him. Beyond it, the mists of memory swirled, eddied and hypnotized him; until - against his will? - Johnny found himself drifting in through the door. Where all his childhood was waiting for him...
They'd called him 'Found' because he had been, in a church. And the pews had vibrated with his screams, and the rafters had echoed with them, that Sunday morning when the verger had come to see what all the to-do was about. He was still bloody from birth, the foundling, and wrapped in a Sunday newspaper; and the placenta which had followed him into the world still warm in a plastic bag, stuffed under the bench in one of the pews.
But lusty? Johnny had screamed to wreck his lungs, howled to break the stained-glass windows and bring down the ceiling, almost as if he'd known he had no right to be in that church. Perhaps his poor mother had known it, too, and this had been her attempt at saving him. Which had failed. And not only was Johnny lost, but so was she.
In any case, he'd yelled like that until they took him out of the church to the intensive care unit of a local hospital's maternity ward. And only then, away from God's house, had he fallen silent.
The ambulance which whirled him to the hospital carried his mother, too, found seated against a headstone in the churchyard in a pool of her own blood, head lolling on her swollen breasts. Except unlike Johnny she didn't survive the journey. Or perhaps she did, for a little while...
A strange start to a strange life, but the strangeness was only just beginning.
In the intensive-care ward Johnny had been washed, cared for, given a cot and, for the moment - and indeed for all his life - a name. Someone had scribbled 'Found' on the plastic tag which circled his little wrist, to distinguish him from all the other babies. And Found he'd stayed.
But when a nurse had looked in on him to see why he'd stopped sobbing and gone quiet so suddenly... that had been the weirdest thing of all. Or perhaps not, depending on one's perspective. For his young mother hadn't been quite dead after all. And perhaps she'd heard the babies crying and had known that one of them was hers. That must be the answer, surely? For what other explanation could there be?
There Johnny's unnamed, unknown mother had sat, beside his empty cot; and Johnny in her dead arms, sucking a dribble of cold milk from a dead, cold nipple.
Johnny was at an infant orphanage until he was five, then fostered for three more years until the couple who had taken him split up in tragic circumstances. After that he went to a junior orphanage in York.
About his foster parents: the Prescotts had kept a large house on the very outskirts of Darlington, where the town met the countryside. At the time they adopted Johnny in 1967, they already had a small daughter of four years; but there had been problems and Mrs Prescott was unable to have more children. A pity, for the couple had always planned to be the 'perfect' family unit: the pair of them, plus one boy and one girl. Johnny would seem to fit the bill nicely and make up the deficiency.
And yet David Prescott had been uneasy about the boy from the very first time he saw him. It was nothing solid, just - something he could never quite put his finger on - a feeling; but because of it things were just a little less perfect than they should be.
Johnny was given the family name and became a Prescott - for the time being, anyway. But right from the start he didn't get along with his sister. They couldn't be left alone together for five minutes without fighting, and the glances they stabbed at each other were poisonous even for mismatched children. Alice Prescott blamed her small daughter for being spoilt (which is to say she blamed herself for spoiling her), and her husband blamed Johnny for being... odd. There was just something, well; odd about the boy.
'Well, of course there is!' His wife would round on him. 'Johnny's been a waif, without home and family except in the shape of the orphanage. Yes, and that wasn't the best sort of place, either! Love? Suffer the little children? They seemed altogether too eager to be rid of him, if you ask me! Precious little of love there!'
And David Prescott had wondered: With reason, maybe? But what possible reason? Johnny isn't even six yet. How can anyone turn against a child that small? And certainly not an orphanage, charged with the care of such unfortunates.
The Prescotts had a corner shop which did very nicely, a general store that sold just about everything. It was less than a mile from their home, on the main road into Darlington from the north, and served a recently matured estate of some three hundred homes. Working nine till five four days a week, and Wednesday and Saturday mornings, they made a good living out of it. With the help of a part-time nanny, a young girl who lived locally, they were not overstretched.
David kept pigeons in a loft at the bottom of their large secluded garden; Alice liked to be out digging, planting and growing things when the day's work was done; they took turns seeing to the kids on those occasions when their nanny took time off. So that apart from the friction between Johnny and his sister Carol, the lives of the Prescotts could be said to be normal, pleasant and fairly average. Which was how things stood until the summer when Johnny turned eight. Indeed until then, their lives might even be described as idyllic.
But that was when David Prescott started having problems with his birds; and the family cat - a placid, neutered torn called Moggit, who slept with Carol and was the apple of her eye - went out one morning and never came back in; and there were long periods of that hot, sultry weather which irritates, exacerbates, and occasionally causes eruptions. And it was the same summer when David built a pool for the kids, and roofed it over with polythene on an aluminium frame.
Johnny had thought it would be great fun, swimming and fooling around in his own pool, but he soon became bored with it. Carol loved it, however, which annoyed her adopted brother: he didn't care for people enjoying things which he didn't enjoy, and in any case he didn't much care for Carol at all.
Then, one morning three or four days after Moggit had gone missing, Johnny got up early. He didn't know it, but Carol was awake and throwing her clothes on as soon as she heard his door gently opening and closing. Her brother (she always put a heavy sneering accent on the word), had been getting up early a lot recently - hours before the rest of the household - and she wanted to know what he was doing. It wasn't especially malicious of her, but the fact was she was a little jealous and more than a little curious. Even if Johnny was a pig, still she'd rather have him playing with her in the pool than off on his own playing his stupid, mysterious, lonely games.
As for Johnny: his time was all his own now and no one to make demands on it. School was out for the summer holidays; he had 'things' to do; he could usually be found beyond the garden wall, in the hedgerows where they blended into meadow and farmland that stretched out and away to the north and north west. But he would always come when he was wanted (a loud call would usually bring him home directly), and he was sensible about getting back for mealtimes.
Just what he did out there all the hours of the day was something else. If his foster-parents asked him, he would say, 'Playing,' and that was all. But Carol wanted to know what it was he played at. It was beyond her that he could find anything more interesting than the pool. So she went out after him, tiptoeing past her parent's room, into the early morning light where dawn hadn't long cracked the horizon with its golden smile.
Johnny went down past the pool under its polythene blister to the garden wall. He climbed the high wall at a well-known spot, jumped down the last few feet on the other side. And he started out along the overgrown hedgerow into the maze of fields shimmering in the morning light. And Carol right after him.
Half a mile into the fields, at a junction of ancient, rutted, overgrown tracks, the jumbles of a ruined farm lay humped and green with flowering brambles and clumps of nettles, where sections of broken, grey-lichened wall and the buttressed mass of an old chimney poked up in teetering stacks of stone. Johnny cut diagonally through a meadow and only his dark head, shiny with sweat, could be seen above the tall, swaying grass.
From where she balanced precariously on top of a disused stile, Carol saw where he was heading and resolved to follow him. The old ruin was obviously Johnny's secret place, where he played his secret games. But they wouldn't be secret much longer.
Johnny had disappeared somewhere into the tumble of fallen, weed-grown walls by the time his sister came panting out of the meadow. She paused a while and looked this way and that, along the tracks which had once serviced the farm, then made to cross them to the ruins... and paused again!
What was that! A cry! The cry of a cat? Moggit?
Carol's hand flew to her mouth. She drew a gasping breath and held it. What, poor little Moggit, lost somewhere in the shell of this crumbling old pile? Maybe that was what had drawn Johnny here: the sound of Moggit, jammed in some hole, trapped and starving in this tottering ruin.
Carol thought to call out in answer to Moggit's strange, choking cries and maybe bring him a little hope; but then she thought no, for that would only make him struggle the harder and perhaps get himself in more of a fix. Maybe he was only crying like that, so urgently and piteously, because Johnny was already trying to rescue him.
Holding her breath, Carol crossed the hard-packed, dusty tracks to what once would have been a wide entrance through high farmyard walls to the cluster of buildings within. Now the gap was a mass of collapsed stone choked by brambles and bolting ivy, with a few hazelnuts and straggly elders crushed under the weight of parasitic green. Broken bricks and rubble shifted underfoot where a well-marked trail had been worn through the undergrowth, Carol supposed by Johnny.
Dusty and cobwebbed, the trail in through the foliage was almost a tunnel; the light was shut out; seven-year-old Carol felt stifled as she forced her way through. But when she might have faltered, Moggit's howls (she was sure it must be Moggit, while at the same time praying it was not) drove her on. Until finally she broke cover into yellow sunlight, and blinking the grit out of her eyes saw Johnny where he sat in the central clearing. And saw the ...
... The things he had there; but without really seeing them at first, because her child's mind couldn't conceive, couldn't believe. And finally she saw... but no, no, there was no way that this could be Moggit.
What, Moggit of the snow-white belly and paws, the bushy tail and Lone Ranger masked face, the sleek, gleaming black back and neck and ears? This tortured, dangling thing, Moggit? Carol almost fainted; she slumped down behind a broken wall and knocked loose a brick, and Johnny heard the clatter. When his head snapped round on his neck to look Carol's way, he didn't see her at first, only the ruins in the clearing as he'd always known them. But Carol still saw him: his bloated face, bulging, emotionless eyes, and bloody, clawlike hands. His penknife lying open beside him on the wall where he sat, and the sharpened stick with its red point clutched tight in one hand.
And she still saw Moggit, too. Moggit with his hind paws just touching the ground, feebly dancing to stay upright and keep his weight off his neck, which was encircled by a thin wire noose that hung down from the branch of an elder! And one yellow eye hanging out on a thread, dribbling wetly and dancing on his wet furry cheek even as Moggit danced; and his fat white belly thin and crimson now where it had been slit open to let a bulge of shiny black, red and yellow entrails dangle!
And Moggit wasn't all. There were two of Carol's father's favourite pigeons, too, hanging limp from other branches with their wings twisted all askew. And a hedgehog still alive but with a rusty iron spike through its side, pinning it to the ground; so that it staggered dizzily round and around on its own axis in unending agony, snuffling horribly. Yes, and there were other things, too, but Carol didn't want to see any more.
Johnny, satisfied that no one was there, had returned to his 'game'. Through eyes that were brimming with tears, Carol saw him stand up, catch a dead pigeon in one hand and thrust his stick right through its clay-cold body. And he worked the stick in its unfeeling flesh almost as if ... as if it wasn't unfeeling at all! As if he really believed that the bedraggled, stiff, broken thing could feel it. And all the while he laughed and talked and muttered to these poor, tortured, alive or dead or soon-to-be-dead creatures, caring nothing for their waking or sleeping agonies. Indeed, his sister now understood something of the nature of his game: that having harried a living thing to its death, Johnny couldn't bear that it had escaped him and so continued to torture it in the lightless world beyond!
And at that she was the first to know the truth about her adopted brother, without even knowing she knew it. For, a child herself, she recognized a child's fancy when she saw one, knew also that Johnny was simply a cruel and hateful boy, and that what she'd imagined just couldn't be.
But Moggit, poor Moggit! Finally it got through to Carol that it was indeed her battered, half-eviscerated cat which Johnny was slowly hanging. And she could bear it no longer.
'MoggHW she screamed at the top of her voice. And: 'Johnny, I hate you - oh, how I hate you!'
She stood up, stumbled and regained her balance, flew at him clutching the jagged half of a brick. Johnny finally saw her and his red-blotched face rapidly turned pale. He snatched up his penknife - not to use on her but with an entirely different, perhaps even worse purpose in mind -and went to slice through a length of tough kite-string which held down Moggit's branch. Strands parted but the string didn't; in a sudden rage Johnny jerked the string this way and that, and Moggit was lifted and whirled like a rag, his hoarse cat cries cut off as the wire bit into his rubbed-raw throat.
Then Johnny gave a gasp of triumph as his knife cut through the string, and Moggit was jerked aloft, choking and spitting for a second or two as the noose tightened to finish the job. But Johnny was so intent on the murder of the cat that Carol was on him. Blindly, whirling her arms, she came at him with the sharp nails of one hand and the half-brick grasped tight in the other. He avoided her raking nails, but a sharp, broken corner of the brick struck him on the forehead and knocked him down. In a moment he was sitting up, shaking his head, looking around for his knife. And his eyes blazed as he glared at his sister and threatened, 'First Moggit, and now you!'
He got unsteadily to his feet, his forehead grazed and bleeding, then spotted his penknife and pounced on it. And in that same moment Carol knew she was in deadly danger. Johnny couldn't let her tell her parents what she had seen, what he had done. And there was only one way he could be sure to stop her.
With a backward glance that took in the whole scene one last time - poor Moggit hanged and bobbing with the motion of the elder branch, the hedgehog finally exhausted, gasping its life out where it lay, and the dead, mutilated birds strung up in a row - she turned away and fled for home. And bursting through the tunnel of undergrowth out of the ruins, she knew that Johnny was right behind her.
And he would have been; except he knew that if she got home first, she would bring someone to see. And he mustn't let anyone see.
Quickly he cut down Moggit and the birds, and yanked the hedgehog's stake from the ground. Panting from the furious pace of his exertions, and from his fury in general, he tossed the lot into a deep, stagnant well which he'd discovered on the site, whose battened cover had long since rotted away in one corner. He hated to see his dead and dying things go down into the dark like that, making splashes in the deep, black, unseen water below. Wasted, all of them, and so much 'life' still left in them! It was all Carol's fault. Yes, and there'd be a lot more to blame her for if she got home first.
He set out after her, following her wailing and the wild, zig-zag, trail she left through the long grass.
A half-mile across rough, open countryside is a long way when you're a heartbroken child with your eyes full of tears. Carol's heart hammered in her breast and her breath was ragged and panting; but to drive her on there was always that picture burning on her mind's eye, of Moggit dangling and jerking in the wire noose, with his guts hanging out like a small bag of crushed fruits when her mother made jam in the kitchen. And to drive her even faster was Johnny's voice crying after her: 'Caaarol! Carol - wait for me!'
She did no such thing; the garden wall was just ahead, at the end of the hedgerow; behind her, panting - and yet growling too, like some savage dog - Johnny was catching up. His groping hand missed her ankle by inches as she half-climbed, half-fell over the wall. But on the garden side she just lay there, too terrified, tearful, too exhausted to go on.
And Johnny jumping down after her, his eyes mad and glaring, small fists tightening and slackening where he held them to his sides. She looked toward the house but it was hidden behind fruit trees and the misted dome of the pool. Would her parents be up yet? She didn't even have the wind for yelling.
Johnny snarled as he bunched her hair in a strong fist and commenced dragging her towards the pool. 'Swimming!' he said, the word bursting from his lips like a bubble of slime. 'You're going swimming, Carol. You're going to like it, I know. And so am I. Especially afterwards!'
For the last week or so, David Prescott had also taken to getting up early. Alice didn't complain or ask why, because he was always so quiet and considerate and invariably brought her a cup of coffee. It must be the summer, the light mornings, the old 'early bird' syndrome. But in fact it was the mail.
Out this way the mail deliveries were always early, the very crack of dawn, and David was expecting a letter. From the orphanage. Not that it would contain anything of any significance - he was sure it wouldn't - but still he'd like to get to it before Alice. If she saw it first... well, she'd only say he was paranoid. About Johnny. And certainly it would look as though he was, else why would he write to the orphanage about him?
The thing was, David was desperate that things should work out all right; he really did want to love the poor kid. But at the same time he'd always been more receptive of mood than Alice - more aware of the aura of people, especially kids - and he knew that Johnny's aura just wasn't right. If it was something out of his past (but what past? He was just a child), something the orphanage would know about, then David believed that he and his wife should be told. For he suspected Alice was right to complain about the attitude of the orphanage; they had seemed too eager to wash their hands of Johnny, or rather: 'To place him in the care of a normal, loving family, where he can grow into a healthy person. Healthy in mind, as well as in body...'
That's what the orphanage director had said the day they went to pick up their new son, and the words had always stuck in David's memory: 'Healthy in mind, as well as in body.'
Something wrong with Johnny's mind? Something a little sick? Or a lot sick? For that was the nature of the aura which David sometimes felt washing out from the boy: a sick one, and clammy as an old man on his deathbed. Johnny felt sick as death. But not his death.
And this morning, sure enough, the letter was there. David tore it open and read it, and for a little while the words made no sense. Budgerigars in the kids' rooms, and Johnny stealing, killing and collecting them? A collection of dead things: mice, beetles, the budgies, even a kitten?
A dead kitten under his bed, crawling with maggots, and Johnny twisting its legs until they came off in his hands? That was how the orphanage people had found out about it, when the other kids came screaming.
But a kitten?
And David could hear the horrified screams of those kids from here. Except it wasn't those kids but one of his own - no, his own - Carol, from the bottom of the garden!
And Alice's sleepy, mumbling voice from upstairs, calling down, 'Where's the coffee? The kids are up early.'
And another scream from the garden, cut off gurglingly at its zenith.
David had ever been the one to leap to conclusions, often incorrectly. He did so now, and this time was right.
Down the garden path with his dressing-gown flapping, yelling for Carol, hoarsely, like crazy. But no answer. And a small blurred figure inside the polythene dome, kneeling at the side of the pool. David burst in; it was Johnny kneeling there; he looked as if he were trying to drag Carol out of the water. And she was floating there, face-down, arms limply outstretched, crucified on the blue, gently lapping water.
Johnny had been playing in the fields; he'd heard Carol's screams and seen a man - dirty, bearded, dressed in rags - climbing the wall out of the garden. The man ran away across the fields and Johnny went to see what he'd been doing. Carol was in the pool and he'd tried to drag her out.
He told the story to David, to Alice, the police, anyone who wanted to hear it. And most of them believed him; even David half-believed him, though he didn't want him near any more. And Alice probably believed him, though that would be hard to say for she wasn't much good for anything from that time forward.
The police found a camp site in the ruins of the old farm and brought up a lot of rubbish from the well. Someone, person or persons, must have been living rough there, stealing from gardens and properties (David's pigeons) in order to eat. It could be gypsies (the hedgehog), or maybe a tramp. Hard to say. Chances were they'd get him or them eventually.
But they never did get anyone.
And Johnny went back to the orphanage...
Harry slept on and for a little while longer experienced Johnny Pound's dreams. Of course, he saw Pound's past only from the necromancer's own point of view, which if anything was worse than the whole picture and more than sufficient to guarantee he had the right man. But eventually Pound's excesses became too much - his dreaming memories of his own evil deeds a lurid litany to his inhumanity - by which time Harry's hatred of him had grown into a rage.
Johnny Found had lived all his young life a monster and murderer and so far had got away with it, but until recently his step-sister Carol had remained his single human victim. Between times he'd made do and played his unthinkable 'games' with creatures dead of causes other than murder.
But as men and monsters alike mature, so their tastes also mature, and Johnny was no exception. Except... what grotesque form does maturity take in something rotten from the start?
Once, for entirely unthinkable reasons which even Harry Keogh couldn't bear to contemplate, Found had taken a job in a morgue; only to be fired when his boss became suspicious. It was his dream about another job he'd had, however, this time in a slaughterhouse, which did the trick and, like the last straw, broke the Necro-scope's back.
That was when Harry had drawn back his shuddering telepathic probe, pulled out of Johnny's mind and let the man get on with his nightmaring. Except of course in Pound's case the nightmares could barely match up to the reality...