Countdown to Hell

There were watchers.


Harry chose to exit from the Möbius Continuum at the same point as the last time he'd been there, in the shadow of the wall across the alley from Pound's place. And one of the watchers was right there!

Even in the moment he stepped from the Continuum into the 'real', physical world, Harry heard the plain-clothes man's gasp and knew someone was there in the shadows with him; knew, too, that even now this unknown someone would be reaching for his gun. One big difference between them was that Harry could see perfectly well in the dark. Another was that his adversary was only a man.

Reacting in a lightning-fast movement, Harry reached out to slap the man's weapon out of his hand... and saw what kind of a 'gun' it was which the other had produced from under his coat. A crossbow! He knocked it away anyway, sent it clattering on the cobbles, and held the esper by his throat against the wall.

The man was terrified. A prognosticator - a reader of future times - he had known that Harry would come here. That had been as far as he could see; but he'd also known that his own life-thread went on beyond this point. Which had seemed to mean that if there was trouble, Harry would be on the receiving end.

The Necroscope read these things right out of the esper's gibbering mind, and his voice was a clotted gurgle as he told him: 'Reading the future's a dangerous game. So you're going to live, are you? Well, maybe. But what as? A man - or a vampire?' He tilted his head a little on one side and smiled at the other through eyes burning like coals under a bellows' blast, and in the next moment stopped smiling and showed him his teeth.

The esper saw the gape - the impossible gape - of Harry's jaws, and gagged as the vampire's steel fingers tightened on his windpipe. In his mind he was screaming, Oh, Jesus! I'm dead - dead!

'You could be,' Harry told him. 'You could oh so easily be. It rather depends on how well we get on. Now tell me: who killed Darcy Clarke?'

The man, short and sturdy, balding and narrow-eyed, used both hands to try to loosen Harry's grip on his throat. It was useless. Turning purple, still he managed to shake his head, refusing to answer the Necroscope's question with anything but a gurgle. But Harry read it in his mind anyway.

Paxton! That vicious, slimy...

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At that Harry's fury filled him to bursting. It would be so easy to just tighten his grip until this staggering shit's Adam's apple turned to mush in his hand... but that would be to punish him for what someone else had done. Also, it would be to pander to the monster raging inside him.

Instead he tossed the man away from him, took a deep breath and breathed a vampire mist. By the time the esper was able to prop himself on one elbow against the wall, choking and massaging his throat, the mist lay over the alley like a shroud and Harry had disappeared into it -

- Or rather through it, and through the Möbius Continuum into Johnny Pound's flat.

He knew he didn't have a lot of time; it depended how many men the Branch had up here - they could be coming through the main door of the building right now. And they'd be equipped with all the right gear, too. A crossbow is a hellishly ugly weapon, but a flamethrower is far worse!

Pound's flat was grimy as a pigsty and smelled just as bad. Harry moved through it without touching, thinking: Even my shoes will feel unclean.

First he checked the door. It was sturdy as hell, made of heavy old-fashioned oak hung on massive hinges, fitted with three locks and, on the inside, two large bolts. Obviously Johnny hadn't intended that anyone should break in; which sufficed to make Harry feel a little safer, too. He quickly moved on.

In the front room, before a small, grimy window overlooking the now quiet road, he paused beside a cheap writing desk. One drawer was half-open; Harry glimpsed a metallic sheen from inside but was distracted by the items on top of the desk: a creased, stained, huge-breasted Samantha Fox calendar, with today's date ringed in biro alongside some scribbled marginalia, and a hand-scrawled message on a sheet of A4 bearing the Frigis Express logo. The calendar didn't seem especially important ... at least, not until Harry had read the message on the A4:

Johnny -

Tonight. A London run. Your 'lucky charm' truck, which I'll have loaded for you. Pick her up at the depot 11:40. It's for Parkinson's in Slough. They'll be dressing it for Heathrow Suppliers starting first thing in the morning, so we can't be late with this. Sorry for late notice. If you can't make it, let me know soonest.

The note was signed in some indecipherable scrawl, but Harry didn't need to know who had signed it. The date at the top was today's. Johnny had a London run tonight, leaving the Darlington depot at 11:40.

Now Harry looked at the calendar again. In the margin opposite the ringed date, Found had scribbled: 'London run! Good, 'cos I feel lucky and this could be my night. And I need to fuck inside a tit...'

Glancing at his watch, Harry saw that it was 11:30. Johnny was at the depot right now.

The Necroscope came to a decision there and then. His mad quarry used a Frigis Express truck (his 'lucky charm' truck) as a prop in his crazed games of sex, murder and necromancy; and so the truck should likewise feature in his punishment. Very well, tonight would be Johnny's last run. And now all Harry needed was an item from the lunatic's personal belongings.

He yanked the desk drawer open the rest of the way, and a half-dozen heavy metal tubes jumped in their velvet-lined compartments. Harry looked at them and thought, What the... ? But as he carefully lifted one of the tubes out of the drawer he knew well enough what the...

The thing was a weapon, which Found himself must have made or had manufactured, for use on his victims. Or for use on one of them, anyway. A name had been painted with a small brush in black enamel on the shining metal: Penny. And Harry thought, This was what went into Penny, before Found went into her.

The weapon fitted Pamela Trotter's description perfectly. A section of steel tubing about an inch and a half internal diameter, one end was cut square and had a rubber sheath or hand-grip, and the other end was cut diagonally to a point. That was the cutting edge of the tool and its rim had been filed from the inside out to a razor's sharpness. The Necroscope already knew how -and why - such a hideous knife would be used. The very thought of it was sickening.

As a kid Harry had played in the deep snows of England's north-east coast. When he was quite small he'd love just to sit there in the piled snow with an old tin can, driving the open end plop into the cold, soft white bank. When you pulled the can out again it would be full of snow; short fat cylinders of snow, from which you could build castles like on the beach. Except unlike sandcastles, which melted away when the tide came in, these castles would last for days until the weather warmed up. But it wasn't the castles he pictured now but the perfectly circular holes which the can had used to leave in the snow. In his mind's eye he could see those holes even now... and they were crimson. And they weren't cut in snow.

Harry looked at the other steel-tubing knives. There were five more of them. Four were called after girls whose names he knew from the police files but didn't know personally, and the fifth carried the name Pamela. This bastard kept them like mementoes, like photographs of old flames! Harry could imagine him masturbating over them.

Six weapons in all, yes, but there were seven velvet-lined trays in the drawer. Found must have the seventh tube with him, except it wouldn't have a name yet.

Suddenly Harry's vampire awareness warned him of someone - in fact more than one - entering the main door of the house to creep in the communal corridor outside Pound's door. E-Branch? The police? Both? He sent out his thoughts to touch upon their minds. Another mind stared back at him for a moment, then withdrew in shock and horror. It had been a middling telepath; E-Branch again; but the others out there were police. Armed, of course. Heavily.

The Necroscope snarled a silent snarl and felt his face twisting out of its familiar contours. For a mad moment he considered standing and fighting; why, he could even win! But then he remembered his purpose in coming here - the job still to be finished - and conjured a Möbius door.

He went to the Frigis Express depot.

Emerging from the Möbius Continuum on to the grass verge where the Frigis works exit turned on to an Al South access road, he was in time to feel the blast of a big articulated truck as it sped by. The man at the wheel was just a shadow behind the glassy night sheen of his windscreen, but despite the fact that the legend on the side of the truck said only frigis express, still it spoke volumes. For one leg of the 'X' was missing where the paint had peeled away, making it look like eypress.

Johnny Pound's 'lucky charm' truck.

Harry came forward to the edge of the road, was trapped for a moment in sweeping headlight beams where a large, powerful car followed not too far behind the truck. Intense faces merely glanced at him as the car swept by.

But there was something about those faces. Harry reached out and touched their minds. Police! They were after Found; they still wanted to catch him red-handed, or if not that, at least on the point of picking up some poor unsuspecting girl. Fools! There was evidence enough in his flat to put him away for ... not for long enough. Pamela was right: he'd probably go into a madhouse, and be out again in short order.

That other party back at Johnny's flat in Darlington: maybe they had broken in by now. Maybe they knew. So if Harry wanted the necromancer for himself, he was going to have to work fast.

But then he remembered Penny, alone in the house in Bonnyrig. He didn't know how long this was going to take. He could simply kill Found out of hand, of course, or cause him to be killed in any number of ways. Except he'd made a deal with Pamela Trotter, and he still wouldn't cheat on the dead. Also, Pound's punishment should fit the crime. But Penny shouldn't be left on her own... Not for too long... They'd killed Darcy Clarke, hadn't they?... Why the fuck was everything so complicated?

Harry felt the tension building... felt it swelling until the pressure inside was enormous... then gulpingly filled his lungs with the cool night air and took a firm, deliberate grip on himself. Penny had put him first; he must put her first; he took the Möbius route to Edinburgh.

She wasn't in the house!

Harry couldn't believe it. He'd told her to stay here, to wait for him. So where had she gone? He reached out with his telepathic mind -

- But which direction? At this hour of the night, where could she have gone? Why? For what reason? Or had she simply taken Trevor Jordan's advice and walked out on him?

He let his vampire awareness guide him, sent probes into the night, spreading outwards like ripples on the surface of a sentient mind-pool, seeking for Penny... and found others! Espers! Again!

He snarled at them, in their minds, and felt the shutters slam into place as they clamped down tight as limpets to rocks when the tide goes out. They'd been close but not too close, probably in Bonnyrig, some house they'd made their HQ. Harry passed them by, attempted to search further afield, came up against mental static that sizzled like bacon frying in his mind. It was E-Branch scrambling his sendings.

Damn all you mindspies! he cursed. I should get out and let you all find your own paths to Hell. But I should leave something behind me to make sure you get there, something to give you nightmares for ever!

He could do it, too, if he so desired, for he had the plague in him. This could be his legacy to a world and race which had forsaken him: a plague of vampires.

Physically, his own vampire was undeveloped, immature as yet; but its blood was his blood and his bite must surely be virulent. And at his command, the infinite vastness of the metaphysical Möbius Continuum. Why, he could plant vampires in every continent in the world -right now, tonight - if he wished it. And maybe then they would wish they'd left him the fuck alone!

He rushed out into his garden under the stars and the risen moon. It was night, his time. Ahhh, his time! But maybe in more ways than one. They were here for a reason, these espers. They could be coming for him right now, invisible under their shield of static.

'Come then, come!' he taunted them. 'And only see what's waiting for you!'

At the bottom of the garden, someone pushed the gate creakingly open. 'Harry?' Penny stepped into view and started up the path towards him.

'Penny?' The Necroscope reached out to her with his arms and with his mind, but her mind was a blur - or rather a mist - in which her psyche hid without even knowing it. Mind-smog!

Harry felt devastated, but he must hide it. Now she was a vampire, or would be, and now she was his thrall. It wasn't a crush any longer. And he wondered if it ever had been. After all, he had brought her back from the dead.

'What were you doing out in the night? I told you to wait.'

'But the night was so beautiful, and just like you I needed to think.' She let him fold her in his arms.

'What did you think about?' The night lured you. You felt the first fires racing in your veins. And tomorrow the sun will hurt your eyes, irritate your skin.

'I thought... maybe you didn't want to take me with you. Maybe you wouldn't.'

'You thought wrong. I will.' I have to, for to leave you in this world would be to sign your death warrant.

'But you don't love me.'

'Oh, but I do,' he lied. But it won't matter one way or the other, for you won't love me, either. Still, we'll have our lust.

'Harry, I'm frightened!'

Too late, too late! 'I don't want to leave you here now,' he told her. 'You'd better come with me.'

'But where?'

He took her into the house, ran through the rooms turning on all the lights, quickly returned to her. And he showed her Johnny's knife, with her name on it. She gasped and drew back from him. 'Can you imagine him?' he asked her, his voice dark as a winter night. 'Can you picture him looking at this and remembering your pain and his pleasure?'

She shuddered. 'I ... I thought I'd forgotten. I've tried to forget.'

'You will forget.' He nodded. 'And so will I ... when it's over. But I can't leave you here, and I have to finish it with him.'

'Will I see him?' She turned pale at the thought.

Harry nodded. 'Yes.' His scarlet eyes lit in a strange smile. 'Yes - and he will see you!'

'But you won't let him hurt me?'

'I promise.'

Then I'm ready...'

One hour earlier on Waverley station in Edinburgh, Trevor Jordan had boarded the overnight sleeper for London. He'd made no plans as such; tomorrow morning, early, he would probably give E-Branch a ring and see if he could sniff out which way the wind was blowing. And if it felt right he'd offer them his services again. They'd check him out (in the circumstances it was only to be expected) and of course they'd want to know all about his experiences with Harry Keogh. But he'd make sure that all of that took time, and by then Harry wouldn't be here any more. In the event he was still here, Jordan would cry off any work that went against him.

Not out of fear but respect, and out of gratitude... yes, and if he was truthful out of fear, too. Harry was Harry and a vampire. In that respect, anyone who didn't feel at least some trace of fear had to be an idiot.

The telepath had paid for a bed but couldn't sleep. There was just too much on his mind. He was a man back from the dead and he couldn't get used to it, probably never would. Not even a man who makes a full recovery from a desperate illness could feel like Jordan felt. For he had gone beyond illness - beyond life itself- and returned. And it was all down to Harry.

Unknown to Jordan, unknown even to Harry himself, was the fact that there was a lot more than that down to him. For the one thing Jordan hadn't taken into account was that Harry had been in his mind: the Necroscope had touched upon his mind - 'fingered' it, however briefly -but enough that he'd left his prints there. And no way to erase them.

To E-Branch - certainly to the two espers who had followed Jordan on to the train, one a spotter and the other a telepath - those prints took the form of a reeking mental mist called mind-smog. Of course, they couldn't probe too deeply, because Jordan was himself a quality telepath and he'd know it; indeed Gareth Scanlon, one of the two men who shadowed him, had once been Jordan's pupil, brought on by him until his own talent had matured and taken shape. Jordan would know his mind (not to mention his face, his voice) immediately. Which was why the two kept well away from him, boarded a carriage far down the train, on the other side of the buffet car, and sat for the first part of their journey with their hats on, hiding behind newspapers which they'd already read four or five times.

But Jordan never once headed in their direction or sent a single thought their way; he was satisfied just to sit in his sleeper compartment, listen to the clatter of the wheels on the tracks, and watch the night world roll by beyond his window. And be glad he was once more a part of that world, without once pausing to wonder for how long.

As the train slowed down a little for a viaduct crossing between Alnwick and Morpeth, Scanlon sat up straighter in his seat and closed his eyes in sudden, half-fearful concentration. Someone was trying to get through to him. But the thoughts were sharp, clean and entirely human, with nothing of vampire mind-smog about them. It was Millicent Cleary at the HQ in London, from where she, the Minister Responsible and the E-Branch Duty Officer were co-ordinating and running the show.

She kept it short: Gareth? Do you have a Sitrep?

Scanlon relaxed his screen of static and gave a brief situation report, finishing: He's in a sleeper, coming all the way into London.

Maybe not, she came back. It depends how things are going, but the Minister says we might pull the plug on all three of them very soon now.

What? Scanlon's concern was obvious; also his horror, that at any moment he and his colleague might be called upon to kill a man - indeed, to kill a former friend.

Clearly picked that up. A former friend, yes, but now a vampire. And a moment later: The Minister wants to know, is there a problem?

There wasn't, except: I mean, we are on a train, remember? We can't very well burn him on the bloody train!

The train will be stopping in Darlington, and we already have agents there. So be ready for the word. You may have to get off the train there and take Trevor... er, Jordan, with you. That's it for now. We'll get back to you.

Scanlon passed the message on to his companion, the spotter Alan Kellway, who was one of the Branch's more recent recruits. 'I didn't know Jordan all that well,' Kellway answered, 'and so have no problem that way. All I know is he was dead and now is alive - life of a sort -and that it isn't natural. So we'll only be restoring the natural order of things.'

'But I did know him.' Scanlon shrank down in his seat. 'He was my friend. It will be like murder!'

'A Pyrrhic killing, yes.' Kellway put it his way. 'But is it really? You have to remember: Harry Keogh, Jordan and their kind... they could murder our entire world!'

'Yes.' Scanlon nodded. 'That's what I keep telling myself. That's what I have to keep telling myself.'

In the Möbius Continuum, Johnny Pound's unthinkable knife was like a lodestone: it pointed in Pound's direction. Rather, Harry's locator talent pointed the knife, and he simply followed where it led.

Penny clung to him with her eyes closed; she had looked once, but that had been enough. The darkness of the Möbius Continuum seemed solid. That was because of the absence of everything material, the absence even of time. Where there is NOTHING, however, even thoughts have weight.

It's a kind of magic, she whispered, as much to herself as to anyone.

No, the Necroscope answered, but you can be forgiven for thinking it. After all, Pythagoras thought it, too. At which point, expert in the ways of the Möbius Continuum that he was, Harry sensed a cessation of motion and knew he'd found Found.

Forming a Möbius door and looking through, he saw a hedgerow paralleling a ribbon road that stretched into the distance straight as a ruler. Vehicles thundered by on the metalled surface, their lights strobing the bushes of the hedgerow into a flickering kaleidoscope of yellow, green and black. And even as Harry watched, so the Frigis Express truck whoofed by.

A short Möbius jump took them a mile farther down the road, where they exited inside a catwalk spanning the Al's multiple lane system. And a minute later Harry said: 'Here he comes.'

They gazed down through the walkway's windows, watched the Frigis Express truck thunder by beneath them to rumble on down the road. As its lights diminished and merged with those of the rest of the night traffic, Penny asked, 'What now?'

Harry shrugged and checked their location. 'Borough-bridge is a mile or two further south,' he said. 'Johnny might stop there or might not. In any case, I don't intend to monitor his progress mile by mile; but I do know that somewhere along the line he'll call a halt, probably at an all-night diner. That's his modus operandi, right? It's his venue, the hunting ground where he finds his victims; women, on their own, in the dead of night. Except ... I don't have to tell you that, do I?'

Penny shuddered. 'No, you don't have to tell me that.'

They looked around. On one side of the road was a petrol station, on the other, a diner. Harry said, 'I'm happy now that I can find Johnny any time I want him. So let's take a break for a coffee, OK? And I can maybe explain something of how I want to play it.'

She nodded and even managed a shaky smile. 'OK.'

They headed along the walkway towards steps leading down to the cafeteria. People were coming up the steps, heading down to the petrol station and its car park. Before they could climb up to the walkway's level, Penny grabbed Harry's arm. 'Your eyes!' she hissed.

Harry put on his dark glasses, then took her hand. 'Lead me,' he said. 'You know, like I was a blind man?' It wasn't a bad idea. From then on, in the cafeteria where a handful of travellers were eating, people only looked at them once and quickly looked away.

It's a funny thing, Harry thought, but people don't much look at someone with an affliction. Or if they do, they look sideways. Hah! They'd jump sideways if they knew the nature of my affliction!

But they didn't.

Not all of them, anyway...

On the bank of the river some little way from Bonnyrig, Ben Trask and Geoffrey Paxton stood in the dark of the night under the moon and stars and listened to the gurgle of blackly swirling waters. They 'listened' for other things, too, but heard nothing. And they watched.

They watched the old house across the water - the house of the Necroscope, with all its lights ablaze - watched it for movement behind the open, ground-floor patio doors, for shadows falling on the fabric of the curtains in the upper windows, for any sign of life ... or absence of life, undeath. And watching it they fingered their weapons: Trask his sub-machine-gun, with a magazine of thirty 9mm rounds seated firmly in its blued-steel housing, and Paxton his metal crossbow, loaded with a hardwood bolt under pressure sufficient to hammer through a man like a nail into softwood.

A mile away, on the road into Bonnyrig, two more E-Branch operatives sat in their car, waiting. They had small talents of their own but weren't telepaths; neither one of them had Ben Trask's experience, or Paxton's 'zeal'. But if it became necessary, certainly they would be able to do whatever must be done. Their car was equipped with a radio, tuned in on London HQ. At the moment their job was simply to relay messages, and act as back-up for the men up front. If Trask or Paxton called them, they could pick them up in little more than a minute. Which at least gave the men on the river bank a feeling of security; Paxton a little less than Trask, for he had been here before.

'Well?' Trask whispered now, taking the telepath's elbow. 'Is he in there or isn't he?'

Standing close to the very spot where Harry Keogh had tossed him into the river, Paxton was nervous. The Necroscope had warned him that next time... that there had better not be a next time. And now that time was here; and Trask's hand still gripped Paxton's arm just above the elbow. 'I don't know.' The telepath shook his head. 'But the house is tainted, for sure. Can't you feel it?'

'Oh, yes.' Trask nodded in the dark. 'Just looking at it, I can see it's not right. What about the girl?'

'An hour ago she was here, definitely,' the other answered. 'Her thoughts were clouded - mind-smog, yes - but readable to a degree. She's in thrall to him, no doubt about it. I thought Keogh was here, too - in fact I was sure he was, briefly - but now...' He shrugged. 'Telepathy with vampires is a very tricky business. To see without being seen, and to hear without being heard.'

Before Trask could answer him or make further comment, a tiny red light began to flash on his pocket walkie-talkie. He extended the aerial and depressed the incoming-call button. There sounded the customary wash of background static, and then the quiet, faintly tinny voice of Guy Teale, saying: 'Car here. How do you read me?'

'OK,' Trask answered him, soft and low. 'What's up?'

'We've had a call from HQ,' Teale came back. 'We're to move to final strike locations now, situate ourselves, from there on in maintain radio and ESP silence, and wait for the word.'

Trask frowned and said: 'We can ready ourselves, sure, but how will we be able to strike if our target isn't here? Ask HQ that, will you?'

Without pause Teale came back: 'HQ says that in the event there's no one in the house when they give the word, we remain in situ, stay alert and wait to see what happens.'

Trask's frown deepened. 'Ask them to repeat that, will you? With some of the blanks filled in?'

'I already did.' Teale's sigh was clearly audible. 'Before I even called you. As far as HQ knows, Keogh has the Sanderson girl with him, and he and she are on to the serial killer. Likewise we have people on Keogh and Found - within limits, that is - and also people on Trevor Jordan, on a night train bound for London. So, we'll let Keogh and I or the police settle with Found, then move on the Necroscope, the girl, and Jordan simultaneously, wherever they are at that time.'

Trask nodded. 'So if our people don't get Harry at their end - and if he escapes back here - we'll be waiting for him, right?'

'That's how I see it,' Teale answered.

Trask nodded. 'OK, secure the car and come on in on foot. Meet us at the old bridge, ready to cross in ... ten minutes' time. Then we'll reorganize, split into two pairs and choose vantage points at the front and rear of the house. That's all for now. Be seeing you.'

He pressed the off button.

Paxton, nervously scanning all about in the darkness under the trees, said, 'Do you think Teale and Robinson will be OK working together? I mean, I'm sure we'll be fine together, but they don't strike me as having a hell of a lot of candlepower between them!'

'You're probably right.' Trask stared hard at him in the dark of the night, disliking everything that he saw and felt; especially the fact that every now and then he'd feel Paxton's talent tugging on the covers of his mind and trying to turn them back. 'So I'll team up with Teale, and you can take Robinson.'

Paxton turned more fully towards him and his eyes were slightly feral in fleeting moonlight. 'You don't want us to work together?'

'Paxton, let me put you right,' Trask told him. 'The only reason I wanted to work with you up here in the first place was to keep an eye on you. See, I think you're full of it, and it's leaking on your attitude. So you're right, I don't want us to work together. In fact, I'd rather work with raw shit!'

Paxton scowled and started to turn away, make tracks back up to the road. But Trask caught him by the arm and turned him around. 'Oh, and there's one other thing, Mr Hugely Talented Telepath. I've about ninety per cent had it with you trying to read my mind. When I'm a hundred per cent pissed you'll be the first to know it. Because after that Harry Keogh won't be the only one who ever tossed you in a river, right?'

Paxton was wise enough to say nothing. They returned to the road in silence, made their way to the old stone bridge over the river, and waited for Teale and Robinson to join them there...

Harry and Penny had finished their first coffees half an hour ago. Now they had seconds, which were going cold in their cups. Penny had tried a cream cake, too, from which she'd taken just one bite. She wasn't sure if it was the cake or her mood, but since nothing tasted right it was probably her mood. Every so often the Necroscope would reach into his inside pocket and take Johnny's hideous steel-tube weapon into the palm of his hand. Penny was aware each time he did it - aware that he was touching the instrument of her once-death - and she shuddered every time.

Finally, as Harry reached into his pocket yet again, she burst out: 'What if he doesn't stop? What if he drives clear down to London?'

Harry shrugged. 'If it looks like he will, then I'll let him get as ... far ... as ...' He came to a jerky halt as his fingers touched the awful knife, and briefly closed his eyes behind their dark lenses. When he opened them again his voice had turned cold and taken on a cutting edge. 'But it won't come to that. He has stopped, now!'

'Do you know where?' She clutched his hand.

He shook his head. 'No. The only way to find out is to go there and see.'

'Oh my God!' she whispered. 'I'm going to see the man who murdered me!'

'More importantly,' Harry told her, 'he's going to see you. And he's going to wonder about you. If he reads the newspapers he'll know that Penny, one of the girls he killed, had a look-alike called, by some peculiar coincidence, Penny! But he'll have a hard time believing he's actually happened across her. I mean, there are coincidences and coincidences. If he has any brain at all, he'll find it a damned suspicious thing. It will worry him. That's what I want to do: worry him. I think Johnny deserves something of a harrowing time before we even-up the score more permanently.'

'We?' she repeated him. 'It... it feels like you're using me, Harry.'

'I suppose I am,' he answered her, allowing her to lead him out of the cafeteria into the night. 'Though not as hard as he did.' He quickly went on: 'And don't tell me that's not fair. Fair is like beauty, it lies in the eyes of the beholder. Also, I'm not asking you to do much, just to be there. There's someone else with a much larger part to play.'

'Maybe you're right,' she said, as he folded her in his arms, conjured a door and carried her over the threshold into the Möbius Continuum. About what's fair and what's beautiful, I mean. And it's a fact, I don't think there was anything of beauty in Johnny.

No, Harry answered, grimly, and nothing fair about him, either. But me, I'm fair. I only take an eye for an eye...

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