Charnel Knowledge

'Harry.' Darcy Clarke's voice was twitchy on the 'phone, but he was trying hard to control it. 'There's a problem we could use some help with. Your kind of help.'


Harry Keogh, Necroscope, might or might not know what was bothering the head of British E-Branch, and it might or might not have to do with him directly. 'What is it, Darcy?' he said, speaking softly.

'It's murder,' the other answered, and now his twitchi-ness came on strong, shaking his voice. 'It's bloody awful murder, Harry! My God, I never saw anything like it!'

Darcy Clarke had seen a lot in his time and Harry Keogh knew it, so that this was a statement he found hard to believe. Unless of course Clarke was talking about... 'My kind of help, you said?' Harry's attention was suddenly riveted to the 'phone. 'Darcy, are you trying to tell me - that - ?'

'What?' The other didn't understand him at first, but then he did. 'No, no - Christ, no - it's not the work of a vampire, Harry! But some kind of monster, certainly. Oh, human enough - but a monster, too.'

Harry relaxed a little, but a very little.

He'd been expecting a call from E-Branch sooner or later. This could be it: some sort of clever trap. Except... Darcy had always been his friend; Harry didn't think he would act on something - not even something like that - without checking it out every which way first. And even then Harry couldn't see Darcy coming after him with a crossbow and hardwood bolt, a machete, a can of petrol. No, he'd have to talk to him first, get Harry's side of it. But in the end...

... The head of the Branch knew almost as much about vampires as Harry did, now. And he'd know, too, that there was no hope. They'd been friends, fighting on the same side, so Harry guessed it wouldn't be Darcy's finger on the trigger. But someone's, certainly.

'Harry?' Clarke was anxious. 'Are you still there?'

'Where are you, Darcy?' Harry inquired.

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The Military Police duties room, in the Castle,' the other answered at once. They found her body under the walls. Just a kid, Harry. Eighteen or nineteen. They don't even know who she is yet. That alone would be a big help. But to know who did it would be the biggest bonus of all.'

If there was one man Harry Keogh could trust, it had to be Darcy Clarke. 'Give me fifteen minutes,' he said, 'and I'll be there.'

Clarke sighed. Thanks, Harry. We'd appreciate it.'

'We?' Harry snapped. He couldn't keep the suspicion out of his voice.

'Eh?' Clarke sounded startled, taken aback. 'Why, the police. And me.'

Murder. The police. Not a Branch job at all. So what was Clarke doing on it - If it was real? 'How did you get roped in?'

And suddenly the other was... caught on the hop? Cagey, anyway. 'I ... I was up here on a "duty run", visiting an old Scottish auntie. Something I do once in a blue moon. She's been on her last legs for ten years now but won't lie down, keeps on tottering around! I was scheduled to go back down to HQ today, but then this came up. It's something the Branch has been trying to help the police with, a set of - God! - gruesome serial murders, Harry.'

An old Scottish auntie? It was the first time Harry had heard of Darcy's old auntie. On the other hand, this had to be a good opportunity to find out if they knew anything about... about his problem. Harry knew he would have to be careful: he knew too much about E-Branch just to go walking right into something. Yes, and they knew too much about him. But maybe they didn't know everything. Not yet, anyway.

'Harry?' Clarke's voice came back again, tinny and a little distorted; probably the wires swaying in the winds that invariably blew around the Castle's high walls. 'Where will I see you?'

'On the esplanade, at the top of the Royal Mile,' the Necroscope growled. 'And Darcy...'


'... Nothing. We'll talk later.' He replaced the telephone in its cradle and went back to his breakfast in the kitchen: an inch-thick steak, raw and bloody!

To look at, Darcy Clarke was possibly the world's most nondescript man. Nature had made up for this physical anonymity, however, by giving him an almost unique talent. Clarke was a deflector: he was the opposite of accident-prone. Only let him get close to danger and something, some parapsychological guardian angel, would intervene on his behalf. Which meant that if all of Clarke's similarly ESP-talented team of psychics were photographs, he'd be the only negative. He had no control over the thing; he was aware of it only on those occasions when he stared deliberately in the face of danger.

The talents of the others - telepathy, scrying, foretelling, oneiromancy, lie-detecting - were more pliable, obedient, applicable: but not Clarke's. It just did its own thing, which was to look after him. It had no other use. But because it ensured his longevity, it made him the right man for the job. The anomaly was this: that he himself didn't quite believe in it until he felt it working. He still switched off the current before he'd even change a light-bulb! But maybe that was just another example of the thing at work.

To look at him then, no one would suppose that Clarke could ever be the boss of anything, let alone head of the most secret branch of the British Secret Services. Middle-height, mousy-haired, with something of a slight stoop and a small paunch, and middle-aged to boot, he was middling in just about every way. He had sort of neutral-hazel eyes in a face not much given to laughter, and an intense mouth which you might remember if you remembered nothing else, but other than that there was a general facelessness about him which made him instantly forgettable. The rest of him, including the way he dressed, was... medium.

These were Harry Keogh's perfectly mundane thoughts in the few seconds which ticked by after he stepped out of the metaphysical Möbius Continuum on to the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, and saw Darcy Clarke standing there with his back to him, hands thrust deep in the pockets of his overcoat, reading the legend on a brass plaque above a seventeenth-century drinking trough.

The iron fountain, depicting two heads, one ugly and the other beatific, stood:

... Near the site on which

many witches were burned at the

stake. The wicked head and serene

head signify that some used exceptional

knowledge for evil purposes, while others

were misunderstood and wished their

kind nothing but good.

The bright May day would be warm but for the gusting wind; the esplanade was almost empty; two dozen or so tourists stood in small groups at the higher end of the broad, walled, tarmac plateau, looking down across the walls at the city, or taking photographs of the great grey fortress - the Castle on the Rock - behind its facade of battlements and courtyards. Harry had arrived in the moment after Clarke, vainly scanning the esplanade for some sign of him, had turned to the plaque.

A moment ago Clarke had been alone with his thoughts and no living person within fifty feet of him. But now a soft voice behind him said: 'Fire is an indiscriminate destroyer. Good or evil, everything burns when it's hot enough.'

Clarke's heart jumped into his throat. He gave a massive start and whirled about, the colour rushing from his face and leaving him pale in a moment. 'Ha-Ha-Harry!' he gasped. 'God, I didn't see you! Where did you spring - ?' But here he paused, for of course he knew where Harry had sprung from... because the Necroscope had taken him there once, into that every-where and -when place, that within and without, which was the Möbius Continuum.

Shaken, heart hammering, Clarke clutched at the wall for support. But it wasn't terror, just shock; his talent read no sinister purpose into Keogh's presence.

Harry smiled at him and nodded, touched his arm briefly, then looked at the plaque again. And his smile at once turned sour. 'Mainly they were exorcizing their own fears,' he said. 'For of course most if not all of these women were innocent. Indeed, we should all be so innocent.'

'Eh?' Clarke hadn't quite recovered his balance yet, wasn't focusing on Keogh's meaning. 'Innocent?' He too looked at the plaque.

'Completely,' Harry nodded again. 'Oh, they may have been talented in their way, but they were hardly evil.

Witchcraft? Why, today you'd probably try to recruit them into E-Branch!'

Suddenly, truth flooded in on Clarke and he knew he wasn't dreaming; no need to pinch himself and start awake; it was just this effect which Harry always had on him. Three weeks ago in the Greek islands (was that all it had been, three weeks?) it had been the same. Except at that time Harry had been near-impotent: he hadn't had his deadspeak. Then he'd got it back, and set out on his double mission: to destroy the vampire Janos Ferenczy and regain his mastery of -

Clarke snatched a breath. 'You got it back!' He grabbed Harry's arm. The Möbius Continuum!'

'You didn't get in touch with me,' Harry accused, albeit quietly, 'or you'd have known.'

'I got your letter,' Clarke quickly defended himself, 'and I tried a dozen times to get you on the 'phone. But if you were home you weren't answering. Our locators couldn't find you...' He threw up his hands. 'Give me a chance, Harry! I've only been back from the Med a few days, and a pile of stuff to catch up with back here, too! But we'd finished the job in the islands, and we supposed you'd done the same at your end. Our espers were on it, of course; reports were coming in; Janos's place above Halmagiu, blown off the mountain like that. It could only be you. We knew you'd somehow won. But the Möbius Continuum too? Why, that's... wonderful! I'm delighted for you!'

Harry wondered: Oh, really? But out loud he only said: 'Thanks.'

'How in hell did you do that?' Clarke was still excited. If it was all a sham he was good at it. 'I mean, wreck the castle that way? If we've got it right it was devastating! Is that how Janos died, in the explosion?'

'Slow down,' Harry told him, taking his arm. 'We can talk while you take me to see this girl.'

The other's excitement quickly ebbed. 'Yes,' he nodded, his tone subdued now, 'and that's something else, too. You won't like it, Harry.'

'So what's new?' The Necroscope seemed as calm (resigned, soulful, sardonic?) as ever. And though he tried not to show it, Clarke suspected he was wary, too. 'Did you ever show me anything I did like?'

But Clarke had an answer to that one. 'If everything was the way we'd like it, Harry,' he said, 'then we'd all be out of work. Me, I'd gladly retire tomorrow. I keep threatening to. But when I see something like... like I'm going to show you, then I know that someone has to do it.'

As they started up the esplanade, Harry said: 'Now this is a castle!' His voice was more animated now. 'But as for the Castle Ferenczy: that was a heap long before I got started on it. You asked how I did it?'

He sighed, then continued: 'A long time ago, toward the end of the Bodescu affair, I learned about an ammo and explosives dump in Kolomyya and used stuff from there to blow up the Chateau Bronnitsy. Well, since the easy way is often the best way, I did it again. I made two or three trips, Möbius trips, and put enough plastic explosive into the foundations of Janos's place to blow it to hell! I'm not even going to guess what was in the guts of that place, but I'm sure there was - stuff- there which even I didn't see and still don't want to. You know, Darcy, even a finger-end of Semtex will blow bricks right out of a wall? So you can imagine what a couple of hundredweight will do. If there was anything there that we might call "alive",' he shrugged and shook his head, 'it wasn't when I'd finished.'

While Harry talked, the head of E-Branch studied him. But not so intently that he would notice. He seemed exactly the same man Clarke had come to Edinburgh to see just a month ago, a visit which had ended for Clarke in Rhodes and the islands of the Dodecanese, and for Harry in the mountains of Transylvania. He seemed the same, but was he? For the fact was, Darcy Clarke knew someone who said he wasn't.

Harry Keogh was a composite. He was two men: the mind of one and the body of another. The mind was Keogh and the body was ... it had once been Alec Kyle. And Clarke had known Kyle, too, in his time. The strangest thing was this: that as time progressed, so the Kyle face and form got to look more like the old Harry, whose body was dead. But that was something which always made Clarke's brain spin. He skipped it, put the metaphysical right out of his mind and studied the purely physical.

The Necroscope was perhaps forty-three or forty-four but looked five years younger. But of course that was only the body; the mind was five years younger again. Even thinking about someone like Harry Keogh was a weird business. And again Clarke forced himself to concentrate on the physical.

Harry's eyes were honey-brown, occasionally defensive and frequently puppy-soulful - or would be if one could see under those wedge-sided sunglasses he was wearing in the shade of his broad-brimmed 1930s hat. If there was one thing in all the world Clarke hated to see, it had to be Harry wearing those dark-lensed glasses and that hat. Anyone else, no problem. But not Harry, and not now. Especially the sunglasses. They were something Clarke had told himself to look out for; for while it was a common enough thing to wear such in the Greek islands in late April or early May, it was quite another to see them in Edinburgh at that time of year. Unless someone had weak eyes. Or different eyes...

Grey streaks, so evenly spaced as to seem deliberately designed or affected, were plentiful in Harry's russet-brown, naturally wavy hair. In a few years the grey could easily take over; even now it lent him a certain erudition, gave him the look of a scholar. A scholar, yes, but in what fabulous subjects? But in fact Keogh hadn't been like that at all. Hadn't used to be. What, Harry, a black magician? A warlock? Lord, no!

... Just a Necroscope: a man who talked to dead people.

Keogh's body had been well-fleshed, maybe even a little overweight, once. With his height, however, that ought not to have mattered a great deal. But it had mattered to Harry. After that business at the Chateau Bronnitsy - his metempsychosis - he'd trained his new body down, brought it to a peak of perfection. Or at least done what he could with it, considering its age. That's why it looked only thirty-seven or thirty-eight years old.

And inside Harry's body and behind his face, an innocent. Or someone who had used to be innocent. He hadn't asked to be the way he was, hadn't wanted to become E-Branch's most powerful weapon and do the things he'd done. But he'd been what he was and the rest had come as a matter of course. And now? Was he still an innocent? Did he still have the soul of a child? Did he have any soul at all? Or did something else have him?

Now the pair had passed under the archway of the military guardroom, where several police officers had been interviewing a group of uniformed soldiers, into the cobbled gantlet which was the approach alley to the Castle proper. All of the officers in the guardroom seemed aware that Clarke was 'something big'; Harry and he weren't challenged; suddenly the bulk of the Castle loomed before them.

And now Darcy said: 'So I don't need to do any tidying up? You left nothing undone, right?'

'Nothing,' Harry told him. 'What about Janos's set-up in the islands?'

'Gone!' said the other with finality. 'All of it. All of them. But I still have a few men out there - just looking -just to be on the safe side.'

Harry's face was pale and grim but he forced a strange, sad smile. 'That's right, Darcy,' he said. 'Always be on the safe side. Never take chances. Not with things like that.'

There was something in his voice; Clarke looked at the Necroscope out of the corner of his eye, carefully, unobtrusively examining him yet again as they entered the shade of a broad courtyard, with gaunt buildings rising on three sides. 'Are you going to tell me how it was?'

'No.' Harry shook his head. 'Later, maybe. And maybe not.' He turned and looked Clarke straight in the eye. 'One vampire's pretty much like another. Hell, what can I tell you about them that you don't already know? You know how to kill them, that's a fact...'

Clarke stared directly into the black, enigmatic lenses of the other's glasses. 'You're the one who showed us how, Harry,' he said.

Harry smiled his sad smile again, and apparently casually - but Clarke suspected very deliberately - reached up a hand and took off his glasses. Not for a moment turning his face away, he folded the glasses and put them into his pocket. And: 'Well?' he said.

Clarke's jaw fell open as he backed off a stumbling pace, barely managing to contain the sigh - of relief -which he felt welling inside. Caught off balance (again), he looked into the other's perfectly normal, unwavering brown eyes and said: 'Eh? What? Well?'

'Well, where are we going?' Harry answered, with a shrug. 'Or are we already there?'

Clarke gathered his wits. 'We're there,' he said. 'Almost.'

He led the way down stone steps and under an arch, then through a heavy door into a stone-flagged corridor. As they emerged into the corridor, a Military Policeman came erect and saluted. Clarke didn't correct his error, merely nodded, led Harry past him. Halfway along the corridor a middle-aged man - unmistakably a policeman for all that he wore civilian clothing - guarded an iron-banded door of oak.

Again Clarke's nod, and the plain-clothes man swung the door open for him and stepped aside.

'Now we're there,' Harry pre-empted Clarke, causing him to close his mouth on those selfsame words, unspoken. Harry Keogh needed no one to tell him there was a dead person close by. And with one more glance at the Necroscope, Clarke ushered him inside. The officer didn't follow them but closed the door quietly behind them.

The room was cool: two walls were of natural stone; a rocky outcrop of volcanic gneiss grew out of the stone-flagged floor in one corner and into the walls there. This place had been built straight on to the rock. A storeroom, steel shelving was stacked on one side. On the other, beside the cold stone wall: a surgical trolley with a body on it, and a white rubber sheet covering the body.

The Necroscope wasted no time. The dead held no terrors for Harry Keogh. If he had as many friends among the living, then he'd be the most loved man in the world. He was the most loved man, but the ones who loved him couldn't tell anyone about it. Except Harry himself.

He went to the trolley, drew back the rubber sheet from the face, closed his eyes and rocked back on his heels. She had been sweet and young and innocent - yes, another innocent - and she had been tormented. And she still was. Her eyes were closed now, but Harry knew that if they were open he'd read terror in them. He could feel those dead eyes burning through the pale lids that covered them, crying out to him in their horror.

She would need comforting. The teeming dead - the Great Majority - would have tried, but they didn't always get it right. Their voices were often mournful, ghostly, frightening, to anyone who didn't know them. In the darkness of death they could seem like night visitants, nightmares, like wailing banshees come to steal a soul. She might think she was dreaming, might even suspect that she was dying, but not that she was already dead. That took time to sink in, and the freshly dead were usually the last to know. That was because they were the least able to accept it. Especially the very young, whose young minds had not yet properly considered it.

But on the other hand, if she had actually seen death coming - if she had read it in the eyes of her destroyer, felt the numbing blow, or the hands on her throat, closing off the air, or the cutting edge of the instrument of her destruction, slicing into her flesh - then she would know. And she'd be cold and afraid and tearful. Tearful, yes, for no one knew better than Harry how the dead could cry.

He hesitated, wasn't sure how best to approach her, not even sure if he should approach her, not now. For Harry knew that she'd been pure, and that he was impure. True, her flesh was heading for corruption even now, but there's corruption and there's corruption...

Angrily, he thrust the thought aside. No, he wasn't a defiler. Not yet. He was a friend. He was the only friend. He was the Necroscope.

Be that as it may, when he put his hand on her clay-cold brow she recoiled as from a serpent! Not physically, for she was dead, but her mind cringed, shrank down, withdrew into itself like the feathery fronds of some strange sea anemone brushed by a swimmer. Harry felt his blood turn to ice and for a moment stood in horror of himself. The last thing he'd wanted was to frighten her still more.

He wrapped her in his thoughts, in what had once been the warmth of his deadspeak: It's all right! Don't be afraid! I won't hurt you! No one can ever hurt you again! It was as easy as that. Without even trying, he'd told her that she was dead.

But in the next moment he knew that she had already known: KEEP OFF! Her deadspeak was a sobbing shriek of torment in Harry's mind. GET AWAY FROM ME, YOU FILTHY... THING!

As if someone had touched him with naked electric wires, Harry jerked where he stood beside her, jerked and shuddered as he relived, with her, the girl's last moments. Her last living, breathing moments, but not the last things she had known. For in certain mercifully rare circumstances - and at the command of certain monstrous men - even dead flesh can be made to feel again.

In a nightmarishly subliminal sequence, a series of flickering, kaleidoscopic, vividly ghastly pictures flashed on the screen of the Necroscope's metaphysical mind and then were gone. But after-images remained, and Harry knew that these wouldn't go away so easily; indeed, that they would probably remain for a long time. He knew it as surely as he now knew what he was dealing with, because he'd dealt with such a thing before.

That one's name had been... Dragosani!

This one, this poor girl's murderer, had been like that -like Dragosani, a necromancer - but in one especially hideous respect he'd been still worse than that. For not even Dragosani had raped his corpse victims!

But it's over now, he told the girl. He can't come back. You're safe now.

He felt the shuddering of her thoughts receding, replaced by the natural curiosity of her incorporeal mind. She wanted to know him, but for the moment felt afraid to know anything. She wanted, too, to know her condition, except that was probably the most frightening thing of all. But in her own small way she was brave, and she had to know for sure.

Am I... (her deadspeak voice was no longer a shriek but a shivery tremor) am I really...?

Yes, you are, Harry nodded, and knew that she'd sense the movement even as all the teeming dead sensed his every mood and motion. But... (he stumbled), I mean... it could be worse!

He'd been through all of this before, too often, and it never got any easier. How do you convince someone recently dead that it could be worse? 'Your body will rot and worms will devour it, but your mind will go on. Oh, you won't see anything - it will always be dark, and you'll never touch or taste or smell anything again - but it could be worse. Your parents and loved ones will cry over your grave and plant flowers there, seeking to visualize in their blooms something of your face and form; but you won't know they're there or be able to speak to them and say, "Here I am!" You won't be able to reassure them that "It could be worse."'

This was Harry's expression of grief, meant to be private, but his thoughts were deadspeak. She heard and felt them and knew him for a friend. And: You're the Necroscope, she said then. They tried to tell me about you but I was afraid and wouldn't listen. When they spoke to me I turned away. I didn't want to ... to talk to dead people.

Harry was crying. Great tears blurred his vision, rolled down his pale, slightly hollow cheeks, splashed hot where they fell on his hand on her brow. He hadn't wanted to cry, didn't know he could, but there was that in him which worked on his feelings and amplified them, lifting them above the emotions of ordinary men. Safe - so long as it worked on an emotion such as this one, which was grief and entirely human.

Darcy Clarke had come forward; he touched the Necroscope's arm. 'Harry?'

Harry shook him off, and his voice was choked but harsh too as he rasped: 'Leave us alone! I want to talk to her in private.'

Clarke backed off, his Adam's apple bobbing. It was the look on Harry's face, which brought tears to his eyes, too. 'Of course,' he said. He turned and left the room, and closed the door after him.

Harry took a metal-framed chair from beside the stacked shelving and sat by the dead girl. He very carefully cradled her head in his arms.

I... I can feel that, she said, wonderingly.

'Then you can feel, too, that I'm not like him,' Harry answered out loud. He preferred simply to talk to the dead, for that way it came more naturally to him.

Most of her terror had fled now. The Necroscope was a comfort; he was warm, a safe haven. It might even be her father stroking her face. Except she wouldn't be able to feel him. Only Harry Keogh could touch the dead. Only Harry, and -

Her terror welled up again - but he was quick to sense it and fend it off: 'It's over and you're safe. We won't - I won't - let anything hurt you again, ever.' It was more than just a promise, it was his vow.

In a little while her thoughts grew calm and she was easy, or easier, again. But she was very bitter, too, when she said: I'm dead, but he - that thing - is alive!

'It's one of the reasons I'm here,' Harry told her. 'For you weren't the only one. There were others before you, and unless we stop him there'll be others after you. So you see, it's very important that we get him, for he's not just a murderer but also a necromancer; which makes him more, far worse, than the sum of his parts. A murderer destroys the living, and a necromancer torments the dead. But this one enjoys the terror of his victim both before and after they die!'

I can't talk about what he did to me, she said, shuddering.

'You don't have to,' Harry shook his head. 'Right now I'm only interested in you. I'm sure there'll be people worrying about you. Until we know who you are, we won't be able to put their minds at rest.'

Do you think their minds will ever be at rest, Harry?

It was a good question. 'We don't have to tell them everything,' he answered. 'I might be able to fix it so that they only know, well, that someone killed you. They don't have to be told how.'

Can you do that?

'If that's the way you want it,' he nodded.

Then do it! She offered a breathless sigh. That was the worst, Harry: thinking about them, my folks, how they'd take it. But if you can make it easier for them... I think I'm beginning to understand why the dead love you so. My name is Penny. Penny Sanderson. And I live - lived -at...

... And so it went. She told the Necroscope all about herself, and he remembered every smallest detail. That was what Darcy Clarke had wanted, but it wasn't everything he'd wanted. When finally Penny Sanderson was through, Harry knew he still had to take her that one step further.

'Penny, listen,' he said. 'Now I don't want you to do or say anything. Don't try to talk to me at all. But like I said before, this is important.'

About him?

'Penny, when I first touched you, and you thought it was him come back for more, you remembered how it had been. Parts of it, anyway. You thought about it in brief flashes of memory. That was deadspeak and I picked it up. But it was all very chaotic, kaleidoscopic.'

But that's all there is, she said. That's how it was.

Harry nodded. 'OK, that's fine, but I need to see it again. See, the better I remember it, the more chance I have of finding him. So really you don't have to tell me anything, not as a conscious act. I just want to shoot a few words at you, at which you'll picture the bits I need. Do you understand?'

Word association?

'Something like that, yes. Except of course that in this case the association will be hell for you - but easier than just talking about it.'

She understood; Harry sensed her willingness. Before she could change her mind, he said: 'Knife!'

A picture hit the screen of his mind like a mixture of blood and acid! The blood incensed him and the acid burned, etching the picture there for good this time. Harry reeled before her horror - which was unbearable -and if he hadn't been seated would have fallen. The shock was that physical, even though it lasted only a fraction of a second.

When she stopped sobbing he said, 'Are you OK?'

No... yes.

'Face!' Harry fired at her.


'His face?' He tried again.

And a face, red, leering, bloated with lust, with an open, salivating mouth and eyes insensate as frozen diamonds, went skittering across the Necroscope's mind's eye. But not so fast that he didn't catch it. And this time she wasn't sobbing. She wanted this to work. Wanted him brought to justice.


A picture of ... a car park? A motorway restaurant? Darkness pierced with points of light. A string of cars and lorries, speeding down three lanes, with oncoming lights whose glare momentarily blinded. And windscreen wipers swinging left - right - left - right - left...

But there was no pain in the last and Harry guessed that wasn't where it had happened. No, it had been where it started to happen, probably where she met him.

'He picked you up in a car?'

A rain-blurred picture of an ice-blue screen with white letters superimposed or printed there: FRID or FRIG? The screen had many wheels and puffed exhaust smoke. It was the way she remembered it. A large vehicle? A lorry? Articulated?

'Penny,' Harry said, 'I have to do this - only this time I don't mean where you met him: 'Where!?'

Ice! Bitter cold! Dark! The whole place softly vibrating or throbbing! And dead things everywhere, hanging from hooks! Harry tried to fix it all in his mind but nothing was clear, only her shock and disbelief that this was happening to her.

She was sobbing again, terrified, and Harry knew that he'd soon have to stop; he couldn't bring himself to hurt her any more. But at the same time he knew he mustn't weaken now.

'Death!' he snapped, hating himself.

And it was the knife scene all over again, and Harry knew he was losing her, could feel her withdrawing. Before that could happen: 'And... afterwards?' (God! -he didn't want to know! He didn't want to know!)

Penny Sanderson screamed, and screamed, and screamed!

But the Necroscope got his picture.

And wished he hadn't bothered...

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