Getting Close

by Ash

The rain had slackened off to a light drizzle. Water hazing the streets as the standing water started evaporating and condensing within metres of the floor. The bar was cool compared to the outside but Strike didn’t notice as he walked in and unbuttoned the long-coat covering his Deathsuit. Pulling off the dripping hat, the ebon folded it up and slipped it into a pocket before slipping onto a spare stool and ordering a drink. As he waited he twitched almost continuously, as if turning to face different people. The voices were plaguing him continuously; the distraction was almost too much as he nearly got killed in the previous BPN, just two days past.

Strike shuddered as he watched the last carrien sink to its knees, the chest a red ruin. The voices were too much he kept thinking that there was someone just behind him, even when he was alone. The whispers were rarely from the same voice but they were endless, and repetitive. “White, The White.” They whispered on and on. Strike had just turned to leave when one of the carrien he’s laid out earlier cracked a metal pole across the back of his skull. Crying out in pain Strike fell and automatically rolled away, the carrien-swung pole striking the sewage where Strike’s head had been moment before. Tears streaming down his face, clearing his eyes, Strike formulated even as the carrien turned to swing at the Ebon again. With a flash and bang of exploding energy the carrien disappeared in the explosion of ebb. Shaking from shock and stress, Strike climbed to his feet.

The shot glass was placed before Strike, who stared at it in incomprehension for a moment before picking it up and knocking the whiskey back in one gulp. Without even a gasp from the coarse alcohol Strike carefully put the glass back down and asked for another. Just as the bartender turned away to make the second drink Strike suddenly turned to look out onto the streets. Across the road was an observer. An observer whose features were difficult to see. A taxi crossed his vision and when it was gone, so was the observer. Shuddering Strike turned back to face the bar, and his second drink. “Keep them coming.” He whispers to the bartender before knocking this shot of whiskey back.

Later, early the next morning, Strike staggered from the bar, thoroughly drunk but still twitchy from the voices only he could hear. Staggering down the road, long coat flapping in the early-hour breeze, Strike hailed a passing taxi and gave his home address as destination. Collapsing into the back of the cab Strike dozed off as the taxi started underway.

The Ebon suddenly sat bolt upright, nearly causing the taxi driver to crash from surprise, sweat pouring down his face. Looking about Strike calmed down as the memory receded from his mind and he remembered where he was. The taxi stopped minutes later, outside the Ebon’s apartment. Paying the driver Strike got out and unlocked his front door before walking into the apartment and crashing out on one of the settees.

Half an hour later Strike sat up, staring, he’d just heard his mother’s voice. Not the voice of his mother from the past, when she was alive, but from now, after she entered the White and returned. What remained of his resistance crumbled and Strike stumbled from the apartment to the waiting Dark Lament APC. Eight Necanthropes waited beside the open, beckoning, hatch of the APC. Strike, in a complete daze, half fell into the hatch and the all-enfolding darkness….