(from here)

Beyond the towers, on the far shore, Finch could just make out the hunched group of buildings that included the apartment with the dead man and gray cap. Was the Partial there, staring out at him? Talking to Heretic? Hiding something from Heretic?

“When will they know the towers are finished?” Finch wondered aloud.

“Roofs, Finchy. When you see roofs on top. That means it’s done.”

“Funny, Wyte, but I don’t think so.”

Wyte shrugged. “Okay. What do you think it’s for?”

The biggest fuck-you to Ambergris ever created?

The wrongness of the railing at the prow suddenly got through to Finch. Should be grainy, splinters needling his hands. Instead: soft, fleshy. He took his hand away like the railing was boiling hot.

“No clue, Wyte.”

“Maybe it’s a religious monument, Finchy,” Wyte said. “To some unknown mushroom god who lives in the sky.”

Joking? Serous? Didn’t know anymore when Wyte was lucid and when not. Didn’t know what to encourage.

Through the rain, the Spit was revealing itself. The edge of the Spit had gone with surprising quickness from a brown line in the distance to something with substance and texture. Rows of boats moored side by side by side, twenty or thirty deep. Still floating, bobbing, even as they were falling apart and half-sinking. A leaky sovereignty. A chained-together legion of convicts treading water. All of it shoved up against the shore, against the remains of the Religious Quarter. If the gray caps ever decided they wanted to truly cut off citizen from citizen, they’d burn the Spit, place a wall between it and the Religious Quarter. They’d root out the dogghe and nimblytod from the Quarter like so many weeds. Shove them all into the HFZ and be done with it.

Limits to what they can do? Or to what they want to do?

The boat began to slow. Soon they bumped up against the docks, gently. Prow kissing wood. Finch jumped off the boat as it lay wallowing there, followed by Wyte. Took off their masks. Breathed in the metallic air. Tossed their masks back in the boat. The boat sighed, shutting down until their return. Didn’t know what would happen to anyone who tried to board it while they were gone. Knew it would be bad.

No sign of Davies, Wyte’s contact. An avalanche of other boats before them, a scattering of tall buildings, natural and not, dull-glistening far beyond, through the rain. Buckets tied to the dock gurgled and filled, emptied. A blue dinghy. Oily water. Rotting planks.

“Got a plan if Davies doesn’t show up, Wyte?”

Wyte didn’t answer.

A bald man appeared at the far edge of the empty docks. Just appeared. Finch couldn’t tell where he’d come from. Weapon holstered so Finch didn’t flinch, though Wyte drew his gun for both of them.

Face like a boxer’s, the nose wide from repeated blows. Scar over the left eye, under the right eye. Same knife stroke? Barrel-chest. Thick arms. Wearing a blood-red vest over a dark-green shirt. Black pants, blacker boots.

The man came forward with hands held in front of him. Like he wanted to be handcuffed. Something was in his hands, though. An offering?

He dropped what he’d been holding onto the ground. A complex wooden carving. Of a lizard caught in some kind of trap.

The man said, in a misbegotten blend of accents, “I’m Bosun. Davies couldn’t make it.”

Close enough now that his face was like a carved oval bone. Scrubbed clean of anything except directness. Some sort of spice on his breath. A smirk Finch didn’t like any more than the name.

Wyte gave Finch a glance. Knew Wyte was thinking the same thing. Bliss had named Bosun as Stark’s right-hand man. Someone who didn’t flinch from torture. Who seemed to enjoy it.

“What happened to Davies?” Wyte asked, stepping back to create a little space. Finch faded to the right, so he’d be out of Wyte’s line of fire. Kept his hand on his belt. Near his holster.

“Davies couldn’t make it,” Bosun repeated. “Stark’s waiting. Come. Now.”

Bosun started walking back toward the maze of gathered boats. Didn’t seem to care about Wyte’s gun. Finch wondered who watched from the row of dark glass windows that formed the first wall of boats.

“What guarantees do we have?” Finch called after Bosun. Wanted to ask, “What’s with the lizard, you fucking lunatic?”

Bosun, without looking back: “We won’t hurt you unless you try to hurt us. And we won’t try to fuck you, either. Unless you try to fuck us.” A deep rasp similar to a laugh. Him receding further toward the maze while the two detectives stood there.

Finch stared at Wyte. Wyte stared at Finch.

“Are we really going to go in there?” Wyte asked.

Finch looked back across the bay, saw how far they’d come. Who on the Spit would risk angering the gray caps? Thought about the skery. About how easy it would’ve been for them both to go down in a hail of bullets if someone waited behind the windows of the first line of boats.

Shrugged. “Just think of him as Davies if it makes you feel better.” Hiding his own unease.

They stepped around the lizard carving like it might do harm. On impulse, Finch went back and stooped with a muttered curse. Picked it up. As Bosun had no doubt intended him to do from the beginning.

Followed Bosun into the darkness.

Er, and it looks like Murder by Death will attempt a Finch CD this June. But don’t hold me or them to that. It’s still if they feel inspired, so don’t want to say it’s final.


  1. says

    Er, and it looks like Murder by Death will attempt a Finch CD this June.

    All right, I’ve got my fingers crossed. Erik Amundsen introduced me to them with “Steal Away” in December; it was instant addiction. A Finch CD would be extraordinary.

    Did you get my e-mail a few days ago? In case it went weirdly missing, the answer is yes.

  2. says

    Hey there! I did get it. I was going to reply today but there’s something wrong with my Outlook. Once I fix it, I’ll be back in touch!

    Glad you like Murder by Death. I’m pretty psyched. I gave them the last draft of the novel and they liked it a lot. Which is great, since I listened to them non-stop while writing the novel. They’re planning on doing a true soundtrack–which is to say probably instrumental, 20 to 30 minutes, and as they put it “sexy slow-burn noir creepiness.” Or something like that. Then some of that may be used for a short film as well. The film this time will be all still photography with voice-over and music. And probably five to seven minutes.

  3. says

    They’re planning on doing a true soundtrack–which is to say probably instrumental, 20 to 30 minutes, and as they put it “sexy slow-burn noir creepiness.”

    Go ahead; make me really want this album. See if I care.

    Then some of that may be used for a short film as well.

    I love that you are going to be able to host a film festival of your fiction any day now.

  4. says

    Yes, well, this will be less experimental than the Shriek movie. Still not sure that one is completely comprehensible. LOL.

    LOL! Yes, they seem to be creating something I would love to buy, too!

    My Outlook is still screwed. More soonish.