His feet flew, ghost
finding impossible support on the gleaming patches of ice. They carried him
along smoothly - a dark shadow racing with the night as the stars
pin-wheeled above. He reached the final row of snowy back yards and
approached a high brick wall. Without slowing at all, he went up the wall,
skittering like a human fly.
The spotlights hit him, revealing his ski mask
and black clothing. Every moment of hesitation was a moment in which he
could be spotted, and the boost of fear sent him up the wall quicker than
midnight lightning. Several meters up, he came to a large segmented window
of colored glass. Cutting out a blue segment, he went through and dropped to
He still had the glass in his hands. Holding it
in front of his face, he looked at the blue vision and laughed. Then he
discarded it in a trash bin and checked his tools.
This was the subway, one of the automatic
entrances, and breaking into it didn't make him look all that clever … at
least not for a terrorist. In spite of that, euphoria swept through him as
he worked. With great satisfaction, he set the gate timer back and rigged it
to his detonator. It was all very easy; not that he was a genius . . . the
planning had been done by other men. His training in the arts of break and
enter had made this job possible.
He was almost done when he found a note; a
greasy piece of paper wrapped in behind the timer. His eyes slowly absorbed
the words, and then he looked at the tiny bits of crystal embedded in his
fingertips and began to shake.
It unnerved him so much he had difficulty
finishing the job, and when he was done, he went back over the wall in a
panic, like a man fleeing demons. He thought he saw the shadow of the devil
looming over him in the snowy back yards. But behind the fear, he knew the
job had been done, and that was all that really mattered.
At 6:20 a.m., the
first bus arrived
and a crowd gathered at the locked gates. Five minutes later, a transit
inspector unlocked a side entrance and the crowd continued to grow as he
failed to free the main gates.
Ice, snow and a leaden winter sky … the wind
chill was -10 and the explosion got added to that total numbness and misery
of Monday morning. The timer turned over and the heavy metal gates blew off
their hinges, punching into the crowd like the mailed fists of an angry god.
Ten people became one with the wasteland, and many others would never be the
same again. Later in the day city mini ploughs had to scrape frozen blood
from the split asphalt.
An Arctic wind howled in the minds of many
people, and some prayed their loved ones would find more than ice and
cruelty at the end of the world. The same wind howled in Desmond's mind, but
it wasn't because of grief. Then out of the howling came the buzz of the
“Well done,” the man said. “The Canadian
government has paid the price. Freedom for Haiti! Yes, brother -- freedom!”
Desmond hung up and his eyes fell on the wilted note he'd
found while planting the explosives. --BEWARE,
Anyone who tampers with this timer. The crystals on it are poison. It is
voodoo, the poison of a witch doctor that I bought in
Haiti. You have one
day to find me and get the antidote, or you will die horribly. -- JAKE the
Black quicksilver swam in Desmond's eyes as he
dropped the note. How could this Jake the Snake know that he, Desmond, would
one day tamper with the timer? Why would the note be there ahead of him? It
could only be voodoo.
Desmond knew of the poisons. They were real and
not rumor. He had always hated talk of voodoo and zombie drugs -- hated the
stories . . . like the one about Haitians digging up corpses and scooping
out mouthfuls of ripe maggots. Another story accused voodoo priests of
creating AIDS through abominable sex acts with the dead. Yet as much as he
hated the stories, he believed in the power of voodoo. He had seen too much
evil. Many of his friends and relatives back home were evil, and he believed
voodoo to be the force of corruption.
He was supposed to sit tight and not go out for
weeks. Order everything in. If he told the others he'd been poisoned they'd
tell him to die with his lips sealed - tell him it was important that he be
A bar of twilight showed in the crack in his
curtains, and it made him feel like a prisoner. By his calculation, he had
until 3 a.m., and then death would take him. To hell with it, he thought.
Pains were running like rats in his legs, but it wasn't so bad. A few drinks
and he'd feel all right. It would be better to go out and have some quiet
drinks at a bar before he died.
He threw the curtains open dramatically, like a
monster greeting nightfall, and then he stepped back and blinked. A terrible
hallucination nearly blinded him. There was no city was outside, only
twilight and it slowly formed a huge hideous mask.
Sparks flew from the eyes and it whirled, then
it shot in the window and spun like a carousel on the walls. Somehow, it got
behind him and he could no longer find it. As he turned in a circle, a
terrible thought hit him - the mask was now on his face. He was seeing the
world through its power.
Cold twilight fell
The streets and buildings were blue and ice cold. Wind whipped over it all
with a killer's whistle and razor sheets of hail. People were moving in the
hostile streets - zombies, wandering aimlessly … their faces swollen,
bruised and hanging with mats of frozen blood and frost. Some had eyes of
icy tears, others had only purple holes. They gestured with bony hands, some
of them without fingers or arms. A frosting of pus sealed the gashes in
their chests and they scraped along on feet that were frozen solid.
Desmond wanted to cover his eyes, but his hands
wouldn't obey him. They would only tremble, and when he lifted his eyes from
their trembling, he saw other hands. The hands of some hellish creature.
They looked like they'd been torn from their arms by a beast with superhuman
strength. Ropes of gore and flesh trailed from the wrists as the crooked
fingernails scratched at the glass.
A pattern of pentagrams formed in frost as the
hands continued to move, and then pieces began to fall, tinkling on the
ledge. A moment later the hands were in and crawling toward him.
Stumbling back, he dropped to his knees, staring
in frozen horror as the bluish hands reached his legs and moved upward. He
watched them settle on his genitals, then he gasped and screamed.
It filled his lungs with pain and the agony
silenced him. Out the window, he saw a wolfish devil stride up to the
window. He tossed up his black cloak and darkness and arctic cold swept in.
A glow from the hands and the red of blood stained his crotch. Madness was
upon him, and it was more than any man could bear -- he had to fight this
somehow. Crawling to the phone, he dialed an emergency number.
It was 3 a.m. when
the emergency crew
picked up Jake the Snake. Jake resembled an easy-going type of man with long
hair and gold loops in his ears. Though he looked like a subway maintenance
man to most people, he looked like a terrorist to the cops. Their questions
earlier in the day had been designed to ferret out a confession. Now they
were working on another suspect and had to treat him with respect.
“So you're saying there's no antidote?” said the
cop at the wheel.
“I'm saying there is no poison. I put notes and
bits of crushed glass in all the automatic mechanisms I repair. The idea is
to scare tamperers off before they do too much damage.”
“But this terrorist is obviously under the
influence of a very powerful narcotic? He's screaming like the suffering is
“It just happens that your suspect believes in
the power of voodoo,” Jake said. “When you believe strongly in voodoo it
The cop grinned like he was glad there wasn't a
cure, and Jake touched his chest, feeling the amulet he wore under his
shirt. The antidote was inside it, but it would stay hidden. He'd already
destroyed the poison he'd planted in the other mechanisms, and he planned on
making sure that they never identified the structure of the crystals. The
weathered face of an ancient voodoo priest appeared in his mind, and it was
his stepfather, reminding him that he had to protect the secrets, no matter
what the cost.
. . . . . . . . . . .