The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Forty part two
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
The sun had just begun to set when they made their way up the fire escape of the abandoned office building. All the windows were boarded over, the foundation crumbling; the structures on either side had burned down long ago, leaving the brickwork streaked and scorched. A large sign was posted over the entrance, offering the building for sale or rent, but anyone that called the realtor’s number would find it had been disconnected. A used car lot was nearby but it never seemed to be open.
“They used to call it the Imperial.” Jason Magwier stood at the far edge of the rooftop and stared out across an empty parking lot. From their vantage point they had a clear line of sight to the ruined hotel. He drew in his leather jacket around himself and pulled the collar up around his neck. “That was decades ago.”
“So you’ve told me.” Zeth knelt in the peeling tar and bird shit, calmly assembling his M21. He wore dark, loose fitting clothes and fingerless gloves; his hair was pulled back under a stocking cap. While his hands worked he scouted out the Troy skyline, they were too exposed out here but Magwier had insisted. His mad plots always took precedent over tactics and common sense.
“The first time I died was at the hands of good friends of mine.” Magwier’s expression was haunted. He retreated from the edge of the rooftop to stand beside Zeth. “A boy and a monster reeking of death are in that building. The Monarchs have worn away at the boundaries, everything is on the verge of collapse.”
“So of course you are going to go right inside.” Zeth frowned as he adjusted the scope, “Alone.”
Magwier glanced back at the decrepit hotel; “I am always alone, standing outside eternity looking in.”
The M21 assembled Zeth took a moment to find a good spot. “We should have brought Jared, or Pexley.”
“Jared’s earned some peace. And all Pexley could do here is get killed.”
Zeth smiled at the thought. He lay down on the roof, propped the M21 on the decaying ledge and got his bearings. “What time is it?”
Magwier checked his watch, “Almost five… right now, miles away, Gawain Wight is staring in our direction.”
“Yeah, we should talk about that.” Zeth stared down the scope at the Imperial hotel, trying to familiarize himself with as much of it as he could. The whole area, from the parking lot to the building itself, seemed eerily still.
“Talk about what?”
“I don’t like the idea of running into Pharos Agents.” Zeth turned his attention to the upper floor, the walls had collapsed some time ago. There was something wrong with the way it looked, everything seemed two-dimensional. The exposed, corroding girders and pipes, the piles of debris, the tangles and clumps of wires that hung from the ceiling in clumps- it seemed like a doctored photograph.
“You worry too much.”
“They’ll only kill you,” Zeth said, “I’m looking at serous jail time.”
“You’ll be here on the roof, perfectly safe.”
“You’ve seen that too have you?”
“You know better. I don’t see the future – “
“I know, I know you remember things that might happen. The question still stands.”
“I haven’t seen much of anything.” Magwier clasped his hands behind his back and started pacing, “I never do when I come here. The town is a metaphysical sinkhole.”
“I don’t believe that. You’ve been having nightmares and seizures ever since we got here.” Zeth looked up from the scope, “You’re seeing something, you just don’t like it. More of your little surprises.”
Jason Magwier knelt beside him, “All I know is something terrible is going to happen here tonight and if we don’t get involved something even worse will happen.”
“Suddenly I feel warm all over.” Zeth looked back down the scope.