The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Forty-Three part two
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
His suffering did not diminish with time. His former mentor’s magics denied the mercies of shock and death to him. Flayed, hamstrung and blind, Phillip Adorskil could only wait in the dark, surrounded by the remains of his trophies and relics.
If only I had shot him when I first met him.
It had been back in the 1930’s and he’d been doing thefts by commission – mostly he cracked safes for mobsters but sometimes he would steal a blueprint or a report from a business office or a government building.
Nowadays they call it ‘industrial espionage’, or just regular espionage.
He held no allegiances; he served only himself and his slowly building fortune. He had a girlfriend in Vermont, a Spanish girl with doe’s eyes and a sailor’s mouth. They were going to get married, they were going to run a candy shop then grow old together surrounded by kids and grandkids.
All that future needed was a big enough down payment.
I loved her so much... what was her name? Why can’t I remember her name anymore?
So when a big Russian fortune-teller named Ludvico offered him a hundred grand to rob some nobody named Victor Kovach how could he refuse?
But Victor and his murderous thug of a bodyguard caught Phil with the safe door open and his gun resting just out of reach. Instead of killing him, or even worse, calling the police, Victor had taken a moment to open Phil’s mind to show him the secret world that existed alongside the mundane one.
After that Phil’s dream of his Spanish lady and their candy store had seemed unambitious and trite. Within a month Phillip Adorskil had become Victor Kovach’s disciple and an agent of Project Pharos. They shared years of strange adventures and colorful characters but then Victor met and married Zara Sadavier.
Phil still didn’t know what surprised him more, to find Victor interested in a woman after almost a decade of snide bachelorhood or that he found himself brimming over with a dozen different kinds of jealousy.
The lock of the storage facility’s door rattled and snapped open. Phil tensed, was this Victor and his pet monster back for more?
Back here? Now? Shouldn’t he be busy destroying the world?
An unfamiliar voice startled him, “Are you ok? Your hand…”
The second voice was empty and desperate, “...not my hand.”
“What happened here? It looks like... Oh my God! Oh Jesus!”
“Tristam?” Phil groaned.
“It’s me Phil.” The ragged voice said, “I’m in his body. I can’t get out. He’s dead and I can’t get out. He’s in my body. He killed my mother.”
“Tristam we have to call an ambulance,” the other voice, it belonged to some kid, said “This man-”
Phil snapped, an ambulance was the last thing he needed now, “Shut the fuck up whoever you are. It’s too late for any doctors.”
“Phil...” The dead man said, “What is he going to do with my body?”
“He took your power. He was practically glowing with it. There shouldn’t be anything left of you.”
“When everything started to go wrong I retreated unto the Cold Inside. He couldn’t find me.”
Stronger than I thought. Phil felt a surge of hope, Stronger than I could imagine.
“How much of you is left?” Phil asked.
“I don’t know. How can I know?”
The other kid spoke again, “Where is this Victor now?”
The dead man said, “I don’t know Greg. Do you know where he is Phil?”
Phil nodded, “I know exactly where he is but you have to listen to me – there’s nothing you can do. Your body is the least of your worries now. Victor Kovach is about to turn the world inside out. Like idiots we helped him to do it.”
“This doesn’t make any sense.” Greg said.
“Does he have to be here?” Phil spat.
The dead man knelt close, his word was a death rattle, “What is he going to do?”
“Victor Kovach serves creatures whose appetites are bigger than the whole damn world.” Phil explained as much as he dared, “Now Victor has the power to bring them through.”
Greg’s voice shook, “What? What is he talking about?”
Phil said, “Tristam, it’s too late now. He’s won but we can get away while there’s still time.”
The dead man’s voice became wistful, “The Husk Worlds.”
“Yes. Smart boy. Our spirits don’t need this flesh or this world. I still know a spell or two that can shake us loose. I just wasn’t strong enough to do it by myself but you Tristam... you’re strong enough for the both of us.”
“What about the rest of the world?” Greg said, “What about our families and friends? What about me?”
“It’s every man for himself...” Phil coughed, “...and God against all.”
“No.” Greg said, “I won’t believe that. There has to be a way to stop him. You know where he is, you know what he’s going to do. Tell us. If Tristam’s so strong then maybe he has a chance, maybe we all have a chance.”
Phil grabbed hold of the cool flesh of the dead man’s wrist... Victor’s wrist. He felt his skin crawl a little at the connotations, “There is no chance for anything but an escape.”
The dead man nodded, “Some of the Husk Worlds are beautiful.”
“Please listen to me.” Greg was at the dead man’s shoulder, “This is all happening for a reason. He says there was no way you should be here, that there’s no way you could have survived. That’s God Tristam, he put you in a place where you could stop this.”
Phil laughed, “Are you out of your mind? Tristam knows better than to believe your Bible stories”
“Stop.” The dead man said, “Phil, are you telling me that none of the incantations you know could stop this?”
“There might be.” Phil shifted in place. Couldn’t they see he was in pain? “But there’s no time and you’re not strong enough for anything like that. Believe me.”
“I do believe you.” The dead man said, “Greg, wait in the car.”
The door hinges squealed behind Greg as he left, Phil sighed with relief. He realized now there was a car out there with its engine running.
Little shit will be waiting in that car till doomsday.
The dead man said numbly, “Victor killed my mother.”
“I’m sorry but there’s nothing you can do now. She’d want you to save yourself.” Phil said.
“She had faith in me and I let her down, Greg has faith in me too.”
“So what? There’s nothing you can do. They’re coming, massing at the borders. You can feel them already can’t you?”
“Yes.” The dead man put one of his hands in the center of Phil’s chest, blood pooled around his fingers, “I’m sorry but I need this.”
“No!” Phil tried to pull away. He felt Tristam reach in and take hold of his soul. He felt himself being drawn upwards and inwards as his he was ingested thought by thought and memory by memory.
Felisa! In his last moment Phil remembered the name of the Spanish girl he’d loved and abandoned. Felisa-