The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Forty-Four part two
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
Pam landed with a groan on the penthouse floor. The guttering illumination cast her captor’s features in shadow but she already knew every inch of Chimera’s hodgepodge anatomy.
That’s its name! How do I know its name?
She had been in it after all. It had swallowed her up like storybook monster, impossibly making her fit, somehow making her lighter than air. Its cloak was an old tarp, its body was made from chips of glass and fragments of wood all held together by severed tendons and stolen flesh. Some of that flesh she recognized. Bits of the Millers’ harvested to help Chimera’s varied pieces stay together.
The Millers... Ronnie! She wanted to cry for them but she couldn’t, not now. Pam tried to stand; the journey to this terrible place had left her feeling chilled and nauseous.
“The Red Offering.” It said.
There was a man lying on the floor nearby, dark-haired and crafty-eyed. His hands and feet were bound with wire; he winked at her and offered a helpless shrug. There was something strangely familiar about him.
“You might conceivably find some solace in the knowledge that my transgressions, against you, your mother and even young Tristam were not done out of spite.” She paled at the sound of his voice. “You were all nothing more than targets of opportunity – a shell, bait and a sacrifice.”
Pam had spent the last day dreaming of this moment, of cursing him, of choking the life out of him but she could only stare. The figure that stood before her might resemble her brother down to the smallest detail but his posture and manner of speech were those of a stranger.
He’s crazy. She thought, He’s gone crazy.
The grin on her brother’s face became razor thin, “Come now young lady, you’re more perceptive than that.”
“What are you going to do to me?”
“The Monarchs, for all their technological geegaws still have need of a Red Offering to open the way. In antiquity the supplicant would usually sacrifice himself, spilling his own entrails in an act of ultimate obeisance to their gods. This will not do now, for I am no primitive enchanter and the Monarchs are no deities.”
For every step he approached Pam shrunk back a little more. She wore pajamas and a robe but under his gaze she felt naked, “I don’t understand.”
“Dull girl. This is the time of the Red Offering, the sacrifice. Soon the Monarchs will achieve this world.” He grabbed her by the wrists, drawing her up. “When your time upon the altar comes your understanding will be terrible and complete.”