THE GORSHIN INSTITUTE offers a miracle cure for rich and famous addicts. When a millionaire's son in Wildclown's care goes missing, the detective has to risk it all to clear his name. Wildclown battles through a gruesome landscape of zombie bandits and body snatchers to a final showdown with a mad scientist high above the world of Change.
Buy your copy!
Barnes & Noble.com
Official Wildclown Web Site
I finished my coffee and contemplated replacing the cigarette I had just put out. Its last puff of smoke was floating across the Formica countertop like a homeless cloud of ectoplasm. I was thinking about having another because I was way ahead of schedule and had time to burn, and because I was intrigued by a woman who sat on the far side of the oval sandwich counter. The green Formica wrapped around an open space where a balding man of pre-Change fifty was frying up two-dozen mock sausages on an oversized grill. A pair of young-looking soldier types had ordered four of the breakfast specials to sit on their hangovers.
A loudspeaker reported the approach of the airship. A group of heads in the station looked up from their magazines and knuckle-biting to distinguish themselves as passengers from the human flotsam that swirled around the central ticket booths at Greasetown Aerodrome. The brilliant panels of lights overhead flickered, turned the air green, and then burst into blinding white. I could have used a pair of sunglasses if the Change hadn’t almost made them extinct.
The extremes in lighting seemed to bother the woman across from me—the one that intrigued me—because she turned her head from her pile of papers and glared upward. She was wearing a dark blue business suit—white collar and jacket trim—an expensive looking cut. I caught the hem of her skirt hugging the soft shape of her thighs when she first came in. Lucky skirt. A delicious sneer crossed her features as she watched the lights flicker—something frustrated and ironic brought bright white teeth from behind her full pink lips. I could see that even angry she was beautiful. A silver bang cut a line across her eyebrows, and her hair cascaded down the back and sides like a shower of platinum pausing to splash outwards over her shoulders. I had already noticed that her features where sharp and angular, and that she moved her lips as she wrote in any one of her three notebooks. She did a similar thing with her fingers and hands. Tapping, twisting and bending them as her mind worked. Her eyes scanned her surroundings quickly, had seen me a couple of times, but never did the double take over my makeup. Her attention returned to the file folders and the notebooks in front of her. She ate a muffin and drank a coffee. Something about the way she did it washed away the clouds of Greasetown momentarily—made me remember growing things, and fresh air, and healthy appetites.
I was pretty sure that she was ahead of schedule too. Whether she was meeting someone, or was going somewhere herself. The loudspeakers went off every ten minutes, and none of the messages had brought her out of her fugue. Her nimble hands worked the pen feverishly, tapped her inner rhythm on the Formica. The lips kept moving.
“Don’t worry,” I said, lighting a cigarette. “You’ll get it finished on time.”
Her body went rigid. Then I saw her eyes flash at me through a curtain of silver. The eyes that regarded me were blue—then they did an amazing chromatic shift to yellow-green a moment before darkening to a deeper shade of blue. Must have been the weird lighting—must have been the metallic hair. She turned back to the paper. Her eyes skipped up to mine, held them through the curtain of silver. Then her lips moved and formed the shadows of what she was about to say. She pushed the papers into an untidy pile before she said, “You’re aware that a full grown man wearing clown makeup at a sandwich counter could be considered abnormal.”
I took a deep drag of my cigarette. “More than you know.”
Her eyes watched me, her lips moved, and a subtle muscular twitch slipped behind her fine features. She shook her head.
“Just looks like you’re in a hurry,” I said. “For someone who isn’t in a hurry.”
“Look,” she sighed, shoulders drooping, “I’m not used to being hit on by ‘real’ clowns, so forgive me for not getting into the witty back and forth.” I watched her, and was appalled by the beautiful strength that suddenly filled her eyes. She sighed. “Okay. You’re a mystery—a paradox—whatever… Feel better?” She shook her head. “I have a pile of case notes to prepare.”
“Case notes?” I said, billowing smoke. “You a lawyer?”
“Social worker,” she said, the hint of a defensive tone entering her voice.
“Social worker?” I flicked ash on the floor, waved the cook toward my empty coffee cup. “I thought I was an optimist.”
She glared at me and immediately started shoving her notebooks and papers into file folders. Then she reached down and pulled a briefcase into view. She stuffed her files into it and rose from her stool. “Nobody cares.” Her face filled with tragic power as she walked around the lunch counter toward me, struggling into her raincoat. She was close enough now that I could taste the smoothness of her skin. Her perfume descended on me like a conquering army. The eyes burned at me from beneath platinum. “So they cut the number of workers. Those of us left struggle under a crippling workload, with only the uncertainty of contract positions to hang our lives on. Barely any more hope than the people we help.”
Both of us regarded each other; the only movement was the smoke curling from my cigarette. Then she whipped up her free hand and pointed a clean white finger at me.
“But I will not take shit from any fucking clowns.” A look crossed her features that spoke of a spirit overwhelmed by Greasetown, by the Change, twisted humanity, and now by me. Then something softer, wiser entered her expression and she hissed. “Get some professional help!” A look in her eyes told me it had hurt her to say that. She was getting tired of being helpful. Snarling silently, she turned on her heel and threw her smoldering intensity toward the outside platform and the group of people gathered there to watch the approaching airship. She hit the crowd and the bodies rippled outward, like water does when you drop a stone in it.
Poor paradoxical mystery that I am was focused on her lithe and powerful dancer’s body—dark blue stockings hugged perfect calves, disappeared into busy white pumps—her feet barely touched the ground. She moved well, sort of the way I wished all women would move—just grace and power.
I glanced up and into the cook’s face. I tried to look as sad as possible in the clown makeup.
“Now, there’s a woman a smart guy’s going to settle down with,” I said attempting nonchalance and failing. “Anybody with any brains would stop what he’s doing and...”
The cook looked at me with flat brown eyes as he carelessly wrangled the soldiers’ sausages onto thick plates. Truth was: I saw more tragic hope in that woman’s eyes than I’d seen in all the crowds of Greasetown. Truth was: I saw a spark there that kindled something deep inside me, made me think there might be an answer, that there might be a way. Truth was: I was glad she was willing to pay the price to be out there. I didn’t know anybody else who would.
But the truth was: I was stuck at the Greasetown Aerodrome ahead of schedule waiting for the two-fifteen from the City of Light. I was on a case. Truth was.