Shadows In Darknes

Shadows In Darkness is the second book in the series with Dynamic Skull.
Bert now has an assistant who isn't quite normal...

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1. An Odd Train Journey Home

     Bert ricocheted off a wall.  He slumped on the floor in a sitting position.  Christophe Nocturnal towered over him like a giraffe standing next to a cat.  He smirked.  “I can’t believe you’re a qualified agent.”

     Bert moaned.  He clicked his fingers and a flame flickered and died in his hand.  Nocturnal looked down and chuckled.  In fact, he was still chuckling to himself when a Hollow Man – a stone man with giant heavy fists and feet, and skin so tough that you’d need a chainsaw to cut through it – snuck up from behind and punched him round the head.  The Hollow Man came for Bert, but before it got its heavy, elephantine body to him, a man appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Bert and they both disappeared into thin air.

 

                                                                          ***

 

     “Who are you?” Bert demanded, shackles around his wrists and ankles

     “Me?” the man asked,” sounding a little surprised, “Why I’m Efram Xebeck.”

     Bert stood up, and struggled to stay in the same position. ‘Where am I?’

 He had a stupid look on his face, like he’d just been slapped by a newly born kitten. ‘What do you want?

     “I want you to help me.” Xebeck sneered

     “And why, may I ask, would I help you?” Bert enquired

     “Because I have something that you might want.” Xebeck revealed a pearl white ring encrusted with delicate streaks of blue.

     “An Electrocution Ring.” Bert couldn’t believe what he’d just seen. “But there are only three left in the world.”

     “Yep, and this is one of them.”

     “What do want me to do?”

     “We want you to kill Marlena Random.” Xebeck said solemnly

     “I don’t even know who she is!”

     “You’ll find out soon enough.”

     Bert gulped and gave a short nod.  Xebeck removed the shackles and handed the ring to Bert.  He slipped it on to his middle finger and he could instantly feel the new electro-power surge through him.

     “One last thing.” Bert said “Are you a teleporter?”

     “Indeed I am.” Xebeck replied

     Bert stepped out of the room without looking back.  He felt so grateful to feel the cool fresh air blowing his hair back slightly as he left the stuffy building that was rushing away from him.  Bert loved flying.  It was his favourite thing to do, simply because of the unimaginable feeling of freedom.  Rock had told him that flying was the best thing in life.

     Bert touched down on the top of a train, using air to deflect the wind around him.  He swung round into a window on the side of the train and clambered in.  Inside there was a Red-hood, with its scythe glinting, and a ripper, with its claws flashing and it’s aciculate teeth gnashing, waiting for him.

     The Red-hood struck first, and the scythe cut through nothing but air.  Bert took his chance and whipped out his fist to meet with the red-hood’s rib.  It doubled over and fell to the ground.  The ripper stepped forward and slashed its hand down the side of Bert’s shirt, tearing his flesh as easily as the materials forming his clothing.  Bert howled.  The ripper’s teeth were poison-tipped and getting horrendously close to Bert’s neck.  He ducked under its grasp, swung his knee up and it collided with the ripper’s lower jaw.

     The Red-hood was on its feet again and now Bert had two hysterical monsters after him.  They came from both sides and Bert dodged out of the way at the last second.  The ripper and the red-hood ran into each other and Bert released all of the energy that he had left in him, and a huge streak of electricity shot out of his palm into the dazed beasts.

     “So that’s what an Electrocution Ring does.” Bert said to himself and changed carriages.  There might be somewhere relaxing to stay in on his way home.

     The windows were carved with strange symbols in the next carriage.  Bert guessed it was pathetic mortal graffiti.  He noticed a symbol that he recognised and traced his finger over it.  It started to glow a peculiar shade of orange and Bert immediately jerked his finger away from the glass.  All of the other symbols etched into the glass began to glow too, each in their own unique colour.  The carriage began to shake violently and uncontrollably, which forced Bert off his feet and he proceeded to slide down the aisle, into the door.   Bert stood up unhesitatingly, with the helpful aid of one of the kind yellow poles that run from the floor to the ceiling on the jubilee line.  The tube stopped and the doors opened.  Bert didn’t move.  The voice read out the name of the station nice and clear.

     “Clifford Avenue”

     The last time Bert heard, Clifford Avenue wasn’t a stop on any line.  Clifford Avenue was in fact the Mortlake Crematorium.

     Just as the doors were closing, a man – whose clothes were in tatters and had been stained brown and crispy with a faint trail of smoke coming from the shirt – hopped into the carriage and sat down opposite Bert.  Vaurien Vex looked straight into Bert’s eyes.

     “But…but…but you died a week ago.” Bert stuttered

     “Indeed.” Vex replied “They cremated me half an hour ago.”

     Bert’s eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted.

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