The Books of Darkness
by Robert N. Stephenson
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Diana Arlyn is an author of gothic fiction best-sellers. A hard drinker with bipolar disorder, she falls in love with a mysterious woman, and the turbulent relationship draws Diana unwillingly into a legend.
Diana is haunted by questions: why did the woman pick her, of all people, and how can the Ta’ibah, the hunter of darkness, know so much about her? She is also haunted by the ghost of a dead author. She must find out what he wants, recover a lost book that belongs to someone who wants to kill her, and ultimately survive the darkness.
“They were attacked,” I said. He looked down on the bodies. The street was in darkness. I made sure we were alone.
“Were they hurt?”
“Sarina was stabbed, but Diana was untouched.” If they had got into real trouble I would have stepped in. It would have been difficult being so close to an Uttuke, but I still had something of the old me inside.
“This could have ruined everything.” He hovered over the six unconscious men.
“Their darkness is thick,” I said. I could have taken them, only I needed to give him something to show my focus remained.
He knelt beside the first man, dragged his hand through the first man’s head.
“He was the one, the instigator.”
“The others?” I said as he stood.
Snaking black tendrils erupted from his chest, each tendril plunging into each of the remaining five. The men convulsed, the tendrils ripped from their bodies, they fell still. A shifting shadow growing darker with the feed. He backed away, turned to me.
“They are gone,” he said.
“I believe the book will soon be ours. Steven’s connection with Diana has led me to another woman.” I needed to offer something for my labours.
“Then why can’t I just get it? Take it back now?”
“The path has been laid, you must walk this path.”
“Why?” The touch of cold through me.
“Trust me,” he said. He looked to the men on the ground. “We cannot afford to have these men found empty. Kill them, make it bloody.” he stepped back into the night and was gone.
I pulled the knife free of the bigger man’s leg. I knew she’d tabbed him because she remembered her past. I was surprised she hadn’t cut his throat. This had to be messy, but necessary. A gang fight, six dead, simple investigation, simpler headline. No one missed criminals. I knelt before the first man, raised the knife and began my work.
Copyright © 2009 by Robert N. Stephenson