12 August 2008

Unholy Crusade, part seven


The morning light began to brighten as the Sun rose over the horizon. Gretl raised her arm to shield her eyes from the onslaught. Seth hardly registered the change, but found the reaction of his quarry intriguing.

'Do you really expect me to believe you're dead?' he asked, matter-of-factly.

Gretl looked at him through eyes that were now barely open, mere slits in puffy, red skin. 'What you think of me is unimportant. What you want to do about the man who killed your son is all I'm concerned with.'

Seth stared at the woman. She certainly smelled dead, and she seemed to be unconcerned with the open wounds and sores that covered her skin. She was clearly not in complete control of her faculties, so her claims to be deceased could be easily ignored.

But then there was the death certificate. And the newspaper reports, with photographs showing a woman who looked exactly like her. Insane or not, those would be difficult to fake.

Cartwright thumped and kicked at the heavy metal door trapping him inside the building. Gretl glanced at the door, then at the horizon. She looked distinctly ill at ease.

'Something wrong?' asked Seth.

'Make up your mind,' the woman snapped. 'Do you want to deal with the man who killed your son, or do you want to scurry away home?'

Don't rise to her, he told himself. She's trying to provoke you.

'Tell me who this man is.'

'Sollte nicht hier aufgekommen haben,' Gretl muttered.


She sighed, and looked down at the gravel. 'His name is Allemand. Hans Allemand.'

'I don't recognise the name.'

'There's no reason you should. He works through other people. Stays in the background. He is hard to find.'

'Which is why you want my help.'

She looked up at him. Seth thought for a moment that there were more sores on her skin now, but dismissed the notion as nothing more than his imagination.

'I did not come here to find you,' she said. 'You came to find me.'

Seth folded his arms. If she didn't want to be here, that was something he could play to his advantage. 'So why are you here?'

'There's no time for this! Maybe later, but not now.'

'Gretl,' Seth said, keeping his voice even but stern. 'Why are you here?'

She sighed and turned away. 'Because Allemand is coming.'

'I meant here as in here, on this rooftop. Why bring me up here when you obviously don't want to be outside?'

She kicked at the gravel. 'Are you going to help me or not?'

'Not unless you tell me what's going on.'

She turned around quickly, her face a picture of anger. 'Fine! I brought you up here to kill you. You broke into my home, you had a man outside watching me and you won't leave me alone. I brought you up here and trapped you so I could kill you then kill your friend.'

Seth's first instinct was to go for his gun and blow the bitch away. He suppressed it for the moment.

'Why?' he asked.

'Because I thought he sent you.'

Seth glanced at the horizon. 'It's going to be dawn any moment.'

Gretl nodded. 'I need to get back inside.'

'I think we need to talk more.'

She shook her head. 'Not out here.'


She pushed up the sleeve on her left arm, revealing bare skin as white as chalk. It began to turn red almost immediately. Blisters arose, turned to sores and wept a deep, red-black puss.

'Jesus!' said Seth. 'What the fuck?'

Gretl pulled her sleeve back down over the damaged skin. 'If you want to talk, we do it inside.'

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