Duncan and Niasa – 6. The Tale Of Dunk And Gorgeous Gordy


As far as holding cells went, this one was actually pretty okay. Sure, it had all the features of a typical drunk tank -weird smells, unidentified stains, lack of windows-, but it was rather clean, spacious, and there were only two other guys there. The first one was an overweight Goblin with a shaggy grey beard. He basically slept through my entire stay. The other was a Human sporting a white wife-beater, black pants and a pair of dark brown Doc Martens. His hair was cut very short and dyed blonde -I could tell by his dark eyebrows-, and a nice shiner adorned his left eye. He was a bit on the scrawny side, and it seemed like nothing could make him lose his smile. After the officer locked me up, he called out to me with a strong Northern English accent.

“Oi! What’re you in for, pretty boy?”

I turned to him, cagey, but did not answer. He pointed his thumb at the goblin.

“This bloke, he won’t tell me. Pretty sure he’s a serial killer. Plenty of them in America, right?

– Sure,” I said as I went to sit on a bench.

“Bloody country,” he said. “Almost everyone’s a nutter who gives names to their guns or sees communism in their tea leaves.”

He snorted at his own joke.

“But seriously, what’re you in for? You’re not pissed, you don’t look like you’ve been in a fight, you look too posh to pee in public… You’re a public wanker? Is that it? I thought the Yanks were more tolerant of that, now. Did you take care of your business in a church?

– It was a temple,” I said. “And it was someone else doing the wanking.”

He clapped his hands and laughed.

“What was her name?

– Don’t know, don’t care,” I said.

“She wasn’t a prozzie, was she?

– If she was, I didn’t pay her.

– Ha ha! Then, she got stiffed, eh?”

I smiled.

“And what are you in for?

– Oh, bit of a long story, mate.

– Ah, well, I am in a bit of a hurry.”

He laughed again.

“All right, all right. So, maybe I was thirsty, so I decided to drop by a bar. Maybe I met some blokes there. Maybe we talked about sports. Maybe one of them kept referring to American football as “real football”. Maybe I tried to redirect the conversation to proper football. Maybe that git bad-mouthed this noble sport. Maybe I had a few pints in me when he did…

– Right, I think I see the picture.

– Where are you from, by the way? London?

– Yes. My parents are up in Marylebone.

– Posh.

– My dad’s family is purebred English, but my mom’s side is Scottish. You sound like you’re from Manchester.

– Close. Stockport.”

He leaned back against the wall, crossed his legs, and joined his hands behind his head, accidentally elbowing the goblin as he did so. The goblin just kept on snoring.

“Do you want to do something when we get out of here?” he asked.

“First, I’d have to get out.

– What, can’t make bail? I bet your jacket alone could cover it.

– It’s not that. It’s just… They need a piece of ID before they let me out.

– And? Prozzie stole your wallet?

– It’s complicated,” I said.

“Aye, sounds like it. So… What d’you do, when you’re not getting handjobs in temples?

– Why? Are you writing a book?

– Just curious. I’d like to know what kind of job I need to get to dress as sharp as you.

– I don’t have a job, actually.

– Makes sense. Your blood’s too rich for that, I suppose.

– Well, not so rich these days,” I said, looking at my shoes. I remembered the content of my wallet when I gave it to the officers right before I ended up here. There should be enough for Hendrickson tomorrow, even if he asks for more than I planned. After that… Well, after that…

“That so? Well, maybe today’s your lucky day after all.

– If you’re going to try and recruit me for some kind of pyramid scheme, save your sales pitch.

– No, no!” he laughed. “What I’m offering you is something actually profitable.”

I waited for him to say more, but he didn’t.

“Well?

– Mate, does it look like a place to… talk business? Just tell me if you’re interested, and we’ll discuss it more later.”

I looked around. There was no camera that I could see, but I conceded his point and agreed to discuss this thing again once we were out of here. We went on to talk about all kinds of things, from alcohol to politics. The night was pretty uncomfortable, thanks to the stiff benches and the goblin’s snoring. I woke up the next morning frazzled and with a sore neck. An officer came for me:

“Hey, John Doe. Your lawyer’s here. You’re getting out too, Reid.”

The blonde guy jumped off his bench, having apparently slept like a log. We were led to the front of the station, where Hendrickson was waiting for me. He looked about as uptight as always, and as well rested as I was. His grey three-piece suit made him look older than his grey hair.

“Your lawyer has shown us your passport, kid,” a police officer said, giving me the document. “Everything’s in order, you’re free to go.

– Thanks,” I said.

Soon after, Hendrickson and I were in the station’s parking lot. He was walking very staidly, and refused to even look at me. As we arrived at his car, he finally turned to me and said:

“I hope you realise that what you made me do constitutes a violation of ethics.

– Yes, yes. Here’s your money.”

I handed him most of the cash I had left. He looked at it with a sneer, then pocketed it.

“I should ask for double that, but I’ll take it with the promise that this is our last business together.

– It is.

– Good.”

He got in his car and quickly drove away. I stayed there, standing in the parking lot, for a while, my passport in hand. Then, I noticed that that other prisoner -Reid, the officer had called him- was there, too.

“Don’t know many pricey solicitors that take payment in cash,” he said.

“Hendrickson offered… special services,” I said.

“Like delivering fake passports to police stations?”

I shot him a surprised look.

“What makes you think it’s fake?

– It’s not the first I see, mate. It wouldn’t be the first one I made, if I’d made it. Name’s Gordy, by the way. Gordy Reid, but people call me Gorgeous Gordy.

– Do they?

– Well, when I make it big, they will!” he said.

“I’m Duncan. Say, about that business you wanted to talk about… I saw a pub on the other side of the street when they drove me here.

– Say no more!”

I don’t remember much about the pub, not even its name. All I remember, aside from the drinks -yes, we had started drinking at ten in the morning, I know-, is the talk Gordy and I had. A talk that would decide the course of my life for the next couple of years -for better and for worse.

“If I were you,” Gordy said, “I’d get rid of that passport, now.

– Why?

– Coppers know you by that name, now. It’s got put in some database. That means whoever you’re running away from can now pick up your trail.

– Who says I’m running away from anyone?

– I say that. Not many reasons why someone would go to the trouble of making a fake passport. I’ll bet you’re not in this country legally, either.

– I entered this country perfectly legally. Of course, I didn’t stay legally…”

I looked at my passport and tutted. Gordy was probably right, but…

“Don’t have any other ID, eh?” he said. “I could help you with that.

– Is that what you’re offering? I do you a favour, you do me this favour? Is that why you approached me? You needed something done, and you saw someone in need?

– Nah, mate, you got me all wrong. I’m not looking for a one-time deal. I’m looking for a long-term partnership.

– Then, I might as well warn you, I don’t do blokes.

– Funny lad, eh? Look, what I’m offering is simple. I know some jobs around town. Not exactly the kind you’d find on a job listing online, you know what I’m saying?

– I think I do.

– Now, I’m not going to lie to you: they’re high reward, but they’re also high risk.

– So, you’re suggesting we split the risk, and split the reward.

– You got it, mate.

– What would I be doing, basically?” I asked.

“Basically, you’d be the face.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“So, my job would be to stand there and look pretty?

– Don’t tell me you’d mind that, but it’s not what I meant. Me? I’m a crafty sort of bloke. I do fakes that look better than the real thing, from IDs to administrative forms. I dabble in computers, too, just enough to get to the really funny stuff. What I don’t do so well is all the… social stuff. You’ll never believe it, but when people see me, they tend to be just a tad leery.

– Ah. So, you need someone to sell what you’re peddling.

– That’s the idea, mate.

– What makes you think I’d be any good at it?”

He looked amused.

“Do I need to say it, mate? You’ve got the looks for it.

– Is that it?

– In this world? Yeah, mate, that’s it. A good face, a nice smile, and acting like you belong, you can get any-fookin’-where. Let me ask you: that bird you got busy with in that temple, how long did it take you to get her there?”

I flashed a cocky smile.

“About ten minutes, I’d say. That Holstaurus was feeling really lonely.”

Gordy looked a bit grossed out; his smile shrunk.

“Holstaurus? One of these cow girls? You’re into those monster… girl… thingies? Takes all sorts, I suppose.

– Is that a problem?

– No, no, I don’t judge, mate.”

Not out loud you don’t, I remember thinking then.

“Yeah, you’ll do just fine,” Gordy said. “You’ve got the looks, you’ve got the confidence… Even the clothes. Maybe you could use a haircut.

– No man alive will ever make me cut my hair.

– All right, then. Your call, mate.”

He held out his glass.

“So, what do you say?”

I pretended to think about it for a few seconds, then brought my glass against his.

“I’m in.”

And that was it. The beginning of a beautiful friendship -at least, it was beautiful in the beginning. The very next day, we got started on our jobs. The first ones were rather simple: we basically just sold worthless trinkets for a fortune, or got hold of certain products under false pretences. Gordy wasn’t lying about his abilities to create fakes that would fool even the relevant authorities. As for myself, I discovered I had a real talent for coming up with convincing stories, telling tall tales, and persuading fools to soon part with their money.

As time went on, we got more ambitious, more daring, more greedy. We started impersonating high-ranking people, and getting into places the average Joe would never get into. Once, I pretended to be some noble guy from Lichtenstein, and, with a bunch of fake papers made by Gordy, got a bank to give me a huge credit. Another time, I entered the headquarters of a big, world-wide company, and allowed Gordy to remotely steal a bunch of virtual assets, which fetched a nice price on the black market. There was also this time when Gordy and I pretended to be home security consultants… then sold intel on the upper-class homes we worked on to robbers.

We spent half our time preparing and pulling these jobs, and the other half celebrating in style. Drinks, music, dance, women… Gordy regularly made fun of my tastes when it came to that last one.

I don’t remember exactly when Gordy decided to call me “Dunk”. I distinctly remember, however, that he started calling me that a lot more often after he realized I didn’t like that nickname. Before you ask: no, Gordy had never read George R. R. Martin, and, no, I didn’t start calling him “Egg”.

All this came to a head one day; the day of the Big One. The Big One was supposed to be our Mona Lisa: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would set us up for the rest of our days. Gordy had been talking about the Big One ever since our first job together, but in so few details it quickly became obvious he had no idea what it was. Every second of his time not spent conning or boozing was invested in the search of that near-mystical opportunity. Until, finally, he found something. Something that definitely qualified as “big”.

We were renting a suite in some five-star hotel, back then. I was in the living room, busy washing the scent of a particularly loving mamono off my clothes. He came home in the evening with a shoulder strap bag and a strange expression.

“It’s the end, mate,” he said.

He sounded uncharacteristically sombre. Sober, even.

“The end of what?” I said.

“The end of those days where you thought you and I were even remotely equal. After what I’m about to deliver unto you, you shall worship unto me as unto those strange gods of yours.

– Your old English sucks, mate. What do you have?

– Behold!” he said, pulling out a tablet out of his bag with a ceremonial gesture, and turning it on for me.

A bunch of text appeared. Its density and the lack of formatting made it really hard to read.

“What am I looking at?

– Some juicy intel I bought off our favourite dark web place.

– You got us a new job?

– Oh, Dunk,” he said. “Oh, simple, innocent, unassuming Dunk. No, I did not get us a new job. I got us THE job.

– THE job,” I repeated, unimpressed.

“The last one. The best one. The Big One.

– Oh.

– Bloody right, “oh”.”

I dropped on the couch and grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl on the coffee table.

“All right, lay it on me.”

He stood in front of the TV and started pacing.

“Picture this. There’s going to be a big party in one of those mansions up in the rich neighbourhood. We’re talking caviar-flavoured lobster for hors d’œuvres. We’re talking one percent arseholes discussing how to get richer. We’re talking actual mercenaries for security. And we’re going to be there. Of course we’re going to be there.

– Something tells me we’ll be doing a lot more than party-crashing.

– Oh yeah. See, turns out the whole party is just a cover for what’s really going on.

– And what is really going on?” I asked impatiently, playing throw with my apple.

“A trade.

– Okay… What’s being traded?”

Gordy hesitated.

“Err, actually, I’m not sure.

– What?

– But it doesn’t matter! Because I know for a fact that it’s valuable.

– How valuable?

– Millions. Hundreds of millions. If we get this thing and we sell it, we’ll each be able to afford our own bloody flotilla of yachts, and use it to take over a fookin’ insular nation in the Caribbean. I’m thinking Barbados, though I’ll settle for Antigua and Barbuda.”

I nodded.

“Sounds  promising. But back to the thing itself. If you don’t know what it is, how do we know we’ll be able to get away with it? What if it’s massive?

– It’s not. It’s supposed to fit in a suitcase. I know this because the potential buyer will show up at the party with a suitcase handcuffed to his wrist. Yet, the payment will be made through wire transfer.

– Do you know anything else? Like, is it dangerous? Should it be encased in lead or concrete? Does it explode if we scream at it? Will some kind of secret government agency chase us all over the world for it?

– Can’t be too dangerous or they’d be bringing something stuffier than a suitcase. Probably not radioactive or explosive, or they wouldn’t be trading in the middle of a bloody party for uber-rich people. And definitely no to the last question: the people organizing the trade spent a truckload of money to make sure the whole thing wouldn’t fall on any copper’s ear.”

Usually, hearing Gordy’s plans created a spark in me, and I was immediately on board. This time, however, I was unconvinced; sceptical, even. Why? I couldn’t say. All I knew was that my intuition was saying: “careful, something’s about to happen”.

“This sounds… way too easy,” I said. “Especially for such a reward.

– Dunk, mate, come on. You know me. I don’t go all in unless I’ve been counting the cards. The plan is good. The cover is solid. The intel is golden. I’ve checked, double-checked, triple-checked.

– How much did you pay to prepare for this job?”

His smile briefly turned into a grimace.

“Fifty-five thousand, give or take.

– Gordy, that’s over half of the money we have left!

– Actually… it was pretty much all we had left.”

I choked, and threw my apple to the floor.

“What the fuck, Gordy?! What about the rest? What did you do with the rest?”

Without losing his calm or his smile, he pulled something else out of his bag. A small box, about as big as a shoebox, wrapped in gift paper. Expecting the worst, I took it and opened it. My jaw dropped. Inside the box were an American passport, an American driving license, an American ID, and various official forms. My picture adorned a few of them.

“Congratulations, Duncan Abercromby,” Gordy said. “You’re now officially an American citizen.

– Bugger me, Gordy, those are… damn near perfect.

– Well, they should be. They’re real.”

To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

“Why “Abercromby”?” I asked as I browsed “my” new documents.

“I thought I’d honour the Scottish side of your family. Is that a problem?

– Not at all. I’d have taken pretty much any name except Thatcher.”

After much contemplation, I came back to my senses.

“But… Bloody hell, Gordy! All of our money?

– Like I said: I’m going all in. And so what? It’s not the first time we’re broke. We’ve always kicked back.

– It’s the first time we invested so much in a single job.

– You’re exactly right: it’s an investment. And the profit margin would make Jim Ratcliffe look like a loser.”

I thought about it. I said yes. Of course I said yes. Gordy let out a triumphant yell, and we got busy rehearsing our parts. Nearly two weeks were spent polishing every aspect of the plan. I had to admit, it was by far the most thorough, well thought-out plan Gordy had ever come with. He had thought of every hurdle, every contingency, every possibility. Well… except one. But, really, he couldn’t have seen that one coming. And I didn’t, either.

When the big day came, I actually felt confident. Inspired, even. The role I would be playing was right up my wheelhouse. We drove to the place in a rented, shiny black Mercedes. That mansion looked like it had been uprooted from Bel Air, and placed on top of a hill, in the midst of a vast property, a one hour drive away from the city. You could pick up on the stench of money from ten kilometres away.

We were greeted at the gate by a quatuor of beefy security guards -two Humans, one Minotaur and one Orc-, all dressed in black and wearing an earpiece. Thanks to the invitations Gordy had procured for us, we were let in very easily. A valet took care of our car, and we went to blend in with the guests. Gordy wasn’t lying about the guest list: it seemed every one of them was a tech mogul, a financier, an investor, or an heir.

That evening, I was Henry Peterson, multimillionaire British-Canadian industrialist visiting the States to diversify my portfolio. The party host had “naturally” heard about me through some mutual acquaintances, and personally invited me, along with my assistant Andrew Wilkins. I had not worn a tailor-made tuxedo in years. It felt good.

The evening started slowly and nicely. I sipped champagne, shook a few hands, swallowed some foie gras canapés, traded a few business cards, and all around played my persona perfectly. Gordy-Andrew was following me obediently, keeping his mouth shut but his eyes opened. He spoke his first words of the evening to my ear as a Lamia with red hair and an orange dress that barely covered the most attention-grabbing parts of her anatomy approached me.

“That’s Parvati Grace, the host,” he whispered. “Owns half the TV chains on the East Coast, and a whole bunch of newspapers in the South.

– Ms Grace!” I called out to her, holding out my hand. “How delightful to meet you.”

As she shook my hand with an absent smile, I added : “Henry Peterson.

– Mr Peterson, of course!” she exclaimed. “How nice of you to join us tonight.

– Oh, I wouldn’t miss this party for the world, Mrs Grace. I have a distinct feeling it will be quite… profitable.

– Really?”

She gave a side glance at Gordy, and noticed the suitcase handcuffed to his wrist. I could swear I saw some of her scales turn white.

“I… see. Well, in that case, I won’t delay you. Good luck on your… business.”

Parvati Grace slithered away from us, and went to greet some media mogul who was apparently engaged in a monologue about Jack London -the people gathered around him did not seem impressed.

“Are you sure the real buyers won’t be coming any time soon?” I asked Gordy.

“Oh yeah. I just checked with my contact: they got arrested by the police on the way there. Apparently, they were carrying two kilos of cocaine in the trunk of their car. Thank God the coppers got an anonymous tip.

– Magic. Now, we need to find access to the basement.

– Right. Let’s split up.”

Gordy went straight to the kitchen, I went towards the bedrooms. It’s quite an art to look without appearing to be looking, to search without seeming like you’re after anything, and to inquire without looking nosy. An art I had mastered during my time as Gordy’s partner. Sadly, other than some pocketable valuables, I didn’t turn up anything. I even started discreetly knocking on walls in search for a hidden room or something.

After nearly an hour was spent in vain, I retreated to the indoor pool. It was empty of guests when I came in. I sat on a marble bench, in front of a large bay window, my back turned to the pool. I was getting anxious and frustrated. Where to look? I kept wondering. Where to look?

Then, I heard a coughing noise. I turned to see someone standing by my side. It was a well-dressed man, somewhat androgynous in appearance. He wore a tuxedo, with a pair of white gloves, round sunglasses, and a black Panama hat with a white ribbon. The only clearly visible part of his body was his face. And an interesting face it was: its very dark skin had odd white speckles; it reminded me of pictures I saw of Vitiligo patients, except those patches were not clear: they were actually white, like snow. In addition, they seemed to form a mirrored pattern on each side of his face.

I tried not to stare too much, which was difficult. Is he Human? I couldn’t help but wonder. I had never seen any kind of mamono that looked like that, nor heard of any whose description could match that.

“An interesting evening, isn’t it?” he said in a musical -almost feminine- voice. He had a strange, subtle accent I couldn’t place; it wasn’t American, but beyond that I couldn’t say.

“Apparently not,” I said, “since you’re here, away from the rest of the guests.

– So are you. Are you not finding what you came here for?

– No, but I haven’t given up yet.

– Good spirit,” the man said.

He opened his coat and retrieved something from an inside pocket; a flask. After taking a sip, he offered it to me. I accepted the offer. I really needed a drink.

“Hmm. Smooth. What is that? Scotch?

– Blended grain,” he said. “Tell me, what are you looking for, Mr…?

– Peterson. And, uh… I’m looking for an opportunity.

– I see. And what are you hoping to gain from that opportunity, Mr Peterson?”

I shrugged.

“What do people ever hope to gain? Money. And all it can buy. Which is pretty much everything.

– Is that so? Some people believe that not everything worth having can be bought.

– Those people are likely not billionaires,” I said.

He laughed softly.

“Maybe so, Mr Peterson. Let’s assume you take that opportunity you’re looking for, and it makes you as rich as you hope. What precisely, will you be buying? A house like this one? An entry in high society, perhaps?

– Ugh, anything but that. I don’t like hanging around the rich and powerful. I mean, usually.”

I didn’t know then why I was confiding to this complete stranger. I suppose I needed to vent a little. It was the first honest conversation I had with a person who wasn’t Gordy since… well, in a while.

– What, then? Fancy clothing? Sports cars? Designer drugs?”

I sighed.

“I don’t know, maybe… An adventure.

– An adventure,” he repeated with a smile.

“Yes, just… I don’t know. Visiting some foreign country, discovering things, living some interesting moments… Just… Something new. Something exciting.

– Something worth remembering.

– Yes. And maybe meet someone… someone worth meeting.”

He nodded knowingly. I shifted on my seat.

“What about you? What are you looking for, here, Mr…?”

He seemed amused by the question.

“As a matter of fact, I believe I already found it.”

I frowned, expecting him to explain what he meant -and to actually introduce himself. Instead, he closed his jacket and tilted his hat at me.

“Good evening to you, Mr Peterson. May luck accompany your every step.”

And on those strange words, he turned and walked away. I put that odd encounter out of my mind, and went back to my thoughts, the sounds of his steps acting like a metronome to them. Tap, tap, tap, klunk, tap, tap… The strange noise caught my attention. I stood up, my eyes riveted to the marble tiles on the floor. The stranger had turned a corner and disappeared from sight. I did my best to retrace his steps, until I found a tile that seemed slightly protruding. I tapped my foot on it a few times. Klunk, klunk, klunk.

After making sure no one was watching, I got in a crouching position, and started inspecting, prodding, and nudging the tile. Eventually, there was a clicking sound, and the tile slid, revealing a black button. I immediately pushed it. Nothing happened at first. Then, a moment later, I noticed the pool’s level was dropping. Once it was completely empty, a trap door opened at the bottom. No way, I thought. I sent a quick text message to Gordy to tell him to get here as fast as he could.

“No way,” he said as he arrived.

“Right? A secret passage under the swimming pool. How cool is that?

– So. Very. Cool. I’ll have one built in my evil lair, in the Caribbean.

– Not me,” I said. “I want my secret passage in the library, opened by pulling a book. It’s a classic for a reason.”

And so we went into the secret passage to the basement. Said basement was unlike anything I expected. I thought we’d find some sort of panic room, or maybe even one of those underground bunkers rich paranoid people sometimes build, fearing the end of the world or the collapse of civilization. Instead, it was a white and light green corridor, scrupulously clean, which smelled of detergent. A couple of metal doors dotted each side, leading to various rooms. Gordy and I tried them all. One was some kind of storage for weird chemicals with ominous warning labels. Two were completely empty. Another one was some kind of kennel, only with cages large enough to hold a person. Not creepy at all.

The last one was the biggest room. It looked like a secret lab. There were all sorts of scientific machinery with screens, diodes, and gauges; some were making beeping noises, and flashing lights. The room was divided by a thick, semi-transparent plastic curtain.

“What the fook is this place?” Gordy asked, intimidated.

“I don’t know.”

We pushed past the curtain. This part of the room looked like an operation room, with the lights, the medical equipment, and an operation table. There was an active computer on a desk in a corner. On the table was a creature unlike anything I’d ever seen. She -it was very obviously a female- had a skin the colour of a moonlit night, darker fur on most of her body, two wolf-like ears that… Right, you already guessed it was Niasa. Good on you. Her eyes were shut, but her stomach moving up and down indicated she was breathing. My eyes kept being drawn to her. I also noticed a small IV tube connected to her right wrist, linked to an IV stand with an unlabelled plastic pocket containing some dark yellow liquid.

Strange, black threads seemed to be coming out of her body. I first thought those were tubes of some kind, but then I noticed their shape fluctuated as if they were gaseous. Next to her head was a dumbwaiter, with a small, black orb placed on it, which appeared to be connected to the weird threads. That orb retained our attention -once I was done staring at the creature. It looked like those crystal balls charlatans use to pretend to read your future, but contained what could only be described as black light. It seemed to… pulse, somehow, like an unnatural heart. Looking alternatively at it and at the black threads, I intuited that the orb was pumping something out of the creature. The whole thing felt surreal.

“This has got to be the thing,” Gordy whispered.

“You’re early,” a voice behind us said.

It took all I had to not jump out of my skin, then. Coming from another part of the room, located behind another curtain, was a Human, maybe five feet two inches tall, wearing a lab coat and a surgeon mask. He looked rather old, perhaps in his sixties, and had beady, sunken eyes, along with a receding hairline.

“We’re anxious to finish this transaction as soon as possible,” I said, remembering my role.

“Yes, well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait a little longer,” the scientist said. “It’s not ready, yet. In the meantime, I… Don’t touch that!”

He had suddenly yelled that last sentence at Gordy, who, either out of curiosity or out of lack of patience, was about to make a grab for the orb. Gordy mumbled an apology and lowered his hand.

“If you touch the orb now,” the scientist said, “the transfer will be reversed. You have to wait until it’s over. Trust me, you don’t want that to wake up.

– What is she?” I couldn’t help but ask.

He smiled behind his mask.

“They haven’t told you how the sausage gets made, huh? This, gentlemen, is a Hellhound.

– Hellhound?” Gordy said. “Never heard of that.

– Very few people have. They are possibly the rarest kind of monsters. Consider yourself lucky.”

I certainly did. I had never seen anything quite like her. He approached the Hellhound, looking at her like she was a sample under a microscope… or an ant beneath his magnifying glass.

“Right,” Gordy said. “Like my mat- my employer said, we’re in a bit of a hurry. Is there any way we can quicken this up?

– I’m afraid not,” the man said. “But I can assure you, your patience will be more than rewarded.” He looked at her again, and said, more to himself than to us:: “Fascinating creatures, these. So little we know of them. Almost a shame that… well…

– Is this process going to kill her?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“Hmm?” the scientist said, looking away from the Hellhound. With a chuckle, he answered: “Oh, ah, well, I would hope so.”

He went back to contemplating his guinea pig, and resumed his talk: 

“Really fascinating. They are living proof, you know? That what we’re doing is not merely a fantasy -a boondoggle, as some called it. Oh, it will take years, no doubt, but…”

The scientist moved his hand to touch her hair.

“One day… One day we will reach out and-”

In the blink of an eye, he was on the floor, unconscious, a big bump appearing on the back of his head. I dropped the computer monitor I had found on a desk nearby, and with which I had knocked him out, and crouched beside him to make sure I didn’t break his skull.

“Thanks,” Gordy said. “He was gonna talk all night. Now, we just have to wait until… Oi! What are you doing?”

I had approached the orb and had moved to take it. Gordy hurriedly slapped my hand off.

“Did you hear the guy? If we touch this, it’ll be worthless.

– We’re not doing this, Gordy,” I said, looking him straight in the eyes.

– What?” he said, blinking in surprise. “What the fook d’you mean, we’re not doing this?

– You know what I mean! We can’t do this.

– The Hell we can’t! This is the Big One, Dunk! This is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for. Don’t you want to be rich?

– Not like this.”

I shook my head.

“Jesus, Dunk. You’re gonna piss away millions just for… for what? Open your fookin’ eyes, mate, she’s just a…

– Don’t finish that sentence!” I screamed at him. “Don’t you dare finish it!”

He backed away, stunned, looking at me like I had sprouted a second head. My attention went back to the orb. I hesitated putting my hands on it. After all, I had no clue what it was. For all I knew, the thing would kill me the moment I made contact. I heard Gordy open his suitcase behind me, then a clicking sound. I shot him a look above my shoulder. He had pulled a pistol out of the suitcase, and was pointing it at me.

“Gordy, what the fuck?” I said as I turned to face him. “Where did you get this?

– It’s America, mate. I kicked a bin and three fell off.

– Put it away, Gordy!

– Move away from the orb,” he ordered.

“You’re going to shoot me? Just like that? After all we’ve been through together?

– You’re standing in the way of me becoming a multimillionaire. Just… just fookin’ move!

– No.”

Screw it. I turned my back to him.

“I’m gonna shoot you, Dunk!

– Be my guest.”

My hands slowly rose and moved around the orb. It was like my whole body was shaking. I was both facing, and turning my back to, a possible death. By all accounts, I should have been paralyzed by fear. But, unbeknownst to me, my decision had been made the moment I saw her.

“To Hell with you, Duncan!” Gorby screamed, and he stormed out.

In one quick move, my palms grasped the orb. A powerful spark went through my body. The orb started shaking, like something inside was boiling, or trying to escape. A crack appeared on its surface, which started growing. Suddenly, the thing exploded, knocking me back. I dropped to the ground, the unconscious scientist cushioning my fall.

My vision was blurred for a moment, and I felt dizzy. My whole body went numb, as if all of my nerves had decided to take a nap. I think I lost consciousness. Flashes of lights and colours appeared in my mind. In this confused state, I thought for a moment I saw a place. The details were lost on me, but I saw pillars of rock, and streams of lava that seemed to flow upward. Up what seemed to be a mountain, I saw a high tower made out of stone, topped by a black sphere which looked like a floating black hole. This vision lasted maybe a millisecond before it disappeared.

Cautiously, I stood up. The orb had vanished without a trace, along with those strange threads. The Hellhound was still there, unmoving. I rushed to remove the IV from her wrist, trying to stop my hands from shaking as I did so. I waited a few seconds, but she didn’t seem to wake up. Worried I might have been too late, I pressed the tips of my fingers on the side of her neck, searching for a pulse.

Before I knew it, a paw had grabbed my throat and was squeezing hard.

“Are you with them?” the Hellhound growled, her face now twisted with cold anger, her now-opened eyes glowing that orange-red hue I would soon become very familiar with.

“No… No!” I said. “I’m the one who woke you up.”

She brought me closer to her and smelled me. Then, with some reluctance, she released me.

“Who are you?” she asked. “What are you doing here, if you’re not with them?

– My name’s Duncan,” I said. “As for the rest, it’s kind of a long story. Can you walk?”

Instead of answering, she easily jumped out of the table and onto her feet. Only then did I notice how tall… and in shape she was.

“Eyes up here,” she said.

“Ah, yes, I… Sorry, I…”

Strangely enough, she seemed amused all of a sudden.

“That’s not the reaction I usually get,” she said.

“What?

– I mean, usually, when I put my paw around a man’s throat, he doesn’t get hard.”

I looked at my pants, swore under my breath, and tried to hide it as much as I could.

“Let’s just… Let’s just get out of here. There’s got to be some kind of emergency exit.

– Good idea. Got a car?”

I nodded. We went back to the hallway. One of the doors there was wide open. Gathering it was where Gordy had fled, I passed it to see a long corridor leading to another metal door. We rushed through that one, and were greeted by the cold night wind. That secret exit had led us somewhere near the main gate of the mansion. I saw the parking lot nearby, and ran to it. Sadly, the Mercedes was gone.

“Damn it, Gordy!” I nearly screamed.

“Who’s Gordy?” the Hellhound said. “Friend of yours?”

I sighed.

“No, I guess not.

– I’m Niasa, by the way,” she said. “Thanks for the rescue.

– Don’t mention it. Do you know where to go from here?”

She looked in the distance for a moment.

“Not really. I guess I can’t go back to where I live.

– Don’t you have any family?

– I do, but I’ll be fine on my own. They don’t live anywhere near here, anyway.

– How did you end up there? Did they kidnap you?

– Yeah, I think I was drugged. I’d better lay low for a while.

– If… uh…” I hesitated. “If you want, you can stick with me. I’m going to have to lay low, too.”

I wasn’t sure why I had made her that offer out of the blue. I mean, yes, in hindsight, it was pretty obvious why, but not at that moment. I wasn’t sure why she said yes, either. But I was strangely happy that she did.

Eventually, I found another car I could hot-wire -Gordy had taught me how-, and we fled the scene as fast as we could. In the following days, I did my best to disappear, greatly helped by my new identity, and the valuable stuff I’d nicked at the mansion. Some months later, Niasa and I reappeared on the opposite side of the country, ready to start a new life… together.

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One thought on “Duncan and Niasa – 6. The Tale Of Dunk And Gorgeous Gordy

  1. My, I didn’t expect Niasa’s back story to be so…

    Well out there. More will be revealed in the future, but also, wonder what Gordy’s doing now?

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