Angela spun around. Claudette stalked toward her from deeper in the shadows, sweat glinting on her brow, gun in hand. It was aimed at Angela’s stomach. From fifteen feet away, she would hardly miss.
Angela opened her mouth, but there was nothing to say that might persuade Claudette to let her go.
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know.”
“Liar. Where’s Vince?”
“If you don’t know, then you’re useless to me, so I’ll just kill you.”
Angela didn’t react. Her senses were heightened, everything sharp, crystal clear, slow.
“How did you find me?”
“You think you’re that good at hiding?” Claudette stepped closer. There was a silencer on her gun. Angela had only ever seen them in the movies. From behind, she heard Coffee Man’s heavy approaching footsteps.
“Last chance,” Claudette said.
Angela gasped. Claudette turned the gun in her hand and looked down at it, surprised, annoyed. Angela took a step forward, and then the trees above them burst into life, and chaos fell around her.
Three shapes dropped down onto Claudette. At first Angela thought they were large birds, but then she saw that they were slashing, hacking, and stabbing. Claudette dropped the gun and waved her hands around her head, batting at the creatures that had attached themselves to her face, neck, and shoulder. Her startled shout turned into a gurgling scream as she fell beneath their assault. Blood splashed through the air in a graceful arc.
Angela stepped back from the violence. She’d seen its like before—and worse, much worse—but it was still a shock. More shocking still was the sudden turnaround in circumstances. From being threatened with death by this woman, now she was watching her die. Confused, unsure whether to help or turn and flee, she could only stand and watch the onslaught unfold.
A shape appeared from deeper in the undergrowth in the direction of the park wall, and Angela knew who it was simply from the way it moved, as familiar as her own shadow.
At the same time Coffee Man entered the shelter of the trees behind her, gasped at the scene that greeted him, and started backing away.
The shadow manifested as Vince. He pointed past Angela at the startled man.
“You need to go.” Behind her, Coffee Man turned on his heels and ran back the way he’d come. He no longer looked tired.
Claudette was on the ground now, curled up at the foot of a tree. She shivered and bled, her wide white eyes stark against the bloody mask of her face. The three things that had dropped onto her were back on the low branches, poised ready to leap down again should the need arise. The one closest to Angela was the size of a newborn baby, but its features were that of an old man, its skin a dark grizzled gray, eyes deep-set and sparkling with an unknowable intelligence. It held out its hands, turning them slowly as it examined the gore on its clawed fingers and palms.
Claudette spluttered and gagged on her own blood.
“We need to go, too,” Vince said. He was talking to Angela but looking down at Claudette. His eyes were wide, but he did not seem afraid.
“We can’t just…” Angela said, unable to finish the statement.
“You want to call an ambulance?” Vince asked.
Yes, she thought.
She shook her head.
“Then come on!” He held out his hand.
Angela took a step closer to Claudette. The wounds on her neck and face were terrible, gaping, leaking blood in heavy spurts. Her shivers were lessening, her eyes glazed. Perhaps she was already dead.
Angela took Vince’s outstretched hand, and despite everything it felt good.
“Where?” she asked, her voice barely a croak.
“Old gate out onto the road. Then we walk. Just taking in the sun. Okay?”
“Okay. What about…?”
“She’ll be found soon enough, and she was seen chasing you, so you’ll need to change your appearance again.” He smiled at her. “Pity. I like the hair.”
“I was thinking more about them.” She nodded up at the trees.
“The gremlins? They can look after themselves.”
Hand in hand, they left the dying woman behind.
About the Author
Coldbrook, The Cabin in the Woods, the Noreela series of fantasy books (Dusk, Dawn, Fallen and The Island), the NY Times Bestselling novelisation of the movie 30 Days of Night, Alien: Out of the Shadows, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi - Into the Void, and several books with Christopher Golden, including The Map of Moments and The Secret Journeys of Jack London. I've also written hundreds of novellas and novels. I've won several prestigious awards, and some of my work has been optioned for the big screen.
About the Book
Relics - The Folded Land
by Tim Lebbon
"Tim Lebbon's Relics opens a darkly beautiful glimpse into another world, one lurking in the shadows." James Rollins, New York Times bestseller
In the dark underbelly of our world, there's a black market in arcane things--living and dead. Angela Gough has been pulled into this world, making her a criminal on the run.
In London she encountered the Kin--satyrs and centaurs, Nephilim and wraiths, they are hunted and slaughtered for their body parts. Fleeing back to the United States, Angela discovers that the Kin are everywhere, and they are tired of being prey.
When her niece Sammi is struck by lightning, she is drawn toward the mysterious Folded Land, and its powerful and deadly ruler. Helped by her lover Vince, caught in the midst of a Kin uprising, Angela must locate Sammi before the girl is lost forever.