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Old Helpess

‘She ain’t dead?’ Jester asked, his voice lowering again, the need showing plain in his tone.

‘No she aint,’ Helpless said, ‘Not that I know. Luke and a couple of others found her trail, bout a week ago, and some other guys went looking for her, Blanko, Davis and a couple others. I told them she was lurking around Harbison, where she was. I got the sight you know.’

‘So I hear. What happened to her?’

‘She disappeared.’

‘They lose her?’

‘No.’ The old man thought for moment. ‘Or yes. They cornered her in a basement in a building over at the university, you know the area?’

A nod.

‘…and she went into a little room and locked the door, and when they managed to open it she weren’t there. She just vanished. No other way out. Just, gone.’

‘Want me to kill you, old man?’ Jester said. ‘Your life means nothing to me and that’s a weak story you just invented. I’m hoping for a better one.’

‘Hell, if I could make up a better story, I would, but you wanted the truth.’

‘They say you got the sight.’

‘I do. If there’s a creature out there, and I think of it, if I think long and hard enough, I know where they are.’

‘So you know where she is?’

‘Put the beans on, boy,’

Jester stared at him. ‘You know where she is?’ he repeated.

Old Helpless said, ‘She’s gone, Jester, gone somewhere far away.’

‘I’ll happily kill you, old man, you know that.’

‘I know,’ he said. ‘But the man who kills me is cursed.’

‘I’m beyond that mumbo,’ Jester said. ‘All you are to me is words, or dead.’

Helpless seemed to sag a little. ‘I remember the world,’ he said. ‘I’m ninety-four years old. I remember the world.’ He stared into the darkness. ‘I was thirteen when it all gone away. The people who were left they said, it was the government. Other people said it was god’s hand. Taking away the evil.’

Jester popped the lid on a tin of beans and looped a piece of wire round the top, hung it from the cross piece that hung across the flames. Old Helpless said, ‘Or maybe they just left the evil behind.’ For a moment the madness left his expression and his good eye stared into the darkness. ‘I think, maybe we’re the evil, Jester; the things we done since, and all the good people went to heaven. Like it was that thing.’

‘What thing.’

‘Where all good people flew up to heaven and left the sinners behind. They had a word for it.’


From Jago: book 1

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