- Black Rose
- The Great Train Robbery
- Blue Dahlia
- Carnal Innocence
- Dance Upon the Air
- High Noon
- Sacred Sins
- Face the Fire
- Holding the Dream
- A Man for Amanda
- All the Possibilities
- Black Rose
- The Great Train Robbery
- Blue Dahlia
- Carnal Innocence
- Dance Upon the Air
- High Noon
- Sacred Sins
- Face the Fire
- Holding the Dream
- A Man for Amanda
Necroscope III: The Source
'Right,' Clarke nodded. But he does know where the cross isn't. It isn't on this earth! Not according to David Chung, anyway.'
Lines of concentration etched themselves in Harry's brow. He turned his back on Clarke and stared out of a window. 'Of course,' he said, 'I can very quickly discover if Simmons is dead or not. Quite simply, I can check with the dead. If an Englishman called Michael "Jazz" Simmons has died recently in the upper Urals, they'll be able to tell me in ... why, in no time at all! It's not that I doubt your man Chung is good - not if you say he is - but I'd like to be sure.'
'So go ahead, ask them,' Clarke answered. But he couldn't suppress a shiver at the matter-of-fact way the Necroscope talked about it.
Harry turned to face his visitor and smiled a strange, wan smile. His brown eyes had turned dark and very bright, but even as Clarke looked at them their colour seemed to lighten. 'I just did ask them,' he said. They'll let me know as soon as they have the answer...'
That answer wasn't long in coming: maybe half an hour, during which time Harry sat deep in his own thoughts (and who else's thoughts? Clarke wondered) while the man from E-Branch paced the floor of the study to and fro. The sun's light began to fade, and an old clock ticked dustily in a corner. Then -
'He's not with the dead!' Harry breathed the words like a sigh.
Clarke said nothing. He held his breath and strained his ears to hear the dead speaking to Harry - and dreaded to hear them - but there was nothing. Nothing to hear or see or feel, but Clarke knew that Harry Keogh had indeed received his message from beyond the grave. Clarke waited.
Harry got up from behind his desk, came and stood close. 'Well,' he said, 'it looks like I'm recruited - again.'
'Again?' Clarke spoke to cover the feeling of relief he felt must be emanating from his every pore in tangible streams.
Harry nodded. 'Last time it was Sir Keenan Gormley who came to get me. And this time it's you. Maybe you should take warning from that.'
Clarke knew what he meant. Gormley had been eviscerated by Boris Dragosani, the Soviet necromancer. Dragosani had gutted him to steal his secrets. 'No,' Clarke shook his head, 'that doesn't really apply. Not to me. My talent's a coward called Serf-Preservation: first sign of anything nasty, and whether I want to or not my legs turn me about-face and run me the hell out of there! Anyway, I'll take my chances.'
'Will you?' The question meant something.
'What's on your mind?'
'I left stuff of mine at E-Branch,' Harry said. 'Clothes, shaving kit, various bits and pieces. Are they still there?'
Clarke nodded. 'Your room hasn't been touched except to clean it. We always hoped you'd come back.'
'Then I won't need to bring anything from here with me. I'm ready when you are.' He closed the door to the patio.
Clarke stood up. 'I've two rail tickets here, Edinburgh to London. I came from the station by taxi, so we'll need to call a - ' And he paused. Harry wasn't moving, and his smile was a little crooked, even devious. Clarke said: 'Er - is there something?'
'You said you'd take your chances,' Harry reminded him.
'Yes, but... what sort of chances are we talking about here?'
'It's been a long time,' Harry told him, 'since I went anywhere by car or boat or train, Darcy. That way wastes a lot of time. The shortest distance between two points is an equation - a Mobius equation!'
Clarke's eyes went wide and his gasp was quite audible. 'Now wait a minute, Harry, I - '
'You came here knowing that when you'd told me your story I wouldn't be able to refuse,' Harry cut him off. 'No risk to you or to E-Branch; your talent takes care of you and the Branch looks after its own, but plenty of trouble for Harry Keogh. Where I'm going - wherever I'm going - I'm sure there'll be times I wish I hadn't listened to you. So you see, I really am taking my chances, I'm trusting you, trusting to luck, and to my talents. So how about you? Where's your faith, Darcy?' 'You want to take me to London... your way?' 'Along the Mobius strip, yes. Through the Mobius Continuum.'
'That's perverse, Harry,' Clarke grimaced. He still wasn't convinced that the other meant it. The thought of the Mobius Continuum fascinated him, but it frightened him, too. 'It's like forcing a scared kid to take a ride on a figure-of-eight. Like bribing him to do it, with an offer he can't refuse.'
'It's worse than that,' Harry told him. 'The kid has vertigo.'
'But I don't have - '
' - But you will!' Harry promised.
Clarke blinked his eyes rapidly. 'Is it safe? I mean, I don't know anything about this thing you do.'
Harry shrugged. 'But if it isn't safe, your talent will intervene, won't it? You know, for a man who's protected as you are, you don't seem to have much faith in yourself.'
'That's my paradox,' Clarke admitted. 'It's true - I still switch off all the power before I'll even change a light-bulb! OK, you win. How do we go about it? And... are you sure you know the way there? To HQ, I mean?' Clarke was starting to panic. 'And how do you know you can still do it, anyway? See, I - '
'It's like riding a bike,' Harry grinned (a natural grin, Clarke was relieved to note). 'Or swimming. Once you can do it, you can always do it. The only difference is that it's almost impossible to teach. I had the best teacher in the world - Mobius himself - and it still took me, oh, a long time. So I won't even try to explain. Mobius doors are everywhere, but they need fixing for a second before they can be used. I know the equations that fix them. Then ... I could push you through one!'
Clarke backed away - but it was purely an instinctive reaction. It wasn't his talent working for him.
'Let's dance,' said Harry.
'What?' Clarke looked this way and that, as if he searched for an escape route.
'Here,' Harry told him, 'take my hand. That's right. Now put your arm round my waist. See, it's easy.'
They began to waltz, Clarke taking mincing steps in the small study, Harry letting him lead and conjuring flickering Mobius symbols on the screen of his mind. 'One, two-three - one, two-three - ' He conjured a door, said: 'Do you come here often?' It was the closest Harry had come to humour for a long time. Clarke thought it would be a good idea to respond in the same vein:
'Only in the mating -' he breathlessly began to answer.
And Harry waltzed the pair of them through the otherwise invisible Mobius door.
' - S-season!' Clarke husked. And: 'Oh, Jesus!'
Beyond the metaphysical Mobius door lay darkness: the Primal Darkness itself, which existed before the universe began. It was a place of absolute negativity, not even a parallel plane of existence, because nothing existed here. Not under normal conditions, anyway. If there was ever a place where darkness lay upon the face of the deep, this was it. It could well be the place from which God commanded Let There Be Light, causing the physical universe to split off from this metaphysical void. For indeed the Mobius Continuum was without form, and void.
To say that Clarke was 'staggered' would be to severely understate his emotion; indeed, the way he felt was almost a new emotion, designed to fit a new experience. Even Harry Keogh had not felt like this when he first entered the Mobius Continuum; for he had understood it instinctively, had imagined and conjured it, whereas Clarke had been thrust into it.
There was no air, but neither was there any time, so that Clarke didn't need to breathe. And because there was no time, there was likewise no space; there was an absence of both of these essential ingredients of any universe of matter, but Clarke did not rupture and fly apart, because there was simply nowhere to fly to.
He might have screamed, would have, except he held Harry Keogh's hand, which was his single anchor on Sanity and Being and Humanity. He couldn't see Harry for there was no light, but he could feel the pressure of his hand; and for the moment that was all he could feel in this awesome no-every-place.
And yet, perhaps because he had a weird psychic talent of his own, Clarke was not without an understanding of the place. He knew it was real because Harry made use of it, and also because he was here; and he knew that on this occasion at least he need not fear it, for his talent had not prevented him being here. And so, even in the confusion of his near-panic, he was able to explore his feelings about it, at least able to conjecture upon it.
Lacking space it was literally nowhere; but by the same token lacking time it was every-where and -when. It was both core and boundary, the interior and the exterior. From here one might go anywhere, if one knew the route - or go nowhere forever, which would be Clarke's fate if Harry Keogh deserted him. And to be lost here would mean lost forever; for in this timeless, spaceless non-environment nothing ever aged or changed except by force of will; and there was no will here, unless it were brought here by someone who strayed into this place, or someone who came here and knew how to manipulate it - someone like Harry Keogh. Harry was only a man, and yet the things he could achieve through the Mobius Continuum were amazing! And if a superman - or god -should come here?
Again Clarke thought of The God, who had wrought a Great Change out of a formless void and willed a universe. And the thought also occurred to Clarke: Harry, we shouldn't be here. This isn't our place... His unspoken words dinned like gongs in his brain, deafeningly loud! And apparently in Harry's, too.
Take it easy, said the Necroscope. No need to shout here.
Of course not, for in the total absence of everything else, even thoughts had extraordinary mass. We're not meant to be here, Clarke insisted. And Harry, I'm scared witless! For God's sake, don't let go of me!
Of course not, came the answer. And no need to feel afraid. Harry's mental voice was calm. But I can feel and 1 understand what it's like for you. Still, can't you also feel the magic of it? Doesn't it thrill you to your soul?
And as his panic began to subside, Clarke had to admit that it did. Slowly the tension went out of him and he began a gradual relaxation; in another moment he believed he could sense matterless forces working on him. 1 feel... a pull, like the wash of a tide, he said.
Not a pull, a push, Harry corrected him. The Mobius Continuum doesn't want us. We're like motes in its immaterial eyes. It would expel us if it could, but we won't be here that long. If we stayed still for long enough, it would try to eject us - or maybe ingest us! There are a million million doors it could push us through; any one of them could be fatal to us, I fear, in one way or another. Or we could simply be subsumed, made to conform - which in this place means eradicated! I discovered long ago that you either master the Mobius Continuum, or it masters you! But of course that would mean us standing still for an awfully long time -forever, by mundane terms.
Harry's statement didn't improve Clarke's anxiety. How long are we staying here! he wanted to know. Hell, how long have we been here?
A minute or a mile, Harry answered, to both of your questions! A light-year or a second. Listen, I'm sorry, we won't be here long. But to me, when I'm here, questions like that don't have much meaning. This is a different continuum; the old constants don't apply. This place is the DNA of space and time, the building-blocks of physical reality. But... it's difficult stuff, Darcy. I've had lots of 'time' to think about it, and even I don't have all the answers. All of them? Hah! I have only a handful! But the things I can do here, I do them well. And now I want to show you something.
Wait! said Clarke. It's just dawned on me: what we're doing here is telepathy. So this is how it feels for the telepaths back at HQ!
Not exactly, Harry answered. Even the best of them aren't as good as this. In the Mobius Continuum, he explained, thoughts have matter, weight. That's because they are in fact physical things in an immaterial place. Consider a tiny meteorite in space - which can punch a hole through the skin of a space-probe! There's something of a similarity. Issue a thought here and it goes on forever, just as light and matter go on forever in our universe. A star is born, and we see it blink into life billions of years later, because that's how long it took its light to reach us.
That's what thought is like here: long after we're gone, our thoughts will still exist here. But you're right to a degree -about telepathy, I mean. Perhaps telepaths have a way of tapping in - a mental system which they themselves don't understand - to the Mobius Continuum! And Harry chuckled. There's 'a thought' for you! But if that's the case, how about seers, eh? What about your prognosticators? Clarke didn't immediately grasp his meaning. I'm sorry
Well, if the telepaths are using the Mobius Continuum, however unconsciously, what of the forecasters? Are they also 'tapping in', to scry into the future?
Clarke was apprehensive again. Of course, he said, I'd forgotten that. You can see into the future, can't you?
Something of it, Harry answered. In fact I can go there! In my incorporeal days I could even manifest myself in past and future time, but now that I have a body again that's beyond me - so far, anyway. But I can still follow past and future time-streams, so long as I stick to the Mobius Continuum. And I can see you've guessed it: yes, that's what I want to show you - the future, and the past.
Harry, I don't know if I'm ready for this. I -
We're not actually going there, Harry calmed him. We'll just take a peek, that's all. And before Clarke could protest, he opened a door on future time.
Clarke stood with Harry on the threshold of the future-time door and his mind was almost paralysed by the wonder and awe of it. All was a chaos of millions - no, billions - of lines of pure blue light etched against an otherwise impenetrable background eternity of black velvet. It was like some incredible meteor shower, where all of the meteors raced away from him into unimaginable deeps of space, except their trails didn't dim but remained brilliantly printed on the sky - printed, in fact, on time! And the most awesome thing was this: that one of these twining, twisting streamers of blue light issued outwards from himself, extending or extruding from him and plummeting away into the future. Beside Clarke, Harry produced another blue thread. It ribboned out of him and shot away on its own neon course into tomorrow.
What are they? Clarke's question was a whisper in the metaphysical Mobius ether.
Harry was also moved by the sight. The life-threads of humanity, he answered. That's all of Mankind - of which these two here, yours and mine, make up the smallest possible fraction. This one of mine used to be Alec Kyle's, but at the end it had grown very dim, almost to the point of expiring. Right now, though -
It's one of the brightest! And suddenly Clarke found himself completely unafraid. Even when Harry said:
Only pass through this door, and you'd follow your life-thread to its conclusion. I can do it and return - indeed I have done it - but not to the very end. That's something I don't want to know about. I'd like to think there isn't an end, that Man goes on forever. He closed the door, opened another. And this time he didn't have to say anything.
It was the door to the past, to the very beginning of human life on Earth. The myriad blue life-threads were there as before; but this time, instead of expanding into the distance, they contracted and narrowed down, targeting on a far-away dazzling blue origin.
Before Harry could close that door, too, Clarke let the scene sear itself into his memory. If from this time forward he got nothing else out of life, this adventure in the Mobius Continuum was something he wanted to remember to his dying day.
But finally the door on the past was closed, there was sudden, swift motion, and -
We're home! said Harry...
- The Loners
- The Saints
- Tome of the Undergates
- Black Halo
- The Skybound Sea
- If You Stay
- If You Leave
- Until We Burn
- Before We Fall
- Every Last Kiss
- Suspiciously Obedient
- Random Acts of Crazy
- Random Acts of Trust
- Her First Billionaire
- Her Second Billionaire
- Her Two Billionaires
- Her Two Billionaires and a Baby
- His Majesty's Dragon
- Throne of Jade
- Black Powder War
- Victory of Eagles
- Tongues of Serpents
- Empire of Ivory
- Crucible of Gold