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Authors: Rhi Etzweiler

Blacker than Black

BOOK: Blacker than Black
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Riptide Publishing

PO Box 6652

Hillsborough, NJ 08844

http://www.riptidepublishing.com

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Blacker than Black

Copyright © 2011 by Rhi Etzweiler

 

Cover Art by Del Melchionda,
http://bit.ly/wHbzTg

Editors: Aleksandr Voinov and Rachel Haimowitz

Layout: L.C. Chase,
http://bit.ly/zDvvLM

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher, and where permitted by law. Reviewers may quote brief passages in a review. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Riptide Publishing at the mailing address above, at Riptidepublishing.com, or at
[email protected]
.

 

ISBN: 978-1-937551-05-6

 

First edition

January, 2012

 

Also available in paperback

ISBN: 978-1-937551-25-4

 

ABOUT THE E-BOOK YOU HAVE PURCHASED:

We thank you kindly for purchasing this title. Your non-refundable purchase legally allows you to replicate this file for
your own personal
reading
only, on your own personal computer or device.
Unlike paperback books, sharing ebooks is the same as stealing them. Please do not violate the author’s copyright and harm their livelihood by sharing or distributing this book, in part or whole, for fee or free, without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner. We love that you love to share the things you love, but sharing ebooks—whether with joyous or malicious intent—steals royalties from authors’ pockets and makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to be able to afford to keep writing the stories you love. Piracy has sent more than one beloved series the way of the dodo. We appreciate your honesty and support.

 

For BL

In memory of

All the stories untold

The beauty that went

To the grave, trapped

In the writer’s mind forever

Because the words

Outnumbered the days

Of the writer’s

Life.

 

I promise to tell them all.

To die doing it.

T
ABLE
O
F
C
ONTENTS

 

Dedication

About Blacker than Black

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Acknowledgements

Also by Rhi Etzweiler

About the Author

 

 

 

Apparently, my twin and I are two of York’s most notorious criminals. We’ve been Nightwalkers in the blue-light district since the vamps took over the world. Don’t know how many years it’s been. Long enough that a stream of fellow ’walkers have come and gone. Most don’t last long selling their chi. End up face-down in the gutter, or worse.

 

For us, one night and one sale change everything.

 

Monsieur Garthelle is the first john to hunt me down. He calls me a chi thief in one breath and offers absolution—
servitude
—in the next. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I like living and breathing. Strange that such a powerful vamp would show leniency to a mere human. And something’s not right with the chi I took from him. It won’t go away.

 

Neither will he, and he’s forcing us to spy on his peers. Then a vamp turns up dead, and we go from playing eyes and ears to investigating a murder. This isn’t what I signed up for. All I ever wanted was to sell a little chi, maybe steal some in return. I should’ve kept my damn hands to myself.

 

This is my story. Look through my eyes.

 

Music surges from somewhere down the block, a thrumming background rhythm. The vibrations send a chill up my spine, and I let it roll through me, absorbing the wave of anticipation and adrenaline. Kenna shifts nearby, stepping closer. I feel her proximity, the weight and heat of my fellow Nightwalker, but she’s no more substantial than a shadow.

I look back over my shoulder at her. The loud pink latex of her right sleeve is hiked up, wrinkled around her biceps. Clothing serving as a tourniquet, Kenna pulls the trigger on the sleek hypno-hitter she scored earlier from a street dealer a block over. The fluid injecting into her vein isn’t the vivid blue of the usual hallucinogens the dealers are pushing, though. Instead, it’s a pale fuchsia that, disturbingly, matches her outfit.

So that any unintentional overspray doesn’t show. She glances up, notices me watching, then slips the small hitter into her back pocket and pulls her sleeve down, intently focused on smoothing the material and smudging any traces of the drug from the edge of her cuff.

I want to tell her she missed a spot, but bite my tongue.

A john won’t really care that she’s masking her chi, synthetically amping it with a temporary surge. It makes her look healthier than she is, like steroids for the aura. She has a few sales left in her, but at the rate she’s going, none of them will be worth much. And then she’ll be so much offal for the regeneration plants to absorb.

Because when the drug wears off, there won’t be anything left in her.

I’ve seen it happen plenty of times. I used to warn them, wanting to help those who walk the blue-lit boulevard with me, but over the years the futility of my efforts has left me jaded. And it’s been a lot of years. The other ’walkers either have the strength to figure it out on their own, or they don’t. It isn’t something I can teach. The frustration depresses me, but it hurts less if I mind my own business.

I tilt my head back and stare up at the night sky, wondering if I’ll be able to see a star tonight. I never have, not with the glow from the buildings so close. But I always try.

And that’s when I feel it. With my hands crammed in my pockets, head back to stare at the dark gray wash of the sky. Someone’s looking. The sharp gaze studying me is razors along my nerve endings, a probe of my aura like the fumbling grope of a homeless drunk.

Maybe tonight will be interesting, after all. I scan the street to the right, in the direction of oncoming traffic. A small vehicle slows as it draws nearer, veering toward my side of the boulevard across empty lanes on a street devoid of life.

Activity, yes. Plenty of that.

It’s a lightweight two-seater that crawls along the curb, glowing an alien hue of blue in the illumination from the cramped buildings lining the street.

Even here in the slums, the city’s lighting doesn’t fail. Block after block down the boulevard, the shabby buildings radiate a steady, azure glow. It reflects off the vehicle’s glossy surfaces, and for a moment, however brief, the sight feels ethereal. Magical. I soak up the sensation, willing the stranger not to move or speak; I want to stay right here for a while. To freeze this pristine instant of unrealized potential before the vampire flaps his lips and makes an ass out of himself. It happens every time, without fail, and every time I manage to conceal the sigh of disappointment and refrain from putting voice to whatever sarcastic comment pops into my head.

BOOK: Blacker than Black
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