OF ALL THE CARS IN NEW HAVEN TO FALL BEFORE, I chose Enrico Vultusino’s long black limousine.
The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all. There was the alley, close and dark and foul. The reason that I ran, I know, was a rat with a loathsome plated tail and beady little eyes. For years I remembered nothing before the rat, which was probably a mercy.
Fierce fiery cold, and the car’s tires squeaking as they crushed the swiftly-thickening carpet of white. The headlamps made everything a blare of blank cold brilliance, like the light dying people are supposed to see at the end of a stone tunnel. The brakes were grabby that night—I’ve been told the story so many times I can repeat it almost word for word.
If you don’t mind waiting while my tongue stumbles over it, I guess.
Chauncey was driving Papa Vultusino home from the traditional Seven and Elders meeting, watching the snow clot the wipers on the bulletproof windshield, thinking of nothing more than staying on the road and getting everyone home safe. He saw a flicker; the instinct of two decades of driving in New Haven rose under his skin and he jammed on the brakes, hoping the tire treads were deep and the snow thin enough to give him some traction. The limo slewed sideways and the small shape toppled, lay curled in a ball under an awkward slice of headlamp glow.
There was a splash—Vultusino had dropped a glass of whiskey and calf. Thankfully, it hadn’t broken. “Chauncey?” His voice floated from the backseat through the open pane of more bulletproof glass, down because Chauncey liked the smell of Papa’s cigars.
Chauncey blinked, restrained the urge to rub his eyes like a waking dreamer. “There’s a kid in the road. Not smoking, so it’s not a faust. Doesn’t look like a Twist either.”
Another sound—a click. Trigger Vane, sitting next to his employer, had pulled a nine-millimeter Stryker from its holster. His other hand touched the hilt of a wood-bladed dagger—good against fausts and some Twists, but not against minotaurs.
Nothing but running is good against minotaurs. And even that may not work.
Taut and ready, Trig’s chin tilted up. “Sir?”
Papa’s salt-and-pepper mane nodded. “Take a look.”
So it was Trigger, his lean lanky frame in a violently plaid, orange-yellow sportcoat and baggy chinos, the gun in his hand, who bore down on me, each step squeak-crunching in the snow. He glanced around—it wasn’t unheard of for an ambush to happen, even on such a hallowed day as this—but saw nothing. He stood for a few moments, gazing down on a child, her hair a messy tangle of deep blackness.
She appeared fully human. So thin bones were working out of her pallid skin, and she shivered like a trapped rabbit. Bright red striped her trembling legs, wasted muscles twitching as if she thought she was still running.
Around him, the town remained Mithrus Eve silent, snow whirling down. This was the industrial