“Do what, sir?”

“You repeated my name unnecessarily.”

On the monitor, her smooth brow furrowed with puzzlement. “Did I, sir?”

“Yes, you did.”

“I was not aware of doing so, Mr. Helios. Helios.”

“You just did it again.”

“Sir, are you sure?”

“That is an impertinent question, Annunciata.”

She looked appropriately chastised. “I’m sorry, sir.”

“Analyze your systems,” Victor directed. “Perhaps there is an imbalance in you nutrient supply.”

Chapter 5

Jack Rogers, the medical examiner, maintained an office in which an avalanche of books, files, and macabre memorabilia might at any moment bury an unwary visitor.

This reception lounge, however, was more in line with the public perception of a morgue. Minimalist decor. Sterile surfaces. The air-conditioning was set to CHILL.

Jack’s secretary, Winona Harmony, ruled this outer domain with cool efficiency. When Carson and Michael entered, the top of Winona’s desk was bare — no photographs, no mementos — except for a folder of Jack’s notes, from which she was typing official autopsy reports.

A plump, warm-hearted black woman of about fifty-five, Winona seemed out of place in this barren space.

Carson suspected that stuffed into Winona’s desk drawers were family photos, Beanie Babies, beribboned sachets, small pillows with feel-good mottoes in elaborate needlepoint, and other items that she enjoyed but that she found inappropriate for display in a morgue reception lounge.

“Looka here,” said Winona when they came through the door. “If it isn’t the pride of Homicide.”

“I’m here, too,” Michael said.

“Oh, you are smooth,” Winona told him.

“Just realistic. She’s the detective. I’m the comic relief.”

Winona said, “Carson, girl, how do you stand him being so smooth all day?”

“Now and then I pistol-whip him.”

“Probably does no good,” said Winona.

“At least,” Carson said, “it helps keep me in shape.”

“We’re here about a corpse,” Michael said.

“We have a bunch,” Winona said. “Some have names, some don’t.”

“Jonathan Harker.”

“One of your own,” Winona noted.

“Yes and no,” Michael said. “He had a badge like us and two ears, but after that we don’t have much in common with him.”

“Who would have thought a psycho killer like the Surgeon would turn out to be a cop,” Winona marveled. “What’s the world coming to?”

“When will Jack do a prelim autopsy?” Carson asked.

“It’s done.” Winona tapped the file of handwritten notes beside her computer. “I’m typing it now.”

This stunned Carson. Like her and Michael, Jack Rogers knew that something extraordinary was happening in New Orleans and that some of its citizens were something more than human.

He had done an autopsy on a guy who had two hearts, and several other “improvements.”

Carson and Michael had asked him to embargo his report until they could grasp the situation they faced — and within hours, much to Jack’s dismay, the cadaver and all records of the autopsy had vanished.

Now he was supposed to be taking great security measures with the body of Jonathan Harker, who was another of Victor’s New Race. Carson could not comprehend why he would reveal Harker’s inhuman nature to Winona.

Less comprehensible still was Winona’s current calm, her easy smile. If she was typing a report of an autopsy on a monster, she seemed oblivious of it.

His bewilderment matching Carson’s Michael asked, “Have you just started?”

“No,” Winona said, “I’m almost finished.”


“And what?”

Carson and Michael exchanged a glance. She said, “We need to see Jack.”

“He’s in Autopsy Room Number Two,” Winona said. “They’re getting ready to open up a retiree whose wife seems to have fed him some bad crawfish gumbo.”

Carson said, “She must be devastated.”

Winona shook her head. “She’s under arrest. At the hospital, when they told her that he died, she couldn’t stop laughing.”

Chapter 6

Deucalion rarely needed sleep. Although he had spent periods of his long life in monasteries and in meditation, though he knew the value of stillness, his most natural state seemed to be the restless circling-seeking of a shark.

He had been in all but constant motion since rescuing the girl from the alley in Algiers. His rage had passed, but his restlessness had not.

Into the vacuum left by the dissipation of anger came a new wariness. This was not to any degree fearful in nature, more of a disquietude arising from a sense of having overlooked something of great significance.

Intuition whispered urgently, but for the moment its voice was a wordless susurration, which raised his hackles but failed to enlighten him.

With dawn, he had returned to the Luxe Theater. The movie house recently had been willed to him by an old friend from his years in a carnival freakshow.

This inheritance — and the discovery that Victor, his maker, was not two hundred years dead, but alive — had brought him from Tibet to Louisiana.

He had often felt that destiny was working in his life. These events in New Orleans seemed to be hard proof.

An Art Deco palace erected in the 1920s, now a revival house, the Luxe was in decline. It opened its doors only three nights a week.

His apartment in the theater was humble. Anything larger than a monk’s cell, however, seemed extravagant to him, in spite of his size.

As he roamed the deserted corridors of the old building, the auditorium, the mezzanine, the balcony, the lobby, his thoughts did not just race but ricocheted like pinballs.

In his restlessness, he struggled to imagine a way to reach Victor Helios, alias Frankenstein. And destroy him.

Like the members of the New Race that Victor had brought forth in this city, Deucalion had been created with a built-in proscription against deicide. He could not kill his maker.

Two centuries ago, he had raised a hand against Victor — and had nearly perished when he had found himself unable to deliver the blow. Half of his face, the half disguised by a tattoo, had been broken by his master.

Deucalion’s other wounds always healed in minutes, perhaps not because Victor had in those days been

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