Authors: John Farris
BY JOHN FARRIS FROM TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES
All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By
The Axeman Cometh
The Fury and the Power
The Fury and the Terror
Son of the Endless Night
Soon She Will Be Gone
When Michael Calls
You Don’t Scare Me
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2009 by Penny Dreadful Ltd.
All rights reserved.
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
High bloods/John Farris.—1st ed.
“A Tom Doherty Associates book.”
1. Werewolves—Fiction. 2. Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)—
Fiction. I. Title.
First Edition: July 2009
Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
is fondly dedicated to the many authors of the Good Old Stuff who were published by Gold Medal Books during the fifties and early sixties, from Edward S. Aarons to Harry Whittington. I learned a lot from you guys.
And a special nod of thanks to Steve Brackeen for putting me through college.
Mr. Jimmy Webb of the clothing emporium Trash and Vaudeville in New York City for the line “I’m bewildered by life… ” (quoted in
The New Yorker
, March 26, 2007), which I’ve given to Beatrice on page 97. And also for Mr. Webb’s observation about rock ‘n’ roll, which is on page 95 (ibid).
The actress Kirsten Dunst for her comment on her strict requirements in matters romantic, which was quoted in
magazine, I forgot which issue. I’ve given Miss Dunst’s self-appraisal in slightly altered form to Chiclyn Hickey on p. 68.
Eric Hansen for information about Borneo that I found in his excellent memoir
Stranger in the Forest
(Houghton Mifflin, 1988).
And Peter John for tirelessly committing all of my manuscripts to hard disc for the convenience of everyone else in the book and magic-lantern business.
In nature there are neither
rewards nor punishments—there
are only consequences.
Robert G. Ingersoll
He who makes a beast of himself
gets rid of the pain of being
here were at least four upscale Lycan hangouts within a
quarter mile of one another on Santa Monica Boulevard east of the Doheny gateway to Beverly Hills. We left the department Hummer on the center divider with the light bar winking and the no-touch repel charge on high. My partner Sunny Chagrin took the south side of Santa Monica. I took the other side, making my way around the usual debris, human and otherwise.
De Sade’s always had a crowd waiting outside behind a velvet rope, advertising how popular and hard to get into the place was. Twin doorkeeps dressed in this year’s big fashion statement, the Kansas farm-boy look, glanced at the gold shield on my belt and said nothing as I walked past them and opened the brass-bound leather door.
Inside the music came at me like turbocharged thunder. I winced and reached for my noise-canceling whisper tits. At one-fifteen on a Monday morning, Observance minus five, de Sade’s was packed with their typical crowd: hot young media stars or the merely hopeful. Diamondbacker royalty and retro Hip-Hoppers in air-conditioned greatcoats, surrounded by street muscle and sweet sweet chocolate. Raptors of both sexes trying to act twenty years younger than they were. Yesteryear’s big celebs who were
back numbers now, all of them with the Malibu gloss that gave them an unreal digitally enhanced look. Maybe half the crowd were High Bloods, mingling with, hitting on Lycans, hoping for the sexual Nirvana such risky liasons promised. Or so the legends had it.
I was there looking for a postdeb named Mal Scarlett. The family was old rich, impeccable bloodlines except for Mal. She had been out of reach for nearly forty-eight hours, according to WEIR. Either Mal’s Snitch had malfunctioned (a rare occurrence) and she didn’t know it, or some illegal surgery had been performed. It was getting to be quite a thing with members of her set: rich kids with tenuous family ties, wanderlust, and no social consciences. If it was a fad it was a dangerous one.
Most people who go missing have patterns. Nine out of ten missing persons turn up within four miles of their homes, dead or alive. The tough cases involve those individuals who are instinctively distrustful, secretive loners—wanderers by habit or by nature. A good description of the rogue population of werewolves, which was already too big to manage effectively.
I was installing the second of my earbuds when a tall girl bumped into me, turned for a look. She gave me a bold, sparkly smile. She was blond, with a narrow, pretty face, an uppity nose. Her glam was Jazz Age: the beaded flapper dress, marcelled hair. She also was wearing one of the gold crosses combined with a wolf’s head—an emblem of Lycan spirituality we were seeing a lot of lately.
She leaned on me, still smiling, and winked hello.
“I’m Chiclyn,” she said in a broad Aussie accent. “Chickie Hickey.”
“I’m Ducky Daddles,” I said. “Is the sky falling?”
She brushed damp hair off her forehead and peered at me, an insolent glint of eyetooth in her crooked smile, mischief in her violet eyes. She’d been doing Frenzies or Black Dahls, but not for a while.
“I think I’m falling for
I had to get a grip on Chickie, or she would’ve been at my feet. It was verging on heat wave in de Sade’s and she was slippery as goldfish.
A couple of de Sade’s scuffs may have decided I was cutting her out of the flock. They moved in on either side of us, smiling politely. That popular farm-boy look again: yellow coveralls, clodhoppers, neckerchiefs knotted at the side of the throat.
“She’s maybe a tad young for you, Dads,” one of the scuffs said.
I’d been silver-haired since my mid-thirties. He took a light grip on my upper-right bicep, and looked surprised. Power lifting is just one way I stay in shape.
None of them seemed to have noticed my ILC shield.
“Blow ahf!” Chickie sneered at them. She had locked both hands on my left forearm. Her fingers contained a Levantine’s collection of baroque rings. “I choose my own company!”
“So do I,” I said, with an inoffensive smile.
The scuff thought this over, then dropped his hand.
“Looking good for your age,” he said. “Where do you train?”
“Home gym. Is Artie around tonight?”
“Rawson. Lycan control.”
With that Chickie was out of there, almost: I caught a wrist.
“We were having such a good time,” I said.
“Piss in your face, Wolfer!” She tugged hard to free herself. I felt her terror as if I were holding a live wire.
I voiced “L-Scan” to my wristpac and her data came up. Legal name, full signal, full reservoir. I was surprised that she had one of the new, injectable LUMOs that WEIR had been testing.
Touching the girl’s humid skin I felt a rush, the flash-contagion of her avid sexuality. And, deep in that part of the brain (the angular gyrus) where the ghosts of intuition live, I was receiving signals
that prompted a different glandular reaction. A mystery took creaturely shape.
“I’d like to talk to you after I visit with Artie,” I said.
“What for?” she said sullenly.
I stared at her. “I’ll think of something, cutie.”
She didn’t try running again. She squared her shoulders and looked me defiantly in the eye.
“Meanwhile you can do me a favor by asking around for Mal Scarlett. Have you seen her tonight?”
“No. I don’t even know her. Not personally.” She squinted hostilely. “And I don’t do fuck-all for Wolfers!”
“Maybe you’d enjoy a month in San Jack Town for some group therapy in positive attitudes.”
She lowered her head, a corner of her mouth tweaking unhappily. I looked at the small ruby eye of the wolf’s-head crucifix near the LUMO (for Lunar Module) site. I had a dull sense of foreboding. Religion, no matter how bizarre, meant organization and control.
Chickie looked at me again, more or less acquiescent.
“Good girl,” I said. “Now go have your kicks.”
She melted into the crowd of Ravers without a backward glance, pausing to adjust her earbud, which just about everybody nowadays called “whisper tit” because of the shape and size. Due to the noise level she manually accessed a number on her designer wristpac.
I was left with her spoor, the faint chemical traces of the girl’s skin cells sloughed by the hand with which I’d been holding her. They had nearly the same effect on my nose as a gun fired off next to my ear would affect my hearing.
Someone who was having too much fun let out a series of wolf howls. He wasn’t a good mimic. In some jurisdictions, like the Hills of Beverly, it’s a misdemeanor, punishable by a few days’ hard labor on the walls around the richest of all city-states.
In a place as liberal as de Sade’s, it was just a forlorn way of denying a national malaise, the dark night of the popular soul.
There was some laughter, which got him going again. But enough was enough: one of the scuffs took off to find the yipper and put him on the street.
I looked at the other scuff. “Let’s go see Artie.”
Arthur Excalibur Enterprises occupied the third floor of the building he owned and which also housed de Sade’s. The second floor, presumably, was packed solid with soundproofing. Except for occasional vibrations as if from weak earthquakes, nothing betrayed the presence of the club below.
I was announced; subsequently sixteen minutes went out of my life forever, with no music, laughter, good jokes, or the company of loved ones to ease their passing. I checked in with my partner Sunny, who had nothing useful to report about the social gadabout Mal Scarlett.
Then the door to Artie’s inner sanctum was opened. One of his girls—tall, a glossy chestnut-brown color, and with a long elegant neck—beckoned to me. She was dressed like Peter Pan: couture tunic, unitard, half boots. Her name, I recalled, was Beatrice.