Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Rack Archives


Ian Tregillis   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: July 20, 2013

Dame looked like she was chewing a prune. She opened her mouth, spat out something bad and leant forward. "You willing to help me Mr. Cross?"

"I don't know. Am I willing to help you?"

Sheri Lamour stood behind her. She was staring at the floor, wondering, like me, what the hell it was the dame had been chewing, and whether she wanted it back in her mouth. Sheri had a short fuse but very long legs. The object on the floor moved. Jeez it had legs, too. Short ones. The two of us watched it scuttle and vanish whilest the woman with an appetite extracted another from a platinum case.

"Mr Cross is busy just now." Sheri spoke kind of funny, like she had something stuck in her throat; me hoping she'd make the rest-room in time.

"''fraid so...Mrs...?"

"Carapace. Elspath Carapace."

She looked round the joint like she was settling on where to spit next. Something in Sheri's look dissuaded her, and she swallowed instead. "I'm very disappointed,  Mr Cross."

"So are we." I noticed Sheri had left the office. Through the walls I heard what sounded like a sheep barking. But there's someone waiting for us," a guy that doesn't chew bugs...though after Sheri had done with him...

She sniffed her way to the door.  I gave her time to make the street, and  checked the window to be sure. Ian Tregillis was on the Rack. He didn't need a wacko like Elspeth Carapace sharing her lunchbox, or Sheri Lamour sharing anything else. I hoped she'd found time to freshen her breath....more

Kaz Augustin   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: July 13, 2013

Sheri was wearing my dressing gown. She made it look interesting, gave me ideas, and her smile told me she knew it but that I needed a shower first and then maybe another, and that maybe she'd join me. Only not in that dressing gown. It was made of raw silk, had cost me a fortune, and in one of those pockets was a half-full packet of Luckies.

So I smiled back. Two could play at that game, and I knew the rules. We had a guest, and in our line of work a guest was king - or in this case a queen.

"Kaz Augustin is waiting," I said quietly. "Or have you forgotten?"

She had. I could tell by her face. But Sheri Lamour had more than one face.

"I never forget, Clay. Never." That last word sent chills up my spine.

Ned Hayes   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: July 06, 2013

Some people wonder about the meaning of life. With me it's death and whether half of those punks I've consigned to the other side will be waiting for me when it's my turn to choose a coffin and shroud. I glanced across the room at where Sheri was sitting, and grinned. She'd have chosen hers already and nail-paint to match. There'd be others beyond the veil waiting for her, too, but she wouldn't be thinking about them. She'd be thinking about which saint to seduce first, assuming things went to plan and she didn't end up some place hotter. Old Nick would have one helluva surprise.


Jeez, she was reading my mind...but no.

"Ned is waiting," she said. And so he was....more

Kim Newman   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: June 29, 2013

This guy had a voice. It oiled its way insidiously down the ears of all who listened, furtively slithering through the wisest of brains, turning sages into saps, tainting souls. It was the voice of a Mephistopheles. Sheri leant closer as his spell took effect, his every syllable oozing motherly warmth; every word and sentence persuasive stones, placed unnoticed upon one another, forming dark monuments to evil, blocking out all light and truth from the minds of those trapped in the coils of his silver tongue. We had no choice but to listen. Kim Newman, master of horror and the uncanny was tied to the Rack, but it was we who were trapped....more

Leigh Evans   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: June 22, 2013

The office reeked of bourbon and tobacco, confetti lentheric and enough bouquets to fill a medium sized graveyard. Only no lilies. Sheri didn’t like lilies. ‘They look nice but they smell like meat gone bad’ she said. And I wasn’t going to argue. We deal with death, we know the smell, and Sheri was right.

Just now she was sat by the window, aware of my lust and happy about it. She smiled with her luminous grey eyes that sought attention and got it each time.

“You thinking what I’m thinking, Clay?” A slant of sun bathed her in gold dust, turning her into Ishtar and Cleo rolled into one.

“You bet I am.”

“Good.” She stood, brushed down her skirt and walked to the door. “We have Leigh Evans down stairs. She should be comfortable by now”

It hadn’t been what I was thinking but Sheri was right. Business first and then…

“Leigh Evans,” I said, without knowing why. I was staring at Sheri, the way that she walked.

Leigh Evans, ...more

Jodi Meadows   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: June 15, 2013

The click of the safety catch being released sounded like World War III and I sweated like a pizza in sunlight. They must have heard, else their ears were on vacation. A sharp kick and the door burst open. I flipped off the light switch, jumped left and dropped to my knees. Then I fired. Seven tongues of flame spat their defiance at whoever was inside; seven explosions that tore through the darkness. Then silence.

Jeez, I must have killed them, else they’d be firing back - me with more holes than a dead junky’s arm. I heard a low chuckle and something in me snapped.

“Okay, you lousy little punk. you're gonna get yours. I'm gonna kill you. And you know what? I’m glad. Sure I’m glad. Every Goddamned punk and red-licking bastard I kill is another nail in Bo's coffin, and it’s a real nice feeling being that hammer. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!"

Again the low chuckle and then something that fried my brains sunny-side up."You took your time, hon."

Migawd it was Sheri Lamour! I scrabbled for the light, and there she was, sitting legs akimbo on a corpse; that of Bo Chi Song. She had something else, too - Jake's wooden leg - which she waved with a flourish.

"Found this inside it," she said. "A full transcript of our interview with Jodi Meadows."

"Jeez, so that's where it got too, and Jake had it all the time...in his goddamned wooden leg."

"And then Bo got to hear of it..." Sheri shrugged.

I stared down at one dead Korean war-lord. So he had been a fan of Jodi Meadows....more

Halli Villegas   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: June 08, 2013


It was raining, the clouds casting a pale, tobacco light over streets that had gone beyond meanness. I'd explored everyone of them, every goddamned alleyway and dive in the city. There was no Bleeding Heart Square, but there was a bleeding heart punk who should have known better. I don't like punks, and just then I didn't like myself very much. I'd been hitting the bottle hard. Sometimes I saw Sheri, sitting cross-legged in the corner of the room. Sometimes she talked to me and then the bottle ran out and I followed it, looking for answers. It was Halli Villegas who rescued me. She saw me in a bar one night and walked over to me.

'You want to ask me some questions?" she asked.

"Sure why not." I had nothing to lose and I still believed in angels. She might have been one.

"And who are you?"

"Halli Villegas," she said.

Angela Rega   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: June 01, 2013


Well I was back, and if ever a joint got torn apart it was this one: No. 13 The Lighthouse. The smell of Sheri Lamour and Lenteric Confetti tore me apart, and I took it out on the room. I ripped ledgers, curtains, smashed glasses, chewed carpet - imagined it was Bo Chi Sing's face and felt good. I was mad, and that felt good too. Sheri had left something behind, and I would find it, and then I would find her.

I heard steps in the hall, and I turned to see Bo staring at me in surprise. He was gone so fast I thought I'd imagined it, until I heard feet pounding the pavement outside. Whatever Sheri had left behind Bo wanted it too, but he'd come without his coven of goons and he wasn't a man to take chances.

The rage had gone now, replaced by thirst and determination. I scanned the debris and then the remaining bottles lining a glass fronted wall. I was looking for one in particular, Laphroig, Sheri's tipple of choice. The bottle was empty - no surprises there - but inside it was a roll of paper and a whiff of Lentheric.

My hands were shaking. I was drunk and happy; happy and drunk. I was staring at a meticulously drawn map showing Bleeding Heart Square, a cruder diagram of a large wooden leg, and the name
Angie Rega. I would deal with her first. ...more

Andrew Taylor   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: May 25, 2013


Well waddyer know?  The Lighthouse turned out to be a run-down bar in Jackson Heights. It had taken some finding but now I was here, and somewhere behind that door was Sheri Lamour, and her jailer Bo Chi Sing. I gripped the Luger, pulled it out from my pocket, and then, goddamn it, I started to laugh and I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing when I kicked the door from its hinges. Bo was in there somewhere and he'd be cowering, hiding behind Sheri, using her as his goddamed shield and knowing that Death was smiling at him and sharpening its scythe.

He knew I didn't give two cents for life. Like him I saw beyond it. But I did like killing punks. I loved shooting punks. It was what I did best, that and watching their blood stain the floor red. The room was silent and black as pitch. There was a scent I recognised and it was Sheri's: Lentheric Confetti. It was scent she'd take to her grave - and might if I didn't find her in time. I slammed on the lights and fired a round to show I meant business.

The joint was empty, as empty as sin but Sheri had left me a clue. A name was scrawled in lipstick on a large ornate mirror: Andrew Taylor. Sheri was fond of her lipstick. I just hoped she didn't run out.    

Jasper Fforde   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: May 18, 2013

I was hunched over the wheel, snarling at cars that got in the way. It was a mess, a giant haystack of a mess. I'd criss-crossed seven states checking out light-houses, each time thinking this was the one. Only it never was and I began to feel that I might never see Sheri again.

Punks like Bo Chi Song don't just happen. Punks like Bo are bred in Hell and serve their apprenticeship here. Only I had got in the way and now Sheri Lamour was paying the price.

I needed a clue and needed one fast. There had to be one and I suspected I'd find it in a small yellow book. It was where Sheri listed Appointments. Okay, I was desperate but Sheri was not only beautiful as hell she had prescience. A nice word if you know what it means. So here I was gunning down a Newport road two hours late. I just had to hope he'd waited - Sheri's last appointment. Sheri's last clue. Jasper Fforde.

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