Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Seventeen

“Theon . . .”

Cale pored through texts, trying to figure out where the name originated. He whispered it, hoping repeating it would bring him closer to its meaning. It was familiar, toying with him as it slipped away each time he thought he’d caught it.

He sat in the hive, unable to face the outside world. On the opposite side of town from his normal stomping ground, he’d grabbed an empty desk when he arrived. Officers slipped past, ignoring the thick books next to him. Conversations blended into muck, but the ticking clock across the room filled his ears. He refused to look at it. In the fluorescent glow, he couldn’t tell whether it was day or night, how long he’d been awake.

A stack of papers slammed onto the desk with a thud. Cale raised bloodshot eyes to the man hovering over him.

Terach sat on the corner of the desk. The crinkle of crushed pages hit Cale’s ears. Cale pushed him off.

“How’d you find me?”

“Black haired Officer, obsessive, exhausted. Wasn’t that hard. Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping?”

Cale turned to Terach. “I can’t sleep. Not after last night.”

“I told you not to worry about it.”

“What if it’s him?”

“He only attacked children. That girl was young, yes, but not that young.”

“We can’t afford the alternative.”

“Listen,” Terach said, his words stiff and uncompromising, “that girl’s luck had run out. And I know that’s a callous thing to say—”

“But it sure is popular.”

“— she wasn’t supposed to be there. It wasn’t our man. Hell, he hasn’t done anything in five years.”

“That we’ve found.”

Terach regarded him. “Correction: we’ve found nothing, Cale. Why would he come out of hiding now to attack a girl twice the age of the kids he used to slaughter? It doesn’t make sense.”

“I’m not willing to take that chance.”

“You’re going to have to.” Terach gripped the cover of the book and shut it. Cale pulled back, too tired to stop him. Terach tapped his finger on the stack, continued, “This is your next assignment. I’m sure you’re thrilled.”

Cale glowered at the pages.

Terach smirked, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “If you don’t want to take on Keir Cuilthinn’s little prodigy, I’m sure I can fin—”

Cale perked up. “Raine?

“That’s the one.”

“What happened?”

“Well, there was a bit of a ruckus at his place an hour or so ago. Four men were found in his loft a little worse for wear. The only surviving man is a blubbering mess. He just keeps repeating the same phrase over and over. Something about shitting himself.” He grinned. “Also, a neighbor’s body was found. Shortly after that little spat, Raine assaulted an Officer watching over the building.”

“Sounds like he’s got a lot on his hands. Where’d we pick him up?”

“No sign of the little shit.” Terach shook his head. He waved the file, taunting Cale, then smiled. “So you want this or what?”

“As much as I’d love to nail that glory hound, last night has to take priority. Look, just pass it over to Eric or someone.” Cale stood, looking all the more exhausted. He bent mockingly. “I’m going to try to sleep per your recommendation. Call Adrian, he’ll cover my shift. Don’t call me unless your mother dies.”

“You know she’s dead.”

“Then you won’t be calling me.” He offered a knowing smile and turned.

“Cale.”

“Yeah?”

“What was it you were looking for in all that?”

“Just a name I picked up — Theon.”

“What’d you want to know about him?”

Cale froze and twisted back. “You know him?”

“Isn’t that one of the gods Keir worships?”

The pieces slid into place.

Terach continued, “There’s that archive up on the other side of town. Have you checked them out yet?”

Cale shook his head distractedly. “No, I’ve been holed up here. Where’s it at?”

Terach waved the folder at him. “Work first, then play.”

Cale considered telling Terach to shove it. The day had stretched far past what he’d been prepared for and exhaustion had definitely taken its toll. Half the words on the page swirled together in a mishmash that he knew were English, but he couldn’t recognize. Still, if he finished this, then he’d be done and able to pursue the docks again. “Fine. I’ll take a look at the file.”

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.