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.45 slugs as promised.Calvin heard a faint click.He whirled around.The silver claw had unlatched itself; the makeup case stood open.He was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.The door cracked and whined, protesting the blows from Crawley’s shoulder.Calvin watched it bend inward, almost to the breaking point.Another shot was fired, the bullet shattering a window across the room.He turned and looked fearfully at the makeup case again.It can save me, he thought; that’s what I want, and that’s what it can do…“I’m gonna blow out your brains when I get in there, Doss!” Crawley roared.And then Calvin was across the room; he grabbed a jar numbered 15.The thing practically unscrewed itself, and he could smell the mossy, mountain-forest odor of the stuff.He plunged a forefinger into it, hearing the door begin to split down the middle.“I’m gonna kill you, Doss!” Crawley said, and with his next kick the door burst open.Calvin whirled to face his attacker, who froze in absolute terror.As Calvin leapt, he howled in animal rage, his claws striping red lines across Crawley’s face.They fell to the floor, Calvin’s teeth gnashing at the unprotected throat of his prey.He bent over Crawley’s remains on all fours, teeth and claws ripping away flesh to the bone.Then he lifted his head and howled with victory.Beneath him Crawley’s body twitched and writhed.Calvin fell back, breathing hard.Crawley looked like something that had gone through a meat grinder, and now his twitching arms and legs were beginning to stiffen.The building was full of racket, screaming and shouting from the lower floors.He could hear a police siren, fast approaching, but he wasn’t afraid; he wasn’t afraid at all.He stood up, stepped over a spreading pool of blood, and peered down into Orlon Kronsteen’s makeup case.In there was power.In there were a hundred disguises, a hundred masks.With this thing, he would never be called a little punk again.It would be so easy to hide from the cops.So easy.If he desired, it would be done.He picked up a jar numbered 19.When he unscrewed it he sniffed at the white, almost clear greasepaint and realized it smelled of… nothing.He smeared it over his hands and face.Hide me, he thought.Hide me.The siren stopped, right outside the building.Hurry! Calvin commanded whatever force ruled the contents of this box.Make me… disappear!The lid fell.The silver claw clicked into place with a noise like a whisper.The two LAPD cops, Ortega and Mullinax, had never seen a man as ripped apart as the corpse that lay on the apartment’s floor.Ortega bent over the body, his face wrinkled with nausea.“This guy’s long gone,” he said.“Better call for the morgue wagon.”“What’s this?” Mullinax said, avoiding the shimmering pool of blood that had seeped from the slashed stiff.He unlatched a black box that was sitting on a card table and lifted the lid.“Looks like… theatrical makeup,” he said quietly.“Hey, Luis! This thing fits the description of what was stolen from the Memory Museum last night!”“Huh?” Ortega came over to have a look.“Christ, Phil! It is! That stuff belonged to Orlon Kronsteen.Remember him?”“Nope.Where’d that landlady get off to?”“I think she’s still throwing up,” Ortega said.He picked up an open jar and smelled the contents, then dropped it back into the case.“I must’ve seen every horror flick Kronsteen ever starred in.” He looked uneasily at the corpse and shivered.“As a matter of fact, amigo, that poor fella looks like what was left of one of Kronsteen’s victims in Revenge of the Wolf What could tear a man up like that, Phil?”“I don’t know.And don’t try putting the scare in me, either.” He turned his head and stared at something else on the floor, over beyond the unmade sofabed.“My God,” he said softly.“Look at that!” He stepped forward a few paces and then stopped, his eyes narrowing.“Luis, did you hear something?”“Huh? No.What is it over there? Clothes?”“Yeah.” Mullinax bent down, his brow furrowing.Spread out before him, still bearing a man’s shape, were a shirt, a pair of pants, and shoes.The shoelaces were still tied, the socks in the shoes; the belt and zipper were still fastened as well.Mullinax untucked the shirttail, noting the bloodstains on it and what looked like two cigarette burns, and saw a pair of underwear still in place in the pants.“That’s funny,” he said.“That’s damned funny…”Ortega’s eyes were as wide as saucers.“Yeah.Funny.Like that flick Kronsteen did, The Invisible Man Returns.He left his clothes just like that when he… uh… vanished….”“I think we’re going to need some help on this one,” Mullinax said, and stood up [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]