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.’‘All smiles, aren’t you?’ Forrester started scratching at her wrist, as if she had a rash there.‘People are getting hurt here, Daniel.A long time ago, I swore an oath to stop people getting hurt.At least, unless it was me doing the hurting.And I’ve got a kind of responsibility to this town, okay? Even if I can’t stand the damn place.Let’s just say I’ve done things here I want to make up for.Besides, we don’t need guns.’Her hand slipped into her pouch.‘We’ve got this,’ she said.‘I’m sorry,’ said Matheson Catcher, but SORRY IS NOT A RATIONAL WORD.He knelt, ashes staining his pantaloons.On the floor beside him, the shape of the electro-static galvanistic rifle started to blur and spread, melting into a silver smudge and seeping into the dust.As if Catcher no longer had the will to keep the weapon in one piece.Catcher stared at the body of Isaac Penley in front of him.A trunk, a blue-black stump.There were pieces of horror scattered around the saloon.ODDS AND ENDS.Catcher reached out, touching the scorched flesh.BITS AND BOBS.He started collecting together the fragments of what had once been a man, scraping them out from between the broken boards of the old King George.Behind him, the shadows were tumbling and THERE IS A RATIONAL EXPLANATIONFOR EVERYTHING so many pieces, pieces that made no sense and CLEAN IT UP! CLEAN IT ALL UP!Watchmakers, I have failed you.Isaac, I’m so very PUT THEPIECES TOGETHER.CLEAN IT UP!Yes.That was his duty, wasn’t it? As an agent of Reason, he had a responsibility to take the pieces and assemble them into a Reasonable, meaningful whole.What was man, but the finest of clockworks?He found a twisted length of arm in the corner.A fractured piece of skull.He lay them side by side, all the pieces, all the remains that still sparkled with galvanistic energy.Isaac Penley was just a humpty-dumpty little man.From the shadows, the Watchmakers gave him instructions.INSERT PART ‘A’ INTO SLOT B’.‘ Marielle,’ Christopher Cwej was calling.‘ Marielle! ’Duquesne tried to focus on his voice, but couldn’t.The pain was beyond belief, beyond description, so intense that she could no longer remember any other sensation, and was beginning to wonder if this was actually pleasure, and she’d just forgotten how to enjoy it.Her spine felt as though it had been turned to ashes.‘Over here,’ called Cwej, but there was no way of telling where ‘here’ was.Duquesne tried to concentrate.Seen from this angle, the darkness in front of her looked almost like a desert, the ground rolling like an ocean.‘Bearing the mark,’ said one of the dunes.Duquesne tried to cry out, but a quick gurgle was the best she could manage.Beside her, two shapes were congealing out of the sands, bright colours exploding across their shadow-bodies.Within moments, the figures were wearing robes of dirty scarlet, with hoods like the wimples of nuns pulled over their heads.‘Lost,’ said one of the Beautiful Shining Daughters of Hysteria.‘Lost as she can get,’ added the other.Duquesne lowered her eyes.‘You are not here,’ she insisted.‘You are phantoms, like the infamous fiends of San Stefano.You are nightmares or bad memories.The last of the Daughters of Hysteria died four years ago in München.I was there when their tabernacle was razed to the ground.I was there when they burned.’The nearest of the Daughters grinned.A skeletal grin across a skinless face.In München, the Daughters had ritually stripped the skin from each other’s faces, replacing it with torn shreds of newspaper.Deep green eyes peered out of heads that looked like papier mâché.‘Bearing the mark,’ the nearest said, holding up a burning brand.‘Kiss of the mad.’Duquesne’s hand shot to her left cheek.Without thinking‘No escape,’ the other Daughter of Hysteria added.‘No escape.The mark lasts a lifetime.There is no Reason.There is no reprieve.Marielle of the Endless Sorrows.’Duquesne just turned away.‘I refuse to see the world this way,’ she said, realizing that her words seemed less than rational.‘I will look from another angle.See? You are gone.’And it was true.She was no longer in a desert, because she no longer chose to see the darkness as a desert.Now she was in a city, in backstreets littered with loose cobblestones.Christopher Cwej’s voice was calling to her from the streets and the alleyways.The smell of Paris was in the air.And Paris, as ever, smelt of sewage.‘Who are you?’ asked the Doctor, trying his best to sound casual.He was lying face-down in the middle of the street, his head twisted to one side, his right ear pressed against the ground.The man with the smile was still standing over him, while passing rioters and refugees scurried around them without giving them so much as a second glance.As if the Doctor and his assailant existed on the periphery of their perception.Things to be avoided, but never really noticed.That’s the way this man wants it, thought the Doctor.He has a better grasp of light and shade than I could have imagined.He could stand in the middle of an empty field and make it look like a shadowy corner.Right now, we might as well be invisible.The Doctor felt, rather than saw, the man’s grin broadening.‘My name is Raphael.My designation is chirurgeon.My augury code is Baby-Pierre-Baby-Tao.’ His voice was cultured, English with a hint of a recently acquired American accent.‘Name, rank and serial number? How very inspired.’‘What else would you want to know?’‘Well, for a start, I was wondering if you could remove this.object [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]