Today, we are running an exclusive excerpt from the fabulously funny novel ‘Missing, Presumed Undead’, by Jeremy Davies.
The door opened and in walked Director-General Vappid Reamer. He was still in his all-black getup with his usual look of smug superiority plastered across his furry little face like it was held together with kwik-stik magiglue. He didn’t even look at the narque. He motioned over his shoulder with his thumb and the narque walked out.
‘So, Franklin. I don’t see you for years, and then, bang, twice in the one glass. Isn’t that amazing! Isn’t that … a coincidence? Isn’t it a small world? A small world for small people.’ Vappid climbed up onto the seat and sat. His tiny feet didn’t touch the ground but somehow, he remained menacing. Quietly menacing. Like an explosive porcelain doll. ‘You got anything to tell me, Franklin? I’ve got the goods on you, buddy, you know I’ve got the goods. How can you compete? You know the Bureau. We can do it all. But hey, it’s not like we’ve got a crystal ball, huh?’ He paused for dramatic effect. ‘Oh, hang on, we do …’ The Director-General of the Guilstapo pulled a crystal scrying ball out from under his trenchcoat. It was about the size of a lemon.
He dropped it toward the tabletop and it stopped a thumb width from the surface. I saw little rays of sunflower-gold Manah holding it there, calm and patient, ready for command.
Vappid fitted his monocle into one eye. ‘Do we want to watch, Stubby, I believe that’s what they call you now, isn’t it? Yes? Do we want to watch Stubby at the Embalmers’ Guildhall, or maybe Stubby saving the boy on the roof, with a special guest appearance by his friend, the Yhorish letter opener …’
‘You’re boring, Vappid,’ Frank cut in. ‘You’ve always been a boring little lollipop who needed every magical device the Bureau could offer him to do his job. Why don’t you get yourself a brain and quit using your little balls?’
The temperature in the room dropped to what you’d expect to find in an Ice Drake’s lair on a midwinter’s night during a blizzard with no thermal britches. Vappid’s tiny eyes were pins, the tips of pins, poisoned pins on the ends of keylock traps.
‘Maybe we could spin the dial back a few years and watch the Samsonvale Tavern incident, what do you say? I was there, you know, so I can get a fix on it like that …’ He clicked his fingers with one hand and waved the other, palm down, over the top of the crys- tal. I saw the back of a minotaur’s head and the back of a halfling’s head and a tavern door opening …
‘No!’ Frank jumped up, grabbed Vappid’s wrist and pulled it away from the ball. The image faded. Frank’s nostrils flared.
Vappid smiled. He looked at the thick hand around his tiny wrist and looked back into Frank’s dark brown eyes. Slowly. Silent.
Two narques burst in, ready to kill.
Vappid held up his other hand and waved them back out the door. ‘Franklin. Franklin. No need to get so worked up, you’ll getyourself hurt. I just didn’t want to keep boring you, that’s all. I just needed your attention. I want to know what you know about this whole Hightown Hacker deal. I know you were at the necroview and the Ursors’ want you down on paper for them and you still haven’t committed. I also know you’re pretty much immune to the Mind Rinse, so why don’t you share what you got with your ol’ pal, Vappid, huh? In the interest of the innocent City dwellers at threat. Huh?’ Vappid reached over with his free hand and lifted Frank’s fingers off his wrist, one at a time.
…the world of Casablantasy, where shining kingdoms are certainly not spread like blue mantles beneath the stars. Instead, the City: where corporate greed meets foul necromancy; the unrelenting advances of Maginology and the subtle menace of the Guilstapo exist beside squalid City breed cut throats and ogres with exaggerated axes.
Here, the legend of Franklin ‘Stubby’ Mynos begins: a be-spectacled minotaur with a mind for Kryptic Krosswords and a stomach for Hurghian coffee. There’s a killer on the loose, which is hardly news in a City crawlin’ with killers; but this killer—The Hightown Hacker—is killing the wrong kinds of people, in the wrong kinds of places. City commerce is suffering. Rich and powerful people are getting scared. The City Watch’s Magicrime Analysis Division (MAD) can’t buy a trick, and the Body Politik Registry wants to pay Frank a stack of Swine to do the deed.
It’s his first big case, the one that would put him on the map, but he’s not interested. He’s more into some dead body swiped from the Embalmers’ Guild. And the ever-burgeoning zombie workforce, how they’re recruited and have they got a Union?
Forget what you’ve heard. This is the truth … or, at least, the facts strung together in a meaningful way.
You want the truth? Go see a poet.