Read Evil Dark Online

Authors: Justin Gustainis

Tags: #Justin Gustainis, #paranormal, #Stan Markowski, #crime, #Occult Investigations Unit, #urban fantasy

Evil Dark

Praise for
Justin Gustainis
"A cool mix of cop show and creature feature. Gustainis had me at 'meth-addicted goblins'."
Marcus Pelegrimas, author of the
"A magical mystery tour of a murder case rife with supernatural suspects. Sit down for an enchanted evening of otherworldly entertainment."
Laura Resnick, author of
Unsympathetic Magic
"The cops act like real cops, the vampires act like real vampires, and the monsters aren't messing about. The plot twists and turns like a twisty turny thing, and moves like a weasel on speed. The real things feel real, and the supernatural things feel like they might be. The prose is a joy to read, and the whole thing was more fun than is probably legal."
Simon R Green, author of
A Walk on the Nightside
"Punchy dialogue, a fun alternate history, explosive action, and a hero whose monsters haunt him even beyond the job… Gustainis has given us a fantastic supernatural cop story that just dares you to put it down."
Chris Marie Green, author of the
Vampire Babylon
"I enjoyed every page of
Hard Spell
. If Sam Spade and Jack Fleming were somehow melted together, you'd get Stan Markowski. I can't wait to see what Gustainis does next."
Lilith Saintcrow, author of
Night Shift
Working for the Devil
Hard Spell
Evil Ways
Black Magic Woman
The Hades Project
Sympathy for the Devil
Evil Dark


In memory of A.R. Montanaro, Jr. The Rhino lives on, in our hearts

"There's a conflict in every human heart – between the
rational and the irrational,
between good and evil.
And good does not always triumph."
– General Corman, in
Apocalypse Now
"Your enemy the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour."
– 1 Peter 5:8
"There's nothing in the dark that isn't there
when the lights are on."
– Rod Serling
The city is Scranton. The name is Markowski. I carry a badge. The monsters from your nightmares are real, all of them. If you live in my town, protecting you from them – and vice versa – is my job.
  That's pretty much all you need to know about who I am and what I do.
  There are a few things in this life that I really hate, and two of them are fairies and heights.
  Fairies piss me off because they act so goddamn superior. Just because they can fly, and they're all so fucking beautiful – males and females, both – and they can shift at will from Earth to Fairyland and back again, it makes them all think they're hot shit. The default setting on the average fairy's face is a smirk, and in more than one case I've been tempted to wipe it off – with my fist.
  As for heights – I need to explain something about that. It's not altitude all by itself that scares me – it's only something that I might fall from and get killed that gives me the willies.
  A few years back, I was in New York for a supe cop conference, and I used my free time to do some touristy stuff. So after the boat tour around the Statue of Liberty, I went to the Empire State Building and took the elevator up to the observation deck on the 102nd floor. You get a great view of the city, and I thought it was spectacular. Of course, the deck has a waist-high wall around it, and that's topped by a large gauge metal fence, and there's barbed wire on top of that – if you want to fall off that thing, you're gonna have to work at it. I wasn't nervous at all.
  On the other hand, if you put me in one of those flimsy platforms the window washers use when they clean the building, I'd probably shit myself. I don't care if those guys think it's safe and do it every fucking day – I want something more between me and oblivion than a big plank of wood, some scaffolding, and a couple of cables. I haven't got agrophobia, or whatever they call it – I'm just not interested in doing any experiments with the force of gravity from half a mile in the air.
  So, with all that, how is it I found myself on a two-footwide ledge that fronts the Bank Tower Building, twelve stories up from street level, trying to talk a fairy out of taking the Big Dive?
  The answer to that is kinda complicated.
  What happened was all my fault, too – well, most of it. Sooner or later, the lesson is going to sink into my thick Polack skull:
never leave early for work.
Every time I do, something happens – and it's never the kind of stuff that makes me smile when I think about it later.
  When I said I left early, I don't mean that I was going over to the station house to start my shift ahead of schedule. I work long enough hours as it is. It's just that I was tired of my own cooking and thought it would make a nice change to have a decent meal before going off to do battle with the Forces of Darkness for another night. So I left a note for my daughter Christine, who doesn't get up until sundown, and headed off for Luigi's, my favorite Italian restaurant. I would have invited Christine to come along, but she's kind of on a restricted diet.
  They say that Luigi – known as "Large Luigi" to his pals, and with reason – used to be a button man for the Gambino family in New York, twenty years or so back. But he's a lawabiding citizen now, and I don't care how many guidos he popped back in the old days. All I know is, he makes one hell of a veal scallopini. You might say it's to die for.
  I don't really like eating out alone. There was a time when I'd arrange to meet my partner for a pre-shift meal once in a while. Paul DiNapoli and I used to eat together at least once a week. After Big Paul died, my new partner, Karl Renfer, would sometimes have dinner with me. But in recent months, Karl's food preferences have changed, and he's not much interested in eating anything that doesn't have a letter in it – like O, A, or AB positive.
  The most direct route to Luigi's from my place is through downtown. I figured the rush hour traffic would have slacked off by then, so it was probably fastest to take the direct route. Other times of the day, I'm better off sticking to the side streets – it's longer that way, but faster.
  So, driving through downtown, I noticed a bunch of red and blue lights flashing on South Wyoming Avenue. At first, I thought it might be a fire, but then I saw the half-dozen black-and-white units parked in front of the Bank Towers, the tallest building in town – it's only fourteen stories, but this is Scranton, for Chrissake, not midtown Manhattan.
  I hadn't heard the call that brought these cars here, because my police radio was turned off. I was off duty – it's allowed. And since I'd turned the radio off, it stands to reason that I should've just driven past the site of whatever shit was happening, and stay on course for Luigi's and the veal scallopini.
  But curiosity, which has been known to be bad for felines, is often the downfall of cops, too. Little did I know that my own downfall was literally only a few minutes away.
I parked as close as I could get to the action, put my ID folder in my jacket pocket so that the badge was visible, and walked toward the yellow tape that was designed to separate the official personnel from the gawkers.
  There was a uniformed officer standing just inside the crime scene tape, but his back was to me and his head craned upward, as if he was looking at the sky. I said, "Excuse me, Officer."
  He turned around, already saying, "Listen, mister, you might as well – oh, hi, Sarge. Sorry." His name was Dietrich, but he looked about as Aryan as Michael Jordan. Short – just made the height limit, I bet – greasy black hair and pockmarked skin. But he wasn't a bad cop – if he was, I'd have known.
  "What's going on?" I asked him.
  "Aw, we got a jumper," he said. "Twelfth floor, on the ledge. See him?"
  Now that I knew where to look, it wasn't hard to spot the solitary figure, his arms pressed flat against the concrete wall as if he was crucified there. He was at least two hundred feet away, and my eyes aren't what they used to be, but there was something…
  A few dozen civilians were milling around, waiting for something exciting to happen. If the guy jumped, they'd probably be overjoyed – give them something different to talk about at dinner tonight. One of the gawkers had a set of opera glasses, of all things. He was looking at the solitary figure twelve stories up as if it was the second act of the fucking
Barber of Seville
. I stepped over to him and said, "Mind if I take a quick peek through those?"
  Without looking away from the subject of his interest, he said, "Yeah, I mind. Fuck off."
  I said, a little louder than before, "Would you prefer to rephrase that, or just spend a night in jail getting assfucked by a couple of guys named Bubba and Leroy?"
  That brought the glasses down, all right. He turned to me, and I saw his eyes go from my face to the badge and back again. "Sorry, Officer. I didn't know… here." He handed me the glasses.
  "Thank you."
  I looked through the lenses and tried to orient myself. After a moment, I was able to locate the figure on the ledge and get my first good look at him. I looked for maybe fifteen seconds, muttered, "Aw, shit," then handed the opera glasses back to the douche bag they belonged to. I probably couldn't have got him a night in jail just for being a douche bag – fortunately, he didn't know that.
  I went back to Dietrich. "Who's ranking officer on Scene?"
  "That'd be Sergeant Noonan."
  "You know where he is now?"
  "Yeah, Sarge." Dietrich pointed. "He's just the other side of that squad car over there, I think."
  "You mind letting me through? I wanna have a word with him."
  "Sure, no prob."
  Dietrich lifted up the crime scene tape and I ducked under it and headed in the direction he'd pointed to.
  He was right. A few feet beyond the parked squad car, Sergeant Ron Noonan was on his police radio, not sounding too happy.
  "No, sir, we can't get near him. None of my men is real anxious to go out on that ledge, and I can't order them to. Once the fire department gets here, it might be different, but now… Yes, sir. I will, sir. As soon as possible, sir. Noonan out."
  He was replacing the radio on his belt when he noticed me. "Markowski," he said, with a careful nod. "What are you doing here? Nobody called for Occult Crimes that I know of."
  "They didn't," I said. "I was driving by, and couldn't mind my own damn business. I'm not trying to get in your hair, Noonan, but there's something you ought to know, if you don't already.
  "Your jumper – he's a fairy."
  He stared at me. "A
? But those faggoty things got wings, don't they? They can fly like a bird, supposedly. What's he doin' up there – fucking with us for laughs?"
  "No – it looks like his wings have been amputated."
  "How the hell do you know that?"
  "I borrowed some glasses from one of the rubberneckers. Got a good look at him. He won't be doing any flying until the wings grow back – assuming he lives that long."

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