The cold morning light shook the dust up and through the air. Ray watched it rising with sleep–deprived eyes, the glint of light which fell on each particle mirrored in the neon reflection behind each eyelid as he drifted in and out of the room.
The rise and fall. He felt as though his life was slowly being evaporated from around him, leaving his motionless figure lying alone on the now–transparent bed frame; but there was something moving in the corner of his vision, barely perceptible as it reconstructed itself from the dusty surroundings, gaining shape and form as it came closer to him.
He tried to move his head, his arms, anything, but he found himself struggling to even lift his thoughts from the pillow which he could now only feel beneath him, receptive to every cranial curve but simultaneously dragging his thoughts down with it. He tried to talk, but he could only force a guttural, deathly gurgle from the pit of his stomach.
In his peripheral vision, he could see waves of light ebbing and flowing, creating a dark reflection of something barely visible to the human eye. He tried to lift himself up once more, and found that he could push against the strain which seemed to be holding him down, tying him to the non–existent bed. The swirl of dust was nearly fully formed, and Ray was more than a little convinced that he knew exactly what – or who – he was going to see stood before him, when–…
Bzzng… Ray Delaney sat straight upright, squinting as the sunlight burned the mark of the world even further into his retinae. The phone continued to ring with no consideration for the throbbing which seemed, once again, to be coming direct from his mind to his forehead. He ran a hand through his hair, settling on his temples to try and ease the pain.
“Ray“, the phone said, in a rather competent imitation of Don Tannhauser, “you need to get down to the office as soon as possible. I came to drop off the lab boys’ reports on Billy, but Candy wasn’t in yet. I was about to head back to the station when I noticed your office door was open, and so I thought I’d check it out for myself. Well, I know how secure you like to keep everything…shit, Ray…I don’t know who got in here, but you might wanna get in touch with your insurance people.”
* * *
Ray pushed the now–splintered door to his office and surveyed the scene. The glass pane on the outside was reduced to just four of the usual letters, reading: ‘MOND‘ instead of ‘RAYMOND DELANEY‘, and for some reason that made him uncomfortable. He hadn’t been prepared for such utter destruction, despite Don’s rather dramatic phone call that morning. But now he saw an all–too–familiar sight, and he had to choke down the feeling that if he turned to look in the corner he would see a red–streaked wall with Billy lying at its base, covered in his own and another’s blood.
“The only thing that made it through the night,” said Don, proffering the leather–bound book from yesterday, as his radio staticked into life. He took it, and, trying to ignore the stain on the inside cover, he flicked through to the page that he and the detective had been looking at less than twenty–four hours ago. Ray was more than a little convinced that he knew exactly what – or who – he was going to see as he turned to the page in question. The cloaked figure was somehow faded, less distinct than before; but Ray’s eyes were drawn to the opposite page, drawn to the muzzle of a huge, Alsatia-like creature, a muzzle wet with brightly–gleaming droplets of scarlet dew, grinning like a diceman in a casino.
“Raymond,” Don said. He only called him ‘Raymond’ when things were getting serious. “That was the County General. Apparently there was some kind of attack at the Soosman household last night. Candy’s mother was taken in with severe injuries.” Ray’s temples throbbed. It seemed as though everything was coming together in his head, and he didn’t like it one little bit.