What do you think?
Rate this book
352 pages, Paperback
First published November 1, 2009
No obvious bullet or stab wounds. No tattoos or other marks. Grunting with the effort, Finch turned the man over for a second. He seemed heavier than he should be. Skin warm, the flesh solid. From the position of the arms, Finch thought they might be broken. A discoloration at the edge of the man’s mouth. Dried blood? When Finch was done, the man settled back into position as if he’d been there a hundred years.
No point checking the gray cap. Their skin didn’t retain marks or burns or stab wounds. Anything like that sealed over. Besides, the cause of the gray cap’s death was obvious. Wasn’t it? Still, he didn’t want to assume murder. Yet.
Out of the four “murders” in his sector over the past year, two had been suicides and one had been natural causes. The fourth solved in a day.
Disappearances were another subject altogether.
Harsh blue sprawl of the bay, bled from the River Moth. Carved from nothing. The first thing the gray caps did when they rose, flooding Ambergris and killing thousands. Now the city, riddled through with canals, is like a body that was once drowned. Parts bleached, parts bloated. Metal and stone for flesh. Places that stick out and places that barely touch the surface.
In the foreground of the bay stands the scaffolding for the two tall towers still being built by the gray caps. A rough pontoon bridge reaches out to them, an artificial island surrounding the base. The scaffolding rises twenty feet above the highest tower. Hard to know if they are almost complete or will take a hundred years more. Great masses of green fungus cling to the tops. It makes the towers look shaggy, almost as if they had fur, were flesh and blood. A smell like oil and sawdust and frying meat. At dusk each day the gray caps lead a work force from the camps south of the city. All night, the sounds of hammering and construction. Emerald lights moving like slow stars. Screams of injury or punishment. To what purpose? No one knows. While along the lip of the bay, monstrous fungal cathedrals rise under cover of darkness, replacing the old, familiar architecture. Skyline like a jagged wound.
Interrogator: What did you see then?
Finch: Nothing. I couldn’t see anything.
I: Wrong answer.
[howls and screams and sobbing:]
I: Had you ever met the Lady in Blue
F: No, but I’d heard her before.
I: Heard her where?
F: On the fucking radio station, that’s where.
[garbled comment, not picked up:]
F: It’s her voice. Coming up from the underground. People say.
I: So what did you see, Finch?
F: Just the stars. Stars. It was night.
I: I can ask you this same question for hours, Finch.
F: You wanted me to say I saw her. I said I saw her! I said it, damn you.
I: There is no Lady in Blue. She’s just a propaganda myth from the rebels.
F: I saw her. On the hill. Under the stars.
I: What did this apparition say to you, Finch? What did this vision say?