Psychlone

Psychlone by Greg Bear Read Free Book Online

Book: Psychlone by Greg Bear Read Free Book Online
Authors: Greg Bear
Tags: Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror
story. A friend, two friends, murdered."
    “Jesus H. Christ,” Hinkel said.
    “I was with them five days ago."
    “Can I read it?"
    “No,” Fowler said irrationally, folding the paper and standing up. “It isn't true, what they say here. It couldn't have happened that way."
    He left the office. Hinkel stood by the desk, flipping the paper between his fingers, frowning.
    Fowler didn't know where he was going. He was out in the overcast but still shirtsleeve Sunset Boulevard weather, on the corner of Highland, before he realized he was wandering. He needed a plan, some way to get through the day. He found a pay phone booth and stood in it for several minutes before deciding to call Dorothy. Her number was usually quick to mind, but for the life of him he couldn't think of it now. He fumbled through his wallet, then searched the mangled and scribbled-on phone directory. There were four Dorothy McKinleys, but he remembered her address.
    The phone rang six times before she answered, sounding peeved.
    “Dot, this is Larry."
    “I was in the bathtub."
    “Henry is dead."
    “Henry who? Your friend Henry?"
    “Henry and his dad, his father. It's in the paper."
    “I don't take the paper. You just saw him. How did it happen?"
    “Paper says his father killed him and then killed himself."
    “Oh, Larry, that's awful..."
    “It couldn't have happened that way. I've got to find out what happened."
    “Are you at work?"
    “No,” Fowler said. “I'm in a phone booth, corner of ... Sunset and some other street, can't see it."
    “Did you tell anybody at work you were leaving? It's still the morning—"
    “No,” he said.
    “Listen, Larry, I know you're upset—"
    “Shit, Dot, I'm scared! It couldn't have happened the way the paper said. I don't know how it could have happened, except there was something peculiar going on."
    “What?"
    “I don't know. I can't tell you over the phone.” He heard a doorbell on her end.
    “Larry, there's someone at the door. I've got to get a robe on and answer it. First you tell the people at work that you've had bad news, have to have a day off. Okay?"
    “Yes."
    “Then you come over here and tell me about it."
    “Of course."
    “See you soon. Drive careful."
    She hung up and he waited on the phone, too numb to put it back on the cradle. Then he shook his head and left the phone booth, looking this way and that to see which lot he'd parked his car in. The company had reserved spaces in two lots.
    He wouldn't tell the people at work. He would come back in the afternoon and explain he had had some crucial business to take care of. Right now he couldn't think straight, and he didn't want to make a scene in the office.
    He was standing by his car and could hardly remember walking there. His hand drew the keys from his pocket, coming first on the key to the cabin. He moved it aside and took the door key between his fingers.
    He had often wondered how he would feel when someone close to him died. Now it was here and he knew. For a moment it seemed ridiculous that he should believe a simple newspaper account. He hadn't seen the Taggarts dead. But he was confident in his sources of information. The chain of reporting in a case like this was too tight. They were dead. Father had killed son. That was it.
    That was not it. Death was theoretical, or had been. None of Fowler's close relatives had died, only distant cousins and great-uncles he had never met. He had grown up, gotten married and had two children without having to face the issue. And Vietnam didn't count—none of his buddies had died. He opened the door and climbed into the Datsun 280Z. The motor started with an irritated cough. He closed his eyes before backing out.
    And saw the burning moth, the gravel boar, the jabbing, indistinct tusks.
    Dorothy lived in a bungalow off Coldwater Canyon Road. He drove into a narrow, tree-hung passage leading to the twin garages at the rear of the Greene and Greene home. She met him on the back porch, a

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