Red Equinox

Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne Read Free Book Online

Book: Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne Read Free Book Online
Authors: Douglas Wynne
cunning-folk who had burned at the stake centuries later for merely possessing a list of their names and attributes. So much suffering for what amounted to an opening act.
    “I have a job for you, Gordon.”
    “Anything,” he said, still holding out the key, waiting for the boss to take it.
    “Put that key in your pocket and take it halfway to hell. Do you know where that is?”
    The young man laughed. “Sure,” he said. “I mean, yessir.”
    Charobim turned and silently tapped the desktop with the palm of his hand. “And don’t lose the gum,” he said, “You’re going to need it.”
    Charobim showed Gordon exactly what to do; an image flashed in the man’s mind.
    Gordon Shea’s final act before abandoning his post and strolling out into the night with his Velcro ankle weights and bicycle security chain in his hands was to press the elevator button for the boss.
    *   *   *
    On the fourth floor the pharaoh walked through the solid mahogany door of unit 72. His feet were clad in sheepskin loafers, but no footsteps echoed in the sparsely furnished suite as he strolled across the gleaming hardwood floor; nothing changed when he stepped onto the plush white carpet and passed the fireplace on his way to the big window overlooking Kenmore Square and the antique vanity on the south wall. Recessed lights cast their full-spectrum illumination over a white leather couch, white armchairs, and white curtains. It was museum-quality light, and it seemed wasted on blank walls. Charobim doubted that Darius Marlowe would hang art when he moved in. The young scientist was fiercely loyal, but to say that he lacked culture would be putting it mildly. Charobim looked down at the foot traffic and streaming headlights on the street below. The red neon pyramid of the Citgo sign loomed over the square, reminding him of home in the crassest possible way; and despairing at the cheapness of the symbol, he shifted the focus of his eyes to his own reflection. His hair had settled around the ridged black horns. He smiled, a white crescent hanging in the sky.
    Nereus Charobim, the Black Pharaoh, avatar of Nyarlathotep, thought of old acquaintances. King Solomon, Pontius Pilate, Franz Mesmer, Harry Houdini.
    Houdini had been a fake, but he’d at least never made serious claims to the royal arte. Macgregor Mathers and Helena Blavatsky on the other hand…well, let’s just say Mathers was no Hermes Trismegistus.
    The last time Charobim had visited this city, a city known as “The Hub,” even though those who used the moniker had no idea how true it was, he had been just one of many souls gathered on a Beltane morning to watch Harry Houdini, bound in manacles, jump from the Harvard Bridge into the frigid waters of the Charles River, where he managed to shed his chains while holding his breath. May 1, 1908 that had been. Escape Artist they had called Houdini. That, more than magician , had become his identity by the time he performed the death-defying stunt to draw rubes to his two-week run at Keith’s Theatre.
    As Charobim approached the antique vanity, he ruminated on the fact that he too had begun his career as a magician and was now a kind of escape artist. Only his aeon-long feat had more to do with helping others escape their manacles. In any event, it was fitting that one cog turning in that cosmic lock was now riding a bicycle across the Harvard Bridge, perhaps coasting to a stop with a pump of the handbrake at this very moment, and preparing to pay homage to Houdini’s daring dive.
    The concierge would be slicing into the dark water like a dropped knife, the Velcro ankle weights he wore on his morning bicycle commute dragging his body down into the weedy blackness of the river. Picturing the body piercing the glassy water, Charobim exhaled and glided into the beveled, ironbound mirror, and made himself at home.

Chapter 5
    Darius Marlowe was used to dreaming in the language of numbers: square roots, prime

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