Chapter Seven: Exit

(Cuss contribution: Zachariah Wagstaff)

Hood grapples fierce in me ear. ‘Wot?… wot they saying, cabbage…?’

‘Editor! Editor! The Editor.’ They’re at fever pitch, but in the meantime me heart quietens. It’s not the Word.

But The Nameless ain’t quiet. She’s running faster now, chucking the stick people out of the way. Sprinting towards the bridge support, not taking her eyes off the Poet, Kimiel. The other fella, the one I don’t recognise, turns his back to the crowd as their sticky chant starts to change, “E-di-tor… Feed and rise…” He half-turns back at ‘em. Smiles with a grimace, like an executioner about to the grease the noose. He’s drawing something on the bridge support. His arm swoops, up and down and round. He draws the sign: &

Noise from both ends of the bridge.  Screeching wheels and pumping sirens. Stops the Nameless dead. Those ain’t cosy sounds for a Grunt or a thief, and I’m both. I don’t need Hood hissing in me lughole, telling me “Time to disappear, chou-chou, FAST!” I’m already scouting round for ways to get the yell outta here.

Bike’s still sprawled on the floor. Give that the kiss of life and that’s an exit route right there. Put me weight under it and feel the force of words in me gut again. “Push. Up!” I stagger the bustword thing upright and get ready to ride the froke out of this spitshow. Until Hood draws me attention to a flaw in the plan, “Ignition, dumbask!” There ain’t no key to start this thing with.

I look round to take stock. It’s bad. Dropper trucks at the back of the skinny-rib crowd. Droppers with rhinos’ necks and rhinos’ brains, hazlang suits covering them from heads to hooves. Unloading something like crates… wot are those shabby looking things?

Hood’s got an answer. It ain’t a good one. “Coffins, cabbage, coffins for the rebels on this bridge. And make no mistake. They’ll have one spare for you.”

Eight-legs gotta point. I swivel round for another exit route and me gaze runs slap bang into The Nameless. She’s staring right back at me. She’s clambered up on to the platform where Kimiel and The Editor are standing.

Car screeches to a halt right by the bridge support, scattering the crowd like matchwood. The Nameless unmoving, still as the grave between Kimiel and The Editor. Her peepers still locked on me, like I’m the only target in her sites.

The car doors slam. Two bods step out. A boy and girl, about the same age as Kimiel. Girl’s is a goth-punk pic ‘n’ mix of bad dreams.  Yer couldn’t miss her. Eyes dark with nightmares. Silver-flecked black hair, the colour of a misty dawn.  Boy’s cut from a different sack altogether. A cocky little gobspit nerd if ever I clapped eyes on one. Done up snug ‘n’ smug. Thin leather jacket over a t-shirt with a dotty pattern on the chest. I know what those dots say too – ain’t that somethink for a Grunt who couldn’t speak this morning?  ‘Genius’ is what the dots say. Yeah, right little gobspit.

“All Mortlangue’s little monsters on the same bridge!” hoots Hood. He’s right too. The girl’s Siren, the Cursers’ Silvertongue. Kerey belongs to the Hacks. Who they here to kill?

The Nameless looks down at Kerey and Siren. She presses back against Kimiel. The Editor’s started to climb up the service ladder. Where’s he heading? Car door opens again and another one gets out. This time it ain’t no Silvertongue.  This fella is a creepy streak of white. His moves are slow, deliberate. Like ice freezing. Even at this distance, I can see his chill pass straight through The Nameless, stiffening her stance, seizing up her muscles at the sight of this bod. Who is he? Some high-ranking Dropper, an Amanui, or some other bilge?

Whoever the cant is, he’s got The Nameless scared.

She spins, grabs hold of the Poet and shoves him off the platform. That’s his neck snapped if he lands bad… he’s still falling.  Now she’s looking right at me again, eyes blazing. Reaches inside the folds of her big black coat. Has she got a shooter? Her hand whips out. She raises her arm, and then somethink’s whistling through the air, straight for me.

Punches hard in me fist, but I’ve caught it. I uncurl me paw. The dog-tag attached to the ignition key.  And my cue to exit in any which way I can.

To be continued… subscribe below…

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