wreckers gate-create space
True to his word, Rome left an hour or so before dawn. He looked grim and resolute in the light of their fire as he stuck the knife in his belt and bid them goodbye. They followed, of course. All of them in a tight knot. They couldn’t help themselves. They were drawn after him like iron filings in the wake of a magnet.
They followed him through the maze of the Warrens until the protective walls ended and the bulk of the city wall loomed in the distance. To the east the sky was just growing light. Between the edge of the Warrens and the Pits was an open space, a stone’s throw across, a no-man’s land. Broken timbers stuck up from the earth like shards of bone; pieces of brick and broken wheels were mixed in with fluttering bits of rag. Rome paused there. Just beyond the open space lurked the wreckage that was Dirty Henry’s home. Maybe a dozen rooms, two stories. The doors were gone or hung crookedly. One whole corner had simply fallen down and from the way the thing swayed in the wind that had sprung up, soon the rest would follow suit.
Rome set his shoulders, drew his knife and started across. But no further did the rest of them follow. Here they were still offered some measure of safety. Out there was none.
Quyloc watched him go, despising himself for not going too. Despising Rome for going and exposing him for the coward that he was. Afraid suddenly that Henry would get Rome and take away Quyloc’s only chance, his only hope. Rome was nearly across the open stretch when Quyloc suddenly jerked out from the safety of the pack and lurched after him.
The ground seemed to rise up and try to stop him. He tripped over unseen things in the dark pools that resisted the coming morning. Sharp points jabbed his legs and the air was thick with the foul odor of the Pits. He fell several times and came up the last time clutching a heavy chunk of wood, full of splinters. Gripping it in both hands he ran on.
When he reached the doorway to the place, Rome was nowhere to be seen. He stood there, framed by the darkness, unable to move his legs. His breathing was harsh and loud, too loud. He couldn’t go in, couldn’t go back. Even now Dirty Henry was circling around behind him, waiting to grab him from behind. Rome was already dead.
Quyloc lurched forward, moving his legs blindly. He gripped the club tightly, feeling the splinters dig into his hands. His heart had stopped. He couldn’t feel his legs at all. Dirty Henry was reaching for him. He wanted to scream but there was no air in his lungs.
After an eternity he came to a doorway lit by a dim glow. He crept up and peered around the edge. Dirty Henry was in there, curled up in his greatcoat by the embers of a dying fire. Rome was there too, not sneaking like Quyloc, but striding across the room until he stood over the sleeping man.
Wreckers Gate