Something about the voice which came from out of the air itself, seemed to give a pulse, a beat of blood flow, to this place. A spark of nervous energy along the canyons of the city . A jaded serenade to the night.

He didn't mind the voice. After the ceaseless jangle of the voices in the day's hours, this one seemed to swamp them all out. Rhythm in discord, strangely satisfying to the warped twists within the soul.

Something about the voice tonight - attracted his attention more than ever before.

He remembered - that he had always liked hearing that voice, here in the warrens of mortals.  

Tonight -there seemed just an extra edge to that voice, which made him lift his head, his teeth gleaming in the dark.  

"The dark seems to be hungry tonight, children. Take care where you step, and keep yourselves cloaked in the light as far as possible.  

"They found another shell-o'-the-dead today, people. They've been broadcasting th' results of th' find all day, while ol' Vector's been tryin' to sleep. The dogs of sensational true-crime have been out howling around all your neighbourhoods, and they don't particularly care if your shiny jarked-up faces are next on tomorrow's breakfast eye-spike trans.

"In fact, they'd look forward to it, th' rodents. It's ratings time, again, and whoever's husking Kerav's population one at a time is answering all the wildest prayers of the bureau boys.

 "T'hell with this. Like I said, I didn't get enough sleep today. Walk your own walk, people -that's what your destiny is mapped for. If I see what's left of you tomorrow over my bowl of crunchies -I'll shed a tear.  

"The dark is hungry tonight.

 "And I'm putting on th' theme of doom for all your listening pleasure, riqht now. Even death needs a sound track, now and then.

 Oh, yes, so very right, Vector Jones.  

Death has a music all its own. What greater beauty is there, then the hum of a killer as the prey shrieks red into the night? Death is a dance, and the dance must have its own, sweet, savage symphony.  

This ageless enforcer, this Guardian of the Bounds of Time -was hungry .

 To the driving rhythms of the music of the night, Securio lunged, to satisfy that hunger.

 At just the right moment, the death scream became the music, then faded away in harmony.

 As the music drifted away, that voice returned.

 " Why do I have th' feeling another of you has gone, children ? Why do I have the feeling that the night just got emptied of a bit more of the future?

 "The seccers are starting to flock, children. Hide your sins, and lay low for now, 'cause there'll be another sideshow in th' morning. Dammit, all those old bastards were right, all those centuries ago, when they wrote the stuff to scare the children right back into their beds:

 "'Something wicked this way comes. .."

 7.30 am

"I don't like what's going on."


A pause. A breath puffed around the aromatic tang of a cigar.  

"Are you back on 'stupid' pills, or did your mother drop you on your head fresh out of the hovercot?" A stubby hand, the lines softened and blurred by a mix of age and the spice of living, waved about in the blue smoke haze, carving crazy patterns in the floating fumes.

Tight, pinched features beyond the choking veil tried extremely hard not to cough. Hoped like mad that the eyes wouldn't water, that the sinuses wouldn't well up like a child's and spoil the professional air he tried so very hard to cultivate. Especially in this office.

"The killings. I don't like this, Porter. I don't like it at all." The end of the cigar glowed as red-orange as the heart of a sun for a moment, as the smoker inhaled, carelessly. Then, the cigar acted as a pointer. "And I don't like that," as the embered end waved vaguely toward the muted colours of a chan- screen silently declaring the news of another killing from out of the depths of Moloch Town.

"Fix it," came the command.

"Sorry, sir?"

"Make sure," another puff, "that I don't see all that again when I get up tomorrow and turn on the screen."

"Uh, sir? I don't really see what I could possibly do about -"

 "If you want to continue working for me, Porter," came a silky response, and Porter paled.

"Yes, sir," Porter said, and backed away, only turning when he was halfway across the room, shaking slightly as he heard the pressure door hiss shut behind him.