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Саймон Грин «The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny»

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Автор Саймон Грин

Simon R. Green

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

EPILOGUE

Simon R. Green

The Good,the Bad and the Uncanny

The good, the bad, and the uncanny. We're all in there somewhere. This is the Nightside.

Hidden away deep in the hollow heart of London is another city, another world, another reality. Where it's always night, always dark, always three o'clock in the morning; the hour that tries men's souls. Rain-slick streets, gaudy neon signs the exact colours of childhood candy we always knew was bad for us. Bars and clubs and private establishments, where you can find everything you're not supposed to want. Love for sale on every street-corner, love, or something like it. And the constant roar of traffic that never, ever stops.

Angels and demons lurk in shadowed alleyways, arranging deals and making decisions never to be shared with Humankind. Nightmares go walking in borrowed flesh, and not everything that looks back at you with human eyes is really human. Who watches the watchmen? Who preys on the predators? Who gives a damn, in the night that never ends?

I'm John Taylor, private investigator. Tall, dark of eye, and handsome enough at a distance. I take the cases no-one else will touch, because I have a special gift for finding things. Most of my clients say they want me to find the truth; but they don't always mean it. I wear a long white trench coat, like a knight in cold armour; and I have fought monsters, in my time.

You can find monsters in the Nightside, and gods, too, if they don't find you first. Forbidden knowledge, appalling pleasures, sex and death and everything in between; all yours for the asking. As long as you remember: buyer beware. If you can't spot the patsy in the deal, it's almost certainly you.

This is the Nightside. Don't say you weren't warned.

ONE

Into the Dragon's Mouth I was out and about that night, taking my trench coat for a walk, when a sudden fog came rolling down the street towards me like a grim grey tidal wave. I stopped, and studied its progress cautiously.

. We don't get many fogs, in the Nightside. We get lots of rain, and thunder-storms, and the occasional hail of frogs, but we don't really do weather, as such. Weather and seasons are part of the natural order of the world, and we don't really do natural either. So a sudden fog always means trouble for someone.

People on the street were already running ahead of the fog, or disappearing into sheltering doorways, as the thick pearl grey wall rolled relentlessly on, enveloping clubs and shops and soaking up the neon light, till only the merest Technicolor glints showed through, like so many half-blinded eyes. A growing silence moved with the fog as it ate up all the life and laughter in the street. I could see dim shapes moving, caught in the thick mists, struggling slowly like insects caught in hardening amber. The fog smeared itself across shop-windows, filling the night and hanging heavily on the air, surging forward in sudden, billowing clouds. Up close, the pearly grey mists were full of shimmering sparks and uncertain shapes that came and went in a moment. I seriously considered running.

This had all the makings of a flux fog.

Such things are dangerous. A flux fog means the corners of the world aren't properly nailed down any more, and reality is up for grabs. Inside a flux fog, all certainties are thrown into question, and all the possibilities that ever were are suddenly made equal. Take the wrong turning, in a grey world where every turn looks just like every other, and you could end up walking out of the fog into a whole new place. With no guarantee you'll ever find a way home again. Everything looks blurred and out of focus in a flux fog because you're seeing a dozen different dimensions, a hundred possibilities, for every object or person or direction. People and places can change subtly even as you approach them; familiar faces can become strangers, and in the blink of an eye you're trapped in a world that never knew you. The only real defence against a flux fog is not to be there when one manifests.

I should have known better than to be out and about on such a night. The weather forecast had been Changeable, with a side order of On your own head be it. But I felt the need to go out, to walk up and down the Nightside, to see what there was to be seen and think a few very private thoughts. Some thoughts can only be properly considered when you've removed yourself from your comfort zone. A melancholy had come upon me over a period of weeks, and I wasn't sure why ...

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