Read Mortal Lock Online

Authors: Andrew Vachss

Tags: #Collections & Anthologies, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction, #Suspense, #Thrillers, #General

Mortal Lock (42 page)

ACE

How much do you—?

CANDY

Have you been lying to me, Ace. All this time, lying?

ACE

Lying? I never once—

CANDY

Then you’re not taking two-fifty; you’re taking the whole stash. And you’re taking
me
, too.

Ace just stares at her
.

CANDY

All in, mister.
All
in. That means you
and
me, right?

FADE TO BLACK

Open on a shot of moving through barely lit tunnels to …

INT: A small cave, obviously built for transient business, the equivalent of a cheap motel. Ace and Candy are sitting together on the floor mat
.

ACE

I took a good look around. They keep the Traxyls in little clear Jexan cages before the fights, so the Gamblers can look them over. The cages have slots in the back, so all the Handlers have to do is reach in and shove them into the pit once they throw the switch.

CANDY

You have one picked?

ACE

It’s too early, honey. For a move like this, you can’t be wrong.

CANDY

Our
move.

ACE

(patting her shoulder)

Our move. But we have to stay with the system, little girl. People, not Traxyls. So—

CANDY

So this is where
I
come in! It can’t be one bet; it’s got to be a lot of them, and you can’t place them all. Anyway, I already know what you’re going to do.

ACE

(smiling)

Yeah?

CANDY

(as if reciting a lesson)

People, not Traxyls. This is the last of the fights, so it’s the last chance for the Gamblers to make that one big score. That means they’re all going to be looking for the long shot, because they don’t have that many credits to start with. What good is a two-to-one win going to do them … keep them alive for another couple of cycles? And if they lose, they’re going to … chase, you call it, right?

ACE

(proud of her)

Oh yeah. If they lose a hundred credits on one fight; they’ll bet two hundred on the next one, the fools. None of the Takers know you. Just be patient, wait until the last minute … that’s when the odds are going to
jump
, because all the sucker money will be on the long shots … which will make them the favorites. Then
we
go long on the Traxyls that
should
have been the favorites. They’d expect a girl to do that, anyway.

FADE OUT

INT: A circular Traxyl pit
.

Two Traxyls are stationed across from one another, in their cages. The audience is still betting, as Takers move from one person to another in response to waves of betting cards
.

A high, humming noise fills the entire area
.

An army of children are coming through a back tunnel, holding hands. The noise is coming from them. This is not a noise they are
making;
it is an emanation of some kind. Should be clear that no one child could make this sound—only the gestalt of their mutual presence can produce it
.

Two of the older children separate from the rest. One boy; one girl. Each walks over to a Traxyl cage and calmly throws it open
.

Instead of charging each other, the Traxyls rush into the audience, which scatters in panic
.

All the children are now opening cages as the high, humming noise increases
.

The freed Traxyls are ripping apart every human in sight … except the children
.

The man we know as Father appears. He blows into some kind of flutelike instrument. No sound comes out, but both the children and the Traxyls stop moving
.

The children immediately start walking back the way they came. The Traxyls follow. Not chasing the children, walking alongside of them, as if they belong
.

ACE

I see it now, little girl.
There’s
our bet.

He stands up, holds out his hand
.

ACE

All in? You and me?

CANDY

(taking his hand)

Let’s go home, honey. Where we belong.

Ace and Candy begin to follow the children. A couple of the Traxyls suddenly whirl around to face them
.

The humming noise sounds
.

As if summoned, the Traxyls turn around. They follow the children. Ace and Candy move quickly to catch up with them
.

They pass the Traxyls and walk with the children, still holding hands. A different child reaches up and takes each of their other hands
.

FADE OUT on blackness, illuminated only by a sign, glowing in luminescent blue:

WHAT LIES OUTSIDE
IS NO LIE
HONOR IS THE ONLY ARMOR
THE FINAL FIGHT
IS TO COME INTO THE LIGHT

FADE TO BLACK

COME IN ON

INT: Gathering hall

MAN AT PODIUM

(clearly preparing to depart, bows briefly)

I thank you for your patience. The Book of the Path is talk. For talk to become truth, one must walk. You will follow what you will. I must follow my father.

for Lorraine

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