The lower levels of Boylston Street were a charnel house. The blast doors to the secure underground section of the building had reopened on their own after slamming shut when something down there had set off the alarm a couple of hours ago. A truly freaky experience, if you asked me, even in my line of work. No one asked.
I went down there with my partner, Wolf Dieter, and a couple of the other Global International Trouble Consultant strike teams along with Jim Murphy, our fearless leader. Murphy looked like he should be an Irish cop in Victorian Boston, and he had all the prejudices they had too, from what I’ve found out over the years. It was part of the reason he didn’t like me, because I was one of the “colored” people. The other part was because I had been in prison. Asshole.
We were all armed to the teeth, so I wasn’t too worried about monsters. I was more worried about the blast doors slamming down again and not opening this time. They were made to hold in shit that I didn’t want to think about. I was also worried about our pet hacker, Keno Inuzaka, who had been on the wrong side of the doors. I wasn’t surprised when Wolf joined me in heading for Keno’s room.
Wolf was my partner on a lot of Global International assignments. He was in his mid-twenties, a German national who was in Boston because of trouble back home. I didn’t ask him about it, and he didn’t tell me. He was a good guy, for an ex-cop. The cop still showed in his buzzed blond hair and his formal manner. He made a good impression when we met the clients. I never did, being an ex-con. For some reason the scars and tats put people off, along with my lack of tact.
Global International was a mercenary organization that was actually a cover for a quasi-governmental agency, called the “Trust” of all things, which hunted monsters, those things that went bump in the night or whenever they fucking felt like it. Not just those monsters you saw out of Hollywood like vampires and werewolves, but creatures that made those things look like gentle lambs.
We didn’t always play by the rules, because the monsters didn’t. Keno was one of the people we’d broken the rules for.
Keno had been with us for a little over four years, since we’d caught him with his hand in the cookie jar, figuratively speaking. We’d been told to waste him if he caused trouble or bring him back if he didn’t. We ended up dragging back a fifteen-year-old Japanese college student who’d thought our database was part of a game site and hacked into it on a whim. It wasn’t that our security sucked that much; it was that he was that good. He’d gone through our security like it hadn’t been there. I found out later that Keno was some sort of brilliant computer genius who’d gotten a free ride at MIT because he was so smart.
After the first year, I was of the opinion that shooting him would have been better. Keno was a prisoner who never saw the sun and was never treated with anything vaguely resembling dignity. Since he’d been here, assholes had been dragging him out of his room during his off hours for whatever they wanted, mostly computer help or fixing a lab machine. Keno had been turned into after-hours support a few weeks after we brought him in. Not that Keno complained once he figured out what was going on; he just got quieter.
Lately, it had been kind of weird, the few times I had stumbled across it. Almost as soon as he got here, Keno figured out that protesting his treatment wouldn’t do any good. Wolf had protested recently, and it had backfired, getting Keno into more trouble. Wolf and I had been sent out to check out a lot of the Trust’s American offices after that one to cool us off.
We’d just gotten back to this mess after being out of the city for three months. Nice fucking coming home party.
“I’m worried,” Wolf said.
Murphy looked at the two of us. He was pissed because he thought we should be worrying about James Heiseg, the head of research here, and the other people who had been caught down here. People, in his opinion, who were the ones that counted, not a gook programmer who should be thankful he was alive―his words. I stopped Wolf from slugging him, even though I wanted to as well. Murphy looked shocked. I guess he didn’t realize what Keno meant to Wolf or me. I felt responsible for the kid because I had gotten him into this mess; Wolf was about the only friend the kid had. Not too good for the head of security not to figure either of those things out.
We got down to C level and Keno’s quarters without too much trouble. There was enough blood, guts, and body parts splattered around that level to make three horror movies, and we didn’t see anyone left alive. There was a faint trail of gore leading to Keno’s room from the main area, the offices, and labs, stuff that got tracked there more than someone getting killed there. I wasn’t surprised to see that the place was broken up when we got to it. Not from a fight, but from someone’s temper tantrum, it looked like. It was mostly Keno’s books tossed around and the models he had built broken.
“By the numbers,” I told Wolf, trying to calm him down. “No body parts here.”
There had been enough of them scattered about in the main area. What had happened here hadn’t been caused by the monsters. A human one, probably, because Heiseg was one of the ones who had been after Keno’s unprotected ass, and it was for more than Excel help. But no one would believe me when I said that, not even Wolf.
Wolf knew Heiseg was a bastard, but he was a straight bastard. I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him that rape was about power more than sex, because I didn’t want the damned Boy Scout to know he couldn’t protect Keno. I knew Keno was doing all right, because I had someone keeping tabs on him for me while I was gone, but I also knew it was only a matter of time before Keno wasn’t going to be okay. My putting the word out about him being under my protection had kept the worst of the predators off him, but there was only so much I could do if I wasn’t around.
“No blood,” Wolf said, relief coloring his voice. “He’s probably someplace else, safe.”
I checked the bathroom on the off chance he was hiding in there, and we went to explore the rest of the place. The monsters―Hákarl―were dead, torn apart by something else. Hákarl were fucking walking stomachs really, never stopped eating and weren’t too picky about what was on the menu, even if it was each other, but I didn’t think that was what had happened here. All that was here was the mess they’d left behind, mostly gnawed on techs with a couple of survivors. Not that they were of any use to us, because they were babbling wildly until the medics hit them with some happy juice. They shut up, and I was sure we weren’t going to be getting anything useful out of them about what had happened when they woke up again. There also were the bits of Hákarl scattered about, and I had no idea what had taken them out. I didn’t like that.
There was still no Keno, which was beginning to worry me. We found that asshole Heiseg, though. He was very dead, and I was kind of happy about that, because I never had liked the man for a lot of reasons besides what he was doing to Keno. He was half dressed, his pants falling off his hips and his shirt unbuttoned. I didn’t like that. He also looked softer and more puddingish than usual with blood tricking from his eyes, mouth, ears, and nose.
“Check to see if he wasn’t doing something odd,” I muttered to Goose, one of the medics. Goose had been here longer than me and Wolf. He had an air about him like he had seen it all and nothing surprised him anymore. My request seemed to surprise him.
“Huh?” he asked.
Wolf looked at Heiseg and nodded. “See if he was attacked.”
I shook my head. “See if the bastard raped anyone, was what I was thinking.”
Murphy was glaring at us for still worrying about Keno, and I saw a couple of sessions with the company’s head-shrinking psych in our future. Wolf scowled at Murphy, and we headed down to the server level, taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Keno might be hiding down there; it had been his favorite hiding place before we’d been sent offsite, but I was losing hope in finding him. But Keno wasn’t among the dead, so where was he?
“Where’s the Junge?” Wolf muttered, echoing my thoughts.
I glanced around. No body parts or bodies. No blood really, not like it was on the upper floors. It was all splatter, like a dog had shaken himself down here. Or several big dogs, from the mess on the walls. “He escaped?”
Wolf glared, knowing that was impossible. “I wish,” he finally admitted.
Wolf was the one who noticed that there seemed to have been more than a couple of monsters down here recently, someone who was wearing sandals and another someone who was barefoot. Both could be Keno, from the size of the prints. But who was the second person? An intruder? Another survivor? It wasn’t like we could get an accurate count on people with all the body parts scattered around.
We got into the server room, which was where all the tracks stopped, right at the door. It was eerie. I half expected to see a horde of the whatevers that had killed the Hákarl behind the door, and there was nothing, just all those machines just humming along happily like they had been working all evening. The fucking things had been off for hours and had turned themselves back on right before the blast doors opened. I didn’t know much about computers, but I knew they weren’t supposed to do that. Wolf and I stared at each other in confusion.
“I don’t think that Keno is here,” Wolf finally said after a few minutes of silence.
I thought about the last few years of the kid’s life; I thought about my time in prison. “And I think that it’s a good thing.”
I was aware of the cameras that were probably recording every damning thing I was going to say and still didn’t care. “The kid didn’t see the sun or get treated right for as long as we’d had him. There were times that I think that it would have been better if we’d kacked the kid.”
“I know,” Wolf said quietly.
Wolf had spent a lot of time with Keno, watching movies and trying to be a friend to him because he spoke Japanese. I knew about three words in it and none of them polite. I’d have done it even with the language issue, but Keno was scared of me. He’d probably seen my prison record―double homicide and twenty years in a maximum security prison before I was “cleared” by the Trust in exchange for doing their dirty work―so I didn’t blame him for being wary around me. Let me just tell you that it wasn’t killing humans that got me in trouble. The people I supposedly killed had been monsters that just looked human, and those were the ones the authorities had been able to charge me with killing. I had been a suspect in couple more killings, but there hadn’t been enough evidence to charge me with those. All those killings had been monsters, passing as humans.
“We just got to think about where he might be,” I said. “Because he sure in hell isn’t here, and he didn’t walk past us on the way out. So where the fuck did Keno and those other monsters disappear to?”