Chapter 1: Heavy Metal




the clocks were striking thirteen
we shall meet in the place where there is no darkness

Rake Dalters awakens to the sound of heavy metal music. The same clip on repeat, someone screaming over a harsh guitar riff. After a few minutes he figures out that it's a ringtone. He rolls over and catches a slab of light thrusting in through the crack in the curtains. Everything inside his skull erupts in pain. The pulsing residue from a late night. He sits up in bed, clutching his head, and glances at the clock. Too early. He must have blacked out. He stands up and starts to amble toward the bathroom.

He is yawning when he trips over her body.

A woman, late 20's. Red hair, the kind girls spend a couple benjamins to acquire. Totally naked, no other marks except a small barcode tattoo on her wrist.

He doesn't remember her at all.

He bends down and gives her a shake, then checks her pulse. No activity. But the body is still warm. He casts around for her clothing and finds her jeans, turns the pockets out. Nothing. Only a cell phone in the back pocket. This must have been the one that woke him. He needs to find out who this woman is, figure out what happened. Calling the cops could come later.

Did the person calling know she was here?

The phone is locked, awaiting a four-digit passcode.

"Damn." He sets the phone aside and returns his attention to the girl. Her face doesn't look familiar at all. He lifts her wrist and takes a closer look at the tattoo. It's a barcode logo from a metal band called Zero First. He'd heard of them. This woman liked the band enough to get a tattoo, and if his guess was correct, it had been her ringtone also.

  • Zero First Barcode

    The tattoo.

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