Jump to content


Recommended Posts

It was quiet, too quiet.

Eric Hutton drummed his fingers on the desk. With pre-production underway on The Red Devil Murders his publisher wanted him to be out in public; publicity would help the release of a new movie edition of the book. But Hutton was not an attention seeker or club goer by nature and the nova scene was in a lull. There hadn't been anything recently that he felt comfortable getting involved in.

Casework was slow too. There were always people who wanted his help, of course. But Hutton had rules about the kind of cases he'd take on and nothing viable was on his table at the moment. He didn't allow himself to be bought. He wasn't in the business of giving false hope to desperate people, though he wasn't above taking on a thin lead. He wasn't inclined to act as a mediator in peoples' domestic issues, though he would find runaways if he thought the home situation was going to stabilize.

Hutton checked his OpMail account again, the private one he used for personal correspondence. One new message:

From: Preston <prestonct@bpd.boston.ma.us>

To: Eric Hutton <efhutton@angelcity.com>

Subject: Re: Heads Up

Congrats on getting through the legal hassles. No bad vibes in the ether out here, other than the Myers family still hates your guts. I'll keep you posted if anything changes.



Serve and Protect.



>RDM got settled by the lawyers, at last. The movie's on. Let

>me know if you see anything coming that might be related.

> Movies mean publicity and serial killer publicity tends to

>breed copycats.


>Eric Hutton

On the one hand, Hutton was relieved to hear that Boston was quiet, even though clairvoyance had been of no use in catching Thompkins six and a half years earlier. The mention of the Myers family was the dull ache of an old wound.

Charlene Myers was the third woman killed by Peter Thompkins during his murder spree. She had been a law student and a paralegal and had attracted Thompkins' attention by selling out one of her employer's client's files to cover her law school tuition. Hutton hadn't been the one to reveal her crime to the media but his book had publicized it more than any other source. It was such an essential piece of the case that there'd been no way to gloss over it. Her family hadn't seen it that way.

Although he'd been accused of it regularly, Hutton was not a publicity hound. He genuinely enjoyed writing for its own sake and he liked making sure that those who deserved it were remembered according to who they were. Also, the royalties allowed him to pick and choose his cases without regard to how much people were able to pay. And if his own high profile enabled the victims' families to sell their own stories at a higher rate, so much the better. Three families had sent children to college and a fourth had saved their house due to such deals.

Hutton switched to flipping through news feeds. Things were in motion in the Congo that might touch off a new round of elite warfare there; if it happened, it would be bloody. On N!, some talking head was laughing about the fact that Calgary's new civic defender hadn't embarrassed herself recently. Jesus H. God, that kid can't win for losing with those jackals, Hutton thought to himself. The rest of the channels were just empty daytime=talk chatter.

After a few minutes' fruitless channel-surfing, Hutton sprang to his feet and grabbed his car keys. I'm gonna go stir crazy if I don't find something to do. Let's see what the City of Angels has to offer...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hutton slid the car through traffic, anticipating and compensating for the other cars on the road. He lived in L.A. and he'd grown up in Atlanta; actually the suburb of Dunwoody. The two cities were very different but they shared one main similarity: Anybody who was anybody drove everywhere and each city had the traffic to prove it. The smog, too, before the hypercombustion engine had come along.

People often didn't believe him when he told them his home town, mainly because he didn't talk like either a Dukes of Hazzard character or a hip-hop wannabe. His grandparents had come from small towns in rural Georgia and had sounded like it. His parents still had a bit of a drawl. But Eric and his big sister had grown up in an urban setting around too much TV and too many out-of-state immigrants to keep the old southern accent.

Rebecca. He hadn't spoken to his sister in years. One traditional trait she had inherited was southern religion and she shared it with her husband. They were very Southern Baptist and not far from being Michaelites in their view of novas. That made the holidays awkward, to say the least. They actually took turns seeing their parents because her prick of a husband Chuck wouldn't be in the same house as a nova at the same time. Eric knew they had three kids he'd never been allowed to meet, twin girls and a younger son. But other than his prejudice he was supposed to be a good husband and father, so for his sister's sake Eric let it go.

For Eric, the nova phenomenon had been different. He was already in college at UCLA when the Galatea fell and N-Day hit. For him and his peers, novas were new and exciting. Two years later, of course, he'd become one. His parents were cautiously excited, overjoyed that he'd survived his wilderness ordeal. Rebecca was horrified, convinced that he'd bought his mortal life at the cost of his immortal soul.

Jesus H. God, Rebecca. Hutton snickered. He'd invented that expression as a teenager just to get on his sister's nerves; double the blasphemy, double the fun. Now it was old habit. Of course, being a walking, talking antichrist (little c; yes, there's a difference) kind of took the fun out of a little name-taking-in-vain. Still, he imagined that Becca would hold each and every utterance against him, whether she heard them or not.

Hutton slid the car into the valet spot at Star Lord's and climbed out. The valet looked sober and coordinated enough so Hutton let him have the car. It wasn't high-end by L.A. standards and positively quaint for the rich and famous but he liked it. He gave the paps an easy smile as he walked in, cameras clicking away. He was a nova with a public profession, it was a public place and he was associated with recent news, so by L.A. rules he was fair game. He ignored most of the shouted remarks and questions, until one caught his ear:

"Mr. Hutton, is it true that you've been offered a place in the Portman administration?" This from a young man shooting video with an op-phone.

What the hell? He turned to face the questioner. "Excuse me?"

"There's a rumor going around that you're in line for a job with the Portman administration, DHS, FBI, Justice, something along those lines."

Best to nip this in the bud right now, I guess. Hutton felt the tingle of a small amount of quantum from the space behind his eyes, modulating his voice and expression and shaping his words for maximum impact. "It's the first I've heard of it. Look, first of all, I don't have any experience in government administration or the career gravitas for that kind of position. Second, while we're both novas, I've never even met President Portman and we differ on a number of policy issues I'm not going to go into. It's really unlikely he'd even want me for a job. It's just an empty rumor. Okay, guys?" Hutton got a general murmur of assent and went on inside.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...