Today we take readers across the border … of sanity. Enjoy.
I had chased it to Mexico. I didn’t want to head that far south. Certain elements looked upon what I did as grave robbing. It didn’t occur to them that the things I took made it harder for the Nameless Ones to make it through an entirely different set of borders. You have to believe They exist to even understand this, so I couldn’t blame the ignorant. I could mostly avoid them, but not when it came to tracking down one particular amulet.
The heat in the bar plastered my thick silver hair to my forehead. I took off my Panama and drew a forearm across my brow. “Una cerveza, por favor.” The local brew was wicked, but it was better than drinking the water.
The bartender slid it into my hand. “No welcome here.” His voice was a rasping growl.
I looked up, paying attention for the first time. His eyes were as black as the Void. There was no sclera, no iris—only pupil. I took a long pull on the beer. If this was going to go bad, damn if I was going to die thirsty. “Mi dinero es muy bueno.”
“No welcome here.” The bartender’s shoulders expanded, ripping his shirt at the seams. Black tentacles sprouted through tanned skin.
I heard the groans coming from behind me. They sounded like they came through saw-edged teeth.
I reached to the small of my back with both hands and pulled the .38s from their custom holsters. The guns spat death, and these things were still human enough for the bullets to have an effect. By the time hammers fell on empty chambers, I was the only man left standing—the only man at all. The bodies that hit the floor looked like men, but I knew better. The barrier here had been thinned so as to make almost no difference. I reloaded the pistols one at a time and holstered them.
I left once I finished the beer. The sun outside was still brutal. In spite of the brightness, I could see the cop cars waiting for me.
“Señor. Put down your weapons. This doesn’t have to end badly.” The head of the local constabulary spoke incredibly good English.
“You don’t understand. I have to find the amulet. They used it to summon the Nameless Ones. They killed my family. I can only close the portal if I have it. I can’t let you stop me.”
“Señor Taylor, we found your family. You killed them, sí? You’re not who you think you are. We can get you the help you need. Just put down your guns.”
They, too, had been corrupted. I had no choice. My hands went again to my pistols. They cleared their holsters, but not in time.
As I lay in a pool of my own blood, I saw the things who wore the skins of men and uniforms of cops coming at me. I just hoped I’d die before they could cage my soul and chain my mind.