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Chapter 31 The Future

  • In a street of nightmares, Spyder saw the Black Clerks.
  • The street had been roofed over, like the souks of Morocco. The soun_ttracted Spyder to the spot, a strange and deliberate animal wail—scream_xtracted with mechanical precision.
  • Inside the dark, cramped street was a gallery of horrors. Men turned ove_onfires on huge metal spits. Women were crushed under rolling boulder_tudded with surgical blades. Children screamed as spiders and over-sized ant_ore at their young flesh. Terrified people were tormented up and down th_ength of the street, shrieking and tearing at the arms of passersby as the_ere chased by snarling animals or angry mobs. Spyder took a breath an_eminded himself that none of this was real. It was just the collectiv_emories of bad dreams, the night terrors these poor saps could never forget.
  • It reminded him of paintings by Bruegel and Goya, and, while he tried to wor_is way around the thought and not let it invade his consciousness, th_emories of the paintings made him think of the underworld. If this is wha_ell was going to be like, Spyder wasn't sure he could take it. Of course, h_as going to be blindfolded so, unlike here, he wouldn't have to actually loo_t Hell. It was a small comfort, but Spyder was ready for any comfort he coul_et.
  • At the far end of the street, Spyder spotted the Black Clerks. At first, h_ook them to be part of another nightmare and stopped to watch them pullin_he guts out of a cop who had been crucified across a writhing pile of drug-
  • starved junkies, their withered limbs (oozing pus and blood from runnin_ores) strained against the barbed wire that held them together. The hea_lerk, the one who always held the reptile-skin ledger, looked at Spyder an_eckoned him over.
  • "You are quite a long way from home?" said the Clerk, in his peculiar singson_adence.
  • "You see me. I thought you were someone's bad dream."
  • "We're as real as you?"
  • "How about him? Is he real, too?" asked Spyder, inclining his head toward th_ormented cop.
  • "He thought he could escape us," said the Clerk. "Sometimes it is not enoug_o take what is ours from the body, but to insinuate ourselves in the mind an_emory. A warning and object lesson for others? This is our burden."
  • Spyder started to walk away.
  • "I hope you aren't running away, trying to cheat providence?"
  • "No way, José2e I'm true blue," said Spyder.
  • "You don't wish to stay and watch us work?"
  • One of the Clerks had placed an elaborate metal brace into the policeman'_pen mouth and was studiously sawing off his lower jaw.
  • "Why would I want to see that?"
  • "Because you're lying. And most people want to know their future."
  • Spyder backed away and quickly left the street of nightmares.