Tonaishah’s Kubrick-figure facepaint distorted into wild grimaces when Ar_anged into O’Malley House, raccoon-eyed with sleepdep, airline crud cruste_t the corners of his lips, whole person quivering with righteou_mitefulness. He commed the door savagely and yanked it so hard that the gas-
lift snapped with a popping sound like a metal ruler being whacked on a desk.
The door caromed back into his heel and nearly sent him sprawling, but h_onverted its momentum into a jog through the halls to his miniatur_ffice—the last three times he’d spoken to Fede, the bastard had been workin_ut of his office—stealing his papers, no doubt, though that hadn’t occurre_o Art until his plane was somewhere over Ireland.
Fede was halfway out of Art’s chair when Art bounded into the office. Fede’_ace was gratifyingly pale, his eyes thoroughly wide and scared. Art didn’_other to slow down, just slammed into Fede, bashing foreheads with him. Ar_melled a puff of his own travel sweat and Fede’s spicy Lilac Vegetal, sa_lood welling from Fede’s eyebrow.
“Hi, pal!” he said, kicking the door shut with a crash that resounded throug_he paper-thin walls.
“Art! Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell is wrong with you?” Fede backed awa_o the far corner of the office, sending Art’s chair over backwards, wheel_pinning, ergonomic adjustment knobs and rods sticking up in the air like th_egs of an overturned beetle.
“TunePay, Inc.?” Art said, booting the chair into Fede’s shins. “Is that th_est fucking name you could come up with? Or did Toby and Linda cook it up?”
Fede held his hands out, palms first. “What are you talking about, buddy?
What’s wrong with you?”
Art shook his head slowly. “Come on, Fede, it’s time to stop blowing smoke u_y cock.”
“I honestly have no idea—”
“Bullshit!” Art bellowed, closing up with Fede, getting close enough to se_he flecks of spittle flying off his lips spatter Fede’s face. “I’ve ha_nough bullshit, Fede!”
Abruptly, Fede lurched forward, sweeping Art’s feet out from underneath hi_nd landing on Art’s chest seconds after Art slammed to the scratched an_plintered hardwood floor. He pinned Art’s arms under his knees, then leane_orward and crushed Art’s windpipe with his forearm, bearing down.
“You dumb sack of shit,” he hissed. “We were going to cut you in, after it wa_one. We knew you wouldn’t go for it, but we were still going to cut yo_n—you think that was your little whore’s idea? No, it was mine! I stuck u_or you! But not anymore, you hear? Not anymore. You’re through. Jesus, I gav_ou this fucking job! I set up the deal in Cali. Fuck-off heaps of money! I’_hrough with you, now. You’re done. I’m ratting you out to V/DT, and I’_lying to California tonight. Enjoy your deportation hearing, you dumb Canuc_oy-scout.”
Art’s vision had contracted to a fuzzy black vignette with Fede’s florid fac_n the center of it. He gasped convulsively, fighting for air. He felt hi_ladder go, and hot urine stream down his groin and over his thighs.
An instant later, Fede sprang back from him, face twisted in disgust, hand_rushing at his urine-stained pants. “Damn it,” he said, as Art rolled ont_is side and retched. Art got up on all fours, then lurched erect. As he did,
the axe head in his pocket swung wildly and knocked against the glass pan_eside his office’s door, spiderwebbing it with cracks.
Moving with dreamlike slowness, Art reached into his pocket, clasped the ax_ead, turned it in his hand so that the edge was pointing outwards. He lifte_t out of his pocket and held his hand behind his back. He staggered to Fede,
who was glaring at him, daring him to do something, his chest heaving.
Art windmilled his arm over his head and brought the axe head down solidly o_ede’s head. It hit with an impact that jarred his arm to the shoulder, and h_ropped the axe head to the floor, where it fell with a thud, crusted wit_lood and hair for the first time in 200,000 years.
Fede crumpled back into the office’s wall, slid down it into a sittin_osition. His eyes were open and staring. Blood streamed over his face.
Art looked at Fede in horrified fascination. He noticed that Fede wa_reathing shallowly, almost panting, and realized dimly that this meant h_asn’t a murderer. He turned and fled the office, nearly bowling Tonaisha_ver in the corridor.
“Call an ambulance,” he said, then shoved her aside and fled O’Malley Hous_nd disappeared into the Piccadilly lunchtime crowd.