The Angel of Zero City: Part 8

The Angel of Zero City: Part 8

A Story by Andrew Colunga

An urban-fantasy novella. It is an untold story between the chapters of its parent book: The Gauntlet of Maltese.


The Hunt



“Did you pull out her chair for her?” Finlay asked.

Joseph sighed, reading a report at his desk. “No.”

Finlay gasped. “Did you open the door for her?”


“Did you walk her home?”

“Yes, and we went for a short walk through Azure Park too.” Joseph grinned behind his papers.

“Did you kiss her goodnight?”


Finlay lowered his voice. “Did you pay?”


“Did you tip?”

“She tipped.”

Finlay reclined in his chair and took a sip of scotch coffee. “Adequate. I’ll make a human out of you yet, Joseph. Any future plans?”

“Well we shared numbers and decided on sometime next week,” Joseph said, “but my mind became distracted toward the end,” and he reached into his pocket.

“Distracted? On a night out with a beautiful lady?”

“Well, I noticed one of these pinned to a bulletin board by the door.” Joseph pulled out a hamsa drawing.

“What in the world?” Finlay took the drawing from Joseph and scrutinized it closely. “And how come you didn’t notice this yesterday afternoon?”

“I was um, looking at Esmeralda. But I asked her if she’d seen who placed it and she said she hadn’t. However, the idea of being involved in a case … excited her.”

Finlay raised an eyebrow. “Excited her, detective?”

“Umm … yes.” Joseph coughed. “So did you find out about any other drawings?”

Finlay reached for his notepad and sat up. “You were right on the money, partner. The Donahoo, Rigsby, Esteban, McCammon, and two of the John Doe cases all had hand-drawings near their crime scenes that weren’t originally reported. Half of those I confirmed myself. It took me forever to drive all over the city.”

“Ho-ho! We’re onto something now.” Joseph drummed on his knees. “We should get any drawings we find to forensics.”

“I thought you might say that, so I took care of it this morning.” Finlay reached for a folder and opened it. “They lifted a set of matching prints from each drawing. The same person must’ve at least placed them all, but the prints didn’t match any in our database.”

“None? You’re kidding me?” Joseph’s face slouched and Finlay looked dismayed. “Did you check the prints with the DMV?”

“I had a friend of mine check, and nope. Whoever this guy is there’s no adult record of him. He’s either a hobo, a conspiracy nut, an illegal alien, or maybe even a terrorist. Well … what do you think?”

Joseph leaned back and shut his eyes for a while. Finlay looked at him for what seemed like several minutes. He recognized whenever Joseph’s brain was firing on all cylinders at a problem, so he was surprised when his partner finally spoke, “It could’ve been her.”

“What do you mean?” Finlay asked.

“The murderer, what if he had killed Esmeralda?”

“I-I don’t know pal. All the victims have been male so far.”

“That’s true.” Joseph leaned forward and reached for the drawing. He stared into the eye and strangely felt as though it were watching him. “It’s apparently drawn with a common marker, but the paper feels old, and there’s a tear on the left side as though it came out of a book.”

“This all seems a bit theatric doesn’t it?” Finlay asked.

“Yes, it does. But I don’t think these drawings are our killer’s calling card. They almost seem as though they’ve been left behind by accident, otherwise I doubt we would’ve been able to collect fingerprints so easily. He’s careless, or inexperienced. Yet all the murders are clean … but soulless.”


“He has no ritual,” Joseph said. “All the bodies have been found in random positions, as though they were simple attacks of opportunity. It’s like this killer doesn’t even enjoy killing.”

“Oh jeez. Killing might not feel right to some people? What a concept,” Finlay chuckled.

Joseph didn’t laugh, but he kept staring at the drawing while tapping his fingers. “If only we had a name now, or a pattern to follow. Maybe we could put out an APB for any more drawings around the city?”

“We could…. I’ll ask about it.” Finlay sighed. “After the red lightening, the department managed to catch up on a lot of cases that had piled up over the summer. But I probably can’t get them to send cars into You-Know-Where … the East-Side.”

“Yeah … Hell. I don’t expect them to go there.”

“And don’t you start thinking of going there either. You weren’t born here, so you don’t have it stamped in your brain to avoid the East-Side. Besides … some of the guys have a pretty good thing going on here,” Finlay whispered. Rumors and secret truths of all kinds were the backbone of the prescient. From the way cops were faking sick and milking the city for overtime, to secret treaties with the gangs and pimps of the Hell district.

“Don’t worry. I’m busy enough chasing killers without having to concern myself with the pecking order.” Joseph studied the drawing intensely, and all the way home he checked every alley and wall for another drawing but found none.

Later that night, he pinned the drawing to a board in his apartment and brewed some coffee. The radio was tuned to the local jazz station, but Joseph barely paid attention to it as he paced in front of a map of Zero City. Blue pins marked crime scenes where drawings were found, and they revealed a fondness for Hell, the Kumani District, and East Uptown. Hell, being between the two other districts, seemed to be the obvious location for the killer’s home base … but it was almost too easy.

Joseph checked his watch for the time and scratched his chin. Hell was just a short taxi ride away, and there were some old contacts he could get in touch with. The night was still young, and a detective’s job was never done.

The taxi ride was dark and slow into Hell, and the driver thankfully wasn’t in a speaking mood, but he refused to go past Hellstrom Dr.

Out on the streets of Hell, Joseph hunched his shoulders and kept his eyes forward, hoping to drop any impression of self-righteousness with an unimpressive stride. The rats could smell a cop from miles away.

After a half-hour of walking, Joseph approached a painted flock by the corner near a liquor store and lowered his voice. “Damn these autumn nights, right ladies?” he said.

“That’s for sure. You got some place warm for me, sugar?” spoke a six foot tall transvestite named Georgie, in a leopard top and white pants. Joseph immediately showed interest, and the other guys/girls in the group backed off. Georgie was known to not be fucked with.

“This better be worth it,” Georgie said, pulling her purse over her shoulder as they walked away.

“Depends,” Joseph said. “I’ll give you twenty right now for walking away. But fifty plus a coffee if you have any information about this.” He held out the hamsa drawing for Georgie to see but kept a tight grip on it.

Georgie looked stunned as she touched the drawing. “I might have something on this, but money up front sugar.”

The two moved a few blocks away to one of the last remaining diners in Hell, on 33rd, which was busy enough during the day to ward off the corruption spreading from the east. The diner was harshly lit and mostly empty, with red tables and white walls.

“They say he’s an angel, or the grim reaper,” Georgie said, dumping packets of Splenda into her coffee.

“Watch it, that fake stuff will give you cancer,” Joseph said, and took a sip of his own coffee.

“Yeah, and the real stuff has done wonders for you, pudgy,”

Joseph laughed. “Hey I’m doing alright for myself. In fact, I’m seeing someone.”

“Oh really? Aww I knew you’d finally get over What’s-Her-Name! I knew you were a catch, Joseph! So, anyone I know?”

“Could be. She works at a restaurant on West St. I met her on a case.” Joseph nearly blushed.

“Oh, that’s nice. Well this guy, who leaves behind these weird drawings. There’s a funny rumor going around, that if a Jon is being abusive when one of these drawings are nearby they’ll never show up again. Some guardian angel has been picking up Hell’s trash. In fact, I’ve got one myself.” Georgie puts down her coffee and opens her purse, and from inside of a snapping wallet she pulls out a small hamsa symbol, drawn with red lipstick on a slip of paper. “They’re good luck as far as a lot of the girls around here are concerned.”

Joseph took the lipstick hamsa and stared at it, but he didn’t feel the same sort of exotic pull that the other one had. “How weird. So, has anybody seen this Angel?”

“A girlfriend of mine named Vicky said she thought she saw someone putting up one of these drawings, but she never saw his face.”

“Do you know where I could find her?” Joseph asked.

“I wish I could tell you, sugar. She…. You see,” Georgie lowered her voice, “as far as the pimps are concerned, this guy is wiping out their customers. They’ve got a bounty on the Angel, and the day Vicky said she ‘thought she might’ve seen somebody’ she disappeared. That was a month ago.”

“Do you think the Angel could’ve gotten Vicky? Maybe to protect his identity?” Joseph asked.

“No. No … the Angel helps us. Vicky was a good kid.” Georgie put her hand on her chest and took the lipstick hamsa back.

“This Angel, if it’s a guy, if it’s one guy, he’s getting out of control. This case all started with the murder of a man who, as far as I can tell, was just a little too rough with the waiters at a restaurant. Not something to warrant removal from the population.”

“I don’t know, sugar,” Georgie shook her head and sipped her coffee. “There are two kinds of Hells, and each has their demons. One is a district filled with gangsters, crack heads, and woman-beaters, and the other is the world of customer service.”

© 2014 Andrew Colunga

Author's Note

Andrew Colunga
This is a 19 part story. All of which are completed and are expected to be posted.

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Added on May 1, 2014
Last Updated on May 1, 2014
Tags: urban, fantasy, urban-fantasy


Andrew Colunga
Andrew Colunga

Los Angeles, CA

Artist and Writer from LA. more..