The Angel of Zero City: Part 15

The Angel of Zero City: Part 15

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.





“This is a box of cigars I got from the heart of Los Angeles, and this is a gift card to Lazlo’s Steakhouse in Uptown.” Joseph slid his apologies across Finlay’s desk and sat down meekly. “I also did my share of the paperwork, and I think most of the cases shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.”

Finlay eyed these gifts with his arms folded. “Is that all?”

“And … and I feel bad for walking out the other day. I’m sorry, and I’m sorry for not apologizing earlier. But if you’re the honest one then I’m the dishonest one! What I want to say has a lot of trouble coming out.”

Finlay had been sour the last two days, and the fact that Joseph hadn’t apologized sooner only deepened the wound. But, he also knew that Lazlo’s steaks would taste better if he forgave him.

“You were right though.” Joseph said. “I was risking my life like a rookie. If we ever catch The Angel it’ll be with the right kind of backup. Me, lone-gunning it through Hell isn’t worth the risk. And thanks for calling Esmeralda while I was knocked-out.”

Finlay sighed. “Alright, I’ll forgive you. I suppose even good advice takes it’s time to penetrate the thickest of skulls. But hold onto these cigars. We’ll save them for the right moments.”

Joseph smiled, and he and Finlay pooled their notes on the various cases from the last few days. It was business as usual, going over clues, visiting dry cleaners, following up leads, and talking to busboys and homeless folks who witness a thing or two.

By late afternoon, they stopped at a neighborhood deli where they could get a good cold sandwich and a few beers. Joseph talked about the last two days he spent with Esmeralda and his meeting with the Angel. Finlay had to admit that while it was dangerous to go into Hell, Joseph had done some Sherlock-class detective work.

“You’ve solved enough cases and booked enough guys to earn yourself a lieutenant’s position, what keeps you a detective?” Finlay asked.

“Well I was actually offered a promotion two months ago.”

Finlay choked. “Really!? Why didn’t you take it?”

“I was offered the same position before I left the Los Angeles prescient too.”

“I don’t get it, partner.”

“I … I wasn’t sure how I’d handle the change. When I worked in LA, I was still in love with by the legend of the big city detective, and First St. to Olympic didn’t have enough tall building for me. But before I moved I had a good friend named Gene Kaminsky. I’d known him since middle school. Now Gene became a typical LA businessman who did very well for himself, but he could be a bore to be around sometimes. He only talked about three things: how much money he saved, how much money he spent, and the Lakers.

“Then one night he wanted me to hang out with him and his latest girlfriend. Now, I’m always eager to please, so we go eat at a homely neighborhood place, and I see that this girl is dynamite�"about a head taller than Gene, and she knew how to dress herself for maximum impact. I’m a detective, but anybody with half a brain could see that she was bored out of her mind and only there for Gene’s cash. To be fair that’s the unwritten law in the west. If you’ve got enough money your character defects disappear�"it’s an equivalent exchange.

“For me that night was about as good as it could get for a third wheel, but it was also the first time that I worried about overcoming my limits. Gene had done it. Not only where there other girls for him after that night, but within a few months he had accomplished more in his love life than I had since middle school. And then a few months later he killed himself.

“I had gotten the call to investigate my own friend’s suicide, and the sick thing is that I didn’t feel too sad about it. I looked around his twenty-thousand square-foot home and it felt like a stranger’s. I realized that Gene had changed so much in the past five years that maybe I was practically prepared to handle this. I hated how easily I took his death. Some people thought I was putting on a brave face, so I took it as an opportunity to excuse myself to Zero City.” Joseph drank the rest of his beer and checked his phone. “Besides, who knows how much the brass is corrupted on that level.”

Finlay rubbed the top of his head and felt a pang of indigestion. He would take a lieutenant promotion in a heartbeat if it was offered to him. He knew Joseph couldn’t stand the little corruptions everywhere in the prescient, yet he refused to move to a position where he might be able to change that. Finlay always thought, those who were born and choose to stay in Zero City are a weird breed, but those who decide to move here are probably weirder.

Halfway across the city near the edge of Hell, Cavan tied a blindfold over his newest test subject. “I’ve met so many girls who say they like bad boys, but this is of course … just science. Welcome … Lambda.”

Tara Jackson had been christened Lambda and secured in Beta’s old position. She was now naked like the other subjects, and squirmed violently in her pillory and rattled her chains. Her fellow subjects turned their heads but could offer no support.

Cavan paid no mind as he searched for his yellow notepad. Acquiring his newest subject had been as easy as waiting for Tara to be alone and chloroforming her. He still had the van he used to move the tables and chairs in, and then it was just a late night drive back to his place. However, finding a place to dispose of Beta had been less successful. For now, his body was enveloped in plastic wrap and laid in the coldest corner of the room.

“Alpha,” Cavan said, once he found the notepad. “I want you to hear this.” He removed Lee’s ball gag and gripped the top of his ear with a pair of pliers. Lee groaned, and whimpered and tried to place his mind in the future, where someday he might be free.

“Why can’t the sailor make it through the alphabet?” Cavan asked. “He always gets lost as ‘C’” The pliers jerked suddenly and tore the lobe. Lee screamed and groaned, but there was no way for him to retreat. Blood trickled quickly, and he felt the fresh pain tear through his body. Tara struggled harder, but Allie closed her blindfolded eyes and prayed inside her mind.

Cavan gave a frustrated sigh and replaced Lee’s ball gag. “Darn. Thank you, Alpha.” He wiped his hands and tossed the pliers aside. These results were becoming exponentially unsatisfying. He stepped outside to get some fresh air and left the subjects alone.

Socrates was at his usual spot, murmuring to himself and writing in his notebook. The wind was fair with an autumn chill, and the smoke trailed from his cigarette as he recited a poem.

“On calmer sees and surer tide

When will fears not need to hide?

That the wind and the sea

Is the true enemy,

When on a boat,

And yet to float,

The necessary evils

Of seafaring knievels

Soon bring all sailors to their death.


“A golden sun always yields

To the storm soon revealed.

A sailor’s life passing

Flavored hands grasping

A wheel to turn the world.”


Cavan’s eyes were half-lidded. “Do you ever write anything catchy? Like a commercial jingle?”

Socrates almost didn’t hear Cavan, as he swore he saw a dark figure jumping across the nearby rooftops. A few seconds passed, but the figure did not reappear. He tossed the delusion aside, and looked down at Cavan and dragged on his cigarette. “Do you ever write anything funny?”

The evening slowly came, and with most of their work done, Joseph and Finlay broke for the day. When asked if he wanted a ride, Joseph accepted but said that Esmeralda wanted to meet him at city hall, halfway between the prescient and The Park.

Finlay laughed. “Don’t let her break you. Get some sleep tonight, partner.” The two shook hands and Joseph started walking. The street lights were already on, and a chilly breeze kissed the detective’s bruises under his jacket.

© 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.

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on May 3, 2014
Last Updated on May 3, 2014
Tags: urban, fantasy, urban-fantasy


Andrew Colunga
Andrew Colunga

Los Angeles, CA

Artist and Writer from LA. more..