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Excerpt from Z Lequidre and the Amazing Grendel Conspiracy, page 15, by Allain Atienza

Z Lequidre and the Amazing Grendel Conspiracy

By Allain Atienza

Page 15

Across Park avenue stood a tall, short haired man with a short leather jacket and dark blue jeans. He stood frozen in place, obviously shocked at seeing Theodora. Over his shoulder was slung a large cloth bag. "Digo!" Theodora shouted, then bolted across the street, ignoring honking, skidding cabs. Dodging and cursing, Zorikh followed her.

Digo also moved. He spun and pounded towards Madison Avenue. "He's headed for the park." Theodora snapped. She shot ahead of Zorikh, whose lungs were beginning to heave. Zorikh had never considered himself a fast runner. He had long legs, so he'd always been able to keep up with his less vertically endowed friends, but Theodora was an entirely different story. She was a head shorter than he was, but her legs were a blur, her back straight and taut, her arms swung at every powerful lunge of speed. Soon, she and Digo were small figures in his view, headed for Fifth.

On the avenue, a cab stopped short in front of their quarry. Digo merely leapt over the hood. Before the stunned driver could react, Theodora cleared the trunk. By the time Zorikh had crossed Fifth, the pair had jumped the stone fence of Central Park and disappeared under the trees.

Zorikh was spent. He clambered over the wall and flopped onto the ground. Panting, he picked himself up off his hands and knees. Before him rose what he called Gazebo Hill. It was a small hillock, topped by gray rock and a gazebo constructed from tree trunks. Under its roof, Digo had turned at bay, breathing heavily. Theodora stood just outside it. She stood at ease but eyed Digo warily.

"What was it you wanted back there Digo?" Her voice didn't match her grin. "Looking for a weapon were you?"

He sneered haughtily, almost lazily despite his deep breaths. "Whatever you say you German bitch. It doesn't really matter, I'll get my shit done, and to tell you the truth, you can't stop me." He made for the avenue again, jumping the Gazebo railing with yards to spare.

Zorikh gathered his remaining strength and ran to intercept. He launched himself in a full tackle and was surprised when he felt Digo's waist hit his shoulder. Zorikh's arms clamped around the fugitive, and for a brief second, he thought he had him. That was before the blow to his head of course, that turned his legs to chow fun noodles. His arms, however, held on harder than ever.

The world turned sideways and Theodora's yell echoed from a long way off. Then it was all fists and arms and hair. Zorikh could only reach out and grab blindly. He flailed at something solid that suddenly wasn't there anymore. When he raised his hand, his knuckles, like the left side of his face, was bruised and swollen. He also held up a small gold medallion. Not knowing what else to do, he pocketed it as he wobbled to his feet.

Once again Digo and Theodora face each other. Both were crouched. Theodora's lip was cut and bleeding. One of Digo's eyes had swollen shut. He reached for something inside his coat pocket. Having been weaned and raised on movies in which such a gesture resulted in the shooting of an innocent bystander, Zorikh dove for the ground.

Theodora lunged forward, too late. There was a dull hollow pop and Digo was gone. Theodora sprawled on her hands and knees cursing where the man had once stood. "He's Rifted!"

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Central Park
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How To Tackle
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