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John Sinclair — A Horror Series
About the Book
About the Author
Rage of the Black Dragon
Detective Chief Inspector John Sinclair works for Scotland Yard’s Special Division, an elite unit that deals with extraordinary cases. DCI Sinclair is a battle-hardened veteran of Afghanistan, a man who’s been to hell and back. This time, he’s not just fighting to save our world. He’s fighting for his soul …
“John Sinclair” is the reboot of Europe’s longest running horror series. Originally conceived in 1973 and still running strong, the “John Sinclair” novellas are firmly rooted in the finest pulp tradition, true page turners with hair-rising tension, exquisite gore, and a dash of adventure. “John Sinclair” combines the dark visions of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and the “X-Files” with the fast-paced action and globe-trotting excitement of James Bond.
On the outskirts of London, a dark creature is born and its reign of terror is about to begin …
Following the events of “Black Dragon Rising,” John Sinclair and his partner, Inspector Suko, have to battle an unspeakable evil. When a deadly cult manages to resurrect the “Heilong,” an ancient Chinese dragon, the serpent spreads its wings and unleashes its deadly wrath in a city of millions. Soon, the army is called in and a bloody battle erupts over the streets of London. Sinclair and Suko have to find the dragon’s nest. But how do you stop a creature of legend?
Gabriel Conroy was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1967. After high school, he joined the armed forces and was stationed in Germany for several years. He discovered his love for writing while traveling through Europe. When he returned to the States, he studied Journalism at Los Angeles City College and UCLA, and currently works as a freelance journalist, writer and translator. Mr. Conroy is married and has a dog and a cat.
RAGE OF THEBLACK DRAGON
John Sinclair: Episode 11
Digital original edition
Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG
Copyright © 2016 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany
Written by Gabriel Conroy
Edited by Amanda Wright
Project editor: Kathrin Kummer
Cover design: © by Michael Potrafke
Cover illustration: © Elle Arden Images/shutterstock
eBook production: Urban SatzKonzept, Düsseldorf
I wake up screaming every night.
In my dreams, I see the faces of all those lost souls, the ones I didn’t save.
And the ones I killed. Of course, worst of all … Worst of all is her.
But this time, it wasn’t my own screams that tore me from sleep.
This time, it was someone else. Far away.
At first, there was only darkness. I was floating in a space outside of time. But then, little by little, the sound drifted into my mind, my consciousness, like cold fingers reaching for me.
A human voice. A man. Screaming in agony.
The sound was distorted, echoing through concrete hallways.
I felt cold. My eyelids started to flutter.
And then I opened my eyes. I gasped, greedily sucking in old, stale air, and suddenly I was there, fully present. What little I could see in the darkness swam in front of my eyes and I was almost sick. I squeezed my eyes shut again as I slowly propped myself against the wall behind me. Slowly, the nausea faded. I groped blindly around me. I was sitting on a concrete floor, cold under my fingertips. My hands were shaking. My head hurt, as if someone had taken an icepick to it.
“What is this place?” I said, my voice no more than a hoarse whisper. My throat was burning. “Where the hell am I?”
A voice said: “Here.”
A woman’s voice. Just a few feet away from me.
Somewhere in the distance, the man was still screaming.
I’d heard something like it before. When I was a little boy, my father had taken me to a hog farm in the countryside, west of Lauder, and he made me watch as a butcher killed one of the pigs. I was only four, but I remember it very clearly, every damn detail etched into my memory. The butcher was a small, fastidiously dressed man, a little heavy around the waist, with a comb-over and heavy glasses. He was a Traveler, he went from town to town, wherever he was called. The local farms had “slaughter days,” when the herd needed to be thinned. Then they called the man with the comb-over.
He was strong; I had once watched him pick up a pig, holding it by the legs and swinging it onto a large metal table. Then he pinned it down as the knife cut into its throat, as if it were nothing but butter. The pig screamed all the while, until the scream was cut off by a pitiful gurgling sound when the blood came gushing out of its open throat.
I felt my knees go weak, and I turned and ran. Once outside, I threw up. My father came after me and laid a heavy hand on my shoulder. He said: “You want to eat, don’t you?”
He gave me his thin, joyless smile, tight around the corners of his mouth.
“Then you need to see it,” he said. “If you want the meat, you need to be able to handle the killing. It’s only right.”
Sure, I had wanted the meat, but I never forgot those screams, and I never forgot how that damn pig looked at me, the panic in its eyes all too human. And its screams, too. The screams sounded human.
My thoughts turned back to the man I could hear screaming out there. Who was he? Someone, or something, was butchering him. It wasn’t an easy death, not a merciful killing. It was slow going. The screams came in bursts, hoarse gasps and wails of agony. He screamed and screamed, and then, quite suddenly, he stopped, and the silence was as powerful and acute as anything that came before.
Suddenly, all I heard was the frantic beating of my own heart.
Finally, I opened my eyes. I could barely make out the walls around me. I was in a room that reminded me of a prison cell. I saw people all around me. Some of them were writhing. Others completely still.
Then I heard something else, coming from above and outside. Something that made my blood run cold and sent icy shivers down my spine.
A shrill, high-pitched roar. Like an animal, but no animal I’d ever heard before.
“What was that?” I asked.
“Her,” said the woman.
I turned to look at her. I could barely make out her shape in the darkness. “Who are you?” I said.
She started to giggle. I slowly crawled toward her voice.
“Your name … can you tell me your name?”
She didn’t reply. She kept giggling, a mad clucking sound.
“I’m here to help you,” I said. “Give me your hand …”
I reached out to the young woman, and then …
Suddenly I knew who she was. She only had one hand. The other, the left, had been cut off, the stump wrapped in blood-soaked rags. When I looked at her face, I could see madness in her eyes. Or something I mistook for madness.
“Who?” she said.
Sandra Valentine, the daughter of Freddie Valentine, a small-time crook. He had sought out me and my new “partner,” Suko. His daughter had been kidnapped by a criminal organization called “the Black Dragon.” They had cut off her left hand and sent it to him, packed in a box, on dry ice. I still had no idea what the Black Dragon actually wanted. What was their plan, their endgame? Seventy-two hours ago, members of the gang had attacked a British executive in Hong Kong, a man named Nicholas Croydon, and inserted an organism into his body, some sort of larva. The doctors in Hong Kong had tried cutting the thing out of him, but the operation was too risky. They sent him to London. Sir James, our department superintendent, had asked me to pick up Croydon and the medical team at a cargo hangar at Heathrow International Airport, but things had gone terribly wrong. The Black Dragon had somehow managed to infiltrate airport security and had waged an all-out assault. They kidnapped Croydon. Suko and I were supposed to find him. No luck, so far. Instead, I had been captured by the Black Dragon.
I leaned in close to the young woman.
“Sandra,” I said urgently. “Listen to me, I need your help. I’m going to get you out of here … Sandra!”
She wasn’t paying any attention to me. She twirled her hair with her remaining hand. Her focus shifted away from me, and she began humming some tuneless melody.
“I’m not here,” she finally said in a whisper. “There’s nothing left of me … and soon there’ll only be …”
“What? There’ll be what?”
“Her,” she said, and the terror in her voice was unmistakable. “The Heilong. The Black Dragon.”
Suddenly, there was a sharp banging of metal against the wall. The sound made me flinch. I turned and saw that the cell door had been pushed open.
I heard slow, measured footsteps.
Bright light fell in through the open door.
I saw a man.
At first, he was just a dark shape, backlit by the light in the corridor.
The others in the cell started to move. I heard moans, and I could see people, instinctively, trying to crawl away from the man.
I couldn’t quite make out his face, but I knew exactly who he was. I could hear his heavy breath underneath his mask.
“Mr. Sinclair,” he said.
“Dominic Lawrence. You son of a bitch.”
Lawrence was a professor of Chinese history at the British Museum. I had gone to talk to him about a symbol used by the Black Dragon, but I walked straight into his trap. The man was insane. He fancied himself a High Priest of sorts. He called himself “the Demonos.” He wore a mask that made his face look like that of a lizard. But it was more than a mask. The thing on his face was alive, its muscles moving, causing the skin to glisten. Small tentacles held on to the back of his head. There was a red and dangerous gleam in his eyes as he took in the scene.
“Oh, how very touching,” he said. “You’re hoping to save her, aren’t you, Sinclair?” He sneered. “Look at her … Look.”
I turned and looked at Sandra. I gasped as I took a step away from her. She wasn’t mad. There was something else. Her eyes were completely black.
“What did you do to her?” I said.
“I took her soul,” Lawrence said, and his voice sounded perfectly pleasant, perfectly reasonable, as if he were discussing the weather. “She’s alive, but inside … there’s nothing but darkness.” He held out his hand. “Come now,” he said. “Both of you. I want you to meet your queen. I want you to meet the dragon.”
Victoria Embankment, London. 6:12 p.m.
Scotland Yard’s Special Division. Whenever there is a case that can’t be explained by rational means, they step in. Not many people know the division even exists. It’s headquartered in an inconspicuous terraced house near the Thames. The Control Center is on the top floor.
Today, the squad room was crowded. One of their men, DCI John Sinclair, had gone missing, and the team was working hard to find him. The soft din of voices filled the room. A few people were pacing as other people worked at their computers.
“Miss Perkins!” said Inspector Zhou Kou. He stood up from his chair and pushed it back. Zhou Kou was a lean, muscular man in a well-tailored black suit.
“Inspector Kou?” said Glenda Perkins, distracted.
She was sitting at her desk at the far end of the squad room, looking intently at her monitor. Perkins was an attractive woman, neatly dressed, one of those people who seemed to thrive under pressure. Some might think she was too young for the job, but she knew she wasn’t. She’d been tested. She knew what it took to run Special Division’s Control Center, and there was nothing that could faze her. At least not outwardly. She was, however, growing concerned. She hadn’t heard from DCI Sinclair in nearly six hours, and it made her edgy.
“Call me Suko,” said the Inspector. “Everyone else does.”
Perkins looked at him and shrugged.
“What can I do for you, Suko?” Perkins said.
His face turned serious. “It’s Sinclair. His radio watch picked up a GPS signal.”
Perkins felt herself stiffen. During one of Sinclair’s recent assignments, Special Division had issued him a special watch, with GPS tracking and a secure line to Control. New policy. Perkins liked to keep her agents on a tight leash.
And now she was glad that she did.
“Where is he?” she said.
“Fourteen miles East of London … Look.”
He gestured for her to follow him. She got up and went to his desk.
He pointed at a map displayed on the monitor. She heard a small beeping noise, and she saw a pulsating spot on the map.
“Right here,” Suko said. “That’s where they’re keeping him.” He tapped against the screen. “It’s an abandoned water treatment plant in Amesbury. It hasn’t been used in forty years.” He picked up a few papers from a printer on his desk. His quickly scanned them and said: “Six months ago, it was bought by an investment fund from Hong Kong.” He lowered the papers and looked at her. “That’s where they are,” he said. “The Black Dragon.”
Perkins allowed herself a smile. “Good work, Mr. Suko,” she said.