Zero by Eric Van Lustbader

By Eric Van Lustbader

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The Marcello, thundering, was only twenty yards behind. Civet concentrated on the traffic piling up in front of him in anticipation of the first of Kaanapali's three access roads. A road crew was at work here; traffic was being squeezed right. He was going much too fast. One-handed, he was obliged to swerve at a precipitous angle onto the verge to avoid rear-ending a slow-moving Nissan. Civet was compelled to decelerate drastically, and a glance in his rearview mirror showed the Marcello almost upon him.

I do not even know whom I can trust. Hiroshi Taki lay atop his futon and watched the parade of shadows marching across the beamed ceiling. Outside, a figure was using the trees, never for a moment putting feet to ground. On the roof, the figure crossed the house, swinging down into one of the darkened formal rooms. The figure, dressed in matte black, was hooded. Where a band of flesh appeared at the level of the eyes, it had been smeared with charcoal. The backs of the hands were similarly coated.

Dear God, he thought, protect me from what I have to do. Protect those I love if I don't make it. His imagination, racing in panic, unraveled what was ahead of him. Stop it! he admonished himself. He got hold of himself at last, splashed cold water on his face, into his mouth, across the back of his neck. Then he hurriedly dressed, put wallet, car keys, passport and a small eelskin case into various pockets of his tropical-weight jacket. He reread the postcard he had written in the dead of night, then he went out the door.

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