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Apr/May 2004 fiction

Haywire Car Alarm Deep In September Night

by David Alexander


Art by Janet L. Snell

 

Picking up the factory-refurbished Sony cordless phone he'd bought from Damark, Joe Morshky hit the Talk button to get a dial tone.

His next step would have been to press one-touch dialing button "A," which he'd programmed with the number of Big Al's Piazza San Marco Italian Pizzeria, of which Morshky was a regular delivery patron. Except before Joe could even touch button "A," he heard a series of five rapid beeps and a rush of static. Then came the voice of Morshky's upstairs neighbor, Fuckface, saying, "...wid' a baseball bat I'm gonna fuckin' kill the cocksucker, unless I get my fi' dollars. You tell da prick dat fa' me!"

Morshky knew it was Fuckface talking because he could hear Fuckface's voice through the ceiling even as it came over the Sony. Since the walls were paper-thin, Morshky had no trouble recognizing the sound of Fuckface's voice, although he'd never before heard what Fuckface had been saying.

Morshky listened with the fascination of somebody who had just turned over a rock to find an infestation of carpenter ants sucking mucous from a writhing larval queen. He was about to flip the rock back over when the subject of the conversation took a different tack, one concerning himself.

"I just got the word about Morshky," Fuckface told the other guy on the line.

"About fuckin' time," Fuckface's friend replied.

"Yeah, so listen. Red designator is 'fig bar.' Blue designator is 'the seven-thirty outa Newark.' Green designator is 'Altoona.' You got that?"

"Yeah, 'fig bar, the seven-thirty outa Newark, Altoona,'" the other guy repeated. "Who thinks up this shit, anyway?"

"Hillary Clinton's twat," Fuckface fired back. "Now lissen to da rest and don' gimme no lip. Implantation procedures require Alert Jacket One priority."

"No shit," the other guy returned. "Alert Jacket One. Ain't had many of them lately."

"The implantation was tricky," Fuckface said. "That's it for now. I'll call back later about dat fuck wit' da fi' dollars. Make sure ya tell dat fuck I'll break 'is legs if I don't get my fi' dollars."

"Later," said the guy, and the line went dead.

Morshky's appetite for a big pepperoni and onion pizza was suddenly gone, replaced by a strange, nagging fear in the pit of his stomach. No, he told himself. It wasn't his name they'd been using. It was somebody else's. But no, bullshit, he'd heard it alright. So, he told himself next, those fuckers had heard him, too, when he used the cordless, and they had decided to pull something on him. Except they didn't have the brains to figure out stuff like 'Alert Jacket One.'

While he was standing there with a dumb look on his face, Morshky's wife Alice came over and asked him if he'd ordered the pizza yet. Morshky only half heard her. She waved her hand in his face, and he muttered, "No, not yet."

"Give me the phone, you jerk," she told Morshky and called Big Al's Piazza San Marco Pizzeria to place the order herself.

 

Later that night, as Morshky lay in bed listening to his wife snore, he felt the two Valiums he'd taken with the pizza begin to work. He was finally getting drowsy when there suddenly came the shrieking of a car alarm from the street below.

"Aw, don't fucking tell me!" cursed Morshky, who crawled out of bed and shambled over to the window, chinking the slats of the blinds and peering out.

"Is it our car again?" Alice called from the bed, now awake, too.

"Yeah, it's our car again," Morshky told her disgustedly. He could see the front lights flashing on and off in time to the shrill noises coming from the car.

"I told you to get that fixed," Alice hollered.

"I was too busy," Morshky said, going to his pants and taking out the alarm remote, then opening the window.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"Maybe I can turn it off from here," he said, thrusting out his arm. "This worked last time. Remember?" Morshky clicked the remote button, but the alarm kept on screaming in the night. Finally Morshky realized it was no use. The car alarm had gone completely haywire. He'd have to go down if he wanted to stop it. Otherwise it would go all night and kill another hundred-dollar battery.

Pulling on his pants and a pair of sneakers and smoothing his hair in the hall mirror, Morshky ran to the elevator and took it down to the lobby. As soon as he was out the door, he thumbed the alarm remote button, but nothing happened. Cursing, Morshky went over to the shrieking car and clicked the button. Still nothing happened. He was too preoccupied to notice two men come up behind him, until one of whom pressed a button on a unit of some type on his wrist, silencing the car alarm.

"Initialize him," the other one said to the one with the wrist unit, who tapped out a sequence on its small keypad.

"Okay, Mr. Morshky," the second one said. "We've gotten you down here. So the worst part's over. By the way, we have you in a force field, so you can't move or cry out."

It was true—Morshky couldn't move.

"Who the hell are you?" he asked.

"I'm Smithers. This is Jones. We're agents of your government," the guy told him. "Your assistance is required on an urgent matter of national security."

"What is this, a joke?" Morshky exclaimed. "You with that fuck upstairs? You got my phone bugged?" He tried to shout for Alice to call the cops, but he couldn't do it, let alone raise his head.

"No joke," said Smithers. "You're government property. Kept on ice, but now activated."

"Bullshit," Morshky growled.

"Watch," said Smithers, who produced a spring-loaded knife and snapped open the blade, with which he made an incision in Morshky's forearm. The incision didn't bleed, and the guy took out a semicircular sliver of metal. Its perforations matched exactly those of an identical sliver he took from his pocket, and he lined up a series of numbers. "That's your identifier number," he said to Morshky. "Let's go. We have a rendezvous at sixteen hundred hours."

"No, wait," Morshky pleaded. "You're a fucking psycho. I have a wife. I have a job. I have a home."

"That's your programming," Smithers told him. "If you want us to take you back upstairs, we'll prove it. We can give you five minutes."

So they rode the elevator up to Morshky's floor and went inside his apartment. Except for a mattress on the carpet, a sofa and some other odds and ends, the place was empty.

"Where's my furniture?" Morshky demanded. "And where's my wife? Alice? Alice, where are you?" Alice didn't answer. "If you hurt Alice, you fuck, I'll see you in hell."

"There's nobody named 'Alice,'" said Smithers. "There never was. She was just part of the script we invented for you. Part of your hallucination due to a genetically engineered strain of mutant Ebola brain virus we infected you with in the Jurassic period."

"In the what?"

"Dinosaurs, Mr. Morshky. The Jurassic. About five-hundred million years ago. That's where you've been the last few years. Working on one of our projects."

"You are a fucking whacko, buddy," Morshky angrily retorted. He was starting to shake. Wake up, he told himself. Come on, wake up, wake up.

"You can't wake up, Mr. Morshky," said the agent, as if reading Morshky's thoughts. "This is a controlled hallucination which we manipulate electronically. When you've carried out your mission, we will signal the virus to self-destruct, and you can then return to reality." Pausing, Smithers went on, "Now do you want to hear about your mission? It concerns your old friend Swaggarty."

"Fuck Swaggarty, whoever the fuck he is."

"You're being recalcitrant, Mr. Morshky," said Smithers. "Very well. We'll prove a point for your benefit." He turned to the first man wearing the wrist unit and said, "Jones, make a triceratops hatch out of Mr. Morshky's brain." Jones shot his cuff. "This is your brain on Ebola, Mr. Morshky," said Smithers as Jones keystroked, "and this is your brain on triceratops."

Morshky felt an intense pain in his head and heard a loud crunching noise, like that of something cracking through bone. He suddenly began thrashing around, and he caught a glimpse of two long, sharp horns and a bony rill emerge from the back of his head, and then the first part of the body of a baby triceratops. Then something strange happened. Morshky knew he had to kill the guy with the wrist unit to stop it. He lunged at Jones with a flurry of deft martial arts moves. The agent pulled a weapon, but Morshky quickly took it away and blew his face apart in a sloppy spray. The triceratops climbed back inside his skull, and the hole closed up. The pain instantly stopped.

"You see?" said Smithers. "Even with a triceratops coming out of your head, you were easily able to neutralize one of our most highly trained operatives. Now your five minutes are up. Let's go." Smithers handed him plane tickets to Paris and a passport from Zaire.

"Why Zaire?" Morshky asked.

"That's your cover. That's where we gave you the Ebola brain virus. Supposedly."

"You said you gave it to me in the Jurassic."

"Jurassic is a time, Zaire is a place. Don't play word games with me, Mr. Morshky."

"So now you're gonna drive me to the airport?"

"No need to do that," said Smithers, "since you're already on the plane. Jones, he's on the plane, right?" he said, to somebody behind Morshky.

"Yes, we have him ready to transient to Phase 2."

"I thought I just killed Jones," Morshky said.

"You killed a digitized simulacrum," Smithers corrected. "It's pretty much the same thing. Don't worry about it. Now your five minutes have long since been used up. Aloha, Mr. Morshky."

A second later, Morshky opened his eyes. He was stretched out on the floor in the aisles in the economy section of TWA flight 802 out of JFK. The stewardess leaned over him, wanting to know if he was alright.

"Yeah, I'm alright, I'm alright," he told her testily, waving her away.

Morshky sat back down in what he assumed was his seat. Other economy class passengers were staring at him, and some stage-whispered that he might be contagious. He pretended not to notice them since they were only manifestations of his hallucination.

Just then there was an announcement concerning a black bag that was switched at the x-ray machine at the airport. "Will the following passenger report to the captain," the voice announced and then called Morshky's name.

The captain turned out to be the same self-styled government agent who had first contacted him. Or at least he looked enough like Smithers to be his twin, though he pretended he wasn't.

"Can you describe the contents of the black bag, sir?"

"I didn't have one."

"Yes, you did. Your name is on it. See?"

"Since I'm hallucinating all of this, I really don't care what you think. You can all go fuck yourselves."

"What was that about hallucinating?" asked the pilot. "Are you on drugs, Mr. Morshky?" The pilot traded glances with the copilot.

The copilot, who looked exactly like Jones, suddenly pulled a gun.

"Don't bullshit me! You're the same guy from back in Queens. You talk the same, and you look the same. You're the one who told me I was hallucinating!"

"I told you what, Mr. Morshky? That you were hallucinating? Are you accusing me of being a drug dealer, Mr. Morshky? Are you a terrorist, Mr. Morshky?"

"Okay. Enough. I was hallucinating before, but now I'm not hallucinating. You're not the same guy from Queens either. And you wanted to know about a black travel bag."

"We can't impress on you the seriousness of this matter," said the copilot. "This gun fires a special pellet that will dissolve you into an odorless, colorless gas. A gas that will cause amnesia to the other passengers. Once they inhale you, they won't remember you ever existed. In fact, no one will. One last time, describe the contents, or we will dissipate you into the stratosphere."

"Okay. A mushy banana. A paperback novel. Three pairs of Ban-lon socks. An apple. A bosc pear. Two hundred bucks in French currency."

"Good," said the pilot. "Those are not the actual contents, of course. But it is the appropriate code. Here is your bag back. Inspect its contents upon your arrival, but not until then."

The copilot put away the gun, and Morshky returned to his seat. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

 

Leaving the plane, Morshky heard his name called by a limo driver.

"Mee-shoor Mosh-M-mosh-Moshkeee?" said the man, hesitantly pronouncing the unfamiliar name.

Morshky identified himself and was soon on the Peripherique amid la circulation, as the French call traffic. An hour later, he had gone from Orly to a third-class hotel not far from the Eiffel Tower, where the driver had let him off.

Morshky walked into the lobby carrying his black bag and was welcomed by the deskman, a dark looking man he guessed was of Arabic origin. Later, alone in his room, Morshky opened the black bag. Inside, he found the Sony cordless phone he'd bought from Damark, or one exactly like it.

The phone rang.

"This is Maurice," a gruff voice said after he answered.

"Who?"

"Maurice, yer neighbor Maurice, dickwad. From Queens."

"Oh, that Maurice," Morshky said. He'd accepted everything. The Ebola hallucination had become his reality. "Are you in Paris, dickwad?"

"Don' call me no dickwad," Maurice shouted.

"Fuck you, dickwad," Morshky said. "I'll call you anything I want, you numb-nuts jerkoff cocksucker."

"Hey, watchya mouth, or I'll come over dere an' brain youse wit' a baseball bat."

"You ain't gonna do shit," Morshky shot back contemptuously. "I can kill you with my bare hands, even with a triceratops hatching out of my head, and you know it. So just say what you have to and fuck off."

There was silence as Fuckface thought that over, but he finally spoke up again. "Ask room service for a map. A Kronos Warp will open at the coordinates on the fuckin' map at 3:45 tomorrow morning. Swaggarty might try going inside the warp. Stop him before he does. If not, follow him inside."

"Thanks, dickwad," said Morshky, and he hung up on Fuckface. He didn't even have to ask what a "Kronos Warp" was because he somehow knew that this was a time tunnel that would lead him back to the Jurassic period. He also remembered Swaggarty clearly now. Swaggarty had been Morshky's partner. They'd trained together for almost a decade for the Jurassic mission.

Yes, it was all coming back. Aliens from another dimension were tampering with dinosaur DNA in the Jurassic, mixing it with cattle DNA in the twentieth century and then transplanting this mixture of saurian-bovine DNA into human embryos they had surgically excised from female subjects in order to mutate the embryos into human-cattle-dinosaurs.

In turn, these would be introduced into the human population in order to have sex with normal humans, leading to the extinction of the human race and its replacement with mutant beings who would in turn be able to have sex with the aliens themselves. Therefore, the purpose of the aliens was nothing less than the creation of a planetary sex playground on earth.

Swaggarty's treachery to the human race was unpardonable, Morshky knew. As part of their training, he and Morshky had been set up as bait for alien abductions by posing as a homosexual couple living in a cramped apartment in downtown Manhattan. The aliens had taken the bait and kidnapped them, conducting bizarre DNA experiments over the course of several years. What the aliens didn't know was that both Morshky and Swaggarty had been infected with the bioengineered Ebola strain that caused them to hallucinate, and thus made them impervious to the aliens' mind control technologies.

At the same time, both Swaggarty and Morshky's hallucinations were being monitored by the CIA, enabling the Agency to compile a vast database on alien experimental techniques. From this data emerged the full picture of their true intentions on earth. President Hillary Clinton signed a special presidential decree soon thereafter enabling the establishment of an elite, counteralien strike force that would be launched five-hundred million years into the Jurassic using a secret time-travel technology recently developed.

Everything was in readiness until Swaggarty sabotaged the Kronos Warp supercomputer at its base in Zaire, attempting to shut it down and prevent the strike force from carrying out its mission. Swaggarty had become addicted to sex with the partially mutated beings that the aliens had provided him with onboard their transdimensional spacecraft, and he had been seduced into their employ by promises of being made the leader of the new planetary order once their ends had been achieved.

Fortunately, a backup program enabled Kronos Warps to be generated at random. But these warps could not be used militarily. Only by capturing Swaggarty and programming his hallucination to hallucinate him back in time to the moment before he sabotaged the Kronos computer could the damage be undone.

Morshky's mission was to capture and reprogram Swaggarty's hallucination. But it would not be easy. Swaggarty was a master of covert tradecraft and adept at using the Kronos Warps to travel to any place and any time period he chose. It was obvious that the next Kronos Warp would open somewhere in Paris early tomorrow morning. Morshky planned to be ready when it did.

"Bonjour, Monsieur," said the voice of the deskman as Morshky used the telephone to call room service.

"A double bourbon and a map of Paris. Can you provide this?"

"But of course," replied the deskman. "I shall have them sent up right away."

In a few minutes, there came a knock at the door. Opening it, Morshky found the deskman waiting outside with a silver tray bearing his drink, the map lying beside the drink. He had him set down the tray and reached into his pocket for a ten centime piece, but recalled he'd left the change on the dresser when he'd disrobed to shower.

Luckily, some sixth sense told Morshky to turn, because in that instant the deskman's face disintegrated and a hydra-armed creature armed with spiked aluminum baseball bats lunged at him. So, he realized, the hotel had been compromised and he'd been set up to die. Morshky instantly went into self-defense mode and picked up the Sony cordless phone. Pressing the "A" button, he hurled it at the creature, barely reaching the window as a fierce concussion wave pounded his back, covering him with shreds of gooey pizza cheese.

A close shave, Morshky thought, as he picked himself up off the street, but he'd escaped. Still, he didn't have the coordinates. But his first priority was survival. Seeking refuge, Morshky hid for awhile in a brasserie on the Que D'Orsay among rough Parisian dockworkers, but he knew he had to keep moving. He believed the part about the warp opening at 3:45 AM, because Fuckface had told him, and he was pretty sure Fuckface was working for the CIA.

He needed the coordinates to locate the place where the warp would appear. Darkness fell, and still Morshky was on the move. Fearing capture or death, he had knocked out a Parisian cab driver and stashed him in the trunk of the Citroen taxi.

Changing places with the driver, Morshky cruised the streets of the city from Montmartre to Les Halles in search of any clue to alert him to the appearance of the Kronos Warp.

Time warp, time warp, Morshky thought to himself as he shuttled passengers through la circulation. How would a time warp herald its arrival? He didn't know. Time warps were tricky things. They weren't like hailstorms or subway trains. And you didn't get time warp reports on the radio like you got weather reports. Morshky figured his only hope was to cruise around Paris and keep his eyes open. If he saw people running and gesturing, for example, then that might be a sign that a time warp was opening up. Then again, it might not.

 

It was close to three in the morning when Morshky was hailed by a fare on the Boulevard Montparnasse. Pulling over to pick him up, Morshky mouthed a soft curse of astonishment, because the elegantly attired Frenchman was none other than Swaggarty.

"La Folies Bergere," Morshky's new fare told him. "And step on it. I want to catch the late show before it closes."

"Oui, Monsieur," Morshky said in a low voice, glad he had taken the trouble to disguise his face with a false mustache, the cab driver's beret, and eyeglasses. The cab turned from the Boulevard Montparnasse and swung onto Boulevard Raspail, which took them through the Arab Quarter and into the sleaze district of Paris.

"What's that infernal thumping from the boot, man?" asked Swaggarty. Apparently the original driver had come around and had begun getting lively in the taxi's trunk. Morshky recriminated himself for not having trussed him up more securely, but the cabbie had looked a little frail.

"The engine, she knocks, Monsieur," Morshky answered him.

"Well, it makes me nervous," Swaggarty said.

"Sorry, Monsieur," replied Morshky. "I shall have it fixed first thing tomorrow morning. My brother-in-law Gaston owns a garage on the Ile St. Louis. You may know the place. It's right across from the park."

"Just take me to the Folies Bergere, please," said the passenger. "I'm not in the mood for conversation."

"Oui, Monsieur," said Morshky and put on the radio to help mask the sound of the abducted driver's thumping. As Morshky drove, his mind worked feverishly to form a plan. Considering the lateness of the hour, the Kronos Warp would have to be opening in the vicinity of the Folies Bergere. Not that it mattered. Morshky's first priority was to apprehend Swaggarty, though he couldn't do this until he stopped the cab, and to stop before reaching his destination would be to invite suspicion. Swaggarty was surely armed and would react instantaneously.

Having no choice but to go to the Folies Bergere, Morshky completed the last leg of the journey and soon pulled over outside the burlesque house. When Swaggarty got out, he would follow him, administer a quick sleeper hold, throw him in the back seat, and drive off again. But Morshky's plans were thwarted as, instead of paying his fare, Swaggarty placed the muzzle of a gun against the back of his head. "You didn't think that insipid disguise would fool me?" he said to Morshky. "Now get out slowly and walk towards the Folies Bergere, or my weapon will speak with a tongue of hot lead."

"'Tongue of hot lead' is pretty thick, isn't it?"

"I happen to like it," Swaggarty returned. "And I'm the one with the gun. Now, allez! Move it!"

Minutes later, Morshky and Swaggarty were seated at a table with a good view of the stage.

"Nice tits on these French broads," Swaggarty said, sipping his drink.

"You didn't come here for the show," Morshky told him. "I know all about the Kronos Warp and how you sold out to the aliens."

"Bet they gave you that junk about hallucinations too. Ebola brain virus and all the rest," Swaggarty replied coolly, signaling the waiter for a refill. "Sure you won't have a scotch? My treat, after all," he concluded.

"No thanks," said Morshky. "And don't try to psych me out."

"Have it your way," Swaggarty said, rattling the ice cubes in his glass as he watched the revue with one eye and Morshky with the other. "But what they told you is a line of bullshit a mile-and-a-half long. Fact is, you've been duped by a sophisticated international heroin ring into acting like a total schmuck."

"I remember us back in the Jurassic. Kidnapped by aliens. Living together as a homosexual couple in Soho. All of it."

"Subliminal programming. They piped it through your TV. You watch a lot of TV, right?"

"Yeah, I have cable. I mean, I did in my hallucination."

"There you go."

"It doesn't make sense. Why use me? I was a nobody in my hallucination."

"You were the wrong guy in the right place. Your neighbor was stockpiling Pakistani heroin in his apartment. He used to ship it out in clay figurines he'd make. Posing as a potter enabled him to stay home all day without arousing attention. He got the heroin from Big Al's Piazza San Marco Pizzeria, which is how the ring found out about you."

"You mean through the pizza delivery boy."

"You got it," said Swaggarty. "The pizza delivery boy kept his eyes open. He told Big Al you lived directly below the heroin warehouse, so you were an easy target for a scam. They knew I had traced the main transshipment point for the heroin to the men's room of the Folies Bergere, and they wanted me dead. They needed a Judas Goat to lead them to me."

"Yeah? What about my apartment? My wife, Alice? And what about the triceratops coming out of my head?"

"Once they got you downstairs they drugged you with a painless pneumatic injector. You didn't even feel a thing. You might never have gone back upstairs. It could all have been drug-induced suggestion. Have you tried phoning your wife?"

"No. I thought I was... I mean I am... hallucinating."

"Well, it doesn't matter," Swaggarty said with a shrug. "It's time we went to the men's room. There's a ten-kilo brick of Pakistani white hidden in the water tank of the commode in the last stall." He took out a cellular flip-phone. "The minute they go for the horse, I call in Interpol and La Surete."

Not forgetting that Swaggarty still had a gun trained on him from beneath the newspaper he carried, Morshky had no choice but to do as Swaggarty told him. He didn't believe Swaggarty's story, although he had to admit that it did have a certain ring of truth to it.

Morshky's only option was to wait for the right moment to attack Swaggarty and commandeer his weapon. Then he would see what was what. That moment came when a drunken Japanese patron, exiting the men's room, stumbled against Swaggarty and spoiled his aim. Seizing opportunity, Morshky attacked with a lightning series of wing chun moves. Swaggarty was no match for him in unarmed combat. Few were. Moments later, Morshky was holding the gun and calling the shots.

"Get up and stand against the urinal like I'm doing," he ordered. "We'll pretend we're relieving ourselves until they come in for the heroin. If your story checks out, you can make your arrest." Almost immediately three men strode into the men's room.

"Swaggarty, you're coming with us. You did good, Morshky," said Smithers, now back in mufti. "There'll be a medal in this for you."

Morshky turned but trained his gun on Smithers and his men. "Not so fast. First clasp your hands behind your heads. I have a few questions for you."

"I'll just go get the heroin," Swaggarty said, making a move toward the last commode.

"Don't you move either," Morshky ordered him. "Get over there with them. I'll check on the heroin myself."

"Don't be a fool, Morshky!" yelled Smithers. "The Kronos Warp is in that toilet stall. It's probably active right now. If you step in there you may never return."

"Call Interpol," Morshky told Swaggarty.

"I can't," he said, after fiddling with the cell phone. "It seems to have been broken during the fight."

"See? He's a liar!" shouted Smithers. "I'll call on my own cell phone. I have a direct line to Interpol."

"Don't move a muscle," Morshky shouted.

But Smithers was already reaching inside his coat jacket. Morshky reacted instantly, his training taking over. The silenced automatic pistol spat a deadly fusillade of bullets that cut down Smithers and the two agents alongside him. In that instant, Morshky saw Swaggarty lunge at him, but pivoted just in time to empty his magazine into Swaggarty's belly. Swaggarty fell against the urinal behind him, covering it with blood and gore.

Morshky flung away the spent automatic pistol and tore open the door of the last commode. Lifting the porcelain lid of the toilet tank, he found an airtight plastic bag which was filled with a white, powdery substance.

So Swaggarty had been telling the truth, he realized. That meant he hadn't been hallucinating after all, at least not on bioengineered Ebola virus. Which meant...

He remembered that Smithers had said he had a cell phone on him. It turned out he did, but not in the place for which he'd been reaching, where there was hidden a shoulder-holstered Webley automatic. The cell phone was in Smithers' left jacket pocket, and it worked.

Minutes later, Morshky had placed two successive calls. The first was to his home in Queens, where he assured his wife Alice that he was safe and sound. The second was to the French police, explaining the situation in the flawless Parisian French he'd been using throughout his stay in Paris, which he probably owed to the drug ring's subliminal conditioning, he surmised.

These matters having been attended to, Morshky realized he needed a double bourbon in a very great hurry. Besides, he had no intention of remaining in the men's room a moment longer than necessary. He would buttonhole the maitre 'd and very discreetly let him in on what had happened. Then he would find himself a table in the back where he could sip his drink and regain his composure until the flic arrived on scene and took matters in hand. Morshky pushed open the door to find a prehistoric jungle. A triceratops not ten feet away was looking straight at him. It charged.

 

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