"The Girl with the Phantom Eyes"
An Adventure Starring Lazarus Gray
by: Barry Reese
PRO SE PRESENTS Peculiar Adventures #2
BUY YOURS TODAY AT http://stores.lulu.com/proseproductions
Chapter I. - Man on the Beach
Sovereign City, Summer 1933
Lightning tore across the sky, briefly illuminating the gloomy scene below. Sovereign City Harbor was home to more derelict vessels than the average man could count and a pitiful stretch of shoreline did little to improve the look of the place. It was covered with washed-up debris, the dried bones of fish and several dozen broken bottles.
A well-built man lay facedown on the shore, his face turned to the side. A long streak of blood ran from his temple down his cheek and his eyes twitched continuously beneath their lids. He wore black trousers, a ripped white shirt and black loafers. His hair was more gray than brown, making him look older than he was, though a close examination of his features revealed that he was in his late twenties.
Again lightning brightened the beach and a loud crash of thunder seemed to permeate the haze surrounding the man’s brain. His eyes opened and he slowly pushed himself to his knees, looking slowly around. His breathing was measured and regular, though his jaw was clenched as if he felt some inner pain. With a grunt, he rose to his feet and staggered toward the city, one hand pressed tightly against his side. At least one rib, possibly two, had been broken, though he couldn’t remember how it had happened. In fact, he couldn’t remember anything at all – he didn’t know his own name or how he came to be here. He cast one quick glance back at the choppy waters but saw no nearby boats or ships from which he could have come. The vessels moored in the harbor were surely too far away, he mused.
Another rumble of thunder seemed to rock the ground upon which he walked. He momentarily lost his footing and slipped back to the moist earth. His fingers closed tightly around something as he sought to catch himself, something cold and metallic buried in the dirt. He brought it close to his face, peering through the darkness at it. A rain began to fall then, large drops that cooled his burning flesh.
He was holding a small medallion. A notch on the top indicated that it normally had a cord of some kind that ran through it, allowing its owner to wear it. It depicted a nude human man with an erect penis, bearing a sword in his right hand. His head was that of a roaring lion. On the back of the medallion were two words, a name that had been scratched into the surface with some sharp object: Lazarus Gray.
“You okay, pal?”
A policeman was approaching, pointing a flashlight directly at him. “I think so,” he answered hoarsely.
“Looks like you took a spill.”
“I hit my head while swimming to shore.” He wasn’t sure why he was lying, why he wasn’t telling the policeman that he didn’t know who he was or how he’d gotten there… but the lies came easily enough.
The policeman stopped a few feet away him, trailing the flashlight up and down the man’s body.
“I don’t think so, pal.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Your clothes ain’t wet.”
He looked down, cursing himself for not having noticed something so obvious. He slipped the medallion into his pocket and forced a smile. “Would you believe I’ve been on the beach long enough to have dried out?’
“How about you tell me your name?”
After pausing for a brief second, he uttered another lie and by doing so unknowingly set himself down a dangerous path. “My name’s Lazarus Gray.”
The officer’s eyes narrowed and he quickly threw a punch at the man who was now calling himself Lazarus. To his own surprise, Lazarus moved aside with practiced ease and threw up his hand to catch the policeman under the chin with a karate chop. He then gripped the man by the shoulder and pulled him close, driving a knee into the officer’s stomach. He finished him off with a backhand that sent one of the man’s teeth flying from his mouth.
Lazarus stood over the fallen man and realized that he wasn’t panting at all. He had reacted automatically, fluidly calling upon skills he hadn’t even known he’d possessed. He knelt down and searched the officer’s pockets, finding a black leather wallet that contained three dollars in cash, a driver’s license in the name of Arthur Redwood and a small photograph of a handsome man with gray-tinged hair, dressed in a tuxedo. Lazarus knew that this was a photo of himself, even though he couldn’t recall ever having seen his own face. He pocketed the photograph and stood up, having come to the conclusion that this man was not a police officer at all. Up close, his badge looked fake and there was nothing in his wallet to verify his position with law enforcement. Though he couldn’t recall how he would have known this, Lazarus also recognized that the gun in the man’s holster was not regulation issue.
Lazarus looked back toward the city and made his decision. He had to get away from here. Answers would come later but for now he had to keep moving. This man had intended to harm him, possibly even kill him. He couldn’t take the chance that this man was operating on his own: in fact, something told him that wasn’t the case at all. Lazarus stripped the man of his weapon, pushing the barrel of the gun into the front of his slacks. He pulled the tails of his button-down shirt out of his pants and let them hang, obscuring anyone’s view of the gun.