Nathan Crosby has a problem. His gambling addiction is bad enough, but
when he tries to run out on newcomer, Leroy, in a back room poker game
his troubles really begin. As he hurries into the back alley behind
Ruby’s Bar he is certain that his lies have saved him from paying a
debt he cannot afford. But Leroy is not all he appears to be. Nor does
he have any intention of letting Nathan off the hook. Instead, he has
a unique way of extracting what he is owed.
And the payment will be larger than the debt.
“What are we going to do with you?” Leroy asked.
“Let me go,” replied Nathan hopefully.
“It was a rhetorical question,” snapped Leroy. “I already know what
I’m going to do with you.”
Nathan licked his lips and swallowed.
“Who are you? What are you going to do with me?”
The creature that had once been Leroy snickered.
“I’m someone you should never have crossed. As to what I’m going to do to you…”
He stepped behind Nathan and clamped the palm of his hand to the top
of Nathan’s head. At the point where flesh met flesh, Leroy’s nails
extended into talons that hooked into Nathan’s scalp, locking the two
“Since you’re so fond of telling stories, so fond of those fantasies
that little brain of yours is constantly manufacturing for gain and
pleasure, I suggest we get them all out in the open.”
From the darkness there was a scuffing sound, like dozens of tiny feet
hurrying towards him. Nathan’s blood froze. His eyes darted backwards
and forwards across the shadows for the first sign of movement. His
wait was not a long one.
The tiny feet carried tiny grey bodies with distended bellies and when
they drew nearer he could see a multitude of oversized eyes staring up
at him from gaunt, grey faces and dozens of thin black lips displaying
cruel smirks. They couldn’t have been more than fifteen centimeters
tall, and each of their bony, clawed hands gripped a knife with an
exotic blade and a keen edge.
Nathan began to struggle against the hand that held him tight, but
there were other forces at work.
“What are you doing to me?” he cried.
There was no reply.
The creatures leapt onto him, using their tools to slash through his
clothing until it fell away from him in shredded ribbons. Even his
shoes, of leather and rubber, were made short work of as was his dark
brown hair. Locks of it swept down over his face and back, tickling
before skating off his body and landing in feathery piles on the