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The Cold Man

The Cold Man can feel the cards tumbling in his head as he runs unaided, every step a guess on broken ground. He doesn’t sweat, but he can still smell his own fear. No doubt he’s not alone.

He shouldn’t have to work like this. They’ve done something here beyond electric fencing–he can shrug that off–and he can’t get grounded. He feels the bullet whine past, a soft tug of air. He’s probably got ten seconds.

Cards shuffle, wash, flip: a Lady. Good, bad–

At nine seconds he dives, finds the ley trunk, is gone faster than air allows.


The Cold Man has a severe, chattering stutter, something she didn’t expect from somebody with his curriculum mortis. Thirty-two professional icings, fewer than sixty bullets.

“N-ni-n-nice to mee-m-m-meet y-you,” he finally manages after bowing to Rita, hand in glove. “H-h-h-hear you d-do-d-do ex-ce-ek-excel-e-excel–”

“Charmed,” she’d said, but now, watching by remote, she’s not so forgiving. “He’s just walking in!” she says urgently. “There’s temp-variance alarms everywhere, dogs, who knows –”

Sandra leans over and taps the infrared. Impossibly, he disappears in a wash of blue.

“Why’d you think we called him that?” she asks, amused. “Because he talks funny?”