Thirteen hours later he was in Austria, the head of the tadpole part, bussing into Innsbruck on a hunch.
A book he’d read said there was a cabinet in the castle there and nearby was a room with a bath dug into the floor and a painting of a wolfman at the entrance, and that was exactly the kind of detail that Professors of Dark Light wrote poems about, or he thought they would, mainly cos of the note he’d been left in Kagoshima, the story of the woman at Uji Bridge, with the bold underlines of
‘she bathed in the Uji river for 21 days, divided her hair into five horns, painted her body red with vermilion, and went on a legendary killing spree.’
He still didn’t know what vermilion was but he understood the weirdness of it and why Professors of Dark Light would be drawn towards the ‘five horn, paint your body red, 21 days’ part.
The castle was covered in snow when he got there because it was November 28th and the wolfman painting was exactly where the book had promised it would be, so the only thing left to do was find the cabinet and ditch the Chinese murderer, Joanna, who’d been walking fifteen yards behind him ever since he’d boarded the train from Ljubljana station.
It was weird, no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t shake her, not even when the train got into Salzburg and he’d sprinted out of the station and kept going for twenty minutes down side roads and alleys, then looped back and into the same station and onto the platform to wait for the next train to Innsbruck, it was no good cos somehow she’d known his plan and was sitting on a bench on the same platform waiting for the same train, her line being: if he were really staying in Salzburg, he wouldn’t have sprinted out of the station.
It was dubious logic, but it worked then and it worked in Innsbruck station too as, somehow, she knew it was the castle he was aiming for, which meant they’d ended up on the same bus, bought the same ticket and were now looking at the same row of paintings.
‘He looks like you,’ she whispered, pointing at the wolfman portrait nearby.Continue reading