Agents of Light and Darkness

Agents of

Light and Darkness

Nightside 2

Simon R. Green

Everyone Believes in Something

There is only the one church in the Nightside. It’s called St. Jude’s. I only ever go there on business. It’s nowhere near the Street of the Gods, with its many and varied places of worship. It’s tucked away in a quiet corner, shadowed and obscured, no part of the Nightside’s usual bright and gaudy neon noir. It doesn’t advertise, and it doesn’t care if you habitually pass by on the other side. It’s just there, for when you need it. Dedicated to the patron saint of lost causes, St. Jude’s is an old, old place; a cold stone structure possibly older even than Christianity itself. The bare stone walls are grey and featureless, unmarked by time or design, with only a series of narrow slits for windows. One great slab of stone, covered with a cloth of white samite, serves as an altar, facing two rows of blocky wooden pews. A single silver cross hangs on the wall beyond the altar; and that’s it. St. Jude’s isn’t a place for comfort, for frills and fancies and the trappings of religion. There is no priest or attendant, and there are no services. St. Jude’s is, quite simply, your last chance in the Nightside for salvation, sanctuary, or one final desperate word with your God. Come to this church looking for a spiritual Band-Aid, and you could end up with a hell of a lot more than you bargained for.

Prayers are heard in St. Jude’s; and sometimes answered.

I use the church occasionally as a meeting place. Neutral ground is so hard to come by in the Nightside. Only occasionally, though. All are welcome to enter St. Jude’s, but not everyone comes out again. The church protects and preserves itself, and no-one wants to know how. But this time, I had a specific reason for being here. I was counting on the nature of the place to protect me from the terrible thing that was coming. From the awful creature I had very reluctantly agreed to meet.

I sat stiffly on the hard wooden seat of the front pew, huddled inside my white trench coat against the bitter chill that always permeated the place. I glared about me and tried not to fidget. Nothing to look a and nothing to do, and I wasn’t about to waste my time in prayer. Ever since my enemies first tried to kill me as a child, I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t depend on anyone but myself. I stirred restlessly, resisting the urge to get up and pace back and forth. Somewhere out there in the night, a force of destruction was heading straight for me, and all I could do was sit tight and wait for it to come. I let one hand drift down to the shoe box on the seat beside me, just to reassure myself it hadn’t gone anywhere since the last time I checked. What was in the box might protect me from what was coming, or it might not. Life’s like that; particularly in the Nightside. And especially when you’re the famous—or infamous—John Taylor, who has been known to boast he can find anything. Even when it gets him into situations like this.

The dozen candles I’d brought and lit and placed around the church didn’t do much to dispel the general gloom of the place. The air was still and cold and dank, and there were far too many shadows. Sitting there, in the quiet, listening to the dust fall, I could feel the age of the place, feel all