The Flash: Johnny Quick est écrit par l'auteur de best-seller Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), et suit Barry Allen qui continu sa mission de protéger Central City du sinistre Hocus Pocus — mais cette fois, avec un nouveau mal rôde dans les rues de la ville.
Prologue en anglais Modifier
Beneath the city, two hearts beat. One throbbed along at a comfortable pace of seventy-five beats per minute, a rate that would cause neither panic nor even alarm if you were monitoring it.
The other . . . raced.
Well over 120 beats per minute. A ferocious, terrified heart rate. Unsustainable in the long term.
Herb Shawn, whose heartbeat was the accelerated one, lay terrified in the filth of the tunnels beneath Central City. His eyes had adjusted to what could most charitably be described as murky quarter-light from an old emergency lamp that winked and flickered at random. It wasn’t possible to see so much as to perceive vague, moving hazes and glimmering fogs. From the echoes of water and his own panicked breathing, the chamber he was in must have been large, but all he could reckon of it was the wall behind him.
His vision was limited and his hearing brought him only hollow echoes, but his sense of smell was working full-time. More’s the pity. The reek of the sewer assailed him; even when he held his breath, it violently insinuated itself into his nostrils like a burrowing groundhog seeking shelter.
He lay half-covered in grimy water, in which floated things he did not want to identify. The cold of the water had settled into his bones; he could barely feel his legs, though 2 he knew they itched to stand, to run.
Not that he could do either. He was shackled to the wall, connected by a hefty chain to a stout U-bolt. He’d tried a few experimental tugs when he’d woken, but the chain had not budged. He was securely held in place. Down here in the dark and the echoey quiet and the stink.
And just then . . . a sound. Something on the farthest periphery of his hearing. But it was there, no doubt. Something moved out there in the water.
A rat? Something else? He’d heard a crazy rumor about some kind of ape or gorilla living in the sewers, but that just had to be nonsense. is whole city had gone crazy ever since that explosion a few years back. People were seeing things every which way they turned. He should have moved by now. Should have moved to Coast City or Star City or even St. Roch. Anywhere was better than—
There. There it was again. Something in the water. Small. A rat. Had to be.
He was both grateful and disgusted at the same time. A rat, even a big one, could be fended off. But what if there were more, lurking just beyond? Could he fight off a swarm of them before—
His heartbeat, already rocketing, leaped even further as a figure swam out of the murk before him, leaning in. In utter terror, he shrieked, screaming loud and long. Thee sound echoed from the walls, overlapping his own scream, filling his ears to the bursting point.
The figure (the possessor of the other, calmer heartbeat beneath Central City that night) waited patiently until Herb had stopped screaming. It was tall, looming over him, seeming even taller for its thinness and the forced perspective of Herb’s position on the ground. It was human but somehow inhuman at the same time. Two arms, two legs, a head, but . . . So tall and so skinny that it seemed more a disjointed skeleton assembled out of parts than a living, breathing organism. Its skin was sallow, the color of old lemons, and its nose was the barest scrap of a bump, the nostrils wide and flaring. Ridges rose from its eyes to the apex of its bald head, furrows of flesh that gave it a demonic appearance.
It wore a shabby coat and threadbare jeans with a long, bedraggled red scarf knotted around its neck. A rat perched on its shoulder, patiently regarding Herb with glittering, hungry eyes.
“Please . . .” Herb whimpered. It was the only word he could conjure in that moment.
The figure leaned in close. Its jaundiced flesh seemed rotten somehow, as though it had died even though the person to whom it clung still lived. As Herb watched, a cluster of worms erupted from the lapel of the figure’s jacket and slithered along the fabric.
“Please,” he said again.
The man—for it was a man, Herb realized, though one more grotesque and misshapen than any he’d ever seen before—tilted his malformed head to one side. The rat chittered softly in his ear.
“You have. Something. I need.” The man’s voice sounded like a rusty, broken fan, staccato and raspy. “Once I take it from you, you’ll be set free. Set free to roam the Upworld again.”
Herb nodded fiercely. He would agree to anything, give up anything, just to get this chain o his wrist and see the sunlight again. “You can have it. Whatever it is.” Herb thought quickly of the contents of his pockets. He had little cash on him, but he would give it all up. His credit cards, too. And his cell phone, of course. It had been soaking in the water for a while now and might not even work, but he would buy a new one for this creature if that’s what it took.
“Good.” The man nodded once, with finality, and produced something from his pocket. “Let’s begin.”
He leaned in farther—and Herb saw that what he’d withdrawn from his pocket was a surgical scalpel.
Herb screamed again. For a very, very long time.