Wet Work: A Tale of the Unseen
by Matthew S. Rotundo
Shambling, vaguely man-shaped creatures parted before Ellie's H2 as she pulled it into a vacant
space in the mansion's paved courtyard. Her headlights picked out eyeless faces, gaping jaws
that revealed rows of teeth, skin that literally hung and drooped off the creatures' limbs, giving
them a half-melted appearance. They bore no resemblance to any Unseen in Ellie's experience.
And they were everywhere, a crowd of at least forty of the things. Even with the windows shut
against the chill October night, she could smell them -- a rotted, carrion stench.
At the far end of the courtyard, the vast black bulk of the mansion rose into the night sky, its
entrance flanked by spires that made the place look like a castle. Yellow-orange light shone
from various windows. Flashy, even for this remote part of Long Island.
Her hand strayed to the silvery medallion, engraved with arcane characters and designs, that
hung around her neck. It had been given to her at the end of the last challenge. She had shown it
at the main gate, some half a mile back, at the other end of a drive that wound up the forested
hill. The security guard had instructed her, for her own safety, to keep it on her person at all
times while on the grounds. With another glance at the shambling creatures, she understood
Cars filled the courtyard -- Ferraris, BMWs, Porsches, and the like. Apparently, this final
challenge would have an audience, and a well-heeled one, at that. Another reminder, as if she
needed it, of how high the stakes had become. Ellie was glad she'd opted to dress up for the
evening, wearing one of her nicest black gowns, diamond earrings, and heels.
She parked and got out, braced by the autumnal breezes on the night air. The eyeless things paid
her no mind. They just shambled on their way to wherever they were going, jaws agape.
Another vehicle pulled into the courtyard and found a nearby parking space. She recognized the
car, a big maroon Chrysler that looked black in the moonlight. Mackenzie. Her final rival.
Ellie's eyes narrowed.