It will take a little while. This is how it opens:
The White Lady of Christmas
It was snowing – thick, white, fluffy flakes – when I came across the beauty with empty eyes.
This was rare, because it didn’t normally snow in LA. In fact the last large snow storm worthy of the name had been in 1949, almost a hundred years ago.
But then again, we were in the vicinity of the spaceport, and once the space magicians had started doing their thing in this neighborhood, the weather – and just about everything else – had gone to hell. It was about as normal to wake up to a hundred degrees as to freezing weather on Christmas morning. Or midsummer.
On the other hand, it made the neighborhood really cheap for a barely-surviving PI like me. Lately frankly more attuned to the barely than the surviving. The rent was late again, I hadn’t had a decent meal in three days, and the holes in my soles which I’d plugged up with cardboard were letting snow in to freeze and wet my shoes. And there would be no jobs till after Christmas.
For some reason, cheating spouses, crooked business partners and evil warlocks might not take a break at Christmas, but those who wish to catch them seem to. It’s as though for the duration of the season, people want to believe the best of everyone around them. Which meant that people like me, who made a living off the worst in humanity starved. I’d be going to the soup kitchen for Christmas dinner at this rate.
My mind was on my problems, my heart in the vicinity of the holes in my shoes, when I saw her. She was tall and beautiful, like the lost dreams of youth, with pale blond hair, big blue eyes, and the kind of lips that made you think of frozen raspberries.
I thought I was hallucinating her, and stood, my eyes wide open, staring, as a man does who walked into a dream. In this weather, she was wearing a form-fitting white dress of sparkling white silk. Snow flakes clustered in her pale hair. Her eyes were thoroughly empty.
She stared at me without blinking, and then the frozen raspberry lips formed two words: help me!
I tried to say “with what?” but my throat was dry, and I couldn’t summon words.
She put her hand out and touched mine. Her hand was ice cold. And then she was gone, walking very fast, past me, her heels clicking rhythmically on the pavement, somehow not at all muffled by the snow.
I’d seen those empty eyes before. A PI comes across all sorts of things, but eventually we always come across necromancers. My first case had been a necromancer who used the residents of entire cemeteries as workers in his factories.
For just a moment, under the unnatural snow, I considered running to St. Joe’s down the street. I wasn’t very prone to religion, but there are things in this business that make even an atheist want to cross himself and bathe in holy water.
Worse, after the shock wore off, I realized that not only did I know what those empty eyes meant, I knew who that woman was. Myrene Myrreile had smiled at me from a hundred movie screens, her expressive face reflecting whatever the movie plot called for.
The hair rose at the back of my head. Someone in Hollywood was playing with necromancy.