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The Tomb

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The Tomb

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Alternate Title: Rakoshi
Author: F. Paul Wilson
Publisher: Borderlands Press, 2004
Tor, 1998
Berkley Publishing Group, 1984
Series: Repairman Jack: Book 1
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Horror
Sub-Genre Tags: Demons
Mythic Fiction (Horror)
Avg Member Rating:
(29 reads / 16 ratings)


Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Gia, Repairman Jack doesn't deal with appliances. He fixes situations - situations that too often land him in deadly danger. His latest fix is finding a stolen necklace which, unknown to him, is more than a simple piece of jewelry.

Some might say it's cursed, others might call it blessed. The quest leads Jack to a rusty freighter on Manhattan's West Side docks. What he finds in its hold threatens his sanity and the city around him. But worst of all, it threatens Gia's daughter Vicky, the last surviving member of a bloodline marked for extinction.

Note from the author:

Some of you who read pre-1998 editions of The Tomb have questioned (and rightfully so) how Legacies, so obviously a contemporary novel, could take place only months after The Tomb, which was definitely set in the mid 1980s. The answer is simple: I cheated. I changed The Tomb for the new 1998 edition.

You see, I never planned to bring Jack back. But when I did, I realized I'd either have to set his new stories in the eighties, or go back and change The Tomb. I chose the latter and removed all references that would moor The Tomb in a specific era. The 1998 edition is now what we authors like to call "the preferred text."

All the new Repairman Jack novels loop out from The Tomb and will weave their way back toward Nightworld. I don't know how many we'll end up with. When they stop being fun to write or when I notice I'm starting to repeat myself, I'll quit and move on to something else.


Chapter One

Thursday, August 2

I. Repairman Jack awoke with light in his eyess, white noise in his ears, and an ache in his back.

He had fallen asleep on the couch in the spare bedroom where he kept his VCR and projection TV. He turned his head toward the set. A nervous tweed pattern buzzed around on the six-foot screen while the air conditioner in the right half of the double window beside it worked full blast to keep the room at seventy.

He got to his feet with a groan and shut off the TV projector The hiss of white noise stopped. He leaned over and touched his toes, then straightened and rotated his lower spine. His back was killing him. That couch was made for sitting, not sleeping.

He stepped to the VCR and ejected the tape. He had fallen asleep during the closing credits of the 1931 Frankenstein part one of Repairman Jack's unofficial James Whale Festival.

Poor Henry Frankenstein, he thought, slipping the cassette into its box. Despite all evidence to the contrary, despite what everyone around him thought, Henry had been sure he was sane.

Jack located the proper slot in the cassette rack on the wall, shoved Frankenstein in and pulled out its neighbor: Bride of Frankenstein, part two of his private James Whale Festival.

A glance out the window revealed the usual vista of sandy shore, still blue ocean, and supine sunbathers. He was tired of the view. Especially since some of the bricks had started showing through. Three years since he'd had the scene painted on the blank wall facing the windows of this and the other bedroom. Long enough. The beach scene no longer interested him. Perhaps a rain forest mural would be better. With lots of birds and reptiles and animals hiding in the foliage. Yes... a rain forest. He filed the thought away. He'd have to keep an eye out for someone who could do the job justice.

The phone began ringing in the front room. Who that could be? He'd changed his number a couple of months ago. Only a few people had it He didn't bother to lift the receiver. The answerphone would take care of that. He heard a click, heard his own voice start his standard salutation:

"Pinocchio Productions... I'm not in right now, but if you'll--"

A woman's voice broke in over his own, her tone impatient "Pick up if you're there, Jack. Otherwise I'll call back later."


Jack nearly tripped over his own feet in his haste to reach the phone. He turned off the answerphone with one hand and picked up the receiver with the other.

"Gia? That you?"

"Yes, it's me." Her voice was flat, almost resentful.

"God! It's been a long time!" Two months. Forever. He had to sit down. "I'm so glad you called,"

"It's not what you think, Jack."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not calling for myself. If it were up to me I wouldn't be calling at all. But Nellie asked me to."

His jubilation faded, but he kept talking. "Who's Nellie?" He drew a blank on the name.

"Nellie Paton. You must remember Nellie and Grace--the two English ladies?"

"Oh, yeah. How could I forget? They introduced us."

"I've managed to forgive them."

Jack let that go by without comment. "What's the problem?"

"Grace has disappeared. She hasn't been seen since she went to bed Monday night."

He remembered Grace Westphalen: a very prim and proper Englishwoman pushing seventy. Not the eloping sort.

"Have the police--?"

"Of course. But Nellie wanted me to call you to see if you'd help. So I'm calling."

Does she want me to come over?"

"Yes. If you will."

"Will you be there?"

She gave an exasperated sigh. "Yes. Are you coming or not?"

"I'm on my way."

"Better wait. The patrolmen who were here said a detective from the department would be coming by this morning."

"Oh." That wasn't good.

"I thought that might slow you up."

She didn't have to sound so smug about it. "I'll be there after lunch."

"You know the address?"

"I know it's a yellow townhouse on Sutton Square. There's only one."

"I'll tell her to expect you."

And then she hung up.

Jack tossed the receiver in his hand, cradled it on the answerphone again and flipped the switch to On;

He was going to see Gia today. She had called him. She hadn't been friendly, and she had said she was calling for someone else--but she had called. That was more than she had done since she had walked out He couldn't help feeling good.

He strolled through his third-floor apartment's front room which served as living room and dining room. He found the room immensely comfortable, but few visitors shared his enthusiasm. His best friend, Abe Grossman, had, in one of his more generous moods, described the room as "claustrophobic." When Abe was feeling grumpy he said it made the Addams Family house look like it had been decorated by Bauhaus.

Old movie posters covered the walls along with bric-a-brac shelves loaded with the "neat stuff" Jack continually picked up in forgotten junk, stores during his wanderings through the city. He wound his way through a collection of old Victorian golden oak furniture that left little room for anything else. There was a seven-foot hutch, intricately carved, a fold-out secretary, a sagging, high-backed sofa, a massive claw-foot dining table, two end tables whose legs each ended in a bird's foot clasping a crystal sphere, and his favorite, a big, wing-back chair.

He reached the bathroom and started the hated morning ritual of shaving. As he ran the razor over his cheeks and throat he again considered the idea of a beard. He didn't have a bad face. Brown eyes, dark brown hair growing perhaps a little too low on his forehead. A nose neither too big nor too small. He smiled at himself in the mirror. Not an altogether hideous grimace--what they used to call a shit-eating grin. The teeth could have been whiter and straighter, and the lips were on the thin side, but not a bad smile. An inoffensive face. As an added bonus, there was a wiry, well-muscled, five-eleven frame that went along with the face at no extra charge.

So what's not to like?

His smile faltered.

Ask Gia. She seems, to think she knows what's not to like.

But all that was going to change starting today.

After a quick shower, he dressed and downed a couple of bowls of Cocoa Puffs, men strapped on his ankle holster and slipped the world's smallest .45, a Semmerling skeleton model LM-4, into it. He knew the holster was going to be hot against his leg, but he never went out unarmed. His peace of mind would compensate for any physical discomfort.

He checked the peephole in the front door, then twisted the central knob, retracting the four bolts at the top, bottom, and both sides. The heat in the third floor hall slammed against him at the threshhold. He was wearing Levi's and a lightweight short-sleeve shirt He was glad he had skipped the undershirt. Already the humidity in the hall was worming its way into his clothes and oozing over his skin as he headed down to the street.

Jack stood on the front steps for a moment. Sunlight glared sullenly through the haze over the roof of the Museum of Natural History far down the street to his right. The wet air hung motionless above the pavement. He could see it, smell it, taste it--and it looked, smelled, and tasted dirty. Dust, soot, and lint laced with carbon monoxide, with perhaps a hint of rancid butter from the garbage can around the corner in the alley.

Ah! The Upper West Side in August.

He ambled down to the sidewalk and walked west along the row of brownstones that lined his street to the phone booth on the corner. Not a boom, actually; an open chrome and plastic crate on a pedestal. At least it was still in one piece. At regular intervals someone yanked out its receiver, leaving multicolored strands of wire dangling from the socket like nerves from an amputated-limb stump. At other times someone would take the time and effort to jam a small wedge of paper into the coin slot, or the tips of toothpicks into the tiny spaces between die pushbuttons and the facing. He never ceased to be amazed by the strange hobbies of some of his fellow New Yorkers.

He dialed his office number and sounded his beeper into the mouthpiece. A recorded voice--not Jack's--came over the wire with the familiar message:

"This is Repairman Jack. I'm out on a call now, but when you hear the tone, leave your name and number and give me a brief idea of the nature of your problem. I'll get back to you as soon as possible."

There was a tone and then a woman's voice talking about a problem with the timer on her dryer. Another beep and a man was looking for some free information on how to fix a blender. Jack ignored the numbers they gave; he had no intention of calling them back. But how did they get his number? He had restricted his name to the white pages--with an incorrect street address, naturally--to cut down on appliance repair calls, but people managed to find him anyway.

The third and last voice was unique: smooth in tone, the words clipped, rapid, tinged with Britain, but definitely not British. Jack knew a couple of Pakistanis who sounded like that. The man was obviously upset, and stumbled over his words.

"Mr. Jack... my mother--my grandmothers-was beaten terribly last night. I must speak to you immediately. It is terribly important." He gave his name and a number where he could be reached.

That was one call Jack would return, even though he was going to have to turn the man down. He intended to devote all his time to Gia's problem. And to Gia. This might be his last chance with her.

He punched in the number. The clipped voice answered in the middle of the second ring.

"Mr. Bahkti? This is Repairman Jack. You called my office during the night and--"

Mr. Bahkti was suddenly very guarded. "This is not the same voice on the answering machine."

Sharp, Jack thought. The voice on the machine belonged to Abe Grossman. Jack never used his own voice on the office phone. But most people didn't spot that.

"An old tape," Jack told him.

"Ahhh. Well, then. I must see you immediately, Mr. Jack. It i...

Copyright © 1984 by F. Paul Wilson


The Tomb

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The Tomb

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