The Brothers Cabal (Johannes Cabal #4)

All your suits, cravats, socks, and shoes are black. All your shirts and underwear are white.’ He looked at the rug by the bed. ‘And your slippers are red tartan. You don’t have outfits, Johannes. You have a uniform.

Also, please charge my fountain pen and bring it with you.

Apparently the Ministerium Tenebrae had decided to conquer the region using the unusual twin-pronged attack of zombies and avant-garde artwork.

At our discretion,’ said Collingwood firmly. ‘We’re not charities, ma’am, we are businessmen. No donations. Only investments.’ To punctuate his point, he crossed his arms, adopted an adamant expression, and fell unconscious. The servant behind his chair caught him before he could fall forward.

Horst…’ He lowered his voice, ashamed. ‘I’ve done things since then. Things you don’t know about.’ The confession almost choked him, but somehow he forced the words out. ‘I’ve done good things.

Horst, I am not as single-minded—’ ‘Bloody-minded…’ ‘—as I was. On occasion I have been known to not do something despite it being logical, or done something despite it being somewhat irrational.’ ‘That is the most grudging description of a conscience I have ever heard.

Horst lurked in a corner, sitting upon a tea chest, and undermining any menace his vampiric presence might have brought to proceedings by reading an ancient copy of Comic Cuts that he had found somewhere.

Horst, you are a good man. You have always been so, and your soul is an untrammelled thing indeed.’ Horst winced and interrupted. ‘Ah. Well. Maybe not. There was that business with a lacrosse team…’ Now it was Cabal’s turn to wince. ‘Did anyone suffer?’ ‘Oh, no. Nothing like that.’ ‘Was everyone happy?’ ‘I flatter myself a little to think, yes. Everyone was very nice afterwards, anyway.’ ‘Then shut up. In a world as grimy and sin-ridden as ours, you’re a paragon precisely because your intentions are always good.’ ‘Johannes, I killed a man.’ ‘Pffft.

I dislike seats without backs. I’ll forget myself, lean back, and fall over, and where shall my dignity be then? I shall stand.

Inside the mansion of his mind, he was putting snakes back into boxes.

I’ve always tried to be good. Decently good, anyway. Not sort of St Francis of Assisi good necessarily, but…

I wore this hat to Hell.’ He held the hat up to his nose and inhaled. ‘Still faintly redolent of brimstone. That smell gets everywhere.’ Horst, waiting by the door with the packed suitcase, said, ‘When a normal person uses a phrase like they wore a hat to Hell, one naturally assumes they just wore it a lot.

May I ask what happened to your last revolver?’ ‘It turned into a sword.’ ‘Of course it did.’ ‘And then the ghouls probably stole it.’ Cabal smiled with an expression so close to fondness that it made Horst stare. ‘The naughty rapscallions.

My God. Johannes, are you saying that you’re accepting this task because I asked you?’ Cabal did not reply. Instead he found a loose thread on the eiderdown and fiddled distractedly with it. Horst sat on the side of the bed, embraced his brother around the shoulders with one arm, and rubbed the top of his head with the knuckles of the other. ‘Horst!’ snapped Cabal. ‘I am no longer eight years old!’ Horst kissed him on the top of the head. ‘You’ll always be my little brother, Johannes, even if you look older than me now.

Now, let us consider the life of Johannes Cabal, if briefly. He is closing on his thirtieth year and is ageing better than most, although this is a product of a lifestyle where sunlight is shunned rather than the assiduous use of moisturiser. He stands a little over six feet tall. He is blond, blue eyed, and, perforce, pale. These are not unusual characteristics; those are coming.

that which is supernatural and nasty knows supernatural and nastier when it sees it.

There are ladies present, and I was raised to believe that being naked in front of strange ladies is something reserved for special occasions.

There had been no possibility that he had survived. His body had not tumbled into a foaming sea or into a clouded abyss from which he might later make an unexpected return through the good offices of kindly dolphins or giant eagles. Cabal had himself checked that all life was extinguished by searching for a pulse, looking for clouding on a mirror held to the corpse’s mouth, and by kicking repeatedly.

What strange creatures brothers are! —Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

You don't?' Horst was so astounded he almost leapt to his feet. His smile returned in full power. 'Then you have treat waiting for you! It's wonderful! I mean, I remember it as being wonderful. I do not eat cake. Not now. Being a vampire and everything. You did know I'm a vampire, didn't you?' He suddenly seemed to remember that they were doing introductions and held up his hand. 'Horst Cabal, vampire. Didn't especially want to be, but there you go. I miss Battenberg. Hello, everyone!