In a black, Fed-issued SUV, Ekon pulled up outside Daimon’s luxury apartment at the appointed hour. A trickle of sweat snaked down Ekon’s spine in LA’s abundant spring warmth, turning cold as he headed through the air-conditioned lobby to the elevator. Though it should’ve been a bustling, well-secured complex, there didn’t seem to be a soul around.
Palming his badge, he strode down a long, empty, gray-walled hallway and knocked at Daimon’s door.
“Mr. Daimon, it’s Agent Adams with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We have an appointment?”
There was nothing, not a sound on the other side. Was Daimon even at home? Was anyone?
Then Ekon heard it: The eerie rustle of the nameless language. Born not of wind or whistling pipes, it emanated this time from the corridor’s buzzy fluorescent bulbs as if presaging the coming of something unutterable.
Without even the sound of a loosed deadbolt, the door yawned open, and a familiar young white man stood before Ekon. He was damp, naked but for the towel clinging precariously around his hips, and in excellent physical shape.
The world went silent, as if muted by the force of Daimon’s presence. There was only the fluorescents’ unholy rustling and a high-pitched, constant scream like the aftermath of a high-powered gunshot.
Then Daimon smiled.
Ambient noise returned with crippling ferocity: Traffic outside the complex, neighbors within, as painfully intense as if they were all trapped inside Ekon’s skull. Even his heartbeat deafened him, a muffled thudding in his inner ears one instant per second.
The young man tilted his head, wet hair dripping onto his shoulder. His eyes—a bright blue even more piercing than on television—scanned Ekon slowly up and down with careful sensuousness that left Ekon feeling undressed.
Then Daimon blinked slowly, like a happy cat, and turned sideways to allow Ekon in.
“They sent you alone?”
Why did he sound so amused?