The spider person spoke with Claire’s voice.
The resemblance didn’t end there. It had her face. Her body. Not quite an exact copy, though. You had to work off personal photos or hacked medical records for that, and Reese wasn’t a detail man. Here Claire’s features were harsher than Fulton remembered: her face more narrow, her nose and chin more pointed. In fact all the angles were sharper. Everything about her had gotten more jagged in the rendering. Her eyes were the same pristine blue Fulton remembered from the funeral, but here they were devoid of warmth or light. They could have been glass marbles stuck into her skull.
Claire the Black Widow.
Reese coined the name after a half bottle of scotch or handful of Valium. Fulton couldn’t immediately recall which. “I’m here to see David,” he said.
“I’m sorry, Sir. Is that one of our guests?”
“Do you have anyone by the name of David Reese?”
“Please give me a moment to check.”
Claire cocked her head forty-five degrees to the right. “I believe we do have a Mister Reese staying with us. Room 113. May I ask if he is expecting you?”
“We’re old friends.”
“I see. Right this way.”
The spider led him out of the lobby and down a long corridor with threadbare carpet. Bare, incandescent light bulbs hung from the ceiling. They cast a sickly yellow light over everything. Walking with the Claire Spider beside him making its characteristic tick tick tick sound Fulton realized the corridor itself was an optical illusion. They walked and walked but never really went anywhere. The floor and walls shifted parallel to them in such a way that Fulton and Claire actually remain in place, in front of room number 13, which Fulton knew well enough as the number of the room where Reese shot himself.
“What do you know about Mister Reese?” Fulton asked.
Claire Spider stopped.
In lieu of answering it swung one of its massive javelin-like legs out from its body and tapped the door to room 13. The door creaked open a crack. A line of pale light spilled out into the hallway.
“Can I go in?”
Claire placed her metal leg perpendicular to the door frame, as if to bar retreat.
Fulton rephrased: “Must I go in?”
She jabbed at the door frame. The pointy end of her spider’s leg sank a good inch into the lacquered wood.
Fulton edged toward the door.
Then came a sustained banging noise — close and at the same time far away. It echoed through the corridors, seemed to emanate from the walls themselves, and Fulton knew immediately it was not part of Reese’s app.
The sound was gunfire, and the gunfire was real.