Authors: Scott Sigler
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Horror, #Goodreads 2012 Horror
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 by Scott Sigler
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown
Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
CROWN and the Crown colophon are registered trademarks
of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Nocturnal / Scott Sigler. — 1st ed.
1. Detectives — California — San Francisco — Fiction. 2. Homicide
investigation — Fiction. I. Title.
813’.6 — dc23 2011040389
Jacket design by Jarrod Taylor
Jacket photograph: © Andres Rodriguez/Alamy
Author photograph: © Amy Davis-Roth,
For Byrd Leavell, who makes things happen
For Julian Pavia and the amazing job he did helping me
make this novel what it is
And for A. Kovacs, who keeps me sane
ou’re not welcome here, Paul.”
Most places in the world, a statement like that sounded normal. Unfriendly, perhaps, but still common, still acceptable.
Most places, but not at a Catholic church.
“But someone’s following me,” Paul said. “And it’s cold out.” Paul’s eyes flicked left, flicked right, too fast to take anything in. He looked haunted.
That wasn’t Father Esteban Rodriguez’s problem. This man, if he could be called that, would never again be allowed in the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. Never again.
“You’ve been told,” Esteban said. “You’re not part of this church anymore.”
Paul’s eyes narrowed, cleared. For a moment, Esteban saw a glimmer of the wit that had made Paul so popular, so engaging.
“What about forgiveness?” Paul said. “That’s what we’re all about, forgiveness of our sins. Or are you better than Our Savior?”
Esteban felt rage — a rare emotion — and quickly fought to bring it under control. “I am only a man,” he said. “Perhaps a weak one at that. Maybe the Lord can forgive you your sins, but I can’t. You may not seek shelter here.”
Paul looked down. He shivered. Esteban shivered, too. San Francisco’s evening chill — a wet, clinging thing — rolled through the church door that Esteban blocked with his body.
Paul wore a sagging blue coat that had once probably been puffy and shiny. Maybe it had looked nice on the original owner, whomever that might be, however many years ago that was. Paul’s pants were dirty — not caked with filth, but spotted here and there with finger streaks of food, grease, other things. Years ago, this man had helped care for the homeless; now he looked like one of them.
“I have nowhere to go,” Paul said to the ground.
“That is not the church’s problem. That is not
“I’m a human being, Father.”
Esteban shook his head. This disgusting, demonic creature before him thought himself
? “You don’t belong here. You’re not wanted here. This is a sanctuary — one doesn’t let wolves in among the sheep. Why don’t you go somewhere you
belong? If you don’t leave, I’ll call the police.”
Paul looked away, down the street. He seemed to be searching for something, something … specific. Something that wasn’t there.
“I told the police,” Paul said. “Told them someone was following me.”
“What did they say?”
Paul looked Esteban in the eyes.
“Pretty much the same thing you did, Father.”
“Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap,” Esteban said. “Hell has a special place for people like you. Leave,
Sadness filled Paul’s eyes. Desperation, despair — perhaps the final understanding that this part of his life was
. Paul looked beyond Esteban, through the door to the church interior. The look of sadness changed to one of longing. Paul had spent many years in this very building.
Those days were gone forever.
Paul turned and walked down the church’s wide steps. Esteban watched him reach the sidewalk of Gough Street, then cross and continue down O’Farrell.
Esteban shut the door.