A fat bead of sweat rolls down my forehead, stopping at the gun barrel shoved against my left temple. I can feel the smooth metal edge creasing my skin, the hand holding it pressing with a trembling ferocity.
“I’m only gonna ask you this one more time, punk.” He spits with enough venom to burn pockmarks on the floor. “What were your influences while writing Tomb of the Black Horse?”
My mouth opens, tacky and dry. The words come chunky and ill-formed, from somewhere in my preconscious memory. They stumble out of my mouth, falling amid a sea of ums and uhs so deep I’ll graciously edit them out of the following quote:
“If we’re being honest, I’m not really sure! I’m always thinking about the apocalypse when I’m working on TOMB, but Black Horse was less inspired by the themes of the movies I love and more from just the images of those classic end-of-the-world shots. Like Sarah Connor’s skeleton exploding in T2 or the last 20 seconds of Cabin in the Woods. But now that I’m talking about it, I really think the true springboard for this story was the visual aesthetic Benjamin Æ Filby’s art brought to the first two issues-”
The agent (Or henchman, perhaps? No one ever flashed me a badge…) rocks my head forward so hard the bridge of my nose bounces off the metal edge of the table, exploding fireworks behind my eyes. “That’s a pretentious, self-serving answer and you know it," he snarls, a fistful of my hair gripped tightly in the cement block he calls a fist.
“I wanna know!” he screams in my face, pandemic protocols be damned. “I wanna know about the themes, I wanna know about the emotion, I wanna know that this isn’t some damned bunch of two-dimensional characters that I’m just gonna watch get mutilated!”
“It’s not like that at all!” I scream, my voice cracking at the worst possible moment. “We’ve always come at our stories in a way that tries to marry theme and plot! Look, we’ve dealt with loss, conquest, regret, power, war, and we’re continuing that trend with Black Horse! You’ll see, it’s gonna be the best one of an already tremendous series! We’re gonna-”
Quick as a dress-shirted panther, he’s got his nose to mine, mirrored sunglasses reflecting funhouse twins back at me, agitating my already pronounced unsteadiness. “We’re?” he snorts, letting the contraction float in the air like some sort of visible fart. “We’re?” he repeats again, this time with the emphasis slider hard right. “So, you’re admitting to having help on this? Sounds like some sort of conspiracy might be brewing here, huh? And I’m guessing you wouldn’t be interested in giving me some of those names…would ya?”
I wipe the thin line of red syrup trickling down my face and try to refocus my eyes. “Of COURSE I would!” I blurt out like some sort of gullible pigeon. “I’ve been co-creating TOMB with Benjamin Æ Filby since the beginning, and we’ve been lucky enough to bring the talented Kim Myatt along for every breathtaking cover in the series! Shan Bennion is a colorist with tremendous depth and style that we’re lucky to have on board with us. Claire Napier returns for her second time editing, and she’s helped give our stories the clarity and gut-punches we needed. Also back for the second time is Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou returning on letters, and there’s no one else that can give the same unique look and feel that he does."
My captor abruptly walks away from me, aggressively chewing the smoldering cigarette butt that’s been dangling from his lips for the past hour. He smiles and begins to nod his head, so rapidly I briefly wonder if he’s having some sort of attack. “Okay….Okay smart guy, maybe we knew those names already. Maybe that was a test, you ever think of that?” He spins around, index finger jabbing in my direction. “Assume we know everything!” I blink sweat out of my eyes as he approaches, scrunching up so close to me I can read the laundry tag sticking out of his undershirt. “Now…” he grumbles, dropping his voice for emphasis, “Tell me where it’s all going down.”
“Sure!” I reply, trying in vain to counter his malevolence with naive kindness. “TOMB OF THE BLACK HORSE launches via Kickstarter on 2.22.22, and you’ll be able to grab physical and digital copies of all three stories, as well as some very cool rewards, like embroidered patches, print sets, original art from the book, as well as script reviews and custom sketches from the creators! We also have our own gold coin available, straight from the pages of BLACK HORSE! If you go to TombComic.com, you can back it there! If you could tell your friends and family to check us out we’d-”
The handcuffs clink on the floor as he jiggles the key from the lock. Silently he exits the room, only stopping at the threshold to cast a look back over his shoulder, and offer his parting words.
“Thanks for the info. You’re free to go."
TOMB OF THE BLACK HORSE is the penultimate issue of the four-part apocalyptic horror series and it’s currently funding on Kickstarter. Go to TOMBCOMIC.COM to check out our campaign, and please consider backing us to help bring this indie comic to life.