The mummified face disappeared as Cyrus flipped the cover of ADVENTURES INTO TERROR. On the first page of the comic book, Dan saw a drawing of a gaunt man wearing a Gothic butler’s outfit, with the same gray face and tall hat as the figure on the cover; the mummified butler was holding an oil lamp out and above him, as racing cars sped along a track behind him. A word balloon hung above the butler’s head, but Cyrus flipped the page before Dan could read the words inside the balloon.
“The first two stories, there’s nothing special about them.” Cyrus sounded like a man who’d much rather be taking a trash can out to the curb, as he flipped through the pages of the comic book (Dan saw images of a man in a racing jacket, a woman, another man kissing that woman then behind prison bars two pages later; a second story flipped by, this one about astronauts, encountering aliens perhaps). “But this third story — ” Cyrus stopped flipping, and as he leaned over the book lying on the table Dan lifted his eyes to him — “probably the only good thing I can say about it, is that it’s short — it won’t take you long to read.”
Dan glanced down at the open comic book in front of him. At the top of the right-hand page, in large block letters of green and black, were the words DARK SAFARI. He looked back up at Cyrus. “Pardon me for asking, but exactly why is it important for me to read this?”
Cyrus’ smile was as polite as it was insincere. “Because, Daniel — I think it’s important for you to understand what your students are reading while they’re at your fencing practices.”