Down Time

An I Hunt Killers Prequel


By Barry Lyga

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 7, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Billy Dent is the world’s most notorious serial killer, but even killers need to go on vacation sometimes. When a mysterious death occurs in the hotel where Billy is staying, his “job” seems to call. Will his vacation truly be down time for him after all?

In this prequel novella to the I Hunt Killers trilogy, bestselling author Barry Lyga crafts a creepy, intricately plotted mystery.



Whenever he traveled—whether on business or, as now, for pleasure—Billy Dent fretted about his son, Jasper. In an ideal world, Billy would never be more than shouting distance from the boy, who—at age ten—was beginning to chafe at such parental attention. Billy knew this was natural, the course of maturity and development. Children should crave separation from their parents, else what’s the whole wide world for?

But he was a parent—a father—and he trusted only himself with the well-being of his child. Leaving Jasper with Billy’s own mother was a compromise made necessary by life itself.

Sometimes a man just had to go away. No two ways about it.

Billy worked hard. He had stresses in his life that most people couldn’t understand. And so, every now and then, he needed a vacation.

You never know what will happen when you go somewhere new.

Someone—maybe a victim, maybe a family member, he couldn’t remember—had told him that once, and he hated it because it was true, and Billy hated being out of control, hated being out of his comfort zone.

So he took his vacations reluctantly. He loved his boy and he loved his work and he felt ill at ease sleeping in a bed not his own, under a roof not his own. A man’s home is his castle, the old saying went, and while Billy knew that to be claptrap and nonsense, the fact was he felt safer and more competent and just more stable in his house than anywhere else in the world.

But life didn’t give a good goddamn about your personal safety or comfort. Life loved nothing more than dragging you outside into the squinting light and harsh air.

As long as Billy lived in this world, as Billy’s father was wont to say, he had to abide by it.

For the most part.

“Give Daddy a hug,” he told Jasper. The boy stood sullen in the corner, not reacting, not moving, just glaring at Billy with those hazel eyes, so unlike Billy’s own blue. A spasm of fatherly pride rippled through him—that sort of unearthly contempt wasn’t a natural thing in a boy so young. It had to be taught. It had to be implanted. Billy was as proud of Jasper’s aloofness as a rookie farmer is of his first sprout.

From the kitchen came the sound of Billy’s mother clattering the pans. She was going to make pasta, and it would take her at least five minutes of fussing and fretting to realize she needed a pot, not a pan. Something was wrong with her brain, Billy knew. It didn’t surprise him, but it did occasionally catch him off guard. Billy had a single terror in the whole wide world, and that was losing his own mind.

He would keep an eye on his mother. He would have to. Sometimes old folks just went a bit loopy, but sometimes they snapped like rubber bands, rotten and overstretched.

“Be good for Gramma,” he said sternly, tousling his boy’s hair. Jasper snorted something that could have been disgust or annoyance.

At such a provocation, Billy’s own father would have paused his own life long enough to whup the living hell out of Billy or his sister, Samantha.

Billy was not his father. Billy was stronger. He allowed Jasper his acting out, his attempts at rebellion. At the end of the day, push come to shove, the boy knew who was boss. Who ruled the roost.

“I love you,” he told Jasper. “Be good,” he said again, and then he called out a farewell to his mother, still grumbling and a-noising in the kitchen.

Outside on the stoop, he took a deep breath and sighed.

You’re a good father, he reminded himself, and he thought of the last woman he’d killed, which always bucked up his mood. Then he climbed into his Jeep and drove.

When he traveled for pleasure, Billy always made certain to go somewhere far, somewhere that required flight. He didn’t like flying—the forced closeness to others, the intimacy of a colonoscopy (along with most of the smell). But these were the sacrifices one made for one’s livelihood and for one’s art. It would be surpassing strange, he surmised, for a man of his age and circumstances to never have boarded—not once—an airplane or traveled a distance for pleasure. He couldn’t afford to arouse suspicion. Not from the locals, the yammering neighbors, those bleating sheep with nothing on their minds but one instant to the next. Not from the bastard cops or the government or whoever might be watching.

Someone was always watching, Billy knew. It was his burden to make sure they watched but never saw.

And so he flew, building a false profile of himself, fabricating an identity he didn’t recognize, one that would appear “normal” and “safe” to those around him. Outside Billy, he thought of him. A different person. A different skin inhabited by the real deal.

Now he permitted himself to become a bit player in the security theater of the TSA at the airport, suppressing chuckles at their ineptitude and blindness. He was a white man solidly in his thirties in the United States of America in the glorious twenty-first century; as long as he smiled, he was invisible, intangible. A ghost to those seeking wrongdoers and potential terror.

The flight was, of course, jam-packed. Billy managed to find room for his bag in the overhead compartment. He refused to check baggage. He wouldn’t have some random prospect pawing through his personal belongings. No, sir. That would not happen on Billy’s watch.


On Sale
Aug 7, 2018
Page Count
48 pages

Barry Lyga

About the Author

Barry Lyga is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including Bang, I Hunt Killers, its sequel Game, and his debut, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. He now knows way too much about how to dispose of a human body. Barry lives and writes in New York City. His website is

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