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Young Writers Society
The Twin Sisters
Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:12 pm
The Supernatural Detective Agency
[ Case 1: The Twin Sisters ]
No matter what reality you are in, one thing remains constant: death. In a reality much like our own, death is an undeniable presence. While this world mirrors our own in its crimes, culture and technology, there is one glaringly obvious difference to those who know where to look.
The supernatural are real.
Over the years, beings straight out of legends and myths have learned how to hide their tracks. They know how to blend in with humans. They've become so adept at it that those who are unfamiliar with this reality would assume that its Earth is just as normal and as human-filled as our own.
If death is a constant of all worlds, it is unsurprising that death can sometimes involve the supernatural. And, as death does in every world and every story, it can drive people to seek out the truth. The members of the Supernatural Detective Agency are far from what humanity would call normal, but they hide it well enough to solve cases the police is never able to understand.
Armed with a wide range of magic, skills and knowledge, no case is too difficult for the agency.
This is a story of one of the agency's first cases. Few knew of their potential; most of their cases were small tasks for friends and friends-of-friends. But this case was a different kind of case. When socialite and movie star Arielle Stone comes to the agency for help, something is already different. Arielle is undoubtedly human, and has no kind of magic at her disposal. But she believes that something suspicious is afoot in her twin sister Angie's death, and begs the agency to help her solve the mystery of her sister's murder after the police mark it as unsolvable.
Though it is clear that the the agency is up to the task, one thing remains uncertain: will they be able to solve the case without revealing that they're not normal in the slightest?
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[ Cast ]
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Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:50 pm
| Founder of the Agency |
It was a dark and stormy night.
Jane knew that was a cliché, but she really did like them in moderation. Weather like that just felt
when slipping into a graveyard at midnight. The graveyard also wasn't all that necessary, but Nathan had left their meeting place for tonight up to here. They had done the local bar last night, the library the night before, and the woods the night before that, so the graveyard was a nice change of place and pace.
She found him leaning up against an old oak tree. The tree was half dead, but Nathan didn't seem to notice. He was too busy trying to hide in the tree's shadows. Not to scare her, of course. He didn't have a single mean bone in his body. He was trying to hide from the couple a few rows down. They were visiting the grave of some loved ones, their voices little more than whispers floating across the chilly air. They blurred together into one entity in the mist; just a large, huddled figure underneath a large, dark umbrella.
“Hey, Nathan!” she said. The couple turned and paused, but neither lingered for long when they realized they weren't alone. She wondered what their story was – what led them to this graveyard on this specific night?
Nathan finally stepped out of the shadows. He looked like he could have been one of the ghosts haunting the graveyard – pale skin, dark hair and clothes that were meant to make him invisible in a crowd. His wings were hidden away, but his ears had a tiny little point to them.
“Hi, Jane,” he said, his voice quiet and hesitant. He studied her from behind his bangs, silver eyes nervous and alert. “...You didn't bring anyone from the agency, did you?”
She shook her head.
“I didn't,” she promised. “It's just you and me, like usual.”
A small, relieved smile graced his lips. "Thank you.”
She gave him a smile of her own. “Of course!”
Grabbing onto her brother's wrist – without giving him a chance to say anything else – she started to head out of the graveyard. Their meeting place was just that: a place to meet. It was never their final destination. And, knowing Nathan, he hadn't had anything to eat in awhile, so the local tavern was the perfect place to go.
No one interrupted them as they wandered through the streets. The agency was in a nice suburban area. Downtown always bustled with activity, but the quiet, more rural streets that surrounded it were always calm and quiet. Jane liked the downtown area more. There were more people there to study, and more truths to uncover. Nathan wasn't a big fan of the area, but she knew he was trying his best for her.
They got their same table, same waitress, and same orders as usual. Jane gave herself a well-deserved feast: a nice, juicy burger, a large plate of fries, and the largest cup of soda money could buy. Nathan, meanwhile, stuck with his chocolate milkshake. She wished he would indulge a little more when they hung out together, but she knew he would never change his ways.
“You know,” she said, waving a fry about in front of her, “you should really swing by my place sometime.”
Nathan said nothing.
“We always end up meeting like this these days,” she continued. She was trying to study his face for any hint of how he was reacting, but the combination of his bangs and solemn expression made it hard. He really had too good of a poker face. “I feel like we're hiding some kind of colossal secret, you know?”
Pushing his bangs slightly out of the way, Nathan gave her a long, hard look. It only took her a moment or two to get the implications of it. She just muttered a quiet “oh” and took another large gulp of her soda.
“But, seriously, Nathan!” she excitedly said, leaning across the table. “I think the last time you came to my house was when the agency was just about to open. You haven't been there since business started. And it's not a
She gave a sigh.
“I just want you to see what I've been doing,” she admitted. “And for you to meet the people I work with. You and me don't really
people, and I...I wanted to change that, I guess.”
He quietly drank his milkshake.
Jane let out another sigh, slumping back into her seat. She knew trying to change his mind was a hopeless cause, but she really wanted to have something happen. Nathan hadn't even wanted to join the agency. That was fair enough, she guessed, even though the real reason she had made it was so they could do it together. But, at the very least, he could visit her there. It was nearly midnight right now, and they were out in town instead of in the apartment she had above the agency.
“You don't understand,” Nathan said, staring into his drink.
“I do,” she said. “I know you're scared of what they'll think of you. But they're
, Nathan. And they're not regular old people, either.”
He slowly looked up at her.
He reached his hand across the table, grabbing hers for comfort. She could feel his hand trembling as it grasped her own. “Jane,” he whispered, “you told them everything about you.”
Her own gaze fell.
“Yeah,” she quietly said, “I guess that's what I did.”
They went their separate ways after they finished eating – another attempt to get him to change his mind lost. Jane strolled through the streets of the town. She might have been a strange sight months ago when she first moved, but this was her home now. Night owls were used to seeing her roam the streets, and her neighbors were used to seeing her return to the agency in the early hours of the morning.
The agency downstairs was just as quiet as it usually was. With no new cases besides the occasional missing cat, none of its detectives lingered. Jane was alright with that. She needed some time to herself to think things through, and figure out what she was going to do to get Nathan to join her. He had a point, she had to admit. But there had to be
that would get him to change his mind.
She climbed up her stairs to the apartment. None of the other people in the agency ever went up there. It wasn't like it was against the rules, technically, but it was just a private place that they all could tell they weren't supposed to venture in.
Jane needed the privacy sometimes.
The door quietly swung open.
Moonlight filtered in through the window she had forgotten to close before she left. The ray of light danced over the calla lilies spread across the apartment. It had been Nathan's housewarming gift; her brother had always loved the symbolism. And she had always loved the flowers, too, which was why they had taken up most of the apartment by now – a little bit of magic and love had given them all the ingredients they needed to grow.
A little light blinked over on her desk. Jane maneuvered her way through the flowers, peering down at the notification on her phone screen. There was an email from an address she didn't recognize. It was only when she skimmed through the email and got to the end that she actually started to take it seriously.
It was from Arielle Stone.
Nathan knew more about people like Arielle than Jane ever did. She didn't really get the celebrities and the socialites; Nathan was the one who could pick them apart and explain their every action. Their lives were practically soaked in lies. But this email wasn't a lie. When she went back and started reading it carefully, she knew everything about it was true. She had seen the news headlines. Arielle's twin sister, Angie, had died about a month ago. Police said it was a burglary gone wrong, but the killer had never been caught.
Arielle wanted the agency to find the killer.
Jane put her phone down and took a deep breath, trying to ignore the rising feeling of excitement in her chest.
was the kind of job she signed up for. Not hunting down lost cats, not finding misplaced phones, and not consulting on if the fortune teller in some few towns over could be trusted.
Arielle said she'd come around noon after she finished filming a scene for her latest movie. Jane could work with that. She'd contact the other members of the agency and let them know about the case in the morning, and prepare for whatever information Arielle was bound to drop. Jane's powers didn't work on text, but she knew how people worked. Arielle wouldn't have called up their agency if she didn't suspect some kind of supernatural involvement.
She picked up her phone again and dialed a familiar number.
“Hey, Nathan,” she said, breathless, “you'll never believe what just happened! I'm going to be solving an honest-to-God mystery, and I think the agency might end being
by the end of it.”
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Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:53 am
I’ve been riding the synchronicity highway a lot lately. It takes me where it takes me.
The bus pulls up. A couple of the passengers rush to get out.
“Careful, asshole!” A woman shouts at a guy she thinks has just stepped on her feet.
The guy, never turning back, is already out of the bus. So is everyone else in a matter of moments — except two people around the back.
A blonde man — he has wrinkles on his forehead and lines on his upper lip — in a dirty, tan trench coat is sitting — or rather sleeping — in an aisle seat, with his head resting on the back of the seat right in front of him. It’s John Constantine. A much older man is sat beside him — he’s wearing a brown sweater and a beret.
“Son? We have arrived.” The older man softly calls out, slightly shaking John’s right hand.
“Dad?” John mutters with his eyes halfway open.
“It’s me. Mark. We met on the other stop?”
“Oh shit.” John jerks his head back up and notices nobody else is left one the bus. John turns a little red realizing he has been blocking Mark’s way. He jumps to his feet and helps Mark get up. “Should have woken me up, mate.”
“Don’t worry. We only just reached Springfield.”
John and Mark stand under a shade by the bus station — hiding from the drizzle. A fair bit of puddle has gathered up in front of them. It’s still early in the afternoon, so there’s plenty of light. It’s not the kind of light that brings hope; it’s the kind that compels you to stop in your tracks and let out a sigh. The weather reminds John of London.
Some things are inescapable.
“You got a spell that can stop the rain?” asks Mark, slightly trembling.
“Come on, now,” says John, “It’s only a little drizzle. But I did know a weather mage back in the day.”
“Oh, yeah? You got his number?” Mark tries to sound serious.
“He died, Mark,” replies John.
“Don’t fret about it. He was a prick.”
Mark shrugs. He’s beginning to shake noticeably now. John catches that and reaches into his coat pockets looking for something. He pulls one cigarette out from one pocket.
“Ah, this will do,” John remarks. He places the cigarette butt between his lips and looks around. “Watch this.”
“Watch what?” Mark asks.
John snaps two fingers right under the cigarette’s opening and it lights up making a high pitched noise. Mark laughs.
“I’ve seen that one before,” says Mark.
“But here’s the thing, luv.” John takes a puff. “The real trick is in the fag... the cigarette, I mean. It’s enchanted — one puff and you’re immune to cold for hours.”
“That’s tempting but I quit years ago.”
“Alright.” John snaps again and the end stops burning. He puts it back in the pocket. “Suit yourself.”
A few moments later John catches Mark looking at him with concern.
“Maybe it’s none of my business but…” says Mark.
“Well, spit it out now.”
“Did you ever try quitting?”
“Of course I did,” John says with a smile, “Especially after that narrow escape.”
Mark only nods.
The drizzle stops.
“This is it then,” John says.
“Listen, if you need a place to stay—”
“Oh I wouldn’t want to crash your family reunion. I’ll figure something out.”
Not something I’m actually forward to.
They walk out of the shade. John deliberately steps on the puddles. Mark doesn’t notice — he still has a concerned look on his face.
“You sure?” Marks asks.
“Positive.” John smiles.
They shake hands.
“It’s been an honor, Mark Shurley,” John remarks.
“It’s a small town. We might even meet again.”
“You don’t want that.”
“Because you’re some dangerous wizard?” asks Mark. “You know I don’t buy it.”
I’m not gonna say it.
“The thing about magic is that, Mark,” John says with a smirk, “any jerk could do it.”
OK, fine, I like saying that.
I’ve been in this town before.
The sun has set. It hasn’t rained since the afternoon. But there’s a fair bit of wind and it’s chilly as hell. The puff’s effect must have worn off by now — John walks along a crowded footpath with his hands tucked inside the pockets of his coat. There’s a bunch of different shops on his right — some of them decorated with fancy lights. A small building down the road catches his attention.
I used to know someone who lived down there. I wonder if she’s still…
John stops, causing someone to bump onto his back. The person goes past him and vanishes into the crowd before John can decide whether to apologize or be angry. He lets out a sigh.
I can’t… She was… Just no. Nothing good will come out of it. I’m not going back.
John finds himself walking up the stairs of the building.
He stops at the second floor.
Down the hallway. Green door on the left side.
The further down the hallway he goes, the faster his heart beats. It’s been years. The terms they left things at weren’t exactly ideal.
What am I going to say? “Hey, I’m back. Why the fuck you ask? Hell if I know that. So can I… crash… for a night?”
There he is, standing in front of the green door. A worn out door mat lies on the floor — it has the word “Welcome” weaved onto it.
He clears his throat and knocks.
John knocks a little harder. He doesn’t hear any noise coming in from inside.
Maybe nobody’s home?
John hears a creak coming from behind him. He turns around. A young woman looks at him with intrigue from a half-opened door.
“Do you need anything?” she asks.
“Sorry, yeah, I was wondering,” says John, “Anna still lives here, right?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“You’re the Con-Job, aren’t you?” There’s a hint of certainty in her voice.
Here we go.
“Interesting that she never mentioned your name. Called you either that or
the original asshole
,” the woman continues, “No, she doesn’t live here anymore. Problem with rent. Said she was gonna
figure things out
and that was last year.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Whatever, dude,” She closes the door.
I do feel sorry.
John stands all alone in the hallway — hands on his hips and his head tilted down, eyes hiding in the shadow.
Opening old wounds like a fucking idiot. What was I thinking?
He turns around to take one last look at the green door.
A reunion with Anna might have been a rather bitter affair, but John would have taken that over a complete disassociation from his past any day — that’s ironic for someone who’s constantly trying to escape it.
John’s walking down a footpath again. It’s still chilly outside but there’s no hint of wind. Might be the silence before a storm. He’s still cold. He doesn’t know where he’s going to spend the night.
Have a look at your options, son. You could find an artifact dealer and try to sell the fag. You’ve already sold your lighter. There has to be a place in the town where you can gamble. Or you could try to mind-fuck a hotel receptionist. There’s still the case of figuring out why the synchronicity wave brought you here, but then again, do you care?
John finds himself walking right past a hotel. “Oh no,” he remarks as he feels the temptation.
Have some dignity, you old sod.
There’s a flash of lightning and crackling thunder that shakes the street. It begins to drizzle.
To hell with dignity.
John scurries inside the hotel.
So it goes.
Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:14 pm
History and Linguistics Student | Supernatural Detective Agent
As Hawthorn Davis drove along the rainy roads home, he sang along to the Christmas music blasting out of his radio. Exams had ended at his university, and now there was nothing to do but bite his nails and wait for the results. And roar Christmas songs. And gobble up macaroni and cheese.
den rings,” he belted as he turned a corner into a familiar street. Hawthorn flicked on his windshield wipers and switched on his headlights. Through the fog, he glimpsed his favorite coffee shop where he liked to pretend he was a cool hipster writer. Albeit one in a café with an abandoned shoe on its roof.
A few more turns and intersections, and Hawthorn parked behind his parents’ bookshop. By then the rain had thinned to mist. Humming “Joy to the World”, he dragged his suitcases out of the trunk and into the house. By day, Hawthorn’s mother and father worked in the bookshop and by night, they lived in the quarters behind. But to him, they were one and the same: home.
Hawthorn hauled his trunks upstairs, feeling proud of his biceps. He had honed those muscles by carrying around an immense stack of texts like they were his baby. After dumping his bags on the floor of his bedroom, he listened carefully for any sign of Mom or Dad noticing he was back.
They were probably busy in the bookstore. He decided to sneak up and surprise them. A grin spread across his face at the thought, and Hawthorn stepped into the front part of their building with a hop. But he immediately froze at the sharp scent of pine laced with magic.
Could it mean—? No, ever since Hawthorn’s parents had left the faery domain in the forest, they had barely communicated. They would never have a reason to visit the Woodland Bookshop.
He tiptoed forward a few steps, then stopped again when he heard voices coming from a few shelves beyond.
“...we must request your help.” Somebody, neither Mom nor Dad, was speaking in Elfian.
“What happened, Elder?” his father asked, his voice low and carefully respectful.
“The humans have been encroaching on our territory.”
“They could be camping, you know,” said his mother, uncertainty trailing in her voice like trails of smoke. “It’s not unheard of a human or two to stray deeper in.”
Somebody sighed, more snap than breath.
“Please,” his father said, “tell us more.”
“The humans coming are not campers.”
The implications of his words sunk its claws into Hawthorn’s belly. Panic gripped his insides. But he had thought the council had forbidden those kinds of activities years ago—
, he told himself, trying to tease a smile. Instead he cursed himself for not paying more attention. If he had voted in council elections. If he had cared to notice men in business suits and their frequent visits and piece the clues together.
The elder’s voice creaked with worry and unspoken pleas. “Now do you understand why I have disturbed your household?”
The heel of his oxford clicked as he stepped forward to listen more closely. The sound cracked the momentary silence like a stone through a window. He winced. The elder snarled, “Show yourself!”
Caught like a fish in a heron’s jaws, Hawthorn rounded the corner and faced the elves. His mother and father stood, shoulders almost touching. The elder perched on the edge of a chair, his brown robes pooling around his wrists and ankles like honey, reminding Hawthorn of the wild beauty of a thorny rosebush.
“Elder—” Hawthorn fumbled his Elvian, mouth suddenly dry, “p-please pardon me but I was coming to greet my mother and father and I couldn’t help...”
The elder studied Hawthorn, from his round glasses to his damp trousers. “You’re their child.”
“Yes. And—and I’m very sorry I was eavesdropping.” He twisted his hands. “I’m also very sorry about the forest. I—I swear I’ll help you.”
The elder’s mouth twitched, though all he said was, “Could you?”
“I have some resources. Like my charm?” Hawthorn tried a weak grin. “And I can speak to the city elders—and—and others. Humans can be reasoned with.”
“We will try to influence the people in this community,” his mother added. “We cannot promise that we can save the forest, but we will try, won’t we?”
A minute passed in silence. Then the elf spoke. “We will be in your debt. Thank you, and fare well.” And with a brief nod at each of them, he rose and strode out, the train of his robe sweeping after him.
Late that evening, after his parents had gone to bed, Hawthorn sat alone at the kitchen table, hands wrapped around a mug of mint tea. Hawthorn stared at the ribbons of steam coiling up to the ceiling. He couldn’t scrape away the image of the elder leaving, his shoulders slumping as if relief or resignation had snapped the resolve coiling in his muscles, reminding Hawthorn that the elder was, above all, an elf trying to save his home.
He buried his face in his arms.
The forest would be scythed down, all life there swept aside to make room for the new apartments. Hawthorn remembered the cool darkness of the forest he had visited when he was seven, the pleasant humming in his veins. He felt the keen sting of regret for not visiting his parents’ childhood home, of doing more.
, he told himself over and over, till the words blurred into strange syllables, till he at last fell asleep, dark dreams consuming his thoughts.
Hummingbirds, ink, and princesses
The Hummingbird wants to read your work
Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:26 pm
Zenia Hedron/Jason Seymour
Haunted Witch/Supernatural Detective Agent
"Zenia dear, if you're not playing detective today, perhaps you can help your old grandmother organize the spellbooks. It's hard for me to reach the shelves, you know." Zenia sighed, but she agreed to do it. The agency didn't have any pressing needs, and she vastly preferred stocking books over trying to convince people that some shiny but otherwise ordinary rocks and nonsensical words could bring them love, money, and happiness.
She walked over to the books and started sorting them. They concerned all sorts of occult topics, including astrology, spellcasting, awakening psychic powers, and paranormal creatures. 95% of them were bullshit, but the truly discerning customer could find the 5% that had the truth behind them and were priced accordingly. She and Jason enjoyed making fun of the fake ones. As for the real ones, those were the ones she took her gloves off for.
As she picked up an old spellbook, she got lost in a long-gone scene. A young woman in old-fashioned clothing was casting a magic circle in a graveyard, nervously chanting an incantation. It sounded like she was trying to ask her ancestors about some family lore of hidden treasure. Before Zenia could see if the spell worked, a familiar voice interrupted her.
"Hey, Zee! Long time no see. What'cha reading?"
"Ethan! It's...it's been a while. How've you been?" Ethan was a friend of sorts, having frequented the shop since his mother dragged him here as a boy. As children, they had bonded over messing around with the books and amulets while his mother got her tarot reading. Now, he was a tall young man with shaggy dark hair and the bluest eyes Zenia had ever seen. But she knew that no matter how attractive he was, she still had to keep him at arm's length. Who knows what would happen if he knew she was a real witch?
As Ethan talked about school, Jason snarled. "I don't like the way that boy's looking at you. Long hair like that, he's got to be a troublemaker."
"Oh come on. It's Ethan, we've known him a long time." Ethan looked at her quizzically, and Zenia scrambled for a way to make herself appear somewhat sane. "Oh nothing, I was just thinking, we've known each other a long time. Hard to believe."
"Yeah, we have, haven't we?" He paused. "It's strange, though. I don't think we've ever hung out outside of the store. I've heard you're busy with a new job as a detective or something?"
"Yeah, just a small private investigator thing. Not exactly busting murderers or anything."
"Oh, well if you're not on the case this weekend, maybe you'd want to catch the new Beyond the Grave movie? It sounds really bad. I bet you'd get a kick out of it." The long-running franchise about ghosts haunting those who wronged them in life was renowned for its nonsensical plot and cheesy special effects.
"Yeah, that'd be fun. I'm free Friday night if you are." Zenia couldn't believe it. Was he asking her out? Or was this just as friends? She wanted to ask, but she'd rather not ruin a good thing.
After Ethan left (perhaps with a mysterious breeze ushering him out), Zenia went up to her room as Jason offered his thoughts on this maybe-date. "Don't you need a chaperone? Why don't you ask your father to talk to his father and set up a meeting?"
"My father? You mean the man I see a few times a year who has zero authority to monitor my dating life? And I'm older than you were when you got married. I don't need a chaperone. Welcome to the 21st century, Jason."
"I just want you to be happy, dear. You know that."
"Yeah, but you don't know what makes me happy. Hell, I don't even know what makes me happy. But at least in this century I get to figure it out for myself. At least I could if
wasn't commenting on my every move."
"Hey, give me some credit here. I've been getting out more like you suggested, exploring the old stomping grounds. Not that any of it feels the same. They didn't even have cities this big when I was alive." He sighed. "But if you don't have any more suitors this fine evening, maybe we should go to that motel, see if that old bat at the museum was onto something."
One thing that Jason had been dying to know (or would be, if he wasn't already dead) is what became of his family's remains. The fight over what portion of the vast Peterson estate that his wife Celia was entitled to ran so deep that even though the old church records falsely claimed she was unmarried, she wasn't buried with the rest of the Peterson family. Hours of research and perusing old cemeteries hadn't located any Seymour graves, either. However, on their last trip to the historical museum's archives, Margaret, the old curator with an encyclopedic knowledge of local history, had shown Zenia a map from the 1800's. It showed an old church and graveyard where today there was nothing but a rundown motel with some woods behind it. Nobody had ever had the inclination or resources to find out what was there for sure, but Margaret thought it might help Zenia find her long-lost ancestors (the cover story she'd used to get information, since "my ghost pseudo-dad is looking for his long-dead wife and kids" would sound insane even to Margaret).
After a brief argument about whether they should really go out there on this dark and stormy night (won by Jason pointing out that eventful discoveries were never made on clear and dry nights in Zenia's beloved books), Zenia donned some rain gear, grabbed a flashlight, and drove to the outskirts of town, parking near the motel's dumpsters. The woods had a trail likely made by local teens to drink and smoke, judging by the litter on the ground. They didn't notice anything strange at first, until they came across an old oak tree that had grown around a stone protrusion.
Kneeling down, Zenia took a glove off and touched the stone. The tolling of bells and flashes of weddings and funerals from long ago confirmed what she suspected--this was part of the old church on Margaret's map. Which meant there really could be graves nearby. She tried to stand up, but a cold wind knocked her down. It felt like Jason, but judging by his scream, it most definitely was not him.
"What the...Hey, you! Whoever you are! Get away from her, or I'll...I'll..."
Zenia hid behind the tree as Jason's wind swirled around the one that was attacking her. She could only hear Jason's half of the conversation, but the other spirit apparently recognized him, and that was not a good thing. Finally, things calmed down and the other spirit left.
"Don't think you've seen the last of me!" Jason shouted as he led Zenia back towards the motel.
As she let the rain wash some of the mud off her poncho, Zenia asked Jason what happened. He had no clue who it was, but he was reasonably certain it wasn't his father-in-law or his wife. Whoever it was, they saw him as an enemy and Jason wasn't sure why.
"I think we should come back in the daytime. You think your friends at the agency want to take this on? There's that one young fellow who can see me, maybe the ghost will talk to him. And the one who likes history."
"Maybe," Zenia shrugged. She liked her new friends, but she didn't want to scare them away by asking too much from them. "I'll think about it, but for now let's just get home so I can dry off."
After going home, peeling off her wet clothes, and taking a long hot shower, Zenia fell asleep. She woke up to a text from Jane:
hey everyone!! come in as soon as you can this morning. we got a new job last night, and our client is coming in at noon.
just want to make sure our agency's looking nice and professional before she gets here - she's the most high-profile client we've had.
does the name arielle stone ring any bells?
Arielle Stone? The actress whose sister was robbed and murdered? Well, that sounded more serious than anything the agency had done yet. As she hunted for the perfect outfit and jewelry, she wondered if she'd have to cancel her date plans. It would be worth it, though, if it meant her powers could finally be put to good use.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci
Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:58 pm
The drizzling rain was by-far the best thing that could have happened today. The slickness of the stones beneath her feet as Raziel felt for a foothold where she couldn't quite see added a layer of danger. Her foot found a small ledge and she tested it, pressing a bit of her weight down. When it didn't budge, she used her new foothold to launch herself upward.
Her wings strained against the ropes she'd used to secure them to her back as her hands reached for the rocks. Her right hand found a hold, then slipped. Suddenly, she was falling down the cliffside, toward the river down below.
She hit the water with a
The shock of cold had her paralyzed, but it was just as well as she allowed herself to be sucked under the current, finding herself being dragged lazily along the bottom of the river, where the water felt like burning ice that moved sluggishly along. She vaguely remembered that there might have been a river like that in the great prison, or maybe she was imagining that there was. The memories were foggy, but she didn't care much to recollect them.
After a while, she maneuvered herself around so she could plant her boots in the silt and push off toward the unseen surface of the murky water. The river was deeper than she'd thought.
When she reached the surface, she decided she'd much rather dive back down where it now felt warmer than climb out into the rain and trudge back to her mountainside estate. It was too cold to bother with. Raziel was half-tempted to remain in the water until summer began. But there was always the chance that the team she'd joined could be given a case in that time and she couldn't just leave them to solve all of the riddles of the mortal plane without her.
The gracefully fallen often received a few blessings from The Father after their fall. Her estate was one of these, and her lingering gifts were another. Both of them could be invaluable to the team eventually, or at least useful.
She thought about all of this as she swam to shore, fighting through a bundle of caught branches to get up into the forest.
Shivering, she began the walk back to her climbing spot.
The others didn't know about her estate yet, but that was intentional. The longer they knew about it the less safe it would be for them when they needed it. A nest, a safety net, for if things went wrong.
The place was large, a dozen bedrooms, hidden in the forests near the town, far from the faery territories and other magical colonies. There were so many creatures living just out of sight of the humans. So many wonderful creatures. Raziel always did wonder what God saw in the ones who couldn't even see the majority of his world for themselves. She would never understand him.
She reached her pack and got to work untying her wings, discovering, in the process, that they were large enough to serve as umbrellas to keep the rain off of her. The river water had not been able to soak into the tightly locked and impeccably groomed feathers, and so neither could the rain.
At that discovery, she decided to just drag the bag alongside her as she hiked back to the estate. And a long hike it was.
Absent thought after unanswered inquiry entertained her mind as she wove her way through the trees. Pixies, invisible save for their secretive auras fluttered about, dimly lighting the way in technicolor majesty. Why did none of the others in Heaven see the beauty in secrets? Especially the ones that glowed in pastel shades like so many of the pixies' did. They were too innocent of creatures to commit the same atrocities as some other races.
God may have forgotten the pixies by now
, she thought as she ducked beneath a branch that would have been obscured by the rain and the fog if not for the line of curious creatures who perched upon it.
It's always easy to forget the little things you can't see.
And no one could see them except her. They were everywhere, invisible and unremembered except for the untold actions that kept them in Raziel's vision.
She made it back to the estate and hurried inside, followed by a few pixies who managed to slip in the door before it closed. Raziel didn't shoo them off, just headed upstairs and went to find that book she'd been told would give her a taste of human emotion. Unchecked rage and boredom were the named emotions it was supposed to offer.
It was on the coffee table by the couch in her second living room.
She plucked it up off the table, accidentally knocking over a glass of water in the process. She stared at the mess.
I don't drink water.
Maybe she had left it out for the pixies. There were a few in the room, darting in and out of her curtains. She gingerly lifted the glass back up and plopped down on the couch to read.
Many hours later, the book was finished, and she tossed it back down on the coffee table.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
She could try again with another book. Perhaps this one relyed on some human experience or common pet-peeve to trigger the emotions she was told it did.
She retrieved her phone. It was early morning now, she noted as she looked at the clock, and she had a message.
They had a case. Finally.
Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:39 pm
SuperNatural Detective Agent| Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Sen awakens to a chill pressing down on him, filling his lungs and burning through his nose (it really fucking hurts to inhale frozen air); and his foggy, sluggish thoughts rearrange to tell him
GOD fucking dammit Meryl's at it again
He groans, rubbing his eyes and muttering a
"Yes, thank you, Mer, I'm up"
while reaching for the water bottle he keeps with him every night (it's necessary, he has
). The cold withdraws, and he sits up, his eyes still closed and a half of his brain trying to remember what he was dreaming of (it was nice)(or at least, he remembers it
nice)(and strangely wholesome).
Sen's still sitting there, eyes closed and quickly succumbing to the gravity of sleep when the cold hits him again, full force. "Fine!" He yells, spluttering. "I give up, I give up!"
He's properly awake now, and glaring at the white fog hovering above him like a blanket, before it moves away and reforms into a middle-aged woman. Meryl smirks at him, her hair all white and glowing like a halo as the sun filters through it. She looks like an angel, because irony. Irony has known no bounds.
Since Sen met her last year, Meryl has taken to wake him up in the mornings by hovering over him in her foggy ghoulishness, fully knowing of the unbearable chill that spreads through his heart and his poor, poor soul
every fucking time
, and that which makes him want to fall asleep even more, just out of spite.
He's told her to stop, countless of times. One time he even threatened her with a cricket bat (he has one of those)(he's not quite sure what it's
used for), but she just cackled and told him
"Now, would you hurt an old woman"
"You're just 32, for cricket's sake!"
) and when Sen swung anyway, the bat sailed right through her ghoul-body, making Sen lose his balance and crash to the floor, the bat somehow managing to hit him on the head in the process.
Since then, she's done it at least three times a week, and especially when he's drunk and hungover. Today, Sen's
hungover. He's going fucking feral inside.
" 'Tis a big day, lemoncake!" She says, swinging her arms around and doing absolutely nothing that makes Seran believe that it will, indeed, be a big day. But he sighs, because he's given up trying to reason with Meryl a long time ago. He sighs because he really, really wants to go back to sleep and because he can still taste it in his mouth, that beautiful taste of sleep and unconsciousness, a blissfully bitterly comforting taste, a-
Right. Where's the Colgate.
On the way to the bathroom, he hurls a slipper at Meryl, just to satisfy the itch. It bypasses her and flies straight out the window.
Sen stops at the cafe two blocks away from work and orders a
'Strawberry and Vanilla Mocha-Latte, the Best You've ever tasted, right here In Springfield!'
- the one from that advert he saw yesterday. He tries a new flavor every other day, just to keep things interesting. On most days, it's an epic fail; he's sampled some truly disgusting liquid things that people like to call 'drinks.'
Not to be a sap, but Sen really does feel ridiculously happy every time he sees the brown agency building. It's modest, and in Sen's opinion, beautiful (cue Mer's voice at the back of his head saying "
sap."). There's a ghost etched in hot pink metallic calligraphy pen in one of the corners. Jane is quite sure Sen's the one who did it, but
. She's never gonna prove it.
Mr Donatello - no wait, it's Monday, so Mr Michelangelo - is on the front desk. The turtle's never in the same place when Sen comes in. It's completely befuddling! Like, Sen never even sees him fucking
They found him just outside the agency building. Right next to the pink ghost (Sen's taken to calling it Alexander in his head sometimes)(the ghost, that is). A day later Elliot had fixed up a sandbox in one of the shelves,complete with rocks and a blanket. Sen's never seen the turtle in it. Never ever.
Anyway, there was this argument on what to name the turtle. Sen wanted Michelangelo, not for the artist, but that one dude in Ninja Turtles that loved Pizza. Elliot wanted Mr Donatello. And so on. They compromised and decided on different names on different days of the week, the pattern changing every month. It's kind of a hot mess.
Mr Michelangelo pokes out his head from his shell. He's got orange paint splattered over him for some reason, which is just perfect. "Morning, Mr. Michelangelo!" Sen calls out. The turtle withdraws back into the shell in response.
An auburn head pokes out from behind the desk. "It's October, silly. He's Leonardo today."
Sen grins. "Elliot! What a surprise! How're ya doing, then?"
Jane rolls her eyes. "You see me every week day, Diaz. And it's 'Boss' to you."
She swipes the Mocha Latte from his hand. Takes a sip. Sen watches her, trying hard not to smile or give her a clue...
Wait for it, wait for it....
Ah ha! She grimaces, her nose scrunching up, and hands him back the cup. "Eww, whatever is that?"
Sen grins. Shrugs. Scratches his head. "Honestly, I forgot. One of my worse choices this year."
Sen hums, eyes fixed on the turtle in case it moves.
"So how's the bro doing, then?" Sen asks.
It's few seconds before Jane replies. "Good," she says decisively. "He's doing good."
Sen nods. "Good to know."
There's another bout of silence till Jane looks him up down, and then: "I wished you'd dressed a little professionally, though, today. Arielle's our biggest client yet. Our first
Sen frowns and looks down at his clothes, black joggers and a grey tee that's a little tight around his arms but make his biceps look awesome (he knows because his last boyfriend told him so. Sen can't remember the dude's name, exactly. The guy lasted for about a month.)
"My clothes are
," he says, a little petulantly. But then the other part of the sentence registers, and he does a double take. "Wait, what? Did I hear you say
Jane rolls her eyes again. "Arielle Stone? Our new client? I, like, sent a message?"
Sen's eyes could not possible get wider, because Arielle
Stone! Mer would totally lose her shit!
"Well? Didn't you get the message? Is the server going wacky again?" Jane asks.
Sen squints, his mind going back to yesterday. It's really all kinds of hazy, because he was at this club and all he kinda remembers is dancing with this really hot dude, and drinking. Like, a lot of drinking. But he maybe kinda remembers setting his phone down in one of the corner tables. He doesn't recall picking it back up.
"I think I forgot it at a club? I dunno, really," he says.
Jane stares at him. "You forgot it."
"At a club."
"And you don't even remember the name of the club."
Sen looks sheepishly at the ground. He's used to himself. He loses a lot of shit.
Jane shakes her head. Mr Michelangelo sticks out his head and looks at him, and Sen just
he's saying :
Like, how is this man even alive? How did he
forget to check both sides of the street while crossing the road and get pummeled to the ground by a tram? How?
Truth is, he did forget to, once. This girl beside him, a complete stranger, had shrieked and pulled him back just before a Porsche slammed into him. God, that had been close.
But ix-nay on melancholy days, Arielle's coming to town! Sen's gonna meet Arielle! Meryl's gonna
He skips down to his desk. Razzy's already there, shifting through some papers, and he picks her up and twirls her around in a circle. "Our first real case, Raz! I'm super pumped!"
She smiles at him. "You seem happy," she says.
Sen grins. "Aren't I always?"
He puts her down, almost stumbling a little. Razzy's wings are sorta heavy (they do support her entire weight), and Sen is just. Just human.
Hawthorn's at his own desk, reading. He looks up when Sen come around. "Hey, Diaz. All good?"
"All's perfect, Hawthorne," Sen says. And then: "My my, I swear your glasses have gotten bigger since the last time I saw them. Are you sure they're the same ones?"
Hawthorn grins and rolls his eyes, "Yes, I'm sure," and then goes back to reading. It's a morning ritual, that roast. Everyday, without fail.
Zenia's there too. And Jason, of course.
"Morning, Zenia. And Jason."
"Good morning, Seran," Zenia replies. "How was the weekend?"
"Wild, Zen, Wild. But you knew that already, didn't you? Tell me, how's my day going to be, oh wise fortune teller," Sen says.
Zenia shakes her head. "Doesn't work like that. I do objects, not people. You know that, Sen."
Sen shrugs. "Worth a try though."
He takes his seat, the table in front of him covered in post-its. Names of sites that might have supernatural shit going on. Books he's yet to read. It feels like home. ("
He smiles, almost to himself.
Mer's gonna burn when she hears he met Arielle Stone.
I was eleven years old
and I'd lost my mother,
and my soul.
And the crucible
gave me you.
Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:32 pm
| Founder of the Agency |
It was funny - Jane wasn't ever the type to get nervous, but she couldn't shake her unease. Maybe it was because she didn't want to mess this up. This was their first
case. The other ones had meant something, but this was an honest-to-God mystery.
(If Nathan was there, he'd say she was just lying to herself. That she was trying to pretend that she wasn't always nervous when she was standing among the members of the agency she had somehow managed to put together.)
Jane surveyed the group. She had done most of the cleaning before everyone arrived, but they were all trying to tidy up the agency to the best of their abilities now. Jane might have just been thinking this because she was watching too many movies, but Arielle struck her as the type of person to criticize anything out of place.
Hawthorn looked like he was thinking hard on something as he emptied out the trashbin. Zenia looked concerned about something, too, but she also looked like she was thinking about something pleasant. Sen was hungover. Razzy was the only one who seemed relatively normal, but Jane also had to admit to herself that being hungover wasn't exactly a new thing for Sen.
Jane tried to prepare herself. They had all decided that it was better if Jane stuck to the talking when Arielle was there - she was the owner of the agency, after all. When Arielle walked through that day, Jane had to be ready for her.
She took a deep breath.
It was almost noon.
There was the sound of a car rolling up in front of the agency. When Jane glanced out the window, she saw that it was a fairly expensive one - but not too expensive. It was the kind of car that a somewhat wealthy person would have, but not someone with as much money as Arielle Stone.
Arielle stepped out of the car.
Nathan would have gotten a kick out of her. Or, at least, Jane would have gotten him to - she would have been making quiet remarks to her brother the entire time that Arielle walked up the front door. Their client looked like she was both trying to hide her identity and exude wealth. She was wearing a cliche pair of sunglasses and a baseball cap, her long, brown hair in a ponytail that went through the hole in the back of the hat. Her nails were perfectly manicured. Her skin was perfect, too. Even her outfit straddled the line between casual and opulent - she was wearing a hoodie, jeans and sneakers, but each one of them probably cost more than Jane's monthly rent.
But Nathan wasn't there.
Instead, Jane tightened her grip on the broom she was holding. Then she realized it was probably a good idea to hide the fact that they had spent the entire morning cleaning, so she quickly shoved the broom in a forgotten corner of the room.
The front door's bell chimed as it swung open into the room.
The agency fell silent as Arielle entered. She was pretty sure it was the first time any of them had seen someone so rich. It wasn't necessary awe in their eyes - it was more like curiosity. No one really knew what to expect from Arielle.
Even Jane was clueless.
Jane pushed down her worry and her doubt. She gave Arielle a carefree smile. When she thrust her hand out in Arielle's direction, it was with a confidence belonging to someone much older than twenty-four.
"Hi, Arielle," she said. Arielle looked down at her hand, studying all of its little imperfections. All the little moles, and scars, and that one bruise she got when she bumped into the dresser last night. "I'm Jane - the owner of the agency. You emailed me last night about your sister?"
Arielle gave a curt nod, only shaking Jane's hand for a second before she jerked her hand away. She looked around the agency - and its various members - with a look that bordered on disgust. And another emotion, too, but Jane couldn't quite put a name to it.
Jane gestured for Arielle to follow her over to the couches and sofas that had been set up near the entrance. Arielle sat on the very edge of one of the smaller couches. The agency all sat next to each other on two sofas - Jane was the only one that sat apart from the rest, instead sitting in the armchair she had bought the same day she got the agency.
Jane gestured at the group and introduced them all. She was still waiting to find out why Arielle had come - she didn't want to reveal that no one in the agency was normal if Arielle was just a regular old human with a supernatural problem.
"So," Jane said, resting an elbow on the arm of her chair and placing her chin in the cusp of her hand, "tell us about your sister."
Arielle took a deep breath and removed her sunglasses. She tucked them into the v-neck of her hoodie and rested her hands in her lap. She was still wearing her baseball cap, but Jane suspected that she kept it on to avoid making her hair messy.
"You've probably all seen the news," Arielle said. "You know that she was...she was choked to death, and that her house was ransacked..."
Jane nodded. "We have."
Arielle let out a sigh.
"My...my sister and I were never close," she said. "We always had our differences. But she was still my sister, and I just..."
She tightly gripped her jeans.
"It's been hard adjusting," she said.
Jane knew she was telling the truth.
"Loss is never easy," Jane reassured her. She hadn't experienced it herself, but it was a universal truth.
Arielle gave a small nod.
Then she shifted in her seat. Though she was someone that was supposed to be full of confidence and sophistication, she looked surprisingly small and afraid.
"I...I heard a story," Arielle said. "From a coworker on my latest project. He...He grew up around here. My...my sister wasn't the first person to die of unnatural causes in Springfield. There was another woman who was strangled years ago. He said that she lived in a house just like Angie's, and that she was still haunting it now..."
Arielle fell silent.
She was still telling the truth. Jane was sure of it. What she wasn't sure of was if the ghost really was the culprit - there was a still a chance the police were right when they made their verdict.
"You think she was killed by the ghost," Jane said. Arielle didn't give a reply. She just stared down at the ground, hands still tightly gripping the fabric of her jeans. "Why don't you think it was a burglary gone wrong? That's what the police said last month."
Arielle bit her lip.
"They haven't been able to find any leads," she said. "The things that were stolen from the house never ended up in shops, and no one's come forward. They can't even find any DNA evidence..."
She looked back up at Jane - her gaze never once went to the others in the room.
"I heard you deal with supernatural things," she said. "I found one of your ads online. I want you to find out what happened to my sister - and I want you to take care of that ghost."
Jane ignored the nagging feeling. There was some truth missing from that, but her powers weren't perfect. Arielle had said she heard about the agency - in actuality, she had read about it. It was one of the reasons why she needed Nathan with her. Nathan was her balance, and could usually help her tune out those minor discrepancies.
Jane glanced at the other members of their agency.
A potential murderous ghost wasn't
bad in the scheme of things, right? And if they solved this mystery - either by finding an alive burglar or a corrupt ghost - then they'd get all the publicity they'd ever need.
"We'll do it," Jane said.
What could go wrong?
Send review requests to
The Crow's Nest
: A Club for LBGTQ+ Writers
Anime & Manga Club
Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:56 pm
What am I doing?
John’s stomach growls as he exits the hotel, having just declined the free breakfast. He decided it would be too much for his conscience, not that he hadn’t just robbed the place of a night’s rent.
You know, it’s funny how conscience works. You can get away with the cruelest of deeds. Maybe because there happens to be too much of that guilt for you to process, so you don’t. And then it’s the smallest things that tip the voice in your head off. “You’ve gone too far.”
John has walked quite a distance away from the hotel without realizing. The sidewalk isn’t as congested as the last evening. The shops have opened up. There is a diner in front him — he hears faint music as he closes in. His mouth waters at the smell of different kinds of deliciousness and he is unable to pinpoint any of it. His stomach growls again.
Just. Keep. Moving.
He shakes his head and conforms to the voice in his head. But as he takes some steps away from the café, he hears a rustle. Realizing it’s something that he has stepped on, he looks down.
“What the--?” he mutters as picks up the muffled up one-dollar bill. He looks around but he’s not sure why. No one is stopping to look at him. No one is giving him the eyes or approving his action with a nod. He’s just sort of there, unperceived. Nevertheless he tucks the bill inside a pocket and sighs in relief.
Sat in a red comfy seat, he contemplates his options. Music plays on in low volume.
“In the next world war,
In a jack knifed juggernaut,
I am born again.”
John knows the song. Airbag. The last time he was in Liverpool, Gemma — his niece — had sung it to him. John was proud. He used to like Radiohead too, in their early, angry and edgy days. He wonders if it’s a curse someone has cast upon him — for his life to, over the years, reflect Radiohead’s gradual descent into the darker themes, their spiral exploration of a dystopia that can be.
Am I in hell?
The trail of thought is broken as a waitress asks him what he’d like to order.
“That’s a tough one,” says John, scratching his head. “I, uh…”
She is indifferent to his accent. “I get it if you’re running a little short,” says the waitress.
John chuckles. “That obvious?”
“Man, we all have those days. Besides, it’s Wednesday.”
“You can get breakfast at one dollar every Wednesday at Shurley’s diner. We dubbed it one-dollar Wednesday at first, which was a stupid idea, because everyone assumed the deal also applies to lunch and dinner. It doesn’t!”
“Easy there! Just—” John breaks out laughing. “Lord, this is convenient.”
“What?” In confusion, she looks at another waitress at the end of the room who only shrugs back.
“Uh… I’m sorry. Can you tell me exactly what I’m getting at one dollar?”
“Yeah,” replies the waitress, “you get one open-faced sandwich — fried eggs on top. We’ll have the toast buttered up and seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. All of that cool with you?”
Taking a big bite on the sandwich, John thinks about a detail he overlooked at first in a moment of desperation — when he first saw the diner — and then in a moment of excitement — when the waitress mentioned the one-dollar deal.
Shurley’s diner. Shurley.
John wonders if it’s the same Shurley he met on the bus. It could be a family business, or rather, a business run by the son Mark Shurley spoke of. John would love for that to be true.
“In a fast German car
I’m amazed that I surviv—
Fast German—German Car—”
The speakers play the phrase German car over and over again. One might mistake it for a creepy section in the song but John knows it’s a glitch. Two customers sitting directly by a speaker look at each other and then at the waitress who served John. She in turn stares at the guy behind the counter.
“Uh… Frank?” she calls out.
Frank mutters something inaudible and changes the music. Everyone goes back to either eating or serving. John doesn’t think much of it. He throws the last bit of the sandwich inside his mouth and gets up.
He hands his one dollar to Frank. “By the way,” John says, “does a Mark Shurley have anything to do with this place?”
“I don’t know any Mark,” says Frank, conversationally. “Why do you ask?”
“Never mind, son.”
Planning on walking off the disappointment, John makes way for the exit. The song changes behind him.
“There are many things to talk about,
As he steps out, he notices another one-dollar bill lying on the sidewalk.
This has gotta be a joke…
He leans down to pick it up but this time the bill swoops out of his grasp and onto the road.
He chases behind it but realizes he has made a mistake as he hears a desperate honk coming from his left. Time slows down in his perception. He shields his head with his arms expecting an impact, but the car only swerves around him…
Like a jack knifed juggernaut.
The car stops some feet away from him, leaving a trail of tire marks on the asphalt. John’s eyes light up as he sees the logo on the back.
Volkswagen. German. German car.
Pedestrians stop in their tracks.
The driver of the Volkswagen jumps out of her car — she’s wearing a baseball cap and a hoodie with sunglasses hanging off the V-neck.
“Oh my god, are you okay?” She runs up to John.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He tries to chuckle and wave off the concern but his hands shake too much.
“You need to be careful, lady!” one of the pedestrians shout.
“Hey, I wasn’t—” Before she can explain it wasn’t her fault, two other pedestrians join in to condemn her.
Another one screams, “Is that Arielle fucking Stone?”
Arielle takes a few steps back but there are people behind her too. John’s tremor begins to settle.
I can’t let this get out of hand. Everything seems to have led me to this woman. I need to talk to her.
“Close your eyes,” John whispers to Arielle.
“Just do it,” John then turns to the crowd. “Oi!” With his hands held up like antennas and in a quick three-sixty turn, he surveys the crowd. Three pedestrians have already taken their phones out. “NOW, ARIELLE!”
“Shit, okay!” She turns away and closes her eyes.
John claps in front of his face and bursts of light disperse in all directions from his location. The pedestrians go back to their businesses as if they have witnessed nothing.
Arielle turns back at John in a mixture of wonder and fear. “Who are you, dude?”
Merely knowing John Constantine is likely to get you killed.
“Oh yeah? Then why the fuck did you just tell me your name?”
John just shrugs. “We should get your car off the middle of the road first.”
“You almost smote me, luv. Feel like you owe me at least a drink.”
Here’s hoping she doesn’t bring up fact that I—
“I almost killed a man today. Then again you were dumb enough to jump on the pavement like a frog chasing a fly,” says Arielle. “Hell, I could use a drink too.” She picks the sunglasses of the V-neck of her hoodie, jerks them in opposite directions so the temples open up and puts them on. John quietly listens. “But again, you helped out with the crowd. I want to know how you did that,” says Arielle. “Hop in.”
He follows her to the Volkswagen. But it occurs to him that between the close call and the conversation he’s lost track of the note. He turns around and sees no trace of it.
Did one of the pedestrians pick it up during the commotion or did it just… vanish?
They get inside the Volkswagen.
“By the way,” says John. “Where did you learn to drive?”
Arielle narrows her eyes at John.
“No, it’s a compliment,” says John. “Would have taken some skills to evade me like that, yeah?”
“Oh… Advanced driving courses with the best instructors in the world.” Arielle smirks and hits the gas. “Perks of being an actress.”
They are sat in a bench outside a restaurant — Arielle is to John’s right. The place has a giant cardboard smoothie cup for a banner.
“See, this is not what I had in mind when I said owed me a drink,” John says as he sips through a straw on his chocolate smoothie.
“I have a meeting in a couple hours, dum-dum,” says Arielle. “Besides, it’s the best place for smoothies in Springfield. My sister and I used to… I mean, well, when I visited her and it wasn’t often, but if we had to hang out or talk, this place was it.”
“Must have some sweet memories of this place then.”
“Sweet. Bitter. Almost-threw-a-cup-at-her-face bitter. There’s definitely memories.” Arielle throws her head back and sighs. “Gosh, she despised me.”
“Sisters, eh?” John takes another sip and observes Arielle. Arielle’s deep in her own thoughts and likely didn’t catch John’s remark.
“I guess I’ll never find out why.”
“Unless you already know why.” John adjusts his sitting to face Arielle.
Arielle stares at him, continuing to sip on her walnut smoothie. “What do you mean?”
“I’ll be blunt,” says John. “You’re Arielle fucking Stone—”
“—and you said she worked in… some tech firm? Less-than-adventurous profession, staying at home, presumably zero friends. If I was her I’d be jealous too.”
“She wouldn’t… No, you don’t get it. This thing goes way back and…” Arielle flinches. “I don’t want her to be talked about like that.”
Arielle disregards the apology. “So you are, in your words, a detective who specializes in the occult.”
“That is right,” says John. “And you think she was murdered by a ghost.”
“I’ve heard stories about Springfield.”
“This place gives me the creeps too. Doesn’t make it a murder by supernatural causes by default.”
“No DNA traces.”
“The killer was a sneaky bastard then.”
“The place was ransacked, but—”
“Nothing was taken. Could be a ploy to throw the police off,” John says confidently.
“FOR FUCK’S SAKE, THE POLICE—” Arielle stops realizing she was about take her frustration out on John. “I’m sorry, but they’ve done next to nothing.”
“Look, I’m just trying to understand why you are leaning towards the supernatural explanation,” John puts his cup down to his left. “I’ve seen things… done things. Horrible big, little things. Cases like this take you places. By no means is what you’re implying impossible.”
Arielle’s eyes get a teary — side-effects of getting hit by unexpected hope in the face.
John continues, “But what if it turns out to be a normal case? As normal as these things can be anyway.”
“Then I’d at least know for sure. Because I need to know. I need answers, or something.”
“You’re looking for closure.”
“Maybe.” Arielle takes a long sip. “Anyway, ‘not impossible,’ I’ll take that as a professional opinion.”
John smirks. “Sure.”
“No, it really helps. I’m actually hiring this agency that specializes on the supernatural.”
“But you’ve been having second thoughts.”
“Exactly.” Arielle ponders for a moment. “Actually… why don’t you come with me? To the agency.”
“Can’t imagine I could help looking into the case. But I prefer working alone.”
“You’re broke. Don’t think I didn’t see the note you were chasing after.”
John shrugs. “Touché. But…”
“Understand that I can’t hire you separately, or behind their back, however you wanna put it.”
I could use a job right now. On the other hand, I’ve already given myself away to a celebrity… but exposing myself to an investigation agency as well? Not a bright idea.
Arielle snaps her fingers in front of John’s face as if to wake him up. “So?”
“Oh… still a no. I do what I do for the thrill of it,” says John, with a convincing charm.
“Fine,” says Arielle, disappointed with John’s reply. “This is it then. You got your drink. I got my explanation… well, sort of.”
“One last thing, Arielle,” says John. There’s a sudden change of tone in his voice. “Is there something wrong with my eyes?”
Arielle looks at his eyes and hums. “I mean, you got bags but… wait… SHIT, DON’T EV—”
John’s eyes flicker ever so slightly. “You’ve never seen me.”
Arielle repeats his words in a weak voice.
“You’ll forget everything from the past hour and… the next five minutes.”
John sighs and shakes his head. “You’re also… uh… going to give me some money.”
God, I fucking hate myself.
“Of course.” Arielle hands John a fifty-dollar bill from her wallet. He takes it quickly to prove to himself he’s not hesitating, but it just makes the panic within him clearer.
John gets away from Arielle in slow steps, without looking back once. Arielle remains sat on the bench.
I had to, right? It’s for her own good that she has no association with me. Besides, there’s no way I’m stumbling onto her again. We were just loose ends to each other anyway.
Having bought a notebook and a cheap pack of cigarettes, John decides to give Angie Stone’s house a visit. After some forty minutes’ walk, he finds himself on Wingston Road.
Dark clouds have begun to form in the sky again — a good deal of it looms over the house that John is standing by. The house looks lifeless, ironically too — the grasses have grown wildly, the roof is full of makeshift bird nests — clearly not takes care of by a person anymore. The chilly wind seems to be back. John feels it tousle his messy hair as he lights a smoke.
Angie Stone’s house.
John lights a cigarette and observes the neighborhood. The freshness of the other houses and their front yard trees is in direct contrast with the scene in front of him.
Seeing there is no other pedestrians in the street, John makes way for the door. The door isn’t locked and there are no crime-scene tapes in the doorway or in the dark hallway in front.
There’s not a lot of furniture in the living room — this is where Angie’s body was found — other than a large white sofa facing the LED television. The windows are covered in drapes. John doesn’t get a sense of abnormality from the house. If there’s a stranded spirit in this house, it must know how to cloak itself. Or perhaps, it had never been stranded at all.
“Hello?” John hopeless calls out to the emptiness. John jams his cigarette in mouth and takes out the pen and the notebook from his pockets. He flicks past a few pages.
The pages contain descriptions of the music that was playing inside the diner and a summary of his conversation with Arielle. Certain words and phrases seem to be underlined: synchronicity, Frank, Angie, chalk etc. John writes some quick notes—
If we can’t talk it out, we’ll chalk it out.
—and throws the pen and the notebook at the sofa. He starts digging into his coat’s inside-pocket — the same one where he keeps the enchanted cigarette — and triumphantly sighs as he brings out a red-ish chalk-stick or what’s left of it.
It takes him two tries to draw something that resembles a big pentagram on the floor. He stands in the middle of the sign and takes the cigarette from his mouth.
“Let’s talk,” John talks to the room. The words echo back to him before dissipating.
Ah, well. You can’t do something well and look super at the same time.
“You can’t help the temptation, can you? Think about the yarns you can spin about making contact with the Hellblazer, eh?”
John waits for something to happen.
Many a puffs later his eyes start to feel heavier. He wonders that he’s just tired. But the tiredness itself becomes overwhelming. He sits down and allows his eyes to shut…
For just a few seconds.
Just like that he sinks into a deeper state. Everything around him feels abstract, like a language he doesn’t understand. A staff materializes in front of him. John reaches out to it and—
“Mucous Membrane, everybody!” The announcement is followed by an enthusiastic roar from the sea of audience in front. It sends chills down John’s back. The staff has morphed into a microphone-stick.
“Living the dream, eh?” Gary — the lead guitarist and John’s long dead friend — playfully punches him in the shoulder. “Now wake up. We have a show to play.”
“Gary, you’re in one piece!” John proceeds to touch Gary’s face to see if he’s real but Gary slaps the hand away. Some people in the front row stare all confused. John stares back at them trying to make sense of things in his head.
“Are you on something, Johny boy?” Gary growls. “I told you not to—”
“No, I’m fine.” John gulps. “I’m fine.”
Gary’s alive and looks two decades younger. Beano’s on the drums. Les is there too… This is a memory. Our first big gig.
Gary takes a good look at John. “Nerves, eh? They’ll settle once the music rolls.” He faces the rest of the band. “We’re starting with a cover. Airbag. Just like we practiced.”
At Gary’s signal Beano hits the drums. Gary follows with a moody riff for a couple bars and then John fills in with rhythmic strumming. Les starts to pick on his bass as John's vocals come on.
As they reach the chorus—
“In an interstellar burst,
I’m back to save the universe.”
—one girl on the front row catches John’s attention. John almost messes up the words. John tries to smile and get on with it. The girl smiles back and for the moment that’s all John sees.
Is that... Rachel? Isn’t it the gig where we first met?
“Oi!” Gary growls. John seems to have blacked out. He doesn’t recover. The world morphs into something abstract again but this time John can slip out of it. It feels like waking up.
He rubs his eyes as his brain tries to make sense what he has just experienced. But he has to snap out of it. There are footsteps approaching. Heavy ones. John quickly grabs the notebook from the sofa and does his best to kick and rub the pentagram away.
He braces for an unpleasant stand-off with a sentimental neighbor or the police. But his guards drop at the sight of the person walking into the living room. John has a moment of doubt as to who she could be. Then he sees certainty in her eyes. She knows him.
“It’s still pink, isn’t it?” John casually gestures at the air around him.
“It’s actually much worse.” Razzy’s arms hang awkwardly.
John sighs and pockets his hands. “You look different.”
“You don’t,” says Razzy, looking John up and down. “I see you still haven’t washed your coat.”
John chuckles, hoping for the same from Razzy but she only crosses her arms.
“What are you doing here, John?”
“In this house?”
“In this continent.”
“I’m in the process of figuring that out. Been riding the wave a bit too much lately.”
“It takes you where it takes you. You know, I’d roll my eyes but—”
“Wouldn’t be worth it, eh?”
“No, it would just feel fake, cheesy even, without the impulse. Pointless emulation.”
Something stirs up inside John. His heart races and his immediate thought fill up with guilt.
What did they do to you, Rachel?
“You wouldn’t understand.” Razzy kneels down to examine the floor. “What did you use the chalk for?” John didn’t manage to erase all the red dust. “Really, what are you doing here?”
John has truly found himself in an impossible situation. But some things are starting to make sense, like the songs that were abruptly playing and glitching in the diner and their significance. John wonders that even though he could lie through his teeth right now, he needs to keep tabs on his karma.
“Someone died in this room, Rachel, likely under abnormal circumstances. I’m trying understand what—”
“Angie Stone. Strangled to death.”
Razzy is worried and she has reasons to be: the case could be connected to some dangerous business if John Constantine has come all the way from London to look into it.
“Wait a minute.” The lines on his forehead become more pronounced. “Why do you know that?”
“I work for the agency that’s currently investigating the murder. Your turn.”
John doesn’t have to answer as both of them catch some chatter coming from outside and stay silent.
And there's my deus ex machina.
A beep originates from Razzy’s pocket. She brings out her phone and sighs. “They’re here,” she mutters.
So it goes.
"Yesterday you said tomorrow, so JUST DO IT."
— Shia Labeouf
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