Friday, January 18, 2013

I Call Me - Author Harrow

I Call Me - Harrow

Official Journal: File #---18. 

Call me Harrow. My parents did, almost. What they actually named me is of little consequence, since I ditched it shortly after they died.

From here, I could paint myself as a victim of fate, a brooding loner (who may or may not have an obsession with  bats,) or perhaps an inspiring portrayal of rising to greatness after smacking the odds down like a bug. A fat, ugly bug. I greatly enjoy manipulating people to my own ends, but as that seems unnecessary here, I’ll try not to deviate too far from the truth.

The truth is always more complicated than any caricature, and is often painfully dull without at least a few embellishments.

For example, when people think of detective work, they usually picture an absurdly attractive male in a deerstalker hat raking a bloodied room for details, a mustached Belgian in a closed room homicide, or, if they’re fabulous, a cookie grandma solving murder plots while knitting a scarf.

            In reality, detective work is often very unfulfilling.  Don’t get me wrong—I love justice. I am to justice as Jim Gaffigan is to bacon. Yay, justice! The problem is, the solution is either obvious (the ex), or else, the conclusion of a case so old, so obscure, or so ridiculously petty that it's hardly worth mulling over. Criminals are a dull and uncreative lot, and this makes my job unpleasantly easy. Intriguing cases, like glowing hounds and murders of VIPs, are frequently left for the field workers of the F.B.I.

            Why don’t I work for the F.B.I, you ask? Because a PhD in Abnormal Psychology backed up by a few liberal arts degrees is always displaced by a government or SI Major in terms of hiring priority. Also, the government doesn’t like hiring people who don’t trust the government. So… sucks to the F.B.I? We’ll go with that.

            Incidentally though, I think I am on a good case. In brief: there may potentially be an evil illusionist roaming the streets of Deinsport killing people with apparent paranormal acts. What possible motivation is there for a person to go for theatrics and not just get the homicide over with and wipe for fingerprints like a normal criminal? Abnormal Psychology all the way, baby.

            Of course, the independent agency I’m working with is convinced that it’s aliens or demons or something of that nature. Actually, the term Agent Bell used was “Departed.” More notes on this later.  Also, I’m in the process of writing up a diagnosis for Agent Aquila, who is clearly suffering from some issues, chief among which is a profound aversion to me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Controversy - Author Bell

Controversy - Bell

Official Journal: File #---16. Part 1

   The sun painted the sky for the first time in the few weeks that we've been here. I enjoy the sun. I embrace its beauty, its warmth, and especially the free light that eased the burden on my electric bill. I peacefully stood and gazed out the window, watching as life in Deinsport City seemed... normal. Everything about this city appeared dark and dreary, but when the sun arrived, it inspires hope of a new day into the residents. People smile, children play in the streets, and I even heard kind greetings under the breath of a few walking commuters. However, just like their hope, the sun rarely bloomed.

   My office door loudly opened after a brief knock. I turned and saw Sionn in the doorway. "Good morning Miss Harrow." I said with a smile, then returning my sight to the window. "Good morning!" She returned. "Isn't the weather lovely? It's better than the monotonous rain."
   "Indeed. It's rather nice..." I noted two children playing on the sidewalk across the way. One pointed towards my window. The other looked, then waved. I gave a nod and a smile. I felt generous today. I lost the smile, and turned around when I remembered I had company. Sionn stood in front of the door with her sight drifting around the room awkwardly. "Where are my manners? Please, sit." I realized that in my wonder of the sun, I had lost common courtesy. She spared a smile and proceeded to sit on the other side of my desk. Closing the window, I returned to my desk and sat in my old office chair. It gave a slight moan when I sat in it, as if to remind me that it was old and lonesome. 

   "So, any goals for today?" She asked, sitting with strait posture in the chair. I reclined in mine, forcing another groan from the complaining chair. She stayed pretty professional besides an initial greeting. I liked that.
   "Well, besides finding the source of this suspicious letter, we should be getting a report from Scout about the body we found in the park."

   "Oh that's right, you haven't met her. She's a field agent that has unique talents for finding evidence and clues at the scene of any crime. I was surprised when Ivan and I couldn't find anything at the crime scene, but Scout- Ah! Scout! Come in!"

   Scout had opened the door silently and barely given herself away. She was quiet in almost everything that she did, and she was always aware of detail; a drop of blood, footprints, or even a squeaky door. When she finally openly entered the room, her blonde hair sparkled with red flair against the light. It was somewhat odd, but amazing in another way. 
   "Scout Grey, this is Sionn Harrow." They shook each other's hand, Sionn giving a "Hell-o! while Scout acknowledged her with a small bow. She turned to me and dropped a clipboard on my desk in front of me. "It's all I could come up with. Sorry." I quickly leaned forward to review her notes and started to run down the normal requirements that I ask details about.

   "We have..." I stopped to read. Usually I state her findings out loud to mentally take note of them, but instead I read. My concerned look must have caused some curiosity with Sionn.
   "Well?" She asked.

   "Well... there's almost no evidence of any other people involved. We only have the name of the victim to go off of."

   "Do you want my detectives to look into it?" She asked politely.
   "Miss Harrow," was heard, followed by a dark chuckle. Ivan was leaning against the wall next to the closed door. The sudden and silent intrusions made me consider if I should dry off the door hinges to let them squeak when someone entered. Everyone stared at Ivan with shock and surprise, expecting some enlightening statement to justify his intrusion."I have to inform you that our department actually possesses professional detective background. Scout used be employed with FBI forces in Detroit before she was... excommunicated. Jonathan and I have a background working for stations in Toronto and L.A. So if you're doubting our ability to find information, please leave."

   "Ivan, she's just trying to help." Came from Scout's voice. Ivan inhaled as to respond, but he exhaled and buried his comment. "Anyways, the only thing I could track down from the blood, fingerprints, and facial structure was the name of the victim. Barbara Stanton." I flipped to the next page on the clipboard. Sure enough, the pictures of the body matched those that she had found crawling around on the internet somewhere. "I found where she lives, occupation, and where she had been the last 37 hours before she died. I also found that she was divorced from a extravagantly rich investor named Roger Stanton." This is why Scout was on my team; she had an excellent talent for gathering intelligence.

   "Scout," Sionn said as she held out her hand to me to gesture receiving the clipboard, which I gave to her. "Who was she closest to within those past 37 hours?"

   "From my notes, it seems that she had a peculiar contact with Mr. Stanton, asking for financial help, where he seems to grant with little haste."

   "Is that from Email and Facebook?" Ivan asked, looking up from his casual lean.

   "Yes, and there was also a phone call that I was able to retrieve from the local archives of tapped phone lines."

   "Is that legal?" I asked out of concern. She raised her eyebrows and shrugged.

   "Do you really think they would find out that I broke into their archives?" 

   "Um, no." I replied with a slight chuckle.

   "Technically, it's not legal-" We all gave Sionn a stare; a collective cold stare that made her shrink the tiniest bit in her chair. "-but that's not to say that I will say anything." Our stares receded.

   "Anyways, that's terrific work Scout. Good job." Ivan gestured for the clipboard. Sionn tossed it to him, in which he caught it without moving more than his right arm. He began to review Scout's document.

   Silence dominated the room as Ivan reviewed the notes for a second. I stood and walked towards the coat hanger on the door. "Our next move should be to arrange a meeting with Mr. Stanton. He could be a possible suspect in the murder, but most importantly, he is a source of information that we do not have right now."

   "How are we getting to him?" Ivan asked.

   "He has an office in the economy sector downtown." Sionn turned over her hand and held her badge. "We don't have warrants, but I might be able to get us clearance." Ivan smirked. He either though that her idea was futile, or he was thinking about how his presence may prevent us from entering the front door. Either way, we had to try.
   "Well, I say we have an unscheduled appointment to attend. Let us be off then." I glazed my raincoat with my fingertips for a split second before I remembered the weather. My hands instead fitted my hat onto my head. Hopefully, I wouldn't need the hat protecting me from rain. Hopefully, our plan would work and land us a lead. But much like the sun, hope disappears quickly in this city. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Skeptic - Author Anders

The Skeptic - Anders

Official Document Resource #--37

I’m a skeptic.  I’m not sure if it was my upbringing or simply being fooled one too many times by my older brother.  Either way, I’ve come to a very firm disbelief towards all supposedly supernatural or paranormal encounters.  That was the stuff for fantasy novels and TV shows, not for real life.
But some beg to differ.
For the sake of the story, we’ll say my name is Maria Anders.  When I first came to Deinsport, I found it to be a very depressing city.  Dark, rained too much.  But it was a good place to settle down in if you wanted to keep a low profile from certain others of whom I won’t mention.
To keep things short, I got involved in some shady business in my late teens.  In a big toss-up of employers, I eventually fell under the hire of someone who was semi-legal.  Lester was definitely the nicest employer I ever had.  But I got tired of it.  Yes, I was ready to leave that life behind and settle down with something less dangerous.
But that didn’t seem to be my luck.
Two years passed with only minor incidents threatening my new stability.  Lester didn’t bother me, and anyone else either couldn’t find me or stayed away.  But one chilly night, as I sat in my apartment in front of the TV, someone knocked at the door.  It was a firm rap, insisting.  I shut off the TV show, which wasn’t that interesting anyhow, and reluctantly went to answer.  As a habit, I peered through the peek-hole.  My breath caught.
I knew this man.  I could recognize the narrow face, straggled black hair, and pale brown eyes anywhere.  I cracked open the door.
“Steve,” I stated.
“You gonna let me in?”  His mouth twitched into a smile.  Here was a man who really enjoyed his job too much.
“That depends.  You with Lester this time or should I be worried about an assault team surrounding the building?”
“Lester,” he answered coolly, “And a message.”
I opened the door wider.  He took it as invitation enough to step inside, ignoring my scowl.
“I won’t be taking a job.”
“Maybe you better see the job first.”
I crossed my arms.
“It involves… something paranormal.”
“Is there a reason I shouldn’t just knock you out and throw you on the streets?”
“Aside from my amazing ninja skills,” he grinned irritatingly, “The case involves a group of paranormal detectives.  Just take a look.”
His easy smile hardly matched the insistence with which he shoved a folder full of papers into my arms.  I grudgingly opened it, glancing over the paperwork and photos.
“The DDS actually hired those guys,” he explained as I examined a few photos of some paranormal detective group, “They must be pretty convincing.  But what’s more, we’ve found other groups that are already after them.  They must be on to something.  Lester wants to know what that something is, along with… evidence as to whether or not their group is a phony.”
“They’re fake.  All paranormal guys are fakes.  Case closed.  As for the other thing, hire someone who hasn’t retired.”
“Don’t be so dismissive!” he protested, “I know you’re not big on supernatural stuff, but you have to admit that these guys must have found something important.  Besides, you can get back at that guy…”
He pointed to the name of a group that I’m not in any position to mention publically.  Needless to say, I had a grudge against them.  But I still wasn’t biting.
I glared at him.  He glared back, but with more enjoyment than a glare deserved to have.
“There’s also…” he paused for effect, like he was coming to the finale, “Good pay involved.  And I know your current job position is a bit unstable.”
There it was.
Lester may be a nicer boss than most, but he was still relentless when he wanted something.  So he had been the one causing problems at my work.
“So now we’re down to threats.”  It was almost an accusation.
“If you insist on seeing things in such a negative light, then yes.”
Steve had to be the most infuriating mercenary I had ever met.  You could put a gun to his head and he still might make a witty comment.  I looked back at the papers.  It wasn’t a bad job.  And he wasn’t lying about the pay.
“So what’s it going to be?”
“This one, and he better not ask me to do any more.  Am I clear?”
“Clear as glass.”  He casually leaned against a wall.  “So how about I stay a bit?  Get some beer, watch a movie…”
My frown was answer enough.  He didn’t take the hint.  “We’re not friends anymore, remember?  Out.”
This time, he didn’t argue.  He got up and left my apartment for who-knows-where.  With him gone, I sat at my table and started the work of reading through all the files.  Jonathan Bell and Ivan Aquilla, the two oldest members of their little detective group…  maybe they were the place to start.  I checked the time.  Past midnight.  I resigned myself to sleep for the long day ahead, for there was much to do.
Now, you may be wondering, why would I post such a story to the DDS?  I’m undercover, right?  
The answer: this is a warning.
You are being watched.  And you are in much danger.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I'm Magic - Author Fairview - Part 2

I'm Magic - Fairview

Official Journal: File #---7. Part 2

<Devnotes: Files have been unlocked to show less code>

Fairview Case Report: 07, section 2

“Here’s my card. I’m detective Jonathan Bell. Gimme a call if you’re interested. The pay isn’t brilliant but I promise having a paycheck and dealing with me will be a lot easier than having none and dealing with beard-face over there. He seems like he has a bone to pick with you. Which reminds me. I’d better be going. Until next time.”

Aw man, this did not look good. Beard guy was drunk, angry, and headed right towards me. Also, he had a bottle.

“Heey, you little punk cheater sonuvabitch, you gonna pay for what you was gonna do to me!” Slurred speech, wobbly footfalls. This guy was wasted. His red beard was full of crumbs. Gross. Arguing with drunk people never goes well, so I started to make my way outside. I walked out the front door of the bar and started making my way down the street. My apartment was only about a block from here and once I got there I’d be *WHAM*.

Something hit me, hard, in the left shoulder-blade, and I hit the pavement. No time to think. I rolled to the side as he forcefully tried to step on my face, but his depth perception was so bad he would have missed anyway. I stood up, got behind him, grabbed his arm, twisted it around his back, and then kicked him behind the knee. His shoulder POPPED out noisily as he spun around and landed, face first, on the sidewalk. I threw the knife across the street.

Wait, knife? He had a knife? Where did that come from? How did he get here so fast? I felt warmth spreading down my back, and for some reason my left arm wouldn’t move, and I couldn’t see and<error508_decryption_garbled>

<Searching for next decryptable entry>
. . .
<Entry found>
<Resuming Decryption.exe>

“Time to rise, Mr. Fairview. Time to rise and smell the ashes” Someone said in the darkness. Whoah, light, there’s light. And a person. With a hat. What? What on earth... where was I? What is this place? Huh?

“What happened to me?! Get me out of here!” I sat up way too fast and grey-zoned it back onto what looked like a hospital bed. There was an IV in my arm. White curtains on a white window frame with light blue walls. But this wasn’t a hospital.

And that creepy guy who gave me his card at the bar was standing next to my bed.

“HOLY SH-” He clamped his hand firmly over my mouth and I started to freak out even more. What on earth was going on here?! I forced myself to resume mental/physical control and he pulled his hand off of my face.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t have you making a lot of noise. You’re in good hands- well, at least my hands. I’ve had a private doctor evaluate your condition and you are going to be just fine. You got stabbed by the belligerent at the bar. Just sit tight, you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow.”
“Excuse me? I don’t remember signing up for your team. This isn’t how it works. This should be voluntary.”

He turned and looked at me, but I couldn’t see his face from a cast shadow. I could feel a second of sadness within him though. But the sadness vanished and I felt his mind shift towards the goal at hand... whatever that looked like.

“You’re right. It should be. But if you’re the person I’ve read you are, you will want to help us. Also we have a case we need you for. Now. It can’t wait and it directly involves you and your skillset. We start work tomorrow.” Man, oh man. I didn’t want to do this at all. But a part of me was interested in whatever this Bell guy had up his sleeve.
“I get paid?” I needed cash most desperately.
“Yes. You also get a living space here. Free room and board. We have our own facilities and everything.”

Friday, January 4, 2013

Into the Jungle - Author Bell Part 4

Into the Jungle - Bell

Official Journal: File #---3. Part 4

   Guns drawn, senses alert, and blood curdling with adrenaline. We're face to face with a possible threat that has yet to speak a word. I have my revolver pointed at one of her black buttons that lies over her heart, and Ivan is having no problem showing off his weapon either. In fact, he's not even pointing the muzzle at her. He's menacing enough without the gun. However, the woman didn't seemed threatened at all. She examined both of us and visually made notes. Then she smirked and moved away from the front door, pulling out a notebook and writing something down. "Ma'm," Ivan inquired politely, but with a bit of a growl. "I need you to tell us who you are and why you're here, or you're going to have some trouble. "First off" she spoke, turning around to look at us. "I'm not here to hurt you, so you can holster your weapons for a real threat."
   "I want a name and why you're here first." Ivan seemed pretty firm, yet he was now relaxed against the wall with arms crossed and legs locked, gun still in hand.
   "Fine. Sionn Harrow. Detective from the DPD."
   "I want a badge." With that request, she pulled out a small wallet from one of her coat pockets and tossed it to Ivan. He opened it, investigated, and then tossed it back. "It's legitimate." We put our handguns away.
   "So, Mrs. Harrow, I-" Ivan was cut off.
   "I'm not married Mr. Aquila."
   "Oh, sorry ma'm. Wait, how did you know my name?"
   "I've been assigned to your team by the Deinsport Council Mr. Bell. I'm going to be sticking around and helping you with any navigation, crime files-"
   "Or are you just keeping tabs to make sure we're not a bunch of crazies. Am I right, Miss, Harrow?" Ivan had a hiss spurting from his speech. He's definitely annoyed. Harrow also sighed at his question.
   "Yes, they also want me to watch over your company to make sure the money they endowed you is being used correctly." I chuckled a bit at this remark. This wasn't the first time I had heard this.
   "Sionn, I can assure you that we're not frauds. In fact, we're on our way to see if we can observe some paranormal activity, but I'm wondering why we should even let you follow us."
   "Yes," Ivan stood and walked towards her. "please tell us that you're some use besides slowing us down."
   "Well, Mr. Aquila," she met Ivan and placed a hand on his arm. "I can assure you, I have keen senses, a quick hand, and a quick draw too." Ivan twitched and looked down towards his chest. I was amazed to see that Sionn had actually swiped Ivan's 1911 pistol and shoved it into his chest stock first.
   "Well" Ivan seemed to have lost his annoyed tone, but he kept his composure. "I can say that a quick drawn and some knowledge wouldn't be a bad thing to have around."
   I added, "I agree, but you have to remember that you're going to be the novice if you join us. This is a lot different from normal detective work."
   "Understood." She let go of Ivan's pistol, flicked her brown hair away from her eyes, and quietly turned to the soda machine. She inserted a dollar, and the machine immediately ate the money and popped out a drink of her choosing. "I'll be in the car, and I'll follow you two when you're ready." She left the building, and I shot a stare at Ivan who was, surprisingly, stunned.
   Moving north and approaching 11 at night, we drove up to North Deinsport Park to where Justin had tipped us off to his excavation site. On the way, Ivan was exceptionally quiet. He doesn't like being forced to make changes, he doesn't like being outsmarted, and he doesn't like looking like a fool. Sionn had broken these three walls with him, and he wasn't taking it well. I tried turning on the radio to break the silence, but nothing suited to my taste. We arrived a the park, which was deserted for the night, and drove to the  far west side where the walking trails and excavation site was located. We all approached the trail with the mist slowly turning dissipating. With Sionn, we started walking the smallest loop around the site.
   "What are we trying to do here? Is walking trails part of your exercise routine or your plan?"
   We both turned and gave her a stern look. I gave the first word. "If you must know everything, we are walking a trail that surrounds an excavation site that has historical significance to Deinsport. We thought that coming here may give us a clue of spirits or their origins." She let out an "Ah" as she understood the logic now, and we continued walking. She occasionally asked about how we go about business, but she kept to herself after we had told her to be quiet several times. The trails had some small historical buildings that were built to show the original architecture within Deinsport, so it was a perfect place for spirits of old to hang around.
   We kept walking slowly, waiting for any sound or sign of life. We must have walked the loop at least four times before we had contact. Ivan was the first to notice, and he stopped and stood still, head down.
   "Ivan" Sionn spoke out of her place. "what are you-"
   "Sh." I hushed her quickly, and she obeyed. I walked over to Ivan and stood still. I closed my eyes to listen. Sure enough, there was contact.
   "Do you hear them?" he whispered.
   Sionn walked over and stood trying to listen, but by the disgruntled look on her face, she wasn't getting and readings.
   "Here." Ivan whispered. He guided her to where he was standing. "Close your eyes, listen intently for anything. Don't expect a sound. Feel the sound."  She closed her eyes, somewhat annoyed that she did not hear anything. But then here eyes slowly opened.
   "Feet. I heard running."
   "I've got that too, but I'm getting multiple readings." I said as I gave Ivan a nod.  "Ivan I think we have Memoirs."
   "Agreed." He nodded his head and revealed his pocketbook to take notes.
   "I'm sorry, Memoirs?" Sionn had no idea what we meant, and for good reason.
   "It's a term our team uses. Memoirs are like the memories of the deceased that thrive in an area after that person has passed."
   Ivan closed his pocketbook. "It's almost as if the memories of an individual survived death, and decided to live in a place where that person treasured that memory."
   "Ivan, I've got kids too." Ivan jotted it down.
   Sionn stood for a second, trying to make out what she was hearing. "Do you hear some yelling? I didn't think this area had military conflict involved."
   "It didn't. You're hearing bargaining. Markets." I looked at Ivan again.
   "I'm getting that too." He reached for his pocketbook again to take more notes.
   Sionn searched through the mystic sound again. "Are those children? Playing?"
   Ivan looked up. "Yes, they are. Children's Memoirs are pretty frequent wherever you search for them." 
   "Wait, you mean dead children's memories?" Sionn had a look of concern, but not horror that most people tend to get.
   "Well, maybe. We don't know, but it could be someone who enjoyed watching kids play, or a father who's son would play here. There are many possibilities." Sionn seemed pleased with my answer. "You're actually doing really well. Not many people can read these sounds on their first go."
   "Thanks." She spared me a smile, but I felt a cold vibe coming from Ivan, though he still kept his head in his notebook.
   "Jon, what's the moon?" Ivan started the stat tracking in the notebook, where we record time, date, and any other possibilities that may affect phenomena.
   "I actually don't know. Sionn?"
   She opened her eyes for a moment. "It's a waxing crescent tonight."
   "That's unusual..." Ivan remarked. He wrote some extra notes down and raised his head from his notebook. "Let's stick around for a few minutes. We might hear some more."
   We all listened for a few long minutes, and the time spent was pleasurable. Listening to the happy memories of those past is a rather satisfying experience. That changed for the worse.
   Ivan was busy taking notes when he stopped abruptly. I looked at him with wide eyes, but he kept his head down.
   "What? What's wrong? Bell? Jonathan? Iv-"
   "Sh." Another abrupt hush from Ivan. "This is bad." Sionn stood still, not knowing what was happening.
   "Ivan?" I asked.
   "That screeching," Sionn's eyes now revealed some interest and fear. Screeching.
   "Is that coming from nearby, or are we dealing with something bigger?" He tapped his pencil on the pad for a few moments.
   "It's coming from the trail. I believe it's a Departed. Sionn, we may have work for you. follow us."
   The party started walking the trails. I started shivering from the screeching  It's an awful thing to listen to. Sionn kept listening until she heard it. She kept composure, but she wasn't sure what to expect. The screeching puts a whole new perspective on the situation. It's disturbing and unnerving  It doesn't seem to affect Ivan much, but it has stalled people with fear who are not used to hearing the sound. While walking along the path, a sudden, glass shattering screech screamed in everyone's ears. Sionn and I flinched a little bit. Ivan kept walking. He stopped in the middle of the path and stood still. 
   "What is he doing?" Sionn asked.
   "He needs to put the Departed to rest." Ivan knelt down in the middle of the path, and we stood a good distance away. His silence seemed to oppose the erratic screeching that deafened us. After a few seconds, the screeching seemed to stop. A cold wind blew through the trees, and Ivan stood. "Jonathan, give the ambulance a ring." I did as he asked. Basic routine. Sionn was curious and walked to Ivan. She looked down and saw a body of a woman face down. Her slow drain of blood seemed to mix with the puddling rain around her. I finished my call and walked over. "Well, I believe we have our first case."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I'm Magic - Author Fairview

Decoded File Encryption.

Client identified as James Fairview.

I'm Magic - Fairview

Official Journal: File #---7. Part 1


<indent> Okay, seriously. I bet you were expecting some sort of awesome, dramatic entry to a brilliant, cliche mystery story. Fedora hats, cigarette, office with a pretty secretary in stilettos, and Brooklyn accents. Not my scene, man. I mean, what do you think this is, 1950? C’mon dude.
<indent> About two years ago, I got let go from my job as District Attorney. Few things about that: Apparently winning a lot of cases makes a lot of enemies, and also getting sued for character defamation will get you fired. Some idiot at a desk in Pasadena got his panties in a knot and, well, lets just say things got icy quickly.
<indent> Anyway, after I got fired, I found myself living in the city of lovely Deinsport, Virginia. It was the furthest I could get with a $100 dollar one-way bus ticket. It’s an unusually cold town, in more ways than one, and I found that my ripped skinny jeans, Sex Pistols T-Shirt, and destroyed Converse All Stars (vintage 1982!) and studded jacket were not well accepted. Of course, nobody said anything, and I only got the occasional dirty look, but I felt it. Everywhere.

Ice. Freaking. Cold.

“You can’t feel people.”
<indent>Yeah, I can. Emotions, events from their past, hopes, dreams, marital status, sexuality, I know it. It’s often hard to deal with. But it was why I kicked ass as DA and also part of the reason I got sued.
<indent>I also sense... paranormal beings... in the environment around me. Both of these particulars got me hired again. But into a line of work I hardly had anticipated. Paranormal detective.
<indent>I was making mint playing poker in a seedy bar known as Brickston’s. Back room, faded wallpaper, single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Cigars, and local brew. Pretty girl counting cards. Red felt table. I was in the process of screwing over some bearded schmuck for all he had, when this bro I played earlier walked into the room, and puts his hand on my shoulder.
“You’re coming with me.”
“Dude, I’m gonna sweep this guy.”
“Well, you just gave THAT away, so your hand is ruined. Now stop wasting your talent at the table and get over here. We need to talk.”

<indent> I got up. Tip of the hat, and another tip to the card girl. And against my better judgement, I followed the guy out. Great. Some hustler wants to pick a fight with me and I hope to God he doesn’t know any of the people I put away as DA, or the furious bearded man who just learned I was going to win all his chips.

And that is how I met Detective Jonathan Bell.   


“What are you doing?” The man sounded like he thought I was cheating. Okay, well, I sorta was. I knew what kind of hand everyone had at the table. Not the specific cards, but I did know if they were good or bad, based on how the players felt.

”I’m winning. Or I was. What do you want, dude.”
“I want to know how you managed to win five games straight without losing a penny. You counting cards? Was the girl tipping you off under the table?”
<indent> I didn’t want to explain this. Nobody believes in this kind of junk anymore.
“I’m magic, moron. Now let me go back and win this.”
He didn’t look like he’d do that, though, and sure enough:
“Not gonna happen, bud. You go in there, that bearded guy uses you for a chaser. Give it to me straight, man, I know you weren't cheating, at least in the traditional sense.”

“You seriously want to know?” He raised his eyebrows slightly and looked me in the eye. Okay, he wants to know.
“I read people. In depth. Like a book. I know that yesterday you had a smoke even though you were trying to quit and I also know that you’re not in a normal line of work. We done here?”

Surprise registered across his face. He wasn’t expecting that. And I felt that too. No reply.

“Look bud. I’m out of a job, and I need cash. I’m good at poker and I could probably win big in Vegas against the pros if I wanted. Cut me some slack.”

He looked at me with- and I know this sounds horribly cliche but I swear it was true and I can’t think of anything else- some kind of strange light in his eye. Before he said it I knew.

He wanted to hire me.

Into the Jungle - Author Bell - Part 3

Into the Jungle - Bell

Official Journal: File #---3. Part 3

   The Brickston's doors closed behind us with a slight sound of squeezing air to pass through the cracks before it sealed shut. The mist had now evolved into a subtle rain which quietly drenched the city. I popped my collar and placed my hat upon my head. It was a battered, old hat, but this trusty hat was part of me now. "So... that was a nice little place, right?" Ivan let out a "humph" and tipped his hat to Murray, who was packing up his shop for the night. "It could be worse. Seemed like a gentleman though" was his final answer. I threw him the keys to the van, and we got in. We didn't have money to buy a nice car or anything, so our team bought a used utility van off of a Mexican businessman going out of business. It's not strictly comfy, or in the best of shape, but it works for us and feels like home. However, the idea of getting a new car entertained me, so I brought it up to Ivan.

   "What kind of car would you want to have if we could own a private car?"
   Ivan grunted. "I'm not into the whole car thing. This works just-"
   "Come on now!" I said almost pleadingly. "Let's start with this, what color?"
   "Easy, black."
   "I should have guessed. What about Blue? Purple? Red? Maybe-"
   "I like red. Red is good."
   "Okay, now a red... what? What kind of car?"
   He sighed for a moment and then looked at the rear view mirror. "That car."
   I turned around to look out the back window. Sure enough, a sleek looking city car was tailing us closely through the foggy rain.
   "You know, that thing has been following us for a long time now. Real erratic and no turn signals."
   I was puzzled, so I questioned, "Do you think we're being followed?"
   "I'm saying..." Ivan replied with a pause. "I'm not completely comfortable right now."
   "Well do something then! Lets find a place to turn in. We're about to pass a rest st-"
   I was tossed to the left, only to have my belt restrain my sudden movement. The wheels screeched violently against the wet pavement as Ivan suddenly turned into the stop. The car behind us kept moving down the highway, and we pulled into the rest area.
   I crept slowly out of the bathroom at the rest stop to find Ivan continuously inserting a single dollar bill into a soda machine. It refused to accept, probably scared snack-less of Ivan's presence. I stood there taking in the sight for my entertainment, fully aware that he probably knew I was watching. I didn't care, I needed some time to rest my sore arm from the sharp turn he had made earlier. After a few more tries, the machine dared not to spit out the dollar again. Ivan, who seemed surprised, took a few extra moments to decide on what to purchase. He pressed a button, and nothing happened. He stared at the machine for a few seconds, expecting anything. Nothing. He pressed again. Waited. Nothing. "Hrraaugh!" His fist collided abruptly with the machine, and it gave up his selected soda as an offering of peace. He adjusted his tie, cracked his neck, and took his soda. With a fizz, the bottled opened, and he looked at me expecting something. He caught my wide eyes staring at him.
   "Sorry" was his response. I shook my head to regain composure. "Nah, you're find. I hate those things." A couple walked into the building to take their rest. The woman parted ways into the bathroom, and the man stared Ivan and I down. He cleared his throat and stepped over to the soda machine. He pulled out a dollar, and we stood there watching him. Again, the stubborn machine refused his money, and spat it out at the man over and over again. He paused a couple of times to question if he should back down and spare some dignity, or to return the stubbornness. Ivan stood there, idly watching and secretly relishing the moment. I would have relished it too, but I noticed another pair of headlights approaching. It was the car.
   I stiffened, but stayed calm. I walked towards Ivan and said "Lovely night really, right fellas? Wouldn't be better if I hit two stones with one bird." The man turned and looked at me like I was crazy, but Ivan glared with his dark mask at me. He glanced outside in time to see the headlights turn off. He turned back his glare, "I'm going to stand over there, but..." he paused and leaned in towards my ear. "We need to get this guy out of here" was spoken in a barely audible whisper. I nodded and took a few steps back to lean against the wall. Ivan pressed a button on the machine and threw another punch at the machine again, this time blacking out the lights. A soda clunked around and popped out onto the tray, and the man looked stunned. The man's company arrived from the restroom and seemed horrified with Ivan standing over the man, who wore a face of fear. To make matters worse, the front door opened, and another woman walked in with a long red jacket and a daring look on her face. She closed the door, blocking the exit. Ivan and I had our hands in our jackets, ready to pull out his 1911 handgun and my revolver on the first twitch of a threat. Nothing. The stubborn soda machine's buzzing quietly play a sad tune as all of us stood in time's stalemate. The redcoat woman stared at me boldly yet refused to move. I shot a glance at Ivan who was obviously wondering how to go about this situation. He decided to make the first move. He lurched down slowly and grabbed the soda in the tray. The woman in the doorway started to move, but I audibly cocked my revolver, and she stopped. The sound also made the bystander squeal hysterically for a second, but she stopped. Ivan continued, and gave the soda to the man. "I think it's time that you get back on the road, sir." The man grabbed the bottle and and snatched his woman-friend. They pushed past the redcoat woman and hurried to their car. They ran off quickly, and the room returned to its stalemate. Ivan took the bold move of pulling out his pistol openly, loading the clip and snapping back the hammer and slide. "I hope you've got some good news for us ma'm." 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Into the Jungle - Author Bell - Part 2

Into the Jungle - Bell

Official Journal: File #---3. Part 2

   Crisp air rushed our senses as we stepped outside. The brisk air immediately attacked and killed any leftover warmth that our skin and raincoats clung to. A shroud of mist huddled with the buildings while steam poured out of car muzzles and ventilation shafts. Ivan placed his hand on top of his hat and walked quickly to the alley's dance of shadows. He never liked being in open light, though no one in our team is sure why. There are medical conditions where skin reacts to sunlight, and some people have over-sensitive eyes, but Ivan seemed to crave the dark. I personally do not mind at all, for he scares away small animals and annoying individuals. I moved towards the alley as well. "Do you know where a local bar is?" I asked. I felt another stern look from his hidden face. "Do you mean to gather information, or is this investigation designed to get you stuttering and stomping through the streets?"  I chuckled a bit, "Only for information today. Seeing we have no leads, its best to go where rumors tend to circulate." Ivan nodded his head. "There's a bar down about three blocks called Brickston's. It looks like a crumby place, but it's better than nothing."
   A short walk managed to find us acquainted with three homeless men and a hot dog vendor. His name was Murray, and he graciously thanked us for coming to town to assist with tidying up some of the investigation work. We said thank you and moved to enter Brickston's. Upon entering, the bartender looked up from his newspaper and walked over to us. This man, dressed in formal black tie and white shirt, offered to take our jackets and motioned us towards the bar-stools. Ivan reluctantly gave his coat to the man, but once he did, I saw that he only more a black shirt and tie under his jacket. The bartender walked away to hang our coats, and we sat down. We glanced around the room to note the other people in the room. Just procedure, nothing suspicious. Most of the men in the room were drunkards and some other rough sorts. After a few seconds, the man returned and said "Good evening gentlemen. I'm Justin, and you -um- sir, are...?" He was carefully moving his head to try getting a clear look at Ivan, but I interrupted him before he pissed Ivan off. "I'm Investigator Bell, and that's Investigator Aquilla."
   "Oh! You must be the new private investigators in town! Right then. Drinks on the house today for you two. What can I get'cha?" He donned a big smile and start to wipe off a shot glass for one of us.
   "The drinks won't be necessary" Ivan growled. Justin stopped as his back straitened a bit to Ivan's tone. His eyes darted between Ivan and I. 
   "Sorry, he can be a bit tense. We'll have water with some chips, and we might return to have a drink or two later." Justin's shoulders relaxed a bit to hearing my words, and he replied with "Yes sir". When he left for the kitchen, Ivan gestured to under the counter. I leaned back a tiny bit to get a look, and he had his finger poking at a hole puncturing the bar stand. "What's that?" I questioned him. "Small splintered hole in the wood with some rupturing cracks, I'd say small arms fire" he deducted.
   "You know this isn't the safest place in town. Not to mention, this isn't the safest city around either." He sat up and started looking around, then leaned back to me.
   "I know. I'm just saying, we need to be ca- ahem." He held his tongue as the kind bartender returned with chips, salsa, cheese, and two iced glasses to be filled with water. "Anything else I can get you guys? I know the TV set is old, but I can get a game on for you two."
    "Thanks," said I, swallowing the first salsa dipped chip "but we need information more than sport scores right now.". Justin raised his black eyebrows as if to express "I see where this is going".
   Ivan leaned over. "We've been contracted to work in this city because it is supposedly overrun by crime and ghosts, and the police department has not agreed to release criminal records or cases as of yet. So we're hoping to find another source, and seeing that you're a bartender, I'm sure you have heard your share of intriguing ghost stories."
   Chuckling, Justin responded, "Why, you've come to the right guy then." He ducked under the bar stand and wrestled some items before pulling out a large book. He dusted it off with his rag and placed it before us. "I was an archaeologist working for the Deinsport Historical Society before the project was shut down. I was able to connect with all sorts of people working for the society. I might be able to call up some people if you, oh hold on, more customers." He darted to the door to help an older couple with their coats. Opening the book, we saw pictures of a faily small but intriguing archaeology dig featuring what looked like some stone formations for some buildings, as well as pictures of other shards of dining sets and other trinkets.
   "Maybe his old dig site would be a good place to get an idea for the paranormal side of things?" I nodded my head to Ivan's idea.
   "Yeah, it should be a good place to start  if it has any historical significance. We can call his friends up later." Ivan nodded his head to this, and then took a bite of a chip lathered with cheese. Justin returned after giving the older couple some menus. "Sorry guys, things are about to get busy in here. I can give you my card so you guys can-"
   "No need," Ivan grumbled sternly. "just tell us two things. First thing; what were you excavating?"
   "Oh, well... the area was supposed to be the original town of Old Deinsport from the early 1800's."
   "Old Deinsport, is that excavation site north of here?"
   "It is, but our plot is now a popular walking trail surrounded my middle-class homes. Its about a two hour drive from here to there." A quick glance at my watch said the time was closing in on 6. I motioned for Ivan to get our coats. "Alright, thank you kindly Mr. Justin...?"
   "Singleton, sir. It's a pleasure to serve. Come back if you need some spirits." He said with a big grin. Ican returned and threw my raincoat to me.
   "Mr. Singleton, we may be finding lots of spirits already if we're lucky, thanks for the offer though." And with those final words, we were off.