After the debacle with Damballa, I decided I needed to go back to work.
Imagine that, using work to avoid my, as usual, failing social life. We’re going to ignore the fact my girlfriend’s patron deity just tried to have me whacked and go back to solving magical mysteries.
Fishing around in my pocket, I had a message from Carole on my phone. I had ignored it for a few days and since she didn’t press the issue, I knew I had some time. Just as I hit the message retrieval on this new mystic smartphone, now with magical apps, her face popped up in the super high resolution display. No, I hadn’t read the instruction manual. I wasn’t expecting it to fare any better than my previous phones.
May as well hear it live. “Hello Boss. I was just thinking about you.” It’s the truth this time.
“Engram, I know you didn’t pick up my message. So now you have three murders to investigate.”
“Okay, what’s the story?”
She was sitting at her desk with one of those new screens which acted as both a send and receive display. She was shuffling some papers on her desk and drinking her ever-full decanter of coffee. No, really. It never runs out. I don’t know how much she paid for it, but I have never been able to find one in all of my travels. “It’s in Seattle. We have three executives who have been ex-sanguinated.”
“Vampires? You’re calling me for vampires? Don’t you have two dozen guys who specialize in the head-chop removal thing?” I was disappointed. I tried to look upbeat just the same.
“If it was vampires you and I wouldn’t be talking. Yes, you can do them, but your technique leaves much to be desired. I save you for the really exotic stuff like this. Our two executives were drained of all their blood, from the inside.”
“Okay, better.” Sounds more intriguing. “Do go on.” They’ve been found on the scene, their offices ransacked, their bodies twisted and holes torn through their flesh, from the inside.” She takes a sip of coffee and a picture shows up on my phone. Poor bastard looks like he’s been through a meat grinder. Not a spot of blood anywhere, though. Clothes torn outward, pants ripped as if a razor-sharp scalpels had peeled them back.
Not a drop of blood.
I know she noticed but I had to be sure. “You realize all of the chakra centers have a hole in them, right?”
She nodded. “That’s why I am calling you. You are one of our few Western chakra users. Everyone in Asia is already working on something else and can’t be reached for comment.”
“Is there anyone who can work with me on the case in Seattle? It’s not my town, so I’d hate to step on anyone’s toes.” I hadn’t unpacked. Everything was still in the car. I only came up to the hotel for a quick shower and a nap. I guess since everyone’s dead, I can stick to that schedule.
“As a matter of fact, there is someone. But you will have to recruit them yourself. It’s a Shinigami.” Shit. The hits just keep on coming. “The Quintessence said these deaths are suspicious and they believe the attacks are of a magical origin. They have an agent there already working on a related case. They’re confident you will find them adequate to the task.”
The sound in her voice made it clear, I wasn’t getting a choice. I had to ask about one thing before I agreed to it.
“Shinigami. You do realize they’re known for gratuitous collateral damage, right?” This is an understatement.
The Quintessence, an informal collection of worldwide death gods who manage Death and Dying here on Earth, send them out claiming to be preventing men from facilitating greater evils and becoming hosts to demons. As far as they’re concerned whatever their divine operatives destroy, the Quintessence will claim it was necessary for the safekeeping of Humanity. Tell that to the villages, towns, and cities they wreck.
“And you want to pair them up with me, also known for a bit of mayhem and destruction when no one is looking. You think this is wise? How much of Seattle do you think will be left standing when we’re done?”
“All of it. I am expecting you to be the soul of reason and the mitigating factor for their operative while you’re on this case. Besides, you can’t do less than whatever it is we’re fighting. I sent you a video. You might want to have a drink before you watch it.”
Okay. Have a drink. Heading to the mini-bar in the room. “No. Not the mini-bar” she adds. “You will need a real drink, maybe two. Part of it is an internal surveillance camera. I will leave it up to you to figure out what we’re looking at.”
I put my coat on and looked around the hotel. I figured it would be a while before I came back. The download took some time, so I headed down to the bar. My earpiece notified me when the download was completed. I finished my first drink and was started on my second when the video clip started.
The video was of an office building high over the Seattle skyline. The external camera showed glass being broken out of the windows near the top floors. I see something whipping around but can’t quite make it out. I see a man momentarily running around before the lights go out.
Here’s where it gets strange. After the window is blown out, I think I see the man run and try to leap out the window. Willingly.
He tumbled once when something reached out the window. He’s plucked right out of the air and snatched back into the darkened room.
The video changes to a security camera inside the office. The fellow behind the desk is fairly nondescript, muscular, blond haired, a bit of a five-o’clock shadow. I can’t quite make out what he’s saying. He hurried off the phone and a few seconds later he clutched his chest like he was having a heart attack. He looked up as if he were hearing something, then the lights crackle and start going out, one at a time. He tried to scream but only a gurgling came out. Something proceeds to cover the lens of the camera, so all I can hear is is office being tore apart.
I can hear the subtle crunching of furniture, the snapping and crackling of the Lexan safety glass. I hear the running steps and a split second later, the whip-like crack and the momentary sounds of struggle. There was the brittle pop of long bones, some muffled screams and then blessed silence. The camera records the sound of everything in the room. When the camera clears and there is video again, the room is in disarray.
A bomb couldn’t have done better. The security team arrives five minutes after the first panic button was pressed by the executive. I watch them check the room, look over the dead body and scramble their details around the building. The attached report indicated they found nothing out of the ordinary. All the doors and secured windows were still locked. External cameras said nothing came or left the building.
We only know three things about whatever this is. It’s fast, terrifyingly fast. The whole clip takes less than three minutes. It kills without leaving a trace, not a footprint, not a bomb blast, not a trace of etheric energy of any kind.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t roar, doesn’t scream, no sounds of triumph. It doesn’t make a sound while it kills you.
With Just a Spot of Darkness © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved
This is good! This is really good!