Declan had known a fae or two in his life. In Ireland, the bastards are practically worshipped by many, though in Declan’s personal experience, he wasn’t overly fond of them as a rule. He had nothing against them, per se, just generally preferred to keep their circles from ever intersecting if he could help it. That line of thought seemed confirmed by the notion that after they die, then the real fun can begin.
“What, like some…Weekend at Bernie’s thing? A fae dies, and someone somewhere decides ‘you know what would be fun? Takin the corpse of this here fellah and turning it into a face-stealing eating machine. Yeah, that’d be a right good time.” Declan’s tone walked the line between incredulous and irritated, especially given the fact that now it seemed like they could be up against something that was damned hard to eradicate. He truly had no current notion of how to proceed with this information. Well, that weren’t exactly true. He would keep going, head long, of course, but he suddenly felt less enthused about it.
“Magic.” Declan mused aloud at the potential Achilles heel Mads mentioned. “Like…binding magic, maybe? Something a bit more destructive? Well, answer me this. Is there anything in that lore that…I mean, let’s say we were able to capture, trap, whatever, and then tuck him away in a cell somewhere. Any particular reason why we would worry about that cell not holding strong?” Declan was used to dealing with things that weren’t killed in traditional ways. Vampires, shifters and the like. But you could still lock them away in a cement bunker and there wasn’t a lot they could do about it. The one good thing about the general public being aware of the existence of supernatural beings was that most branches of law enforcement were basically equipped to deal with their more ‘special needs’ individuals. SFPD had a supply of honest-to-God silver bullets, in point of fact. Iron, salt, even crucifixes. The only ones who poo-poo’d the notion of such things were those who had not yet had cause to rely upon them.
And then, of course, he also had to mentally deal with the nugget of information that Ted was not known within his own declared circle. Granted, it was admittedly possible that the two had simply never crossed paths, but the world wasn’t that big a place, so, now the idea had to enter the ring that Ted’s entire career was bollocks. The tough part was finding that starting point. Which of these leads would be the thread that the others wound themselves around? Mrs. Rainey and her obliviousness to obvious things? Ted’s potentially made-up career? So where was his money really coming from? Was he even still alive? That kept jumping out of the pack with the ‘pick me! Pick me!’ hand raised. Find Ted. That would be the start. No hits on the missing person’s description, yet, but these things took time. That wasn’t a dead end yet.
“Oh, right.” Declan said, recalling a particular detail. He reached behind him into the back seat and pulled up one of those small brown paper bags with the twin firm paper handles, containing a small mixture of muffins: Lemon Poppyseed, Cranberry Orange, and Blueberry, and their supposedly healthier cousin Bran. “Breakfast.”
“Go for the blueberry! I would kill for a blueberry muffin, man.” That was the voice of Kurt who appeared suddenly in the backseat, in all of his dead hippie glory, from the long hair and bellbottoms to the round spectacles that John Lennon made famous. Of course, one of the lenses was cracked from the accident that had brought about Kurt’s demise, but he didn’t seem to mind so much.
“Oh, right. Uh…” Declan flinched a little, forgetting that the spirit realm was not Mads’ favorite thing in the world to have jump out at him. “Sorry, yeah? That’s Kurt. He’s one of my more regular irregulars, and wanted in on this one. Kurt, this is Mads. Uh, Alexander Maddox. He’s the fellah I mentioned what could read where a thing has been by touching it.”
“That’s pretty cool, man. So, like, if you were to like get a hold of some lady’s vibrato…” Kurt was saying with a grin.
“Pretty sure he’s got better uses, yeah? Knock it off.” Declan said with a hint of sternness behind the words, though couldn’t completely hide his amusement.
“Sorry, man. Been dead for a while, you know? I take what thrills I can.” Kurt said, sitting back into the seat from where he had been leaning forward to better see the two witches in front.
“You get used to it.” Declan said a little apologetically to Mads as they made their way back across town to Dublin, back to the suburban paradise which, like the Hollywood clichés, was apparently hiding a rather dark secret. While Declan knew that was absolute tripe, bad things happened everywhere, he had to admit that he was viewing the well-manicured lawns under a different filter at the moment. As they neared the Rainey residence, Declan’s gaze scanned around, doing a slight double-take as they moved past the small three or four-acre copse of trees that bordered the neighborhood. He brought the car to a stop, his head turned to look to the trees.
“Say, Mads. What was it you were saying about dead plants?” Declan asked, pointing towards the trees. The outer trees seemed alright, but beyond them, the grass, trees, and shrubs were showing definite signs of brown. “What are you willing to wager that somewhere back in there…” Declan let that thought trail off. Today was not the day to go and confront the face eating big bad, especially if they could in fact do some sort of mind mojo. “Oh, and look. The trees run right up to the Rainey’s back wall. Remarkable coincidence, that.” Granted, he still considered Ted to be a manky shit, but he was beginning to have a similar opinion of Sylvia. There truly was no way she could be unaware of things. Her only saving grace would be if she were somehow being coerced under threat or some such, but even then, his forgiveness would be limited. At least the picture was growing a bit clearer, despite Declan not much caring for what the finished product was shaping up to look like. A rotten answer was still an answer.
“There’s Hector.” Declan said, nodding up ahead as he put the car in park and stepped out, shouldering his satchel. “Kurt, feel like taking a little nature walk?”
“Right on, man. You guys be careful. This place has bad vibes, man.” Kurt said as he faded from view in the direction of the trees.
“Morning, Hector. Anyone about?” Declan asked the expired gardener.
“No, she left a little while ago. Place seems empty.” He replied, his gaze shifted towards where Kurt had headed into the trees, Hector looking rather uncomfortable.
“He’ll be alright. Can’t get killed twice.” Well, technically one could, but no need to get into that now. “Good, though. Was hoping it’d be empty.” Declan said, looking towards Mads. “Nice thing about a proper warrant, nobody has to be home for me to execute it.” He said with a wink as he then headed towards the Rainey house, making his way towards the back. The gate wasn’t locked, so no fence hopping was needed. This day was starting out ok, after all. Declan removed the satchel, laying it on the ground, reaching within to remove a pair of latex gloves, slipping them onto his hands. “Right then. Let’s see what we can see. I know this whole thing has been asking a lot, you don’t have to come in if you would rather hang about out here.”
Declan’s first order of business was to circumnavigate the pool, lifting the cover over each filter spot, kneeling down to examine the contents within. Plenty of standard flotsam; leaves, twigs, feathers and the like. One down. The third filter he checked yielded a bit more interesting results, unless it wasn’t unusual for some people to have what appeared to be bone fragments floating in their pool. Declan withdrew the pieces he could find, laying them beside the pool, lifting up to get an evidence bag from his satchel, though paused and looked over towards Mads.
“Redser, if you touched, say, a piece of bone, would you be able to tell if it were one or the other known parties, or a possible unknown?” Declan asked as he placed the shards within the evidence bag, carrying them over towards his satchel before resuming his search. “Justice can take a gruesome path at times, yeah?”
He knelt down at the next filter, hope renewed a bit from the potential new evidence, when suddenly he heard Kurt’s voice from over the wall, glancing upwards in time to see the spirit pass through into the pool area.
“You gotta see this, man. It’s…you gotta see this.” The spirit said, oddly a little breathlessly. Fun fact: ghosts don’t breathe, but, Declan had seen enough to know that emotions and old habits die hard. Kurt had apparently seen something that had disturbed the expired peacenik. Given the man’s intimate familiarity with the Manson family, that was saying something.
“Keep it down, yeah? Neighbors, me mucker.” Declan gently berated Kurt as he lifted to his feet, an unspoken question cast towards Mads, a queried brow as Declan made his way to the gate then around towards the trees. Kurt had already made his way back to wherever the ‘this’ was, and as Declan followed, it pleased him that one theory had been correct: the further in he went, the worse the plant life appeared. The first thing he saw was one of those two-room tents set up by what appeared to be a small cook fire. At first glance it appeared to be just a normal camping spot, which Declan’s first thought would be a simple squatter, or neighborhood kids having a hangout. He wasn’t quite sure what had alarmed Kurt so much, unless the man had some sort of camping phobia. But then he looked closer to what he had thought was a pile of rocks and dead leaves.
Bones. All sorts, all sizes. Based upon their various sizes, Declan assumed there were cats, dogs, squirrels, maybe fox, what appeared to be possibly a cow, a deer or two, and was that a bear? And, of course, human.
“Jaysus” Declan exclaimed quietly, his gaze riveted to the pile as he did some mental inventory. “Well…” he said with a slow sigh. “…seems we have found some sort of lair. Don’t guess I was expecting some rotting mansion high on a hill or secret underground bunker. A volcano would have been nice.”
The first question that came to mind was wondering how long this had been happening? Was the entire neighborhood being held under sway? Pets, animals, people gone missing and nobody had a clue? Not a single report filed?
“What in the actual fuck have we stumbled into here?” Declan exclaimed aloud as he nudged at the pile of bones with a foot. He was about to remove his phone and call for a forensics team when he heard two things nearly at once: Hector saying ‘they’re home!’ and the unmistakable click of a hammer being drawn back on a revolver. “I have a warrant.” Declan said quietly as both hands lifted in the air, turning to see whomever had arrived, though he had a suspicion.
“You’ve stumbled into deep waters, Inspector.” Said Sylvia, the still perfectly coiffed housewife appearance in place, with the added touch of a .45 in her hand. “Quite frankly, I am not sure what to do here. One of the rules is ‘no police’, but, rules are made to be broken, and, well, you’ve put us in quite the awkward position.” Beside her stood what Declan had to assume was the Wendigo, and the face was equally assumed to be Greg. Or was it actually Ted? Whichever, Declan simply decided on 'Bernie'. It didn’t seem the time to ask. “I guess we need to talk. Don’t do anything stupid.”
“Today was turning out so well, too. And I should say the same to you. Killing me would be more stupid than you know.” Said Declan with another sigh, really hoping that were true.