Posts Tagged ‘The Nighthawk’

The Nighthawk Pt. 3

June 24, 2019

What about this case? Would I be doing the right thing by figuring out what was going on here? Would I be protecting the people of this city? I thought of the people in that folder. They were all drug users but that did not really make them innocent or guilty. Their criminal records might show that they had dark spirits and stained souls but I believed that nobody deserved to die before their time. Especially if something that bumps in the night was somehow causing all of this. I guess I was taking the case.

I realized that I had not asked Mr. Black for contact information. I did not know what to do even if I found the evidence the Council was looking for. I also did not know how the Council would deal with the guilty. Did creepy crawlies get trials or would this Council just bring down the ax as soon as I handed over the evidence that incriminated the perp for doing whatever it is they did? I found the thought made me feel uneasy. I never worked homicide because I did not believe in the death penalty.

I had killed less than a handful of criminals but that was in the heat of the moment and in all cases it had been a clear case of self-defense. Them or me. Still, I felt bad about the thought of ending the life of another person. I needed a better working relationship with my clients if I was going to finish this job.

I hit the library early to figure out how to summon a djinn. Mr. Black owed me more answers and besides, I had to inform the Council that I was going to take the case. It was difficult to tell from the internet what the correct path was. How was I supposed to separate the nuts from the scholars when they both looked the same to me? None of it was helping so I did the only thing I could think of. I headed to the dustiest area of the library to look in the occult section.

It had been a long time since I visited the library. When I was a police detective, I could put in an order for someone to look this up for me. Well, not this but just about any book research I needed. I guess I underestimated what I had put the people in archives through. Now that I was working alone, I had to wear all of the hats. I started to look through the stacks to find something I could use to contact Mr. Black or this Council.

After twenty minutes of thumbing through old books, I realized that I was still getting nowhere. Mr. Black had said that most people who pierce the veil go crazy or everybody thinks their crazy. How was I supposed to tell the difference just by reading their rambling theories and magic spells? Even if I could make sure that the ramblings were actual, legit magic. I was beginning to doubt my own story. Had I even met Mr. Black? Could I remember how much whiskey I had drunk?

That line of thinking was getting me nowhere. Besides, I know it was just a half tumbler of whiskey and Mr. Black’s horrible non-face was burned into my brain forever. There was no way I imagined all of it. I turned toward a new shelf full of books with renewed determination. Though at that point I wished I had an expert to count on.

After another hour, I was about to go get something to eat so I could clear my head. I turned to go when I almost ran into a woman walking down the aisle. Her skin was as pale as a piece of paper and she wore dark black make up. Her hair was jet black except for some dark blue highlights. She was pretty but the goth look was not really my thing. I gave her a quick ‘excuse me’ and started past her.

“John Redcross?” She asked, leaning a little against one of the bookcases. When I turned, I could see the wry little smirk on her black lips. She was watching me waiting for an answer but I had a feeling she already knew who I was.

“Yeah. I’m John Redcross. Don’t tell me, I ruined your sister’s marriage with my camera?”

“I don’t think so but it’s nice to know you have that skill.” Her smirk said that she was definitely willing to let me twist in the wind.

“You must see my confusion, miss,” I said. “You know my name and I can’t recall yours. I would think I would remember your face. No offense.”

“No offense is taken. I know what I look like. I’m a beautiful, unique snowflake.” That smirk intensified as her eyes seemed to look right through me.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“That depends on who you ask,” she said.

I laughed as loud as I dared in the middle of a library and shook my head. “I’m asking you. Did the Council send you?”

“Of course they did. How else would I know who you are and where to find you?” She said.

“Yeah, I guess that’s probably true.” I was starting to get a headache from figuring out who I should trust and who I shouldn’t.

“Find anything useful here?” she asked.

“Hold up, let’s go back to the part where you introduce yourself,” I said.

“You can call me Corva,” she said.

“I can call you..?” I asked. “I can never get a straight answer out of you people. Even when the question is just about your name.”

“Sorry, maybe you’re not the only one who is wondering how much to trust,” Corva said.

“Forgive me if my language sounds insulting but can you at least tell me what you are? You look human to me even if your fashion sense is interesting.” Now that I had recovered from the shock, I noticed now that she was wearing a little black dress with a black leather jacket. She was wearing knee high black boots that looked like they were real leather as well.

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The Nighthawk Pt. 3

June 22, 2019

“Stealing from the police? Is that wise?” I asked.

“It’s a copy, smart guy,” Mr. Black said. “We haven’t stayed under the radar for several millennia slipping up like that. Listen, just look over the file and decide if you want to saddle up on this one. If you don’t want to get involved, just burn the file and nobody will be pissed. You just don’t get paid double your usual fee and you don’t get any closer to figurin’ out our world. All you get is the nightmares from the Nagloshi and my handsome face. Think about it, detective.”

At that point, Mr. Black had apparently had enough.  Moving like he came from a Harryhausen movie, he walked back toward the door as he evaporated into that black mist again. The mist slipped out under the door again and, as far as I knew, I was alone again. I hoped nobody saw black smoke drifting out of my basement office and into the street. The last thing I needed was to explain that to the fire department.

I reached for the bottle of whiskey and tucked it into a spare canvas bag. I slipped the file into it as well and grabbed my coat as I booked it out the door. I suddenly wanted to get the hell out of there as I could still feel fear clinging to the back of my throat. If these things knew where I worked, there was no reason to think they did not also have my home addressed pinpointed. Still, there is no place like home. I could pretend I was safe better there.

The file was pretty boring. Of course, this is what made the file so fascinating. The file detailed the overdose deaths of several people in Woodland Heights. This was nothing new. Woodland Heights had been a wealthy area of the city in the 1920s but had hit hard times during the seventies and eighties. Now, it was middle and lower class and tended to be a popular area for petty crime and the drug trade. Luckily, I had spent just over a year in the narcotics department. That would come in handy now.

In my patrol days, I had also made plenty of drug busts. I caught everybody from college students out for a thrill to complete meth heads. I am still not sure which one I would pick now. The paperwork and grief from a privileged college kid or the unpredictability and potential violence of a real drug addict. Long-suffering Woodland Heights had the police coming in and out at all hours to make busts but the manufacturing was always elsewhere. So the overdose reports were nothing new and therefore they were not exciting.

The drugs involved were varied. For some reason, I had expected this to involve one type of drug but there was a whole rainbow of narcotics. Mary Henning had overdosed on heroin. Joseph Dean had fallen to cocaine. Peggy Kemler had taken too much methamphetamine. More than that, the toxicology reports showed nothing more than the drug in their system. I had thought that perhaps a dealer had sold a bad batch of heroin or had gone psycho and deliberately cut cocaine with drain cleaner but there was no evidence of things like that.

I closed the file, lay back on my bed and rubbed my eyes. This case did not make any sense. Actually, that was a blatant lie. The case made complete sense until you added in the talking little person skeleton that had said that the case did not make sense. What had tipped off this Council that spooky doings were afoot? Whatever it was, I was pretty sure that Mr. Black had not told me the whole story. I did not need a detective’s instinct to tell me that I would need to be cautious if I proceeded with this.

I picked up the file and opened it again and flipped through page by page. Medical reports are unbelievably boring and I felt my eyes starting to glaze over. I started to think that maybe I just needed to sleep on it. That was when a very interesting word caught my eye and had me suddenly sitting up and taking notice.

The word was marijuana. According to the file, Harry Callahan had overdosed on marijuana. Nobody had ever overdosed on marijuana. My marijuana advocate college roommate had made this clear over and over ad nauseam. Now his words came back to me. ‘You would have to smoke 15,000 joints in, like, twenty minutes to overdose on weed, Johnny.’ Once again I had told him not to call me ‘Johnny’ but the truth remained that he probably knew everything about marijuana.

Now we had something. Any coroner worth his salt would question this diagnosis. At least, that is what I had thought but this report had just been rubber stamped. Nobody was investigating these deaths. Families and friends were already weeping over seven bodies and I felt that they did not have the entire truth. This thought nagged at me and I shut the folder with authority.

I reached over and grabbed my revolver and opened the chamber and pulled out each bullet one by one and deposited them in the drawer of my bedside table. The revolver had been in my family a long, long time but still worked as if it was new. I regularly oiled and cleaned it just like my father had. I took it out to the local gun range all the time. I had the proper permit for it.

I turned the gun and ran a finger over the family name stamped into the butt of the gun. There had been Redcrosses in the United States of America since day one and there had always been pressure from my parents to continue the line. It was always grandkids this and grandkids that but nothing had ever panned out with any of my girlfriends. My mother had even mentioned the subject on her deathbed.

Not for the first time, I wondered what she would think of her boy getting pressured to drop out of the Drake City police force for psych issues. I think she would call it what it was: bullshit. The other thing she had said on her deathbed was that she was proud of me for protecting people and always doing what was right. Probably why I could not just drop what had happened to Harmony. It was also why I would probably take the case in the morning, like it or not.

The Nighthawk Pt. 2

June 8, 2019

“Don’t run. I mean ya no harm.” The voice said from no visible mouth whatsoever.

My response was a stunned silence with a renewed hawk-like watching of the puddle. I also might have definitely let loose a string of unrepeatable swear words. Alright, I definitely said the swear words. Meanwhile, the puddle was doing an awful lot of moving which looked disturbingly like it was animated by Ray Harryhausen. This is not the sort of thing that you expect to see on your office floor. The liquid coalesced into a blackened mess which might be interpreted as muscles and a skeleton. No skin seemed to be forthcoming but thankfully the thing slowly started to form clothes.

Imagine a blackened skeleton in a gray fuzzy sweater and brown corduroy pants. Now imagine that this delightful figure was four feet tall and was somehow both terrifying and adorable. That was what the creature who had just reverse-melted off my floor looked like. I had so many questions but my brain had put on the brakes at this point and I was already reaching for that old family revolver tucked into a holster by the small of my back.

“Lay off the gun, kid. I promise I won’t hurt ya.” The little black skeleton said.

“Did you just use a Brooklyn accent?”

“Good,” the Skeleton said. “You’re lookin’ at me without pissin’ yourself. I did live in Brooklyn for a long time. Actually since before you monkeys showed up. It was way different back then but that’s beside the point.”

I stayed leaning against the wall, hand near my gun. I never did trust easily. “What is the point, creepy skeleton man?”

“This is creepy?” The skeleton asked. “Your species is so close-minded.”

“You keep floating away from making an actual point. Why are you haunting my office?” I was getting annoyed quickly. At least annoyed was better than scared. I headed back toward my desk, making a wide berth around the skeleton. At least I could use the desk as cover if this thing went from David Lynch to David Cronenberg.

“Alright, alright,” the skeleton said. “I guess being timeless makes you less inclined to rush things. I guess your impatience is more or less a biological imperative. I don’t have really have a biology so I’m not really sure.” The thing’s eye holes tracked my movements. Every single moment.

“What are you?” I asked. It was probably rude and blunt but I was rattled. Sue me.

“I guess I’m a messenger of sorts in this situation. Of course, maybe you’re actually asking what sort of creature I am. I am a djinn.”

“I’ll bite. What’s a djinn?’ I asked, still wondering if I had drunk enough whiskey to black out. If this was real, I was glad for the calming effect of the alcohol.

“A djinn is basically a being of thought and emotion and magic. Very few of us actually hang out here in the real world but reality kind of grew on me so I visit every so often.” The skeleton gestured and a lit cigar formed in his hand and he began to smoke. I did not smell any smoke.

“What’s your name?” I sat down, my legs ached with released tension.

“Unpronounceable. People call me Mr. Black. That works well enough.”

“My name is John Redcross but you probably saw the name on the door. You said ‘people’. What people would talk to something like you?”

“I’ll forgive the bigotry you’ve got going on there,” Mr. Black said. “The people I talk to are mostly the Council and that brings me to why I’m here. Like I said, I brought you a message.”

“First, who’s this Council? If you have a message from them for me, I’d like to know who they are.” I reached for a pencil and a piece of paper if only to look professional if this was going to be some sort form of business meeting all of a sudden.

“Makes sense. The Council is the ruling party of the so-called supernatural world. A world, we’re aware you briefly experienced just about a year ago.”

My heart tightened in my chest and my gaze went to Harmony’s badge where it was framed on my wall. “So it was real.”

Mr. Black nodded. “Yeah, they’re real. The Nagloshi are some vicious sons of bitches. Whatever they did to her could not have been any good. That’s not why I’m here.” He gestured with the cigar a bit while he talked. The talking skeleton bit was starting to get less unnerving. I am not sure whether this acceptance was something positive or negative. Regardless, my enemy had a name now which made them chillingly more real but also more within the reach of my revenge.

Mr. Black spoke up again, filling the silence. “Earth to Detective Redcross, do you want to hear the message or not?”

“A creepy little skeleton muscles his way into my office with a message from some clandestine council of supernatural beings?” I asked. “Of course I want to hear the message.”

Mr. Black put out the cigar he had been smoking on the top of his shiny black skull and shrugged. “Alright then. The Council is aware that you have discovered a piece of our world. It’s what we call ‘piercing the veil’. Most people who pierce the veil either go crazy or the world thinks their crazy and things spiral from there. It’s only when a large number of people discover the truth at the same time that we have to worry.”

“So if they’re not worried about me then why send you to creep me out?” I asked.

“Again with the impatience and bigotry. They sent me here to hire you. There have been several deaths in the Woodland Heights area and we think a rogue faction is responsible.”

“Don’t you have your own cops?” I asked.

“We do but the case involves both mortal drugs and the supernatural,” Mr. Black said. “They feel that since you have pierced the veil and have experience with human crime, you might be better equipped to handle this. Also, if you’re not gonna go nuts, you might as well prove useful.”

“I still don’t understand anything about this. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to help a community that killed my partner and lost me my career.”

“Don’t go lumping the rest of us in with that one Nagloshi,” Mr. Black said holding his hands up in the universal sign of ‘we come in peace’. “We’re not all psycho predators. Just like any community, we have our good guys and bad guys. We’re offering you the chance to step inside our ranks and be a good guy. You don’t have to like us to do the job. In fact, you’ll probably be more objective if you remain skeptical.”

“Your council is afraid that if too many people die, you will be risking exposure,” I guessed.

“Obviously,” Mr. Black said. “I guess those are the kind of smarts that they’re banking on.” Even with no skin on his face, I could feel the sarcasm radiating off Mr. Black.

“If I do this, will I get information on these Nagloshi?” I asked.

“Officially, I should warn you that revenge is not the diplomatic sort of idea that will keep you alive in our world. Unofficially, you might discover a few things about the nasty buggers. I honestly don’t know where this case goes, I’m not psychic.”

“Where do I start? Usually, there’s a crime scene or a case file for me to look at. “

“Hold onta your hat, detective. I got what ya need right here. There’re no active crime scenes right now but I picked up this from the local station house.” He pulled a file folder out of thin air and held it out. I came around the desk and tentatively took it from his bony fingers and retreated back behind the desk.

The Nighthawk

June 1, 2019

(This was originally written in 2013 as part of NaNoWriMo.  I thought it was time to do something with it)

If this were a noir detective story then muted trumpets would be playing as I sipped whiskey with my feet on the desk.  There would be a haze of smoke in the room regardless of whether I am smoking or not. A leggy blonde or redhead would be cued up to enter in the next few minutes with some sob story.  For the record, this is not a noir detective movie. The room is in color and I quit smoking two years ago.  But the whiskey was spot on but only half a tumbler because I was just about to walk home for the day and the office was officially closed.

The private detective business had turned out to not be as glamorous as Humphrey Bogart advertised it.  Who knew that Hollywood did not, in fact, portray truth? I was stuck in this tiny basement office because I had been fired from my job as an actual detective for the police.  I worked narcotics with my partner, Harmony Hall, for years and we made a lot of busts and we received a lot of kudos from the big wigs.  I really believed that Harmony had been on track for a promotion.  She was going to get stuck with a desk job even though she always hated the idea.  At least, that’s what she said.

The good times ended when Harmony was killed during a stakeout gone horribly wrong.  Something came out of the shadows and tore Harmony and the crooks we had been tailing into shredded meat.  I call it a thing because I still do not know what it was.  I still cannot adequately explain my partner’s death.  I know that it was not human or anything that I had ever seen before.  I also know that the brass at the police station did not believe me when we got debriefed. What I do know is that they fired me or “let me go” for psychological reasons.  I feel that the only reason that I was not committed was that I eventually shut my mouth and agreed to walk away.

Harmony didn’t deserve to die and then get that horrible death swept under the carpet but I still didn’t know what to do about it. I don’t know if there is anything that anybody could have done about it.  I see that thing in my dreams.  It was all teeth, claws and sinewy shapes that made little sense. It stuck to the shadows and easily avoided shots from my service revolver. I had no experience hunting animals, especially ones intelligent and brutal enough to slaughter six drug dealers and one police officer and then slip away into the night without a trace.  How was there no forensics at the scene?

So now I was trying to make ends meet mostly by taking pictures of people cheating on their spouses.  It was the kind of thing that made me feel completely filthy but the landlady did not take reassuring smiles and good intentions as payment on the rent.  Some people are total hard asses when it comes to money. I was not prepared for the hustling up of clients or chasing them down and hassling them to pay me.  This job had quickly turned into a horrible headache but I had burned a lot of bridges by telling the truth.

But I still looked for that truth when I could.  In what little spare time I had, I scoured the news and the word on the street for anything weird.  I turned over whatever rocks I could find and poked my nose where I probably shouldn’t have.  I found some strange things that I could not really explain and honestly made me feel crazier.  I read through strange books on the weirdest subjects in search of something to explain.  A city is a strange place even without the supernatural elements that I thought that I had experienced.

The whiskey felt good going down in that sweet, sadistically masochistic sort of way.  Alcohol was dangerously seductive and there was a bad history in certain corners of my family.  Still, after a long week, it was much-needed anesthesia and that was good enough for the moment.  I was too restless.  I had spent too many days sitting in my car and watching motel rooms.  I felt like I wanted to do something but absolutely nobody had walked into my office today. Restlessness could become dangerous if I left it unchecked so I was just about to get up and go for a walk.

Of Course, that’s when the door to my office opened.  I had thought that I had locked that door and so I was about to look up and tell whoever that the office was closed.  To come back on Monday or never. Though, I did need something to do so maybe I wouldn’t send them away.  Then when I looked up they must have already left. If possible, I was both disappointed and relieved. They had left the door hanging open so I got up and closed it. I reached for my coat to just leave when some sort of smoke came in from under the door.  

At first, I thought it was a fire but the smoke was blowing under my door like it came out of a fog machine.  My church youth group had rented one when I was a teenager for a haunted house.  The memory was suddenly vivid. Whatever was going on, my fight or flight response must have been broken because I froze with one hand on my coat. I should have embarrassed that my first responder instincts had disappeared. I think part of the reason was that I could not smell any smoke.  I could not smell the smoke and I could not feel any heat or hear the crackle of flame.

With a strange, wet sound the cloud of smoke just suddenly dropped out of the air and condensed into a puddle on the floor.  As the guy who pays the rent, I started to properly freak out. I pressed myself to the wall and watched the puddle like a hawk with some sort of obsessive complex for watching puddles.  The puddle started to slide (or was it ooze?) across the floor toward my desk. I felt that if I followed it, I would be the guy in a John Carpenter movie who the audience was rolling their eyes at.  Maybe I should just bolt out of here and call the fire department. They wouldn’t believe me anyway. I wouldn’t believe me either.

Just as I was reaching for the door, fully willing to let the living puddle eat my damn coat, I heard a voice.  The voice came from the puddle. Of course, it did. With my luck, it would be a talking puddle.


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