Alright, it’s been about a week.

Standard

I’ve not been slacking off. Working on two stories, a collaborative project with a few other authors I can’t really do more than drop hints about at the moment, and editing another short story for release and hopefully publication.

As a few of you also know, I’ve been working on the whole blogging thing too. As almost no one knows, I’ve recently put my silly self on Patreon too. I mean, I count as an artist of sorts, so it kind of fits.

Writing is very  much a way of life, but all of this in a week is quite a bit of effort. I try to complete a new chapter every three days or so. I also, rain of shine, write at least 1000 quality words a day.

Quality words are those words that do not need editing or going back over. In short, words you aren’t sorry about using or don’t have to erase and start over on the moment you try to edit. Try it as a writing exercise if you like, it’s harder than it sounds.

I currently do all my own editing and checking, which is difficult in that I have to fight the urge to just erase it all and never darken the world’s door with my garbage.

But I usually get around that by tricking myself, and posting my humble scribblings on websites devoted to fiction; that means that the given work is already out there for better or worse, and the cat is out of the bag… so erasing it would do no good.

Enough about me for now anyway; you all hopefully came here to be entertained, right? Well here is chapter 2 and 3 of the story I posted last week; enjoy. Comment if you feel the need, I don’t bite.

Chapter 2.

“Was that really necessary Kirl? You scared the poor guy to death.” the small young man in a

robe blended into the night asked.

“Not quite, my master. But very nearly.” The tall red eyed man replied, striding over and nonchalantly

cleaning the purple slime from his large rune chased dagger.

“You don’t have to sound so happy about it.” the first replied as the other fell into step.

“He will live; your orders were followed, what could you possibly be angry about, my master?”

“Living in an asylum bouncing himself off walls and screaming is hardly living; that is existing only, at best.”

“Then you should remember to phrase your orders more precisely, master. I am a demon, after all.”

“Whatever; I saw nothing, I heard nothing, this one doesn’t go on the books. Otherwise we get chewed out for being sloppy and slow. Let’s get out of here before the police show.”

“Of course my master.”

They vanished in a swirl of smoke and a hint of flame as the first echoing hint of sirens arose.

Chapter 3.

The next morning of course the incident was splashed all over the various papers, news websites,

and blogs. ‘Luckiest man alive survives attack from imp.’ While the mans’ five dead friends were

mentioned as victims of the attack, what was only glossed over was that the luckiest man alive was

trying to eat various imaginary insects and remove the eyes from his head.

I looked up from the CNN home page to glance around. The desk across from his was empty…my partner still hadn’t shown yet. Dave was taking his sweet time. Sheesh. Most of my fellow cops from

homicide were also no shows.

“Connelly! Get your ass in here, now!”

Rolling my eyes, I snagged a doughnut (jelly filled) on my way to the chief’s office. I opened the door to see him sitting there, staring sourly at some faxes. Then I had to awkwardly catch the paper he threw

at my face, one handed.

“You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

I took a glance at the paper, it was the same story about the demon attack that was all over.

“Well yeah chief, of course I do….”

He started to get even more angry, if that were possible.

“I mean, it’s in the news! Demon summoned from nowhere, bar hopping office workers celebrating a deal all die save one. And that poor schlub is likely half dead and insane.”

“Yes…..and homicide is there in force, trying to figure out who summoned the thing, and how exactly the demon died, since there were no force summoners in the area or on the initial call. Which is why you should be there with your partner, instead of stinking up the place. So go now! You got 5 minutes to clear or I’ll tell your boss.”

“Roger that chief, on my way.”

The chief did his Columbo impression as I opened the door.

“Just one more thing…”

“Yes chief?”

“Don’t you need to know where it is?”

“The paper gave the general address, I can simply follow the uniforms from there.”

I walked out, taking my sweet time, both to leave the building, and to arrive at the crime scene. It just would not do to arrive too early. As I had promised the Chief, it was easy to follow directions of canvassing beat cops. I arrived at a location three blocks from the bar mentioned in the newspaper, the

“Sixpence”.

There was a detective out front, a junior grade named Frank Rose if I remembered correctly.

“Frank right?’ He nodded. “Seen Dave anywhere?”

“Yeah robes, hes at the end of the red brick road. It starts in the alley, you might be interested.”

“Alright. Any witnesses?”

“Nah, nothing really happened in the bar itself…if there were witnesses outside, they booked it.”

“Can’t really blame them for that. Alright, I’ll go follow my nose. Enjoy traffic duty.”

“Heh. Sure.”

The alley was full of chalk outlines, five of them, and a veritable ocean of dried blood. It only took a moment to pick up the only only trail leading out…bloody hand prints on the wall were a dead giveaway. I followed the trail of blood spatter, and waved to the various colleagues along the route, till I reached the end of the line…a large pool of blood under a crushed street light.

And there, under that new landmark and stepping carefully to avoid the blood and shards of glass, was my partner, Dave Zimecki.

“What’s up Dave?”

“Robes! Did you bring coffee?”

“In my car, partner mine, along with a few swiped bear claws.”

“Ahh the ones stolen from the squad room always taste the best.”

“So, what can you tell me about it?”

“It’s a pretty open and shut case. Imp summoned by parties unknown, combat or espionage grade, hits this group as it’s leaving, tears it up. Middle manager, one Alex Stone survives the initial attack, runs to here, bunkers in under the light. Imp was smart enough to fly up and use it’s body weight to shatter the light.”

“I hear a large ‘and then…’ coming.”

He smirked.

“And then the Imp gets it’s fool head cut off…by another demon is our current assumption. That is the fun part.”

I looked…since demons could only be killed by certain weapons, it was obvious another demon killed it, as having our own pet demons were currently the best method for permanently putting them down. The fact there there was a chalk outline and a weapon used to behead the Imp was very telling.

“And of course, no idea who the summoner is, or why they were in the area.” I mused.

“Got it in one. I’m guessing the chief will want us to find that out as soon as he hears the details.”

“So, let’s go get that coffee. We are pretty much through here. Going to have some pictures for you to look at soon though. What took you?”

“Well San and I were dealing with a contract dispute uptown.”

“Ahhhh.”

Dave knew what I meant of course, there was only one contract dispute I’d be handling uptown, and it took precedence over whatever business the police wanted me to handle…by law in fact.

“And you didn’t inform the chief?”

“Well he didn’t ask.” I replied with a grin, one which Dave matched.

“Good one Robes.” He acknowledged as we reached my car.

I handed him the coffee, black, exactly as strong as he liked it.

“I know, score one for me, and imagine his face when he talks to my boss and my boss tells him to politely go pound sand.”

“Heh, too bad we can’t sneak cameras into his office, that would be hilarious.

“I’m just hoping he learns from all this. I mean hell would it kill him to ask my boss where I am, rather than jump down my throat?”

I drained my coffee in a single gulp, plastering a smile on my face once again as I turned back to Dave.

He wasn’t fooled.

“So where to, partner mine?”

“It’s got to be back to the precinct. You’ve got to review those photos and make your assessment, as our resident expert.”

“Not quite correct. I think I need to summon my other partner and try to track the Imp’s summon point down. There may be clues there. At the very least, there should be blood there, unless the perp cleaned up extremely well.”

Dave tried not to look uneasy, and for the most part succeeded. Even those around us most, who acknowledged our humanity, tended to get uneasy when we casually discussed granting ancient evils access to our world.

“Now?”

“Just as soon as we finish our coffee yes, don’t want the trail getting too cold.”

“Why didn’t you mention before we got started? Now we have to walk all the way back.”

“You need the exercise, you’re getting flabby. As to why, why didn’t you? You knew I’d need to as well, to be thorough.”

“Was hoping you’d forget.”

“And let the chief ream my ass over something that I couldn’t cover? No way. Besides, my other partner would be hurt if I didn’t let him see your glorious self at least once a day…you know he loves you.”

“He’d love to see me strung up by my entrails you mean.”

We got started towards the crime scene again.

“Nah, that’s just how he feels about all of us ‘hairless, unrefined monkeys’. He’d take me first if he could, then you.”

“That’s ever-so-comforting, robes. Absolutely sets my heart at perfect ease.”

I clapped him a good one on the back that had him stumble a step as we once again reached the streetlight.

“See, that’s the spirit!”

I took my standard issue dagger, marked with the runes of my profession as well as the true name of my servitor, and promptly stabbed it through my hand, where my mark could be clearly seen. A rough and dirty way to summon, but it held a certain charm for me. My blood acted as the catalyst, and my symbol briefly appeared on the concrete, a tall black haired skeletal-gaunt man in a suit wafted up from the mark light a heat mirage. Once I removed the dagger from my hand the wound closed, and the poor theatrics stopped.

“San, still the soul of a poor stage magician as always.”

“Master, still the fragrant bane of my existence. Oh and your meat bag partner as well, how are you, my next meal? Still fattening yourself up for me I see.”

“Nice to see you too San.”

“So San, this is business. We need you to track the summoner of the Imp that died here, and the other demon that was here, if possible. So, get to work.”

He saluted lazily, then sketched a bow.

“Your wish is my command master.”

I watched with an arched brow as he dropped to all fours and started sniffing the ground like a bloodhound. I caught of few of his louder murmurings to himself.

“Middle management douche-bag…love that slang, douche-bag. Ah, there we are, front line battle Imp, infernal blood, second circle…only the inherent stealth, as if that wasn’t enough….”

He stood up so abruptly I feared his thin neck would snap, and pointed behind me. At the bar.

“That way, it came from that direction.”

“Excellent, I love confirmation.”

“You knew, and you made me sniff that? You’re an ass.”

He led the way.

“Come Dave, the game is afoot!”

I grabbed my deerstalker hat and pipe from under my robes and plopped them on, following my servitor as he led the way. Dave nervously followed.

I smirked. He hated my random moments of insanity….he didn’t know they were feigned.

Once at the bar, San had a bit more trouble.

“Stupid flyers are a pain.”

He then held his finger up, smirked at Dave, and walked up the brick wall as if he were a spider.

“This way scum, follow me while I do your job for you.”

He followed the faint taint of demonic energy, we followed him, for a good thirty minutes. We knew we’d reached our destination when he waved at us from the top of a rather nondescript apartment building; perhaps a little older than the ones surrounding it, but certainly not the place one would expect a summoning to take place.

Which was probably the point.

“So stairs or elevator?”

“You kidding, this place is 20 stories!”

“Well you’re the one who keeps saying they need to get in shape.”

“Yeah I do…starting tomorrow.”

“Heh.”

We rode the elevator in silence and alone. People saw me and refused to get on. All the same to me, I enjoyed the peace. The door leading to the roof was up a short half flight of stairs. It was old rusted steel, unlocked and ajar. San waited with poor grace on the other side.

“Trail ends here; there is a circle on the roof, pretty standard stuff. Goat’s blood, no human, and no smell of the summoner themselves.”

“Well damn. Too easy I guess. Oh well since we came up here, let’s look at it anyway. Dave, want to make the call to get some uniforms canvassing?”

“Yes boss, right away boss.” He replied, phone already out.

“Sarcasm does not become you Dave. Pink would suit you better.”

I looked at the pentagram. Goat’s blood carefully brushed across the rooftop, in a precise pattern. Not a neophyte. None of the tools left behind. None of the telltale ‘summoner flourishes’ that those in my line of work use to in effect, sign their work. The traces were here, but no real evidence. I turned to Dave.

“I miss the days when criminals smoked. This place is cleaner than my apartment.”

“I’ve seen garbage dumps cleaner than your apartment.”

I turned to San.

“I got nothing; your hearing bad or what? I told you that already.”

“Well then might as well go back to the precinct…unless Dave wants to get started canvassing himself?”

“Not a chance. Too lazy.”

Left unspoken was the reason that no one wanted to talk with a summoner present.

“OK then San, kindly take a hike, you rat bastard.”

“Gladly, this place reeks of ape.”

And then he was gone, to befoul some dark hole or other with his presence and loving attitude. We started back down.

“So, what did we learn here?” Dave asked.

“The perp is a pro. It was just a standard circle, such as what noobies learn in basic. The imp was a standard battlefield style summons, not a personal one. I think it’s time you checked the background of the people attacked, if you haven’t already.”

“The standard checks are being run, but yeah seems like a hit. But who has the strings to pull to get a hit like this? Summoners are tagged and monitored worse than pedophiles are…you know that first hand.”

“The other question is who was getting hit? Not like the people involved are important enough to rate even this level of demonic hit. A simple guy with a gun would do for this. This on the other hand makes a big ‘look at me, assholes’ statement.”

We pondered the case in silence on the way down, Dave scribbling away in that anachronistic notebook of his while I smirked. I remembered to take my hat off and stow my pipe this time.

On our walk back to my car, we met the uniforms Dave had called. I gave them a cheery wave and continued on while Dave gave them their marching orders. Dave had his car, I had mine after all.

My phone rang, and I scanned the number. My boss.

“What’s up boss man?”

“Connelly, can’t you stop antagonizing the man for ten seconds? I’m getting sick of him calling me.”

“So sic Gradnez on his ass.”

“Then we’d have to replace him, with someone that might be even less competent than he is.”

“Heh, well I enjoy our little game, so…no I can’t stop. Maybe if he did his job properly he wouldn’t look like such an idiot.”

“Alright, well this call is me officially telling you to stop antagonizing your superior officer.”

“And unofficially?”

“Unofficially I don’t care, it’s moderately funny making him suffer.”

“you’ve the soul of your summon, boss.”

“Thank you.” He hung up.

Always nice talking to co-workers sympathetic to your plight, and understanding of your woes. I drove my car carefully through the sea of blue and reporters; wouldn’t do to get sued after all. On the way back I tried to compile a list of anyone who had the knowledge needed to pull off a clean summoning.

The list was short; and only included my fellow members on the anti-demon task force, or retirees.

Retirees from our little robe club had their knowledge on how to summon removed from their minds by our psych division. But every blue moon, such wipes didn’t take completely. I hadn’t heard of a recent case of that however, and we always double checked.

Which left our current roster, or military Summoners on leave…or the instructors in the art themselves. None of those three options were very palatable, as any of those people being behind it would be easy to catch.

But military Summoners were downright crazy. Special forces, trained in all the quick and dirty covert ops crap the military favored now, with demons to back them up. No way I wanted to tangle with that unless I had a full task force backing me.

I arrived back in the office, thoughts whirling like so many leaves in a hurricane, to find Dave had actually beaten me.

“How in the hell….”

“Beats me; maybe you just drive like an old lady?”

“Could be I guess. Say Dave, do we keep lists on all the retired police and military summoners in the area?”

“We sure do; you should know that.”

“I can’t access them, so I was giving you a hint.”

“You think it’s one of ours?”

“It would kind of have to be, wouldn’t it?”

“Well it could be Russian mafia, or something.”

“How? Our borders are locked down tighter than fort Knox is; there aren’t any foreign summoners going to get through. Just check the list, it’s the most likely. I’ll check a few…different contacts. I’ll

be in the hole.”

I hated the hole almost as much as Dave did…it was in the sub basement of the building, and had annoying leaks…as well as shoddy lighting and mold. It was also where the engraved summoning circles were, so I had to risk lung infections or tripping and breaking my neck whenever we had a case needing otherworldly help.

So in no time at all I was sitting in cold brackish water, my robe and pants just soaking it up, in front of a glowing red circle, staring at an imp, the backbone of all demonic forces…as well as their chief messengers.

“What do you want, human?”

“Information Xef, same as I always want from you.”

He muttered a few unflattering things about humans and their constant summonings, and some parentage insults…I let him get it out of his system, despite my own annoyance at being here. He finally wound down a good five minutes later.

“Glad you’re finished, sooner you quit griping, the sooner we can both get out of here. Here is what I want. I want to know who summoned one of your kind around twelve to sixteen hours ago.”

He stared at me, aghast.

“You know how many imps are summoned in an hour?”

“Yes, which is why you’re going to look for one of your brethren that had a stinger…and didn’t come back. Summoned to this city, and died…should narrow down the field.”

“Yes it does, how long do I have?”

“Twenty four hours, no more, no less.”

“A tall order boss.”

“Better get to work then.”

I dismissed him with a thought and started to work the stiffness out. No idea if that particular line of inquiry would bear fruit, but it was harder to handle than the more mundane side of things.

Chances are they wouldn’t find my imp and kill him before he could report back, that is.

I hobbled my way back upstairs in time to run into Dave. He looked pretty excited under his normal

hard bitten cop impression.

“What do you have Dave?”

“We have the background checks for all of last nights unlucky participants.”

“well don’t keep me in suspense, we got anything?”

“Not a thing…and that’s the unusual part. All office workers, two middle management types including the survivor….no organized crime connections that we can find, no massive debts, no outstanding talents.”

“OK, so we have crap.”

“Not quite. The survivor is one Alex Stone…and he doesn’t have the senior year stamp of approval.”

“He what?”

Dave rubbed his hands in glee at my reaction.

“He has absolutely none of the paperwork showing he was tested. He’s listed as a US citizen, and apparently didn’t exist until age 19…no documentation from his early years at all.”

“That makes no sense. He’d have to at least have fakes…so where did they go?”

“You know, you’re right…too obvious.”

“Right, so who’s leading us down the garden path? You got confirmation on the paperwork or lack thereof?”

“Please. It’s me. Called Records, not only are our records missing, theirs are too. I’m nothing if not thorough.”

“You mean anal.”

“Potato, potahto….”

Once we made it back upstairs I zigged to the locker room where the uniforms usually changed uniforms. I had a spare of my own there.

“Hurry up you hypochondriac, we got work to do!”

“You don’t want me trying to spew Latin with a cold….it just doesn’t work. Be right with you.”

A few minutes later I caught up with Dave, already in the car.

“So where are we going, learless feader?”

“To his alma mater; he went to high school right here, then community college for business management. We are going to see if those records still exist.”

“Works for me. Going to nap on the way, wake me up when we get there.”

“And why should I let you nap?”

“Cause I just summoned a demon in a cold dank shit hole of a dungeon on your behalf? That’s some very tiring work.”

“…Point taken. You get twenty.”

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