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The Beast Without
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Artificial Idiot
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 9:39 pm    Post subject: The Beast Without Reply with quote

Warmth.

It washed over it’s mottled fur like a rash, seeping between the scales of its lower body. A warmth as yet unknown to it, nothing akin to it’s highland home and yet not even simulating the tight confines it had endured in the possession of the haired man-thing.

So warm, so sudden. It’s body jolted and convulsed, biological alarm bells screeching down every nerve of its body. A fifteen-year slumber, shattered by the wrong conditions. The outer eyelids snapped open, its gills inhaling a sudden burst of oxygen, water and plant life.

It had to leave. It had to breathe. It had to consume.
It kicked its mighty legs like a wild beast, tail thrashing in the water around. Up towards the surface. Up towards the cold night air. Up towards its prey. Its head broke the water line, far too fast. Burning lungs kicking into action after staying too long dormant.

It struggled to breathe, holding its muzzle high to the star lit sky. Breathing air like it was fire. Eventually, it settled into a steady breathing pattern. In and out, slowly and carefully. It’s inner eyelids peeled back into its skull to meet a grassy plain just shy of the riverbank. It started to paddle forward.

Two enormous hooves dug deep into the mud, pulling the remainder of it’s aching body to shore. It’s serpentine tail slid across the bank, dragging behind the upper body. At the lowest point it split off into two fins, both spreading out like a dainty oriental fan.

It eventually stood in a slouched fashion on the bank. The upper body shaking violently, droplets of water flying from its fur in all directions. While the lower body slithered and snaked like a whip, the wet scales given an unearthly sheen in the light of a pale yellow half-moon.

It stopped abruptly. Snorting a fresh cloud of vapour into the night. Its head tilted upwards, ears piqued with interest. Heavy footsteps, hard, raspy breathing… Something was coming.

"Everybody, they was kung-fu fighting! Ho, hoo-ha! Those guys, they were fast as... something... da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da..."

Prey.

The beast’s body started to convulse again, only this time it was a controlled convulsion. It’s tail grew a thin coating of pale hair, slowly breaking the skin and pushing forward, growing at a rapidly increasing rate. It’s tail split at the fins, becoming two, powerful hind legs, hardening at the bottom into hooves.

The midnight black fur on it’s upper body became lighter and lighter, until it almost radiated light. The thin spikes that travelled down its spine were receding, being replaced by a long, golden mane. It’s face contorted and spasmed, gills closing up, burning, hateful eyes changing in their sockets, yellowing teeth becoming a pearly white.

Until finally, it stood tall and majestic. A white haired stallion, tall and proud. A tail bursting from its backside just as the man-thing came into its sight. It whined a low, pitiful whine to grab his attention.

"Eh-up!" He exclaimed, stumbling over to the creature, almost tripping in one of the creatures hoofprints. "Ain't you a beauty!"

He started to run his corse hands through the silky white coat of the horse. All the time the creature started to grind his hoofs into the mud uneasily, just edging the man-thing to climb on his back. That was all it needed. That was all it craved.

"Just out here... On your own... Nobody to look after you..." The man-thing began to muse misty eyed, the creature dug it's muzzle softly into his chest. "I think I'll call you Sheldon!"

The foolish man-thing wrapped an arm around it and started to lead it on in the direction of its own confines. The creature grudgingly obliged. For now. But soon it could be patient no longer, soon... It would have to feed.

[center]--[/center]

Travel a few miles down the river Lea and you'll come to the city of Lutonopolis. Financial heart and soul of Neo-England. Home of far stretching mega corporation Lutonopolis. Look behind the StreetMarts and big industry, past the homesteads, schools and hospitals of the thousands of people within and you'll come to the inner city, the bad part of town.

Just inside the inner city lay a block of apartments, shabby, run down, with most of the windows either hastily boarded up or shattered by stray wesballs. Except for one. On this, below a slightly lob-sided pentagram the words 'ortsaC miJ evitceteD lamronaraP'.

Inside his office, Jim Castro sat dejected behind his desk. He had just come back from a case in Innsmouth. Some hellish little fishing town in Massachussets... That's right, yankeeland. Something about fish people and a rogue deity... It had all pretty much gelled into one big reality shaking shockwave after the third week. The usual, really.

While Jim usually hated working internationally, for the usual throng of reasons that Britons usually hate foreign soil, times had been hard. In fact, they'd been downright brutal. Business had been slow... It was like hell had frozen over and the occupants were frolicking in it. And as for the undead... Gave a new meaning to rest in peace!

Heaving a sigh, head still throbbing slightly from jetlag, he began to flick through the mail. The various brown and white envelopes that contained bills instantly found a home in the waste paper bin by his side. Junk mail placed to one side, to be sorted through later. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions filed away in his desk and finally, a small, pristine white envelope with 'DO NOT BEND' stamped in red ink. Typically, it had a crease right down the centre.

"Fancy handwriting, first class postage..." He flicked it over and gave a sly smirk to the Gaffer, who opened one eye and looked at him warily. "... And a big, fat 'C.R' on the back. Heh, we're in business..."

He tore it open, having no time or practical use for letter openers, and prised his gloved fingers on the contents. He scanned the letter over, picking up the key details and then read it again, this time very carefully. Scanning the style of writing for distress, urgency... The delicate hand-writings of a beautiful broad. Well, you never know, do you?

"Typical." He huffed, folding the letter back up in a frustrated manner, making the Gaffer stir ever so slightly in his bed. "Bloody, damn well typical!"

He spun his chair around to look directly at the Gaffer, shaking his head profoundly. The Gaffer, realising that whatever was going on he couldn't just sleep his way through it and pretend it wasn't happening, tilted his head so it stood to a slouched attention.

"Some Cryptozooloists out the back of beyond have managed to 'misplace' one of their creatures after a security breach'. Basically meaning they let their guard down, got mugged and now some half-cocked madman is running around with a potentially dangerous critter that could shit fire for all we know..."

He rested an elbow on his desk and rested his head in a gloved hand. Much as he resented incompetence from so called 'professionals' in the paranormal industry, he couldn't turn down the business. He needed it... He needed the money.

"... Bloody Cryptozooloists... Couldn't tell their arse from their earlobe. Still, least they know when to call in the real expert..."

He separated the headset from receiver of his phone, dialling in a number and idly tapping a pen against the edge of his desk as he waited for it to ring.

"National Wespress, how may I help you?" Came the sickly sweet voice of the operator on the oither side, it made Jim cringe slightly.

"Need a train to Dartmoor." He said idly.

"For when, sir?"

"Tomorrow morning. Dawn, preferably." He explained. "And don't worry about expenses, the Queen's paying."

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Ocelot IIX
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 4:09 pm  Reply with quote

Heh, quite good.
Planning to extend this?
I'd hope so.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 6:16 pm  Reply with quote

Whoa! I actually have this finished! I just completely.... forgot it was posted here too!

Sorry!

* * *

The Cassandra Royal Institute for the Preservation and Investigation of Cryptozoology, otherwise known as The Crypt, a safe haven for endangered paranormal creatures from right across the world. Set deep in the marshy bogland of Dartmoor and kept hidden from the public eye via both paranormal and conventional deterrents, it is not only renown the having the most varied catalogue of paranormal beasts within it's confines, but is also regarded as the world leader in the study and innovation of cryptozoology...

... But it's a swine of a place to travel to!

Somewhere out in the cold and windy excess that was Dartmoor, a figure plowed through the marshland like a needle-prick on a giants back, that prick was Jim Castro.

"No welcome wagon, no transport, no escort..." He muttered in irate tones to himself. One hand clinging onto his hat, the other bunching his coat as tightly around himself as he could. "... Some start to a beautiful friendship this is turning out to be..."

He tucked his hat under his armpit and dug his now free hand deep into his pockets. Wrapped around his gloved hand was a crystal pendent in the shade of the deepest violet, attached to a finely wrought chain. He glared at it with a slight sense of distaste and then threw it out before him. Jim watched as it travelled through the air, and sighed with relief as it suddenly imploded.

"Finally." His hand returned to his pocket and pulled out the letter he had received just the day before, holding it up to the empty space before him. "Jim Castro, Paranormal Detective. Currently freezing his arse off, if you don't mind..."

There was nothing but the faint whistle of the wind and the distinct squelching of shoes sinking into mud. Then, in an instant, the space directly in front of Castro began to shimmer, forming its self into a steely, blue metallic colour before settling on the form of double doors. One of these was tentatively opened, a head peaking out from around it.

"Mr. Castro?" Asked a gruff male voice from behind a royal blue mask, complete with inbuilt red visor and gas filters.

"Got it in one." He replied, placing his hat back in it's correct place and crossing the other arm around himself tightly.

"Surprised you found the place..."

"Smelt the Sodof-toxins a mile away..."

"Keeps the animals and regulars away..." He explained casually. with a slight shrug of the shoulders. He swung the door fully open and allowed Jim to enter, swiftly pulling it closed again with a dull thud.

"Heh, classy." Jim said as he entered the institute.

It brought to mind the overblown, exquisite mansions of the eccentrically rich. There was a corridor with a fine, Persian rug that ran right the way up to a pair of oak double doors with large, gold knobs on. Lining the corridor were several wooden doors, each and every one a different type of wood or shade of polish. Every two doors a finely sculpted pillar fell down from the ceiling and secured its self to the floor. Everywhere men and women dressed in the same style protective gear that the fine fellow who had let him in was wearing. Jim had studied those in his early years... Very thin, extremely light and flexible... But crafted of a material that could withstand hydra acid if needs be.

"Mr. Stokes will be here in a moment, Mr. Castro." The man by his side said. "Is there anything I can do for you in the meantime?"

"Yeah, give this to a yeti as a plaything or something..." He replied, handing over his hat. "I am never wearing one of those things again."

He was shown to a red leather armchair in a small room just off the entrance hall. He settled himself down flicking through the various magazines on a small, round table before settling on a tatty, yellowing issue of 'PlayGhoul' with creased corners. He suddenly found himself very pleased he was wearing gloves when he came to the pages stuck together with dried up ectoplasm. He was tilting his head to get a better angle of a particularly attractive spectre when a foreboding shadow was cast over him.

"Mr. Castro! A pleasure, to be sure!" An articulate, slightly rough, voice played through his ears. "I apologise for the wait, I've just been terribly busy recently..."

He cocked his head upward to acknowledge the newcomer, rasing a single eyebrow at what he saw. He was twice as tall as Jim, if not more, and covered from head to unshoed foot by curly black hair. Despite the gleaming white tusks and finely manicured claws, the man seemed to have a rather animalistic charm, and sense of style. He wore a crisp, seemingly freshly pressed black suit, topped off by a bowler hat. A black Manx cat rested on his broad shoulder, eyeing Jim with it's dull, yellow eyes.

"Ain't you got a nice, decrepit old ruin you should be hiding in right now?" He jested with a slight, cheeky smirk.

"You can laugh Mr. Castro, but the genocide on the Isle was no laughing matter." He replied in dull, flat tones. There was possibly a frown beneath all that hair. " I was indeed lucky to survive, as was poor Eliza here..."

He scratched the feline behind the ear softly with the tip of his claw, a light mew escaping from her lips.

"However, that is the past... For now there are more... Pressing issues." He shot an uneasy look at Jim before continuing. "My name is Dudley Stokes, The current manager of this fine establishment."

"On her majesty's secret service then..." Jim chimed, drolely.

"One could say that." Dudley smiled back, Castro noted he had quite a toothy grin... And every single one gleamed.

"She know you're blowing all the tax-payers money on that nice little set up out front?"

"Heavens, man! She suggested it!" He exclaimed. "We have emissaries from all over the world, very few get farther than my office. First impressions, Mr. Castro. It's all about the power of first impressions..."

"I take it these emissaries don't have to trudge through two miles of marshland to get here..."

"Again, I can only apologise..." He said politely. "We have been horridly short staffed ever since the breakout..."

"Then I think you'd better fill me in."

A quarter of an hour later, Stokes had escorted Jim to one of the many 'holding areas' within the complex. This one was bitterly cold, and equally damp, with droplets of water frequently dripping from the roof and splattering against the metal grills beneath their feet. Set along the walls on each side were a tanks of water, each labelled up much like an aquarium.

Jim idly watched each tank as he walked past, one seemingly containing six dolphins, ranging from a light grey to a lurid blue. That was until one of the larger mammals propelled it's self to the surface, rapidly changing into a handsome, tanned, muscle-bound man who continued to burst to the surface with an animalistic vigour. In another a buxom mermaid carefully brushed her flowing, brunette locks while her less endowed blonde sister blew Jim a kiss through the tank. He winked back to her, causing them both to giggle furiously... He just had that kind of effect on women.

"This is where we keep all our metamorphic aquatic specimens..." Stokes explained as they walked along at a steady pace.

"And the rest?"

"Kept in other parts of the complex." He replied instantly. "We even have a Kraken on the lower levels."

Jim gazed into another tank, watching as a seal propelled it's self through the water with a pair of female legs.

"Typical broad right there..." Jim muttered, more to himself than Stokes. "Reel you in with the legs, and when you're hooked they got a face that can break into your finances faster than a pumped up chancellor fresh from duping the prats that make up the general public into voting for them."

Dudley stopped dead in front of one of the tanks. A top it was a small bronze plage with the word 'Kelpie' engraved into it. The tank was empty, devoid even of water. Jagged edges of glass still left from where the front had been recently smashed. The resulting scattering of glass had since been cleared up.

"This is where the bastards took it from then?" Jim inquired, tapping his cigar case in an irate manner. He'd been informed that smoking in the Crypt was forbidden. So he would just have to scowl and bare it... Until he came across a nice little secluded corner, that is.

"Quite." Stokes nodded. "We've no real, solid leads as yet... Although teams have been dispatched to hopefully locate and contain the animal before we have an... Incident."

"No leads, no clues... Any obvious suspects?"

"Not to my knowledge. We are one of a kind Mr. Castro, we have no major competition and I highly doubt anybody who would object to our work even knows that we exist."

"Somebody obviously did, or I'd be looking at a Kelpie right now." Jim sniped, before returning back to his line of questioning. "What about ex-employees?"

"There simply aren't any." Dudley explained. "You see, I do not employ humans as a rule. All of my staff are creatures that are members of the more intelligent races that we preserve here. And they are all quite happy for the stable lodgings and employment provided in this rather unstable world."

"Great...The only light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is that I get paid at the end of this fiasco..." He paused for a moment and then continued. "Speaking of which, let's talk about payment..."

"It's a government job, Mr. Castro. There is nothing to worry about."

"Heh, funny you should say that..." Jim began. "As that is exactly what I was worried about in the first place."

"Please don't write us off too early, Mr. Castro..." Dudley smiled, a slight glean in his eyes. "We would never send you on such an important errand blind and senseless."

"Makes a nice change."

"If you'd follow me Mr. Castro..." Signaled Stokes. "There is someone I'd very much like you to meet."

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 8:32 am  Reply with quote

"So..." Jim mused, rocking a near-empty tumbler of brandy back and forth in his hand. Allowing the murky brown liquid to lash out against the sides of the glass walls. "What first?"

Castro had left the Crypt half an hour ago. He travelled to a small, local village just on the edge of Dartmoor, his new 'partner' in tow. In fact, it was on her suggestion that they'd stopped off at a local inn, debating what to do next over a stiff drink. She sat on the edge of a solitary single bed, swinging her legs to and fro, while Jim took up a squat, wooden chair in the corner of their rented room. They'd both agreed this was too delicate a matter to be discussed in public.

~Another drink shall suffice...~ Her voice came out in a horse whisper, barely making an impact on even these quiet surroundings. It was the kind of voice that would send shivers running up and down a mans spine in terror and freeze the hairs on the back of their necks.

"Heh, a broad after my own heart..." He smiled, gulping down what was left in his own glass only to replace it with one of the two bottles by his side.

Her name was Mara, and she was a very special broad indeed. She belonged to a race of often malevolent disembodied female spirits, usually either cursed out of spite or just lost in the deepest bitterness. Mara however, had undergone a specialist treatment discovered by the scientists at the Crypt that allowed her to slip in and out of her body at a whim. She was a marvel fusing of magic and high technology... But Jim found himself more interested in her other assets.

"Well, I'd review the facts, but the fact is there just isn't anything to review..." Jim said as he finally got to light a long earned cigar, Mara frowned at him from somewhere under her lank, black hair.

She seemed to contemplate the situation for a second. Jim took the opportunity to do a more indepth analysis of her. She was treading a fine line of being a rather poorly made up faux goth and a living corpse. She was very pasty faced and pale, with thin, blue tinted lips that for the moment, she kept pursed. Of course, she had a decent enough figure, that was duly noted, but she was also, by Jim's estimations, a full head taller than he was.


~This may call for some rather unconventional detective work...~ She sighed, the sound that came out sounding much more akin to a sheep whistle. She lay herself out on the bed, staring straight up at the ceiling. ~I'm going to stretch my legs, as it were... Do not touch my property, and do not move it!~

--

The clouds were thin here, few and far between. The sky was a void of deep violet, tinged by the pale yellow light of an unrestrained moon as it recklessly cast it's glow on the world below. She floated in the very same void, formless, non-existent, and yet her influence was felt miles around. Yet, floating was the wrong word... That would imply she was being supported by something, such as the wind, for example, as it ripped through the sky with a renewed malice. But no, she didn't float, she just existed without existing, a blip on the radar, gone in a flash, only to reappear instantly miles away.

She began to let her consciousness seep out into the country, never rooting herself in one place for too long. She was searching, searching for stress, surface tension... The things nightmares were made of. Things she could exploit, tap into, drain information from.

Something snagged. She felt it pull her towards it. Tension. Stress. Sorrow. It was all there, all the key components. All the pieces of the great emotional jigsaw. She let herself drift towards it, like a small boat dragged to a beacon on stormy seas. Or, more accurately, an overweight scotsman rolling down a hill after a haggis hunting trip got awry.

Her body started to twist and turn, going from it's loosely held female form to a single rope-like strand. She slipped through the keyhole of the home, finding it blocked by a small, metallic cover on the other side. She forced her body through the gap around it, trickling through it like liquid. As she hit the floor, her form started to refill it's self like an upturned hourglass. Once she was herself again, she proceeded to the bedroom.

Pushing herself under the door of the room in much the same way she pushed herself through the keyhole, she found herself standing in a pile of dirty clothing. She noted that the room was pale blue, the first feature that struck her was a life size poster of Kathy LeMonte lying upside down on a velvet bed in a seductive poise. She had no sense of smell, of course, for which she was unaware she should be thankful for.

She slipped onto the bed, straddling the occupants stomach. She brushed his shoulder length hair from his face, revealing a young man of Asian decent. Her fingers played across his dark skin, until they rested on his temples. She could feel the tension mounted up behind his skin, just waiting for a release. Content with what she had found, she began to ride.

He began to sweat profusely, tossing and turning beneath her, but she held him steady. Occasionally he'd let out a limp wine, or a moan. Once he even yelped, but she had to continue. She had to know. She pushed him on harder, gritting her half-existent teeth, knowing she was pushing him too hard. Knowing at any moment, he could...

"F-Fuck!" His voice came out horse, breathless. Riddled with panting. "I... I can't... Breathe!"

... Wake up.

~Hush...~ She purred soothingly. ~... Sleep...~

He obeyed instantly. They always did. It was what made her such a good animal trainer. She continued to ride him, only at a much more gentle pace this time. Until finally, the floodgates of his mind were thrown open and she was allowed access. Her fingers by-passed his skin, slipping through his skull and touching down on the grey matter that made up his brain.

'I'm.. I'm sorry... Oh God, I'm sorry...' The thoughts reverberated through her mind. "I... She... She was just so... Oh god, I didn't mean to cheat on you! Honest! I'd never hurt you babe..."

She cut herself off as he began to sob. Teenage mellodrama, she should have known. She gave him one last kick, assuring that something utterly vile from his subconscious clamoured up from the surface to torment him, before releasing him completely. Her anger soon subsided as reality and reason took hold, she knew the risks of investigating through this process... And no doubt this would not be the first time waster she'd encounter tonight.

There were thousands of fertile minds out there... She would just have to choose more carefully from now on.

--

"Sheldon!"

The man-thing called.

"Sheldon, got some nice sugar lumps for you..." The man-thing pushed a small cube of a compressed white substance under the beasts nose. They smelled offensive, like a treacherous poison... A knife in the dark. But the beast accepted with vigour, it needed to gain the man-things favour and it needed to do so soon. "Anyway, I got some bad news... The misses said I can't keep ya, pal. But she said you can stay here until your proper owners come and collect ya, isn't that great!?"

The beast snorted, it's head reared.It drew it's self onto it's back legs, letting loose an angry wail into the bitter night sky. There was a presence in the air, miles and miles from here. But it could taste it, vile and unsavoury, on it's tonge. It was on the verge of trampling it's prey down with frustration. They were looking for it. They would track it down, contain it, captivate it, feed it meagre scraps of three week old freeze dried flesh...

It could never go back.

It would not go back.

It would have to feast... And it would have to feast soon.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:15 am  Reply with quote

Very dark and interesting, but it's 'hoarse' when you don't mean the animal.

Be fun to see it continued.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:12 pm  Reply with quote

I imagine it's full of typos and spelling mistakes etc. etc. but I've never been a great one for checking work :s

* * *

Jim stared aimlessly out of the window of the dull, little hotel room in Dartmoor. He rapped against the window sill in boredom, she'd been gone an hour by his watch and he knew full well she could be gone for a lot longer. He glanced back at 'her property', a lifeless, nay, soulless body. Blank, lifeless eyes, still chest with no beating heart beneath it... The only sign that it was still functioning was that it was sweating buckets of stale water. She also let out the odd, stifled gulp or moan.

He turned back to the window, leaning against the sill now. He hung his head out of the window, wood-rot setting into the moss-green frame as paint chips splintered away in droves. He flicked a cigar nub out into the street, his third one in the time she'd been gone. He was just about to get his fifth shot of whiskey when she began to stir.

"Did the Earth move?" Jim sneered. "Or was it less a case of fiery passions and more a case of firing blanks?"

~Very funny...~ She groaned in a groggy voice, rolling her eyes. ~I hope you're not under the illusion I take advantage of people in their sleep?~

"Thought never crossed my mind." He handed her the glass in his hand. "Chin up, get that down you and if the initial bitterness doesn't kick you strait into the land of the living, so to speak, the aftertaste will."

She gagged and broke out into a vicious fit of coughing as she downed it in one. She looked up at Jim with tear filled eyes, who just rolled them in much the same way she'd rolled hers earlier.

"Homebrew. Well, I say 'home' but I actually brew it in an abandoned warehouse..." He let out a tired sigh, as if he was fed up with the world in general. "One of the generous perks of living in beautiful inner Lutonopolis."

~You live alone?~

"Technically." He replied. "Why, you interested?"

~Curious~

"Heh, we all know what that supposedly killed... Probably took the dog with it too." He said, rather candidly. "Speaking of which, you've spent a full hour making grown men cry and you've found...?"

~Everything...~ She hissed into the air, sitting up with a wince in the bed. ~Including a case of fatigue.~

"Oh how I weep for you." He stated sarcastically. "What we got?"

~You are not going to like this...~ Jim raised a skeptical eyebrow, nodding for her to go on. ~He's from Lutonopolis...~

Castros facial expression turned sour.

"Well, in that case..." He muttered through gritted teeth. "I think it's time for some real unconventional detective work..."

--

The next afternoon, Barcelona Avenue Lutonopolis. Both Castro and Mara stood on the doorstep of number 34, or at least that's what the rusted once gold gone brown numbers denoted. Jim noticed a small label on the bottom reading guaranteed waterproof!' That made him smile. He was about to clasp his hand around the knocker when Mara too a short, sharp breath.

"What?" He asked casually, releasing the knocker and folding his arms.

~Are you entirely sure about this?~ She asked cautiously. ~What if he becomes violent?~

"Then I'll take care of it."

~No offence meant, Mr. Castro.~ To Jim, the words were sounding pretty offensive already. ~But you are not exactly in perfect physical form... Especially compared to him.~

"Heh, I thought you didn't take advantage of people." She scowled, but said nothing. Jim took the opportunity to rap on the door. "Just watch and relax, you might learn something..."

"Yerr, 'allo?" He grunted in an animalistic fashion. Indeed, it suited his appearance perfectly. He was as skinheaded as the day he was born, St. George's Cross draped off his broad shoulders. Jim couldn't decide if it was fashioned in a shirt or a robe.

"Mr. Grant? Name's Jim Castro, paranormal detective." Jim announced. "This is my lovely assistant Mara, say hello Mara."

~Hiiiii~ She hissed, purposely drawing out the word for as long as possible.

"She's from the Crypt, you know, that place you lifted sometime last week?"

"Din't do nothink" He frowned, he had quite bushy eyebrows for a bald man. Comical in a 'not laughing with you, but laughing at you' way

"Masterful lying to be sure, but that isn't going to cut it I'm afraid." Jim snapped. "The Kelpie, where is it?"

As it happened, Mr. Grant was rather a short tempted barbarian of a man. He emitted a thundering roar, lunging for Castro. The detective just sighed, side stepping him and slamming his own fist into the brutes exposed gut. His knuckles were numb, a slight pain in his wrist, but it would pass. Besides, he was lucky compared to Mr. Grant. Jim got lucky, very lucky. The man curled up and fell to his knees on his own doorstep.

"You know when your dear old mum told you honesty was the best policy?" He slipped his hand into the recesses of his trenchcoat, retrieving a small pistol. "That's a lesson your about to take to heart..."

He brought the handle down on the back of his head in one swift motion, leaving a small cut on the back of his head from which blood began to trickle. He then turned to Mara, a dirty grin renovated onto his face.

"See, easy when you know how."

--

"And this..." Chirped Jim cheerfully as he flicked past yet another slide. "... This charming little scene is what later became known as the Buggane Genocide. Mara could probably tell you a bit about that..."

He paused and raised his head slightly, turning it to the doorway that Mara was framing, her back to the proceedings in the room behind her. Jim tsked and shook his head.

"No? Heh, think she's a little rattled... You know what women are like." Grant let out a stifled whimper in response. "Now, you see that little red puddle there? Looks like blood? Well, I'm telling you, that ain't blood..."

~S-stop...~ Mara cried painfully. ~He is ready, he shall talk...~

Jim flicked off the projector. It was one of his most efficient, but time consuming, ways of extracting information. As a paranormal detective you really grew a thicker skin, so to speak. Creatures from some arse-backward dimension that would turn a normal individuals brain to slush on sight became as regular a sight as roadkill. Mildly disgusting, easy to pity but at the end of the day... You just drive right by. However, Jim had found that just some mild exposure to a handful of the horrors he'd seen in his lifetime tended loosened peoples lips a bit.

And so it was that the once unco-operative Mr. Grant was tied to one of his own dining room chairs with one of his own socks stuffed in his mouth, nobody could accuse Jim of not having a sense of humour. He had warned Mara of what he was going to do, of course, and how disturbing it could be for her. Typical broad she was she plain ignored him and for her arrogance copped a glance at the first slide. Unsurprisingly, she averted her eyes rather hastily and never chanced another glance.

"Shame, I was just about to get to my party piece..." Jim tugged the sock from his mouth sharply, wrinkling his nose at the trail of saliva that followed it. "Right then Mr. Grant, the Kelpie, where is it!"

"L-Lost it..." Jim raised an eyebrow. That was not the answer he was hoping for.

"Where? How?" He kept his line of questioning short and to the point, he knew he only had so much time.

"River... Lea..." He droned out. "... Dunno how... Just..."

"The River Lea? Anything more exact?"

"Ten-fifteen miles... Lutonopolis..." A violent twitching crept into the corner of his eye, corners of his mouth began to dilate and froth. Jim shook his head, that can of grey matter had just expired.

"Come on, let's go." Jim nodded his head towards the door as he passed Mara.

~What about finding out who is behind the kidnapping?~ Mara asked hastily. ~Is he drooling?~

"He'll be fine." He snapped back casually. "Not gonna get any more information out of him at the moment though."

~But he's spasming...~

"Shock. Nothing else." Castro insisted. "He'll be fine. Just the images screwing with the old neural pathways. He'll recover, just not used to it see?"

~Are you sure?~ Her fingertips brushed against the shoulder of his trench coat.

"Trust me." He said with a wink.

~Are you not at least going to untie him?~

"Heh, course not. Best place for him." Jim opened the door, holding it open for her. "Besides, we got about a good 20-25 mile haul up the River Lea to attend. Sooner we leave, less likely our Kelpie has had a little snack in our absence..."

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 11:43 am  Reply with quote

"Another glorious day Sheldon!" Sung the man-thing cheerfully. "And not even a peep of a potential owner for you!"

The man-thing began a run a brush across the creatures still pristine white coat. If the beast had an ounce of sentimentality in it's warped body, perhaps it would have grown attached to the man-thing. He was so very gentle as the bristles paved their way through the carpet of hairs. So caring he was, his only real downfall was that he was over protective. And of course, some may say that he had a horrid choice in naming animals.

But no, the beast would never grow attached to this man-thing. It's hard was frozen towards him, he was prey. And the sooner this limb that dared approach his coat lay broken and mangled in the beasts might jaws, the better.

"My, my Sheldon..." The man-thing droned on in mock-astonishment. "You are malting a lot, aren't you?"

The beast snorted, turning it's beady eyes towards the dirt track that followed the banks of the River Lea. Something was kicking up dust, and grit, and clots of grass and mud... It's nostrils flared. A vile stench was in the air, it was diluted, covered with the sweaty musk of a man-thing near-corpse. But it was so distinct, so potent... It left a taste of bile in the beasts mouth.

"Huh, city folk..." The man-thing spat venomously, obviously noticing the beasts discomfort. "Actin' like they own the whole damn world... They'll get what's coming to them..."

It was coming closer... She was coming closer. For the first time since it had awoken, the beast felt the cold touch of fear run up and down its spine. It's head swam with her scent, her taste like vinegar on his tonge. She was coming for him...

... The Wandering One had found him.

--

Stuffed in the crowded cab of a generic white van, feeling more claustrophobic by the second, Mara tried to grin and bare it as Jim stared intently on what was left of the 'road' in front of them. In fact, it was nothing more then a dirt track, and it sure felt like it as well. Especially in the van, which Jim claimed to have perfect suspension before they left. She now wondered if it had any at all. Or indeed where it had even come from. He had claimed that it was 'borrowed', but refused to say where it was borrowed from. Typical.

~I never pegged you for an avid listener of classic music Mr. Castro...~ Mara commented casually. She flicked a half eaten Brighton Baked Beef burger away from her distastefully, only for it to bounce off the glove compartment and roll under the seat. She cringed, it had been there so long it was growing a white, fur coat.

"Heh, What can I say? I was a fan of Inspector Morse as a teenager..." He mused. Unlike Mara, he didn't seem to mind the cluttered, unhygienic environment. If anything, he seemed at home. Leisurely smoking a cigar with the window wide open. "I read all the books, then promptly forgot them. Got most of the series on video though, recorded off the telly of course."

~You always wanted to be a detective then?~

"Nah, I just figured the closer you are to the rules the easier it is for you to bend them..." He smiled briefly, drumming his fingers on the side of the van. "Heh, I even went off to Oxford... Enrolled in a police academy..."

~Oxford?~ Asked Mara skeptically. ~I do hope you won't start calling me 'Lewis' anytime soon...~

"Don't start..." He muttered. "But heh, I was all up for law bending... But the police? Law breaking sons of bitches almost every one of them."

There was an uneasy silence for a moment. Or rather, there was never any silence at all as the music droned on. Geneva Barritonia, if Mara wasn't mistaken. The spirit in human clothing bit her lip, she of all people knew a raw nerve when she stumbled up one. And she also knew from experience that it was best to leave them raw.

"There." Jim nodded to a small farmhouse on the side of the road. "That's the place, Fosters Farm."

~How quaint...~ Mara droned flatly. ~Remind me what this has to do with our investigation, or did you just have a craving for freshly toasted tea-cakes and homemade jam?~

"Found this in the local paper..." He dug out the latest copy of the Daily Rumour from his trench coat, tossing it on her lap. "Page 45, bottom left."

She scanned the page, catching her eye on a black and white picture. The scrawl next to it advertised a 'missing' purebred white stallion. Apparently found by the banks of the river Lea, no markings, no identification, not even a speck of dirt to denote where it came from. Mara rose an eye at Jim.

~You think that's it?~

"You're the expert, you tell me." Jim flicked the radio off as they pulled into the gateway of the farm. "Seems far too coincidental to me, sometimes you just get lucky though."

The van swung recklessly into the drive, just outside the front door. Jim stepped out of the van unshaken, and some may even go as far as saying unstirred. He was as focused and professional as always. Mara on the other hand, all but fell out. The tight confines, lack of suspension and sickening stench of cigar smoke had taken it's toll on her.The detective found that he had to give her a few minutes as she recovered, taking long, gasping breaths.

"Oh come on!" Jim stated eventually. "We've still got to drive home yet!"

The very thought of this tinged Mara's pale cheeks a shade of green. Jim just strolled along the drive, kicking up loose stones with his shoes, until he came to a typical cheap plastic door with a double glazed window placed in the centre. He tsked, they just didn't make farm houses like they used to. He rapped harshly on the door, ignoring the doorbell completely and waited for a reply.

"Yes?" It was a middle aged woman, plump, stubby, no grey hair though. More likely a wife than a mother. "Can I help you?"

"Jim Castro, RSPCA." He introduced himself, and then waved a hand in Mara's general direction. "That's my assistant Mara slumped in a heap over there. Excuse her, ate something that didn't agree with her environmental policies."

"Oh dear? Is there anything I can do for her?" Concern was stricken through her voice. Jim told her not to worry, she just needed to compose herself.

"We're here about the horse. We think we may be able to track the owner." He explained. "May we have a look at it?"

"See, I knew somebody would come for him! I tolds him her couldn't keep it, I tolds him somebody would come looking for him! I tolds him, I did!" She turned her head inside the house and then hollered. "ERNEST! Some people about the horse!"

A wiry framed man, very lank and not an ounce of meat on him, appeared at the door after some muttered cursing. He was typical of this area really, pale blue overalls, dull green wellingtons and a face only a mother could love. And a wife, apparently. Jim introduced himself again, pushing the formalities out of the way as quickly as he could, until eventually the man, Ernest, led him through the house. Much like the front door, it was a disappointment. Very modern, very bland, no old gas boilers or ancient pine kitchen counters in this home! Like Jim had thought earlier, they don't make them like they used to.

Eventually Jim found himself in a bogged down field. Or at least, what he thought was a field. It was mainly large areas of soaked mud with a few patches of green springing from it here and there. Jim could actually feel his socks becoming damp as he followed Ernest past the goat enclosure and what looked like a hastily constructed squatters settlement, he assumed it was a few sheds though. The man rested on the fence surrounding a very special prize, a beautiful white stallion.

"There he is!" Announced the farmer proudly, chest puffed out. "Sheldon! Ain't he a beaut?"

The detective watched carefully as the simpleton reached over to stroke the stallion's snout. He whispered sweat nothings as he did this. Words that Jim knew, Kelpie or no, the animal would never appreciate. He stared deep into the beasts eyes. They weren't lifeless, Jim had never expected them to be, but the life in them was distant. Like the light at the end of a long dark tunnel. As if the true form was being cloaked. It was, incidentally, the kind of barely-alive look he had often observed in Maras eyes. It piqued his suspicion, but he'd need to check more carefully.

"Can I get a closer look?" Jim inquired, leaning on the fencing. "Just to check out the details and all."

On the farmers agreement, Jim hopped over the fence. He approached the animal calmly, looking him up and down. He was muscular, finely formed. Seemingly perfect. Too perfect. He pulled off one of his gloves, running his bare fingers through the thick white fur. He raised an eyebrow when he saw he now had a handful of not-so-genuine horse hair clumped between his fingers. It was malting. Rapidly.

"Shit." He muttered under his breath, turning back to Ernest wearing a professional smile. "Yep, this is the one. We'll have our people take him away as soon as..."

Jim stopped in his tracks. Something was happening behind him, something he knew deep in the very lowest regions of his gut could only turn things for the worse. Mara was trudging her way across the mud-ridden expanse, closely followed by Mrs. Ernest... Jim had never caught her name. Behind her, the Stallion was started to breath heavily, its hooves grinding deep into the mud. It was getting uneasy, no doubt beginning to froth at the mouth. Jim turned around, he didn't want too. But it was what he imagined being involved in a car crash was like, even though your life is in immediate danger, you couldn't help but watch.

"Y-you're upsetting him..." Ernest blurted out, pointing accusingly at Castro with a hand that could give a washing machine a run for it's money on the vibration stakes. "He... He doesn't like you at all!"

He clambered over the fence, pushing Jim aside. He should have stopped him there, if he'd of had the wits about him he would have stopped him there! But as the events unfold in a slow, painful fashion, even Castro lost his focus. The farmer tried to calm his animal, but if anything all he did was make it more flustered. It reared it's self up on it's backlegs, as if trying to push Mara away. Jim suspected it didn't have the time of it's life at the Crypt.

"Well I won't let you take him!" Exclaimed Earnest, as he grabbed a hold of the beasts mane. "He's staying with me!"

Now, you've probably heard the phrase 'it all happened so fast' so many times before. But for Castro, it was like life had suddenly found the fast forward button. The fool climbed onto the back of the stallion, mounting it defiantly and urging it forward. Life flicked in those once dull eyes, a green fire blazing behind the black orbs. The beast finally had the foolish man-thing in it's grasp, directly where it wanted it. It didn't need to be urged on. It needed no demands from the pathetic creature on it's back. It just took off, galloping as fast as it could. It cleared the fence with ease, heading in a straight line towards the river.

"Humanity..." The detective tuted, whipping out his pistol. He took aim at the retreating beast, he knew a shot to the leg wouldn't stop it, but it might slow it down enough for...

~Stop!~ Mara pounced on him much like the wraith she was, jolting his gun arm so that the pistol spontaneously discharged. Castro cringed as he saw flecks of blood flying from the farmers eyes. ~Do not hurt it!~

"What are you doing woman!?" Jim said incredulously. "You know damn well it's going to kill him!"

~It's government property!~ She insisted.

"Good job I didn't vote then!" He removed his trenchcoat and pushed it into her arms forcefully. "Make yourself useful and look after that, I'm going for a swim."

--

It was so cold...

Devoid of the warmth that had stung at its snakelike body the last time. It by-passed the fur, freezing its skin and seeping through to wrap it's ice cold touch around its very bones.

It had been on the surface for too long.

The man-thing on its back let out a gargled cry, a plea for mercy, as the bulk of the disgusting little thing was thrown into the water. A swirl of red played before it's eyes, the taste of man-thing blood in the water. Something had damaged the man-thing and the very scent of its inner liquids drove it to a new height of desperate hunger.

The gills on the side of its neck kicked into action, the hair that coated its body becoming darker and darker. As if the stallion was a blank page that some careless writer had spilt a pot of ink over. Eventually it was black as night, and yet went even darker. Becoming the terrorising blackness that only exists in nightmares. Its rear end started to buck and twist, black legs melting into it's serpentine tale. As the fins began to reform, it began to kick it backwards and forwards, thrusting its self ever faster into the river.

It could feel the flesh on the man-things hands becoming as cold as the water around it as they rested on its back. It would loose its grip soon, and perhaps if it still had its wits about it would kick up to the surface. That could not happen, it would not happen. The beast had come too far for a petty mistake to foil its plans now.

Mid-dive it sumasaulted gracefully in the water. Allowing the man-thing to slide from its back for just a moment, s it pushed its self up towards the surface before turning full circle to clamp the man-thing between its hooves. Now it had it where it could not escape, and began to push further down until the man-things back hit the river bed. It had all but drown now, grasping on to the last little vestiges of life as the consciousness slipped from its body. The beast would watch it suffer until its dying breath, then dislodge its jaws and finally feast on fresh, man-thing meat.

The hunt was over. The prey was cornered. It had won.

Pain. So sudden. Stinging its flesh. Reeling through every single nerve in its body. Alarm bells running through its blood stream. A small, silver projectile propelled from the barrel of a man-thing invention. An aggressor had entered the river, a rival. Somebody who wished to take its chance to feed away from it! This man-thing would not survive the day, its bones would be grinded under hoof and its flesh torn from its body. It would suffer.

It swung its tail like an oversized whip, slamming it into the man-things chest before another projectile could be fired. It watched with starved eyes as all the air was knocked from its lungs. It clinged onto the device, but it would be useless to it now. It drew its hooves from its prey, twisting in the water to ram the hostile presence in the stomach with its head. The beast felt its bones crack under the force. It dislodged its jaws, gripping hold of the man-things legs, planning to drag it to the river bed and starve it of oxygen. But it found it couldn't.

A chill not associated with the temperature of the water ran down its spin, prickling every other part of its body as it went. It felt intoxicated, drowsy. A soft blue light slipped down its optical nerves, enfolding its mangled form.

~Sleeeeeeeep~

The soft lull of the Wandering One echoed around its ears as though they were deep, distant caverns. It felt its eyelids droop against its will, its jaws slipping from the man-thing. All feeling faded. There was nothing less but an unbearable tiredness, as the Wandering One rocked the proverbial cradle.

The Kelpie curled up on the river-bed, nestling its head in the silt. Mara ran her non-existent fingers through the creatures mane, willing it into a deeper slumber.

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"I'm afraid you're going to have to gloat from the other end of a ouija board!" - Devlin Waugh
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:55 pm  Reply with quote

~Three cracked ribs...~

The voice didn't so much swim through his mind as flood it. As if a dam had burst around the region of his ears and was finally letting in sound after... Who knew how long? Jim clenched his fist, feeling grass and mud and Earth... He was on land. That was a bonus. He was alive too, that was plain shocking. Although, he was in agony at the same time. His chest blazed like an inferno while there was a slight irritating twinge in his right leg. He also had the kind of headache that would make a leviathan bury it's head in the sand.

"That all?" He grunted as he tried to life himself up. The delicate touch of Mara pushed him back down.

~You need rest...~ She insisted. Jim raised a skeptical eyebrow as he saw she was bone dry. While, on the other hand, he was as drenched as a rat pulled from a blocked up sewer that had just burst. A fitting comparison.

"And lie on the river bank all day?" He droned sarcastically. "Yeah, that's an excellent idea."

She sighed and helped him to his feet. Remember that twinge he felt earlier? Well, as pressure was applied to his leg, it felt as if somebody slowly sprinkling a vast amount of salt onto the wound while another was giving it a good going over with the roughest sandpaper you ever felt. Jim tried to contain the pain, but couldn't contain the initial wince as the shock hit his system. And it hit harder than he expected.

~Make that three cracked ribs and a limp~ Mara mused coyly.

I take it old Ernest became has gone to the great farm in the sky?" She nodded solemnly. "Pity. Still, own stupid buggers fault really."

~They're taking the Kelpie away soon, it should sleep until then...~ She informed him. ~In the meantime, I think we should revisit Grant.~

"Whatever for?" Jim asked hesitantly, turning his gaze away from her for a moment.

~We need to find out who stole the Kelpie and bring them to justice.~ She explained. ~I feel Grant may be able to help.~

"We can't..." Jim took a short, sharp breath and rephrased. "I don't think we should bother the man twice in one day."

~I get the feeling he'll Co-operate this time around...~

"You're the expert..." Jim sighed. "But you're driving."

--

Next morning they were on the doorstep of 34 Barcelona Avenue once more. They had spent the night at Jim's place, Mara taking up residence on his decrepit sofa, or at least what passed for one. They hadn't spoken much since the incident with the Kelpie. Mostly small talk, and a quick introduction to the Gaffer. This time Mara rang the doorbell, Jim still holding his head in a gloved hand. He leaned casually against the wall, so casually you'd never suspect he was using it to support his injuries.

"Hello there dears." A stunted, withered woman appeared at the door. Aged, with pure white hair. Jim concluded this was Grant's mother. Light blue cardigan and all.

~Hello Mrs Grant, we're here to see your son...~ Mara said gently. ~Is he in?~

"Oh yes, Walter is here... But he's terribly poorly..." Jim snickered at the mentioned of Walter, at which Mara elbowed him in the ribs. Much to his displeasure.

The woman led them up to Grant's bedroom, politely asking them if they'd like some tea and biscuits before she left. Naturally, and much to Mara's reservations, Jim accepted. When she returned with ginger nuts, garibaldis and digestives in tow they ushered her away again and got down to business.

"Heh, bet this place is familiar territory to you." Jim said, glancing at a poster depicting Van Der Smut with a screwdriver at a babys throat. A look of distaste flashed across his face, before he turned his concentration to the fine china cup and the steaming liquid within.

~Oh hush.~ She tuted before laying herself out on the floor. ~Would you mind looking away?~

A flush of red tainted her pale cheeks as Jim raised a questioning eyebrow to this statement.

~I simply feel naked without my physical form...~

"Mar..." Jim sighed, carefully dipping a chocolate digestive in his tea. "There's simply nothing to look at!"

"It's the principle!" She insisted, heaving a long, drawn out sigh. Like a wisp of wind through overhanging branches.

She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. She opened one eye to glance at Jim, finding him inspecting a ginger nut intently before placing it back on the plate of biscuits. She closed it again and went very still. There was no movement in her body for a moment, no spasms, no wincing, just calm. And then a blue mist started to rise into the air. Not via the mouth or any other holes on the body, it was as if the gas was escaping from the very pores of her skin. Eventually the rough figure of a female was suspended before him. She moved her hands fluently to her hips, tilting her head over so slightly, but leaving pieces of her behind as she did.

~Happy?~

"Seen better." He commented half-heatedly.

~If I had hands I'd slap you.~ She fumed before gliding over to the body of Grant.

All the while they'd been there he'd just lay. Occasionally shivering and constantly drooling onto his pillow. There also seemed to be a very low level of tension and stress for a sick man. As if he wasn't all there, but for now Mara put this all down to her nerves. Riding shotgun with Jim had been an experience she didn't want to repeat anytime soon, and had all but shot her nerves to pieces.

She took her place on his stomach, straddling him much the same way she had the night she'd extracted his location. She became to ride, taking him gently. He was frail, and the last thing she wanted to do was cause him any shock. She placed her fingers at his temples, but felt nothing behind them. No build up of any kind of emotion she could read. She started to ride a little harder, finding him still unresponsive. She increased her tempo further, searching for any little scrap of feeling or thought, but even at the peak of her thrusting she found nothing.

And that is when it became apparent. Her hands fell from his temples dejectedly, but she could feel a new kind of stress in the air. A new kind of built up emotion. A new kind of anger, brimming under the crust of reason, waiting to explode and take out it's fury on something, anything.

Her own.

~BASTARD!~ She screeched at Jim, nearly bursting his ear drums. ~You complete and utter bastard!~

Her immaterial form seeped back into her body. Her property, as she referred to it. She dragged herself to her feet, glaring at Jim with those near dead eyes. He just looked at her calmly, dunking another biscuit. It was as if he knew exactly what was going to happen, but just didn't care! In fact, she wondered, in her rage, if he cared about anything but lining his own pockets. And it all infuriated her even more.

She pounced on him, delivered a vicious slap to the side of his face, knocking the plate of biscuits from his hand. She began to frail her arms at him in blind madness. Occasionally she connected, but more often then not he just blocked her assaults. Eventually she just couldn't take it anymore and collapsed into his arms, resting her head on his shoulder.

~You fucking bastard...~ She sobbed, Jim cautiously ran a few leatherbound fingers through her hair.

"He's braindead, isn't he?" She murmured in agreement. "Heh, always a risk... Probably never recover really."

~How can you be so candid about a man's life?~ She all but whispered. Jim detached her from his uncomfortable embrace, standing up to allow her to occupy the chair he was sitting in.

"Heh, funny that... You didn't care much when high ho Kelpie was riding off into the sunset with fresh meat." He observed casually, throwing open a window to light another cigar.

~I was just doing my job...~

"And so was I." He said bluntly, sending a ring of smoke into the outside world. "If a few people get hurt in the process, well, wrong place, wrong time. Way of the world, Mar... we don't all have the advantage of being shielded off from it in a nice, cosy little enclosed space."

~I just don't understand how you could lie to me like that...~

"Oh come on, Mar..." Jim sighed. "Don't get melodramatic on me. This relationship is only working."

~Even working relationships have trust...~ She frowned, picking up her own china cup and saucer.

"Look at it this way, if we'd never have seen Grant again you'd have gone back to your nice little enclosure in the Crypt none the wiser." He explained. "I was doing it for your own good. Bliss in ignorance."

~But two dead men...~ She said in a deadpan, dejected tone. ~... And what have we achieved?~

"Technically mine isn't dead." She rammed two fingers between Castro's ribs, after he'd recovered he wheezed out the following. "Ok, I deserved that..."

~At least we'll save on a months food...~ Mara sighed. ~Maybe more if we're economical~

"Wait..." Jim snapped his fingers, as if a sudden burst of inspiration had struck him like Zeus' lightening. "We've been going about this all wrong."

~All...~ Mara began, and then shook her head. ~What?~

"Has the Crypt been underfunded recently?" He asked.

~Yes. That fancy entrance doesn't pay for it's self.~

"Heh, then we've been overlooking the key suspect all along..." Jim smiled, it was the most genuine smile Mara had seen him wear. One of smug triumph. "Get me a phone, I got a call to make."

--

Dartmoor, The Cassandra Royal Institute for the Preservation and Investigation of Cryptozoology. Deep within the marshland, yet safe and secure in his office, Dudley Stokes sat. He was filing through the paperwork, the case of the missing Kelpie was all but wrapped up and now all that remained was to let the Detective run around on a wild goose chase until such time that he announces he no longer requires his services. Everything was going to plan, ticking like a perfectly made Swiss watch that had just been oiled.

There was a knock at the door.

"Hm?" He rumbled politely.

"S-sir..." One of his staff shuffled through the doorway. "Some men are here to see you..."

"I wasn't aware I had any appointments." The man gulped, Stokes had an awfully horrid feeling about this.

"They're GHOULS sir." Stokes frowned, and then collapsed onto his desk, burring his head in his bulky arms.

"Blast you Castro..." He muttered, before addressing his employee. "Send them in."

A cadre of men entered his room swiftly, one after the other. There were three of them, they always travelled in threes. All of them were attired in dusty grey hooded cloaks. The other other distinguishing details on them was their similarly covered gloved hands as their arms protruded from inside their cloaks and the gas-masks that adorned their faces. They were GHOULS, paranormal police from the farthest reaches of the Nether Voids. They enforced everybody, from humans right up to Gods. Some said they had even carried out sentences against animals, but that was pure rumour.

DUDLEY STOKES. One announced. He wasn't sure which one, nor was he sure it even mattered. YOU STAND ACCUSED OF THE MURDER OF ERNEST W. FOSTER THROUGH NEGLIGENCE AND POSSIBLY EVEN VIOLATION OF THE PARANORMAL CREATURES ACT 1974

YOU ALSO STAND ACCUSED OF NEGLIGENCE AND POSSIBLE VIOLATION OF THE AFOREMENTIONED ACT. Explained another.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING, BUT ANYTHING YOU DO SAY MAY RESULT IN YOUR STILL BEATING HEART POUNDING ON THE SCALES OF MAT

"Very well gentlemen. I'll come peacefully." Stokes said, raising to his feet. "But do ensure that somebody looks after my beloved Eliza for me."

With that, Stokes was accompanied from the Crypt with the GHOUL's. But Buggane's, especially educated ones like Stokes, had long memories. And he would not forgot this. He wouldn't make Castro suffer, as such, but he swore he'd show him levels of pain that he could never even imagine existed.

--

Back at Jim's apartment, Mara was preparing to leave. She hadn't come with much anyway, indeed she rarely seemed to change clothes. Of course, what did it matter? They weren't covering her body anyway, just her property. Jim leaned against the door and watched her say her farewells to the Gaffer. If there was one thing that Jim couldn't stand, it was people treating him like a dog. It made him complacent, gave him an excuse to lie on his stomach all day and stare into space. But even he had to admit, she had a way with him. An obvious passion for animals.

"Going back to Dartmoor?" Jim asked casually as she scratched him behind an ear.

~No..~ She admitted hesitantly. ~... I'm not sure where I'm going to go...~

"heh, well, if you're ever in town, drop me a line." She smiled and strolled gracefully over to him.

~It hasn't been a pleasurable experience, Mr. Castro... Jim~ She began. ~But it's been an interesting one.~

She kissed him lightly on the cheek, a smile tugging on her pale lips. Jim gave her an appreciative nod and opened the door for her.

"Listen, about Grant..." Jim began, but she hushed him.

~Don't spoil it.~ she whispered, before closing the door behind her. Jim sighed.

"... I'm sorry." He said to himself, running his fingers down his cheek but finding no tell-tale mark of where she'd made contact. Walked out on him, just like all the broads in his life.

The phone began to ring on his desk, he glanced at it and decided to let it ring. Eventually the answer machine kicked in.

'Mr. Castro, this is Reverend Parsons from the East Anglia Seeing Light Bible reading group. I fear one of our members may be...' There was a gulping sound and then his tones became hushed. Possessed. Please hurry, we fear it could be critical...'

Jim couldn't help but laugh. Possession. Of all the nonsense that had ever been ingrained in public knowledge, that had to be one of them. Human skins fit demons like a badly made suit without all the guts and gubbins inside, and as for ghosts.. They're undead for a reason. It was utterly hilarious, but obviously worth some money.

"Come on you." He said to the Gaffer. "We're going to create some problems under Parson's nose."

He had once said to Mara that Ignorance was bliss. And he now realised that there was never a truer word spoken. Other people's ignorance certaintly proved blissful for him.

The End.

_________________
"I'm afraid you're going to have to gloat from the other end of a ouija board!" - Devlin Waugh
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