The Short Stories
The short stories of Judah Lamey,
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
Glint: Private Eye
Odds are, if you have found your way here into this rambling narrative of a story, that you have heard of me. For the few of you who may be new around here, the name is Glint and as the peeling paint on the frosted glass of my office door behind you so boldly announces, I am a private eye. Somehow, through means that I am still not entirely sure of, I wound up the assistant mayor of our fine city here. If we are being entirely honest, I am not sure it wasn’t a plot of Mayor Lombard to keep a closer eye on me.
How about I stop breaking the fourth wall here, and you can have a seat and watch my story unfold, besides I need to moodily stare into the curling smoke of my pipe while appearing deep in thought. Most of the time, this is just to give a good impression to potential clients, but today I actually have a good amount of deep thoughts to be mulled over.
There is that old adage, or perhaps it is an axiom I never knew the difference, that it never rains but it pours. It is patently untrue, but somehow it survives the turning of the calendar pages year after year, and is muttered with a shake of the head like a useless emotional bandaid. My particular reason for reviving the age thin adage would be that last month I didn’t have as much as a missing cat case, but at the moment I was wearing holes in my shoes working on two rather large cases.
The first one, and perhaps the most nefarious would be the sabotage of the Science Center. The owner Blue had nothing to gain from the sabotage, and everything to lose so more often than not this would exempt her from the suspect list. Now I say more often than not, because there is more going on at that Science Center than meets they eye, and Blue is hiding something. My initial interview with her was less than enlightening, it was unusually formal, and more than a little awkward. At first I took her poor eye contact as evasion, but came to the conclusion it was just a conversational style, at least when she was dealing with private eyes. It was when I was strategically steered away from the idea of exploring the Museum for clues, and then also casually dissuaded from getting my hands on the security camera footage that I started to be more than a little suspicious of Blue.
Which leads us to my second case, perhaps not very nefarious, but still more than a little disconcerting. Someone broke into Struve’s Hobby Farm and released a virus that infected the animals, temporarily giving them surprisingly accurate faces of Quillville citizens. Personally I found myself staring back from a goat, which surprised me more because it wasn’t a donkey. I thought for sure I would have been a jack ass, but maybe I am not so bad as I think, that or I shouldn’t take life affirmations from virus infected animals.
My pipe smoke swirled rhythmically as my thoughts traced the outline of my two mysteries. Until, with a bang, the door to my office slammed open, and an overly large man forced his way inside, wiping sweat from his brow with the back of one hand.
“My name is Lockjaw, and I’m here to hire you.”
Looking over the intruder of my thoughts with a practiced eye I made more than a few deductions, and I disliked him immediately, and not just because he sounded like a B list villain from a Disney movie. Though the necessity of keeping the coffee bean jar full meant I needed to take cases from people I didn’t like every now and then. Though if he wanted me to find puppies for a coat I was out.
“What can I do for you Lockjaw.” I said, setting down my pipe.
In what I guessed was an attempt at a power play to keep me off balance, he picked my styrofoam coffee cup off the desk and smirked at me, as if daring me to say something about it.
“First, that’s rude, second that’s not coffee.”
He looked at the cup with confusion, in time for an iridescent red Mantis Shrimp claw to burst through the side of the mug. Lockjaw gingerly set the cup back on the desk, and as the arm retracted a small eye filled the hole, looking over the sweaty man with distain.
With a smile I gesture to the cup, “That is a witness for one of my cases, they are helping me out a bit. But you didn’t come here to get assaulted by crustaceans.”
To his credit Lockjaw gathered himself and clearing his throat, he pulled a folded sheaf of papers from his back pocket and handed them across to me. “This is my book, I just finished it last month, and already their is someone out there trying to claim it is their own.”
Flipping through the pages, I read excerpts at random getting a feel for the book.
“And you want me to figure out who they are?”
“I know who it is.” Lockjaw handed me another piece of paper, this one with a photo and a name. As Assistant Mayor I find myself out walking the streets of Quillville quite often, and as odds would have it the smile in the picture was not unknown to me.
“So, what exactly do you need me for then?” I flipped through the pages with a bit more determination.
Lockjaw gave a small cough and then slid a manila envelope with a suspiciously cash like bulge in it, “You are going to persuade them to stop making a fuss about this book, drop their claims and walk away.”
Nodding toward the envelope I ask, “And that is for?”
The grin he gives me is lop sided and more a smirk than a smile. “Consider that a bonus just for hearing me out.”
His grin falters a little as I pick the envelope up, open it and pull out the money. Apparently he was hoping for a little more cloak and dagger, or perhaps a little more appreciation from me.
While I thumb through the stack of bills I turn partially toward my open office window and give a loud, shrill whistle. Lockjaw balks at the noise and I can see him beginning to frown at my lack of respect for him and his sweaty money. I smile up at him and this apparently was not what he was hoping for.
His grin vanishes as he attempts to lean ominously over my desk. “You listen here you…”
Whatever insult he was about to try out is abruptly silenced by the arrival of a raven landing on the window sill with a less than delicate crunch of wood.
I quickly jot down two very similar notes on ripped off pieces of paper while Lockjaw is attempting to regain his mental balance and process the arrival of a raven, who at the moment appears to be studying him quite intently. Another short whistle gets the raven’s attention and with a hop it is on the edge of my desk, begrudgingly letting me tie the notes onto its legs. Scratching the bird behind its head I whisper a few words to it before letting it go.
“Lockjaw, you have made a few mistakes here today, and I’m not going to lie, they are going to have unpleasant ramifications. See first off, you didn’t do nearly enough homework on me, second you brought a copy of this book here.” Standing up I look him square in the eye as I hold out my arm and let fly my raven. With a practiced motion the raven flaps once into air, and then folds its wings diving out the window. With my other hand I held the picture he had brought in.
“See, I know this person, I have talked to them before, and oddly enough I have talked to them about the book they were writing. The book they took years of their life writing.”
Lockjaw tried to stammer out something indignant but I didn’t give him the chance.
“Okay fair is fair, in skimming the book here I saw a particularly noticeable cliffhanger. No author would forget one of their own cleverly constructed cliffhangers, so finish the sentence for me. Tiffany stood looking down at the smoldering wreckage of the car and knew…”
His mouth opened and closed a few times, not too dissimilar to a fish caught out of water. No doubt his thoughts were also quite similar to aforementioned doomed fish.
I continued. “Being assistant mayor has taught me a thing or two, and one of those things is delegation. Even the occasional necessity of delegating things you yourself want to do. See my raven there just left on a mission to find two individuals. One is a rather shady peace keeper by the name of M. Damon Baker, who upon hearing your crime, may leave their badge in the car in exchange for a sock full of nickels when they catch up to you. Second is Quillville’s very own Red Quill, who’s punishment style is a little more…” I paused as if searching for the perfect word. “creative. Now nothing would give me more pleasure than to take you outside and demonstrate for you the nuances of a proper curb stomp, however I do have quite a lot to do, and not a lot of time, so if I were you…”
Reaching a hand out, Lockjaw attempted to grab back the money. With a smile I pulled it out of his range, “You clearly said this was bonus for hearing you out, which I did. Payment for services rendered and all that.”
Bravery and cowardice warred inside him, but not for as long as one might think, apparently the troops on the bravery side of that fight were few and far between. Turning he bolted for the door, leaving me with my quiet contemplations once again.
Settling back into my chair I relit my pipe and after a few puffs had a suitable cloud for staring into. While Blue was in the overall scheme of things proving more suspicious than helpful, there was one lead that she had let slip. The virus would take a week to show its effects, and would have had to be passed on from other animals. Counting back the days gave me a rough idea of when it would have had to be administered. To get away with such a villainous act, would require a substantial distraction. I made a few phone calls, and ran into some dead ends before a thought struck me, what about the shindig at Helmkamp’s? There was a huge turn out, and it would have been later at night, so if I were going to choose a time to sneak through town, that would have been it.
Rummaging through my desk I produced a map of Quillville and spread it out on my desk. Grabbing a pencil I marked Helmkamp’s Whiskey Bar on the map, and then also the Hobby Farm. The shindig at the Whiskey Bar had been a wonderful chaos, turning into a bit of a spontaneous follow train sort of party. Anyone seen on the street, was pulled into the festivities. So our culprit would have wanted to stay out of sight, that meant ether the subterranean tunnels, or the rooftops. The tunnels were, in my opinion cooler, but far harder to hide in, which really only left the rooftops.
There were two possibilities for witnesses if this were the case, one of them was The Red Quill, who at the moment was probably chasing down a particularly sweaty quarry. Closing my eyes I did my best to piece together the sounds and smells of Helmkamp’s, skimming through my memories for who I had seen. Red Quill had indeed been there, in her civilian identity. So that really only left me one option for who to check with. After donning my hat and coat, I pull a book from my shelf revealing a pair of gleaming brass knuckles that had been hidden behind it. Pocketing them the thought crossed my mind, would they still be considered brass knuckles if they were made out of pure silver?
“Come on Monty, we are going to see a person about a dog. Or in this case, perhaps it would be more accurate to say we are going to see a dog about a person.”
The Lycanthropes of Quillville spend the daylight hours in a seedy underground bar waiting for night to descend before heading out to roam the rooftops. They are mostly a good sort if a little on the rough and tumble side. As I walk into the bar with the less than subtle handle of “The Lair” every head turns, and every conversation stops. It is impossible to tell who is a werewolf while in human form but it is a pretty good bet that most or all of them are.
“Good afternoon, I’m here to ask you all a few questions.”
One particularly large individual snorts at this, and another gives a low chuckle.
It starts almost as a ripple, a shiver rolling through the dozen or so individuals gathered in the bar. Most all of them start to roll their necks or shoulders, as the transformation takes them. The one who had snorted at me holds my eyes, as he sits stock still, unmoving. One hand over the back of their chair, the other holding a sweating bottle of beer on the table. Hair slithers out of his skin, as their mouth and nose elongate into a vicious looking muzzle, teeth pulling at their lips. Without so much as a twitch his transformation takes completely, and only then does he raise the bottle to his now wolfish face and take another drink. Licking his lips the werewolf sets their beer down and smiles at me.
“I am not going to lie, that is quite impressive, and not a little intimidating. But I wouldn’t have come down here if I didn’t have an offer.”
Gesturing with their bottle the apparent leader of the wolves allows me to continue.
“How about this, If I can knock one of you out with one hit then you tell me what I want to know. If I can’t you all get one free hit on me.”
There was a collective rasping laugh that rolled through the dim bar, and for the first time the leader spoke, “One hit each?”
“That is the deal, not in the face, and you have to leave me living at the end, but it won’t come to that anyway.”
“Deal.” The leader then barked a few words and another werewolf rose from a table to the side. I looked over, and blinked, it was apparent that the leader may not have been the largest of the wolves after all. The beast who approached me, was immense. Coarse hair coated a chest and arms thick with rippling muscle. Even the wooden floor groaned at the presence of this nightmare made flesh. With a grin across it’s scarred muzzle the beast reached out to flex and curl their elongated and claw tipped fingers. Mocking me, the creature even leaned down a bit, turning its head to present me with the side of its massive jaw. This elicited another round of chuckles from the pack.
Cracking my neck, I shook out my shoulders and brought my firsts up in front of my face. Without preamble I snapped a right jab out to the side of the wolfs face, but instead of connecting, I simply turned my fist over and opened my hand. Shimmering in all of its iridescent beauty was my temporary companion Monty. In that flash of a moment I could have swore I saw it smile. There was a sound not dissimilar to breaking a handful of sticks over ones knee, followed by a rather large thud, and then an all consuming silence
“Now, before you gather up your friends teeth and try to bring them around back into the land of the conscious. I have a few questions.”
The leader gave another booming laugh, and with a shake of their head their wolf form melted away. Monty was an instant celebrity, and the leader gladly answered my questions. It turns out that they were indeed out wandering the rooftops on the night in question, but none of them had seen anything out of the ordinary, they hadn’t even smelled anyone, or even the trail of anyone.
At first I thought I was on the wrong lead entirely, until one of the younger lycanthropes piped up. “It could have been that Bines fellow.”
The other wolves growled slightly at this, then went on to explain to me that one of the teachers at the Quillville high school, a one Marcus Bines, had suddenly stopped having a scent altogether. They had noticed this because their sense of smell was as sharp or sharper than their eyesight, meaning any discrepancy between the two stood out like flair on a moonless night.
The unconscious and largely forgotten body on the floor gave a groan, and I decided that it might be best if Monty and I were gone by the time they came fully around. As I walked the gas lit streets of Quillville I mulled over this potential new lead. Marcus Bines was not an unfamiliar name to me, as he was currently being considered for Education Minister. He was a good sort, and I would have never pegged him for the type to cause such trouble, but this was a city of writers, and well, we are far from an easy crew to draw a bead on. Laughter and music drifted out of the The Good Ideas Bookstore & Bad Decisions Coffee Bar as I walked by, and for a moment I was tempted to stop in, but I really did need to get on with my task. Then the cup in my hand gave a shudder. Reaching down I popped off the lid and looked in on Monty. The mantis shrimp had one of its eyes to the hole it had made and was tapping the side of the cup with one of its claws. Knowing I must look like a mad man I seemingly consulted my coffee and then slowly took a step closer to the open coffee shop.
Inside one of the laughing patrons turned in their seat and Monty went ridged, their claw starting to drag down the inside of the cup, grooving the styrofoam. Making a mental note, I slipped the lid back on the cup and continued on my way. Very interesting, it seemed that bringing Monty along had turned out to be a good idea for more than one reason now. Looks like I have a lead on Blue’s case as well, but first things first.
On the horizon the sun was just beginning to flirt with the landscape when I made it to outside Bines office, it was on the ground floor and had a beautiful view of a small park. I watched for a moment until he stepped out, before hurrying through the park and to his window. Monty twitched excitedly in the cup, the little guy had gotten the taste for destruction fast.
“Subtle has its place to Monty.” I muttered to the cup as I slid a small shim from within my jacket and proceeded to jimmy the window lock with a practiced motion. I wasn’t always a mayor after all.
When Bines returned with a steaming mug in his hand, he gave a small start at seeing me sitting at his desk, smiling. To his credit, he recovered quickly and merely reached up to adjust his glasses before speaking.
“Mayor Glint! What a surprise to see you in my office, at my chair. I just stepped out for something to drink, would you like some?”
“Assistant Mayor, and that’s not the reason I am here today, have a seat.” I gesture to one of the chairs across from Bines’s desk.
He gave a snort of amusement, before playing along with a shrug. There was something in his slight smirk that made me like the fellow even more. I enjoyed pulling this stunt on suspects, it usually threw them off kilter. They would get angry or scared, but they would let something slip. Bines just seemed amused. Odds are you didn’t get to be in line for the job of Education Minister without having a high tolerance for putting up with shenanigans.
“I am here to ask you some questions about the events surrounding Struve’s Hobby Farm and the virus outbreak. Whoever pulled that caper was very clever and very careful. However, I am kind of good at what I do, and the trail led me here to your door.”
I gave a small shrug and a smile but left the conversational ball in his court.
Adjusting his glasses again he smiled, “To be honest, I have heard a little talk around town that you were behind that, I mean Glint may be your first name, but we all know your last name. Though if you are here, it is unlikely that rumor is true. So what exactly led you here?”
“It seems there was a good chance that the perpetrator used the rooftops to get across town on the night in question, and while the lycanthropes were out in force howling at the moon as they do, they didn’t smell anything, oddly enough there was almost a suspicious lack of scents. Something that reminded them of you.
Bines shook his head and laughed. “I said there was talk around the town that suspected you, but personally I had my own suspicions. There is a student of mine that I used to teach back in my Quillville High days, and they were a well known prankster then. Used to let down the air in the principal’s tires, that sort of thing. Also, they did seem more than a little keen in my scent masking formula a couple weeks ago.”
Standing from behind his desk I tipped my hat to Bines, “Well then, have a great evening, I am off to…” I left the sentence hang, an unasked question. Bines smiled and gave me a name, one that I was quite familiar with, and perhaps one that should have been higher on my suspect list. I bid him farewell and assured him, that even with all this, he had my vote for Education Minister.
I had to hurry across town to catch up to my prey, unfortunately this meant borrowing a penny farthing from my friend Susan Waters, why on earth she had a soft spot for these deathtraps was beyond me, they didn’t even have cupholders. Balancing precariously on a very small seat atop a very large wheel with Monty’s cup clenched in my teeth I rattled my way as quickly as I could across town, cursing Susan’s taste with every one of the, what had to be millions, of bumps along the way. I nearly crashed the thing out of spite when I finally pulled up to the end of my journey. It took my a solid minute to calm Monty down, and sort my hat and coat back into place. Hard to look like a hardboiled detective while riding one of those things.
Walking down the street through the gas lit fog brought a smile to my face, this was my favorite time of day, and it couldn’t be beat for theatrics. A figure resolved itself through the fog, their back to me as they locked a pair of large double doors. When they turned and made eye contact with me, be it my smile, or my very presence here, I could see them put the pieces together. I knew I had the right person.
“Good Evening Alexandra Peel, we need to have a talk.”
Here you will find a growing collection of my Short Stories. From pieces I wrote for competitions, to some of my world building stories. Some of the longer ones, will be broken down and released as Chapters.