Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part I

       If anyone had told me two years ago I would one day be married, have a child, and be living in a big old mansion, I’d have told them to quit snorting the white powder. Of course, there’s no way they would’ve have known a man who’d fought in the Civil War, and was for all intent and purposes a vampire, would be partly responsible for all of this. It still seems like some weird dream, or like I stepped into the Twilight Zone, but it’s all real. And I’m truly happy about it.

     Not that things don’t get kind of bizarre on a semi-regular basis. Take tonight for example, my baby boy had been fussing and feeling poorly lately. So I took him to Dr. Jack a couple of days ago, who said it was an ear infection and gave me instructions and a prescription for it. Of course, this means I’ve been keeping odd hours at night to administer the medicines. Needless to say my he wasn’t happy when I woke him up to administer more medicine and it took me a good hour to get him back to sleep. Richard offered to take over for me, but I insisted. He even offered to keep me company  while I walked our boy back to sleep. He’s really turning into a great dad. And as much as I appreciated his offer, I sent him back to bed. He’d had a really long day already, plus sometimes a girl wants to deal with things on her own. My home life had been pretty messed up and I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as my so-called parents. The moment I knew I was pregnant I swore to do a lot better than them, and I like to think I’ve been succeeding.

      Anyway, I’d just put my little boy down again and realized I was a bit hungry. Looking over at the clock on the night table I saw it was only 1:30 in the morning. Not too late for a snack, I thought and headed downstairs.

      I’d gotten halfway down the  staircase when I saw the front doors open and a young woman entered. In the dim lighting I couldn’t make out the features and thought it must be either Marisa or Lisa my two, much younger, best friends. Both of them are barely twenty but in spite of a decade difference between us we’re tight. They love hanging out with me and both of them are great with the baby. The two of them also have the hots for Nathan, the Civil War veteran/vampyre I mentioned earlier, who owns this big old mansion. He’s also one of the best friends/guardian angel any of us could ever ask for.

      I know Nathan gave both girls their own key, so naturally I thought it must be one of them. Upon seeing that our late night visitor had blonde hair, I figured it must be Marisa (Lisa’s a brunette). Then realizing what time it was I immediately started hurrying down the rest of the stairs thinking something bad must have happened.

     “Marisa?” I called out only to have our guest look up.  It wasn’t Marisa, instead it was someone I hadn’t expected to see again anytime soon. “Nathan… I mean Nadine?” I stammered for a second.

      Okay, now I’m going to take a step back for a moment and explain a few things. Like everyone else who knows about Nathan being a vampyre and keeps an e-journal, blog, or an e-diary, these entries I make are set to private. Only someone knows, or will one day know, about Nathan gets to read them. We do this because we want to keep our memories and experiences with him alive even when (God forbid) we can’t remember, or are no longer part of this world. Although in the former case I don’t think we’ll ever fall to dementia or Alzheimer’s because Nathan wouldn’t let that happen. He’s got abilities like you’ve never seen and although he can’t hold off death (except for maybe himself), he’s learned to use them in so many ways to help people. And  want these memories to be available for my son and his children so they know what a difference this man has made, not only my life but other peoples’ as well.

    One of Nathan’s more fascinating abilities is of course shape-shifting. But unlike what you see in the movies where a vampire simply turns into mist, or a bat, or some other animal, he’s taken this ability to a whole other level. He’ll alter parts of his body, like turning just his legs into individual puppy dogs to play with Lisa’s little brother, or alter his facial features to look like another person. However, even more impressive is his skill at changing his entire body  into that of a very attractive woman. Mind you, Lisa, Marisa and I had a hand in his learning how to do it convincingly. The three of us gave him some serious coaching just two months ago when he was helping hunt down a cannibalistic serial killer.

     The result was the creation of ‘Nadine’ the female persona he was wearing tonight. Upon seeing ‘she’ was back my first thought was, ‘Oh dear God, don’t tell me was there another maniac on the loose?’ It must’ve shown on my face, because he/she… dammit, I’m going to call Nadine a she for this entry, mainly because she didn’t change back to normal all the time I was with her.

      Anyway, Nadine smiled as if she’d read my thoughts and said, “It’s okay, Penny. I’m not on a case or anything like that. I’ve just been doing some… research of my own.”

     “Thank God,” I sighed and looked at her again. I have to admit, the girls and I had done a damn good job on teaching Nadine how not only how to look but act like a woman. Even as we were talking, the mannerisms and way she held herself was just right. Which puzzled me even more.

     Had ‘Nathan’ taken a liking to being a woman sometimes or was there something more going on here? She had just mentioned something about research, so I asked, “Trying to find out how the other half lives?”

       “In more ways than one,” Nadine sighed raising a tired hand to her head.

      I knew that tone and the gesture. I’d seen and done it myself more times than I’d like to count. Putting an arm around her shoulders I said, “Let’s go to the kitchen and I’ll make us something and you can tell me all about it.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part II

            Darlene rolled her eyes at her brother and sighed, “I don’t know why he’d need a haircut. Does it really matter?” Then before he could answer, I saw her expression change. “Actually, that is a pretty good question. Dad…?”

            Holding up my hands I said, “Don’t ask me, I’m just here for Nana’s cookies and hot chocolate.” I wasn’t about to admit that I’d never really thought about it myself.

            Just then Nathan, who was not three feet away, turned to my grandmother saying, “You know I could’ve sworn I’d walked in with a bunch of people, was I just imagining things? Or did I suddenly turn invisible?”

            I watched her pat his arm and say, “No, you’re just getting to that age when everyone thinks you’ve gone deaf or your mind has gone wandering and you aren’t paying attention. I get that a lot.”

            “Not from me!” I called out loudly.

            Nathan looked around, “Did you hear something?”

            “Aw it’s just this old house creaking, or my joints, one or the other,” Nana told him.

            “Must be the house,” he assured her. “I told your dad when he was building it to use hickory but as he pointed out it was more expensive and harder to get here in Connecticut.”

            Nana laughed as she led us down the hallway.

barberspole

            There was an old barber pole on the wall, next to the door that led downstairs.

            My grandfather had been the town’s barber for over sixty-five years, before he finally ‘retired’. The shop was still in business but being run by one of my cousins who specialized in not only classic haircutting, but the more modern ‘faded’ style as well. I myself spent a lot of time in grand-dad’s shop when I was a boy and people often thought I’d follow in his footsteps. In reality, I was studying how he interacted with his customers since he always had a way with them. I learned an awful lot about putting people at ease and drawing them out from watching him, which has been a great asset to my medical practice.

            I slipped past Nathan as we reached the door to offered Nana my arm which she accepted, then we all headed downstairs.

            “Here we go through ‘Dr Who’s Tardis’ again,” I heard my son Joe murmuring behind me, only to be shushed by his sister saying, “Oh, shut up, I like that show.”

            “That’s just because you think the current one is cute,” he shot back.

            Glancing over my shoulder I saw Darlene make a face, “Ew… I’ll take David Tennant over him any day of the week. I mostly like the companions, especially Amy…”

            At that point Nana chimed in with, “I still prefer Tom Baker myself.”

            That earned several groans from the rest of us, although deep down I had to admit she had a point. He was a master of comic timing and seriousness when it came to the role of the Doctor. I would’ve said more but we’d just reached the bottom of the stairs and my grandfather’s ‘shop’.

            Even though my dad, Nathan, and I helped set the place up for him, I always found myself transported back to my childhood every time I came down here.

the-bookcase-and-barber

           One wall of the room was dominated by a large mirror, with shelving covered by numerous barber implements, stood before two chairs that had come from the shop itself. There was also a small flatscreen television staring down from above the mirror. In short, there were also other chairs and tables around the room, but to all intent and purposes, the place was a mini-barber shop. This had been my grandmother’s idea after a number of former clients kept pestering her husband for haircuts because he was the only one who knew how they liked their hair done. Plus, they missed having their regular bull sessions with him.

            But most of all, she knew my grandad missed keeping busy.

          My grandfather was lounging in the older of the two chairs, when we came down. Getting out of one of the chair, where he’d been reading the paper, he stood up. “About time you got here Nathan, I was about to…” he began then spotted me and my family. “Oh good, lord you brought the entire crew with you. Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me tonight.”

          TO BE CONTINUED…

        *Author’s Note: Sorry for the short entry. I was working on it this past weekend and had to go to get some routine lab work done (which took a couple of hours… groan). Plus family and a bad cold took more out of me.  Didn’t want to leave you all with nothing, so I figured a short entry was better than nothing, especially when I’m trying to do at least at two entries a month. To be concluded in two weeks… unless the story decides it wants to be longer.

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part I

Cheryl and I took our kids, Joe and Darlene, to visit my grandparents at their home this evening. They only live on the other side of town, but with the snow on the ground walking with two teenage grumbling the whole time would’ve tested the patience of saint. It never ceases to amaze me how after spending all day out in the cold with their friends, our children can be all set to head outside once more in spite of the dropping temperature as soon as they finish eating dinner. Their energy and enthusiasm seems limitless. At least, until we remind them they’re supposed to go somewhere with us.

In that moment, all life seems to suddenly evaporate from their bodies and they’re too tired to go anywhere. Or they’ve just remembered an important paper they need to do for school which requires them to stay home, and maybe have a friend or two over to assist them in their research. It is a condition that we in the medical profession have yet to fully analyze and come up with a name for it. I have on more than one occasion considered preparing a paper on this phenomenon for publication. However, the thought of spending hours trying get teenagers, who are NOT mine therefore I have no authority over them, to answer even the simplest of questions quickly cures me of such urges.

Well, after reminding them of how often they’d assured us that they were fully caught up on all their schoolwork, and that we’d discussed the visit several times earlier in the week, they finally went to fetch their coats. I swear it was like watching a the old television series, “The Six Million Dollar Man” or “The Bionic Woman”, where the heroes are filmed in slow motion when they’re supposed to be moving inhumanly fast. Only in my kids case they really were moving that slow, it took them almost a full fifteen minutes just to find their coats and another five to put them on.

Anyway, we finally got them out the door and on the road. We were just pulling up to my grandparents place, when we saw a familiar figure knocking on their front door. It was Nathan.

From the backseat I heard Joe say, “Since when does he know Great-Nana and Great Pop-Pop?”

“Um… I don’t know, maybe because he’s been watching over our family for generations like he told us back in September,” Darlene shot back, in a sweet-sarcastic tone only a sibling can deliver. A second later, she was out of the car dodging snowballs from her brother who’d raced after her.

All of this happened before I’d even killed the engine of the car, leaving me once more to ponder that paper about energy levels in teens. Perhaps I could just try an observational study? I turned to Cheryl who I noticed already her seatbelt unbuckled but hadn’t even opened the door on her side. “Is something wrong?” I asked her.

Turning she gave me a look of disbelief. “I’m not going out into the middle of those two having a snowball fight.”

A second later, a rogue snowball struck the window, followed by a muffled, “Sorry Mom,” from our son Joe. His aim has never been great when it comes to throwing, which is why he’s never made it onto the school baseball team. Darlene on the other hand has a wicked throwing arm from two seasons on the softball team. Which she proceeded to demonstrate by nailing her brother while he was a distracted.

Joe quickly retaliated with a rare well-aimed shot at his sister, who barely managed to dodge the attack unlike my grandmother who had just come out onto the steps to greet all of us.

Thank God Nathan was right there. He could’ve easily just caught the snowball, but it would’ve exploded in his hand, showering Nana in the process and he knew it. So he good-naturedly stepped in front of her and took the hit, which almost knocked the long stocking cap off his head. I saw him say something to my grandmother and then he turned on my offspring yelling in his Groucho Marx  voice, “Of course you realize, this means war!”

However, before he could reach down to grab some snow, Nana tapped him on the shoulder and said something to him. Of course I couldn’t hear from inside the car, but I saw him straighten up and give a dramatic sigh indicating hostilities would remain on hold.

At that point, Cheryl finally opened her car door and stepped out. I quickly followed and joined her and our children who were already greeting their great-grandmother.

Nathan was standing respectfully to the side and I joined him.

“Nice kids you got there, Jack,” he remarked, still in his Groucho voice. Taking off his hat and shaking the snow from it, he continued, “Attacking bystanders like that. What’s this world coming to? Don’t answer, I’ll tell you what it’s coming to…”

I was thankfully spared the rest of his performance by Nana’s voice calling out, “Nathan! Joseph’s expecting you downstairs in his ‘shop’. You know he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. And it looks like he may have some other customers who need haircuts as well.” That last remark was aimed at my son, my grandfather’s namesake. Then I noticed she was eyeing me as well.

“I think we’re expected,” Nathan observed in his own voice, and I nodded.

As we followed my grandmother inside, I heard my son saying to his sister, “Wait a minute. With all the things he can do with his body, why does Uncle Nathan need a haircut?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

“The Cannibal Killer” Part – V: Nathan’s Private E-Journal June 18th, 2016

****NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  A quick reminder that this story is darker and more graphic than most previous entries as it deals with violence against women, as well as  a very deranged mind.  There will be fewer images in this entry than usual as I do not wish to cause ‘triggers’ in readers.  If you feel just reading about violence will trouble you,  I recommend possibly taking a pass on this one.  The story will hopefully be concluded in two more installments – Thank you.****

I’ve seen inside peoples minds before, especially when I take a blood “donation” straight from them. And if I’m putting some of myself into them, I see it ALL. Which is why I usually prefer my intake to be from bags, or in a rare case a transfusion. Still, it’s not always a bad thing to get a donation directly from someone close. I get to know them more intimately in ways others don’t. And considering my long existence I can keep their memories alive and share those treasures with the donor’s descendants for many years to come, so they are never forgotten.

However, there have been occasions where I’ve been inside the minds of certain people and am forced to carry their memories with me, because I cannot forget… anything! Oh, I may have a hard time recalling the information at will, but it’s all there, hidden behind doors and piles of other recollections. And try as I might, I can only bury those darker items so deep.

I only pray I can bury the things I saw tonight so deep that they will never plague my slumbering moments…

As I said, I normally I only see inside another person’s mind when I take from them, but tonight I learned it could happen when someone took from ME!

Thanks to the mist I’d released earlier I knew the assault was taking place near the pond in the center of the park which meant I had to move fast. Normally I don’t show off my inhuman speed, but I figured I’d be able to alter the Sheriff’s memory afterwards. As the scenery blurred past me, I sent the mist I’d released into the park earlier into the killer’s nostrils hoping to gain some control over him after he breathed me in, which he did. But it didn’t work. The guy was so on an adrenaline rush from the excitement of having captured another victim, that nothing I did was even slowing him down.

But I could see through his eyes and saw he was straddling the girl, one hand clamped firmly over her mouth while the other held a wicked looking military blade. A second later, I burst onto the scene.

Sure enough he was on top of her and was in the process of slicing open her blouse to expose her chest.

Without slowing I allowed my arm to stretch a couple of feet longer than normal in order to grab his hand with the knife and pull it away from the girl. Unfortunately, this gave him time to look up and see me coming just before the rest of me slammed into his solid six foot frame. The creep actually started to smile until our bodies collided. He certainly had not expected someone so much smaller than himself to have enough force to knock him off the girl, much less send him sprawling several feet. By the same token, I never expected him to grab my “overly-extended” arm with the hand he had clamped over the girl’s mouth to pull me with him.

blade

The two of us rolled across the ground each struggling for the advantage. Normally, my inhuman strength should have given me the advantage, but the guy knew what he was doing. I quickly realized Michael was right about the killer having had military training. I got a close-up look at the blade as we struggled and recognized it as an LMF II ASEK, with a foliage colored handle to match his camouflage make-up and attire. But it was his fighting style that really told the story and was giving me a tough time of it. At first I couldn’t get any decent leverage to pin him, but then I realized I was fighting like a normal person and not using my full talents.

At last I let him pin me, as I did so the smell of tree sap and fresh leaves reached my nostrils. So that’s how he’d gotten past the patrols. He’d hidden himself up in one of the trees during the daytime, probably when the park was busy, and had stayed there. No doubt he’d put on his camouflage make-up and changed his shirt, while waiting for night to come. Then he’d just waited for the right moment and…

“Am I man enough for you now… Joanie,” he panted excitedly.

‘Joanie?’ I thought briefly before he head-butted me, which hurt! Yes, I can feel pain just like anyone else, but I can take more abuse than most. But it still hurt and I saw stars briefly. In that moment I realized MY suspicion, that our friend was someone who had either killed or wanted to kill a certain type of woman over and over again, had been right. Not that I felt like patting myself on the back at that point. Especially when he started wriggling on top of me and I could FEEL how excited he was (shudder). Now I could really appreciate the things Penny had told me in private on more than one occasion. How many women had known terror as they suffered at his hands?

His head rocked back, to deliver another blow to my skull but I was quicker. My left leg shrank while a fist shot up from between my cleavage connecting with his chin on its way down. I felt the impact throughout my chest as Mr. Psycho’s eyes rolled up into his head. For a moment I thought for sure he’d knocked himself out, but his grip on my regular hands barely loosened. Once more I unleashed a third fist, this time into his rather abdomen and I felt the air rush out of his mouth and into my face. Someone seriously needed a breath mint. This time, I was the one to deliver the head-but which seemingly ended our fight. Mr. Norman-Bates-wannabe, fell off of me and lay still.

Immediately, I got up and turned to his original target who was crouched nearby, holding up a large rock. Apparently, she had been hoping for an opening to clock the bastard while he was dealing with me. I gave her a reassuring smile as I studied her. Sure enough, she was blonde, about my current size and shape, and dressed like someone who full of self-confidence. Though at the moment she was looking more vulnerable and shaken, as she stared at me with eyes full of amazement.

“Easy, you and I are okay…” I started to tell her, then I saw her eyes widen in pure horror.

“BEHIND YOU!” she screamed, just as I felt the blade of the knife rip through my back and out my middle.

I remember cursing myself for making such a rookie mistake. The guy was ex-military, of course he’d play ‘possum’ to get me to turn my back on him. Still, I’m not normal, and it would take more than a knife in the back to finish me off. Unfortunately, before I could swallow the pain to retaliate, that’s when he sank his teeth and took a bite OUT of my shoulder and I got a look inside a world of madness!

vortex

“The Cannibal Killer” – Part IV: Private E-Papers of Michael Rhodes, June 18th, 2016

    For a moment I didn’t know what to do. I was certain Nadine could take care of herself, but then I realized her ‘attacker’ was wearing the same uniform I went to work in.

     Rushing forward I explained in a hushed voice, “Hold up, she’s with me!”

   “Rhodes?” the officer turned and I saw it was my boss, Sheriff Jim Parkes, looking none-to-pleased. “What the hell…”

     “Not so loud, we don’t want to give away our position,” I hissed and gestured that the three of us move out of the park.

     Nodding, he let Nadine go, but gestured that she was to lead the way.

    Once we were a safe distance Parkes growled, “Okay, this should be far enough. Now what the hell are you playin’ at? And you’d better not tell me you were going to try another decoy routine.”

    “Would you believe…” Nadine began, but I cut her off.

   “Actually we were, Chief. This Detective Nadine Collins from Maine. She and her people dealt with a similar set of murders but never caught the killer. She thinks our boy may be the same guy…”

    “And you came to try and help us catch him,” my boss finished with a nod. “You know there are procedures to be followed like introducing yourself at the station.”

    “You were already gone and Deputy Rhodes thought we might find you here,” Nadine supplied smoothly, while I gave him a rather believable account of what had supposedly happened up in Maine. As I spoke I noticed a faint greenish haze slowly building around us at ground level. I had an idea what that Nadine planned on letting my boss breathe her in so she could influence him, but I gave her the faintest head shake. You don’t work with a man for years without getting to know his mannerisms and way of thinking. And I could already tell he was buying my story because he trusted me. Hell the man had recruited me himself as soon as I had come back from the army He didn’t even bother to ask to see her credentials, instead he gave us the full rundown on the situation.

     He’d managed to pull in some extra help from the state. Several troopers were hidden throughout the park, while others were quietly patrolling the streets in unmarked vehicles. If our perp struck, we were going to run him to ground tonight.

    As we spoke I noticed the mist Nadine had created earlier was drifting off towards the park entrance and spread out until no trace of it could be seen. ‘Trying to do some recon, good plan,’ I thought to myself as Parkes continued to fill us in on the situation.

     Once he’d finished, Nadine and I shared what we had figured out about our Killer’s targets. Like me at first he seemed unimpressed until we got to the part about the women having an air of confidence which impressed him as much as it had me.

     “That would explain why he’s so violent with them,” he breathed after a moment. “Probably trying to kill the same woman over and over in his mind, but what about the cannibalism?”

    “We’re dealing with a sick mind, Chief,” I shook my head, “There could a be dozen demented reasons why he’s eating them… sort a souvenir? A way of keeping them close to him? I don’t know…”?

     At this point we both turned to my companion saying, “You got any…” and then stopped. She had started moving back towards the park, following the same path her mist had taken moments before.        “Detective Collins? What is it?” Parkes shouted as the two of us started towards her.

   But just as we were about to reach her, she shouted over her shoulder, “He’s here! And so is someone else… a girl!” A second later, she was gone. Normally, Nate… I mean Nadine wouldn’t have let anyone see her inhuman speed in action, but a life was in danger and this was no time for being subtle.

    Not that I had any reason to worry, Parkes was busy barking orders into his radio alerting the rest of the team of the situation. He’d barely gotten the order out when a scream erupted from the darkness. The killer had struck.

    Without pausing we both raced into the park trying to figure out what direction the scream had come from when it erupted again, this time calling for help repeatedly. Following the sound we veered off the path and into the trees and bushes off to our left. The cries were getting louder when suddenly a young woman burst out of the darkness and into our arms, tears streaming down her dirt covered cheeks.

     “He’s near the lake and he’s got her…” she blubbed, still shaking. “He jumped me and had me on the ground when she came out of nowhere and threw him off me… She’d just helped me up when he jumped her from behind and stabbed her in the back… she just stared at me and told me to run…”

     As she spoke two of my fellow deputies appeared on the scene.

    Grabbing his shoulder radio Parkes barked, “Suspect sited near lake attacking a female detective, all boots on the ground converge on that area and engage. Patrol cars are to surround the park and form a perimeter, pursue anyone seen fleeing from the area.” Then turning to the new arrivals he ordered, “Take her to safety and call for a medical assistance and more back up. Rhodes you’re with me!”

     Weapons drawn we raced towards the lake. I could hear the sounds of a struggle up ahead, which suddenly stopped, sending a chill down my spine. Had Nadine already finished the guy?

     Still rushing forward we burst out of the trees and the sight that greeted us was more than a little unnerving. Both Nadine and the Cannibal Killer were on the ground, several feet from each other. The latter was rolling around clutching his head and like he was having convulsions. Whereas Nadine, was simply lying on the ground unmoving, eyes wide as if she were staring into the pits of Hell itself…

“The Cannibal Killer” – Part III: Private E-Papers of Michael Rhodes June 18th, 2016

     For the record, I’ve always admired Uncle Nate but after tonight my respect for him has gone through the roof. When I got his e-mail last night telling me he was on the way to help deal with the monster who’s been terrorizing our town, I was relieved. But when he showed up… no, wait. I need to take a few steps back. I’ve got to tell this story right.

      Besides telling me he was on the way, the e-mail listed a time and place for us to meet tonight. It’s an out of the way pub here in town called “Draughts“, which is where we normally get together. It’s a nice little place run by a father and son who, like me, are part of Nate’s extended family. Big Frank and Frank Jr. are good people and they know just about everyone here in town. They also know what you like to drink, so when I walked in a glass of my favorite brew appeared on the bar before I finished settling my ass down on the stool.

Bar scene

      I started to pull out my wallet and Big Frank shook his head, “Nate’s already got you covered tonight,” he told me with a knowing smile and wandered off to take care of some other patrons.

      Glancing around the room I saw a number of familiar faces and a couple of others I didn’t, like the pretty blonde down at the end of the bar. I knew she wasn’t from around here, a face like that everyone would know and remember, but by the same token I could also tell she wasn’t a ‘working’ girl either. For one thing she seemed absorbed in reading her Kindle, for another no one was hitting on her. A few of the guys I went to high school were looking her way and shaking their heads. Clearly they’d been shot down and were still trying to figure her out, but I had other things on my mind. Like where was Nate?

      After about thirty minutes there was still no sign of Nate anywhere. So I pulled out my phone and dialed the number I had for him, but after four rings it went to voicemail. Looking over at Big Frank who was talking to the blonde at the end of the bar, I caught his eye and gestured to him. After sharing a laugh with the girl, he came over and asked, “Need a refill?”

     Shaking my head I replied, “Nah, I’m good right now. You told me earlier Nate’s covering my drinks, so that means you’ve seen him. Do you know where he is? He was supposed to meet me here I’ve been waiting and waiting, but there’s no sign of him.”

      “That’s what you think,” he replied mysteriously.

     For a moment I started to get annoyed and then I remembered, Nate can take many forms and might be keeping a low profile for reasons of his own. Immediately, I scanned the room again for anything unusual.

     One or two people had left, and a young couple had appeared and were enjoying a quiet drink in one corner, but otherwise everything seemed the same. Then I started to take in the smaller details like was there any kind of hazy film in the air, or a “Red Mouse” (he loves to use those to spy on people or place), but there was nothing. Not even a black dog hanging around underneath the pool table, which he used one time which helped me and the team bust some drug dealers. But there was no joy in Mudville, once more it seemed I’d struck out.

     Shaking my head, I turned back to talk to Frank only to find the pretty blonde from the end of the bar was now on the other side of the bar slipping the flash drive I’d brought for Nate into not a Kindle but a tablet.

     I stared at her for a second and was about to protest when my eyes caught my reflection in the mirror of the bar behind her. I could see myself perfectly, but even though she was right in front of me there was no sign of blondie. Blinking I shook my head and muttered aloud, “Na…”

     “-Dine,” he cut in without taking his/her eyes off the screen. In the mirror’s reflection I could see he was flipping through the pages I’d scanned of the case at an incredible pace. It was like watching the character Quicksilver, from Marvel comics, going through a volume of “War and Peace”.

       After my initial surprise passed I leaned in closer and hissed, “I know you’re busy reading those files I scanned for you, but we might want to relocate to another area where there’s not a mirror where everyone CANNOT see your reflection in!”

      That got Nate. He/she… aw hell I’m going to call Nate her for the rest of this entry. It just makes things easier.

    Nadine’s eyes finally locked with mine and she muttered, “I thought we had that mirror replaced…” and quickly got out from behind the bar. We paused to retrieve her jacket and bag from the end of the bar. As we passed my old buddies shooting pool, I saw the looks of disbelief they were shooting me. I hung back briefly and leaned in to tell them, “Turns out she digs guys who wear uniforms.”

get-romantic-make-out

     As they shook their heads I followed Nadine to a secluded booth in the corner. But as I did, I found myself checking ‘her’ out. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Now I’d known for years that my ‘uncle’ could change form, but what I was seeing before me was beyond words. The way her hair fell, how she walked, every little gesture… I could swear I was in the company of a real woman.

    After we got settled in, she finished looking over the files and her face took on a troubled expression much like the ones I’d seen at work. “Now you know why I called you in,” I told her breaking the silence..

     She nodded. “Yeah, this one’s a real bastard.” Looking up at me she continued, “I think you’re right about the military training. I don’t know if he actually served or if the guy has been part of a para-military group, but he definitely knows what he’s doing.”

     “We’ve been thinking the same thing, much as everyone hates to admit it,” I told her. “The idea that someone we might know has been doing all this is just…”

     “Sickening,” she finished, “I know. I’ve been down this road before. When I was a kid, before I ‘changed’ we had a psycho running loose back in Pointer. Turned out to be someone we all knew and thought the world of… but that’s another story. From what I’ve seen in your files, this guy likes to abduct his victims and keep them alive for a few days before he’s done with them. Tell me, is there anyone missing right now that you know of?”

     “Not at the moment, which is why Terri tried acting as a decoy,” I explained. “We were hoping to lure him out. Our boss had people positioned all over the park, yet he still got to her and KNEW who she was!”

    “Which is why he tried killing her right there on the spot instead of kidnapping her,” Nadine nodded. “And yet he still got past everyone… which makes me think he’s a local. He must’ve known ways in and out of there to get away.”

     “We’re not that big a force,” I pointed out, “And things got chaotic when we saw how bad Terri had been hurt…” then stopped as she shook her head.

     “Plus, someone was burning rubber leaving the area, which threw you all off.”

     I nodded, “Turned out to be someone who’d heard her screams and instead of coming to help her, they took off while phoning it in. They had no idea we were already on the scene.”

     My face must’ve betrayed something because Nadine reached over and gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll get this guy and put a stop to him once and for all, I promise.”

     I smiled back at her. “I know you will.”

     “WE will!” she corrected me and stood up. “Shall we get started? He’s out there and I came all this way looking my best just for him.”

     Standing up I followed her out of the bar and didn’t say anything until we were outside and out of earshot. “Do you really think your ‘disguise’ is going to lure him out?”

     “He has one type of girl he’s been going after. Blonde, young, good-looking, and with a lot of self-confidence.”

woman

     I paused in mid-step. “Okay… we knew about the first three but what about that last part?”

   Turning she replied, “A cheerleader, a local actress, two ‘working’ girls, all of them exude confidence and self-assurance. And so did your partner Terri.”

     It suddenly dawned on me, “So you’re thinking our boy has a thing against women who remind him of someone in particular. Who may be alive or already dead for all we know. And if she’s dead, he might have even done it himself, but once wasn’t enough.”

     “Exactly,” Nadine agreed and gestured, “Now let’s start with the park. He’s struck there a few times including the other night. If nothing happens I’ll spread myself out by mist or bat to see where else someone might be lurking. You keep your distance while I take the lead.”

     “And how am I going to know if you find the bastard?”

    She smiled and held up a closed hand. After a few seconds she opened it and there was a red mouse looking up at me expectantly. “Take him, he’s our link.”

     As I held out my hand, she transferred the critter into it and that’s when I noticed she was missing a finger. Then I remembered, she couldn’t make more of herself than there actually was. Her mass never changed when shape-shifting, so all she had a limited amount to work with.

     She must’ve noticed the look on my face for a moment later a new finger grew.

     As I put her little companion in my chest pocket, I gave her a questioning look.

    “I took a little off the waist and thighs,” she told me.

   Smiling I nodded and I let her lead the way. Of course I remembered to keep a good distance between us like she’d said. After all, we wanted our prey to come after her. And if he did, boy would he be in for a rude awakening. Nadine could handle herself and twenty of him even on a bad day. Still, we had to be careful. Even the best laid plans could go wrong.

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     She reached the park without incident which made me suspect if anything was going to happen, it would be in there. As it turned out I was right.

     For she got no more than forty feet in before a figure leapt out of the shadows…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Nathaniel’s Private E-Journal, January 1st, 2005 “Reflections and Looking Forward”


I’m standing on a deck overlooking the great wide Pacific Ocean.  Another year has passed but I am not alone.  I am surrounded by members of my extended family located in Aptos, California.  Although that’s not where I am at this moment.  We’re standing near the famed Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk having just watched a fabulous fireworks display out on the water.

The Cloudfoots have been part of my life since 1999 when I first met Jason, the patriarch of these wonderful people.  As their name implies, they are of Native American descent, specifically they are Seneca one of the five original tribes that formed the Iroquois Confederacy.

Together, Jason and I, along with Otto located his missing niece Julie who had run away from home just two days before Christmas.  The moment Jason and I locked eyes, I knew there was something different about him and I was right.  He was a shaman, one who knew about the Para-Earths, as Otto has named those alternate realities of this world.  Jason also knew right away I’d been to one and had come back changed, but he also knew I was still a good man and our friendship formed.

He’s here with me tonight enjoying the love and joy of his children and grandchildren.  Jason lost his wife two years ago, for which I was very sorry.  She had been a wonderful woman, warm and caring.  I’d spent that New Year’s Eve with him, to make sure he did not face it alone.  Not that I had much reason to worry.  Julie and her parents were there as well.  It was the first time I’d seen her in 1999 and my how she’d grown.  From the pudgy little girl I’d help locate, she was now slightly taller than me and still growing.  She also had filled out in more ways than one, especially in the muscle department.  I feel sorry for any boy who pissed her off.  Not that she seems very interested in them.  A part of me suspects her yearnings lie elsewhere.  I just hope I never have to compete with her for a date.

Not that such a thing is likely.  I’ve kept to myself more since Veronica and I parted company three years ago.  I’ve found myself thinking about her a lot tonight.  Probably it’s because of all the police officers watching over tonight’s festivities.  There was one female officer in particular standing near her patrol car that caught my eye.  She looked nothing like Veronica, but the way the officer stood there reminded me so much of my red-headed love.

 

God she was amazing.  It’s not often you find someone so passionate and dedicated, not only to you but to her work.  But I digress…

A new year stands before us all.  I have no idea what surprises this one will have in store for me or those I call ‘family’.  But I know I will not face this new year alone which is a great comfort.  I have people like Jason, Otto, Brian, their families and so many others who’s lives touch mine.  I think that’s been the greatest gift of all.  Even though I have outlived so many people who I’ve loved, I am never truly alone.  And because I remember, none of them are ever forgotten.

My existence is a strange one, but at least I find it serves so many others.

Jason is proposing another toast to all so I better wrap this up.  A promising new year awaits and I for one am looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.