Saturday, August 31, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 2

I have once again received a registered letter from the mysterious J. P. Nussbaum. I’m very interested in who is sending these to me. Once again if you have any information I’d love to hear it. I had a few friends share some thoughts with me. So far we’ve decided it’s either an elaborate hoax, a mistake, or a very weird joke. My sister attempted to take a photo of the letter head so I could post it here. It didn’t go well, we tried three different digital cameras, a tablet, a cell phone, and an old 35mm professional that my sister has. (She’s a bit of a shutter bug) Not a single one of the pictures came out. The digital copies were all blank, they didn’t even have the table or other background features. The film shots were perfect except the paper has a reflective glare on it that leaves it glossy and unrecognizable. She tried several different methods to take the picture without the glare, including background light, no flash, a clear screen over the document. I’m considering having an artist friend of mine simply draw a copy of it. Unfortunately she live in Chicago and I would have to mail her the letter and it could take a while.

Once again if you have any information or if you’re the person sending them to me, please let me know. As with last week, here’s the letter in hopes someone might recognize something.

Dearest Mother,

I have landed in Italy and am fine. I do appreciate you not sending one of my siblings to retrieve me and take my place. As I suspected there has been no danger to my own person as a result of this project. As I have no doubt you are having my movements monitored I will admit to some violence occurring, but nothing that was connected to this particular adventure. More on this later.

The team met me at the airport per my instructions. My well rounded group includes Antonio, a local family informant. He’s a tall man with thinning hair, according to his file he has several connections in the local criminal ecosystem. He’d already begun looking into Doctor Cavallaro’s disappearance. Thus far he has obtained no information, but has yet to hear from some of his contacts. In addition to his other skills he  is also acting as guide of the local area.

Second is Franco, a driver. He’s a lithe man with a flare for grand gestures. The few nights we have been together he has shown a zest for life and an infectious joy. When I arrived he’d already chosen three vehicles for the team. They met family specifications, in addition to having extensive electronic security, they were each large enough to carry the team and all of our equipment. They were also fast, nondescript, and well armored security measures put in place by father after the Rio affair.

Third is a Giorgio a tall imposing man, with little to no sense of humor. He is a security specialist with years of training and distinguished experience. He brought some men from his personal teams. In the beginning they were set to work in groups of two on an eight hour rotating schedule. I’ve had a small amount of time to speak with Giorgio and learned he has trained with several weapons and martial styles. He spent several years working with the Americans in the middle east. He strikes me as a very dangerous man, though I’m not certain of his subtlety. Though, as Uncle Nigel used to say, “that’s not why we hire those fellows.”

Finally, we come to our investigative team member, Lucia. Her olive skin and round features may fool some into focusing not on her sharp mind and keen intellect but her beauty. However, this would be a deadly mistake in deed. She works for Italian intelligence, apparently her supervisor owes brother James a favor, please thank him for me. She has come on board and brought a team of six with her. She is an expert in forensics and has a well trained analytical mind. She is quite exceptional.

By the time I had set foot in Italy, she had already gotten a copy of the initial investigative report and sent her team to look over the area. Unfortunately, by the time they had arrived the lab had already been reclaimed and cleaned by the institute. All evidence of the initial disappearance was lost amongst a sea of new occupation.

Of course cousin Cristina was there and sends he regards and love. She wished me to pass along that the family is doing well and Uncle Neville has recovered from that nasty business in Crete. They would love for you to visit if you have the opportunity. Cousin Shelby should be having a new baby in a few weeks, they would be honored if you could visit.

The investigation has been moving forward, slowly. After going through the initial criminal report Lucia found it very uninformative. There are large swaths of missing information. It wasn’t removed, there are simply several things that weren’t done. No fingerprinting, no photos of the scene, and there were few interviews recorded. The entire thing was chalked up to paranoia or a sudden weekend.

Our first step would be the interviews, we spoke with several of Doctor Cavallaro’s peers and lab assistants at the institute. No one seems to know what the Doctor was working on, even his supervisor couldn’t recall what specific project Doctor Cavallaro’s had been studying. Several of his assistant’s were able to tell us about individual studies and test but couldn’t give us any information on an overall goal. One of them seemed to remember something about energy cells, but what a biochemist would be doing working on energy cells is anyone’s guess. We’ve put together a packet on all of the studies and tests we could find and are attempting to piece together what the good Doctor was working on.

One thing all of our interviews did agree on was that Doctor Cavallaro  had been acting more and more agitated and fearful over few days leading up to his disappearance. No one could tell us what the problem was, when questioned he would tell them he was worried about his daughter who had been hiking cross country for the last few days.

We’ve been unable to reach his daughter Maria. We went to her home and were lucky enough for Antonio to find an unlocked door. We searched her residence in an attempt to ascertain her location. We did come across an itinerary that notes where she might be at any given time on her journey. We’ve contacted some of the locations. We reached four location that she had been to, the last there where she was seen she was with a young German fellow, named Schuler. Her and Schuler were apparently quite friendly.

At the writing of this letter we haven’t been able to locate her for four days. According to the last location she had left a message for her father should he call, that she would be changing her destination for a short while. Giorgio says we shouldn’t worry just yet but still sent a few men to her last known location. They left two days ago and are checking the area from Schuler and Maria. Maybe we don’t need to worry, but I am becoming increasingly unsure of this. The young woman keeps returning to my thoughts, I’m becoming increasingly concerned.

Is this why you’ve never wanted me to do this? Were you afraid my empathy would get in the way? You’ve often criticized me for worrying about others feelings too much. Even when I was much younger, you made several comments on the matter. Maybe you were right to. I been finding it difficult to sleep at night worrying about Maria, a young woman I have never met.

Well, beyond that I return to the fore mentioned violence. I have no doubt that you are having me followed, and possibly have one or two of my team members reporting back to you. As such I’m certain you’ve already heard this. However, as is the protocol of our family, I report everything to you now.

Last evening I was mugged. It was late after dinner and the team had returned to their rooms at he Inn we are staying at. I was walking to my cottage house enjoying a post brandy cigarette. (I know you don’t like that I smoke, but it is my vice and I shall enjoy it.) As I was saying, I was finishing the cigarette and tapping out the ash so as to throw the butt into my rooms dust bin when four strapping local men with knives stepped out of the shadows and begun brandishing their blades at me.

I lifted my cane to defend myself and waited as they circled. I even remembered my training and pushed my back against one of the overhang support beams. Certainly it would not be a great deal of protection, it would be some. One of the men off to my right side pushed forward, the knife darting towards me like a striking viper.

I brought my cane up catching him on the wrist and knocking the blade away. I stepped forward quickly and struck him across the forehead. He fell backwards and I pushed the advantage. I twisted my cane up behind his neck and redirected his stumble directing him behind me into the other men. I tried to make a break for it, but my leg betrayed me and I stumbled a few yards away.

Fortunately Cristina had been heading to her room at the same time. The four men attacked as she inserted herself in between us. She was brutal and efficient in her violence. I suppose it’s the eight months she spent training with the Mossad. She quickly crippled their leader with a quick kick to the knee sending him howling to the ground in pain. She turned one mans knife on himself and left him with a large gash across his side. The third man she flipped over onto a parking block shattering his legs. The last man had the good sense at this point to run away.

I believe the only thing that kept Cristina from running the man down and similarly handicapping him was her concern for my safety. I tried to ensure her I was all right but she refused to leave my side. I find both comfort and annoyance in this.

Local authorities have taken the three into custody and once they wake up from either surgery or the various concussions sustained they will be questioned. However, I am quite certain this was a simple mugging. None the less, Giorgio has doubled the security and insists no one go anywhere alone. I’m certain all of this will prove unnecessary but he is the expert.

I will write again next week.

 As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

Let em know what you think, I'm always interested in the opinions of the reader. You can either leave a comment below or on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter

Friday, August 23, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum

I received this letter through registered mail today and am curious who it was from. It was hand written with lovely script and a large intricate seal across the top. The seal was particularly interesting, It was an elephant’s head with a broken right tusk inside a gold ring. The trunk hung down the front passing behind a pair of crossed old fashioned, circa 1900’s elephant guns. There are two flags coming off the sides of the crest. The flag on the right is a violet field with a crown. On the left is a white field with an old five sided knights shield. There’s a red stripe starting in the upper left corner going to the opposite corner. In the upper portion is the silhouette of a roaring lion done in blue. The bottom has the silhouette of a Sopwith camel in gold.

I wish I could show it to you, it’s very cool looking. I tried to scan it, and there was something about the paper or ink that made the scan not come out right. It was filled with black spots, a series of wavy lines, and a large block of text that stated rather clearly, “YOU ARE NOT CLEARED TO UPLOAD THIS DOCUMENT.”

Anyway, there seems to have been a lot of work put into the letter and I’m very curious as to who wrote and sent it to me. So if this is your work below, please let me know.

Dearest Mother,

I am writing to assuage you concerns with my absence. I realize that you feel I am unready for this responsibility. However, my taking leave this evening was of utmost import and as I was the only member of the household in residence it fell to me to answer the call. Had any of my siblings been in country I would certainly have yielded to their experience. Sadly, they are all otherwise engaged. I shall leave it to Jeeves to give you any specifics.

As to my absence, it was just shortly after tea when a correspondence arrived from Italy. A Doctor Sergio Cavallaro wrote regarding an study he was taking part in that had recently received undo attention from some nefarious persons. These of course were his words. I attempted to contact Doctor Cavallaro by phone and received only his assistant. I was informed that the good Doctor had not been in residence for some days. His lab had been found in shambles and his laptop missing.

After further investigation I discovered he disappeared the day before the letter had been posted. I found myself in the unhappy position of having to make a quick decision, and decided to travel to Italy and see if I could learn more once I had arrived. And before you have Jeeves summon the family pilots, I have arranged for transport other than one of the families Supersonics.

Everything should be accounted for, I’ve set myself a travel budget, arranged for a team on the ground to meet me once I’ve landed, and even have contacted cousin Cristina to be on hand in order to give assistance. If there are any other questions or concerns I have my mobile, though it will be off for the majority of the flight.

This should be an interesting mystery and all the signs point to a quick jaunt. I do have questions:
I would like to know what Doctor Cavallaro was studying?
Why did he send is request by post if he felt there was need of our services?
Who were these nefarious forces he alluded to?
Where is he now?

There you are Mother, the extent of my recent occurrences that have left me unable to attend dinner this evening. I will admit to a level of excitement at be able to handle my first problem. I will also confess a certain level of trepidation, it’s no secret in the family that you’ve never quite felt me capable of this sort of activity. I do hope you set your concerns aside and let me take care of this.

As always, my love.

Your youngest son

J. P. Nussbaum

Let em know what you think, I'm always interested in the opinions of the reader. You can either leave a comment below or on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Paranormal S.W.A.T. #7

Hey all, we've got another installment in the tales of our band of heroes, a Paranormal S.W.A.T. team from Chicago. If you'd like to see them from the beginning head on over to Cul-de-Sac to Hell  for their first adventure.

Paranormal S.W.A.T. 
Supernatural Weapons & Arcane Tactics
The Four Leaf Cleaver

26 Minutes to Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 blocks from the safe house.

Douglas Wulf, close quarters fighter and wilderness survival expert, turned his Camaro around on the empty street, the tires slipping on the rain soaked asphalt. He pulled up next to lone figure standing beside a broken down sedan with the hood up. As he rolled to a stop Wulf powered down the window on the passenger side.

The figure leaned down and looked through the window, “Thanks for stopping, I was…” The man stopped talking as he noticed Wulf.

“Mr. Kelly, I almost didn’t recognize you.” Wulf popped the lock and let the man climb into his car. “Good thing I found you, we were worried you hadn’t shown up.”

Mike Kelly, a pudgy man with thinning hair, trembling from the rain climbed into the car as the window rose back into place. Mike sighed with relief, “My luck may have finally turned. My car died and I wasn’t sure what to do. I was going to call but my phone died, I thought about walking, but in this neighborhood I wasn’t sure if it would have been safe. The only good thing that happened all night was when the rain stopped.”

Wulf drove back up onto the road, and began heading back to the teams safe house. “It shouldn’t be a problem, we’re going to cut it close but we’ll get there.”

“I just want this all to be over.”

Thump. Thump. Thump.

*   *   *

22 Minutes to Saint Patrick’s Day, at the safe house

“Hurry up. It’s almost time.” Captain Albert Card, the teams leader and sorcerer, said to Adam as he walked across the floor of the vast warehouse the team had refurbished into a safe house.

“Clam down, we’ve got plenty of time, and I picked up extra salt.” Rabbi Adam Stein, expert in religious studies and heavy weapons operator, was carrying two large bags of rock salt under each arm of his seven plus foot frame. As he got to the edge of the circle he dropped the sacks on the floor careful not to smudge the chalk lines that had been set up for the protective wards. “I still can’t believe the bad luck, how the hell does an entire section of piping burst and wash away our salt supply?”

Albert tore open one of the bags with his hands and poured the salt into a ceremonial cup he brought for the ritual. “Gods, I don’t know. I just want this night to be over.”

“I’m going to head into the locker room and change to my gear, I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Go, go. Blake!”

Blake Lagoona, trained in aquatic operations and a gifted sniper, came jogging up while fastening his helmet onto his armor. Blake, a mute, quickly signed to Albert, (What can I do to help Chief?)

“Are the lights bolted to the floor?” Albert indicated the seven large flood lights spaced evenly around the thirty foot magic circle.

Blake nodded, (I just finished checking them, they’re all mounted and perfect. The batteries are fully charged and the portable generator in the middle of the circle has plenty of gas. I’ve even checked to make sure the webcams are all functioning and displayed on the laptop appropriately. I was getting ready to recheck all of our firearms and make sure there loaded and ready. Any thoughts on ammo?)

“Black all around, standard always works, then grab some silver and some cold iron bullets. Also have a dozen rounds of rock salt for Gryphon, they work well in the shotgun if we need them.”

(Got it Chief.) Blake turned and moved quickly to the storage cabinets full of ammo.

“Don’t call me Chief. Where’s Gryphon.”

“Right here!” Dr. Griffin Wells, the teams scout and forensics expert, entered the Safe house through the large bay doors and walked towards to center of the room. “What do you want?”

“Have you seen Wulf? He left almost half an hour ago.”

Gryphon hit the button to lower the special made blast door they used over the bay back into place. “It’s been ten minutes. Don’t worry, he’ll be back. Mike Kelly lives fifteen miles away and surface traffic is low this time of night. With his Camaro Wulf should be arriving there about now.”

“This isn’t funny.”

“It’s a little funny.”

The blast door jerked to a halt inches from the ground. The motor controlling the door whined and shrieked. Gryphon backed away from the door as a loud metallic wrenching noise echoed through the safe house. The door began to jerk up the track opening further. A loud crack and the door stopped, vibrated in place for a few seconds, and then came crashing down into the ground hard enough to crack the concrete. With a final scream or protest the motor shook itself free of its mounting brackets and crashed to the floor.

Gryphon looked at the smoking wreck, “Well, that’s not good.”

*  *  *

19 minutes to Saint Patrick’s Day, 15 blocks from the safe house.

Wulf popped open the trunk of his Camero while looking at the flat rear tire and wondering what were the odds of both of them having car trouble within four blocks of each other. The conclusion he came to didn’t make him feel any better about their chances tonight. He quickly decided the best course of action was to keep moving, they weren’t far from the safe house and wouldn’t have enough time to replace the tire.

Wulf pulled a spare set of pistols out of his trunk, his newest ones were still at the safe house. He quickly ejected the magazines to check their load, and replaced them in his Glocks before sliding them under his long trench coat into their holsters. He rummaged around and drew out one of his old armored vests and handed it to Mike Kelly. The vest was much like the one Wulf now wore under his jet black trench coat, a standard issue flak coat used by most security agencies. However, Wulf’s had been modified to suit the teams particular needs. A long line of flickering red runes ran up each arm and around the mid section. Also around his torso was a small row of green runes below the original set.

The coat Wulf handed to Mike was missing the second row of green runes, but Mike didn’t notice as he pulled the coat on over his lose blue wind breaker. Mike also didn’t notice how the rows of runes flickered before turning a bright white. Mike fastened the coat into place and looked at Wulf, “Is this on right?”

Wulf looked at the white runes flickering across the coat with a concerned look on his face. The white runes were a bad sign, the runes only turned that color in the presence of evil, and the fact that Mike was wearing the vest meant the evil was emanating from him. All though this was easily explained by the curse. Mike had come to them a week ago afraid for his life, claiming he had been cursed to die by midnight tonight. The team took the case and began looking into is life to see what or who could have cursed him.

They had run into a series of dead ends while trying to find any information on Mike’s being cursed, and had actually given up. It was certain he was having a stretch of bad luck, the world had seemed to turn against him all at once. Nearly a month ago he lost his job as an IRS accountant under allegations of theft and impropriety. His wife, disgusted at the charges and fearful for her families safety over the numerous threats they were receiving, left him and took their children with her. After that, a computer glitch froze all of his accounts at his bank. Then he learned his 401k had gone bankrupt leaving him without anything to fall back on. It was no wonder he believed himself cursed, but there simply had been no proof of anything mystical behind it.

Wulf and Adam had gone to his home the previous night to let him know they hadn’t been able to find anything on his curse. The plan had been to let him down gently and apologize for his bad luck. Maybe point him in the direction of a couple of credit counselors, and possibly a decent shrink. They hadn’t even made it up the street to his house when they felt the air begin to crackle with power. The radio in Wulf’s car started acting up and began playing nothing but an odd feedback. When they rounded the street onto Mike’s block Adam spotted her standing in his front yard.

A slender pale girl dressed in a long white dress. Her long auburn hair blowing around her and the dress whipped against her body in a harsh lake wind that had come up without warning. Adam recognized her immediately as a banshee and forced Wulf to drive on by the house. A banshee singing outside a house meant that the next night someone in that house would die. Since Mike now lived alone she had to be singing for him.

It had taken Adam a while to explain what he had seen the night before, his senses were different from other people’s and it let him see these things. Wulf hadn’t been able to see her, but Adam walked him through the encounter as Wulf drove them back to the office so they could prepare for the next night. They rallied the team and began looking up various Irish curses, it was the banshee that had led them to the Irish angle, and helped make the connection to St. Patrick’s Day coming up. Adam had convinced Wulf not to tell Mike or the rest of the tam about the Banshee. Even though Wulf, wasn’t sure why they were keeping the team in the dark he trusted Adam’s judgment.

Mike Kelly looked at Wulf and saw that his thoughts were elsewhere, “Am I wearing it wrong?”

“No, you’re fine.” Wulf made sure his pistols were loose in their holsters. “We’ll start walking and I’ll call the team and have them come and pick us up on the way.”

“If you think that’s best.”

“Don’t worry about it, everything’s going to be fine.”

“Do I get a gun? I’ve been to the range, I’m a decent shot.”

“I’m sure you are, but it wouldn’t matter.” Wulf pulled one of the pistols out and showed Mike the side of the grip where a white pad was inset near the top. “It’s a fingerprint reader, they only work for me.”

“Ah.” Mike slid his hands into his pants pockets and they started off towards safety.

*  *  *

17 Minutes to Saint Patrick’s Day, at the safe house.

Adam had just finished adjusting the collar of the green turtleneck he wore under his armor so the collar stuck up just enough to cover his neck when he heard the chirping from the floor under the sink. Looking down he spotted a ringing smart phone and reached down and grabbed it. Adam answered the ringing phone as he walked out of the locker room back into the main area. “Hello.”

Gryphon looked across the room to Adam and hung up his own cell phone, “what the hell are you doing with Wulf’s phone?”

“It was on the floor of the locker room. I heard it ring and picked it up.” Adam paused hanging up the phone. “Where’s Wulf?”

“I don’t know, maybe we should call him?”

Just as Adam started to walk towards Gryphon the overhaed lights in the warehouse began to hum loudly. After a moment the grew brighter and more intense, the humming grew louder and one of the bulbs gave under the strain bursting in a shower of sparks. After a moment another and then another went, a cascade of lights sprinkled throughout the warehouse began to burst raining down a shower of sparks onto the floor. Then as quickly as it started it faded away, leaving a little less than half the bulbs intact.

Blake jogged to the center of the room and began starting the various generators and turning on the flood lights. He turned to the rest of the group and signed, (what the hell was that?)

Albert walked out of one of the back offices, “what the hell was that?”

Everyone paused for a long moment waiting to see if anything else would happen, when Adam finally spoke, “I think it was a power surge.”

Blake signed, (you think it screwed up anything?)

There was a moment of silence and then several very audible clicks as the electronic locks on all the doors and window shields slammed into place.

Gryphon turned to look at Blake, “what are the three questions you never ask?”

(Do you think it’s gone, what’s the worst that can happen, and did it screw anything up.)

“Just making sure you actually remembered.”

“The surge must have sped up the time locks,” Adam said, “that’s why they all went early.”

Albert surveyed the room, “We check all the side doors and see if one of them is still unlocked, otherwise we’re all trapped here.”

“Can’t we just use the bay door?” asked Adam.

“Oh that’s right,” said Gryphon, “you weren’t here for that.” Gryphon quickly explained what had happened to the door and the motor which had finally stopped smoking.

*  *  *

10 minutes to Saint Patrick’s Day, 9 blocks from the safe house.

Wulf jogged up to a payphone and grabbed the receiver only to discover someone had cut the cord on this one just like they had on the last four. “What is wrong with the people in this neighborhood?” He hurled the receiver across the street, “Why do they hate phones?”

Mike caught up gasping for air. His hand clutched his side and he bent double trying to fill his lungs with air. Wulf looked at the poor man, an overweight, out of shape accountant, whose never been in this kind of situation. He was torn, if they didn’t hurry they’d never make it. On the other hand if they did run Mike could have a heart attack in the street.

“Take a deep breath,” Wulf patted Mike on the shoulder,” we’ll walk for a little bit.”

Mike sucked in air in huge gasps while the blood drained from his face and returned to a more natural color. After ha few moments Mike was simply panting but able to move again. He stood upright and shook his hands to let the blood flow again. “how much farther?”

“Not very,” Wulf lied. Wulf knew the had nearly a mile and a half away, with around ten minutes to go. He could make it, Wulf jogged every morning six miles in around an hour when he was taking it easy. Mike on the other hand would never make it in that amount of time. “We should be there soon.”


Wulf turned and led Mike towards the safe house, hoping that the team was already looking for them, and would be there soon. He was so focused on Mike and their current dilemma, he missed the shadows that now followed them through the night.

*  *  *

6 Minutes to Saint Patrick‘s Day, at the safe house

Everyone was walking back to the protective circle in the center of the room when Gryphon said, “Every door I checked is locked, you guys?”

(Locked) Blake signed.

Albert, sat on the corner of one of the barricades they’d erected, “I am now completely open to suggestion.”

(I hate fighting the universe.)

Adam looked at Blake for a moment, “What?”


Gryphon chuckled, “I don’t think you said what you meant to say.”

Albert sighed, “We have something more important to deal with now.”

(What did I say?)

“You hate fighting the universe,” Adam answered.

(That’s what I meant.)

“People, we need to focus,” said Albert.

“That doesn’t make any sense.” said Gryphon.

(You must not have that expression.)

The video call chime sounded on a laptop that Gryphon had brought for security and surveillance. Albert, looked at the laptop and shook his head, “we don’t have time for this. And because I want to hurry this along, what does the expression mean, so we can get back to focusing on the problem at hand. I’ll talk to Christine later.”

Christine was the teams computer specialist, the literal ghost in the machine, if they needed something found or researched she was who they went to. She was doing some research about Mike Kelly, to see if they could track who might of cursed him but she hadn’t come up with anything as of yet. At this point it was to late to implement anything she found, so Albert decided to put off answering until things settle down and then find out what she had learned.

(Back home when everything seems to be going against you, it’s like the universe is telling you to stop. If you keep trying then you’re fighting the universe.) The chime sounded again, and everyone ignored it and continued talking.

“What made you think of that?” asked Adam.

(Everything that can has gone wrong. The salt, the water pipes, the power, Wulf is out there trying to find Mike. Ever since you guys got back from Mike’s last night it’s been one disaster after another.) The laptop chimed again.

Albert stood and moved to face Adam, “actually he makes a good point, We weren’t going to take this job until you got back from Mike’s last night. What changed?” The laptop chimed again and Albert walked over and powered down the speakers.

“We got proof Mike was cursed.”

“You’re hiding something from me, you know I hate that, what proof?” Everyone’s cell phones began ringing with Christine‘s ring tone, the punk song Christine. Albert grabbed his phone and pressed a button silencing it. He looked at everyone else and said, “send her to voicemail.” Everyone quickly followed suit. Albert then turned to face Adam.

Adam shuffled his feet under Albert‘s glare. “There was a banshee in his yard.”

“A banshee is not a curse. A banshee is a fact. He’s a dead man.” Everyone’s phone began to ring again. Albert grabbed his and hurled it across the room shattering it on the far wall.

The rest of the team quickly silenced their phones, with Blake and Gryphon walking a short distance away to turn theirs off.

Albert turned to face Adam’s seven plus foot frame seething with anger. He began floating up off the ground until his eyes were even with Adams. “A banshee singing outside a home means someone inside dies. You know this, the only thing helping him can cause is getting one of us killed with him.”

“We have to try.”

Albert raised his hands as if to grab Adam by the throat when the phones began ringing again but this time instead of the sharp notes of the song it was Christine’s voice with a sharp edge to it, “Answer. Your. Computer.”

Albert took a deep breath and slowly floated back to the ground. Walked over to the laptop and opened it up so quickly the plastic made cracking noises. He clicked a couple of buttons and the video link connected. The face of a young woman in her early twenties appeared on the screen. Deep blue lipstick and a bright purple Mohawk that stuck up off the top of the screen.

“This better be important.”

She spoke, with a slightly modulated voice and said, “I found something on Mike’s computer. I know what you’re up against and I know why this is happening. You need to see this.”

There was a brief flash and Christine’s image was replaced with a video.

*  *  *

1 minute to Saint Patrick’s Day, 6 blocks from the safe house.

Even if Wulf hadn’t given up on the pay phones there were none left to find at this point. Keenly aware of the time, he scanned the buildings they passed hoping for somewhere empty and defensible. Sadly, anywhere they might have used was occupied by the local homeless forced off the streets by the recent rain.

Mike and Wulf began to pass some local mom and pop stores; a grocer, a hardware store, an all night liquor store. Thick metal security gates with heavy bars had been dropped into place over the entrances to all but the liquor store. It’s broken sign flashing intermittingly in red and gold neon letters. Even it had most of the windows shuttered, only the front door was uncovered, and Wulf judged it was made of thicker than average glass in a failed attempt to bullet proof it.

Mike looked at the light from the store and began to ask, “what about…”

“There’s people in there, to many variables.”

It was then when they heard the gong from the bell tower at the Saint James church peel off the first ring of midnight. Wulf moved with practiced speed shoving Mike against the wall and stepping between him and the nine figures who had been following them. He had both pistols in his hands and moved his left hand slowly from man to man. His right hand was aimed at the man whom had gotten the closest.

There was more different about each of the men than not, their clothes all indicated different walks of life and occupations, from a man in a pressed Armani suit to one wearing Khakis and a sweater vest. The man Wulf had pegged as the leader was wearing a Bulls jersey over a loose t-shirt. Hair and skin tones varied from man to man, though four of them were auburn haired with light complexions, the leader had a well trimmed goatee. The only things that were common was that each man carried a wooden baseball bat, and none of them were over three feet tall.

Mike began to cry silently.

The leader stepped forward a little more, he had a northern Chicago accent, “now, now, There’s no need for that. We can do this quite peacefully.”

“I doubt that. Why don’t you fellas tell me why you’ve been following us for the past six blocks?”

“Nine actually, but still impressive.” The leader bent down and set the bat at his feet. “There’s no need for this to get out of hand. We have no quarrel with you, I’m sure you’re just some one ol’ Mike there hired when he found out we were coming. So take the money he’s given you and simply walk away. You have no idea the forces you’re dealing with. Technically, I‘m saving your life”

Wulf flexed his shoulder slightly and let his trench coat open a crack revealing the runes underneath. “I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m dealing with.”

“Oh, we noticed the vests,” the man smiled, “and by the way your’s glows red, I can see you’re a good man. Just as you can see by the white glow of Mike’s he’s not.”

“So, I should just hand him over since you’re a decent stand up guy.”

“It’s true.”

“It’s kind of amazing how many really bad men say…” Wulf’s left hand quickly swiveled to point at the man farthest over wearing a green Kiss Me I‘m Irish t-shirt, “That’s far enough.” The man had tried to take advantage of the conversation to come up on Wulf’s side unnoticed. “Get back with the rest.”

“Come now Clancy, a nice try but move back this way.”

“Yeah Clancy, go join your friend. Real easy.” Wulf tracked Clancy until he had moved a few feet over and was no longer in his peripheral vision. “We’ll I’ve met Clancy, what’s your name?”

“Sean, and you?”


Sean bowed his head slightly, and watched Wulf for a moment as his eyes stayed locked. “You know most people nod and give us the opening?” Wulf didn’t respond. “There must be something I can offer you?”


“I’ve been looking at the runes on yer vest, the green ones are wrong. I can fix them.”

“You can’t offer me anything, besides they work just fine.”

“No, they don’t. Green’s the color of nature, it’s something I’m familiar with. Right now they’re useless, they aren’t set up to protect you from outside forces.”

“I know. They’re designed to protect everyone else from me.”

Sean smiled, “son, that doesn’t make any damn sense.”

“That’s because you have no idea the forces you’re dealing with. So walk away and technically I‘ll be saving your life.”

“Well then, I guess were at an impasse and we’re just going to have to do this the hard way. I’m sorry fortune is about to set itself against you.” Sean snapped his fingers and smiled.

A loud bell rang out as two women walked out of the liquor store and right into the middle of the showdown. It took Sean and the other a moment to realize what had just happened but a moment was all Wulf had needed. Wulf dropped one of the pistols, grabbed Mike and shot forward towards the women. Dropping Mike at their feet and drawing one of the many knives from his belt, he stepped between the women and the men surrounding them. “Stay behind me.” He dropped into a crouch as one of the women dropped her bag of liquor heavy glass bottles exploded against the street spilling thick amber liquor on the sidewalk.

Sean looked calmly at Wulf, “well now, I didn’t expect that.”

*  *  *

At the Safe House

Albert watched the end of the video Christine had found on Mike’s home computer. He sat there quietly as Christine appeared back on the screen. Gryphon, Adam, and Blake slowly, quietly backed away from him. He stood slowly and took a deep breath, “If he isn’t dead yet, I’m going to tear out his heart and eat it.” He spun facing the rest of the team, “I need out. Wulf’s with him, which means he’s screwed.”

Gryphon stepped forward, “how? We’re air tight because of the security locks, and you’ve seen the main door. We’re here till morning when the timer‘s release.”

Adam began removing his tactical vest, “I can open the main door. Blake grab the generator.”

(Are you sure?) Blake signed before moving to one of the generator for the halogens.

“It’s the only way.”

Gryphon began removing his armor, “You’re going to need my help.”

Christine’s voice came over the speaker, “Captain?”

Albert turned to the screen, “You did good kid, nice work. I need you to find the money.”

“I don’t understand.”

“He got paid for this and then he went back on his half of the deal. That’s why they’re pissed. He’d have gotten a roughly two quart container filled with gold coins, I don’t even know what the conversion rate would be.”

Christine closed here eyes for a second, when she opened them, “around one point two million dollars. If he converted it to cash.”

“True. If he did see if you can find it.”

“Will do.” Christine gave a quick salute and the screen turned off.

Albert turned around and breathed deep. He needed to find Wulf and that bastard before anything really bad happens. He leaned his head back and his pupils began to swirl. Little tendrils of darkness snaked out until his eyes were completely covered in darkness and glowed with a faint black light. “I’m calling upon the night and all of it’s children. I seek two men and I would have you find them.

*  *  *

Five blocks from the safe house.

“I told you son, we only want Mike, let the women go. Is there nothing I can say that will make trust me.”

“Can’t think of one.”

“We haven’t attacked since they came out isn’t that proof enough?”

“Since I have a gun and you have bats, this is either you being stand up guys or you’re trying to figure out how to get a hostage so I’ll drop my weapon. So, I’m afraid we’re at a standstill. You come at us if you want, but I promise you’re the first one dead.”

“A promise, there’s an idea.” Sean thought for a moment, “How familiar are you with the old ways?”

“I have decent handle on them.”

“Then let me try this.” Sean turned to address the women. “Ladies, where do you live?”

Wulf thought about it for a second, “go ahead and answer him.”

One of the women began to speak through a quivering voice, “on the next block over, in the building with the blue door.”

Wulf and a few of the men glanced at the door some sixty feet away. Sean turned back and spoke, “Then let me purpose this. In the name of the High King, I call a truce until the ladies here are off the street. Neither of our numbers will move or take any action against the other until that door closes and they are both safe. What say you?”

Wulf thought for a moment, “In honor of the High King, and with full knowledge of the fate to he that breaks this vow, I accept your terms. I agree to the accord.”

Sean nodded, “then we have a deal, as of now.” There was a slight ripple in the air as each of the men lowered their bats.

Wulf lowered his glock and knife and turned his head to the women, “Go. Get home. Get safe.”

It was all the encouragement they needed and both women moved slowly, nervously at first, fearful of a trick of some kind and began to walk quickly keeping an eye on both groups as they went. One of the women fumbled through her purse digging for keys.

Behind Wulf Mike spoke in a hushed whisper, “their distracted, we should run for it.”


“It’ll give us a head start and we can…”

“No,” Wulf interrupted him, “to certain entities a promise holds a remarkable amount of weight. To make any promise is a big deal. To invoke the name of another more powerful entity to hold that deal, is huge. We made a promise in the name of the High King, one of the oldest and most honorable of all the faerie folk. To break that promise now would be far worse than death, because we would have technically lied to him. He takes that very seriously.”

“How does he know?”

“When we agreed to the accord he became aware of it and now he’s watching.”


The sound of the door slamming shut echoed like the clap of tombstones sending another ripple out and signaling the end of the truce. Wulf raised and fired his glock in one smooth motion. The round in the chamber exited and destroyed the bat of one of the men as they raised it to defend themselves. At the same time the magazine dropped out of the bottom of the gun. Wulf cursed and flung the pistol forward with a quick straight toss catching Clancy in the face and knocking him backwards with a bloody nose.

He turned and yelled at Mike, “Run.” Both men began moving as quickly as they could with their pursuers running to keep up. From a nearby ally, a few rats watched with interest.

*  *  *

At the safe house.

Albert blinked his eyes as they returned to normal. “Are we ready?”

Gryphon and Adam had finished setting up the generator. “We’re just about ready,” said Gryphon moving the step ladder into place.

Adam took a deep breath, “this is going to be a bit rough, you guys better step back.”

Blake retreated behind the barricades as Albert picked up the laptop and said, “as soon as you’re ready go. I know where they are now.”

*  *  *

2 Blocks from the safe house.

The safety latch on an escape ladder gave way and it fell toward the sidewalk, stopping with the bottom rung hanging at head height. Mike unaware of the ladder careened forward catching the rung with his throat and clothes lining himself up into the air. He sailed forward and then slammed down onto the sidewalk with the full force of his body knocking all the air from his already labored lungs.

Wulf skid to a halt and reached down trying to help Mike to his feet. Mike tried to stand but he couldn’t get air back into his lungs and was beginning to panic. Tears filled his eyes has his body began to turn against him in it’s quest to fill his lungs. He fumbled to his knees as his body fought for air.

Wulf felt the movement of the air and shoved Mike towards a door way as he side stepped one of the men’s bats. Mike tripped over a feral cat and went face first into a brick wall dazing himself. Wulf drew the last of his dozen knives, now holding one in each hand, the other ten left scattered along the path they had just taken like breadcrumbs in a demented children’s story. They were all lost to the night except the one protruding from Clancy’s thigh.

Wulf pushed forward as the man Wulf had begun to think of as the Professor because of his tweed jacket stepped in and swung his bat. Wulf blocked with one of his knives and stepped in kicking the professor in the knee dropping him to the pavement. As the professor dropped to the ground with a scream of pain Wulf took a second to count the numbers around him.

Six were left, five if the Professor was really out of commission. They were all good with the bats but only Clancy had shown any real skill for violence. Well, Clancy and Sean, the only one who hadn’t engaged Wulf at this point, letting the others wear him down. He looked at the rest, the Broker in the Armani suit circled to his left while Khakis circled to his right. Hipster, with the leather vest and stupid hat still had a broken pair of glasses dangling from one ear, was staying towards the middle with Clancy; he seemed to figure out who could do the most damage.

Broker moved first, charging forward with an old Celtic battle cry, Wulf responded by stepping forward and putting his boot in Broker’s face flipping him over and knocking him back. Swift daggers of pain shot through Wulf’s knee as Khakis caught him in the back of the leg. Wulf dropped to on knee and swung his knife in a wide arc as Khakis danced away.

Damn it. Wulf they had bluffed him and he fell for it. Clancy shot forward no screaming, just a murderous gleam in his eyes. He cleared the ground in a few quick steps then pushed off the ground using the bat as a vault and then swung it up over his head to bring it down on Wulf’s.

Even with a bruised knee Wulf was still faster. He pushed off the sidewalk with his good leg and swung the knife blade around so it was facing down. With a quick thrust he’d moved it up inside Clancy’s grip and with a quick twist pulled the bat from his hands sending it flying towards Hipster. With his other hand he grabbed the back of Clancy’s shirt and stuffed him through the rungs on the fire escape trapping him there. Then with a quick punch he triggered the retract function and the ladder climbed back towards the second floor.

Wulf turned to face the rest of the men, Hipster was lying on his back moaning with Clancy’s bat lying next to him on the ground. His hat lay next to him with a bat shaped dent in the front.

Wulf stepped back spinning his knives so one was blade up and one blade down. Sean took the bat off his shoulder and gave it a quick spin flipping it over his hand and tossing it up in the air then catching it effortlessly as it came back down.

A dark mist off the waterfront started to roll up the street and Wulf smiled at Sean, “I was wondering when it would come to us.”

The fog began to quickly thicken, “I guess it’s about time then. Shall we dance?”

A wall of dark fog rolled up the street, blocking buildings and dim street lights. Both men took a deep breath and began to move towards one another. Wulf’ limped a bit but kept the knives ready for a counter attack. Sean took easy steps bouncing from foot to foot, to keep his balance smooth and even.

The wall of fog came to the two men and Albert bound from the shadows landing in between them his hands outstretched the laptop held in the one towards Wulf. “In the name of the High King I demand a truce.”

Startled by the appearance both men came to an abrupt halt and hopped backwards. Wulf staggered under his bad knee and the impromptu retreat. Albert turned to face Sean, “In the name of the High King I demand a truce.”

Sean said, “I refuse.”

“Without hearing terms?” Albert folded his hands over the laptop in front of him, “That’s hardly recognizing the old ways.”

Sean stared for a long moment, “Fine. Give me your terms.”

Albert spoke quickly, “I wish for ten minutes, to talk to Mike then to you, in order to determine whether or not a surrender on our part is called for. During that time, neither side will bear false witness to the other, nor act towards the other with hostile intent.”

Sean looked at Albert through the mist, “Before I accept or refuse your offer, who are you to call on the High King?”

The mist around Albert swirled away revealing a street light that had been hanging overhead. With the mist gone Albert was in full view of Sean, “do you know me now?”

Sean bowed his head, “your Lordship, I did not know that you had laid claim to the man or else I would have approached you through more appropriate channels. Of course, we’d heard you were dead.”

“I get that sometimes.” Albert looked thoughtful, “With the knowledge of my claim do you intend to withdraw yours?”

“No. I will have him. However, in honor of the High King, and with full knowledge of the fate to he that breaks this vow, I accept your terms with the addition that no harm befall Mike Kelly for the length of the agreement. I agree to the accord.”

“Then accepting your addition, we have a contract.” There was a slight ripple in the air, “What was his name?”


“I’m sorry.“ Albert turned his back moved toward Mike.

Albert seemed to float forward into the door way where Mike was just recovering his breath. “what did you do little man?”

“Nothing. I did nothing.”

Albert opened the laptop and pressed play in the video player that had been pulled up on the display. A video of Mike appeared, he was smiling and wearing a nice suit. Video Mike looked into the camera, “Hello. I’m Mike Kelly and I’m going to teach you how to locate, identify, and capture your very own leprechaun.” Albert pressed stop.

Mike backed against the wall, his hand reaching for the doorknob, “that was a joke. It wasn’t real.”

Albert reached out and grabbed Mike by the throat and lifted him off the ground. He leaned his face forward and locked eyes with him, “You will tell me the truth. Now.” There was power in his words and gaze.

Mike relaxed, “I caught a leprechaun about a month ago. He offered me money to let him go. He laundered it for me and placed it in an off shore account. I was getting ready to let him go and I thought, “if I kept him other leprechauns would come to rescue him. I could catch them too and get more money. I’ve got a wife and kids, it would have provided for them, paid for college, made sure they never needed anything. I mean, why didn’t my kids deserve the best. A nice house, good cars, the best schools, clothes, vacations. My kids deserve those things. Don’t they.

“I work hard for the IRS, checking the sheets for rich, fat cats, with their fancy cars and houses. They don’t so anything to deserve that money. They look down on everyone who doesn’t have the cash they do. They never use it for anything useful. I work hard, I deserve it. I’d use it for good. I would.”

Albert sighed, “when did…” he looked at the leprechauns behind him.

“Sean,” Wulf said, “the leaders name is Sean.”

Albert faced Mike, “When did Sean come to you?”

“A couple of days before I found you. He told me if I didn’t let the one in my shed free he’d die. I tried to catch him too but the plan fell apart. Nothing worked right. It all fell apart.”

“Why not free Shamus?”

“It was a lie. You can’t die from that.”

“Actually, that’s how you kill a leprechaun, imprisonment. If they’re not free on Saint Patrick’s Day when the bell tolls twelve and the day begins, they cease to be.”

“No,“ Mike was becoming agitated. “They just didn’t want to give me anymore money for my kids. Just like all those other rich bastards, they have so much they could have helped people like me. People like my kids. Of course their gone now, my wife took them. I’ll get them back though, as soon as I have more money. My wife will have to come back. I just need my luck to turn around.”

Albert sighed, “It won’t. You gave your word to a leprechaun and broke it. Promises have power and when you break one this is the punishment.” Albert dropped Mike and walked to Sean.

The leprechauns, having gathered back together and even retrieved Clancy from the fire escape, stood watching as Albert approached. He stopped a few feet away and Sean walked forward to meet him before asking, “Your lordship, did you get your answers?”

“Don’t call me that, Albert or Captain if you must. What’s your intentions towards Mike Kelly?”

“He is to be arrested and taken to the Grand Council, tried before a judge, and sentenced for his crime.”

“Whose the judge?”

“This month it is the Great Owl.”

“He’s fair and merciful. He most likely won’t choose death.”

“I know.”

“Who was Shamus to you?”

“My brother.”

“Then I offer a solution. If the great Owl does not choose death, I would like to suggest the place of imprisonment.”

“Well, Al…” Sean paused and seemed to think better of the word, “Captain, I’m not sure the great Owl will accept your offer.”

“I offer this provision, as long as Mike is bound to the location I choose, I will never seek to learn of his condition, nor will I interact with him on any personal level.”

“I can’t guarantee anything. I will extend your offer though.”

“Very well.” Albert turned to Wulf. “We’re done, let them have him. Our deal is concluded.” A slight ripple broke the air.

Wulf stepped aside as the leprechauns gathered around Mike. With terror in his eyes Mike slumped down the wall.

Albert called to Sean, “He’s in the shed out back of the house.”

“I know, but for another leprechaun to have freed him would have broken the deal.” The night air was cut by a brilliant rainbow and a short scream of pure fear that ended as suddenly as it began. Albert and Wulf were all alone.

Wulf turned to Albert, “Where’s everyone else.”

“Back at the safe house. We need to get back there, Mike’s bad luck extended to us. While getting us out of the building Adam took some voltage.”

“Is everyone all right?”

“They should be.”

*  *  *

Three days later, the office. Just after sunset.

The door to Albert’s office opened and a handsome man in his mid twenties wearing a rumpled suit walked in. “Hello Albert.”

“Doctor Jackson,” Albert set his pen down and pushed his paperwork aside. “How are you today?” Albert had known Edwards family for longer than he cared to remember sometimes but smiled as the young man approached. Jackson was a calm, confident man whose outward appearance often led to people underestimating him. Albert knew his wardrobe had been carefully the disheveled appearance of the suit was misleading to anyone who didn’t know it was precisely tailored Armani two sizes too large for the young man.

“I’m doing fine. I just came by to check Wulf’s knee, and thought I should let you know. I got a new patient at Read today.” Doctor Jackson moved up and sat in the leather chair across from Albert.

“Doc, I’m going to interrupt you. I’m sorry but I can’t hear how he’s doing or what his prognosis is. I know he’s there and that’s all I can know.”

“He mentioned leprechauns and you. So, I figured I should check.”

“That’s fine Doc. I understand, but there was a deal made. I’m sort of stuck for it.”

“No problem, I’ll hold him for a couple of weeks and then release him.” Dr. Jackson began to stand.

“I’m sorry Doc. I needed to be clearer. I want him to rot.”

Dr. Jackson paused and settled back into his seat. “I’m sorry, did I miss something?”

“He made a video that outed magic and magical creatures. He was set to distribute it by an email bomb. He was going to let the world know we exist and endanger every last one of us. I want him gone.”

“I can keep him in, if it‘s for safety purposes.”

“That’s fine. I appreciate it too. I do have a message if you want to give it to him, I’ll leave it to your judgment, if he can handle it or not. We found his one point five million dollars and I made sure it went to his wife and kids. He was very persistent that the money was for them.”

“Well, I don’t see any harm in that. I can deliver the message.”


So, what did you think? I'd love to hear your thought's head on over to my facebook page and let me know. If you want to read the teams further adventures you can read Down the Murder Hole.