"Cariñoso," Penelope cooed, teasingly running a finger along his arm as she walked past him. "You were worried about me?"
Hearing the sound of the door shut, she released the glamer that constantly hid her true being. Faery magic exploded around her like a beacon of light to any that could see true. Penelope tossed her dark hair about basking in the momentary respite from her self-made shackles. Freedom, even one so small, was joyful.
Exhaling a contented sigh, the siren glided across the room to take a seat at the messy table. The strewn about papers and stale smell of cigarette smoke had a sobering effect. There would be no avoiding talk of Alice no matter how dearly she wanted to avoid the subject. Grabbing the bottle of scotch that had found its way to the table, Penelope brought the bottle to her lips and generously poured its contents into her mouth. It was nearly impossible for her to actually get drunk, but the burn of the whiskey inside her was wondrously calming. Taking a breath, she brought her grey eyes up to Alejandro's concerned face.
"I've been around a long time, mi vida. It will take far more than a demon child to snuff my light. With her attentions diverted elsewhere, she won't be coming back. Let's both take a breath and return to the matter at hand. There's that pendant I found. What do you know?"
“Cariñoso,” Penelope cooed, gracing him with a touch as she passed by, “you were worried about me?”
“Well…” Alex’s gaze reluctantly let go of the Iberian beauty and swept uncertainly over the sidewalk for an instant. He understood that, given her power, his concern for her safety was probably just a shade more than ridiculous but, still… “Yeah,” he shrugged, his attentions returning to Penelope as he closed the door, “I guess I… whoa!”
She had dropped her glamer, and, when his eyes found her this time, beautiful seemed a woefully lacking word to describe her. Her aura shone with colors he didn’t know existed, glowed with motes and sparks of light that he’d never seen in any other creature, and made him feel…
Stop! He shook his head and blinked at the same time, feeling as if he was physically extracting himself from it. Get a hold of yourself, Sharpe!
As he returned the pistol to its place at his back, Alex closed his eyes, sucked in a deep breath, and, with a mantra chanting in his mind, centered himself as best he was able… willing his essence to be calm and his focus to be clear. He released that breath as his fingers lifted to touch the pentacle at his neck and his eyes came open, again. His hand slid away from the pentacle, then, and lifted to rub at a whisker-stubbled cheek as he moved back into the room. He watched as she tipped the bottle of scotch to her lips, letting the questions which had come to mind go unvoiced for now lest the answers tip him off center…
“I've been around a long time, mi vida,” she almost sighed, her eyes meeting his as he drew up on the other side of the table, “It will take far more than a demon child to snuff my light. With her attentions diverted elsewhere, she won't be coming back. Let's both take a breath and return to the matter at hand. There's that pendant I found. What do you know?”
“More than I ever wanted to,” he answered, reaching out and snaking the bottle from her hand, “More than I probably should…” His gaze ticked toward the cash register where he kept his horde of Zazy pendants for an instant, and he tipped the bottle to his lips, indulging in a long pull on the scotch before he looked back at her and shrugged faintly: “…Nowhere near enough.”
He eyed her for a long moment, debating with himself as to how much he should tell her… about what he knows about the Azazelites… about how and why he knows it… about what he’s done…
She could probably pull that information out of you with a glance, anyway, he told himself, but she hasn’t… and she did take her own risk in revealing her true nature to some drunken bum of a stranger…
…He nodded, took another pull from the bottle, and set the thing down on the table between them.
“I’ve been hunting these sons-of-bitches for almost three years,” he said, an almost sad smile playing at the corners of his mouth as he reached for the picture of Emily in her wedding dress, “and I’ve only scratched the surface.
The Cult’s been around for a long time,” he continued, gazing at the photo he held in his hands, “… a lot longer than I care to think about, to be honest… but they’ve only started to make their mark around here in the past five years or so. My wife, Emily, she knew about them before I did… asked me more than once to help her stop them, in fact…” Alex set the picture down on the table next to the bottle of scotch and stared at it for a moment longer before lifting his grey eyes to Penelope’s, “…I didn’t. And she died because of it…”
The bedraggled PI sighed softly, offered a faint shake of his head, and, after fishing a cigarette from his pocket began to relate the entirety of his tale to this woman he’d only just met. He told her that, despite being raised in the Craft and being married to a relatively powerful witch, he himself never truly practiced in earnest or even so much as acknowledged his faith more than in passing… his career and what he had imagined for their earthly future were more important, after all… “You worry about the Reckoning, baby, I used to tell her,” he smiled sadly, maybe even guiltily, at one point, “I’ll worry about the bills.”
He told her about how, when Emily’s coven had first become aware of the Cult rising to power in the area, she had come to him and asked him to, at least, attend their rituals and lend his essence to their spells if he couldn’t bring himself to use or even acknowledge his gift… “I told her I was too busy on a case. Didn’t have the time to stand the circle and try to bind some minor dark coven. She had all the power she needed, anyway, right? ‘You worry about the Reckoning, baby; I’ll worry about the bills.’”
He told her, then, about the other two times Emily had asked for his assistance and how, again, he had managed to avoid dabbling in the workings of Magic… “‘That’s your thing, Em,’ I told her, ‘You handle the bad stuff in the ether and I’ll handle the bad stuff here in the real world…’” Alex shook his head and reached for the bottle. “I was an idiot,” he said before tipping the bottle to his lips, “She was practically begging me and I was too blind to see it. The third time she asked me was the last time I saw her alive…”
The rest of it spilled from his lips as vividly and horrifically as it spilled into his nightmares… Waving off Emily’s last request for him to lend his power to the coven in deference to a big case… Kissing her good-bye and wishing her well before disappearing into his work on Chicago’s streets… Getting the blood-chilling phone call and somehow knowing in that very instant that there was nothing he could do… Abandoning the case, anyway, and frantically racing to the warehouse where Em’s coven had gathered… finding them all butchered… coming close to getting flayed alive himself…
Yeah, he mused darkly as he came toward the end of the nightmare, I don’t guess I’ll be sleeping anytime soon.
“…Anyway,” he sighed, having related everything up to his having quite the force, “the CPD wasn’t gettin’ anywhere and I was… I dunno… lost, I guess… angry. I threw myself into the Craft and into finding these f*#kers wherever they might be… and makin’ ‘em pay for what they did.” There was a mirthless snort of a chuckle at that and Alex’s gaze drifted back to Emily’s picture. “She probably wouldn’t approve of the way I’m doin’ it,” he almost whispered, “probably wouldn’t be happy with the way I’ve embraced my Gift.” His burn-scarred fingertips drifted over the smiling face in the photograph for a second and he returned that smile with one of his own just before he tipped the frame over so the picture was face down. “But, with every one of the sons-of-bitches I find, the closer I get to findin’ the top…”
His eyes went hard, then, the sadness crystalizing into anger. “Most of ‘em don’t like to talk, at first,” he said, fishing a cigarette from his pocket, “and, truth be told, I didn’t let the last one say much of anything…” He lit the smoke, took a drag, and blew the smoke out in exasperation. “…That was probably a mistake,” he admitted quietly, almost to himself, “Eddie was probably the biggest fish I’ve landed, so far. Most of the others were just minnows…”
Alex blinked, then, as if realizing he’d wandered off topic, and offered Penelope a vaguely apologetic smile. “Like I was sayin’,” he said, “I don’t have much of a lead on the top tier, just yet, but I’ve got the low down on a handful of their gathering spots and I have started finding their Gifted. Once I get a look at your place, I figure I can manage to run down another one or two and get some useful intel from ‘em…”
((OOC: So, I decided to back-burner the Joe Kelly post for a moment and tack this one up instead. Plenty of room for interjection and the like, throughout, as always... Run with it as you will...))
Kenneth rubbed his forehead, feeling the creases above his eyebrows. His case just got a whole lot weirder. Either that or some higher up decided to toss this new thing in his inbox for the laughs. He wasn't laughing. In fact, it was the one thing he had hoped he would be wrong about.
On the table in the morgue was the body of a child. Normally he was unaffected by the presence of a dead body, but this one... this one was just creepy. None of the morticians wanted to approach the body, and he couldn't blame them.
Based on the report when the call was received, some teenagers were hoping to get a shortcut through the alley and avoid rush hour. They wouldn't have noticed the body if not for the crows. A flock of crows, just sitting on the fire escapes of the adjacent buildings, not making a sound. On the ground, several dead vermin and one dead crow forming a rough outline around the body, about a foot away, as though they couldn't get closer to do what it is scavengers do.
No one wanted to touch the body, let alone move it, but it was procedure, and now it was here, and would remain here until the morticians finally figured out who would bite the bullet and analyze the body properly. Kenneth wouldn't be surprised if they all called in sick tomorrow. Hell, he felt sick too, looking at those... wings... or whatever they were. Still moving, twitching, despite the girl being quite apparently dead.
Yet that bothered him too. There was no sign of any visible wound. Nothing to indicate how she died.
Feeling an involuntary shiver, Kenneth left the morgue, quick to put that place behind him.
"Going on break," He told the secretary in the front office.
"Isn't it a bit early for you?"
"Yeah," He muttered, "Still going on break. Need to pick up some beer."
She blinked, "You, drink on the job? Is it that rough?"
Kenneth nodded as he exited the front door, stepping into the evening, "Yeah, yeah it is. Might want to let people know not to go to the morgue, room A4."
55 East Erie St #SH-2, Near North Side, Chicago, IL – 11:28pm
Cyrene sat in her wood-paneled den, sipping a glass of 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, a fire going in the Gas-log fireplace, and looking at her computer screen. While she thought flying was marvelous, it tended to make her anxious and therefore she often had trouble sleeping shortly after a long flight. She might be practically an immortal and was very hard to kill, but she thought a crash from 30+ thousand feet just might do the trick. Besides, Katul had one of his men drop off the flash drive at her Townhouse while she was out to dinner. She arrived back at her place, and not feeling like sleeping just yet, thought she would start looking over the information and get to work first thing tomorrow.
She sighed as she sat back in the high-back leather chair and sipped her wine. It wasn’t the wine that made her sigh, though it was a superb wine and expensive. She had picked up the bottle, from Chateau Mouton-Rothschilds personal cellar, at a Sotheby’s NY auction last year for a mere $300,000. No, it wasn’t the magnificent wine, it was a sigh of disgust at the almost complete lack of information about these slayings of Cultists. Most had been killed in various ways, some missing their amulets of Azazel. This lead her to believe that the person, or persons, responsible had a vendetta against the cult. Someone who was being very methodical and precise in their actions. Someone who was being very careful not to let their identify be discovered; a wise move. Most of the cultists killed were low level minions, suitable for information and menial tasks and not much more. But the latest had been someone a bit higher up and a gifted, Eddie Stevens. This one had been burned alive apparently and the partially melted amulet had been found on the body. This action had prompted her summoning and assigning to the task. This latest killing was different from the others; Eddie had been killed in a way to make him suffer; it had been personal with Eddie. Why?
Yes, most of the information that had been gathered by Katul’s minions had been worthless, except for perhaps the latest bit submitted recently from a cultist by the name of Fansler. He was a cop for the Chicago Police Department and had said that a cold case had been reopened and it might have some barring on the case. Fansler had said that a Detective Joe Kelly, who was working the Eddie Stevens case, had been to question a former cop by the name of Alexander Sharpe. It appeared that Sharpe’s wife had belonged to a Wicce Coven that had all been slain a couple years ago and it appeared to have been done by Cultist, as the symbol of Azazel was everywhere. Idiots! You don’t kill and leave signs of your identity or connections. She killed for Azazel, it was the primary purpose for her life, but she didn’t leave symbols behind to lead authorities to your door step. The only one that mattered to her was Azazel, and he knew when she had accomplished her goal and that was good enough for her. Leaving symbols was a sign of arrogance and pride, wanting people to fear you. She didn’t want people to fear her, she didn’t even want people to know that she existed. Well, at least as a servant of Azazel at least. She enjoyed the lavish lifestyle with all the perks, like $300k bottles of wine, limos, & downtown 4-story townhouses; but she didn’t want people to know of her connection to Azazel. It was a deep personal connection going back centuries, and she didn’t need to share that with anyone.
Fansler had left this Sharpe’s address and phone number behind when he left. She wondered if this thin thread was worth pursuing; other, thinner threads, had proven fruitful in the past. But first she wanted to speak to this Fansler and see if he had any other information he could give her. She would contact him first thing in the morning and arrange a meeting; she needed to see the police file on this Alexander Sharpe.
Posted on 2016-10-04 at 07:44:42.
Edited on 2016-10-04 at 12:52:49 by Boo Boo
Tanta Chicago, Peruvian Restaurant
118 W. Grand Ave, Chicago, IL - 11:25am
Cyrene La Croix sat in a private booth at the fine Peruvian style restaurant. She had paid extra to make sure that she was given a place of privacy for her meeting. She was currently enjoying an entrée of Salmon Anticuchero, which is grilled salmon, quinoa salad, avocado mousse, with huacatay sauce; and drinking a Pisco Sour made the right way; barsol quebranta pisco, egg white, lime, sugar and amargo chuncho bitters. It was hard to fine authentic Peruvian cuisine outside of Peru, of course, and she always like coming to Chicago because it had several fine upscale authentic restaurants of various worldly cuisines.
She casually glanced across the restaurant that was starting to gather more clientele as the Noon hour was approaching; a small smile came to her lips as she noticed several gentlemen checking her out from the bar. So far none of them had the nerve to come over and talk to her. She was glad for that, but she knew that while they felt the sexual ‘allure’ that she exuded almost like a pheromone, they could probably also sense that something was a little off with the woman. She always keep her true nature hidden, or course; it wouldn’t do to walk around terrifying the mundane people of the world. Only truly gifted people could sense that she was different, and possibly gifted herself, but they couldn’t see what she really was; a fact that they would be grateful for, if only they knew the truth.
Cyrene looked up when she saw the person that was coming to meet her. Sgt Fansler of the Chicago PD was hard to miss as he walked in wearing a patrolman’s uniform; looking just like any other policeman coming in for lunch perhaps. Maybe he would be a little out of place, since Tanta was a bit out of the usual price range for your average patrolman.
Fansler looked around the room and then his eyes fell upon her and they practically bugged from their sockets. He stood staring as if wondering if this was the woman that had called him an hour ago demanding that he meet her here. She had told him that she worked for the Cult and she was brought in to deal with an unpleasant situation. Her knowledge of the situation, and the commanding tone she used, left him with little recourse but to comply. He agreed to meet her here as she directed. He saw her smiled slightly at him and give an almost imperceptible nod of her head to confirm that she was the one he was here to see. He got his feet moving and approached her table. She was a knock-out; his eyes took her in as he walked up to the table. The perfect jet-black hair, glittering blue eyes, a perky mouth with bright, almost blood red, lipstick. Her dress was red with flower embroidery, it appeared Asian looking, and it revealed an ample bosom that swelled the dress to nicely. Her creamy skin was smooth looking and .. well perfection; he couldn’t see a single imperfection and it didn’t look like she used much, if any, makeup.
“Ms. La Croix?” Fansler managed as he stopped by her table, trying to keep his eyes above the neckline. He didn’t know what it was, but he was drawn to her, he couldn’t seem to help it.
“Yes,” Cyrene answered with a faint smile, “Sgt Fansler. Please be seated. I have some questions for you.”
“Of course,” Fansler replied as he dropped into the booth opposite her and tried not to stare.
“You have the file about which I inquired?” She asked as she took a sip of her Pisco Sour.
“Ah, Yes,” Fansler pulled a folder out of his jacket and slid it across the table to her, “I managed to get the original file as you requested. It wasn’t easy and the Detective that has it will miss it if I don’t return it soon.”
Cyrene offered up a faint smirk as she reached out a hand to pull the file to her, “I’m afraid that there is a need for this file to disappear.”
Fansler’s eyes grew a little wider with worry, “But Detective Kelly will want to know where it went. I’ll be questioned about it.”
“Make something up,” she said as she flipped open the file and saw a picture of a man on the inside cover, “this is him? This Alexander Sharpe you told us about? The one this Detective went to see after the last Cult Member was found murdered?”
“Yes,” Fansler said, “He was a cop till he just lost it after his wife and her Coven were slaughtered a couple years ago. He was partners with Kelly, which is why I think he went to see him.”
Cyrene nodded as she looked at the photo, it was a file photo from his policeman days. It looked like most other mundane men, he was kind of cute, but he didn’t show anything extraordinary really he… She turned her head to the side slightly as she looked closer at his eyes. She could almost see something there; something promising. He didn’t look like the type of man who would go about murdering Cult members, but his eyes… something dark lurked there perhaps.
“I want you to keep an eye on this Detective Kelly,” Cyrene told Fansler as she continued to look at the photo, “if he goes to see this Sharpe again I want to know about it.”
“Yes ma’am,” he replied, “do you want me to keep an eye on Sharpe as well.”
“No,” she replied firmly, “stay away from him. He knows you and if you’re seen, he will become suspicious. I’ll put someone else on him. Someone he won’t suspect.”
She closed the folder for now and took another sip of her drink and then looked at her food which was growing cold.
“Is there anything else Sgt. Fansler?” she asked as she stared intently at him.
Fansler found himself locked in that gaze; it froze him for a moment. He imagined it was what a mouse might feel when it saw the cat that was about to pounce upon it and end its tiny life.
“No ma’am,” he finally croaked out as he stood up. He eyed the folder that sat next to her for a moment, before he turned away and left the restaurant. While he found this woman to be irresistible, he also felt that she was a deadly woman whom he had best do as she said if he wanted to continue living.
Cyrene smiled as she watched the Patrolman leave; men were so easy to control or intimidate, whichever was required. She reached over and flipped open the folder laying on the table, and looked again at the photo as she finished up her lunch. She wondered what kind of man was this Alexander Sharpe? She wondered if he was Gifted? His wife had been in a coven afterall, so perhaps he too had some power. She would finish her lunch and go back to her place and examine the file further; she needed to know as much as she could about this man to determine if perhaps he was involved in this slaying of Cult Members.
(OOC: More to follow later as the investigation continues. )
Posted on 2016-10-07 at 12:43:57.
Edited on 2016-10-07 at 12:44:28 by Boo Boo
"More than I ever wanted to. More than I probably should. Nowhere near enough..." Alejandro took another swig from the bottle as he continued. "I've been hunting these sons-of-bitches for almost three years and I've only scratched the surface. The cult's been around for a long time..."
More than you know.
Indeed, worship of Azazel had gone on throughout the ages, reaching back millennia. In the days of old, only a few solitary mortals were twisted so greatly by their desire for power and beauty that they dared turn to one of the fallen. That all changed with the coming of the Christians and their Dead God. Dark Covens flourished under the cloud of secrecy that had become a mode of survival to all. The Christians had paved the way for the demon cults and Penelope hated them for that, nearly as much as she hated the demons themselves.
Azazel was old. A corrupted, twisted visage of desire. His was a too sweet beauty, it was tempting but to taste it was sickening. Demons were like that, exaggerated falsehoods whose truth only came to light when it was too late. They were the siren call of Hell. With their dealings in falsehoods and desire, many confused demons and faeries. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Where demons strove to tempt and twist the world into hell, the fey were born out of an imaginational fervor. They were manifestations of the unreal connecting the untouched realms of nature with the impossibility of dreams. Faeries might be carnal, wild, untamed, and duplicitous but there was celebration in that. There was joy and imagination. With every motion and every breath, the immortal masters of the in-between opposed the demons.
Over the centuries, Penelope had come into contact with a stray follower of the Beast, but never the cult itself. A single human sorcerer, no matter how powerful, was a minor annoyance compared to the shadow of an organized front. In a world of increasing connectivity, the possibility of a globally organized cult was a true threat. It chilled her to the bone.
Color drained from Penelope's face as Alejandro recanted his forlorn tale. They had broken him, sundered his world. An avenging spirit of rage has risen from the ashes. What would be left when retribution was done?
Reaching across the table, she took his hand in her letting the sorrow in both their grey eyes meet. This was about more than a pendant on the floor and protecting her secrecy. Alejandro was a lone man, waging a war against the rushing tide. How could she fail to do any less?
"Alejandro," she spoke with the light of resolve burning in her gaze. "We'll stop them. For Emily. For us all. If you think looking at my place will lead you to one of them, then let's not delay another moment."
Sitting back, she ran a finger slyly along her lips. If poking around her meager apartment was all he needed to find one or two of their number, the trip would be well worth it. One or two would be all she needed, she'd just have to convince Alejandro to keep them alive...
He hated telling that story… hated hearing it in his own voice… it was worse than reliving it, over and over again, in his nightmares. The nightmares were just a horror show, reminding him what his negligence had wrought. A punishment for his sins. Telling the tale out loud, though, made it feel more like a confession. Guilt and shame mixed strongly with the anger and sadness that the nightmares typically brought, creating a volatile cocktail that burned hotter in his gut than the strongest hooch he’d ever tasted. It was fuel for the furnace of rage and hatred that burned in his heart but it burned so clean that it made him realize that that fury and loathing were directed as much at himself as the Azazelites… and now, in the middle of Emily’s shop, with her long-dead, crystal blue eyes watching him from every photograph, he’d told the tale to Penelope… and Alex didn’t know if he wanted to puke or cry or burn the whole damn place down.
What you must think of me, now, Em, he mused hotly as his gaze flitted from one picture to the next, trying at the moment to avoid Penelope’s eyes, Said it myself when I told her that you’d disapprove, didn’t I?...If I’d have just helped you then… What I’m doing, now… it’s…
The Iberian woman reached across the table, then, and took his hand in hers, drawing his gaze back to her, as well. “Alejandro,” her tone was soft but there was a hard resolve that lit her eyes, “We'll stop them. For Emily. For us all. If you think looking at my place will lead you to one of them, then let's not delay another moment.”
His eyes dropped to where their hands were curled together on the littered table top… Penelope’s skin tone was darker and, her fingers were, perhaps, a bit longer, but the touch felt eerily like Emily’s… Been since Em that anyone’s held your hand like that, hasn’t it?… “Yeah,” he murmured, gently squeezing her hand in his before withdrawing from the touch.
“Yeah,” Alex repeated, above the register of a scratchy whisper, now, “let’s not.” As he backed a step away from the table, he ran the fingers he’d just freed from hers across his lips, then, possibly a bit uncomfortably, rubbed his hands together as his mist-grey gaze ticked briefly from Penelope to the staircase. “Let me… uh… let me check on Smoke and Rosie,” he said as he started for the stairs, “I’ll be right back.”
((OOC: What happens upstairs depends on whether or not Rosie is awake, yet, I suppose. If she’s still asleep, Alex will let Smoke know that he and Penelope are going to Pilsen, he’ll also leave Rosie a note explaining that he had to go to work along with some cash for a taxi or an Uber or whatever, if she decides to go home before he gets back. If Rosie’s awake, it might work out differently (no note, a bit of a conversation between her and Alex, etc) but more or less the same results… “I gotta go to work, kiddo. You’re welcome to hang out here with Smoke until I get back if you want. If you need to get back home, though, here’s some cash for a cab or whatever… Don’t forget your groceries…” *kiss on the forehead, whatever*))
Janelle stirred from her nap, for a moment forgetting where she was. She blinked a few times at the ceiling, tilting her head to the side as she idly hallucinated patterns on it. Yet, as she tilted her head, she felt droplets slide down her cheek.
"Huh?" She reached up with a hand to check, and they were tears, "Why am I crying?"
As she thought, she remembered her dream. She remembered a voice in her dream. Smoke? She grimaced.
"I don't think I need my dreams getting any stranger by bringing real people into them," She muttered, remembering where she was. She began to stretch as she woke up more. She might not be on a major team, but being a gymnast certainly had a good impact on her flexibility.
"And now the most important part, check the time," She took a deep breath before checking her digital watch. There was a danger time approaching, but she was indoors, and her 'wards' were placed; she knew she was safe for now.
With a sigh of relief, she fell off of the bed. In the process though, she held her hands forward, using her forearms to soften the fall into a forward roll, completing the motion and uncurling her body to stand up on her feet.
"I'm up!" She giggled. She didn't actually yell, but it had that hint of triumph in her voice.
55 East Erie St #SH-2, Near North Side, Chicago, IL – 2:10pm
Cyrene sat in her wood-paneled den with the contents of the folder spread out on a table; she had added print-offs of things from the information that Katul's men had provided which she had thought relevant and not just hearsay. She had to admit that Katul's men were very thorough; they even had a report about the Incident with the slaughter of the Coven written by the cultist that had been involved.
She had gathered all the info from the Police files, copies previously supplied by Sgt Fansler, and info about the dead Cult members and the conditions of their bodies. Most appeared to have been tortured before being finished.
Someone was out for information, but what? she thought.
She looked at the crime scene photos, and compared that to the Coroners reports. It seemed that the person was thorough and enjoyed himself perhaps. They seemed killings of passion, yet for a purpose, as if they were looking for something, or someone. The only difference was the last one. Eddie Stevens, he was killed by fire, without any signs of torture.
This one was personal! Why?
Eddie Stevens? Was Eddie the one the Killer sought? Unlikely. The killing was too quick. If Eddie was the one, she thought the person would take extra time with him. Make sure that he suffered the most. So way was Eddie Stevens different?
Eddie Stevens? Something clicked and she reached out and lifted the stack of photos from the police file of the slaying of the Coven. She had seen something in one of those photos. Yes, there it is. A crime scene photo of the wounds on the only survivor of the slayings, Alexander Sharpe. The photo showed the symbols that were carved in his body by the Cult members who had done the deed. If there was any doubt that the Cult was responsible for the slaying of the Coven, then the symbols on his body, and the symbols of Azazel written in blood at the scene would remove any doubt. She looked closely at the symbols on Sharpe's body; there... not symbols, but letters. E. S.
Eddie Stevens? Was Stevens one of the members who got away? Was he the one that had attempted to kill Sharpe, but for some reason, had let him live. Laying the photo aside, she lifted the paper detailing the events of the Cult Members that were there that night.
Yes, Eddie Stevens name was listed there. He and others had slain the coven because it was attempting to stop the Cult which was planning to perform a ritual in an attempt to summon Azazel. Fools! You didn't summon Azazel like some mongrel pup. He summoned you when he desired your services.
The Cult members had found out where the Coven was gathered and they had attacked in force, slaying all the members. Most of the Cult left then, taking with them any fallen, and left four low level members to string up the bodies in some sort of display of defiance. This Sharpe guy showed up and shot one of the members before the others could subdue him. They strung him up and went to work on him as well Before they could finish him, and string his corpse up next to his wife, someone had interrupted. They reported someone fast, who moved in the darkness and struck them seemingly out of nowhere. They never got a good look at it, and fled the scene taking their dead comrade with them.
Cyrene sat back and laid the report aside. What to make of it? Who was this mysterious person who saved Sharpe? It could be someone Gifted; a powerful one. Could this mystery person be the one slaying the Cult Members. Possible.
She turned to see her man servant, Ernst, standing in the doorway. He was a bulky man of Eastern European descent, who served as her personal servant whenever she traveled.
“Would Ma'am care for a drink?”
“Yes,” she said, “I believe there is some of that delightful '45 Mouton-Rothchilds left. I'll have that.”
Ernst moved silently across the room to the bar, poured her a drink, and soon had it sitting before her.
“Anything else, Ma'am?”
“No, I'm fine.”
Ernst turned and left the room, shutting the door behind him. Cyrene looked after him for a moment; he was a wonderful servant and totally devoted to her personally. He was a Cult member, but assigned to her for her private use. He was a Gifted member and he would protect her, even giving his life for her if required. She had fortunately never had to call upon him for that sacrifice; good help was hard to train. She smirked as she borrowed one of Katul's favorite sayings.
Sipping the wine, she let her thoughts move back to the information before her. She needed to find out who this person was that saved Sharpe. But there was no evidence of his identity; the police file didn't mention anything about him, or her.
He would know who it was, since the person obviously saved his life, he must know them. So it looked like she would be looking into this Alexander Sharpe in any case; either as a potential suspect in the slayings, or in knowing the slayer. Either way, she would have to check him out. But she didn't think she needed to check him out herself, not just yet. She had quite a few people in the area, but this required a special touch. She picked up her cellphone and dialed a number and was rewarded with a quick answer.
“Hello Jen,” she said, “Yes, it's Cyrene. I have a small assignment for you. I need you to check out someone for me. Let me know if this person requires further investigation. Yes, come by this afternoon and I will give you further details. Yes, 4 p.m. will be fine. Oh, his name? Alexander Sharpe.”
Posted on 2016-10-17 at 17:43:20.
Edited on 2016-10-17 at 17:44:26 by Boo Boo
Slamming the car door sent vibrations running up her arm. It was an oddly pleasurable sensation and part of yearned to do it again. That was a dangerous. Not the slamming of the door, but the desire. The call for pleasure. That yearning. She was ancient, an immortal whose life had already spanned many lifetimes, but still, part of her remained ruled by desire. It was the great weakness of all faeries. Desire was her weapon, and yet, she was bound to its call. Even the slamming of a door summoned carnal yearning.
Penelope sighed. There was no time for such distractions, but denying her nature was proving ever more difficult. The years in hiding had left her with little desire to deny herself anything, and that was dangerous. Threats remained even if the world changed. She could not die and nor could what hunted her. Running a hand through her raven curls, Penelope sighed again. It all had been her doing. Her own arrogance had brought her to this point. The impulsive faerie had learned caution, and now, despite all her careful motions the web of secrecy was unraveling.
Raising her eyes to meet Alejandro's, she gestured to the dilapidated building behind them. It was clean, but the economic realities that gripped the city had brought the house into a never-ending state of disrepair. Life undocumented did not leave her many options. Any complaints about her accommodations weren't quite fair. It hadn't taken much to convince the balding man who called the building home to grant her the attic apartment free of rent. Flirtation and a touch of compulsion won her a set of keys. With their unspoken agreement she ignored his less than legal activities, and he pretended she didn't exist. A better arrangement would have been hard to find. Necessity had brought her to Pilsen, but in truth she rather liked the area. Here, among the Mexican immigrants and Hispanic people she blended in. They shared a tongue and Penelope walked among them seen but invisible.
A few quick steps brought them to her front door, and after a moment of fumbling with keys and locks, Penelope and the detective were climbing the creaking steps to her apartment. Each step released a groan from the old stair, an almost erotic but painful symphony announcing their arrival. She would have cursed, but one did not complain about what one didn't pay for.
"Welcome to the palace," Penelope hummed as they approached her attic door.
Stopping a few feet in front of the portal, she let her fey senses take in the place. There was still an echo of hidden magic, impotent with its threads unraveled, but there nonetheless. She traced long the edges of the building, finding all much as she left it.
"This is were I found the medallion and the little warded gift around it. What do you make of it?"
WARNING: Due to Descriptive Graphic Violence – Parental Discretion is advised
Old Town, West North Ave, Chicago, IL - Tuesday Night – 11:33pm
The couple were having a grand night out; they had dined and had drinks at Corcoran's Grill & Pub on Wells St. Now they were staggering their way home after a few too many of those drinks. They were making their way up West North Ave towards their place.
“Hey,” the boyfriend said as he stopped near a passing alleyway, hauling the girl to a stop by her hand. She staggered and barely managed to keep her feet.
“What?” she asked with a laugh as she stumbled into him.
“Lets stop in here for a little...” He said and made a brushing motion with his finger on the tip of his nose.
“What? You can't wait till be get to the apartment?” his girlfriend asked. He shook his head and dragged her into the darkened alley. She knew he liked the 'blow' more than she did, but she usually went along with it just because he did it. Before she had met him, almost a year ago now, she had never done anything stronger than marijuana; but he had a taste for cocaine and so she developed a taste as well.
They slipped into the shadows away from the street; their wasn't much traffic anyway, but they didn't want some busybody seeing them and calling the cops. He stopped and let go of her hand, which she used to lean against the wall of a building to keep her balance. He reached into his jacket and brought out a small vial; opening it he sprinkled a little line on the side of his hand like he was doing Salt for a tequila shot. He started to raise it to his face when a shadow moved behind him.
Something slammed hard into the back of his head and he fell forward onto his face, out cold. The girlfriend started to laugh at first, thinking he had fallen or just passed out. Then she saw the shadow move and something came out into the light. She gasped and then started to scream as she saw the face, but a hand whipped out and two claw like nails ripped out her throat and turned her scream into a gurgle as she went down to the pavement. The thing in the shadows came out, it was covered in a big dark coat with a scarf around it's neck. It stood and looked down at the woman as her life drained quickly away.
Bite her face off. No pain. Her dead already. Kill her quick like others. Not want make pain. Not her fault.
The boyfriend groaned but not move. Got from behind. Got quick. Never see. He can live.
Girl look me after boyfriend go down. When see face start scream. But stop her before sound get loud. Her sick-scared look as she died. Hate that look. Hate it terrible. Sorry girl. Not your fault.
Chew her face skin. Chew all. Chew hard and swallow. Warm wet redness make sickish but chew and chew. Must eat face. Must get all down. Keep down. Leave eyes.
The boyfriend groaned again. Move one arm. Must leave quick. Take last look blood and teeth and stare eyes that once pretty girl-face. Sorry girl. Not your fault.
Got go. Get way hurry. First take money. Girl money. Take boyfriend wallet too. Always take money. Need money.
Go now. Not too far. Climb wall of near building. Find dark spot where can see and not be seen. Where can wait.
In downbelow can see the boyfriend roll over. Get to knees. Sway. See him look the girlfriend.
The boyfriend scream terrible. Bad to hear. Make so sad. Make cry.
Old Town – Wednesday - 12.50am
Detective Joe Kelly got out of his car and saw the patrols cars with their flashing lights, the crime scene tape and the gawkers who had assembled outside the alleyway where their latest victim lie. He sighed as he walked over and thought of the call he had received half an hour ago. There had been another one.
“Hey Detective,” a patrolman said as he slipped under the tape and walked into the alley itself.
“Fansler,” Joe said to Sgt Fansler, “what you doing here?”
“On duty tonight and got the call,” Fansler said as he showed Joe over to the victim, “just lucky I guess.” His tone said that he could forgo such luck.
The victim was wrapped in a sheet, which was bloody at one end, as Forensics unit was sweeping the area. Fansler knelt and drew back the sheet; he averted his gaze and looked up at Kelly instead of look upon that face again.
“That's enough,” Kelly said, averting his eyes from the faceless corpse.
The raw, gouged, bloody flesh, the exposed muscle and bone were bad enough, but it was the eyes – those naked, lidless, staring eyes that was the worst.
“That makes three,” Fansler said as he stood. He gestured to a couple guys with a gurney who came forward then as Kelly and Fansler moved a few steps away.
“I can count. Anything new?” Joe asked.
“Naw. Same M.O. As ever – throat slashed, money stolen, face gnawed off.”
Kelly shuddered. He had been brought in on the case after the second killing. The first one he had only seen the coroner's photos. Those had been awful, but nothing could match the effect of the real thing up close and still warm and oozing. There was no getting used to this kind of mutilation, no matter how many he saw.
“Just the boyfriend,” Fansler replied, “he didn't see anything. Someone conked him on the head and when he came to he found her like that. He was in hysterics, naturally. They took him over to Northwestern Memorial.”
Joe only nodded. He could understand how witnessing this to someone you knew would make you a little crazy. Hell. He didn't know this woman but he felt as if he was on the edge himself. He stood there looking around for a few moments, lost in his own thoughts about this case when suddenly he realized that he as standing there alone. The coroner's boys had taken away the body, and Fansler and the Forensic's team had retreated to their vehicles. He had been left standing alone at the far end of the alley.
And yet not alone.
Someone was watching him. He could feel it. The realization sent a little chill trickling down his back. A quick glance around showed no one paying him the slightest bit of attention. He looked up.
Somewhere in the darkness above, someone was watching him. Probably from the roof. He could sense the piercing scrutiny and it made him a little weak. That was no ghoulish neighborhood voyeur, up there. That was the Killer, he was sure of it.
He had to get to Fansler, have him seal off that building. But he couldn't act spooked. He had to act calm and casual.
See the Detective's eyes. See from way up in dark. Tall-stocky. Hair Red. Nice eyes. Soft green eyes. Not hard like many other eyes. Look here. Even from here see eyes make wide. Him know it me.
Watch the Detective turn slow. Walk Slow. Tell inside him want to run. Must leave here. Leave quick.
Bend low. Run cross roof. Jump to next. And next. Again til most block away. Then down wall. Wrap scarf round head. Hide bad-face. Hunch inside big-big coat. Walk through lighted spots.
Hate light. Hate crowds. Theaters here. Movies and plays. Like them. Some night sneak in and see. See one with man in mask. Hang from wall behind big drapes. Make cry.
Wish there mask for me.
Catch back of truck. Ride home.
Home. Bright bulb hang ceiling. Not care. The old Jessie waiting. The Jessie friend. Only friend. The Jessie's eyes not see. Ever. When the Jessie look me, her face not wear sick-scared look. Hate that look.
Come in kitchen window. The Jessie's face wrinkle-black. Smile when hear me come. TV on. Always on. The Jessie can not watch. Say it company for her.
“You're so late tonight.”
“Hard work. Get moneys tonight.”
Feel sick. Want cry. Hate kill. Wish stop.
“That's nice, dear. Are you going to put it in the drawer?”
Empty wallets. Put moneys in slots. Ones first slot. Fives next slot. Then tens and twenties. So the Jessie can pay when boy bring foods. Sometimes eat stealed foods. Mostly the Jessie call for foods.
The Old Jessie hardly walk. Good. Do not want her go out. Bad peoples round here. Many. Hurt one who not see. One bad man try hurt Jessie once. Push through door. Thought only the blind Old Jessie live here.
Lucky the Jessie not alone that day.
Not lucky bad man. Hit the Jessie. Laugh hard. Then look me. Get sick-scared look. Hate that look. Kill him quick. Put in tub. Bleed there. Bad man friend come soon after. Kill him also too. Late at night take both dead bad men out. Go through window. Carry down wall. Throw in river.
No bad men come again. Ever.
“I've been waiting all night for my bath. Do you think you can help me a little, dear?”
Always help. But the Old Jessie always ask. The Jessie very polite.
Chicago PD, 18th Precinct – Wednesday – 3:18am
Detective Joe Kelly sat at his desk with the newly opened case file. He had a photo of her taken before tonight. She was pretty, very pretty. Like the other two who had been killed by the same monster. He tossed the photo down and dragged the other case files over to him. The remains of three lives in this small pile. Somewhere had to be an answer, the threat that linked each of them to the killer.
The Face Off Killer, as the tabloids had started to call him. He hated it, as it trivialize the horror of what had happened here. Three women dead. All young and beautiful. Was there a connection? Some common link? What if all the killings were just random, linked only by the fact that they were all beautiful?
Ellen Park, 22, a secretary at Merrill Lynch, killed while jogging in the park near Lake Shore Dr. Killed two weeks ago.
Milla Jenkins, 26, a housewife, dragged from her car while at a stop light at Halsted & Willow St. Killed last week.
Tonight, Lisa Miller, 23, an aspiring dancer who ducked into and alley for a toot with her boyfriend and never came out.
Two Blondes, one brunette. Body types all varied, but all lookers. But besides that, how in the world could all these women be linked?
“Well, you sure hit the bull's eye about that roof?” Sgt Fansler said as he burst into the office.
“What did you find?” Joe asked as he straightened in his chair.
“No prints? No Hairs? No fibers?”
“Lab boys are working on it. But how'd you figure to check the roof top?”
Kelly didn't want to mention that is was just a 'feeling' of being watched from up there. The department rumor mill didn't need any more fodder. But the killer had been watching, hadn't he?
“Any prelims from pathology?”
“Same as ever, Money gone, throat ripped open by a pair of sharp pointed instruments, not knives, the bit marks on the face are the usual; the teeth that made them aren't human, but the saliva is.”
The 'non-human' teeth part – more teeth, bigger and sharper teeth than found in any human mouth – had baffled them all from the start. Kelly shuddered. What could explain wounds like that? What were they dealing with here?
It seemed that Joe was attracting all the weird cases lately; first it was the torture/killings of various people across town, ending in one guy who had been set on fire while alive. That particular one had lead him to check out his old partner, Alex Sharpe. He still didn't know if that was leading anywhere. He sure hoped that Alex wasn't involved in that mess.
Joe was pretty sure that Alex had nothing to do with this Face-off Killer case. He had seen Alex's teeth and knew they were nothing like the pathologist were describing. Still, he worried about his old friend and his well-being. He drank too much and one way or another was going to end up in a bad way.
For now, he had to figure out who was killing beautiful young women and gnawing off their faces. He didn't notice when Fansler left; didn't even hear if he said goodbye. He also didn't notice that Fansler had left with a file from his desk. The file on the slaying of the Coven members; the Coven with Alex's wife.
Joe continued looking through all the reports of all three victims, trying to find something to go on. Right now he had nothing.
Posted on 2016-10-18 at 17:39:28.
Edited on 2016-10-18 at 17:46:41 by Boo Boo
Detective Joe Kelly closed the files and sat them aside; his eyes were hurting from looking through them over and over. He couldn't see a connection, if there was one. He leaned back and rubbed his eyes and then stood up and grabbed his coat off the hook and was putting it on when the phone rang.
Who the hell was calling at this time of the morning?
“Detective Kelly,” he said when he answered it.
“Shorry dishturb you, Detective Kelly.”
The voice was soft, pitched somewhere between a man's and a woman's and sounded as if the speaker had half a mouthful of saliva. Kelly had never heard anything like it. Who could be-? And then it struck him; It was almost 4 a.m. Only a handful of people knew he was here.
“Do I know you?”
“No. Watch you tonight. You almosht shee me in dark.”
That same chill from earlier tonight ran down Kelly's back again.
“Are … are you who I think you are?”
There was a pause, then one soft word, more sobbed than spoken:
If the reply had been cocky – something along the line of And just who do you think I am? - Kelly would have looked for much more in the way of corroboration. But that single word, and the soul deep heartbreak that propelled it, banished all doubt.
My God! He looked around frantically. No one in sight. Where the f*** was Fansler now when he needed him? This was the Face-off Killer! He needed a trace! Got to keep him on the line!
“I have to ask you something to be sure you are who you say you are.”
“Do you take anything from the victims – I mean besides their faces?”
“Money. Take money.”
This is him! The department had withheld the money part from the papers. Only the real Face-Off Killer would know!
“Can I ask you something else?”
Kelly was asking this one for himself.
“What do you do with the faces?”
He had to know. The question drove him crazy at night. He dreamed about those faces. Did the killer tack them on the wall, or press them in a book, or freeze them, or did he wear them around the house like that Leatherface character from that chainsaw movie?
On the other end of the line he sensed sudden agitation and panic: ”No! Can not shay! Can not!”
“Okay, okay. Take it easy.”
“You will help shtop?”
“Oh, yes! Oh, God yes, I'll help you stop!” He prayed his genuine hearfelt desire to end this was coming through. “I'll help you any way I can.”
“Shank you,” said the voice, couched once more in a sob.
And then the killer hung up.
Posted on 2016-11-01 at 07:34:21.
Edited on 2016-11-01 at 07:35:42 by Boo Boo
163 North Ave – Sept 18 - 12:30 p.m.
Running a hand through his hair, Alex thudded up the stairs to the second floor. His mind was a frenetic jumble of overlapping and interlocking thoughts, at the moment, tied tenuously together by a single, bloody thread that was the Cult of Azazel. It had been four short days since he’d finally caught up with Eddie Stevens… and gone completely off your rocker! You didn’t even question him before you melted him… He’d known that Eddie wasn’t the end of it, of course, but, after watching him roast in the trash strewn alley, Alex thought that maybe there would be some sort of respite from the Zazies. A couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months… that’s how it had always worked before. Find one, get some info, help them on their way to hell, and then wait out a lead on the next.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Finding them had always been the harder part, especially in the beginning. Despite their flash and frenzy, the Azazelites were fairly adept at keeping under the radar. Three years of hunting them, though, had educated him in their tendencies and taught him a few tricks in regards to tracking them down when they didn’t just fall into his lap.
Reaching the top of the stairs, Alex strode toward the guestroom and peered through the door. Rosie was still sleeping but, from the looks of it, was beginning to stir towards wakefulness. Smoke, from where she was curled up into a tiny ball at Rosie’s back, opened an eye and peered up at him. Going hunting? Yeah, Alex thought back, Gonna run to Pilsen, check out Penelope’s place, and see what’s what. You okay, here, with the kid? Of course, the bast shot back, We’re not up here making plans to burn the place down, after all… Her eye closed and she nestled back in… That’s more your speed, love. Nice, Alex smirked, backing away from the doorway and turning for his room, now. I’ll leave her a note and some cash for a cab or somethin’ if she wants to leave before I get back. Make sure she finds it, yeah?
Mmmhhmmm, Smoke’s reply purred in his mind as he fished a small, cloth wrapped bundle from his nightstand drawer and put it in his pocket. Alex, she added when he emerged from his room and took to the steps again…
…Be careful. No barbecues, alright?
No barbecues, he promised, Be back soon.
Pilsen – 1:15 p.m.
It had been a long time since anyone other than Smoke had occupied the passenger’s seat of the Chevelle. In fact, since Emily’s death, the number of people who had sat there (and the number of times they’d done so) could be counted on one hand and, since Emily, there had never been another woman in that seat. An odd sensation had rippled through Alex when he had moved Smoke’s ‘sweater-bed’ from the seat and intensified as he watched the Iberian beauty settle herself onto the leather once the sweater had been tossed into the back. When he had taken his own spot behind the wheel and glanced over to see Penelope sitting there, he was sure that his heart stopped for a beat and physically stalled him, too, in that flicker of a moment…
Uncomfortable wasn’t the word that best explained that sensation. In fact, it was all too comfortable and, as he thought about it, that was probably what made it all so odd. The awkwardness of the betrayal he felt when he’d allowed Penelope to take that seat commingled with a strange sense of sated longing that washed over him when he saw her there… Saw Penelope… Felt Emily… He wanted that somehow perfect melding of the two to disappear and, at the same time, stay forever.
…Alex managed to shake himself free of the trance quickly enough but the feeling, as comfortingly disquieting as it was, stayed wrapped around him like a blanket for the entirety of the twenty minute drive to Pilsen. There hadn’t been much conversation during the drive, either, but even that felt comfortably familiar as opposed to awkward; as if there hadn’t been the need for words to fill the air between them. It wasn’t until the Chevelle rumbled to a stop outside the run-down building that Penelope called home that Alex realized how truly calm and focused he had become… and he hadn’t cracked his flask or so much as reached for a cigarette the entire time.
“Welcome to the palace,” Penelope hummed as they approached her attic door.
Alex could sense the essence that still lingered in the place; could almost taste the Taint that laced the severed and unravelling threads of the spellwork. It called up another comfortably uncomfortable sensation within him that grated against the one he’d experienced in Penelope’s presence in these last moments… enough, at least, that, suddenly, he longed for a sip of scotch to wash the taste of tainted essence from his tongue.
“This is where I found the medallion and the little warded gift around it,” she purred, forestalling his reaching into his pocket for his flask, “What do you make of it?”
“It’s nasty,” he smirked, stepping closer to the door and letting his fingers trace lightly over the fading lines of eldritch energy as his narrowed gaze scrutinized the physicality of the portal, “Whoever did this has, at least, some faint idea as to your power… and they’re definitely higher on the food chain than any of the Zazies I’ve run down, so far…” That thought probably should have brought a look of concern to his scruffy features but, instead, it made the PI smile… a hungry, almost predatory smile…
This, he mused, as he closely inspected the door itself, along with the jamb and lock, is definitely gonna get me closer to the higher ups, if I do it right. Let’s hope you’re overconfident enough in your magical skills to have been stupid enough to…
…That wolfish smile spread wider when, as he had crouched down to examine the lower part of the doorframe, he spied a single, short, blonde hair on the floor in front of the threshold. “Yahtzee,” he muttered, producing a pair of forceps from his pocket and using them to retrieve the hair. Rising out of the crouch, Alex’s eyes left that miniscule bit of physical evidence long enough to find Penelope’s; “We’ve got ourselves a tether… I hope.”
He inclines his head toward the door, then. “It doesn’t look like they forced their way in,” he offered, “the scratches on the jamb and lockset look like they were made some time ago. Anyway they could have gotten inside without having to bump the lock?”