This is an extra long post of The Deep End. This and the next one will be the last two as I finish this up and ready it for submission. Thank you all who have read this story and gone along for the ride.
Dean nodded his head, because when Adair said it was gonna happen, brother forget arguing, it was GOING to happen. Instead of protesting, Dean just smiled.
“I got you Adair, a split. When do you think you’ll get a chance to look at them?”
Adair twirled the flash drive in his fingers. “Umm, give me until tomorrow. I’ll do some tonight and hopefully we’ll have the straight dope on these guys sometime tomorrow before noon, internet gods willing.
Dean nodded again. “Thanks Adair. Anything you find will go a long way in deciding how to handle this situation.”
“Me? I’d just grab ’em and ask them pretty please where the girl is.”
Dean snorted. “I can’t imagine you saying pretty please, unless it was Barbie doing the asking.”
Adair smiled mirthlessly. “Didn’t say I’d be pleasant. If they grabbed the girl, I don’t care what the law says. I’d just think what it would be like not to find Carny’s girls, my nieces at home, and know some assholes like these two took them. Being an uncle gets me protective.”
“Bloodthirsty is more accurate I think.”
“Maybe just a little. Barbie’s persuasive.”
“I’m not arguing that. I’d tell you anything you’d want to know with those teeth snapping in my face.”
Adair chuckled. “Yeah, so would most sane bad guys.” His smile sank to a sad frown. “There’s just not that many bad guys you’d call sane any more.” Adair gave Dean a faint smile then asked, “Any chance these two are magick oriented?”
Dean shrugged. “I think if they do know some, it’s been kept pretty close to the vest. Everything they’ve done so far is easy to do without magick.”
“Hmm, okay.” Adair shifted in the chair. “I think I’ll settle for some extra caution with them. Magick casters make things an order of magnitude trickier.”
Dean agreed with that. One of the few felons Adair and he couldn’t bring back was a magick caster that knew summoning. He’d called up wurmlings and he had an Imrit for ‘early warning’. He’d killed two of Adair’s men when they, along with Adair and Dean, had tracked him to a fancy hotel in downtown St. John.
Wurmlings caught the two men by surprise and nearly got Adair, who managed to stick his pistol in the way and somehow the Wurmling had hit the barrel dead center in it’s mouth, and swallowed it up to the cylinder. Adair didn’t waste any time at gaping in surprise at the miracle, but pulled the trigger and blasted the Wurmling into tiny bits.
He and Dean eventually killed the other five Wurmlings that had jumped his team, not in time to save them however. They’d been holed by the vicious little predators, and had bled out from the massive wounds. Dean still had the occasional bad dream about it.
Dean got up, gave Adair a smile and a two finger salute, then walked back out of the office and out to the parking lot. he got back in his pickup, and drove back to his office to ready himself for another night of light sleeping. The parking lot was empty when he pulled into his spot and turned the vehicle off.
He opened the door, got out and locked up the truck. He walked to the front door and had unlocked it when he heard a rustling nearby, then a scream that sounded like a young girl. Dean’s senses kicked into high gear as adrenaline dumped into his blood. Light became bright, his heart raced and he charged towards the sound, ready to fight…the cat that had caught a rabbit.
He stared at the ginger feline, who obligingly stopped to stare back at the tall human. As the rabbit twitched feebly in the cat’s jaws, the cat growled and bit down harder. A faint, gasping cry came from the rabbit. The agony and terror of the sound was almost exactly like the scream that startled him so badly. The cat darted away, the dead rabbit in its jaws, and disappeared around the corner of the office.
Dean took a second look around, then went inside to spend the night, hoping that the scene he had observed was not some kind of omen.
* * *
The next morning was a soggy mess as rain pelted the windows and the glass front door, making a droning thrum that made him want to stay in bed. Instead he rolled over and forced himself to get up.
As he stretched before getting dressed, his cellphone buzzed. He tapped the face to answer, and Adair’s voice boomed from the speaker. “Hey, bro! I got some news for you, all bad unfortunately.”
Dean rubbed his cheek as a stab of disappointment went through him. “Well, thanks for giving it a shot. I’m sure I’ll…”
“No no no no! Dean, lemme finish. I ran the names a few times, looking for perps with the name. No luck. When I punched for aliases, I got a hit. Those names you gave me are for the Carre brothers. They’ve done time for illegal Magick, drug trafficking, extortion, armed robbery, and assault. They’re not currently wanted, but they’re people that both Toronto and Montreal want to talk to about a series of smash and grabs at convenience stores. Two clerks were shot during the robberies, one died.”
“So, why is that bad…oh, yeah, illegal Magick. They’re casters.” Dean thought for a moment. “Are they combat trained?”
“I don’t know for sure, bro, but assume the worst case. I know some of the incidents sound like Magick could have been involved.” Adair went silent for a moment, and Dean fancied that he could almost hear his friend clicking away on a keyboard. Adair’s voice boomed from the receiver, startling him out of his musing.
“Got it! Now Charles, the older one, no. He’s no caster, but Jean served a tour in the Canadian Army, and he was going through training as a combat caster until he got thrown out after an instructor died. It couldn’t be proven he was at fault, but there’d been friction with him arguing with the man over the training.
He was given three months in jail for his shoving the instructor, then another incident for firing a weapon on base, then a Dishonorable Discharge.”
“So… he’s got some training. Yeesh, I can think of other things I’d like to be doing than chasing down a combat trained Magick caster.”
“Me too. If you want an extra pair of eyes, we can supply ‘em.” Dean nodded at the phone.
“I hear you, Adair. Believe me, if I think it’s going to get dicey, you’ll get a call right after the police.”
“I hear you, but just the same. You’re doing all this due diligence to make sure you have a case TO call the police. I know you, bro, you’re either worried you don’t have enough, or that these guys are already twitchy.”
Dean sighed. “No. I think they have a cop on their payroll.”
Adair’s silence was a big hint that the news had blindsided him. After a long silence, he said, “You have proof of that?”
“I have a strong eyewitness who saw the man hand a police officer a thick manila envelope.”
“Not enough, bro. Who’s the witness?”
“I am. The folded envelope was three centimeters thick at a guess. I’d be willing to be my license it was cash.”
“That’s still too thin, an’ you know it, Dean.”
“I know, Adair, but it’s what I have. More, there’s a girl missing. What I’ve got links these two up with her going missing. I think they’re using a kid to find the girls. And yes, that means I think there’s more than one gone missing.”
“Dean, dammit! Have you got real proof or just speculation? None of this will hold water unless you got definite proof! You gotta have the proof!” Adair was not quite screaming, but Dean still had to hold the cellphone away from his head. When he didn’t hear any noise for a few seconds he moved the phone back to his ear.
“I know that. I like it less than you do, Adair. This is my due diligence. I want to know what kind of trap I’m getting ready to put my foot down on. You and Carny are the two I trust to know what’s going on. I don’t trust the police. I don’t know if the cop is the only one, or if he has friends on the force he’s sharing the money with.”
Adair was quiet for a long ten seconds. Dean could imagine him tugging on his beard as he thought through all the information. That was one quirk about Adair he picked up on early. His hands were never still. He had to be doing something with them, whether it was tugging at his thick black beard, or an ear, or the neck of his shirt, his hands HAD to have something to do.
“Lissen bro, you are in very deep water here. If these two are into something like kidnapping and possible murder, they won’t think twice about adding you to the body count. If they do have that cop on the take, then it just got a lot worse. You cannot go this one alone. Let me an’ Carny come over to help out. All that you’ve found out says you need BODIES, not just your body. Carny’d be chomping the phone he’d be so mad right now. Me, I’m the soul of temperence…by comparison.”
Dean chuckled at that. Both Adair and Carny were known to be very volatile, both in good ways and bad. Carny was the one most often getting worked up. Adair was a very close second though. Dean, as much as he wanted the help, didn’t feel like it was time for it, yet.
“Hell yes I’ll call, when I have the proof. Right now, Adair, they…” Dean stopped. Yes they do know, the cop told them, I heard my name when I was at the door. Maybe it is time.
“Screw it. I know they know about me. I heard the cop mention my name when I listened at their door. The cop I saw with them was the desk officer when I went over to the precinct and got information on my client’s daughter, and two other girls that had gone missing before her.”
Adair cursed, then spoke urgently to Dean.
“Lissen bro, you NEED us there yesterday. We’re comin’ over tonight and we’re going to rig your place, and your office. Then we are going to get you something that will make a big ka-effing boom when you pull the trigger. This is way too real to play around with anymore.”
Dean listened quietly. Adair was right and Dean knew it. Though he didn’t think that the brothers Carre were going to try anything yet. He’d not been all that visible snooping around. But, if they got suspicious, then that was when it could go pear-shaped in an eyeblink. He didn’t want to think that they’d be crazy enough to try and kill him so cavalierly, but the way Adair described them, they didn’t sound very stable.
“How about this? You come tomorrow morning and rig up my house and office.”
Adair was silent for a long moment. Then he sighed. “Yeah, bro, you’re right. Coming over after hours would look way too suspicious. Jeez where’s my head? I shoulda thought of that.”
“Right between your shoulders, where it belongs, Adair. Just come on over tomorrow morning. I don’t think anyone will care what you look like then.”
Adair chuckled on the other end of the connection. “True that, bro. We’ll be by tomorrow to set you up.” He didn’t say goodbye, but simply cut the connection. Dean looked at the phone with a smile. Somethings never change. Adair hated saying goodbye.
Dean looked out his window and watched the rain come down. the wind blew the rain in loose swirls across the parking lot. He smiled, then stopped. He moved his head to the lower corner of the window and watched the Sabawaelnu dance in the falling raindrops. The creature looked like the outline of a young woman as the rain splashed against it’s outline. Normally, a water spirit like this would not be so far from a body of water, but the rain allowed it to move about on land for a short time.
The spirit continued to dance in the parking lot as Dean crouched at the corner of the window, following its every move. The Sabawaelnu spun, then dipped, moving to the far corner of the lot. Then its hands waved as ring poured down harder near it. Dean thought he could see a vague outline. The shape resembled a car, he thought his imagination might be reading too much into the shape, but to him it resembled the Carre brothers car.
The shape darkened, like wood rotting. Icy fingers seemed to run up his spine as the shape solidified for a moment, then melted away to pool on the asphalt. For an instant, Dean saw a single footstep, and a dark shape resembling a prone body. The cold dug into his spine this time, raising the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck. The sense of finality, of death, was literally emanating from the shape, and then it all faded as the Sabawaelnu danced out of the lot, back towards its home water.
“Well, that was something,” Dean said to himself. As he thought about what he’d seen, he couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole performance was some kind of warning.
He walked back to the sparse receptionist desk, and leaned against the curved top, running the whole sequence through his mind. He had just started when movement caught his eye. He looked towards the glass door, and saw an old pickup turn a half circle in front, and back into the parking spot directly in front of the entrance.
It was a battered pickup that was ivory colored with red highlights. A tubular steel frame sat in the pickup bed. Two ladders were lashed to the top and a large rolling tool holder was tied down inside the bed.
Adair was out of the truck almost before it stopped moving, with Carny just a heartbeat behind as he had to throw the truck in park and turn it off. The two men were near identical, with Carny being shorter and wider. Both had the black hair and beard, and both were so focused Dean could feel their intensity at his vantage point in the office a good eight meters from them.
He hurriedly strode to the door before Adair could pound on the glass. Adair grabbed Dean in a bear hug greeting.
“Dean! Good to see you up so early! We’re here to trick your place out and get it ready for self-protection.”
“Self, protection?” Dean chuckled, then seeing the glint in Adair’s eye, his smile faded. “You can’t be serious.”
“As a heart-attack my friend. You bet I’m serious. No one messes with my friends and nobody touches family, so you count double.” Adair grinned and Dean heard Carny growl an agreement as he got the bundle of equipment out of the pickup bed. The trunk landed with a loud thump and jingle of metal on metal, causing Adair to scowl at Carny.
“Careful! That stuff’s delicate and a pain to replace.”
“I know that! It just slipped, man. Quit talking and start walking. This needs to be done fast.”
The two men jumped to their job and cameras were laid out on the floor, with caulking, wiring, each ready to record any conversation or image in Dean’s office.
Way too much recorded. They’re going overboard.
“Hey, Adair? Is all this, umm, really, y’know, necessary?”
Adair stopped, laying out on the floor what Dean saw was the fifteenth camera. Adair looked around for about eight seconds, then back to Dean.
“No,” he said matter of factly, and went back to setting the camera up in the overhead bank of LED lights.
“Dammit Adair, I’m not an internet celeb. This is my place. I agree cameras area good idea, but this,” he gestured at all the equipment, “is beyond overkill. Put one covering the doorway and outer office. That corner camera’s fine for that. Then one in the inner office catty corner to the desk. That way it covers the door, the desk, and the window. Fewer cameras means greater security. You told me that.”
Adair stopped once again, and scanned the room. Carny was meticulously cleaning up a hole where a camera was concealed within the back wall. He halted his work as Adair gazed around the room. A frown formed on his face as he thought about what they were doing, and trying to do. His face showed every concern and frustration with the situation. He finally stopped his preparations. He swept all the cameras up, excepting four, with a huge, meaty paw, and dropped them back in the tackle box that he used to hold the cameras and other small items. Adair glared at Dean.
“I hate you sometimes.”
Dean smiled. “I’m just telling you what you told me.”
“I know, and that’s why I hate it.”
Dean chuckled. “Okay brother, just use one in the corner, one in the office…” He peered at the four remaining miniature cameras.
“What are the extra two for?”
“One goes on a lamp at the east side parking lot, to get license plates and people, and one goes on the west side, so it captures plates on cars that park ass end west instead of east.”
Carny snorted, holding in a laugh, then returned to rigging up a thing that looked suspiciously like a speaker.