by Lewayne L. White
Part 2 and Part 3|
appear in this issue.
|part 1 of 3|
You never know what to expect when you kick in a door on an arrest warrant. Where I come from, you usually got an enraged psycho with a weapon.
But at least it’s a human psycho.
Here in Fairy Tale Land, humans are often the exception.
Today, for example, my partner, Dagan, and I stood outside the door of a shack preparing to snatch up a bridge troll for the murder of two of the Gruff triplets.
We had two dead kids and enough evidence to take this troll for it. We also knew that a bridge troll, though not as smart as some of the other troll breeds, was second only to mountain trolls for berzerker rages.
As back-up, Central sent a FaST team. The Fairy Special Tactics units were the type of cops you see in movies wearing black jumpsuits, rappelling down the sides of buildings, and shooting flies from the air at a hundred yards.
I cinched up my dragon-scale vest, drew my sidearm, and looked across the doorway at Dagan. He nodded and signaled the FaST officer wielding the battering ram.
Dagan won “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” so he got to yell “FTPD!” as the ram smashed the door.
We poured into the shack, weapons high.
Caught completely by surprise, the troll got buried beneath a dozen FaST cops before he knew what happened. Roaring and spitting, the troll flopped on the floor seconds later, shackled.
The squad flowed through the few tiny rooms, checking for other occupants. Finding none, they moved back out to the living room, and dragged the troll out to the waiting paddy wagon.
Five minutes later, the team headed back to Central to secure the prisoner in the Maximum Security Fairy Tale Creature Wing. Dagan and I sealed the shack, then waited for the Crime Scene Witches to arrive to process the site.
“Well, Ace,” Dagan said as he unstrapped his dragon-scale vest. “That went easier than it should have.”
I nodded. “Hopefully the rest of the process goes as smoothly.”
“Little Billy Goat Gruff will testify as an eyewitness,” Dagan said. “When the witches get here, they’ll find trace evidence in the cellar. It’ll be wrapped up. No problem.”
“Except the Gruffs are short a couple kids.”
Dagan nodded. “And we got the troll that did it. It won’t bring the kids back, but...”
“I know,” I said. “Sometimes it’s just frustrating that by the time we’re involved, someone’s already dead. It doesn’t feel like crime prevention, just tidying up.”
“I know something that will cheer you up. First round of Purple Zombies is on me.”
I put my hand to my chest as if having a heart attack.
Dagan faked a punch at me.
“You wouldn’t hit a woman, would you?”
He rolled his eyes.
The Crime Scene Witches arrived at the scene, and the head witch approached.
“You Detective Lilly?”
I nodded. “Yep.”
Dagan’s phone rang and he stepped away to answer it.
“Central wants you downtown. You’re being assigned to a new case.”
“What about this one?”
The witch shrugged. “What about it? You got the bad guy. Get out of our way, and let us make sure he gets convicted.”
Before I could do anything rash, like kill her, Dagan returned.
“Ace, we gotta go.”
I clenched my teeth, and followed Dagan back to the car.
When we started back to Central, I said, “Somebody else dead?”
“Not if we can help it.”
“What’s that mean?”
“We’re going to be bodyguards? For who?”
Dagan smiled. “Swan.”
“She just has the one name. Like Prince, or Cher.”
I nodded. “Got that. But who is she?”
Dagan actually turned to look at me. “You don’t know who Swan is?”
“No,” I replied. “Watch the road.”
He turned back, then said, “Swan is only the most super of supermodels in Fairy Tale Land. She’s hot. I can’t believe you don’t know that.”
“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I don’t dress according to fashion trends. I wear oversized suit jackets to conceal my pistol, and I wear slacks, so I don’t have to hike up a skirt to chase the bad guys.”
Dagan shrugged. “I notice you don’t dress “girlie” when you’re off-duty, either.”
“I did once, and look what happened. Our dates got in a fight and we stumbled onto a homicide. And why are we talking about me?”
“’Cause it makes you turn red,” Dagan said. “But anyway, Swan’s got a stalker on her case. We’re supposed to protect her while she’s in town.”
I crossed my arms. “We’re homicide detectives, not baby-sitters.”
“Weren’t you just complaining that we always get there after the bodies start cooling. Here’s a chance to do something to keep someone alive.”
“Yeah, a spoiled, overpaid, underweight-”
“You haven’t even met her yet.”
“Believe me, I’ve met plenty of people just like her.”
Dagan raised an eyebrow. “Is that the sound of prejudice creeping into your voice?”
“Yes. Now shut up and drive.”
He shut up and drove, and we reached Central in record time. We were briefed, instructed, issued a different unmarked, and sent on our way.
We cruised through the city, heading out into one of the overdeveloped western suburbs. Like much of Fairy Tale Land, the terrain is inconsistent. One minute it’s green pastures with the occasional giant beanstalk. The next, it’s mountains, castles, and hungry ogres.
Swan, in town for a couple shoots and a runway show, happened to be staying in a castle on Sherwood Forest Lane. Sherwood Forest Lane, of course, shouldn’t be confused with Sherwood Forest Drive, Boulevard, or Circle, despite the fact that they all cross each other at some point when one travels through the Sherwood Forest Development.
You should also ignore the image that the word “forest” brings to mind. All the trees in this area went down to make way for the development.
We reached the gate of 453791 Sherwood Forest Lane, keyed the intercom button tastefully concealed in a column beside the gate, and waited for a response.
“Identify yourself,” barked an unpleasant female voice.
“Detectives Dagan Michael and Aislyn Lilly. We’re here to-”
“Enter,” snapped the voice, as the gate began to slide sideways.
“Well,” I said. “If that’s Swan, she’s worse than I imagined.”
It wasn’t Swan, and Swan was much nicer than I imagined.
Madame Chain, a thick, grey woman, and the source of the delightful greeting, met us at the door. She insisted on seeing identification, viewed our badges through the bottom lens of her bifocals, snorted, and said, “Follow me.”
We did, and she led us through the palace to a large room full of overstuffed, poofy furniture, and an entertainment center that belonged in a coliseum. A slim, pale, woman sat in one end of a love-seat. An equally slim, pale, man wearing Lennon glasses sat beside her.
They did not, however, appear to be in love.
“It’s ridiculous, Swannie,” said the man, aggressively ignoring our presence. “We cannot possibly have a pair of flatfoots bumbling about, getting in the way, and stressing the girls. Plus, you know I hate it when-”
“We also cannot have anything happen to any of the girls,” Swan replied. “There’s a nut out there, and if he misses me, he might-”
She glanced toward us, then to Madame Chain.
“These are the detectives?”
“Yes, dear,” replied Madame Chain. “Shall I have them wait elsewhere?”
“No,” the model replied. “But I’d like drinks for everyone. Perhaps tea or lemonade, since they’re on duty.”
Madam Chain snorted, replied, “Yes, dear,” and moved off through another entrance.
Swan rose and glided toward us, arms outstretched, as if welcoming long lost friends.
“Detectives,” she said with a broad smile. “Welcome to my home. Or, at least the one I’m borrowing. I’m Swan, and this is my favorite photographer in the whole world, Bert Moon.”
Moon flicked his hand in a sort of dismissive wave, then scootched back into the love-seat.
“I’m Detective Michael,” Dagan said, extending a hand.
Swan smiled. “First, last, or only?”
“Is Michael your first name, last name, or only name?” Swan replied.
“Last. My first name’s Dagan.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Dagan.”
Swan turned to me.
Before she spoke, I said, “Detective Aislyn Lilly.”
“Aislyn,” Swan said. “What a lovely name.”
“Most people just call her “Ace”,” Dagan added.
“Oh, I couldn’t,” Swan replied. “She’s too lovely to be just ‘Ace’.”
Madame Chain reappeared bearing a tray with pitcher and glasses. She placed the tray on a small coffee table, snorted, and said, “Don’t forget your vitamins, dear.”
“Yes, Madame Chain.”
With a scowl, Madame Chain exited the room.
“She’s cheerful,” I remarked.
“She’s a total downer,” Moon said, leaning forward to pour himself a glass of lemonade.
“Swan,” Dagan said. “We received a briefing regarding your situation, but we’d like to hear it from your perspective.”
“Certainly,” she replied, resuming her seat. “Would you like some lemonade?”
Swan poured for herself and us, then slid back in the love seat.
“Well, I actually had a problem with this guy back at Swan Lake.”
“Swan Lake?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, Aislyn. Swan Lake is my home. Just a small estate near the Blue Danube. As you can imagine, I have my share of fans... and detractors.”
“Like that wicked Queen woman,” interrupted Moon.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Wicked queen?”
“Hildegaard Queen,” Swan replied. “Head of DUCK.”
“DUCK,” Swan said. “Don’t Underestimate Care and Kindness. An organization that advocates basing a woman’s self-esteem on being a good person instead of superficial vanity. They often refer to their members as DUCKlings.”
“A bunch of ugly ducklings, if you ask me,” Moon said.
“Why’s that?” I said. “Because they aren’t all pale, tragic-looking, toothpick waifs, with pouting lips and vacant eyes?”
“Now, Detective,” Moon replied. “Don’t get all self-conscious. I think you’re very cute, too.”
“Moonie, please,” said Swan. “Just because those DUCK women don’t measure up to your standards, is no reason to dismiss them.”
“Whatever,” Moon snorted, dismissing them. He then proceeded to aggressively ignore us again.
“Anyway,” Dagan said. “You mentioned trouble at Swan Lake?”
“Oh, yes. I started getting phone calls. A man’s voice. He would make several inappropriate suggestions, then hang up. He began to call nightly, and the level of suggestiveness got much nastier. Soon, he began threatening my life.”
Dagan made some notes. “And did you recognize his voice?”
“No. It was always distorted, electronically or magically. In fact, it was different every time he called.”
I raised an eyebrow. “But you knew it was the same guy?”
“He said some of the same things. Sometimes he referred to our previous ‘conversations’, as he called them.”
“But you’re sure it was male.”
“I guess I assumed so, given some of the suggestions. But I guess, honestly, now that you made me think about it, the voice could have been anything.”
“So not necessarily even human?” I asked.
Swan seemed to sag. “No. I suppose not. I feel stupid for not thinking about any of that.”
Moon patted her knee. “It’s okay, Swannie. You’re a model, not a detec-”
“Yes, Detective Lilly?”
“We,” I said, pointing between Dagan and myself, “would both appreciate it if you didn’t remind Swan how dumb she’s supposed to be.”
Moon blinked, but said nothing.
“Now, Swan,” I said. “You got these calls?”
“Yes. I even changed my number a couple times. Always unlisted, too. But he’d get the number and it started over.”
She paused to take a drink.
“Then we started on this multi-city tour. Do some shoots, walk some runways, make some appearances at fund-raisers.”
Dagan looked up. “What kind of fund raisers?”
“I raise money for a children’s charity, Fairest Of The Small.”
“They treat children with burns and facial deformities,” Dagan said to me. “Lots of wizards donate time for healings and psi-surgeries.”
“Yes,” Swan said. “I’ve been giving money since I started modeling. When I got famous enough, I started doing fund-raisers. Auctioning pictures of myself, or dinners with me in sponsor restaurants, that sort of thing.”
I nodded. “So, presumably, this guy could have seen you anywhere and developed an attachment.”
“I suppose so. When he first started calling, the police said that they were local calls, but untraceable. Apparently they were from an unregistered cellular.”
I remembered reading the uniform officer’s file on the way to the castle. The cops in Blue Danube had tried traces and triangulation, but came up with nothing. Whoever this stalker was, he knew his way around electromagics. Probably explained the voice synthesizer and the ability to acquire her number, as well.
“Anyway, the calls kept getting scarier. I finally quit answering the phone. Now Madame Chain screens my calls and visitors.”
“None. Everybody loves me,” Swan replied. “No, wait, that didn’t sound right. You know what I meant. I don’t have any enemies.”
“You’ve got at least one,” Dagan said.
Copyright © 2007 by Lewayne L. White