This is a work of fiction and is copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
OK, this is a riff on a story by Chris Nutall – "Be Careful What you wish for" – but the idea struck me, and I had to write this down…I do not know if I will ever go any further with this story or not, but the characters are SCREAMING at me right now to write this story….
This is a continuation of "Love you Long Time" – the further adventures of Joe Laub and his wife Meredith.
In this case, the ZOMG agents must deal with trans-dimensional abduction, flying monkeys, vampires, mummies and a Holy (or unholy) Ghost (of sorts).
/|\Chapter 01 Real Vampires Don't Sparkle
Ran across an interesting quote that seems apropos to this story:
"... there may be something in the nature of an occult police force, which operates to divert human suspicions, and to supply explanations that are good enough for whatever, somewhat in the nature of minds, human beings have-or that, if there be occult mischief makers and occult ravagers, they may be of a world also of other beings that are acting to check them, and to explain them, not benevolently, but to divert suspicion from themselves, because they, too, may be exploiting life upon this earth, but in ways more subtle, and in orderly, or organized, fashion." - Charles Fort: "LO!"
The sun was bright, but the wind was cold, and carried snowflakes…just another March Day in Buffalo.
I pulled the car to a stop and we looked at the house. It looked like a thousand other houses in the city of Buffalo – crowded up against its neighbors, less than a foot from the wall of one house to the next. Ancient, weathered white siding in need of a new coat of paint, ancient wooden sash windows with wavy roller glass – and broken panes covered with cardboard and plastic.
Meredith looked at the instrument panel. "It seems to be coming from this house, Joe."
I shrugged. "The Black Rock Neighborhood has had an evil reputation for decades, Honey."
She frowned. "I just hate necromancy."
"I do too, babe." I said. "But – in a neighborhood like this, life is barely worth living anymore." I waved at the narrow street, dingy lumps of brown, nasty snowdrifts, embedded with empty beer cans, empty wine bottles, weathered cardboard, the grubby detritus of life in a place where life seems hopeless.
I figured if I looked closer, I'd find used needles and used condoms in those snowdrifts, too.
Sometimes, when the spring thaw comes, a body or two.
It was that kind of place.
The houses had been built a century ago, when Buffalo was the Eighth largest City in America, and a powerhouse of industry.
The low-intellect, high-paying jobs had attracted a flood of people – but their descendents now littered these run-down, decaying neighborhoods. While I have a lot of sympathy for the unlucky down-and-out, these folks were simply –empty.
The smart ones, the ones who could find jobs that demanded technical skill, had moved away.
These neighborhoods mostly consisted of the people that didn't so much live, as much as they merely existed.
This was the kind of place where stories of parents killing their children, children killing other children, even children killing their parents – hardly made the Five O'clock news, even on a slow news day.
People disappeared all the time – sometimes just moving to somewhere where there was work, but sometimes a body was found.
And sometimes they were just never seen again.
The name is Joe Laub. I'm the Buffalo Special Agent in Charge for the Zero Option Management Group. (ZOMG)
We're nominally a part of the Department of Homeland Defense, though you will never see us on an organizational chart – unless you have a seriously high Security Clearance, as well as Need-To-Know. We are a TS/SCI Organization, heck, the fact that we even EXIST is TS/SCI.
Ever see any of the "Men In Black" Movies?
We're the people those movies were based on – except that reality is far stranger than fiction.
Space Aliens? – not a real problem for us.
Our problem lies in beings from other dimensions, and sometimes, plants, animals and diseases from those other worlds.
The problem lies in dimensional gates – and not just gates initiated from Earth, but gates generated off-Earth, to here.
So, you might categorize our mission as something like ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – although some days, we're more like Fish-and-Wildlife, and, too many times, we're an Extra-terrestrial version of the EPA.
I'm the SAIC for the Western New York Office. We work out of a Laboratory at the University of Buffalo South Campus. Most of our offices are at Universities – but then again, most of our Agents have Doctorates in the Sciences. Me? – I've got a Doctorate in Particle Physics – which is how I came to be tapped for this job.
About two years ago, I was just a Professor at the University, until I discovered a way to build a working Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
Unfortunately, the bridge did not just work, but it also allowed a being from another world to land on Earth. In my case, a Succubus, which if you don't know, is a soul-sucking, life-destroying demon that can bend human minds to look like a beautiful woman.
Fortunately, I already had experience in dealing with a soul-sucking, life destroying creature that resembled a woman.
Meredith – the Succubus that came through the Gate, was a LOT easier to deal with than my ex-wife.
And far more capable and intelligent.
She is now my second-in-command in this office.
The thing about Western New York is that, due to a confluence of Ley Lines, it is hard to do remote monitoring. Remote viewing, scrying spells, none of that works for more than a few hundred feet.
The sort of thing that would normally set off Guardian Spells on the International Space Station? – hardly ripple the needle from the curbside, here.
But – the disappearances of people from the area around the old Black Rock Academy had reached disturbing levels.
The real clue was when we started finding exsanguinated bodies…dead people with the majority of their blood removed – but not spilled on the ground around them. The puncture marks in the neck appeared to be the only place for the blood to have gone.
So, that meant that Meredith and I were driving around the Black Rock-Riverside Neighborhood in a minivan with a mass of instrumentation.
I looked at the address – 275 Thompson Street – and called it in.
"Yep, Pete, this is Joe. We're on Thompson Street in Black Rock, and Meredith is reading 175 Conklin Units on the Necrometer."
Pete Wilson whistled. "Holy Crap!" he said. "An active necro-gate."
"Yep," I agreed, "and probably used within the last day, probably last night."
"I'm thinking probably a Midnight Black Mass." Said Meredith.
"That would fit." Agreed Pete.
I thought a second. "We probably want to stake this place out, and probably bring in the local law enforcement."
"Makes sense." Said Pete, and Meredith shook her head in agreement.
"We should check with DEA." She suggested. "A No-knock warrant for a suspected Meth Lab might be a good cover."
"Works for me." I agreed. "We can pull back and monitor this place via normal means until we get the no-knock."
I looked at some of the school children walking by. Many were dressed in Goth Clothing, with piercings and tatts. I have nothing against Goths in General – many of them are actually quite smart, and are rebelling against the stupidity surrounding them.
"These Children" said Meredith. "They look, well, Strange." She said with a moue of displeasure.
"It's call the "Goth Look", honey" I said. "A friend of mine is a schoolteacher at Riverside High School. He told me…"These are often the nerdy kids, making themselves look scary, to drive off the human Predators."
She looked at them. "They certainly look odd enough."
"Thing is," I told her, "we've already had an outbreak of "vampires" – merely delusional people that had thought they were Vampires…Desperate folk, looking for some kind of meaning in their pathetic lives."
"Eh" she said. "Real Vampires is one thing. People pretending to be Vampires? To the point of killing people and drinking their blood?"
"Kind of pathetic." I agreed. "But – what if somebody had found a working spell to build a pentagram and summon a real Vampire?"
"To bring over their own Dark Master?" she said with some incredulity. "What kind of fools are they?"
"That is what we need to find out," I said grimly, as I drove away. We had some Hummingbird UAVs in the back. I drove over to the Parking Lot at the Black Rock Academy. The old brick pile of a school – built in 1884 – was surrounded by trees.
Meredith and I launched three of the small, birdlike UAVs and steered them to areas around the house. Perched on overhead electrical wires, the devices looked very much like pigeons – but they would keep the house under video surveillance for us.
We kept the surveillance van parked at the school that night. It started out as a very boring night. In addition to the Hummingbird UAVs, we also had a MQ-9 Reaper UAV, courtesy of the New York National Guard Unit at Schenectady IAP.
A lot of people are upset by the proliferation of drones in the US, particularly the Tier I and II UAVs being fielded by Law Enforcement. Thing is – they have totally revolutionized the art of surveillance. Tier I UAVs – the "micro-UAVs" as they are called, are especially useful.
The Hummingbird UAVs that we were using, are shaped vaguely like a pigeon, but have a rotor in the "beak" – they look odd as they take off, as they take off vertically, like a helicopter, but then transition to horizontal flight to get to the landing area. They have excellent gripping claws, and a decent operator can land them on roof or window ledges, or, preferably, electric lines. The Hummingbirds are battery powered, with electrical motors – but they can charge their batteries from electrical induction. The normal two hour battery life can become indefinite, when the Hummingbird is perched on an electrical line.
The advantage of the Tier I micro-UAVs is that they can sit in place around an area and report back to a surveillance van parked half a mile away. There is much less chance of alerting an urban target, since, less face it, who looks closely at pigeons perched on an electric wire?
We had the standard Hummingbirds, with both radio-intercept and video cameras in both visual and low-light modes, as well as near-infra-red…not that IR was all that great for tracking creatures such as Vampires – but combining an LLTV observation with an IR view made it easy to pick Vampires out of a crowd of humans.
That business about "Vampires not being visible to cameras" was purely a Hollywood thing – although some varieties can cloud your mind and make you forget you saw them…but they showed up nicely on Video.
Tier II UAVs, such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, had long loiter times – up to 50 hours for a Reaper, if it was not carrying weapons – and they could also carry "Special Situations" Instrument packages, designed to look for magical emanations, such as necromancy…the small size of the Hummingbird meant that we had to deploy a dedicated Hummingbird for magical surveillance.
Trouble was, Black Rock is one of those Nodal points. It has five Ley lines intersecting right there at Austin Street and I-190, so the SC package on the MQ-9 was almost worthless.
However, we were using the Reaper in a visual versus IR discrimination mode, to look for human-like figures with lower-than-normal body temperatures.
We weren't having much luck, but I got a call around 9 PM from Ben Ryan, our Special Situations Liaison with the Buffalo Police Department.
"Doctor" said Ben, "we have a strange situation, might be something you can help us with.
"Sure" I said, "what's up?"
My guys are sited at several spots in the city. Right after sunset, we picked up a guy along the old Conrail track spur behind Riverside High School."
"Damn." I swore. That was about five blocks north of the house we had under surveillance.
"A Vamp?" I asked.
"That's what we thought at first." Said Ben. "We were scanning with Thermal Imaging as well as light intensifiers…but this guy, at first, looked like a normal mugger, hiding in the bushes."
He chuckled, "That is still an interest item for us, you know?"
"So what happened?" I said. I was keeping an eye on the monitor's over Jimmy Cooper's shoulder.
"Thing is," Ben continued, "when my guys thought he was going to attack some kids, we moved in."
"Yes," I said, "Ben, this is interesting, but can you cut to the chase?" I said, irritated. "I am on surveillance."
"Sure," said Ben. "The fellow was dressed like something out of a Renaissance Fair – but his skin is pasty white, like an Albino, but his eyes are brown and his hair is as black as if he dyed it."
"Say what?" I said, giving the conversation my full attention.
"Yep," said Ben, "It isn't make-up, the guy looks strange as Hell…and he doesn't seem to speak any language we can recognize."
"Really?" I said.
"Yep," he said… "His body temp seems to be lower than ours – 96.5 or so – but that might be some disease, not his normal temp."
"Interesting" I said.
"I was thinking that Agent Merediana and her language abilities might be useful."
"It might be a good idea." I agreed. "Where is he?"
"D Precinct station." He said.
"Over on Hertel Avenue." I said. "We'll be there in fifteen."
"You have wheels?" asked Ben.
"No," I said, "but it's close enough to walk."
"I'll send a car over to Black Rock to pick you up."
I looked at our junior man, Jimmy Cooper. "Jimmy, can you hold the surveillance on the house?"
I looked at Meredith. "Babe, we need to go after the over to the D Precinct, over on Hertel. There's a fellow there, sounds like he might be a leaker from another dimension."
"You bet, Joe." She said, as she checked her arsenal. Luckily, it was winter, and our Trench Coats did not look out of character. Holy Water was only useful on limited occasions, and was not worth carrying. However, silver bullets and wooden stakes worked just fine…
Just because this guy was behaving so far, did not mean he might stay cooperative.
And, aside from the Police trained in Special Situations, if this guy was some sort of being from another world, the regular cops might be helpless.
"Pete," I said, as I touched my throat mike.
"Gotcha Boss." He said through the all-hands channel. "I've got Jimmy and Danny rolling to backup Jimmy. …ETA five minutes for the boys."
"Roger Copy." I replied. "Meredith and I will head over to see this guy."
We got out of the minivan, and headed and walked to the front of the old School.
We got to the station a few minutes later, and were confronted with an enigma.
He was about six foot tall, with jet black hair that contrasted sharply with his pale skin. He had pointed ears – elf-like, I suppose, or you could compare them to the portrayals of Vulcans or Romulans on Star Trek.
Meredith looked dumbfounded when she turned to me. Because she was a mind-reader, she could "hear" him directly – but it was apparent from her expression, that she had trouble believing what she was "hearing" from him.
"His name is Jesse," she said, "Jesse of Garon, I guess, Is how you would say it in English."
"Gar-on" he said, emphasizing the last syllable.
She shook her head, "Gar-on," she said, "appears to be the place he is from."
"OK," I said, "what else?"
"Well," said Meredith, "he says that he is a Harper, a Musician." She shook her head. "He doesn't know much about how he was brought here."
"Really?" said Ben.
She listened to Jesse's words. He had a nice voice, melodious. He looked somehow –familiar – despite the odd skin and the leather garments…his voice seemed familiar.
Meredith continued, "He says he was brought into this world, and there was a group of strangely dressed people, and a dead person on a table." She looked at me, "it sounds like he is describing a summoning circle and an altar, possibly a Black Mass."
He spoke some more.
She smiled. "They offered him a bowl of blood, but when he realized wht it was, he was terrified, ran away from them, and hid in an empty building."
"He says the sunlight of our world is far stronger than in his world, and it was painful. He waited until after sunset, and decided to seek help."
She continued, "He tried to approach some people, but they reacted badly."
She looked at me. "He seems pretty smart, for a fellow in an terribly unfamiliar and dangerous situation. He recognized the Policemen as officials of the local government – I think the term he used translates to "men of the Law" – he figured that they might be easier to get along with.
He said some more. She laughed and translated, "He knew it was a calculated risk, but he was treated well enough, and when I came in, he recognized that I was not human – and has a lot of questions we need to sit down and discuss."
She shook her head. "He is, despite his appearance, somewhat related to humans." She looked at us, "I think he comes from a world of Low Ultraviolet Light, and – I'm not sure how they could grow crops – but he is no Vampire."
"Great," I said, "just an accidental tourist, an abductee, I suppose."
She looked at me in surprise. "What?"
I snorted. "Don't worry. It is not all that important."
She looked at me. "He says he was pulled through while it was night on his world, and he does not have his sunblock or sunglasses with him."
"Good" said Ben, "Sunglasses and sun block, we can provide."
"Great" I said. "Well, we can either send him back, or, if he wants to stay, we can probably work something out."
We headed back to the car Danny and Jim had brought out, then dropped them off to back up Cooper at the Surveillance Van.
Meredith and I took Jesse back to the University Laboratory, to decide what to do with him.
Pete took one look at Jesse and exclaimed, "An Elf!"
I looked at him. "Huh?"
"This guy looks like an Elf!" he persisted. "One of the Fae!"
I looked at him, then at Jesse. "OK," I said. At the term "Elf", I was thinking of little people, leprechauns and sprites and such.
"Oh," I said, realization finally striking.
"Change his dark hair to blonde, and he'd be a dead ringer for the guy who played Legolas in the Lord of the Rings." Persisted Pete.
"OK" – now that he said it, I could see the resemblance.
"Actually," I said, "he seems to remind me of somebody – and not Legolas."
His words were pleasant and musical. All I could pick out was "Jesse" and "Garon" – emphasis on the last syllable…I wondered what kind of word "Garon" was – the way he pronounced it, it sounded French or at least Cajun…in fact much of his speech did sound like it was Cajun – not so much the words as his cadences of speaking.
"He says," said Meredith, "that he was a master Harper of his people, not a warrior." She cocked her head. "He said he hopes we can help him return to his world, so he will trouble us no more."
He said something, and his tone seemed pleading.
She chuckled. "He also asks if we can provide him with some food – he adds that he is prepared to sing for his supper, if need be."
Now it was my turn to laugh, and I looked at Pete. "I'll run over to the Lake Effect Diner and get some take-out."
"Any requests?" I asked Meredith.
"He says that he could eat a-" she shook her head, "Call it a Horse," she laughed, "he says he ate about a day ago, and he is famished."
I laughed. "As long as it isn't blood." I replied. "Let us try Beef on Weck and fries."
He looked around. Meredith translated "He says he would be willing to sing or play for us, if we have a harp or some stringed instrument."
I looked at Pete. "That's fine, honey, I said, but we really should get back to work. Those clowns with the Necro-gate may try again tonight." I shook my head, "I would be happy if Jesse could tell us something about the jokers who summoned him."
His face became serious as he answered Meredith, and her expression grew still as she listened to him.