Well, the Forensics team had the site well in hand, and when Farrell woke up, he started talking.
I left Meredith to help in the interrogation, and headed outside.
The other side of the clean-up was focused on – hopefully quietly! – finding the Flying Monkey. I rubbed my head in pain as I thought of a Crypto-zoologist with a Flying Monkey.
Danny Brown came up to me. "What's the matter, Boss?"
"I'm trying to puzzle out, where would I hide if I was a Flying Monkey?"
"Good question." He agreed. "Luckily, we haven't heard any screaming yet, so he hasn't been spotted – or worse yet, attacked anyone."
I thought of the screaming, clawing mass of teeth and fur that had come out of the Portal. "That's ALL we need." I said, with a sarcastic tone, "or for a crypto-zoologist to get hold of him, or even the body."
The thing was, the weather was cold, and I was sure a flying monkey would have a metabolism like a blast furnace. It couldn't go for long without eating, and it would need to eat a LOT.
All I could hope for was that the one I had winged with the silver buck-and-ball, had gone away to die somewhere.
If we could get to the body ourselves – or the person that found it, we could keep it out of the public eye. It could be disguised as a hoax.
A live, flying monkey, on the other hand?
Ugh. I could see it on Fox network or something, and that would open a line of questioning we DID not want.
Going back to the Lab, I opened the door to the sound of guitar music. Good Guitar Music.
I was used to Pete Wilson's discordant plunking on the old acoustic guitar in his office, but unless Pete had gotten a LOT better since the last time I had heard him, this was somebody else.
It sort of surprised me when I saw it – and yet it didn't. Jesse Garon was trying out an old blues tune – one of the ones that Pete liked to listen to in the office.
The fact that he was doing a rather nice job of playing an instrument he had never heard of before this morning was actually unsurprising, if I thought about who he might be.
Danny took a look at him playing. "They must have guitars where he is from."
"Maybe" I said, " and maybe it is natural talent."
"He reminds me of a young Elvis." Said Danny.
"I'm wondering if he isn't Elvis' twin."
"Remember the legends of changelings, Danny?" I said. "How the Fae would take human children and leave behind a lifelike simulacrum that would die soon afterward?" I shook my head, "and then they would change the human child into a child of the Fae, and raise him or her as their own?"
"Yeah." Said Danny, "but are you saying Elvis was an elf?"
"Nope," I replied, "but Elvis Aaron Presley was a twin – and his brother, Jesse Garon Presley, died soon after he was born."
Danny looked at me, then at Jesse on the guitar. "But, how?" he said, "that whole thing about changelings is a myth."
"Myths" I said, "are merely stories told by people about things that happened to them – and some of those things, well, the storyteller doesn't know everything, just the parts he saw and understood."
I pointed my fingers to emphasize "Magic" I said pointedly, "might be better described as "science and technology we do not yet understand" I looked at Danny, "We built a bridge to another dimension right here in this laboratory, and, you and I working together, have found that a lot of the 'fantasy" and "impossible" things" I looked pointedly at him, "really do exist."
"OK" he said, "point taken. I track down Vampires, werewolves, and now Flying Monkeys for a living." He shook his head ruefully and grinned a wry smile. "Point very well taken."
We went about three days with no reported sightings of the flying monkey. I was beginning to wonder if I had only imagined it.
"No, Joe" said Danny. "I saw it get away, too" he shrugged. "You hit it, I think – maybe it flew away and died on a rooftop, or out in the woods somewhere."
"Finding the body is almost as bad," I argued.
"Not if the animals tear it up before somebody finds it," pointed out Jimmy, in a sensible tone. "If the animals got at it, all you might find are some odd looking bones and such."
"true" I said, mollified. "If we don't hear of it soon, we can probably write it off."
Famous last words….
We have a custom of getting together for Sunday dinner on my team. It isn't a "Sunday Dinner after Church" Thing, either. I converted to Buddhism about twenty years ago, and
Jimmy Smythe is Reformed Judaism. Danny and Pete are agnostic, and Meredith is, well…Meredith.
But, it was Easter Sunday, and so we got together, even if none of us were Christian…Maybe because none of us were Christian. We were having dinner at my place, and so Meredith and I took Jesse with us to the Broadway Market.
The Broadway Market is a place down on Broadway Avenue in Buffalo, and it mostly cater to the restaurant trade. It is an old-fashioned Farmer's Market, with all sorts of food for sale, and many of the booths will handle the retail trade, also.
I went, because I wanted to get a Leg of Lamb for the Sunday dinner. Meredith doesn't strictly need to eat, but she does enjoy my cooking. Jesse –well, Jesse wanted to see our world.
We still were not sure of the coordinates of his home world. Since the necromancers who had brought him here were all dead, we couldn't just do our usual routine to send him back where he came from, using electricity, rather than a human soul.
Nope, we were going to have to find his world, or a world that knew his kind, and could point us in the right direction.
But, he was enjoying it here. There was a whole musical tradition here to explore, as well as instruments he had never heard of.
We got to the Broadway market and looked around.
"This is similar to the Markets of my home." Said Jesse, in that stilted manner of a person learning English.
Scheisse, the fact that he had picked up that much English in three days impressed the snot out of me.
When we got to the Meat Aisle, I ran into an acquaintance, Hamid Al Jafar. He was about six foot tall fellow, with a hook nose and a lean, cadaverous face. Despite his looks, he was an excellent man, an Imam in the local Muslim Community, and he ran the Halal Butcher Shop.
"Yusef" he exclaimed. "I was hoping you would show up. I found something interesting for you."
"Interesting?" I said.
"Yes" he assured me, and taking me aside, he quietly added, "on the nature of the Afreet"
In late October, we had helped him deal with an Afreet that had been summoned by one of his co-religionists.
"Another Afreet?" I exclaimed quietly. "The last one was bad enough."
"No, my friend," he quickly assured me, "not an Afreet, but – something that is, I think, not of this world."
We followed him into his shop. He already knew Meredith, of course, and I introduced Jesse as a "visiting student". Hamid looked oddly at Jesse's ears, but said nothing about them.
We ascended the ladder to the roof of the warehouse.
I need to explain something, since most people may have seen this – but not thought about it.
The food warehouses that the market was in, needed a lot of refrigeration. Those compressors were on the roofs of the buildings. They pumped out warm air.
The flying monkey was more of an avian than a monkey, despite resemblances, and he came from a warm climate…not to mention that he had a metabolism like a blast furnace and required a high-carbohydrate diet.
He wasn't per se, a "Vampire" – those long hollow cainines were for extracting the juice of fruits.
Thing was, Buffalo in April, well, it is both cold and decidedly lacking in fruit.
Most of the area is, anyway.
The heat exchangers are covered over by a tin roof and surrounded by a chicken wire enclosure…other wise, birds and squirrels will make a home in their warmth. These enclosures, of course, are latched.
And – I'm not being rascist or anything, but one of the things I liked about Hamid, was, well, he was a "Son of Martha". Go Google the Kipling Poem, if you haven't read it.
There's – I have to call it a Cultural thing, somehow, more of an Arab thing than Islamic – that make the majority of them "Sons of Mary." – as in "Imshallah" – which is loosely translated as "It broke because it is the Will of God."
Hamid was one of those most unusual fellows, an Arab that took equipment maintenance schedules seriously.
So, when he went up to run a check on his heat-exchangers, he found the enclosure door unlatched, and a litter of fruit rinds and such, gleaned from the dumpsters. The dumpsters were latched also, to protect against rats.
Thing is, rats don't have opposable thumbs.
On the other hand, the small, huddled figure against the heat exchanger DID have nimble little fingers.
As well as wings.
And, surprisingly enough, a voice.
"Go away." Said the figure. "Please" it added "Gleep hurts. Gleep no want to hurt anybody. Gleep hungry."
I looked at Hamid in surprise.
"It does not look human, my friend." said Hamid, "but it can talk…after a fashion." He pointed to some smears of blood. "And I believe it is hurt."
Hamid produced a small cantaloupe from his jacket, and cut it open. "Here is food Gleep." He said. "I will set it on the floor and back away."
"Thank you." Said Gleep.
I looked at the odd creature. "It may not be human," I said, "but where I come from, anybody that can say "Please" and "Thank you" counts as "people"."
Hamid nodded in agreement. "I agree, my friend. I wish more people shared your sentiments."
The monkey tore into the cantaloupe halves with enthusiasm.
Jesse stepped forward. "You are hurt, my little friend."
"Stay away" said Gleep, baring his teeth in a snarl. It was about at that point, that I realized that Gleep was not talking with his mouth, but inside my head.
OK, a telepathic flying monkey.
I ever mention that this job can get really weird?
Jesse continued talking calmly. "We are both strangers, and afraid, in a world strange to us."
Gleep looked at him. "You are not of this place, either?"
I was certainly surprised. That was a pretty high-order abstraction. I mentally revised my assessment of Gleep's intelligence a LOT higher.
"We can take you to someplace warm, someplace with good food and care for your hurts." Said Jesse.
I winced as the little fellow moved. There was an ugly wound on his side, and blood matted his fur. It looked as though he had caught at least one of the heavy silver double ought pellets.
"Gleep is cold." He agreed. "Gleep hurts."
"We can help, Gleep," said Meredith, "If you will let us."
"Thank you" said Gleep, as he swarmed up on Jesse and clung to him like a child.
I got the car, and we descended via the outside ladder, so that no one else saw us.
"Thank you, my friend." Said Hamid. "I was not sure what to do, other than to call you."
"Animal Control or the Zoo would have probably had a problem with this." I agreed.
"Imsh'Allah" laughed Hamid. "go with God, my friend, and take care of our new friend." He said.
We went back to the University, but instead of the Physical Sciences Building, we went to the Health Sciences Building.
Dr Ahmed Khadra was our contact there, for times when we needed help with xeno-medical problems.
"All I really can do, Gleep," he said to his new patient, "is sew up the wound. We might have to experiment to find a pain killer that works."
"Hokay." Said Gleep. "I trust you."
Turned out that Lidocaine worked tolerably well. X-rays showed that the ball had made a through-and-through penetration, so we didn't need to do surgery.
Gleep was a joy to be with, once he started to heal.
He was a simple, uncomplicated mind. Even when we discussed how he came to this world, he was far more forgiving than a human would be.
"We live in – what you call it? – jungle. Big trees, much food on ground, but nasty-nasty predators at night." He chattered. "Much like creature I see on television – Lion – but worse."
"So," he said, "rest at night. Troop gathers together, and sleep in tree. Good-good"
He shook his head, "then, bright light forms up, something pulls on us, pulls us through ring of light, into place where there are –things."
"Things?" I said.
"Things," he said firmly. "Black hard fur, and ugly faces with big eyes. They have nasty, noisy things that make noises and kill people. We try to fight them, but many-many people die. I get scared and try to fly away, but I get hit in side by bang-thing." He pointed to his wound.
"Ah" I said, embarrassed. "That was us, Gleep." I looked into his soft brown eyes. "We were scared also, when you came through the Gate like that. You scared us, and we shot – we thought – to protect ourselves."
Gleep looked at us carefully, and proved to me, what I had suspected.
"Gleep understands." He said slowly. "I can see your minds, and I see that you are sorry." He shrugged and said, "Happens in jungle all the time. Strangers meet, and there are arguments as each settle who is who, and what is what."
He hugged Jesse and reached out his hands to Meredith and I. "Your weapons are more deadly than the teeth and claws of The People…but you have worse things to fear in this world."
This little fellow was certainly a lot smarter than most humans.
Jesse was acclimating to our world also. The Acoustic guitar, to him, was a wonder, compared to the Lute. The Piano was also an eye-opener for him.
But his true joy was exploring the electric guitar.
He and Gleep became inseparable. The little fellow would listen to Jesse's music for hours at a time, dancing and chattering with his delight.
I figured they would stay together, no matter where they went…but at the moment, neither one seemed to be inclined to leave Earth anytime soon.Chapter 04 The Unholy Ghost