Division 47: The Flute

By Joanna E Sears

© Monster Zoo Enterprises 2015

Prologue

He found it one miserable afternoon having entered the pokey little junkshop in an attempt to escape the rain. It had clearly lain gathering dust on the shelf for a

many years, yet even before he picked up the carved wooden instrument Leon Gaspard felt its power. It had cost him more dollars than he could really afford including his bus-fare but the walk home in the rain did not dampen his spirits it was if the artifact itself boosted his ego. Four days later he found the suit. A small part of him wondered if the Flute had in fact directed him to the second charity outlet.

Chapter One

The team saw the stranger arrive but he was not introduced to them. Oliver came out of his office and relieved the slight man of the large box he was carrying then he ushered the visitor into his inner sanctum closing the

door behind them. The pair remained closeted together for nearly an hour after which the stranger minus his box exited from Oliver's office and without even glancing at the team walked swiftly from the squad room. Oliver closed his door and did not emerge for another fifteen minutes but when he did he was carrying a large sturdy cage.

"Martin! George with me," he barked. Both men immediately dropped the tasks they were engaged in and leapt to obey. Oliver strode across to Tony's desk and pushing aside several files laid the cage on it. His younger brother eyed it suspiciously. "Put Percy in here!"

"Pardon!"

"Put your rat in here! Oliver repeated the instruction. Tony stood up

"We've had this discussion before. I am not now or ever going to allow you to steal Percy or my sword and I don't care whose orders you claim to be obeying." Oliver met his defiant gaze.

"I am not trying to steal him I am trying to protect him."

"Yeah right! Pull the other one it's got a bell on it." Oliver smothered his annoyance and turned to the two accompanying men. He handed one of them a set of car keys

"George these are the keys to an official car it is stocked with enough supplies for two weeks. You will use it to take Percy to my brother's home and hand him over to his housemate the Jon Fox," he paused to take a breath then continued. "Once the creature is safe you will both take up residence at the house you will not leave the premises for any reason until you hear from me. The purpose of your stay is to guard Fox and that rat. It must be properly looked after but not be allowed out of the habitat even for a second. That instruction is paramount if it escapes it will in all likelihood head straight here to its master. It must not be allowed to do so because if it succeeds it will be in severe danger."

Tony sensed his brother was sincere so against his better judgement and Percy's vociferous indignant chatter he placed his precious pet in the cage. Whereupon

Oliver locked the only entrance with a sturdy padlock. Tony turned to his two team mates and gave then a list of things Percy had to have food water, treats. He even told them where to find the things when they reached his house. Oliver gave him a few minutes then growing impatient ordered the pair to carry out his orders. Tony felt a gut wrenching pain as Percy was carried away. The half sentient rat seemed to sense he was being separated from his master and began wailing. Oliver inhaled then to his brother sharply said.

"Call Fox warn him they're coming and that the animal must be kept caged and most importantly out of sight of any windows." Tony frowned but called his friend and told him to expect visitors.

"Take care of him for me Jon!" his voice wobbled as he whispered this plea into his cell Phone.

"You know I will!" he heard Jon's reassuring voice confirm, then Oliver took his phone and spoke to Jon himself.

"I know we haven't met and I doubt my brother's description of me has ever been complimentary, but in this instance I am trying to protect him and his pet.

But be advised until the current situation has been resolved Anthony will not be able to contact you and you must not attempt to contact him. Not even by text."

"I understand!" Jon replied then Oliver cut the call and put Tony's phone into his own pocket. Tony scowled

"So are you now going to explain what the hell is going on and why Percy is at risk?" His brother now handed each of the remaining squad members a sheaf of papers. Tony read the copy handed to him.

"The Mystery of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn"

Twas in the year Twelve Eighty Four

through every casement hole and door

the rats came pouring, squealing gnawing.

A council was called the best minds in Hamlyn

a solution was need. But one that was cheap.

then forth stepped a Piper an odd looking chap

crimson his hose and green was his cap

Honoured Alderman so noble and true.

your problem I alone have the answer too."

they regarded him wary this stranger so airy

Then the Mayor snootily asked.

Who pray tell are you that entereth here

without even a how do you do?

The Pied Piper I am named and I sir

can rid Hamlyn of this dire plague of rats.

"Twaddle?" The butcher exclaimed "What can one man do that could not a hundred kits and cats?"

The jauntily clad man showed no malice at his derision

but softly answered "I swear by the holy rood my word

be true."

The council both Merchant and Burgher

huddled together, conferred in a corner.

Dare they trust this fifer so gaudily dressed

to pipe every last rat from its nest?

This council so sagacious so wise would ask

of the piper for his service and time what is

the price?

"My price it is cheap a mere forty gold marks

but heed yea well to this warning and harken.

Do not try to cheat me of payment with larks

or deception. Else all Hamlyn will weep for

a lost generation."

All cityfolk rejoice. Your price we think fair

When the rats you've destroyed Not forty

we'll pay but fifty be there."

The piper his flute to his lips he did raise

the tune that he played was one full of praise

It called to the rats with a promise of love

Sang to those below and above.

Out they all tumbled. Squeaking excited.

Their voices thundered and rumbled. From

every cubby hole and nesting. Even the babies

ceased their breast feeding.

The music was calling like the song of the fey

They couldn't ignore it they had to obey.

Follow the chorus thru' gate, lea and torus.

Down to the river it's torrent a gushing

Onward! Ever onward. Into the rapids a rushing.

Down to the depths the rats all went washing

Til narry a one was left in the town.

The piper his flute he did lower and back

to Hamlyn he strolled for his gold in a sack.

There was much rejoicing and the people did cheer

All but the Alderman. They gathered in fear

The piper his payment demanded. Fifty gold marks

The price agreed. But then all went quiet as the

Stately old mayor now formally decreed."

Fifty gold marks? What rubbish indeed?

Here's five phenings now be gone rascal

Before I summon the town bede!"

My warning thou did not harken.

See now how the skies do darken

Behold the wrath of one deceived.

Forever now be Hamlyn grieved.

Once more his fife he did raise but this was

no tune full of love or praise

Out of every house they came

Children laughing. Children dancing.

Happy, singing all behind the piper prancing.

Mother's desperate father's grabbing all trying

to still their offspring. Make them stay, make them

stop! Alas the despite their efforts they could not

Faster! Faster Ever onward behind the fifing

Pied Piper skipped away all Hamlyn's young

Out from the town in a cloud of dust. Entranced

away without a backward glance.

Down the valley, thru the forest up the mountain

Hard pressed many sought to follow. But as night

came down, of the children all sight was lost

as into the Koppernberg they crossed. All but three

were gone forever. One a cripple, one unsighted and one so deaf the music he never heard

And now despite the passing of the years.

Hamlyn's grief lingers still as often through the purple night there comes from afar the tinkling sound

of the Piper's fife."

Tony lowered his paper then looked to Rhys and Tangle they shrugged as puzzled as he. Tony turned to his brother.

"The Pied Piper really? Come on! I know I'm good but I think even I'm a bit too late to solve that mystery." Rhys gave a snort of amusement that he quelled as Oliver glared at him.

"That mystery does not concern us as you say it was too long ago to even be verified as a real event. However unknown to most people the Hamlyn story

is not an isolated incident." Tony blinked

"Pardon? Are you saying there have been other mass abductions?"

"Not exactly but there have been other curious accounts of a man dressed in

multi-colored clothes leading either children or young people into unstoppable

Dance Frenzies." Rhys frowned.

"I've never heard of any?" he said.

"Strasbourg 1518!" Tony knew "The so called Dancing Plague where people

suddenly started to dance and didn't stop until they dropped dead." Then Tangle softly sang the chorus of a very old song. One whose origins were lost in the mists of time.

Sur le Pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse
Sur le Pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tous en rond

Oliver nodded to her then added

"That song also dates from early Medieval Times and the few woodcuts that depict it show the dancers being led by a Piper." He rifled through the papers found the one he needed then read aloud. "Hamlyn aside there was another account of children dancing away behind a strange piper about ninety years later."

"Really where?"

"The city of Aarchen in 1374," Oliver supplied. Tony was starting to shake

"So that's why you sent Percy into protective custody? The original Pied Piper first enticed away rats?" His brother nodded. For the first time ever Tony actually thanked his brother for something. Rhys frowned

"So was Hamlyn was the first recorded instance of this so called dancing abductions?"

"No there are three earlier accounts," Oliver again consulted his notes "The first was reported in the seventh century the second was in 1020 AD and may have been the origin of the song Tangle just sang,"

"Where else?" Tony asked.

"1237 again in Germany a group of children danced all the way from Erfurt to Anstaldt."

"What happened when they reached the second city?"

"Some of the townspeople managed to seize the children. They took them to a church and restrained them until they fell asleep exhausted."

"And the Piper?"

"As he led his procession towards the town-square he was set upon by a group of men led by the head of the City's Militia,"

"So they caught him?"

"Yes and he was hung a day later."

"So why didn't it end then? Who was the second Piper that stole the children

from Hamelyn?"

"And there begins the mystery. The so called Pied Piper was dressed in the same manner as the previous pipers and carried the same instrument."

Tony scratched at the rising hackles on the back of his neck then asked the question the others were thinking.

"So why are we now investigating a phenomena that died out centuries ago?"

Oliver looked at him then let his gaze travel to the others before slowly saying.

"Two months ago a clown dressed in red and green playing a long wooden flute, entertained a crowd at a carnival fete. At the time his music was applauded as it had everyone dancing but when the fete finished," he paused then softly added "Seven children were missing.

"Coincidence?" Rhys hoped

"At first glance yes but."

"But?"

"Three weeks later a similarly dressed clown turned up at a church picnic,"

"And I'm guessing he used a wooden flute to get everyone dancing?" Tony said

Oliver nodded. Tangle inhaled.

"How many?"

"Four teenagers aged between thirteen and seventeen,"

"And since then?" Oliver's face was grim.

"Two days ago at a small town thirty miles west of Edward's Plateau during their 4th of July celebrations eleven youngsters danced away behind a piping clown dressed in a Harlequin suit of red and green."

"Oh God!" Tangle muttered her face horrified. Oliver looked at Tony.

"Percy will be safe but I need your unique skill set I've already arranged for clothes and lodging for all of us at the this latest Crime Scene." He paused to give them a few seconds to mentally prepare then added. "We roll in fifteen."

TBC