Birth of the Undead – Multiple Identities 6
Written by kshoo :: [Friday, 28 July 2023 09:08] Last updated by :: [Friday, 28 July 2023 11:43]
“Es. Remind me again what exactly do we plan to achieve here?” Kat asked. Despite the Spring weather, she was still soaked through her blouse, having sat in place for quite awhile now. Es ignored the question, steadfastly keeping sight of the car that had just stopped outside the gate.
After that little pow wow at the Chronicle, the three Asian witches regrouped, to try and figure out a way to get more information to confirm their allegations.
Granted, despite all they had were assumptions and conjecture at this point, the fact that they had seen the photos at the Chronicle still led to the three thinking “Still! That merits investigation!” And so they decided on trying to gather more “hard-facts” about the “RedDot Foundation”, housed at the old Midvale Orphanage.
Given Dilie’s inability to stay silent nor able to be entrusted with any real secrets, the hastily arranged reconnaisance job fell naturally onto the two older wicca sisters. Linda and Alex (with much cajoling from the former) agreed to show the youngest the local sights while they were ‘out’.
It was something that Kat was definitely rueing herself on. An excursion ANYwhere would have been better than this.
For trying to keep a low profile while trying to keep watch a building was truly boring, not to mention difficult to obtain anything of substance. Without any true reconnaisance gear or training, they really had no idea what they were getting into. Initially, both of them figured they could just wait out to spot suspicious comings and goings into the building. The cafe that they chose however just only about had a view of the building a mile out; it wasn’t an ideal situation.
Quickly realising that it was a waste of time, they then tried to “casually walk past” the main gate. However, their walking up and down the road a few times quickly caught the eye of the old guard manning his post, who easily shooed them. That the grounds were wide open with no real cover meant no potential hiding spots.
Undettered, the next day they managed to borrow Carter’s old 25-year-old compact Honda and parked it along the road, right next to the closest house about five hundred metres away from the main entrance. Winding down the windows and reclining the seats as far they could, both women just laid back and strained their ears, repeatedly sitting up and using a pair of old binoculars to see if there are anything curious.
Both of them had sat up when a large van rumbled past slowly not a moment ago. They had noticed the vehicle stopping in front of the main gate, before it was waved in as it moved slowly up the main road leading to the mansion.
“For what it’s worth, there are six, no eight people who came down from the vehicle. But they don’t seem to be carrying any luggage with them...” Es called out her observations. “Young women, and an elderly driver.”
“They stay there, Es. You don’t take luggages when you were only going about town...” Kat spoke while staring at the yellowish ceiling top with dark and light splotches all about. She didn’t even dare consider what had happened previously in the car.
“Or maybe they didn’t need any, given that they were taken forcibly...”
“Do they look like they were dragged about, kicking and screaming?”
“Which meant that the perception of them being taken against their will is still pretty low. This is not helping our case...”
“I agree with what this young lady said. Maybe another course of action is necessary, if you really want to explore the place in more detail?” Both women jumped up immdiately at that voice to look at a grinning Fred Danvers. All dressed in his official standard light blue shirt and black pants with a badge clasped on the belt.
The Commissioner had heard the story from Linda that very next day after the three ladies turned up at the Chronicle. Harbouring his own doubts, he was intrigued by the antics of the young women who had turned up unannounced in town with not much resources beyond their own persistence, trying seemingly to get to the bottom of things in their own way.
That, and the mention of a familiar name. ‘Otis Reed’. That overweight man had barely escaped being implicated in the human trafficking ring that he and Superman busted not a year ago back in Metropolis. Being conveniently away for business in the Far East definitely helped, though being one of the known lackeys of one of the most powerful man in the city was still a double-edged sword. It did mean that Otis had skirted jail with that alibi.
All good criminal figures need their foot soldiers, and Otis Reed fits the profile to a ‘T’ for Lex Luthor.
So, when Old Charlie called the station again complaining about two women acting weird in front of the Orphanage, he had to come and see for himself. He just about laughed at the two ladies’ poor attempt to play private investigator when an idea sprung up in his mind.
“How about we put on a little show together?”
“This is highly irregular, Commissioner Danvers. I mean, while we welcome visits by the Force we normally handle this through appointments...” Allyson Fender gushed out politely but in a partially annoyed tone. Thin and tall, the middle-aged ‘deputy director’ was all about efficiency. In her simple grey three piece pants-suit, she glanced from the Commissioner of Police to the two ladies flanking him on two sides. Both Es and Kat were doing their best to act like tourists, holding their phones in their hands while seemingly looking wide-eyed and innocent at everything.
“I understand that. But as you can see, these two young women are quite persistent however. Friends of my daughter you see, who used to reside here. Since they are only in town for a few days, they wanted to have a look around the place before moving on. I’d really appreciate it if you could just give me a little leeway on this. Just a quick fifteen minutes?” He gave his trademark wink, hoping that his charm would work. “Besides, with some of the latest crime happening in the city, I thought I’d come down and see if we can be...helpful.”
Allyson Fender was well aware about that. “Oh yes. It is a concern of course, that’s why we have now introduced strict times for the young ladies to return to our compound. You can never be too cautious these days, even in a smaller city like ours..”
“Just as well. I think it’s important that we have a little chat. Together with the Director maybe?” He slowly but purposedfully turned towards the right and started walking down the hallway, leaving Allyson to quickly fall into line before him.
“Alas Mr. Reed won’t be back until late. Running the place is expensive, as you can imagine, and a major part of his role is to obtain funding...” she replied.
“I see. Then it’s just as well then to have this discuss with you. After all you ARE the main woman running this entire place. I...” He suddenly felt slightly queasy when another man that was coming from the opposite direction walked past him. That feeling quickly left as the smell of cigarette smoke dissipated. Placing his hand against the wall, he couldn’t help but pant slightly, as if he suddenly had a minor seizure or panic attack.
“Are you alright?” Allyson enquired alarmingly.
“Yes, I...wow, all of a sudden everything was swirlling around. Must have been something I ate earlier.” He was just about to stand back upright when he noticed two small pieces of paper on the floor. Curious, he picked it up and was about to throw them into the bin when he noticed part of the writings on them.
“Who was that man?”
“Oh that? That’s Marcus Gaius. A friend of Mr. Reed’s from Britain. Supposedly on Foundation business here, though I am not sure in what capacity.” It was obvious Ms Fender doesn’t hold a high opinion of the blonde man who just went past them.
“He’s been here long?”
“Arrived about three weeks ago. Supposedly a security consultant, though I don’t really know what is his expertise though.”
I’ll bet, Fred thought to himself. “So let’s discuss the safety precautions that you have now, and how we can work together to ensure those here will remain safe...”
Walking towards the other direction Es and Kat both had the impression that the entire ground floor seems to function as a private school, what with the regular chalkboards and chairs in most rooms. Even two labs on both side down the long hallway.
“Where is everyone?” Kat asked aloud, for despite the entire setup, they have not seen any of the students. Yet.
Coming to a flight of stairs, Es threw a mental coin and went upstairs, which both women quickly surmised are dorm rooms. Opening one of them to quickly peek around, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary – poster pinups of hearthrobs on the walls, huggables on the bed, laptops and makeup all over the table. A typical private boarding school dorm if one were to have it. But just before they exited, Es noticed one of the drawers was ajar. Pulling it open, she took out a thick notebook of sorts, and flipped it across a few pages before passing it to Kat.
“Grimore?” Spellbooks for witches. Such items are normally handed down generation by generation within a witch’s family, allowing each member to add on their own spells and knowledge into the tomb. Some of them could be as thick as a 8-inches, but the relatively thin notebook that they hold in their hand doesn’t look like it’s been used for only a few years. “Someone who just recently discovered her heritage?” Es didn’t reply immediately, and instead took a photo with her phone.
“Maybe. Let’s go.” Checking another few rooms yielded a few small items that would have been at home to any coven – potion-making ingredients, scented candles, even scribbles on paper that read very much like simple spells.
“But it doesn’t prove anything.” Kat said quietly as she put the pink notebook back on the table.
Passing the final door before reaching the other flight of stairs, Kat suddenly stopped short. Es turned around and saw the Indian lady’s puzzled face. Her gaze was on the a room towards their immediate left.
When they stepped past the main gate earlier and into the building proper, both of them had felt a partial tingle as they drove up along the driveway. While they can’t exactly tell what they felt, they do know that it wasn’t natural.
And now, they smelt somethinig that shouldn’t belong in a girls’ dorm. Something that reminded them of an active spell. The remaining waft wasn’t altogether that strong, but Kat had always had a knack of tracing and detecting these.
Exchanging glances, Kat reached over to the door knob and opened to enter. It was rather barren. Furnished with a cabinet, a mid-sized wardrobe, a desk and a bed, the lack of things out in the open however indicated the room to be unoccupied. Kat stepped closer to the middle of the room and bent down, sniffing all about as she attempted to grasp the trail of the while Es looked out the window. This room had a clear view of the grounds and the gate leading to the main road. She then turned around and opened the wardrobe on a hunch. Feeling even more puzzled, she found superhero costumes in there. There was Green Lantern, The Flash, even Supergirl and Wonder Woman...She took a few cursory photos when Kat spoke out to her.
“Hey, do you see what I see?” Es walked over and squinted to where Kat was indicating. Moving her head slightly, at just the right angle where the light shone the petite Thai girl finally saw what Kat was on about.
The chalk have been cleared, but there were still faint marks and linings on the ground. The very fact that there are these unexplained, faded drawings on the ground with remnant smell of burnt materials more or less leads to the suspicion that a witch had been casting in this very room. Reaching under the bed proferred a few almost-completely-burnt candles, further confirming their suspicions.
“Well well well. What do we have here?” Both women jumped and looked up, and they found themselves looking at the man who had appeared on the digital photograph on Carter Sharp’s computer. Thin, blonde and sporting a five o’clock shadow, the Brit wore a dark jacket over a bright purple suit, the clashing of colour seemingly part of his unnerving charm. Despite the initial surprise upon seeing both of them he had quickly composed himself and is now acting more nonchalantly.
Kat and Es saw through the act quickly. After all, witches cannot lie to another witch, which makes interrogation among them pretty much an open book. Which was convenient, or not, depending on circumstances.
“What did you do here?” Es asked pointedly, and met only by a lazy smile.
“Nothing that will harm you, that I can assure you. Who are you, and why are you here?” Marcus retailiated.
“Kat Mandla. We’re visiting. Came with Commissioner to have a quick tour around. Since he’s indisposed we thought we could have a look around the place on our own.” Kat had stepped forward to parry the probe.
“Is it. That must be the gentleman in blue downstairs with Ms. Fender. I didn’t know that the generic tour covers each dormitory room. What exactly are you looking for?“
Es and Kat tried to hold out, but their creature’s blood would not be denied.
“We...We want to find out if there are witches in this compound. So, are there?” Es tried to turn the comments into her desired question.
“For sure there’s at least one, which is me standing in front of you.” He’s good, Es thought. Very, very good.
“So there are more of them here then.”
Marcus raised his hand and chuckled. “Of course. But I can assure you that they are well taken-care of. I’ll save you the trouble of checking the rest of the rooms; half of them are still out on a field trip, the rest are downstairs having a break prior to lessons at the canteen. All of them are here as participants of a program for the gifted, and I think you might have seen how ‘gifted’ some of them are, by the way. I’m sure you will be proud when you see the things that they can do now.”
“So you admit that you’ve taken them? On false pretexts when in essence you are targeting and trafficking witches?” Es tried to keep cool, but it’s getting harder to do so with that annoying know-it-all smile that Marcus keeps putting on. How she would like to shove his face onto the floor board just to wipe that smirk off his face.
“That, I’m afraid, I do not know. Then again, I do not care. I am merely here as a security consultant. An advisor of sorts so that I can keep the creatures and other humans here safe. That’s what the spells do, which is to keep us away from prying eyes, so to speak. You do remember that us creatures would prefer to keep to our own.”
“Is that why you came after us the other day? With that large machine?”
Marcus’ face froze slightly before he replied. “That was a mistake, and uncalled for. The spell was only intended to scare away potential intruders, and not to harm. My...apologies if that felt very heavy-handed.”
“If there is nothing to hide, then why do you need to chase us away?”
“Again, I’m just doing what I am paid to do. Now both of you can just relax and go to sleep.”
The next thing they knew, Fred Danvers and Allyson Fender were fretting over them in the same room, trying to wake them up with a combination of light slaps and pinches. Kat and Es had been found propped up against the bed frame on the floor, and thought they were out for at least ten minutes. Both feigned lethargy and the possibility of food poisoning (to the disbelief of Allyson) which led to Fred insisting that they visit the local doctor.
Once they got into Fred’s official SUV however, everything that they saw and heard tumbled out from their mouths like a waterfall. This one-way conversation continued all the way back to the station, and given the weird circumstances, Fred just might as well bundled them into his office and turned down the blinds as he tried to make sense of what he heard.
Witches living in the compound. The male witch Marcus Gaius casting spells out in the open. Young women who might have been brought to the country under false pretenses. There was nothing however that indicated any of the women were being held against their will. Even if Es and Kat might be telling the truth, there was no way they could test anyone on the compound whether or not they have witchy powers.
And then most important point that Es mentioned as an afterthought about Marcus’ wardrobe.
“Wait wait wait. You said he had a stash of superhero costumes in his wardrobe?” Es took out her phone, and passed it on. While it wasn’t a crime to have all these costumes and clothes, it was odd that the costumes were all female. There was no way in the world that Marcus wasn’t male.
Just as well, for Blake came in around the same time, proferring the small clue that they had picked up at the latest crime scene. A portion of the card that had the same writings of the RedDot foundation, which he was able to compare with Allyson Fender’s who proferred hers when he met her. There was also some trace amount of semen that they managed to get from some of the places. The perpetrator had tried to be thorough, but sometimes it’s just not enough.
“Maybe this might help.” The clincher came in the form of the South Asian young woman who had been patiently waiting by the side. She produced a small comb from her left pocket of her pants. The kind of comb that was small and thin enough to be placed in back pocket of one’s trousers, a convenience for those who want a quick sweep of their mane while walking the streets.
Caught among the teeth of the comb were a few strands of hair, and more than enough skin cells and even dandruff in between the seams.
Fred Danvers leaned back, smiling inwardly despite his poker face. Looks like there is a break out of this after all.
“I see you’ve heard about the latest.” He took a puff of smoke and exhaled upwards, leaning against the lampost just a block down the road from the House. He had expected the call.
“You promised that you will get rid of them. Yet you’ve failed. Again.” Marcus sighed.
“As I told you previously, I run cross-interference. They came with the Commissioner of the Police of the area. I doubt the infallible Ms Fendor can deny them entry when one turns up with such an important person of community?”
“What? The police! How did... Never mind. We can do without all these nuisance. So what else can you do to chase them away? We’re already in the thick of things, there’s no stopping it now.”
“Don’t fret. There’s still a few options available.” Not much, Marcus thought to himself, but Otis Reed doesn’t need to know that.
“See that you get it done, Marcus. Else your head will be on chopping block, I will personally see to that.” A click on the other end. If the threat had come from Otis’ boss, or even from Ms. Fender, now THOSE would be worth listening to. From him though? The blonde Brit merely chuckled as he tossed the phone aside. Another deep drag of the cigarette to take another inch off the paper stick before throwing it on to the ground, the wet pavement saving him the hassle of stomping it out.
If Otis had any brains he would be making arrangements now to get the hell out. If there is an decency he would also be doing so for the young witches under his ward. Marcus could help, but knowing how the ground had shifted beneath him, he, Marcus Gaius, is definitely not planning to stick around longer than needed. Better to make HIS own alternative arrangements too. For far too long, creatures have been made scapegoats for as long as he could remember. Salem was just one example throughout history.
But first...maybe it’s time to start reeling in that one large fish that he had unintentionally caught. That could be a very tasty morsel.
Who says one can’t have a bit of fun prior to the big show?