Similarities to Persons Living or Dead is currently available as a part of The Official Private Eye Handbook, first book in the CITY OF MAGICK series. Please, feel free to take a look here, though, and at subsequent chapters. Let me know how you feel about it. For those of you finding your way here relatively late, no problem. The start of the story is just a click away.
SIMILARITIES TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD
It was an excruciating ride in morning traffic with a pit stop at the South Riverside Train Station. I was on the fence about whether it should be my favorite or my least favorite train station, since I’d almost been killed in it a few nights ago…but only almost. One might’ve thought that I should have had greater concern about my even considering having a favorite train station.
Unlike my last visit, this one wasn’t supposed to end with my ticket getting punched. Still riding on my breakfast high, part of me was expecting on a nice, low-stress outing to help recover a camera bag from a locker. Part of me was an idiot.
“What made you decide to hide it here?” I asked her as we pushed through the bustling commuter crowds.
“I came through here that night we saw each other,” Harmony said. “There were strange people following me. It felt like they were getting closer and I didn’t want them to catch me with the bag. I lost them long enough to hide the bag and kept running.”
“I hate running,” I grumbled at her. “What’s in it?”
“What’s in your box?”
“Never looked, huh? Fair enough, though I doubt Lew would’ve handed you a bagful of danger without some kind of warning,” I said.
“Still, he was killed over it,” Harmony said, “and now his killers are after me. Don‘t let the clothes fool you. I‘m a secretary, remember?”
“Fair enough,” I said. “We’ll check it out soon.”
We arrived in a long hall, both walls lined with lockers. I called myself keeping lookout both ahead of us and behind as Harmony went to the locker. She jiggled the key, fighting with the lock.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her.
“I don’t know,” she said, clearly frustrated. “It’s stuck!”
“Let me try,” I said, stepping to her side and reaching for the key. “Look at these scratches. Somebody’s been trying to break in here.”
“No, it’s no as long as they didn’t get in. We’ll get in.”
“No, I meant, uh-oh maybe it was them,” she said, pointing past me to the far end of the hall.
I looked and saw two men and a woman, all dressed to blend with any crowd. What was that about psychos and serial killers: they looked like everyone else? I took over wrestling with the stupid locker. Now, of course, the crowds were gone and the lock was jammed and I had this feeling that we were the next targets in a horror movie. It had gotten quiet and everyone else was gone. Where had…? Didn’t matter. Why were they all wearing sunglasses? That was a better question. It was cloudy outside and definitely darker in here. What was up with the sunglasses? “Hold them off!” I tried forcing the key again.
“Freeze!” Harmony commanded as she drew her .45 and leveled it at advancing trio. “We are armed! Turn and walk away!”
They didn’t stop, continuing to walk toward us in unison, emotionless and silent except for their relentless footsteps. Still moving in unison, the three reached into their jackets and pulled guns of their own.
Harmony was sounding more urgent and more nervous, almost panicky. “Be more convincing!” I told her.
She fired a shot that hit one of the men. I saw the trio stop as he staggered and his partners looked at him for a second. They looked back at us and I grabbed Harmony by the shoulder, pulling her behind me as the two remaining stalkers each fired single shots. Frustrated, I slammed a fist against the locker and the key finally turned. I yanked the locker open and grabbed a cheap, vinyl camera bag from inside. “Here!” I said, shoving the bag at Harmony. A look down the hallway let me see that the wounded stalker was upright again with the trio bringing their guns to bear. I pulled my .44, took aim at a leg and blew a hole into another of the trio. The second man dropped as blood sprayed out of him. “Got him!” I announced happily. “We need to get moving.”
“Back to the car?” Harmony asked.
“Fast,” I said. “He’s getting up again. Go.” I fired another shot and hit the babe in the shoulder. Another shot caught Harmony’s man in the arm, still more blood spraying into the hall.
“You’re not coming with me?”
“I’m covering your retreat. I told you: I hate running,” I said, watching the stalkers as I withdrew slowly “Yeah, definitely something spooky weird about these clowns,” I said, finally turning to follow Harmony. “They should not still be coming. If they’ve got more like that, we could be in for trouble.”