I walk down the street. I’m not sure where I am, just that I’m walking. There are police cars in front of a house. Small, but nice. Cosy. I walk up to the police tape. I give the one of the cops a fake name and show him a fake badge. The badge vouches for me, telling him I’m an FBI agent. He lets me in with a fake smile. I walk up to the guy in charge, exchange some police jargon about the vic. I learned most of my police jargon when my brother and I spent some time at the police academy. The Police Cadet’s Cipher. The rest of the jargon is stuff I picked up watching reruns of cop shows. I don’t watch them anymore.
He asks why a federal agent was getting involved with a crime like this. I reply that the case may have ties to a federal informant. I regretfully inform him that that’s all I can tell him. This answer seems to placate him, although he pretends to be irritated. I can tell that he really is just glad that this case is going to be someone else’s problem.
I listen to him tell me the facts. I pretend to pay attention. I feel a familiar sensation in the back of my skull, almost like a humming. My mind filtering through what the officer is saying, tucking away the important bits for future reference. I thank him for his time and leave the crime scene, with far less speed than I left the last crime scene I was at.
I’m dizzy. Thoughts spin through my head, colliding with my skull and with each other. Each collision slowing them down until they all fall into place. I walk. I feel my thoughts slow down as my mind runs out of things to think about. I need more information, more clues. I walk down the street. My feet know where they’re going, but they aren’t telling. I decide to trust them for now.
Unlike my feet, my head doesn’t know where it’s going. I let it wander. Somehow, it wanders to my father. The great detective, the master of disguise, the man trusted by those who had no one else to turn to. My brother and I helped him out on a number of cases. We made him proud. I haven’t seen him in years. He faked his death three years ago, the whole kit and caboodle. Had a funeral and everything. I didn’t go. It’s not like he’s really dead or anything. He can’t be…
I hear a voice. I contemplate for a minute, realize that it’s mine. I listen to what it’s saying. 112 Harlequin Way. 112 Harlequin Way. 112 Harlequin Way. 112 Harlequin Way. Over and over and over. Apparently, I know where I’m going. Of course, that’s not very helpful if I don’t know where I am. I look up, looking for a street name or landmark. I see an address on a large, ornamental gate. 112 Harlequin Way. Hmm. Convenient.
I push open the gate and walk through. I look at the house that goes with the gate. It’s huge, a mansion. You’d think they’d lock their front gate. I knock on the front door. I hear the sound resonate through the heavy wooden doors and into the air beyond. That sound ends. Another begins. It ends and another begins. A series of sounds. A pattern. It’s a familiar one – footsteps. The footsteps approach the door. It opens.
I find myself staring into a beautiful pair of green eyes. They remind me of two exquisite rings of stolen jade, like those my brother and I recovered from smugglers in The Ghost of the Forgotten Statue. The eyes blink. I tear my own eyes away from them, looking at the person the eyes were a part of. She was just as beautiful as her eyes. She doesn’t look like the butler I expected to open the door. I say so. She says something about it being the butler’s night off. Her voice jars me. It’s rougher than I expected, almost raspy. Maybe she smoked. I don’t like smokers.
I give her a line about being afraid I have some bad news. I see something flash in her eyes, but it’s gone in an instant. I ask if I can come in. She opens the door wider, gestures for me to enter. I do so. The door is closing behind me. I feel a sharp pain at the base of my skull.
I am on the floor. I roll onto my back. The woman stands over me, a heavy hunk of metal in one hand. Some sort of sculpture? She hefts it above her head, swings down hard. I’ve already moved, rolled to the side. I jump up, the sensation of heavy fluid sloshing around my head almost causing me to fall back down. Luckily, I’ve been hit on the head hundreds of times, and at this point it takes a lot more than a single blow to the back of the head to knock me out.
I stagger towards her. There is a knife in my hand. It leaps forward.