His hands felt feverish, as they gripped the cold steel of the door handle with less assurance than he felt comfortable with.
This wasn’t the first time he was on a late night lookout mission, waiting in stinking damp cars, looking for a clue to unraveling the mysteries of the universe, as he liked to think of it.
“Eye Spy, Inc.” he thought. “Nah, not snazzy enough”, He was trying to come up with more innovative names for his upcoming detective agency. He had high hopes of coming up with a suitable name by the end of the week. It was only Tuesday, he re-assured himself. There was always time.
He had been asked to investigate, with some measure of disbelief, the strange sounds and sights witnessed at No. 24, Brickview Lane, his neighborhood.
There were some unearthly sounds reported, at all odd ghostly hours, and the colony children had wasted no time in spinning yards of seeing ghouls, marauders, and blood-curdling screams along with a rivulet of blood seen regularly. Maybe it was maple syrup. Maybe not. Nobody dared to find out, until now.
It was late, around 1 AM, and the deathly quiet lane was bursting with the sights and sounds that only a rural suburban community lane would throw up at that hour. Crickets were chirping, Cats were yowling, dogs were howling, there was general mayhem in the animal world.
Al, as Alexander Gibbs was called by everyone, was keeping his place behind the bushes of No. 24 with a pair of binoculars for company, and leather gloves to fend off the crisp cold. The slowly falling fiery leaves in fall did nothing to muffle his steps as they rustled and bristled, complaining loudly about his uninvited intrusion into their world.
He had heard a small whispering, wheezing sound somewhere at the back of the house. As adrenaline pumped through him, he rose and walked on the path leading to the back entrance. The netted back door was slightly ajar.
He debated on whether he needed to risk life, limb and everything else even before his fledgling detective agency had started off. Maybe it was worth the publicity it might generate. Maybe he might even get some sponsorship money, with all the interviews that people would want to take.
A slight puff of wind stole through his bomber jacket, pushing the cold breeze down his spine, making him shudder involuntarily.
“Well, screw everything, and here goes nothing” he thought as he pushed open the door, and stepped into another world.
There was dust, everywhere. It was on the walls, it was on the furniture, and of course all through the floor.
It was like a living, breathing film of substance, all pervasive, omnipresent. He suddenly felt a great sense of respect for Mrs. Burns, his housekeeper. He felt even more greatly for his vacuum cleaner.
He had a pen-flashlight with him that he now proceeded to fish out from the depths of his pockets and switch on. The first thing he saw was the blood on the floor. His own blood froze, and not because of the cold. The lack of heating in the house suddenly became evident.
The blood stains were fresh. It looked like the victim had been dragged from near the mantelpiece, right down to the kitchen. He suddenly wished he had his gun with him. He immediately doused his light, lest the murderer see him.
He looked around for a telephone, but all he found was an ancient rotary dial phone, with its wires hanging limply by the side. That meant he couldn’t call the police. He checked his cellphone. No reception. Perhaps this really was a spooky place, and he had no right to be here.
But he had a job to do, and he pressed on, resolutely.
He walked slowly into the kitchen on tiptoe. As he did so, he stubbed his toe on a coffee table that had decided to materialize out of nowhere. He fell. He stifled his scream of agony, not wanting to make it the last sound he would ever make.
As he lay there on the floor, covered in ancient dust and grime, he found that he was now facing the kitchen directly.
There were three pairs of glowing eyes, staring at him. And the dead victim lay in the center of the circle formed by the three murderers. It looked like they were licking their lips in anticipation.
He could make out their footprints in the dust. Perhaps, he shouldn’t have become a detective, he thought.
Less than a minute later, anyone standing outside the house would have seen a flash of light going off inside, like lightning. Unfortunately, there was nobody there.
“Mrs. Rosemary, I am terribly sorry for your loss” said a small voice at the doorstep of No. 25, Brickview Lane.
“That’s ok dear, that’s ok….” said a sniffling Mrs. Rosemary.
Then she held up a five dollar note, and gave it to the twelve year old, red haired boy in front of her.
“Here you go Al, it was very nice of you to investigate his death. I imagine you gave those stupid cats a terrible fright, eh?” she chuckled a bit.
She looked at the photograph of her favourite guinea pig, Bob. Mangled, innards spilling out, surrounded by those dreadful cats owned by Mrs. Gibson of No 22. She wondered how he even got them to pose this way for the scene. Very CSI…
Mrs. Gibson would pay dearly.
“Yes ma’am, I did. They were very scared. But they’ll be back. But I’ll be waiting…” he said.
“Al’s Intelligence Gathering & Investigative Services”, he thought as he skipped down the steps, on his way back home… “Nah, the acronym is kinda funny…”