Lennie dropped the bags on the sofa. “Whew! That’s the last of them. Take a short break, Nickie. You look a little tired. I need to put in the order for the pizzas, and then put the groceries away.”
Nickie collapsed on the sofa. “I never knew shopping could tire a person out.”
Lennie patted her arm as she walked by, “The shots you received are making you tired as well. I’ll help you get the TV set up in your bedroom.”
“Thanks.” She lit a cigarette. “So what was in the Scryer report?”
“You can read it after Scott leaves.”
“Would you at least give me a hint? You had a strange look on your face after you read it.”
“Nope. No hint.” Lennie headed for her study. “Why don’t you get your laptop and get the registration taken care of? That shouldn’t wear you out.”
“Sure. What are we doing tomorrow? Going to The Archive?” She grabbed the bag she needed and followed Lennie into the study.
Lennie started up her computer “Not sure yet. A lot depends on what Scott has to say. I need to start looking for a new apartment. Don’t forget, you have more clothes to put away.”
“I know. I need the password for the wifi.”
Lennie wrote down the information after ordering the pizzas. “While you take care of your computer, I’ll put the groceries away.”
“Thanks. Since you’re an Archivist First Class now, do we need to keep separate journals about what happened yesterday?”
With a shake of her head, Lennie rested a hand on Nickie’s shoulder. “No need now. Which is a relief. Keeping information like that secret could have gotten me in trouble.”
“What did you see when that creature slammed into you?”
“A shadow. I also remember hearing a footstep before I saw it. It looked like a shadow the size of a human, but felt solid when it hit me.”
“I could see something inside the shadow. It had arms, legs, a body and a head, but I couldn’t make out any details.” She gnawed on her lip. “Lennie, could I tell you something?”
“Sure.” She perched on the edge of the desk.
“Some people I see have a black outline surrounding them. I went to the library once the first time I saw it and the closest I can describe it is an aura.”
“Do you see it surrounding me?”
“No, but I saw it around a couple people in the cafeteria today. One was a Scryer.”
“When did this start happening?”
“After the comet passed the earth.”
Fingers drummed on the desk. “All right. We need to tell Brant about this. Wait, did you see the outline around him?”
“Whatever this ability is, it’s important.” Lennie gave her a smile. “Thanks for telling me, Nickie.”
“What do you think it means?”
“I wish I knew. I better start going through the reports that were made after the comet flew by. There might be something in there to explain this new ability.” Lennie stood “I’m going to change, then take the TV to your room. It’s an easy setup, but when it comes to hooking up the game console, you’re on your own.” Lennie ruffled Nickie’s hair and left.
Scott arrived at the same time the pizzas did. “Scott, you want a beer?”
“Yes.” He plopped on the sofa. “Damn! It’s been a long day. I was out and about before four am.”
Lennie brought two bottles of beer and a bottle of pop for Nickie. “Short-handed in the department?”
“A dead body. I think it’s connected to another murder I’m already investigating.” Scott grabbed a slice of pizza.
Nickie eyed the bottle of Pepsi. “Could I have a beer?”
“You aren’t old enough, youngster,” Scott reminded her.
“My name is Nickie Atlan! Stop calling me ‘youngster.” She glared.
Lennie considered the request, and then returned to the kitchen. “You can have one bottle tonight.”
“Thank you!” She opened the bottle and took a drink.
“Giving alcohol to a minor?”
“It’s a special occasion. Nickie is now an Archivist Apprentice and I’m her mentor. Also celebrating my promotion to Archivist First-Class.” Lennie helped herself to the pizza.
“Congratulations, Lennie! It’s about time they recognized your worth.” Scott raised the bottle in salute.
“Thanks.” She gave him a hard look. “Now, why the hell were you following me? What do you need my help with that you couldn’t go through The Archive?”
“It’s about the two murder cases I’m working. Two guards found the latest body while on patrol. It was in one of the buildings by the docks. Heart missing, runes drawn on his arms and legs, and his eyes were missing.”
Nickie stared at him. “His heart and eyes were missing?”
“Yes. Same goes for the second victim, female, aged twenty-six and found in the same building. Family members reported the victims missing two days ago.” He pulled out a photograph and handed it to Lennie.
“Not a pretty sight.” She looked closer, trying to make out the runes. “Who took the picture and do you have better ones? I can’t make out the rune. What’s the address for the building?”
“Let me use your computer. I can access the crime scene photos and the investigation reports. The address is 1530 Harbor Street.”
Eyebrows raised, Lennie shook her head at Nickie. Shit! That was the building we were in yesterday. She fetched her laptop and a flash drive.
“Lennie, I could really use your help on this.” He downloaded the reports to the flash drive. “There was a little blood in the area. I believe they were killed someplace else and dumped there.”
“The guards at the checkpoints have recordings of the vehicles entering the area, Scott.” Lennie clicked on the thumbnail image of the runes on the right arm of the male and then brought up the image of the female victim’s left arm. They matched the runes she and Nickie saw on the wall.
“We checked. Only three vehicles entered the area within the past week, one of them was your car,” Scott said.
“Nickie and I were at that building yesterday. She had seen some runes on a wall in one of the rooms. The two of us went to check it out. It’s my job, Scott. Why didn’t the security guards tell me about the bodies being found?”
“I ordered them to keep it quiet. The runes you saw, are they like the ones on the two victims?”
“I don’t like this, Lennie.”
“When we went there, I knew nothing about any murder victims. The guard at the checkpoint told me a couple of guards have recently disappeared.” Lennie clicked through the other images.
“Interesting. Why the hell didn’t they report that to the police? We asked if anything unusual had happened recently.” Scott turned his attention to Nickie. “How did you happen to find the runes?”
“That building is one of the places I would sleep in when the weather is hot.” She concentrated on food and drink.
“Those buildings are off-limits for a reason. They’re dangerous!”
“Living is dangerous when you get right down to it. Those of us who live on the streets do what we can to have a roof over our head. Oh, before you can say it, the shelters in the city are worse than the abandoned buildings. You should see the size of the cockroaches and rats in those places! The sex offenders love the shelters and no one does a damn thing about them.”
Scott finished his beer. “Sorry. I had no idea how things are like for the homeless.”
“Scott, I’ll do what I can to help, but I have to tell you I’ll be exploring that building from top to bottom.” She had an idea. “Since this will be an Archive exploration, I can keep you informed of anything I find that might pertain to the murders. This way you won’t get in trouble with your superiors for coming to me for help and not using official channels.”
“What if I don’t agree?”
“Sorry, but by law The Archive has top priority when it comes to abandoned buildings and unusual occurrences. You know that. I could lock you out until we finish with the place and that could take months.”
“Give me a few moments to think about it.”
“All right. You want another beer?”
“Nickie, do you want me to get you another pop?”
“Okay. Lennie, could I look at the images of the crime scene?”
“You sure you want to? The images are pretty gross.”
“I’ve seen dead bodies before. A common sight when you live on the streets.”
“Go ahead.” Lennie took the empty bottles to the kitchen area.