Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dark World: Missing, Presumed Fled

(The story begins here.)
(The last recap is here.)

Darren was somehow surprised that the head cop wasn’t Irish. It was a waste of a perfectly good stereotype. But if he wasn’t Irish, he was peevish, which was worse. Only Miss FitzHugh’s struggle for consciousness distracted him from a perfectly clear-cut case of false arrest.

“So, Mr. Christopher, you say you’re a friend of the family,” Officer Hancock said for no discernible reason.

“Yes, and Rosa says so too. So will Clio, once she comes around.”

“Ah, yes—‘Cleo.’ Short for ‘Cleopatra,’ I assume.”

“Actually, it’s short for ‘Clio,’ the Muse of History.”

“A pity she’s not a muse of silence,” Dr. Fleming muttered. “We could use some of that around here.”

“We have summoned the family physician; he can have a look at her, though we should probably hospitalize her in any case.”

“A waste of time. She’s only been struck hard on the head and throttled. From what I’ve seen of her, that shouldn’t be more than an inconvenience. Of course, some people could withstand the blow easily enough, but she has more brains than that.” Dr. Fleming gave Officer Hancock a significant glance. “Anyway, despite the ambient prattling, she does seem to be recognizing faces, though mine won’t be very familiar, and yours will no doubt be an unpleasant surprise.”

“Quite true,” Miss FitzHugh moaned. “Who are you two?”

Officer Hancock jumped in. “I am Officer Hancock. You were attacked in this room; do you recognize any of these people as your attacker?”

“No. He was short and stocky, but very agile. He…” Her voice trailed off as a new thought seized her attention. She glanced at Darren, who read the question in her eyes and glanced at Rosa. Understanding dawned, and Miss FitzHugh nearly burst into laughter: no one would be likely to search the spinster-in-training for the papers.

“There was another man here,” Officer Hancock resumed, “a Mr. Lassiter. Could he have attacked you?”

“Lassiter was outside with us, Officer,” Dr. Fleming said as his patient gave way to confusion. “Rosa can corroborate that. So can you, once you find Lassiter: he’s not exactly short and stocky.”

“We’ll find him.” It was as much a threat as a promise. “The very fact that he ran away tells me he’s guilty of something.”

Darren walked over to the window and worked some kind of control. The steel shutters began to open, and Miss FitzHugh gasped at the sight. “It brings back memories, doesn’t it?” Darren asked. He stuck his head out for a look. “No one around—except for the police, that is. Where did Lassiter get off to?”

Officer Hancock had a look out the window as well. Then Darren closed the shutters—a much faster operation than opening them. He smiled at his old friend. “Now you remember what happened—how you did it.”

Miss FitzHugh smiled back and nodded.

Next: Trial and Terror

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