Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dark World: Vanished

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

Darren decided not to wait to secure the house, but as the shutters swung into place, Lassiter again said, “It is Shafer. I could see his face plainly in the moonlight.”

Darren reversed the shutters slightly and peeked through a crack. “It is,” he announced, confused.

“I told you so.”

“This isn’t the man I saw before. That man skulked; Shafer doesn’t seem to know how. But in any case, it is Shafer now.”

“Excellent. I’m going to talk to him—try to get him to come inside. If we can get him to talk, he could tell us everything, or at least more than we know now. Do you want to come along?”

“I’m not sure either of us should go. There is the other man at least—maybe more. We don’t know who is out there or why, and I’d rather not do anything without telling…”

A gunshot cut Darren short, and he whirled around. “Victor!”

The next moment they were in the doctor’s bedroom, where they encountered a very belligerent would-be sleeper. His temper melted away as the lights came on, however.

“You’re wounded!” Darren said.

With a somewhat shaky calm, the doctor walked over to a cabinet and removed bandages and dressings. “Not really. I grazed my arm slightly, that’s all.”

“You did it? Why?”

“I had a dream—or something. The witch came for me, and the only way to break loose was to graze myself. I thought the pain and/or noise would rouse me, and it did. Of course, if it had been only a dream, the gunshot might not have worked.”

“We heard the shot; that’s why we came. And your gun has been recently fired. But considering how you would have been lying, the bullet should have hit the wall about here, and there’s no trace of it.”

Dr. Fleming inspected the wall minutely. “So you think it really happened?”

“Yes, though I don’t know how.”

“Shafer might know,” Lassiter interjected. “He is outside. Darren admits it.”

“Then I’ll get answers out of him if I have to drill and blast,” the doctor said. “This is simply too much. I refuse to be accosted in my own room.” With that, he left at high speed.

Darren followed, at first merely walking, but soon the potential danger pressed him to run. The front door was easier to exit than to enter, and the doctor was already out of sight by the time Darren got outside.

Unfortunately he remained out of sight even after Darren and Lassiter had searched the area. They found only three clues: tracks of a small group that had evidently intercepted the doctor, a strange symbol scrawled on a scrap of paper, and an unconscious and annoying enigma.

Next: The Straight Dope

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