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The Black Ibis Case - Chapter 7

Chapter 7

By Georges-Henri DaiglePublished 2 months ago 12 min read

The streets were silent as I slowly passed through them. I watched people come out of their buildings and walk mindlessly towards their work or to their cars, like they were on autopilot. I could see many others gripping their steering wheels tightly, too tightly in some cases, and smoking one puff after the next in rapid succession. These people were stressing themselves out about their day’s tasks before they had even begun, and for a moment I felt better about my situation. As strange as things may have gotten, at least I’m not stuck behind some desk crunching numbers repeatedly for the sake of some corporate overlord who doesn’t even acknowledge my existence as anything but an asset to him, or a drain on resources to be removed if I’m not profitable enough.

The silence became a growing noise as people started yelling at one another and blared their horns. Traffic grew to a standstill soon after, and the tight grips on the steering wheels became white knuckled, marking the end of civility and the start of deafening road rage as the sounds blended together and echoed off of the surrounding buildings.

I parked my car on a less-trafficked street and decided to walk around until I found a phone secluded enough from all the chaos. The sidewalks reflected the streets they ran along. People bumped into one another as they all tried to speed past with barely more than an annoyed grunt and a mean look. I managed to avoid being run over by a few people, moving my shoulders just enough that I wouldn’t feel more than a glance, one was an older man with a pot belly who barrelled down the street like a cannonball, somehow moving faster than anyone else around him. He just moved on ahead, unconcerned by who he might bump into and expecting people to get out of his way, lest they be pushed out of the way by his girth. The kind of confidence needed to act this way was otherworldly, though maybe confidence isn’t the right word for it.

I finally found my way to a quieter area where the crowds and the sounds of traffic wouldn’t engulf an attempt at conversation. I fumbled in my pocket for a minute and felt the blood drain from my face when I realized I didn’t have any quarters on me. I checked the change slot out of desperation and instinct and felt a deep relief when my finger ran over the smooth coin. I pulled it out to look at it and thanked whoever left it there.

I slid the quarter into the slot and dialed Charles’ desk number as I had the previous morning, while taking out my notepad. I was still patting myself down to find my pen, closing my eyes and shuddering briefly when I remembered that I had dropped it in McMillan Exports’ warehouse, when suddenly, Charles answered his phone.

“Detective Cooper, how can I help you?”

“Hey Charles, it’s me,” I heard him take a quick worried breath before stopping himself short. “Did you find that plate number?”

I heard him browse through notes on his desk for a moment. “Sure, it’s right here. That truck belongs to Jeremy Vickers, 481 seventy-first avenue. Why do you need this?”

“Thanks Charles. It’s part of the case I’m investigating. I’ll talk to you soon,” I hung up before he could put in another word, just as he was protesting for me to wait. I had no desire to involve him more than he already was. Even running a plate number for non-police related business could get him in hot water with the chief.

I made my way down the same street I had come from just minutes before. The crowd hadn’t thinned at all, in fact it seemed to have grown even more dense. Don’t these people have to be somewhere if they’re in such a hurry all the time? I could swear I saw the same old man rush past me in the opposite direction from before, closing a briefcase with paper sticking out the side.

I got back to my car and sat for a few minutes to calm myself before heading back out into traffic. It would take at least an hour before I got to Jeremy’s address, so I turned my radio on and switched the station to the news.

The announcer started off with the weather, and it seemed as though the next few days would be reasonably warm without any storms on the horizon. Then, they announced that John Abbotsford would be running for mayor in opposition to the current one, Ronald Stevenson. I didn’t much care for the current mayor, but I knew about Abbotsford well enough. His ex-wife had hired me to find proof he was unfaithful. That must have been the easiest job I had undertaken, as it seemed easier to make a list of who he wasn’t having an affair with. I was paid well for that job, but my cases dried up soon after. I suspect Abbotsford had something to do with that, but I can’t prove it. I rejected every case involving a dispute between partners since, deciding I just didn’t need the hassle, or the enemies. That is…until this one apparently.

Stories kept pouring in and I was only half listening to them when one caught my attention just as I was turning the last corner to Jeremy Vickers’ place. A circus animal had been found dead in an alley by forty-first avenue. No information was released, and the public was asked to come forward with any information.

I laughed at the story being spun, and how I’d sound insane if I were to come forward about this so-called circus animal. I’d end up with my face plastered all over those two-bit tabloids claiming alien abductions or that the government has been infiltrated by lizard people. Then again, the last few days made me rethink those headlines and lent them some level of credibility. If cultists smuggling artefacts with crocodile monsters at their command can happen, then why not the lizard people? It certainly would explain many politicians’ cold-bloodedness.

I laughed at myself once again when I realized I was starting to consider the sensationalist news as possibly holding some truth. I must be going crazy.

I drove by Jeremy’s home and saw no vehicles in the driveway, nor any lights on. I went around the block once and drove by the house again. Nothing had changed, and I wasn’t being followed. I parked my car on the street a few houses over and inspected the house.

It was a modest dwelling with painted white shingles on the outside and a black tile roof. It could have used a new coat of paint but seemed as though it wouldn’t creak in the wind. The only greenery on the property was the grass peeking through the snow, and a stone circle I suspected must have once been a flower garden.

I got out and walked towards the house. I passed it and took a sharp turn once I got to the fence between this property and the neighbors to avoid leaving obvious footprints, and followed it until I was in the back and out of sight. The snow was likely to melt but I wasn’t going to take chances now.

The backyard looked like almost any other I could think of, big empty space, porch with chairs and a barbeque, and a shed in the corner. I noticed there weren’t any signs of anyone walking in the yard at any point. I felt relieved in knowing there wouldn’t be any dogs, of either the usual or ‘circus animal’ types.

I walked onto the porch and checked the door. I tried turning the knob and felt it stop almost immediately. I considered trying to pick the lock, but then I thought of a spare key possibly being nearby. I climbed up on a chair and pawed around the gutter for the key and found nothing. I checked under a few nearby rocks and again came up short. I then thought of the barbeque and thought it would be too easy, too obvious. I opened the propane compartment anyways, just to be thorough, and stared dumbfoundedly at the small brass key that seemed to be staring back at me in mockery.

I picked up the key and tried the door again. I felt no resistance from the knob this time and the door fell inwards with a slight squeak on its hinges. The interior smelled of unwashed body odour, cigarette smoke, and dust; the smells of a man living alone. I closed the door behind me as I stepped gingerly inside.

The house’s interior didn’t seem to match its exterior. While the exterior needed some care but was still far from dilapidated, the interior seemed to be the domain of rats. Wallpaper was peeling off, ashtrays were overfilled, all sorts of garbage strewn about on the blotchy brown stained floor, and the sink was overflowing with dishes. Everywhere I looked was the same, piles of filth in all corners of the house and no trace of soap that I could detect anywhere.

The mess continued up to the second floor, but there was one exception. In the master bedroom, there was a pedestal with an ibis statuette just like the one I had seen in Doctor Kent’s office. This was the only part of the entire house that seemed to receive any care at all, and the bird’s recently polished black body glistened in the light from the window. I felt drawn to the object on its pedestal and reached my hand out to it. For some reason I just wanted to feel the smooth stone on my hands.

My hand contacted the onyx and the world around me shifted to black. I couldn’t feel the statuette anymore or smell the rancid house. I looked around and everywhere was blackness, though I could see my hands in front of me easily. I tried to call out for someone, anyone who could hear me, but no sounds came out of my mouth, no matter how much I tried to scream.

I ran into the darkness, feeling the traction on a floor that I couldn’t see, and I screamed into the void, feeling my vocal cords tearing with the effort and the saliva in my mouth drying up. I came no closer to finding anything or producing even the faintest of whimpers. I fell to my knees and tried to calm down, my lungs screaming in my ears to give them rest.

A sound finally came, but no relief came with it. It was that mocking laughter once again, coming from every direction at once and filling my head to the point of bursting. I covered my ears, but it did nothing to dampen the horrific boom of the laughter. I curled painfully into a defensive fetal position pressing down on my head as though I was trying to squash an oversized grape.

Just when it seemed as though all hope was lost, I found myself back in the sordid house. The darkness blinked off as suddenly as it had begun and as I sat up, peeling my hands away from my head, I realized I could hear my clothes rub against the carpet. I could hear the painfully tortured sound of my breathing as I gasped. I sat, terrified and alone, in that disgusting room, smelling the ripe scent of decay and mould all around me. And then I heard it.

The clunk of the loose brass knob and the high-pitched squeal of the rusty hinges echoed up the stairs. Someone had just walked through the front door. I heard the telltale sound of keys landing on a table somewhere, and heavy unbothered footsteps wandering about the first floor.

I wiped the cold sweat from my brow and picked myself up as quietly as I could. I triaged the wounds in my mind, pushing the vision to one side as I focused hard on controlling my breathing. I crept down the stairs, tensely, breath held fast to keep the old wood from creaking and betraying my position. I made it nearly all the way to the bottom of the staircase when, “SINK OR SWIM!”, blasted over the silence. Whomever this was had just turned on the TV to full and was watching some game show. My heart skipped a beat, but I recovered fast and turned to look at who it was.

There was a large man sitting comfortably on his revolting sofa. I could only get a glimpse of him from the back left side, but there was no doubt in my mind that he was the same guy who jumped me a few days before; Jeremy. I felt the healing cut on my lip with my finger, and smiled when I noticed the yellowing shiner I left on him.

I was just about to walk in behind him when I noticed something wooden out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and saw a baseball bat next to the door. I crouched down and reached for it, my eyes fixed on Jeremy’s fat head; he was completely absorbed in his pictures and never knew what was about to hit him.

I leveled the bat to my shoulder and walked into the living room, positioning myself directly behind Jeremy. I stood up slowly and prepared my swing, bringing the bat far over my left shoulder.

“Knock-knock Jeremy!”, I announced loudly as I unfurled my body as powerfully as I could manage.

Jeremy turned his head just as my strike connected with his skull. His face became a perfect sequence of surprise, pain, and complete blankness, just as the game show host announced, “Oh no! You got torpedoed!”, and the sad slide whistle of defeat rung in the night.

AdventureFantasyHorrorMysterySeriesShort Story

About the Creator

Georges-Henri Daigle

Trying to make sense of the worlds in my head, since the one outside often doesn't.

I mainly write fantasy, sci-fi and mystery, though I see no reason to limit myself.

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  • Diane Volpe2 months ago

    Wow! Full of suspense jeremy got quite a strike Never saw that one coming Bravo

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