SNAP! Her pen’s cap breaks as she slams it down on her desk. She needed a break; too late for coffee, too early for whiskey. It has been two weeks since the mysterious disappearance of Trumpet, the lone pudding. And for Magnesium of the Tower, Captain of the Weird Wilds Detective Agency, the case was personal.
The evidence had grown beyond the normal file to occupy most of her office. Pictures of suspects began to blur together, re-reading the agent’s reports became impossible. She moved to lay on her office couch. The pipe is packed and she takes a drag, as the fog leaves her brain the smoke fills the office. “I must have missed something” she thinks for the hundredth time. “But what?”
Captain Magnesium decides it’s time to touch grass. She puts on her leather jacket and exits 221 B Weird Wilds street to set off for the park. It’s a dreary night and the sun has already set. The smell of rain in fills the air and the sound of wheels on the cobblestone permeates the night. SPLASH! a puddle is strewn across the sidewalk narrowly missing Captain Magnesium. She utters a curse under her breath but thinks better of it before finishing the incantation. No energy to spare until her friend had been found.
It seemed like just a few seasons ago that Trumpet and Magnesium were classmates. Although, in reality it was more like years ago. They had become fast friends, although they had drifted apart since leaving the academy. When the news of her disappearance arrived at the Agency, Captain Magnesium played it cool so she wouldn’t have to recuse herself from the case. But now, as she walked down the dark alley to the park she couldn’t help but wonder if her affection was beginning to cloud her judgement. No, she just needed to look at the case with fresh eyes. Diving down a detour Captain Magnesium changes her destination.
Opening the door to The Cauldron, a local hangout for artists, no one batted an eye as Captain Magnesium walked to her usual booth. Not that she would have noticed anyways, but the Captain had always been a welcome member of the collective, despite not having any affinity for the arts. It was a great place to not be bothered and focus on the task at hand; just what the Captain needed. The bartender brings over the usual, the scent of matcha and pepper leaps from the goblet as the potion bubbles. A jazz quartet, The Cat’s Meow, is warming up for nightly session as Captain Magnesium spreads the case notes across her table. She sips the potion, a hint of elderworm, the bartender must have sensed she could use it today. As the potion kicks in she pours herself over the assembled evidence.
The pages of the case file were beginning to show signs of wear, she’d read them each a dozen times. Captain Magnesium knew the answer was right in front of her, staring back at her from behind the veil. As a headache began to materialize, the Captain shut her eyes and laid back her head. “What am I missing?”
The Captain drinks the last sip from her goblet. Noticing, the bartender returned with another goblet. Odd, she hadn’t asked for a refill but maybe it was written on her face that it was going to be a long night. The bartender cleared the empty goblet and Captain Magnesium picked up the new potion. It was very light, strangely so… in fact the goblet was empty! In the bottom of the cup was a scrap of parchment paper. “Meet me behind the bar in 30 minutes if you want to see Trumpet alive again. Come alone” it read. The Captains heart began to race and her thoughts grew frantic. She looked at the bartender but their face read to play it cool. Captain Magnesium checked her pockets and now regretted leaving her gun and wand behind. All she had with her was the case file, her pipe and a small utility knife. It was going to have to be enough, she didn’t have time to return to the office.
The Captain gathered herself and her belongings, paid her tab and walked outside to case the area before the meeting. Who could have sent the note? Trumpet did run in an artistic crowd but she wasn’t part of The Cauldron’s collective. Perhaps a former collaborator? Captain Magnesium didn’t have much more time to think about it as the meeting time began to approach. “What if it’s a setup?” she thought as she hides the case files somewhere safe to be retrieved later. Cannot risk the valuable evidence being lost if the meeting goes sideways. Captain Magnesium begins to round the corner to the back of the bar, there doesn’t appear to be anyone there. The sound of her shoes echos off the cobblestone and through the alley. It dawns on her she’s wearing her expensive vintage Mugler skull earrings. Too late now.
As she arrives at the back door of the bar, the scent of the dumpster filling the air, a figure appears from the shadows. Tall and thin, the distance between them begins to close. Captain Magnesium is nervous but does her best to appear strong and unfazed. The shadowy figure finally reaches the light and their face is illuminated to the detective. The Captain gasps as she realizes she knows the figure. “It’s you!” she says but now she is more confused than ever. The person now standing in front of her, tall and as beautiful as ever, is none other than Trumpet, the lone pudding.
-to be continued