Notes From the Abyss – Chapter One
January 20, 2012
This is the first chapter in a serial I’m preparing for publication through various eBook channels. It’s still in editing phase so it’s rougher than the final print version will be.
But I believe in offering my drafts to my readers. So, enjoy!
Most days on Metris are like this one; quiet, a little wet, sunny. That’s why my family built their home here, why I built my office here, and why I spend most of my non-work time here. It’s centrally located in the galactic spiral and it’s cosmopolitan enough to support my business. I work in Sapphire, the capital city of Metris, as a private eye. While there are plenty of dicks in any given city on any given planet, there’s only one that’s from the Mac Callan family. There’s only one the knows the ancient Arte of speaking True Names. That one would be me.
Before the first Golden Dawn transport matrix was built, before the Rosicrucians unlocked the secrets of space travel, there was a family in Pennsylvania that discovered the Arte of True Names. Patrick and James McCallan, my ancient grandfather and granduncle, illuminated the secrets of speaking first to those who were dead, then that which never lived, then that which never was. Through thousands of generations, I have inherited this training and these gifts. I use them to find missing jewelry and irate spouses.
I was sitting in my office enjoying a bit of whiskey and the evening post, catching up on the editorial war on the latest findings of the Galactic Astrolabe, when he walked in. He was tall, all clean lines and fine living with hair that said he played tennis and a suit that said he also played poker. He came into my office with the look of a man being followed but he wasn’t sure by who. He didn’t feel like he had an aura of darkness or any kind of curse or hex, so he must be suspecting a low key, old school black hat on his trail.
He sat down across from me before I could ask and said, simply, “Are you Mac Callan? I need a detective.” He looked back toward the hallway, then leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “One that can find something I’ve lost.”
I folded my paper slowly and set it on my desk. “I’m guessing it’s something valuable to you, but not to most people. It’s something that is a responsibility of your family, something embarrassing, and difficult to locate. You fear that your life is in danger due to it being missing. You’re looking for someone with my talent and you’re willing to pay to keep my work on this a secret. You also would also prefer my protection as I examine this case. Am I close? Perhaps I should go on.”
He nodded slowly, looking astonished, and said, “How did you know all these things? Did you secretly ask my suit or shoes? I’ve heard you can do that.”
I shook my head. “You came in paranoid. You have not been to the police because you do not have an escort, either in uniform or in plain clothes. You are not accompanied by an insurance agent, nor are you accompanied by a personal assistant. You clearly have the money for these things, and for top consideration by the police. Given the lack of scuffs on your shoes you were brought here in a car you did not park yourself. Your hair is manicured but your manner is not. You are hurried, looking for someone or something behind you, but you don’t know how to protect yourself. You came straight to me, rather than going to someone else. These things lead me to believe that you are in need of private, substantial, and effective detection of an object or person that is of great importance to the secrecy and success of your family.”
He nodded slowly. “Clearly I was given the right address. I have brought with me a package with papers, holos, and a Seal that is attached to the object. It’s a vase, closed and tightened, with an ancient curse inside. It’s been a secret of my family for generations and it was recently stolen from my complex on Parsus. It hasn’t moved since the Cataclysm, I don’t even know who might have known about it.” His face was flushed with worry, hot with both anger and confusion. I took up the leather package he had placed on my desk.
He instantly brought out his checkbook and wrote up a blank check for me. “I can afford whatever expenses you run into. Just please, please find my vase. My contact information is in that package.”
With that he left, just as fast as he had come in. I sat back in my chair and wondered if this is what my horoscope was talking about last week when it mentioned an unexpected windfall with a catch.
After he had left, I opened the package and examined the documents within. It was an old vase, clearly of Earth origin. It was copied from an old Egyptian style, one that was popular during the first surge of occult interest on the old world, before the True Ways were discovered. If what he said was true, it sat in his home for at least two hundred years without moving. Presumably, his family had told no one of its location.
I settled in for the night as I pondered the case. My first goal in the morning would be to try to locate the vase with a simple hunter-seeker spell, and if that didn’t work to find shipping concerns from Earth’s destruction. Especially those that settled Parsus. Hopefully I could find out if there were shipping manifests from the goods moved that hadn’t been destroyed. Going over the histories of the people employed at the Parsus complex by my employer would probably take up the rest of the day since it was list of considerable length. That makes sense, though, as he was Walter Gates, of the prestigious Gates family. Old money from old Earth. Once I knew who might have known about the vase, I could narrow down who could have had enough access to steal it.
An easy job. An easy crime. An easy solution. At the end I would just ask the door frame to confirm everything and it’d be easy money from a big purse.