Creature of Unknown Origin


3. Strange Beginnings

Gravel crunched under the tires of a beat-up sedan. I set my jaw. My eyes fixated on it,

taking in each and every minute detail, right down to the scratched and sun-bleached license plate.

Turns out the clenched fist in my gut was right: this meeting was anything but normal, even for

me. Still, a job was a job, and a job equaled money in my pocket. That’s all that mattered in the


The car shuddered to a stop in front of the crackling campfire, and I straightened up from

where I leaned against my truck, my hands hidden in the pockets of an old sweater. The passenger

side-door clicked open and closed, but the driver made no move to get out of the vehicle. My eyes

flicked to them, but I could only make out a shadowy silhouette from behind the glare of the

headlights. At least they weren’t LEDs.

The passenger, a woman with striking eyes that pierced my soul, approached me with a file

gripped tightly against her torso in a well- manicured hand. “Mr. Townshend, I presume?”

“Spencer’s fine. You must be Dr. Richards.” I made to shake her hand, but Dr. Richards

flinched away, barely managing to hide her reaction. Her eyes darted toward the car and back to

me again.

“Everything you need to know is in this file. You’ll receive your payment when your task

is complete .”

I eyed her, and the file she extended out to me. Slowly, I took the file from her, glancing

down at it. “And what exactly are you hiring me to do?”

“Everything is—” she began, the lilt of irritation in her voice.

“No, I want you to tell me. I can’t acce pt a job without knowing what it is first, especially

not under these circumstances.” My eyes shot to the car, and to the driver who hadn’t gotten out.

Everything in my blood bade me to damn their file, their money, and get back in my truck and

leave. But my curiosity got the better of me. Delia had warned me that the client was odd, but this

was… this was borderline paranoid, suspect in its own right.

The woman drew in a long breath, shifting on her feet. “There’s a girl, a young woman.

Find her and bring her back to us alive —”

“No thanks, I don’t deal in human trafficking.” I thrust the file back into her hands,

determined to leave.

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