Creature of Unknown Origin


“We’re not… that’s not what we do! Please, she needs help.” The woman grabbed hold of

my arm. Her eyes widened in desperatio n as I turned to her with a leveled glare. “She’s sick.”

“Why can’t you find her yourself? Sounds to me like she doesn’t want your help.” I pulled

my arm from her grip and turned my back to her, already unlocking my truck.

“Because we’re not you. She doesn’t know she needs help, she’s… she’s a danger to herself

and others.”

I frowned, doubtful of every word the woman said. “How?”

“It’s all in the file.” This time, I took it without hesitation and immediately opened it,

skimming the first page and the next one after it.

With a long sigh, I answered her unasked question. “I’ll need half upfront. Cash.”

The woman glanced over her shoulder at the car, biting her lip. “I’d have to…”

“There’s a bakery on Main. Leave the money under the corner booth’s seat before the end

of the week.”

“But it’s Thursday!” She huffed indignantly.

“You want this job done, and done right?” The woman nodded. “Then figure it out. How

you get the money isn’t my problem.”

I climbed in my pickup, tossing the file on the seat beside me. The woman tapped on my

window, but I only waved as I threw the truck in reverse and backed up, putting the car in drive

once I was sure I had enough swing not to hit the nearby picnic tables or the fuming woman. The

sedan’s darkened windows prevented me from getting a good look at the driver as I drove back up

the path, but something told me I’d see them soon.

And sure enough, illuminated by the glow of my dying campfire, the driver had gotten out

of the car, and neither she nor her passenger looked very happy with the other from what I could

see in my rearview mirror.

~ ~ ~

The money never came. I hadn’t expected it to, but the loss still stung. At least Howie,

Delia’s analyst -turned-hacker, had managed to find the woman they were looking for. He’d found

her thanks to the grainy photograph in Dr. Richards’ file, but other than that, the woman had no

footprint. By all accounts, the woman Dr. Richards was scrambling to find didn’t exist. Not in the

digital world, anyway. In the meantime, Howie and Delia had put some feelers out to see what

they could snuff out about the client.

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