Cerberus' Exorcism

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Muirgen, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. The year is 2098, and the decade popularly known as the Impossible 90's is rolling its way into the 22nd century. Human nature hasn't changed much at all - the species is still as debased and prone to corruption as it has ever been. The nation-states of men still covet the world's natural resources - and most particularly, those of their neighbors.

    And yet...

    And yet, this decade has brought the strangest intersection of cutting edge science, once believed to be relegated to the realm of science fiction; and the world of the supernatural, haunted once only by the superstitious, the backwards and the ignorant - but no more. Finally put into operation in January of this year, Project Phoenix - also known as the Human Revival System (HRS) - was the most stunning of these efforts, a scientific endeavor that could bring the truly dead (not simply the near dead) back to the world of the living. Humanity had made its first significant offensive on the nigh impenetrable walls of its oldest, most implacable foe.

    Death, however, had a subtler and stranger response to this frontal assault by the merely mortal. The dead would not simply be returned to the realm of the living without consequence, and man would not be allowed his celebratory dance crowned with his newly discovered divine status. Such hubris, to imagine there would or could be no consequences to playing God! All over the globe, reported incidents of supernatural happenings have spiked precipitously, leading to a general alarm, the occasional panic depending on the size of the event and - to a precious handful of the more intrepid and entrepreneurial? The opening of opportunities to capitalize on this strange and unnatural new world.

    Still, some of the other changes of the Impossible 90's had far more natural beginnings, grounded solely in the everyday [if still often horrific] world of men. After the Great Quake of 2032, where more than three quarters of the American, Canadian and portions of the Mexican west coasts were decimated - and on its heels, the long-anticipated eruption of the supervolcano beneath Yosemite, destroying much of the American West and Midwest - the entire geopolitical map of the world was upended. Refugees and survivors fled to - and in many places, were welcomed with open arms - the renewed and thriving nations in Africa and South- and Central America.

    One such nation state that happily welcomed these refugees was the Côte d’Ivoire, which by 2098 has integrated a sizable portion of the peoples who formerly considered themselves Québécois - but now, Ivoirian, or simply Africain. Nouveau Abidjan has risen as a coastal city to rival even the once vaunted and hallowed name of New York City, a global center of commerce and international finance, as well as a major shipping port between the African interior and the east coasts of Central and South America. Skyscrapers dominate the cityscape, constructed solidly in the new Art Deco aesthetic combined with not a little of the neo-Gothic architectural school. Solid, graceful monuments of stone and glass and steel rise to touch African skies now, urban growth trending toward the vertical, and not necessarily horizontal, becoming de rigeur.

    In one such polished and opulent building on the Rue de Montréal, ensconced on the fifty-sixth floor in corner offices providing the most spectacular seaward view, Alicia "Alli" Emy Yeats arrived for yet another day of office hours, accompanied as always by her 45 kilo shadow, the beloved and ever-present German shepherd dog Cosette. Ethnically a third generation Québécois, but in her heart, culturally Africaine, she and her surprisingly dear friend Chad Pilgrim had purchased the small but well-appointed offices that comprised their joint venture, Pilgrim & Yeats.

    The heels of her fashionable pumps clicked loudly on the Italian marble tiles as she approached an opulent and breathtaking desk crafted entirely of African Blackwood and glass, and the stately, handsome woman who presided behind it. Their conversation was obviously one had many times, but a gladly repeated ritual nonetheless.

    Finger by finger, the tall, elegant woman pulled the sea green lambskin leather gloves from her hands, holding them neatly as she clasped them before her. For all its benevolence, there was still a small upward tilt to one corner of her mouth, where something impish and vastly amused resided in the smile formed on full, crimson-painted lips. The corners of her dark eyes crinkled just so, laughter lighting their depths as she listened, nodding sympathetically and enthusiastically in turn and - she could only pray - doing so in a way that would both reassure and pay all due respect to the breathtakingly crisp and competent woman looking up at her from behind the desk.

    "... And, Mademoiselle Yeats, your agenda for today has been forwarded to your personal tablet and to your office processor as well." Murielle Dembélé was, without a doubt, one of the most formidable women Alli had ever met, and this in a life positively chock full of formidable women. The grey in her hair was only just beginning to shine through the full head of tight ebony curls, pulled back neatly and severely into a knot behind her head. Skin the color of deep mahogany remained breathtakingly flawless, with only the keen and intently dark eyes to belie ample years of no-nonsense discipline that had marked this woman's life. When Alli interviewed her for the job of secretary and receptionist, Murielle remarked proudly she had five grown children, and was the proud grandmother of four thus far. All her children graduated university of course, and held respectable jobs: two doctors, one nurse, an architect and a public advocate.

    Alli could not help but wonder - then and now - whether Murielle's children dared do anything but become successful and respectable, as if they ever had a choice in the matter to do anything but...

    "Has Monsieur Pilgrim arrived?" Alli asked mildly, reading the answer right away in the tight disapproval in those dark, narrowed eyes. Chad was still not late, but Alli had discovered very early on that a woman like Murielle ran a very tight ship - a half hour early was considered on time, and anything less? Unacceptably late.

    "Non, Mademoiselle Yeats." Her full mouth was pursed just so.

    "Soon enough then, no worries. You are a Godsend, Murielle," she said with genuine enthusiasm. Cosette, realizing the daily morning human ritual was likely over, made her way knowingly about the opulent desk, her enormous head tilted up toward the elder woman expectantly. The dog's amber eyes occasionally glanced toward a drawer in the massive desk, a single drop of saliva gathering fall mass at the tip of her long, pink lolling tongue.

    Murielle glanced to Cosette without so much as a hint of a smile breaking through the dignified visage. Rather, her hand reached to the drawer as if it had a life of its own, removed a single large dog biscuit from a jar ensconced within, and offered it to the German shepherd without a single word. Long fingers ran lovingly over that great, furred head, and Cosette crunched rather noisily, enjoying both the endearing scratch and a treat from a woman who so obviously loved her. A mutual adoration such as theirs, certainly needed no words.
    #1 Muirgen, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
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  2. Cosette's ears shot up, five seconds before the front door of the office opened. The other half of Pilgrim and Yeats, Chad Pilgrim, practically danced his entrance into the office with a vibrant smile, even if he wore a 5'o clock shadow and had bags underneath his eyes. “Down, girl, down.” Chad laughed, as the German shepherd had found herself infected Chad's enthusiasm and had jumped up against him, leaving a print on Chad's otherwise clean, white shirt.

    “Good morning, Couscous,” Chad scratched Cosette behind her ear, calling her a nickname after a certain incident where Chad had accidentally knocked his food on the floor and back then, puppy Cosette had been first to notice and improvise as a vacuum cleaner. Ever since, she was dubbed Couscous.

    “Good morning Alli, Murielle.” Chad greeted the two women respectively. He glinted down at his shirt, now with Cosette's autograph on it. “She used to be this tall.” Chad put his hand near his knee. “This tall. Can you believe it?”

    A quick glance at Muriel, Chad could tell the secretary was not at all interested in reminiscing about Alli's pet. Surely the woman worked for them, but sometimes it felt the other way around. More than once she'd even told him he was way too permissive with Cosette, and from the way she'd jumped up against him, it was hard to argue Chad was a bad influence on the dog.

    Even though he came in late, Chad was a hard worker... But also chaos incarnate. “Did you get the message I sent you?” He asked, prancing over to Alli's desk as Chad threw his own coat onto his chair. His eyes glimmered with excitement, which could mean only one thing. Chad inadvertently opened up Alli's message box on her tablet. There were four mails that were sent his address. Unlike Muriel who tightly planned schedules, Chad's way of work was mostly chaos incarnate. Whatever peaked his interest, he wanted to pursue.

    “Yesterday I came across this scoop,” Chad said as he opened the first mail, dating 8pm the day before, that contained a report about an overgrown wilderness of a front yard. “They say this flower-” Chad pointed out an abnormally big dahlia on a hologram as he tapped the picture in said article, “-Grew seven feet overnight. That's not all.”

    Before she would have a chance to read it, an ecstatic Chad swiped the article from Alli's screen, to open the second e-mail. It came with a list of pictures from the same newly grown giant's garden. “I had to take a look for myself, and it's not just the purple one. Look;” He said, as he went through the pictures with an improvised presentation. “It is not just the purple one, there's roots dropping from the window. Seven high. There is only this little soil, a few flower pots on the balcony, but-” Chad began to show more pictures of the outside of the apartment (clearly taken from his hovercar, as the red contours of it's window could be seen and there was a little dream-catcher dangling in front of the picture).

    “They didn't show the dead plants. Look, this is the same flower, but a mere hour after the article went up.” Chad said, and with a flick of his finger a dead, brown flower was shown, lifelessly dangling out of the window... But this was not a picture, this was a short movie.

    “If I fast forward it just a little, you can see it growing,” Charles prompted, as he did just that, and slowly but surely, the flower continued grew bigger postmortem when seen at eight times the recording speed.

    Chad's third e-mail was a list of quick details about the owner of the apartment. A single father by the name of Hubert Dallas, forty-six years old and holding a degree in forensic sciences, but currently unemployed. He had no criminal record or listed charges, other than the neighbour below him having complained about the music half a year back when Hubert was on vacation. “Presumably his oldest did what teens do.” Chad said, as he glossed over the file once more. Yet nothing about Hubert himself seemed of particular note.

    The fourth e-mail, sent at 4am, was simply the question if Alli had looked into it yet. Evidently, Chad himself had been looking items up all night. It showed below his eyes, but nothing to break his spirit. “What do you think, Alli? Time to grab your coat?”
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  3. Alli barely caught a breath from the moment Cosette dashed across the office lobby, claw nails clicking on the marble before planting an enormous paw in the middle of Chad's chest. It was rather like being caught in a windstorm, she imagined, a high speed, high intensity and never-ending vortex of boundless energy. Alli honestly had absolutely no idea how Chad did it, his eyes too-shiny and the dark, lightly bruised skin curved beneath them told her all she needed to know about the amount of sleep he'd gotten last night - or rather hadn't gotten.

    And mon Dieu, but the man had no boundaries at all when he had wound himself about a potential mystery! A bit of practice and vast wells of loving patience gave Alli the grace to smile indulgently as Chad helped himself to her tablet, running through the e-mails he'd sent her while she slept through the night. She did not worry that he gave her not a moment to actually read the text of her e-mails - she would have time soon enough, she knew very well.

    Rather, as Chad chatted on about his latest and intriguing find, Alli quietly waved Cosette back into line with a flick of her wrist and a slightly annoyed hiss that set her great head to drooping. Alli loved her sweet giant canine - her last gift from Danny - with all her heart, but the enormous puppy-at-heart really needed to mind her manners in public. It did not matter to most of the world, if Alli considered Cosette her therapy dog - she wasn't technically registered as such. The only reason she and Cosette got away with their near constant camaraderie, was Alli's brazen manner, better to ask forgiveness and such.

    So if the world at large were going to accept her yearling pup in their midst without protest? Cosette really needed to remember all those thousands of dollars in obedience training Alli had sunk thus far. She just could not bear the thought of being without her constant companionship...

    Alli took a long breath and shuddered, fighting off a sudden chill. She hugged her long, pale green coat a little tighter about her arms as she followed Chad's strange revelations on her own . Cosette (aka Couscous) wasn't quite a yearling - not yet. There was an anniversary looming in the next few weeks, one she dreaded with all her heart. Though he may not have realized as much, Alli thanked God for Chad every single day, from the night he missed his plane after Danny's funeral, to the moment he agreed to move to Nouveau Abidjan, to establish Pilgrim & Yeats. To all the world she might seem cool, composed and elegantly pulled together, but it was the exuberant chaos that followed Chad like a ship's wake that kept her from drifting too far from this world, or letting her grief lead her further and further from life.

    Chad's intense, breathtaking vibrancy simply would not let her...

    She nodded in response to his last question, smiling brightly with a nod of her head. Alli held her arms out to her sides - and then reached over to relieve Chad of her tablet. "Mais bien sûr! Off we go! I mean, as you can see, mon ami, I am knowing you better and better every day. I didn't even bother taking my coat off... " She winked at him playfully, and then looked over the pictures again at her own, slightly more sedate pace this time.

    Such a strange phenomenon. The dead plants... Even the dead plants? Her brow furrowed thoughtfully, and Alli chewed her lower lip for a moment, trying to recall anything in her vast stores of memory of the like - and she came up with not a single thing. What in the world could a middle-aged single father have to do with such a fantastically odd verdancy?
    "Does Monsieur Dallas know we're coming?" she asked, her head tilting upward to Chad, peering at him from the corner of her eyes. "And have you a blanket for the backseat of your hovercar?" Alli would not drive anymore... Could not drive anymore. Not even her parents, nor her siblings, knew what Chad alone did: she could barely get behind a hovercar's steering console without being overwhelmed near instantly with a gut-wrenching, utterly disabling panic attack. She paid for a chauffeur service daily, just to get to the offices.

    "I really hope you have a blanket today, because Cosette just went to the groomer's yesterday - you know how she sheds after a good bath and brushing." Claire shrugged helplessly, though the impish smile said something else entirely, without a single other spoken word.
  4. “Eh, we can take care of that in the car. The man's been rolling in tabloids.” Chad excused his lack of preparation. He was a man of very selective details, as he searched his pockets for the keys he had just dropped in them. Though under his brow he shot a Muriel an apologetic smile. Appearances were important for his partner and their secretary, even if Chad sometimes forgot about them. He rubbed his eyes, not even wanting to know how he looked.

    “I'll get it cleaned.” Chad shrugged in answer Alli's second question, as his mind shortly went to what he actually did have in the back-seat. “There we go, the keys.” He twirled the ring to which a small device was attached around his finger. Though most locks opened by implanted chip in this day and age, this piece of what Chad dubbed as 'antique' was one of his treasures. Even if it had gotten him into a few late-night encounters with law enforcement. It was a very uncommon quirk, usually associated with persons who had their chips removed unlawfully. After all, the same little implant-cards were practically the common day ID and found-and-lost tracker. Privacy was a little different in 2098.

    Within a skip and a step, Chad was already outside the office. A single press of the button and a beep later, the lean, bordeaux model started buzzing softly before it rose an inch from the platform. It was a couple years old, but it still flew like a charm. Chad had dubbed his ride Tracy, after a short infatuation with a 1988 song, even if it didn't hold up as a sport-car anymore. Unlike the Pilgrim & Yeats office, Tracy looked a lot more civilian these days. Chad had often thought of buying a flashier car, but between the money he and Alli had sunk into their new enterprise and the cars that Chad had in mind would make him stand out too much, it'd never come of it.

    The inside of the machine, however, was nothing like the outside. Chad's back sunk into the leather chair as he checked his dashboard, as he simultaneously reached for any possible instant-coffee packs in the back. There were a bunch of ornaments lingering around. There was a small dream catcher, like seen in his photos, but there were some lights installed in his doors that would look like lava lamps if they were turned on.

    The doors opened for Alli and Cosette. Chad picked his own tablet from the passenger's seat and stuffed it in the glovebox, then tapped on the chair next to him as an invitation. “Next stop...” Chad began, soon realising he needed to ask his built-in navigator. “Show recent destinations.”

    The ride was not very long, but more than enough for Alli to cover all the articles and Muriel to call in twice that she was put on hold. When they arrived why the latter happened became quite clear; the streets around the apartment were littered with cars. Journalists and camera-droids skit across the improvised parking lot to get the best shots of the urban jungle. Pilgrim & Yeats were hardly the only interested party in the strange phenomenon in and around the house of mister Dallas. Chad couldn't find a spot close to the two-floor apartment, so Alli and he would have to walk a few minutes to even get to the porch.

    “So, what do you think?” Chad asked, eager on the one hand, but also somewhat sour about the lack of a parking spot. He pointed at the home that was transforming into Tarzan's tree-hut, with flowers and vines growing way out of control. Both living and undead. “Want to look around? Those tabloids aren't leaving anytime soon.”
  5. "What do I think?" she whispered softly, just under her breath as her eyes traveled up and up along the Nouveau Abidjan skyline. Even from their awful and inconvenient parking spot, the impossibly verdant apartments would have been a sight only a blind man could miss - though a blind man still would have been caught by the strange and overpowering tide of heady floral and earthy aromas, creating a thick, unspeakably humid wind current all its own through the city's streets.

    'Mon Dieu... ' For some moments, that really was all she could think. For all the magnificence on display, Mother Nature gone absolutely out of Her mind in a single man's humble apartment complex, there lingered the sickly sweet stench of rot just beneath, an ominous breeze all of its own that made her stomach clench with a vague, unnameable dread.

    Cosette sneezed, her great ruff shaking with the tinkling of the rings on her collar, and Alli snapped out of her reverie, blinking with a small, nervous laugh. "Yes, let's look around - what can it hurt? Though perhaps we can still manage a way in... " It was a small hope, but a hope nonetheless.

    Alli did not mind the long, winding walk toward the apartment complex - it gave her time to think. The crowd about Monsieur Dallas' apartment had only grown with the news crews attracting the gawkers and the bystanders and those without a single thing better to do in the moment but stare up at the strangest display the city had seen in some time - but this mattered little. There was simply something about the arrival of a 40 kilo canine, something primal and instinctual no matter the lack of any overt display aggression, that parted the gasping, chattering and milling sea of humanity like the prow of a ship through ocean waves.

    But by the time they arrived at the wooden police barricades, just being erected to give the beleaguered residents of the building Alli had to admit to herself she still had absolutely no idea how in the world they going to get into the apartments. Her mouth screwed up into a small pensive, perhaps even petulant pucker, and if she did not know for absolute sure there were cameras all about her? She might have stomped her booted foot in frustration. The tips of her sea green leather gloves tapped impatiently against the wood of the barrier for several long seconds, and then her eyes suddenly lit with a surprised and unmistakable light as her gaze fell over a veritable mountain of a man whose muscles seemed to strain the very seems of his police uniform. Absolutely nothing in his grim, stone-faced visage seemed to invite friendly overtures, but of course Alli was absolutely undeterred.

    "Bon jour, Officer Manteau! Antoine!" Alli called sweetly, leaning just so over the makeshift barricade to exuberantly wave at the insanely tall, dark policeman closer. She shot a quick grin and an impish little wink at Chad.

    "Alli!" The grim, somber facade of the great man faded as if it had never been the moment his dark eyes fell on the young woman. He bent to whisper something in the ear of another officer, and turned to stride toward the edge of the barricade where she stood.

    "What in the world are you doing here? I never much took you for a gawker." He spoke in French as he reached over the barrier to pet Cosette's head with a hand at least as a large as a dinner plate. The German shepherd's great tail swung happily for the attentions.

    "Mon Dieu non, Antoine!" Alli laughed, shaking her head and speaking to the Nouvea Abidjan cop in their native language as well. "My partner and I have business with Monsieur Dallas - do you think you might see your way clear to letting us through?"

    The police officer's brow furrowed beneath his khaki-colored cap, though the smile did not dim. "Business, Alli?"

    "Of course! You might remember, I may have mentioned the agency we were starting... ?"

    The officer did not, but there had always been something so angelic and sincere about the young widow, that everything in him almost instinctively wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. "Do you have an appointment? I can call up if you like, to see... "

    Alli sighed so very sadly. "No, I'm afraid not. We have tried and tried and tried, but as you can imagine, Monsieur Dallas has been difficult to contact. We would only be a moment Antoine, and then gone if he will not see us... " Though the words were in no way couched as a plea, Antoine Manteau was no fool.

    A slow, long-suffering smile crossed the officer's face, and he shrugged one great shoulder. "You won't make me look badly, will you Alli?" he asked, entirely rhetorically, as he lifted the tape another policeman had only just wrapped about the spaced wooden barricades.

    "Cross my heart Antoine, here and gone and not a peep to be heard." She stood to her tiptoes, grasping the policeman's shoulders in her hands as she pulled him close, a swift kiss for each cheek. The great man may or may not have blushed - his skin was too dark to be entirely sure.

    "Officer Antoine Manteau, this is my dear friend and partner Chad Pilgrim; Chad, Antoine. We met during Cosette's obedience training," she said lightly, and in English for the benefit of her partner as she ducked under the yellow barrier tape. "Antoine has the sweetest little bichon frisé, Napoléon!"
  6. The media must had gone overboard, Chad realised as they met with police barricades. “This might be a problem...” Chad murmured to himself, even if the challenge of getting past the police was hardly one he'd ever turn down. Thankfully, his French-speaking companion took the lead – even if it caused Chad a slight twitch.

    A short introduction later, Alli and Chad made it through the barrier. Antoine was, for his help, shortly buried under media personal, whom also wanted nothing but 'just a quick word.' “I don't know how you do it, Alli.” Chad scratched the back of his head. There was something about the Quebeçois that made it feel like they had some kind of hidden coven; a secret world outsiders couldn't penetrate. At least, Chad was fairly sure this would not have worked with most officers. Speaking of which, Chad took his partner by the hand to put on a pace, before one of Antoine's colleagues would reconsider his cooperation.

    The closer they got to the apartments, the more dead flora seemed to coat their path. The air carried other leftovers, pollen apparently, causing Cosette to sneeze. Chad kept a hand in front of his mouth and nose, “Maybe we shouldn't bring Couscous too close.” He suggested. Much as he liked the dog, she was a bit of an odd sight... And whatever was in the air couldn't be good for her. Case in point, as they got closer to the apartment, the policemen started wearing face masks.
  7. Alli's brow furrowed in concern at Chad's words, her own dark-eyed gaze following her partner's as she took in the even stranger sight inside the apartment building. After a while, she could not tell where the living vegetation and the dead and rotting plants picked up, or left off. The dead greenery mingled with the living, though whether one choked out the other, or vica versa, she could not begin to say. What had begun as a delightful bit of verdant strangeness outside a Nouveau Abidjan apartment had lost all its charms, the closer they came to the apartment they sought. The undercurrent of decaying vegetation alongside the impossibly fertile, pollen-laden odor was no longer a perfume, but spread ugly, grasping tendrils of an almost ominous miasma.

    Her leather-clad fingers squeezed a little tighter about Chad's. Alli was not liking where her imagination was taking her at all, and she was grateful he still held her hand after guiding her quickly into the building. The smallest shadow of a smile played on her lips at the realization Chad was apparently not quite ready to trust that his partner's charms would stand the test of anxiety-laced police vigilance. What Chad probably did not realize, was that this had never been so much a clannish "Quebeçois Thing," than a decidedly even-more-clannish "Dog Person Thing."

    Well that, and being a lovely young woman with an angelic smile and a sweet, almost-childlike laugh never did a bit of harm anywhere.

    But no matter what had gotten the trio as far as they had inside this overgrown greenhouse of an apartment building - whether it was Chad's urgent speed or Alli's charms or Cosette's big, lovable mahogany eyes - they had quickly come to a barrier of sorts that even all the speed or charm or dogginess in the world could not see them past. Alli frowned deeply as she listened to Chad's words. He was so very right of course, and Cosette would probably not fare well much further. Eyeing the police respirator masks, she wondered whether they would fare near so well much further either, but they had already come so far. No matter the sudden, unexpected trepidation, she was loathe to turn tail now...

    Alli sighed, squeezing Chad's hand one more time as she let him go. She turned back down the hallway they'd just walked, clicking her tongue once as Cosette fell in beside her. She passed one policeman in a face mask who paid them not the least attention, and then one more, before she caught the pale green eyes of another young man as woman and dog walked side-by-side.

    "Bon jour, monsieur. Comment ça va?" Alli began with a bright smile, catching and holding his gaze easily. His voice through the mask was a little thick, but she caught on quickly enough. "Oh! English? Of course... " Their swift conversation ended with Cosette remaining beside the nice policeman named Jim Connors, who apparently had a brother/sister pair of Belgian malinois waiting for him to walk through the front door later tonight.

    Dog people, it seems, have a language all their very own.

    Alli hurried back to Chad, rifling through her purse until she pulled up short beside him. "Here you go," she said, offering him a crimson silk kerchief before pulling a violet and green paisley for herself, holding it over her mouth and nose. Of course this was no face mask, but even the façade felt better than nothing at all. "Shall we?" she asked, eyeing the hallway ahead of them dubiously. "I pray, this isn't much farther... "
  8. “Again, I don't know how you do it.” Chad smiled faintly, trying to cover up for his surprise. “Sometimes I think you're the biggest mystery this agency has taken on.” He shrugged as he pulled the mask over his face. Still, as he took another look around... Something seemed odd. The closer they got, the less uninhabitable the apartment seemed to Chad. “I don't think they'd be having a questioning here. Why would this guy even be home with this stuff in the air?”

    The interior of the apartment was filled with even more dead plants than the outside... But was easily more unsettling. The scent was not nauseous, but more like sulfur. The otherwise white walls were blackened, though the plants seemed mysteriously untouched. The new interior seemed to hold up as well against metal as fire, as Chad noticed an open toolbox with garden cutters on display. However, far more peculiar was the that as they progressed, the vines seemed more alive near their roots... But at the same time far more undead. Despite maintaining their green colour, Chad's shoe phased straight through one of them. He raised an eyebrow and smirked at the same time, as his foot seemed to sink within the ghastly indoor garden. “Good thing they called us.”

    “Care to introduce yourself?” A raspy voice clawed itself through the atmosphere. A short, dark-skinned woman with wry smile turned towards Chad and Alli. “If you think you're here for a scoop, we'll have sign a non-disclosure of anything you see in here. Too much has leaked already.”

    “Chad Pilgrim,” Chad introduced himself, offering a hand the woman instantly declined. Chad frowned and shot a quick questioning look at Alli. What were they dealing with here... “And this is my partner Alicia Yeats.” He continued either way, frown withstanding. “We're not here for the tabloids, we specialise in cases like this.”

    “Well you can sign this and specialise in getting out of here.” The woman replied dryly, gesturing a fellow officer to bring Chad and Alli a tablet displaying the aforementioned non-disclosure agreement. “I don't want anyone on the scene who doesn't have my direct orders to be here.”

    “Very well,” Chad said, taking the tablet off the officer's hands and putting his index finger to the screen. “I'll sign and be on my way, miss...” Chad suddenly smiled, but this wasn't one his charm was going to win.

    “Not even if I was twenty years younger. And that's officer Ferguson for you. Now sign the damn thing and be on your way.”

    “That's really too bad, officer Ferguson.” Chad shrugged, as he drew on the tablet handed to him. “Good luck with the investigation, give us a call when you need the help.” He said, then passed the tablet on to Alli and rummaged in his pockets, taking out a business card. Throwing his arms in his back, he headed outside of the room. However, as Alli would notice, he hadn't put his signature on the tablet. Rather, the message said; “Stall them.”
  9. Stall them?

    Stall them!?

    Oh that sweet little compliment about being all mysterious was not going to cut it this time, Monsieur Chad Pilgrim! How in the world was she supposed to stall this woman who was so obviously about as easy to snow as her sweet, sainted Grand-mère of the steely eyes and the wooden spoon and the suffering of no fools! Inside Alli gaped, seethed - maybe even panicked a little, and definitely swore to herself that Chad was going to spring for Cosette's next doggie day spa!

    But on the outside? On the outside, Alicia Yeats was the very soul of polite understanding and empathy for a beleaguered officer who was about full up on the creepy vegetation that just would not stop growing, or being weird. Beneath the green and purple paisley handkerchief, she coughed softly and took up the stylus Chad had abandoned. "Oh... Oh this smell is just awful, non? Is like rotten eggs everywhere... "

    Officer Ferguson didn't say a word, but simply looked up to the sweet-voiced woman, her face softening just a touch.

    "What a terrible... " Alli coughed again, her brow furrowing as she shook her head. "Terrible... assignment. I spoke with Officer Manteau outside - "

    "Manteau?" the shorter woman asked with just a hint of suspicion.

    "Oui, Antoine Manteau - "

    "You know Officer Manteau?"

    "Oui, such a... A dear man... " Alli's cough grew thicker, far more louder as she dropped the stylus, her free hand fluttering to her chest. "Apologies... Yes, he let us through. He knows our... Our agency specializes in... In the supernatural."

    "He didn't have that authority, to allow you up here," she replied sternly, though degrees softer still. She watched the pretty young woman kneel to retrieve the stylus from the floor, her own dark eyes furrowing with something very like concern.

    Alli simply peered up at her with a gentle smile written in the crinkles about her watery, reddened eyes, the real one hidden beneath the kerchief 'mask.' "Please don't be cross with him, Officer Ferguson. He knows we can... Can help. Monsieur Pilgrim and I are... Are investigators. It is not as if... As if we are reporters or... Or... " Still kneeling to the ground, Alli's coughing fit deepened, her whole slender body shuddering and shaking as she wheezed. Eyes shut tight, she truly did slide to her knees now, hacking miserably and wheezing.

    "Miss Yeats!?" Officer Ferguson dropped to her own knees, taking the younger woman by the shoulders. "Lascombe! Get me a respirator - now!"

    "So... So sorry!" Alli managed to choke out, gasping for breath and praying to heaven she didn't actually start hyperventilating while she was sitting there among the supernatural undead vegetation, pretending to gasp and choke and hyperventilate!

    'Mon Dieu, but you do owe me huge, Monsieur Pilgrim... !'
  10. Rather than weaving his way outside, Chad found his way into the corridors. Chad slipped though like a thief in the night, setting his eyes on the supernatural vegetation. It lead all the way through the house. Left and right, up and down, there was hardly an inch that hadn't seen anything of it. Where had the police been so far... Chad wondered, as he crouched to get a closer view. One thing Chad noticed as he investigated was that the measure of how... Solid and alive, the vines seemed, were in negative correlation to each other. Another that the 'life' all seemed to be heading to a certain core; namely the living room where Alli, if his trusty partner was still managing, remained with the officers. The overgrow seemed to head outside... Were it became solid and spread those awful pollen.

    The dead vines also moved up the stairs, where Chad noticed a lot of them had been trampled. The slivers of broken flora were like traces of where had been walked. Especially up the stairs, much damage had been done. What could possibly be there? Chad had to find out. Trying to make as little noise as possible, he tip-toed upstairs. The doors were left open, to facilitate all the vines running over and in the midst of them, there stood a man.

    “Mister Hubert Dallas, I assume?”

    Hubert Dallas' night seemed to have had much in common with Chad's, but despite the circles below his eyes the man had clearly taken the time for a clean shave and maintaining a dressing standard as if the man had to be presentable at a gala. Chad had to rub his eyes, not just cause of hovering pollen, but also just to believe what he saw.

    “Who are you?” Dallas replied sullenly. Despite his apparent vigilance over his appearance, he was very tired. “Do you have questions, like all the others?”

    “Chad Pilgrim, Pilgrim & Yeats, paranormal investigation agency. I think I have answers.” Chad said, reaching out his hand. Though it appeared to him strange that Hubert Dallas wasn't stepping forward. With a slight awkward grin, Chad moved up to the man instead, holding his hand still out. Hubert did shake it, though he seemed uncomfortable with Chad's strong grip.

    “What answers do you have for me, mister Pilgrim?” Hubert Dallas asked. His tone seemed cynical, but Chad picked up on a glimmer in his eyes. Chad did not have answers just yet, but if he inspired hope in the man, he could get him to open up. More importantly, he didn't have the time for a full interview. Alli could only keep the officers off his tail for so long.

    “This must all be very confusing to you, mister Dallas.” Chad smiled politely, “But not to worry, we have handled a few cases like yours.” He lied, part of his excitement was that Chad had never gotten his hands on a case as big as this. “It will be better to talk in our office,” He said, rummaging in his pocket. “Do you have a personal pad on hand?” Chad asked, already taking hold of his tiny supercomputer.

    “Yes, but-”

    “Excellent mister Dallas, let me take the info in right... Here.” Chad said, sending his digital business card over to Dallas, whose address he'd already long memorised prior to their meeting. “Give us a call when you're hands aren't so tied with the investigation.” Chad shook the man's hand once again, turning his back, but already prepared for Dallas' next action.

    “Wait... Mister Pilgrim... I... We need your help. My daughters and I, we-” Dallas' words were muffled by a thump coming from downstairs. “What was that?” The man asked, after he sprung up a little delayed (presumably from his shortage of sleep.)

    Chad and shortly with Dallas in town, hurried downstairs. Only to hear officer Ferguson yell; “Lascombe! Get me a respirator – now!”

    “What in the world is going on here?” Chad exclaimed as entered back into the living room, though he needn't think twice on what had actually happened as he saw the scene. Chad sprinted to Alli's side, kneeling down besides her and the officer. “Give me that,” He took the respirator off Lascombe's hands, cradling Alli's head in one hand and installing the device with his other. It seemed like she was hyperventilating, but Chad had seen Alli out of breath before and the details didn't quite match up. His partner had quite the flair for drama, but while Alli had the police to impress, Chad had a client to.

    “She's getting out of here.” Chad took command and picked up Alli. The entire play went too fast for even officer Ferguson to protest, as Chad carried Alli out of the apartment. “Excuse me, mister Dallas, you'll have to come by a little later.” He directed quickly to their client-to-be, as he stood baffled; not knowing how to react to the scene.
    • Love Love x 1
  11. She hadn't meant to alarm Chad, not even a little! It was all Alli could do to keep her act intact when - wide-eyed and breathless for real now - she realized Chad was sprinting to her side! There wasn't a moment to protest as he put the respirator over her face, the breaths she took suddenly far more wholesome, whether she truly needed them or not. She certainly couldn't regret breathing air that wasn't sulfurous and strangely foul, but she felt positively horrible when she saw the stricken look on Chad's face. He scooped her up in his arms so easily, and her heart skipped a sudden easy beat as he pulled her close. Either Chad had caught on and was all-in on her makeshift diversion, or she'd just given her partner a heart attack over a medical emergency that really wasn't, and... And...

    Mon Dieu...

    Alli moaned softly, frustrated and mortified all at once, and utterly at a loss for how really, really bad she must be at this whole improvisational 'stall them' thing. Obviously in the strength and weakness columns of their partnership, after today they would know exactly where "Alli Improv Skills" should lie - but they had to get this client! She could see the poor man who accompanied Chad back, dressed so very nicely with his horribly confused expression overlaid with weary eyes, the skin beneath so dark they looked like bruises! This had to be Monsieur Dallas, bless his sweet soul, whose whole life had been turned upside down by the inexplicable. Nothing in Alli would let her walk away from someone who so desperately needed their help, any more than Chad could walk away from one of these supernatural mysteries.

    She lay her mask-covered head against Chad's shoulder as he carried her, one arm reaching to wrap around his neck in a gesture that would seem so sweetly affectionate and familiar to any who observed them - yet also had the added bonus of allowing her right next to her ear. She sent up a small, hopeful prayer that Chad had learned to read her well enough by now, strengths and foibles all, because if not?

    Oh, he was going to be so mad...

    "Invite him to come with us!" she whispered, trying not to let the mask amplify her muffled voice too terribly loud. "That is Monsieur Dallas, yes? I'm fine Chad, just... Well... Stalling? You said to stall, oui? I stalled! But maybe too well... "

    Alli's dark eyes above the respirator searched Chad's face, a thousand apologies written in her gaze. "Or I make a miracle recovery? We cannot leave him, not now."
  12. “Here, now?” Chad protested in a whisper. Though Alli confirmed his suspicions, his heart still beat prestissimo. With a pace that matched the rhythm in his chest, the dead plants cracked under Chad's soles as he marched in the direction of their parking spot. He pursed his lips into a loud whistle, hoping for Colette to follow him... But ins spite of being good buddies with the German shepherd, Colette rarely listened to Chad's commands. Chad sighed in annoyance. He'd just have to get back to get her later. Even if Alli had faked it, to maintain any semblance of realism he'd have to at least get her away far enough from the apartment and it's undead growth.

    “I'll get him.” Chad said shortly, after he'd parked his partner a couple steps away from Dallas' apartment and it's ghostly garden. For a quick second he looked at her from under his brow. “You really are fine?” He asked, with a hint of concern, but Chad didn't wait for an answer. With an even faster pace, Chad returned down his path of trampled plants.

    “Colette, here girl!” Chad put his hand to his mouth. “Couscous!” In all his thoughts, he'd almost forgotten that Alli had left her with one of the officers. Soon as he walked out, Ferguson and Dallas met him.

    “How is she?” Dallas asked, with a trembling voice filled with guilt. “I am terribly sorry-”

    “Allison will be fine.” Chad reassured the shivering man, news that greatly relieved both mister Dallas and the officer. “We will be returning to the office to get her some rest, but miss Yeats insists you not let her condition trouble you, mister Dallas. If you do not mind sharing the back seat with her dog, we can address your case when you get back immediately.”

    “Now hold on a minute-” Officer Ferguson threw up, suddenly growing suspicious, “What do you think you're doing?”

    Chad raised an eyebrow at the policewoman. “You may have a say about who sets foot on the crime scene, officer, but as I see it there has been no reason to detain mister Dallas. If you have any more questions for him, we are willing to wait, but the man is free to go where he wants to, is he not?”

    Ferguson's face twisted into a scowl, as Chad challenged her. Chad made no secret of his delight as he grinned openly at Dallas. “The choice is yours, mister Dallas. The sooner we can crack this case the better.”

    “-If it's no trouble.” Dallas gratefully accepted.

    “Nothing we wouldn't do for all our clients. Now, if you'll excuse me for just five seconds,” Chad resumed his path to the officer attending Colette. “Yes, sir, good man, we'll be taking her off your hands.” He waved at the man in blue, taking Colette's leash from him. “Thank you for your trouble, I apologise but I am in a bit of a rush.”

    The officer nodded, he'd seen Chad carry out Alli just a few minutes ago. “Come on, girl.” Chad pulled the leash, thwarting Colette to go and take another sniff of the man's boots. With dog and client in tow, Chad returned to the parking lot... Though he could feel officer Ferguson's glare burn itself in his back. A triumphant glimpse played on the edge of Chad's lips. Even with a little sloppy work, they were unstoppable.
    • Love Love x 1
  13. Alli's small abashed smile promised Chad without a single word (as if, of course, the man needed or would wait around for one anyway!) that she truly was just fine. She read the concern there on his face, the reassurance he had to have before he whirled about, stalking swiftly back into the apartments after there would-be client. As relieved as she was Chad seemed not the least cross, or even a little irritated, for her farcical attempt at a 'diversion,' the genuine caring she saw there in his pale blue eyes warmed her all the more. Her dark eyes followed Chad until he disappeared back into the building, her gaze lingering for some moments longer thoughtfully.

    With a soft sigh of relief, she leaned against the stucco plaster of the building's exterior and removed the respirator from her face. A compact mirror was swiftly fished from the bottom of her purse, and Alli made quick work of fixing her short, dark brown hair in its tiny mirror. No, it was not that she was vain - far from it. Though a naturally pretty and graceful woman, she spent only as much time before a mirror as necessary to be sure she did not leave her apartment looking a slovenly, bed-tossed mess. Alli could not help the first impression Monsieur Dallas would have had of her, overcome and carried off like a frail damsel in Chad's arms. But at the least she could provide a slightly more professional appearance if... No, when! When Chad brought their newest client back out with him.

    Thankfully the wait was not so long at all, only a few minutes at most, no matter they felt a small eternity to Alli. But even if she wished to do so, she was helpless to hide the thrill of joy illuminating her smile when Chad and Cosette - with Monsieur Dallas in tow! - appeared from around the corner. Such a relief! Alli pushed off from the wall and made her way straight to Chad, laying one hand on his shoulder and kissing him lightly on each cheek. She took that opportunity to whisper softly in his ear a quick and ever-so-heartfelt, "Tu es brillante, Chad Pilgrim."

    "Cosette! Ah, ma bonne fille!" The enormous, muscular tail of the German shepherd wagged mightily as Alli relieved Chad of the dog's leash, at the side of her beloved Maman in an instant. Alli's hand ran lovingly over that soft, furry head.

    "And Monsieur Dallas, I must apologize for the awful first impression." Alli held up the respirator mask by its straps, shrugging helplessly with a charming, bashful smile. She held the other hand for him to take, offering him an elegant hand to take. "I am Alli Yeats and, I promise you, feeling so much better. Please do let us make this up to you - some brunch perhaps? I know a lovely café where we can sit and enjoy this beautiful sunshine - and best of all, be assured of all the privacy we could want, for as long as we need."

    She nodded toward the growing cordon of media who, only by the grace of heaven, had not yet realized exactly who accompanied Alli and Chad. "Though let's be quick, oui? Monsieur Pilgrim is a most consummate driver, a wonder behind the wheel of his hovercar, but I believe we have all had enough excitement for one morning."
  14. “That is quite alright, miss Yeats.” Hubert Dallas accepted the woman's hand. Though his were sweaty, the commotion had him more than a little riled up. Not to mention Chad's pace, which was far more brisk than the middle-aged gentleman seemed used to.

    “I propose we go straight to the office,” Chad brought in. Like Alli he could see their client was tired, but both the way the man still managed to present himself and his nerves seeming to be ready to pop under his eyes at any moment, somehow made Chad feel Hubert Dallas would prefer a professional to trust over a calming cup of tea. “The sooner we can mister Dallas' situation back to normal the better.”

    When Alli nodded towards the wall of media persons, Chad took off his coat and threw it at Dallas. “Catch,” He said, as Dallas barely managed to get his hands on the beige leather jacket. “Put it over your head.” Chad encouraged, to which Dallas complied. Even in the future, some things never changed. The second the press caught sight of the two privates, their client (and Cosette) they drowned the company in a sea of light. While Chad trusted Alli to course Cosette through, he pulled along their client. Chad took the lead, pushing aside the crows and their floating camera droids. He knew that they all would end up on the news in minutes, but at least their client's face wouldn't be shown. Dallas might live that down for years, if everyone he knew would see this sight. Chad and Alli on the other hand... Well, Chad would think about the media exposure later.

    Finally back in his car, Chad did not know how quickly to ascend. Airway traffic law made it illegal for the droids to fly in the proximity of a moving vehicle. As soon as Tracy had lifted off, Chad let himself sink back in his chair. One hand on the wheel still, Chad took a breather. He was glad that was over, between the shock of Alli's distraction-maneuver and the crows, Chad had been balancing on a thread. It was a good thing driving relaxed him, because it felt nothing in the past two minutes had gone his way. He deliberately turned off the radio, which would – without fail, soon report on what had just happened. No, Chad needed a minute to get this off his mind.

    “Alli, why don't you tell mister Dallas a little more about us?” Chad asked his partner. She always was better with people than him, not to mention that for just a few, Chad needed to focus on his driving.
  15. Alli nodded and smiled, and leaned forward from the backseat of Chad's car up and over the vehicle's console toward Monsieur Dallas. She had chosen the backseat with Cosette. There was simply no way she could make this poor man - who had only just gotten to Chad's car beneath cover of her partner's coat at that - cuddle up next to a forty-five kilo German shepherd. Cosette, of course, would not have minded in the least, but Pilgrim & Yeats had yet to make their first good professional impression on Monsieur Hubert Dallas of the supernaturally proliferating undead flora. The bare minimum she could do, was "bunk up" with her own dog.

    And Chad was right, of course. This was Alli's forté, the eminently approachable and personable, smiling shining face of their perfectly balanced partnership (so long, of course, as he did not ask her for diversions. Alli doubted Chad would ever again ask her for a diversion, unless he meant one that was intended to include ambulances, paramedics, sirens and imminent hospitalizations).

    Alli grinned widely at their soon-to-be client - because surely Monsieur Dallas would become nothing but! Still she was not insensible to Chad's well-frayed nerves, and one slender hand reached easily over the back of Chad's seat as he drove, gently but solidly laid on his shoulder while she spoke.

    "Pilgrim & Yeats has been in operation for some two years now here in Nouveau Abidjan, established soon after the initiation of Project Phoenix." Alli would not, of course, discuss Danny's passing, nor the strangely fantastical and beautiful route that brought Cosette into their lives. She would not describe the details of what was technically their very first case, the start of their partnership, but that was all a part of the service provided by Chad and Alli.

    "Chad and I are experienced with the supernatural, the preternatural and the unnatural in many different forms, but that does not mean we have seen it all. Oh no, not by a long shot! Every case we take is different, unique, and will be given our complete and undivided attention. Each has its own focus." And of course, Alli did not mention that Monsieur Dallas' case would be one of their first as wellj, after all she had every last confidence in the world, in every single syllable she spoke. There may have been other paranormal investigators out there, but Pilgrim & Yeats were the real deal - there were precious few others with the genuine hands-on experience they brought to any situation anywhere.

    "Chad is what you might call, the brains of our business," she said with no small amount of pride, the hand she had resting against his shoulder patting him proudly. "He is a researcher par excellence, a purveyor of the esoteric, and relentless at that - in the very best way of course!" Alli laughed softly.

    "Should you choose to hire us, your problems, Monsieur Dallas, your concerns and your issues will be ours, for the length of our investigation. And even if you do not?"

    Alli shrugged her shoulders, her face gentle and understanding. "Even if you do not, anything you confide to us remains confidential for the duration of your lifetime. Your privacy and your trust are the hallmarks of our service. We are not a large company, nor are we a subsidiary of a mega-corp. We do not advertise. All our referrals come by word-of-mouth, or through Chad's endless research."

    "And that sir, is why we bring you back to our offices now. For some quiet, some peace of mind and a safe place to talk with us away from policemen, and cameras and journalists and pressures of any sort." She laughed softly to herself, one dark eyebrow cocked with a winsome touch of humor.

    "That, and in all honesty, our receptionist Murielle makes the very best cup of coffee in all Nouveau Abidjan. It is a fact, and not the least exaggeration, I promise you. But if coffee is not your preference? I can be easily persuaded to share my private stash of imported matcha green tea... "
  16. Chad brushed Alli's hand off his shoulder. Even if the gesture was gentle, he was still trying to regain his peace of mind. He would need it the moment their job continued... Or when the news would get the drop on them. There's no such thing as bad publicity, he thought to himself, but even his own inner voice wasn't going to convince him of that.

    Dallas was of course listening to Alli, even if the man's eyes occasionally drifted to the oddities in Chad's car. That was exactly why Chad wanted him at the office instead of a small café. The more professional they seemed the better... Even if they had a few elements against them within the car's interior. The colourful, tiny dreamcatcher that dangled over the dashboard as they flew in particular, seemed to capture mister Dallas' curiousity.

    Chad hoped Dallas would appreciate his partner's honesty about their experience. Though it was a new field still, that made many uncomfortable investing in their company. As such Alli and he had to fund it all by their selves. They still noticed it with new clients. There were quite a few hoaxes out there, which made making a name for oneself that much more important.

    Still, Dallas seemed to respond well to Alli. “I could use a cup of coffee.” He smiled lightly. Like hell he could, Chad thought, not minding some black gold himself. Careful as he had to thread with their secretary sometimes, Murielle was always on the ball. Even – no, especially when it came to coffee. Though their client-to-be's lips curled, even Chad could notice from the corner of his sight that Dallas' eyes didn't reflect that smile. The veins were visible when Dallas turned to Alli. Chad could half have sworn to see the pace of mister Dallas' heart in said veins, for the seconds he kept his sight off of the road.

    “Here we are.” Chad announced as the bordeaux Tracy landed in front of their office. He opened the back door from the outside, which couldn't be opened from the inside. Though Cosette always obeyed Alli, she was less obedient when it came to Chad... And the dog was crafty too. The few times he'd spent alone time with Cosette, that had become more than clear... Which in Chad's eyes had been more than reason enough to add snacks to her diet. Something Alli had somehow managed to notice, as Cosette had put on some weight for it. Yet even though he had quit plumping up his partner's dog, when Alli wasn't around and Chad was, Cosette proved to be quite clever about getting around him. She'd opened doors and cabinets by herself somehow. Hence, the child lock.

    Dallas had already stepped out of the car, and Chad hurried ahead to open the door to Pilgrim & Yeats. The office, save Chad's desk, was a complete contrast from the interior of his car. For some reason he'd expected Dallas to sigh in relief, but it seemed his partner's speech had calmed his nerves a little. “Come, mister Dallas, please follow me.” He directed at their client, as he lead the man into their office, namely at the other side of Alli's, far more organised desk.

    Chad pulled a chair from his own corner of the room and queued onto Alli's workplace also. There were already dozens of questions buzzing in Chad's head, but they had promised the man coffee... And Chad was starving for one too.
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  17. Yes, Alli had to admit Chad's thinking had been spot on when he redirected their small party back to the offices. Monsieur Dallas' smile never once made it to his eyes, no matter the poor man gave it his very best try - for politeness' sake alone, she felt sure. How much worse would all of this have been for him, if the ceaseless hounds of the press had somehow managed to catch up with them. Chad's ability with his beloved Tracy was, Alli felt sure, only amplified by all the trinkets, fetishes and gris-gris with which he festooned his hovercar "chariot."

    Alli even managed to maintain her preternatural serenity when she briefly found herself up against the childproof locks of Tracy's back seats. There were no more than two swift and futile yanks of the door handle - nowhere near enough to dim her gentle smile. Monseiur Dallas was promptly led to their opulent and tastefully decorated offices, ensconced easily into one of the comfortable leather office chairs. The mid-morning sun shone brightly through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and Alli dimmed the UV filter shades. The glare was not near so blinding, and Cosette could still find a lovely spot of sunlight to lounge in quite happily.

    She met Murielle at the office door, relieving that amazingly competent woman of the tray she carried. A silver-plated carafe, three china cups with saucers and a silver creamer and sugar bowl were balanced neatly on its gleaming surface, the rich, warm scent of Murielle's finest fresh roast wafting almost immediately into the office. Alli closed her eyes, breathing deeply before she turned to join the men in the room. She poured both Monsieur Dallas and Chad a cup of the coffee before her own, smiling when she saw the relief on both their faces as they took their respective drinks. Alli took a cup of her own, quite black, before settling back into her own chair, one leg crossed neatly and elegantly over her knee as she looked to Monsieur Dallas.

    "So Monsieur Dallas," she began easily, ignoring the soft snore from the German shepherd who, apparently, was quite exhausted from this morning's event and passed out entirely in her patch of sunlight. "We would be most interested to hear your story, in your own words." Alli could almost see the questions that seemed ready to burst from her partner's very body, and wondered at his self-control, how he managed - somehow - to keep as still as he did!
  18. Alright, it was time to get this over with. Chad cracked his knuckles under the desk. They were in the office. There was coffee. And there was their client, mister Dallas.

    As Alli prompted him, Dallas began to speak. “It all started a few days ago, with the magnolias outgrowing their pots. It didn't seem like much at first, I-”

    “Are you into gardening, mister Dallas?” Chad interrupted, seeing the man grow nervous as he touched the topic of the riddle. The relations between the paranormal and people were often very personal. It coloured Chad curious, because he could hardly see how a man dressing so sharp just to wait in a room while the police searched his apartment, would normally have a lot of time for keeping green in his apartment.

    “It's not mine. My daughters tend to them.” Dallas replied, but his eyes averted looking at Chad's. The private investigator took a sip of his coffee. Nothing like home-roasted beans, some things would never go out of fashion. He studied their client's body language, who narrowed his shoulder like a clam closing it's shells.

    “If I may ask, have you noticed anything different about that lately?” Chad asked, a question to which Hubert Dallas moved shoved his chair back a little. Chad briefly exchanged eye-contact with Alli, and he had a feeling where this was going.

    “Is there, is it possible there's something that happened to my daughter?” Dallas asked. Apparently his train of thought had skipped a few stations. “They're not in the home, I sent them to my mother's. Aren't they safe?”

    Again, Chad had to quickly nod towards Alli. “I am not saying your children are in any danger, mister Dallas.” He elaborated, making sure to speak slowly. Though this concern was completely human, Chad hadn't even asked if there had been any recent deaths in his environment lately. He was itching to get on with the questioning, but an unstable client wasn't going to help them any further.

    “Please, mister Pilgrim, miss Yeats... I am at the end of my wits. I need those, things. Those plants to go away.”

    “That is why we're here, mister Dallas. I am asking you these questions because we want to solve your problem.” Chad replied, again slowly but sternly. The way doctors spoke when cutting into the subject of difficult choices and procedures. It frustrated Dallas, quite visibly, but they couldn't let the man determine the rhythm. “If you please comply, we will do our part and guarantee the safety of you and your children. If you please, you mentioned your daughters take care of the plants. Has there been changes recently?”

    “No, no. I don't think so.” Dallas answered, still shaking in his boots. Obviously, anything concerning his daughters was a very tense subject. Yet somehow Chad felt there was more than the man let on... He just knew he couldn't get through the wall their client was putting up with a sledgehammer of interrogation... At least not if he wanted Alli and him to be paid after.

    “Maybe coffee wasn't such a good idea for our client,” Chad whispered at Alli under his breath. “I'll get Murielle to brow something more appropriate. Think you get get him to calm down a little? My gut tells me we are onto something.”
    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1