Libraries are temples of knowledge. They are palaces of silence and concentration where seekers come with questions and leave with answers. The books contained within any library represent the life work of the very wise and the very creative. Children are taught from a young age to respect the silence maintained in the library because, as anyone should know, deep thinking is taking place there. A person who would raise their voice in a library was surely reared in a barn of some sort and deserves to be punished severely.
“I found something!” Finian Kelley shouted and the echoes of his voice boomed in that hallowed place.
“Finn, lower your voice. We are in the library.” The look in Evelyn’s eye said there would be pain if he did not comply.
“Yeah, okay, I’ll whisper,” he said in a slightly lower tone but nowhere near an actual whisper. “This is really great though, Evie. I found just the person we have been looking for!”
Over the course of the past several weeks Finian and Evelyn had been digging around to find a link to the spirits Evelyn held responsible for the disappearances of their loved ones. When they began their search they looked for any and all traces of supernatural occurrences. Their initial research brought back results that were so widespread and numerous that Evelyn was spending nights on end reading through books. It was Finian that came up with a solution.
“We don’t need any old ghost story or rumours of hauntings. What we need are cases of delusional people who believe someone has been abducted that no one can account for. If we try and hunt down every single ghost story on Earth we will be reading books forever. Any by we I mean you,” he said offhandedly. “That is not to say that I don’t like reading but I like sleeping a lot more and reading what you want me to read would prevent me from doing so.”
“Let me guess, too many big words.” Evelyn had said with tired look.
“No, actually. I like big words. It’s the abundance of master level ghost stories that often leave me in need of a nightlight I cannot stand. Did you know that they make clap on, clap off nightlights now? Who knew nighttime could be so fun?”
Finian had thus set them on a more manageable course and the two of them began tackling the odd world of delusional abduction cases. Neither were surprised to find that the largest number of cases fitting this description originated in Nevada. They both quickly agreed that those cases were not worth looking into. As willing as Evelyn was to believe in spirit abduction she wanted nothing to do with the, ‘little green men poked me in the no-no zone,’ crowd.
Finian passed Evelyn some newspaper clippings and began to read over the notes he had made.
“According to the report this woman…”
“Yeah, her. She claims to have had a son that was abducted years ago by what she described as…” Finian began flipping through pages, “… a blue spectral being who radiated heat like the sun and smelled of elderberries.” Finian stopped and looked up at Evelyn. “What the hell is an elderberry?”
“They look like blackberries and the grow in the warm parts of North America and Great Britain. I wouldn’t worry about that part though. So she claims her son was abducted and she is definitely a bit off, how does this make her perfect?”
“Ah, right,” Finian continued, his voice still carrying all about the library. “I forgot about the best part. So she has this photo album set, right? She has pictures of her with this child over a whole decade. The kid was ten when he disappeared, if you believe he existed, and she has all these pictures of her with him. Pictures of him as a baby, pictures of him at the zoo, probably a few of those choice pictures that all parents take of their children just to show other people when they grow up so that we have a full appreciation of the word, ‘shame,’ as well.”
Evelyn had an introspective look on her face and Finian decided to elaborate.
“You know what I’m talking about, right? The bathtub pictures where mom and dad get the full butt shot that they feel obliged to show the first boyfriend who ever shows up at the house to? Boys usually have the old hot dog sale pictures as well but I didn’t mind so much when mom and dad showed that one off. I’ve been selling foot longs for a while, if you know what I mean.”
Evelyn sighed and went back to her reading.
“Pictures can be faked Finn.”
“If you don’t want to believe the pictures lady I can unleash the fury right here!”
“Finn, you drop your pants and I drop you. I am not talking about your childhood pornography. I am talking about Alice King. She could easily have faked those photos. We can look into it if you want to but I don’t think this is worth getting this excited about.”
“Evie, listen.” Finian gave up any pretence of whispering and began speaking in his usual hysterical half scream. “This woman has over thirty albums full of pictures. Photoshopping one picture takes time. Photoshopping an entire lifetime of pictures would be an enormous venture and this woman does not have a scrap of computing experience. She’s a seamstress. The way I see it we have found someone that is either, A: the lead we have been looking for, or B: a world class nutcase. Either way I think she sounds like someone you would want to talk to.”
“I am not going to tell you again about lowering your voice. Now, why would I want to speak with a nutcase?”
Finian looked incredulous.
“Because you think there is a secret ring of spirits out there abducting people? Because you have tasked us with hunting ghosts? Because everything about who we are is totally freaking nutty?”
Evelyn did not look convinced. In fact she looked angry and Finian knew this was going to end in bruises of some sort.
“Or maybe just because you need some fresh air. You have been in the library for too long and you know what they say about God’s special little flowers, they need sunshine!” Finian put on his best fake smile and threw his arms out wide. “I could take you out and buy you some nice frozen yogurt, or whatever it is that cheerleaders consume so as to remain at the top of the food chain. I assume whatever it is has a cool abbreviation like ‘froyo’ or ‘spasm.’”
“What is ‘spasm?’”
“It’s a Spam sandwich. I don’t know why that popped into my head. I don’t even like Spam, and I’m a bottom feeder.”
“Finn,” Evelyn paused and Finian knew what was coming. “Shut it.”
This was something he heard at least five times a day. His constant running off at the mouth usually ended in him being told to, ‘shut it,’ but he never could manage to do what he was told.
“Yeah, no problem. I’ll just be quiet.”
Evelyn looked down at the papers that Finian had brought and she was hit by a flash of deja vu. She knew Alice King. The woman staring back at her in the paper was someone she had met before. Evelyn had seen her somewhere before but she could not remember where. It had been at some kind of party and the woman had looked much happier then. Who was she?
Finian began drumming out a beat into the desk and Evelyn gave him a death stare that sent his hands into the air like a surrendering criminal. He made it so impossibly hard to concentrate. Evelyn needed to focus to remember where she had seen this woman before and Finian had just chased off the loose thread she was grasping for.
“Hey, what’s it gonna hurt if we go out and give old batty five minutes to spew her crazy all over us? It’s not like we’re going to catch it from her. We already have it. Besides, maybe she can hem some of the rips you have put in my clothes.”
Evelyn sat up straight and her eyes shot open. That was it. Alice King was a seamstress. She fixed clothes for a living. Evelyn’s parents had hosted a party in celebration of her mother completing her doctoral dissertation and they had needed a seamstress to fix her dress. Alice King had been in Evelyn’s house.
“My parents know this woman.”
Finian looked as if he had been slapped.
“What are you talking about?”
“She has been in my house. I have met this woman. She’s a friend of my father’s from University, if my memory serves me right.”
Evelyn’s memory was impeccable and she knew it was not tricking her now. Alice King had come to her house to fix the dress as a favour to Evelyn’s father. Alice had spoken with Evelyn about Alice’s son and said that she wanted to bring him by sometime so that they could become friends.
“She wanted me to be friends with her son. I remember her!”
“Okay. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that your family befriends whack jobs but this jumps ole Alice here up a few notches on the list of people I don’t want to have hiding in my closet eating ice cream.”
“Who would you want hiding in your closet eating ice cream?”
“Scarlett Johansen, for starters. I have a whole list. Would you like it alphabetically or…”
“Finn,” Evelyn growled. “Shut it.”
Alice King was the perfect place to start and Finian had found a way in all his rambling to help Evelyn remember why she was important. He had also been the one to come up with the plan for narrowing their search. As much as Evelyn hated to admit it, Finian was a good companion. He served as a counterweight to her because he was definitely opposite of her in almost every way. Finian was loud, sarcastic, ridiculous in every way imaginable and completely lacking in the backbone department but Evelyn knew then, just as she had known when she first met him, that this boy was going to help her find her brother.
He was a part of her world now, whether he liked it or not.
As with Downfall, I’m getting hooked in this series of yours! As with the first entry of Othersiders, I laughed out loud in parts. The banter about Scarlet Johansen hiding in Finn’s closet eating ice cream really tickled me. Can’t wait to read more!
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