Short Story: Regrouping

We regrouped at a distinctly grotty pub just across the road from the flats to take stock. Boris reluctantly got a round of drinks in while I grabbed a semi-private table in the corner furthest from the toilets. This wasn’t due to concerns about people hearing us as they went by, the toilets just smelled awful.

Dyson hovered nearby briefly. Once he saw Boris gainfully employed, he drew up a chair and sat with his back to the wall and an eye on the door. We didn’t say anything to each other until the drinks arrived. Some behaviours can survive anything, and few things are as strong as the near reverence of the approach of the first drink of a session.

The first sip of what turned out to be a piss-poor fizzy lager was still conducted in silence, and then i pushed my pint aside. Boris and Dyson were united for a moment in appreciation of their own drinks at least.

“Well, that didn’t go to plan, did it?” I said. Boris’ face flushed with what I took to be anger. Dyson was still looking confused, but then we were well outside his comfort zone here. In some ways that was good. The longer he was off balance, the longer it should take him to remember that technically I was under arrest and that therefore he should be doing something about it.

“What happened to her?” Boris said. “There’s burn marks but no body.” He prodded at the tabletop with each word, presumably for emphasis.

“My best guess?” I paused a moment to make eye contact with each of them. “Your little helper has a new home from home.”

“What?” asked Dyson. The drink seemed to have settled his nerves a bit – at least enough that he wasn’t scratching at the bloodstains on his clothing so much. “I don’t understand.”

“Boris and his girlfriend have been very naughty people, quite aside from anything criminal you may have been investigating, haven’t you?”

“We broke no law.” His accent thickened, but he did look abashed.”

“Well, that’s a matter of debate. It was an unusual weapon but the intent was pretty straightforward wasn’t it?” I was trying to rattle Boris; I was reasonably certain he’d never been the brains of the operation.

“We…” He began to answer before self preservation kicked in and he remembered who Dyers was. For his part the detective was watching us both over his pint. He seemed a lot more composed suddenly and I remembered my previous feeling that he was a lot smarter than he appeared. Judging books by their covers again, I thought.

“They’ve been using magic to eliminate rivals.” I said. Part of that was our party-crasher, who you’re still wearing bits of by the way.” I gestured to the rips and stains he was trying to conceal. Boris was looking slightly ill. “When you did that, the thing they called up got pulled back to where it started, but you weren’t expecting anything like that were you?”

“I wasn’t there, she called it herself this time as I was busy looking for you!” He sounded sulky.

“She was over-confident and didn’t wait, stepped out of the protection, so when your pet demon or whatever it is got hauled back on a spiritual bungee cord it slapped straight into her. That’s what happened!”

Dyson looked at me as if I’d grown a second head. Boris looked aghast. “Really?” He rasped.

“Well, it’s just a guess, but I’m pretty good at those, and from what I’ve seen so far you’ve both been sloppy enough to be as big a danger to yourselves as anyone else. How the hell, pardon the pun, you got this far without it blowing up is anyone’s guess.”

“We had a book.” He said quietly.

“And this is why I should have become a librarian,” I said, “it always comes down to a book.”

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