The Haunting of Sophia Black- 1

It’s been ten years since the Kidnappings, and still no clues.

Marcy Capone sighed over her mug of coffee as she read the first line of today’s front page article. She’d been a little girl when the kidnappings had taken place, older than the victims, but only barely. Six young boys had gone missing over the span of a year. Marcy still remembered seeing their disappearances, one by one, on the news, and it made her shudder.

Her eyes skimmed the article as she sipped her sweet, black coffee. Six boys,, presumed dead, all reported missing ten years ago. Their bodies were never discovered. A two-year-old, a set of twins, five, a seven year old, an eight year old, and a ten year old. Their names had been lost to time, or at least to the article’s author. Marcy’s heart clenched as she imagined the sorrow of the parents, reading an article about their missing, now nameless children. How cold and uncaring the press could be.

Ten years, and pieces were still missing. Ten years, and even the sharpest detectives, flown into town from big cities across the US– and even one from England, claiming to be the best detective since Sherlock Holmes– had never figured out the fate of those eight missing children. There were theories– some sick bastard trying to recreate Neverland with a bunch of kids was by far the most popular– but clues simply didn’t add up to any concrete answers. Half the town had collectively decided that the fairies had claimed the kids, or possibly demons (the stories varied). The other half simply gave up. The case ran cold, the kids forgotten to time except when the newspaper needed something to spice up the daily grind.

Marcy tossed down the paper, knocking back the end of her coffee and scowling. This entire town was a collective disaster. The number of hauntings, possessions, and straight up weird paranormal happenings was so high, it was a wonder anyone went to jail at all. The superstitious, small town folk would blame anything and everything on the supernatural. Some of them had decent, solid heads on their shoulders, looking for logical explanations for everything. Marcy liked to think she had a decent grasp on both.

Considering the fact that she lived in an almost-ancient house in the middle of an elemental pentagram in one of the most haunted towns on the east coast (aside from Salem), it was a bit hard to ignore the supernatural factor. The ghost in her attic, fairies that followed her everywhere, and hallucinations that turned out to be actual paranormal entities had pretty much solidified her belief. That didn’t mean people were any less responsible for petty crimes.

Rinsing out her mug, Marcy stared at the planner left open on the counter. She had somehow managed to secure a day off, away from the detective agency that seemed to adore her involvement with the supernatural. She had time to relax, read a book, watch tv, act like a complete sloth. She could actually eat more than twice today, and not while on the move, chasing after something Other to either capture it, kill it, or redirect it to safety. In fact, she thought excitedly as she put her mug in the dishwasher, the only paranormal anything she had to deal with today was Clyde, her roommate from beyond the grave.

A knock at her front door interrupted her thoughts. Scowling, Marcy closed the dishwasher and stalked out of the kitchen, grabbing her shotgun as she went. It was a special gun, her own invention, that used pellets filled with potions instead of shotgun shells. Currently loaded in it were pellets of a banishing potion that would send Other visitors away, and confuse and deter human visitors.

She wasn’t exactly dressed for company. She’d left on her sleep pants, a pair of black men’s pajama pants that successfully hid whatever figure she might have otherwise had. On the bright side, she’d already put on a sports bra, under loose tank top with gaping arm holes. Her initial idea had been to work out, but clearly, that was being postponed for the moment.

She flung open the door, the shotgun hidden behind the frame, and glared at her boss and a stranger on her doorstep. “No.”

Ethan was a large, round man with a fat face, a goatee and a bushy mustache, and eyes that seemed to protrude from his face behind square glasses. He was suited up as though he were about to make a business proposition– tweed jacket, checkered tie, brown slacks, a crisp white shirt. Though his size did nothing to help him on the field, he was ridiculously intelligent, and a damn good leader. Marcy had the utmost respect for him, and he treated her respectfully. That was all she needed to remain his paranormal mercenary, although the pay was damn fine, too.

Beside Ethan was a tall, wiry man. He wore a tee shirt and shorts, both black, the shirt with the logo of a videogame Marcy recognized but couldn’t place. He was gangly and swayed a little awkwardly, his feet and hands a little too big for the rest of him. His hair was dark and shaggy, but not very long. He had the look of someone who’d forgotten to shower for a few days.  

Looking as though he’d rather be getting a root canal, Ethan smiled. “Marcy, this is Zane. He needs your help.”

“He needs a shower,” Marcy said flatly.

“He’s been undercover,” Ethan began.

“I sure hope so,” Marcy interrupted, then turned to Zane. “You look like a high schooler. How old are you?”

Zane looked more bored than anything. “Twenty-two–”

“And you didn’t even bother to change before coming to see me.” Marcy returned her attention to Ethan, knowing damn well she was being difficult, but not caring. “Whatever paranormal bullshit you’ve got chasing your ass can wait until tomorrow. This is my first legitimate day off in three months. Three,” She emphasized when Ethan tried to butt in. “I don’t want to see you again for at least twenty-four hours. Good day.” She went to close the door, but behind her, something fell to the floor with a distinct thud. Marcy shut her eyes. “I swear to god Clyde,” she muttered, turning around.

Perfectly placed on the floor behind her was a hardbacked encyclopedia of demons. As though it had been placed there specifically to tell her something– which it damn well had, Clyde had all the subtlety of a cinderblock to the head.

Turning back with a low growl of frustration, Marcy opened her door a fraction further. “What exactly did you need my specific help for?”

Ethan frowned, but Zane’s face remained decidedly blank. “A little girl, Sophia Black, claims to be haunted by some sort of monster in her closet. She’s been found covered in scratches and teeth marks that look inhuman, but don’t match any animal we can think of native to here.”

That got Marcy’s attention. “Sweet, baby Sophia Black? The one who has nightmares and uses lavender water as Monster Spray under her bed?”

“That’s the one.” Zane tilted his head, angling it toward the house. “Can we come in?”

Grudgingly, Marcy stepped back. She hoisted up her shotgun, much to Ethan’s obvious dismay, and shouldered it as the two men stepped over the threshold. “Try not to step on the book, Clyde’s a petty bastard. You’ll lose your wallet and find it in your sister’s bra a month from now.”

Ethan chuckled nervously, skirting around the book like it would burn him. Zane rolled his eyes, but stepped smartly over the book. After shutting the door and checking the bell over it, Marcy scooped up the book and tucked it under her arm.

“Have a seat at the table, gentlemen.” She ushered them into her kitchen and returned her shotgun to its home before joining them at the table. The encyclopedia landed on the table with another dull thud as she sat down across from them. “Fill me in, what’s up with my baby Sophia?”

Zane took that as a clear invitation to take the floor. “Her mom was told by the shrink that she’s schizophrenic, but I think someone’s been getting into her room at night. My money’s on the missing father.”

Marcy snorted. “Her father’s dead.”

Raising an eyebrow, Zane asked, “And you would know because…?”

“I watched him die.” Marcy smiled. “If he had lived, I’d have agreed with you. The bastard was fond of seeing bruises on his women.”

“Marcy has a particular talent for helping people go missing,” Ethan explained. “I believe Mr. Black was caught in the woods around three in the morning, and never heard from again.”

“That’s the public story, anyway,” Marcy said. She grinned directly at Zane, leaning back in her seat and propping her feet up on the chair beside her. “I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t stomp through a fairy ring screaming about how they’re a childhood myth created to make pansies out of men.” Ethan sighed and pulled out a crisp white handkerchief, and Marcy grinned. “Respect the fae folk, or pay the consequences.”

“Anyway,” Zane said, sounding even more bored than his empty expression, “Sophia’s hallucinations, or whatever they are, have taken several forms, including shadows, red eyes, and people with leathery black skin and horns.”

Marcy’s feet hit the floor so fast she made Ethan actually jump. “Those aren’t hallucinations.”

It was Zane’s turn to sigh. “I figured, since Ethan brought me to the paranormal mercenary’s house.”

Marcy was already up, ripping open cabinet doors and muttering to herself. “Where in the actual hell did I put that, I know it’s here, I’ve had it for years…”

“Well then,” Ethan said over her litany, “It sounds like you two will be just fine working together, I really must run, the office doesn’t run itself…”

Her  hands landing on the potion she was hunting for, Marcy whipped around. “Ethan!” The poor man yelped, halfway out of her kitchen already, and turned around, wringing his hands. “I’m gonna need a priest, and he’s gonna need a change of clothes.” She pointed at Zane, who rolled his eyes.

“Anything else?” Ethan asked, defeat evident in his eyes.

“That’s it, boss, thanks.” Grinning, Marcy looked over at Zane. “I hope you can shoot, kid. This could get feisty.

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