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Authors: Mark Shepherd

Tags: #Fantasy

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BOOK: Elvendude
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The casual gesture frightened Daryl more than it should have.
Is this guy getting ready to beat me up after all?
he wondered.
Or is he just trying to psych me out?

With a neutral, bored tone, the detective asked, "So tell me, Daryl, where's all the cocaine all you bad boys and girls were smoking and snorting last night?"

Daryl shrugged. "Beats me. We just had some wine coolers. I got drunk and passed out in the backyard. When I woke up, I came in here and found everyone dead."

The phone, which had been ringing off the hook since the cops arrived, rang again. Daryl knew they were trying to locate the parents of the dead kids, but were having little luck. They all seemed to be . . . unavailable.

Maybe this was one of them finally returning a call. . . .

The cop eyed him uncomfortably for a long, long time. Daryl was impressed with himself at how long he was able to stare the man down without blinking.

"How do you know they're dead, Daryl?" The cop smirked.

"Guessed," he said. Through a bay window he watched a fire truck pull away. "Maybe it had something to do with the way they weren't moving very much."

The detective shook his head. "Godammit," he said. "Don't you feel
thing? They were your

Daryl's gaze remained fixed on the fire truck as it trundled down the long, long driveway to the automatic gate. "Not anymore," he said, with a yawn.

The cop stared at him. "You really don't feel anything, do you?" His face flushed red. "This isn't an act."

"I told you what happened. . . ." Daryl replied, getting irritated.
He's giving me a taste of the lecture I'm gonna get when I get home. Great. That stuff all over again.

A uniformed officer stuck his head in the dining room. "Roach. Phone call. It's the boy's father."

Daryl snickered. "Roach. Pretty cool name for a cop, if you ask me."

"I'm not asking," Roach said. The cop got to his feet slowly. "The drugs have eaten your soul, lad. They really have. And you're only seventeen."

"Eighteen," Daryl corrected. "Yesterday."

"Oh, well exc
een. All grown up and knowing everything. No more juvenile detention. When you go down, you go down in the big boys' jail." Then, apparently as an amusing afterthought, he added, "And they're gonna
you." He left the room to take the call.

Boy's father. Wonder if that's Winton.
Then, a disturbing thought.
Maybe it's
His stomach turned again at the possibility.

A few moments later, Roach returned, smiling. This made Daryl nervous. "Now I know who you are," the cop announced cheerfully. "I
your name was a little too familiar."

Inside, Daryl groaned. He'd debated whether or not to reveal the fact that his lawyer was also his father, and a high-priced one at that. But the police departments of Northeast Texas didn't like Paul Bendis, as he had so successfully defended an army of drug dealers in the past ten years, effectively keeping them on the street. So Daryl had decided to stay mute on the subject and leave the scene as soon as they let him.

As long as they don't find anything, they can't keep me. I at least know that much.

"Yeah, well, who am I?"

Roach looked around, and raised his voice when he said, "You're Paul Bendis' son. The lawyer. The crooked lawyer."

Three heads in the hallway looked up. "Say what?" one of them said.

"You all heard me.
Paul Bendis. This is his boy."

Paul suddenly felt like a black man at a KKK rally.

Another suit came over, one who had spent most of his time upstairs. This alone made him nervous, since Daryl hadn't gone over Steve's room very thoroughly, and this cop probably had. The detective was older, heavier, and louder than Detective Roach. He puffed on a long, obnoxious cigar that looked like a turd.

"Well, well," the detective said. "I was rather hoping to catch Bendis in the act, but I think his son will do for now."

"You haven't caught me at anything," Daryl said. "I know my rights. And my father knows them better than I do."

"Sure, sure," he said. "Looks like someone really went over this house with a comb. Say, I found glass shards in the commode upstairs. That wouldn't have been a pipe, would it?"

Daryl shrugged. "Don't know. You're the cops, you tell me."

Roach said, "Now that we know who Daryl is, I think we should go over the place just one more time. No telling what we might find."

"Yeah. No telling." They both started laughing.

Through the bay window Daryl noticed a charcoal-gray Chevy Caprice, the cop car of choice, pull in beside nine identical Caprices, five of them black and whites, in front of the Winton mansion. With the cars already out there from last night's party, cops were having to park on the lawn. It was getting a little full out there. Daryl squirmed, noting the time of day, feeling a little anxious. He'd started to come down big-time an hour ago, and he didn't like it one bit.

This one pulled in where the fire truck had pulled out. A well-dressed lady cop got out, a cop Daryl had known for years.

Sammi McDaris. Adam's mother.
Daryl wanted to hide.


I smell the death already.
Sammi grimaced as she pulled in front of the Wintons' mansion, finding the one parking space that wasn't taken by either a cop or a recently deceased teenager.

She had heard the report of nineteen overdoses, probable DOA's, over the radio. At least one of the kids survived and called the cops that afternoon. Several TV crews had set up shop in front of the gate, where a cop stood guard, letting only official people onto the grounds. "Not enough parking," he explained. The satellite city spread down half a block, an instant community of vans, trucks, satellite dishes, and well-dressed men talking into vidcams. Clearly, Sammi wasn't the only one listening to the cop frequencies that afternoon.

Sammi worked homicide, and even though this didn't sound like a murder, she called her commander and convinced him to let her check it out.

"I know some of the kids involved," she'd said. "I might be able to help. Sir."

What she couldn't say was, "and my son was at that party last night, and might have died along with them. I want to know what the hell happened. Sir."

Last night Sammi quizzed Adam on the "party," knowing it would be less than wholesome. Adam had replied that it was supposed to be drug-free, and she'd shrugged, and let it go at that. Her willingness to let him go had much to do with specialized spells she renewed on a weekly basis, which would alert her if he ingested any drugs, including alcohol. If the "alarm" went off, there were other things available to her, allowing her to spy or protect, should the need arise.

Adam returned unusually early from the party and told her the whole story, that drugs appeared and he just left, "bored with the whole thing," but she saw genuine disgust in Adam. Either disgust, or disappointment in Daryl.

She wanted to seize the opportunity to drive home the message that Daryl was slipping beyond their reach, and he would be doing himself a favor by cutting loose from him completely. But to do so might have alienated Adam. That was not a chance she wanted to take just at the moment.

Admitting her son's involvement in the Winton party at the household the night before would simply not enhance her image of being a good single parent. But what she
couldn't say was, "My son Adam is actually an elf, an elf
and I am his sister, also an elf. . . ."

As she got out of the car, she sensed not only death, but a hideous, dark magic at work here, a darkness that went beyond the evil capable of humans. She paused, fighting a wave of nausea.

The Unseleighe were here,
she thought.
They must have been. And recently, too. Last night?

When she entered the house, the feeling of Unseleighe power grew.
Adam should never have been here. Had they known who he was, they would have killed him.

"What happened to the air-conditioning?" she said to the first officer she saw, who looked rather pale. She sniffed, and realized why.

"There were four bodies in that bedroom. Looks like some kind of orgy gone terribly bad," he said, gesturing across a broad marble hallway to what looked like a master bedroom.

"I'll say," she said, trying to hide her horror.
Adam was here last night. Gods, we've got to be more careful.

The cop handed her a set of Polaroids. The detectives usually took these in addition to the official crime scene photos, to show officers like herself who came in late. She stared, morbidly fascinated by the looks of terror on their faces, as if they had all seen the same dreadful apparition.

That's not a typical phenomenon of drug OD's
, she thought, flipping through the photos.
Each bad trip is a little different, and they've never included "mass hallucinations." These kids died with their eyes open, looking in the same direction, in the same way. Very strange and disturbing, indeed.

"Where is the young man who called this in?" she asked. "Where's Daryl Bendis?"

"Over there, in the dining room," the cop said, and shuffled off, leaving the photos with Sammi, who tucked them away in her purse.

Daryl didn't look up when she entered the dining room, an opulent setting with lots of crystal and silver, a traditional buffet, a lead crystal chandelier: all of the trappings of wealth.

The boy sat at the head of the table, shirtless with a blotchy sunburn, looking like he'd just wakened. He was also pasty pale, but this was a pallor he'd been working on for some time and not unique to this afternoon. Sammi suspected the boy's increased party schedule had something to do with it.

"So what goes, Daryl?" Sammi said sternly. "You're the one who called this in?"

Daryl looked up, sneering. "You already know, or you wouldn't be here," he said.

This human's insolence will soon kill him,
she thought.
This human
Who happens to be one of Adam's best "friends."
She shook her head.

Her voice lowered. "What the hell happened, Daryl?"

He looked down, visibly fighting annoyance. "Look, it happened like this. Steve threw this party for me, see, and I got a little drunk, went out to the backyard, and passed out." He pointed at his hairless chest, at the bars of pink flesh. "In the gazebo. The sun coming through gave me this burn. When I woke up, I came into the house and found everyone, well, dead."

Sammi nodded, figuring part of what he'd said was true. Over the years they'd had similar conversations over less serious issues; Daryl was an expert at telling the truth, and even better at leaving out important details.

"How did they die, Daryl?" She was trying not to sound confrontational.

"I don't know, ask them," he said, pointing toward the cops in the kitchen. "I'm already on their bad guy list because my dad's a lawyer," he added.

"Was it cocaine? Crack?" she asked, knowing this was probably the case. When Daryl didn't reply, she said, "Did you sell it to them, Daryl?"

"Nope," he said, looking out the bay window. "And that's all you're gonna get out of me, Mrs. McDaris. You're a cop, and your buddies have been giving me a pretty hard time. Leave me alone."

Samantha seethed, but held her temper.
I need to know.
"You don't know what a hard time is, Daryl. You will when you go to prison."

Daryl looked up. "

"If they find so much as a
of drugs around here, and we suspect you're not cooperating, you're going down. You're not a juvenile anymore. As of today, you're legally an adult. Am I right?"

Reluctantly, Daryl nodded.

"And if you take big boy chances, you can pay big boy prices."

The boy squirmed, and a bead of perspiration dripped off his forehead. "Well . . ." he said.

"Tell me what happened last night and I might be able to cut you some slack," she lied. This had nothing to do with homicide yet, and she doubted she could be very persuasive. There was a great deal of territory and turf-fighting within the department, even among the different municipalities. One of the detectives working this particular scene, Roach, was not one she got along with too well, and therefore couldn't influence, except maybe with reverse psychology . . . and a little elven magic, if it were worth the trouble. She hadn't seen Roach yet, but heard him, shooting the breeze with someone else in the kitchen. She had the feeling he was intentionally ignoring her, which was just as well, as she wanted to talk to Daryl privately.

"Before I went into the backyard . . ." Daryl began, lowering his voice. He apparently didn't want anyone else to hear. "There were these weird dudes who showed up at the place. Steve didn't know how they got past the gate, because no one we knew had opened it. You have to do it from a button at the front door, or in the kitchen. There's a speaker for an intercom there, too. Anyway, they were in leather and chains, which really isn't our style, and looked scary. Steve tried to throw them out. They had this little bag of something, some drugs, and they spread it all around. Steve decided to let them stay."

"What was this stuff?" Sammi said.

"Well, I didn't get a good look at it. I didn't even touch it. But it was this little black-stoppered vial. Never seen
stoppers before."

She knew what he was talking about.
Black Dream. Were those Unseleighe elves who crashed the party last night?

"Okay, Daryl, you're not in any trouble. But I need to know about these guys. I think they're passing bad drugs. How many were there?"

The boy looked around the corner, toward the kitchen. "Bad drugs? Never thought of that. Well, there were four, I think. One of them was big and blond, with chains connected to his wrist and waist. He had a pierced nose. Diamond stud in it. Something like that."

"You said four. Any names?"

Daryl seemed to really consider this. "Don't think so. I mean, I didn't hear any. I got pissed off or something right around then, that's when I went into the backyard." He looked up at her and said with conviction when their eyes met, "Honest, Mrs. McDaris. I didn't tell those other cops because they've been so shitty to me."

BOOK: Elvendude
3.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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