Authors: Kate Danley
Tags: #Urban Life, #Fantasy, #Fiction
Maggie Get Your Gun
by Kate Danley
It was a gorgeous day. A fucking gorgeous day. It was one
of those bright, breezy, unicorn-and-puppy mornings. I mean, the unicorns
weren’t out yet. They tend to be more nocturnal to increase the odds of
picking up virgins at nightclubs, but there were a couple pegasi kicking it
I was in a great mood.
My dad was back.
My mom was occupied now that my dad was back.
And after word had gotten out that The Greatest World
Walker of Them All (a.k.a. my dad) had escaped an inter-dimensional prison and
saved two worlds from collapse, MacKay & MacKay Tracking was back in
business nailing the bad guys and getting paid the big bucks to do it. Nothing
like a little hero worship to get the dollars rolling in.
My name is Maggie MacKay. I'm a thirty-something gal.
Still single. Probably because these Irish eyes smile the most when I've got a
gun in my hand or a vampire on my stake. Hobbies include punching things. For
my day job, I track magical objects and magical beings and put everything back where
it belongs. Second in skillz only to my dad, I can travel dimensions between
Earth and my home, The Other Side, with just the wiggle of my itty bitty
About a month ago, I learned my dad was trapped in between
worlds, so I took down my evil uncle, found a couple Chinese lion statues which
were the key to two worlds’ survival, and managed to piss off an asshole
vampire named Vaclav. But I freed my dad and that’s what’s important in the
end, isn’t it? Hugs all around.
It had only been a couple weeks, but the fickle eyeballs of
Other Side celebrity had kept their focus on MacKay & MacKay Tracking until
just a few days ago. Some illicit affair between a politician and a medusa
took over the spotlight, but up until then, the media maelstrom had drummed up
some new clients and Frank, the one-eyed ogre who handed out the tracking jobs
for the police at the Bureau of Records, seemed to have felt some pressure to
give us the higher profile gigs (see: hauling back said politician from an
overstayed “conference” in the Mediterranean with said medusa).
Life was good.
I skipped up the stairs to our little office, the sound of
my Doc Martens thumping on the linoleum. This probably alerted any bad guys
staking out the place I was coming, but, eh, fuck it. I fished around in the
pocket of my biker jacket and pulled out the keys to the door.
MacKay & MacKay Tracking Other Side HQ was a small, one
room affair over a green grocer shop. Dad started renting it probably twenty
years ago and never got around to remodeling. Evidently, the previous owner
had a thing for 1940’s noir. The two oak desks and matching swivel chairs were
old and ratty. A slow ceiling fan and a lame excuse for a window a/c unit
tried to keep the summer suns at bay. I loved it.
“Dad?” I called as I pushed the door with my shoulder and
flipped on the light. I took my gun out of its holster and walked over to put
it in my drawer. There was a note on my desk.
Taking a vacation day. Your mom says we never go
anywhere, so off to anywhere. We’ll be back on Monday. Don’t dock my pay. I
know where you live. -Dad”
I smiled and tucked away the note. I was glad they were
getting out. Dad had been trapped in the dimensional boundary for almost two
years before I had figured out how to free him. He and Mom had some lost time
to make up for.
Plus, it meant I got the office to myself for a whole day.
The hours passed pretty quick. You know. With a couple
snack/solitaire breaks peppered in. The only person I saw was the delivery guy
from The Sand Witch Sandwich shop. They made a mean meatball sub and I felt if
I was holding down the fort while my partner was playing hooky, the company
could afford to buy me lunch.
I tore through an ugly stack of invoicing that had been
calling my name from Ye Olde To Do box for awhile now. It sucked, but as they
say, those bills weren’t going to mail themselves. I mean, they could have,
but it is an expensive bit of magic and we weren’t there yet.
As the shadows grew long, I put down my pencil and stretched.
No bruised knuckles. No trips to the emergency room. All in all, a great day.
I got up to check all the window locks when the door
opened. A short, tubby man leaned on his cane, silhouetted by the light from
I looked at the clock. It just figured. Five minutes till
I sat down as he stepped into the room and gave me a better
look at his mug.
He was a wrinkly old gus, bald with a fringe of white hair
around his shiny dome. He wore a white suit and carried a straw hat, looking
like he had just stepped out of the pages of Tennessee Williams' greatest hits.
Antique looking spectacles perched on the edge of his nose. He walked with a
shuffling limp. He was almost as wide as he was tall. If some oompa loompas
were around, they could have knocked him over and rolled him out for
“May I help you?” I asked.
“Indeed you may, Ms. MacKay,” he replied. He looked around
appreciatively, “You have a very nice office.”
Politeness always sets me on edge. It’s usually a ploy to
get someone to lower their guard, which is usually a precursor to someone
getting their face ripped off. I decided I should wait to see if this guy was
some sort of shape shifting monster beneath the liver spotted wrinkles before I
staked him. I motioned to one of the chairs across from my desk.
He plunked himself down with a sigh.
“I just don’t seem to move as well as I used to,” he
confessed. “I’m afraid I would ordinarily have handled this myself, but my
I just stared at him as he giggled to himself, completely
oblivious to the fact his joke was for sale in every tourist trap in two worlds
and we were dangerously close to after hours on a Friday night.
“You wouldn’t happen to have a cup of tea, would you dear?”
The last time some buck called me dear, he walked away a
doe, but I bit my tongue and pushed myself back from my desk, “Sure.”
“That would be delightful,” said the old guy as I walked
over to our kitchen, which consisted of a noisy mini-fridge and some wooden
milk crates stacked on top of each other. “You know, you sound just like your
I plugged in an electric kettle and pulled a dusty Lipton’s
bag out of the box, “You know my dad?”
“Indeed, he was most helpful on a case several years back.”
“I’ll have to tell him you stopped by… Mr...?”
“Smith. Isaac Smith,” he said, reaching his fat fingers
out for a shake.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Smith,” I replied, taking his soft,
crepe-like hand in mine. I could tell this guy hadn’t gone without a manicure since
elementary school. “Sorry to say but my dad’s out. You know. It almost being
the weekend and all.”
Mr. Smith didn’t get the hint.
“That is a shame,” he said. “I was hoping to speak with
him about an employment opportunity. Perhaps you might be interested.”
He had my attention.
“I was recently on Earth visiting some family that still
lives there," he explained. "They thought it would be fun to go somewhere
almost as old as me, so they took me to Calico Ghost Town. It is on the way to
I had seen the billboards for the place as I had driven by
at 102 miles per hour. I think it was off the same exit as a 1950s diner and
a convenience store touting Alien Beef Jerky (I have no idea if it is just a
brand name or if they were actually packaging dried up bits of intelligent life
for us lower forms to gnaw on). Honestly, if you’re driving through the desert
on Route 15, you either want to “get to” or “away from” Vegas as quickly as
“Was it everything you had ever hoped for?” I asked.
“And more,” he replied with a wink. “We panned for gold
and went down into a silver mine. The dry heat was so good for my arthritis.
I bought the most cunning little hair comb for my wife, though, and I dropped
it somewhere. I’m afraid that travelling back to scour the desert floor is too
exhausting for these old bones. I was wondering if I could hire you to find it
“People usually come to me wanting to track down monsters
or relatives, who do sometimes fit into the monster category," I said as I
put the tea in front of him and sat down, "Hair combs aren’t really my
“It is an easy task, I assure you. I just need someone
able to make the long, out-of-the-way trip for a souvenir this foolish old man
paid too much for. I would rather not lose my investment.”
Something was fishy. I might be an idiot, but I’m no
“People have been known to kill for trinkets,” I replied,
thinking of those dumb lion statues that almost took my dad outta the game,
trapping him between dimensions for almost two years. “Anything I should know
before agreeing to this job?”
“I assure you it is merely a matter of checking with the
general store to see if someone returned it to the lost and found. If it isn’t
there, well, then I’m afraid it will become a much more complicated issue.”
“Listen, Mr. Smith, I’m a magical tracker. I can barely
find my own keys. If there isn’t something magical about it, I’m afraid that
I’m about as much help as a four-year old,” I said, trying to bait the hook.
He wasn’t biting.
“I would like for you to try,” he replied, all doe-eyed and
The old man stood up and patted his coat pockets. He
pulled out a worn business card, the edges soft and creased. He turned the
card over and took a pencil from my cup. He wrote a figure on the back of the
card before passing it over, “I hope that this will encourage you to consider
Indeed it did.
I stared at all those zeros for a simple little road trip.
“If it isn’t there at the lost and found, I’ll give you
three hours of searching the area,” I said. “And I will charge full price no
Mr. Smith nodded, “I agree to your terms.”
And god help me, because I knew better - we shook on it.
Here’s hoping I hadn’t signed up to be just another corpse dumped in the middle
of the desert.
“Pick up pick up pick up,” I muttered, but dad’s phone was
going straight to voicemail. I sat looking at my cell wondering what I should
do. The gig seemed easy enough. Go out, grab the comb, head back, easy
money. Easy insane amounts of money. I was a big girl and grown up enough to
handle jobs on my own. Still, Monster Scouts taught me to always use the buddy
system… especially with skeevy offers that have trouble written all over them.
“Hey Dad,” I spoke into the receiver, “Hope you’re off
having a great time. There’s a gig that came in today from an Isaac Smith.
Said he’s used you in the past for something… Anyhoogle, I’m going to run out
to Calico Ghost Town to go pick up a souvenir he dropped and bring it back.
Um… I’ll call you if I have any trouble. Bye.”
I hung up and turned on the engine to my beat up old
Honda. Dusk was dangerously close and I sure didn’t want to get caught after
sundown. Night on the Other Side had teeth and I liked to be tidily locked
away in the hallowed ground of home when the monsters came out for a fast food
run. Since my little dustup with the vampire community last month, things had
been eerily quiet, but that didn’t mean jack squat. I knew they were out
there, biding their time. I patted my trusty little neckguard and double
checked the lock. It was like a bullet proof vest for my throat. I never left
home without it.
I pulled into my driveway just as the sun had tucked itself