Read Return of the High Fae (Vegas Fae Story Book 1) Online
Authors: Tom Keller
"Yep, that girl of yours is the crime scene tech. She
called it in by phone. This better be good, or you're gonna owe me a lot more
than coffee. I've had three whole days without a body. You could almost see my
My daughter, Nikki, was a CSI at Metro and Ray had been
there the day she was born. I wondered why she'd called it in that way and not
on the radio. It had to be something out of the ordinary. Most calls didn't
rate the lieutenant from the get-go, either.
"I'm sure I will... fried?" I asked,
"E-lec-tro-cu-ted," he said, emphasizing each
"Better you than me," I offered, laughing again.
"But you ain't got balls if you don't log out at a BBQ chicken place for
lunch." It was a joke from our old uniform days. If you went on a
particularly gruesome murder you had to go to lunch at a restaurant that served
food that matched the crime. Call it a macho thing, or a coping mechanism,
whatever you want.
"Chicken and waffles, my boy, chicken and
waffles," he joked. "I'm almost there. I'll get back to you
"You got it," I said as the phone disconnected.
Three days without a body? That answered that. I strapped on my gun, grabbed my
keys and started for the door.
"The big one, sure," I answered without
This was it, it was official. I was losing my grip on
reality. I could have sworn Charlie just told me he wanted me to bring him back
a bone, and not just any bone. I distinctly had the impression of one of those
big roast beef bones you see at the buffets and, I might add, that they just
happen to sell at the corner market.
I stopped and looked back at him. He was just sitting
there next to the sofa where he always was when I left the house. He was
watching me with his tongue hanging out and his tail wagging. It wasn't the
answering out loud that was nerve wracking. When you live with a dog, it's easy
to think of them as a person. Hell, who doesn't talk to their dog? No, what
scared me was that it was so specific.
"You say something, boy?" I asked, half joking
and praying that he didn't answer.
He stared at me for a moment, like dogs sometimes do when
you talk to them. It's almost like you can see their brain trying to figure out
what you said. Then, without a bark, or a word, thank God, he came over to me
and jumped up, licking my face. Pushing him down, I gave his head a good
rubbing and then headed out the door.
Aw shit, I thought to myself. I'd better stop at the store
on the way home, just in case.
The drive downtown was short; the early rush hour traffic
long since subsided. I pulled into the alley off Ninth Street, accessing Mal's
office by the rear entrance. The offices in this part of downtown are mostly
comprised of converted homes from Vegas' early days. The buildings weren't
necessarily small. Some even had basements. They didn't have a lot of property,
so street side parking was always at a premium. I was being polite, as he would
have been. My office was just two blocks away.
Malcolm was bent over a 32-inch flat screen monitor, gazing
at lines of binary code as I walked in. He was one of the few people I knew
that could read it instantly. He drove me nuts when he sent birthday cards
written in it. They took me forever to translate.
"Ah! About time," he said, stretching as he stood
up. "I need a break from this one. It's putting me to sleep. Whatcha
I put the laptop down on one of the tables and held up the
CD and thumb drive. "Here's the little beastie and a copy of the file I
took off it."
"What happened, exactly?" Mal asked, taking them
from me while twiddling the thumb drive between his fingers. Moving to another
workstation, he plopped down in a chair in front of another monitor.
"It was weird, man, let me tell you. First, I inserted
the thumb drive in the laptop and burned a copy," I answered, knowing he
would want a blow by blow description. "Then I reviewed the files on the
thumb drive. There was nothing special, (Ok, I wasn't gonna tell him
everything, at least not yet.) just a folder, some spreadsheets, movies and
pics. No hidden files present that I noticed. Anyway, I took a look at the
files and everything was fine. Then, I go to pull the drive from the PC, and
WHAM, it shocks me."
"Shocks you? What do you mean... shocks you?"
"I mean like an electrical shock. What'd you think I
"You know better, Rob. USB only pulls 5 volts and there
isn't enough amperage for you to even notice. Must have been static
"Mal," I retorted. "I know what a USB's
voltage is and it wasn't static. I was sitting at the desk and had already
touched it several times. I'm telling you that the damn drive had a live
current. That, or the PC went haywire."
Mal looked at me like I was a kid who just told his teacher
the dog had eaten his homework assignment. "Ok, ok, let me take a
look," he finally conceded, inserting the thumb drive in the computer. He
tapped the keyboard but nothing happened. The thumb drive didn't register.
"Well, it's dead now. I'll have to pull it apart to see
what's up." Mal looked around the desk for a moment. Locating the CD I had
given him, he reached over, picked it up and inserted it into the computer.
Once again, nothing registered. The CD appeared to be blank. "Are you sure
this is the right CD?" he asked, looking over his shoulder at me.
"Yes, I'm sure," I answered, getting irritated.
"Let me see it a minute."
Mal ejected the CD from the computer and handed it to me.
I looked at the back carefully. I could tell that the disk
had been written to, the telltale coloration was clear around the center.
"Do I look like an idiot? Look here," I said, pointing to an area on
the disk. "You can see that it's been written to."
Taking the disk, he put it under a light on the table and
examined it. "Okay, you're right. I forgive you. I'll have to play with
this as well. Hand me the laptop. Maybe we can find something there."
I picked up the laptop and handed it to Mal.
He flipped it upside down and located the hard drive slot.
After rummaging around in a drawer, he took out a small screwdriver and within
seconds he had removed the computer's hard drive.
I watched as he attached the drive to a hardware blocker he
had hooked up to the PC. This was a device that would allow him to see the
contents of the hard drive, but not let his computer do anything to it. Once
hooked up, he could examine the drive without worrying about modifying
anything, or he could make an exact duplicate. With this, he could perform any
further examinations on the copy, rather than on the original drive, so it
could be used as evidence. In my case, it didn't really matter. I watched as he
fired up his forensic software and began looking at the data on the drive.
"What the...?" I heard him say as he looked at the
data on the screen. "These files are all shredded; nothing is in a logical
manner. Chunks are just... missing! What happened to this thing?"
I looked closer at the screen. The forensic software
projected a graphical representation of the data on the hard drive. Unless you
use special software, when you delete something, it doesn’t actually get
erased. The computer's operating system merely flags the area where the file is
located as writable, but leaves most of the data intact. Assuming something
else hasn't written over it, the right person, or the right software, can
easily recover it under most circumstances. That wasn't going to happen this
time. It had been a while since I'd worked in the forensic lab, but from what I
could see, the data left behind was mangled.
Mal shook his head before continuing. "Some kind of
advanced wiping program, maybe? Where did you say you got the thumb drive
"I didn't, but it's from a client," I offered, not
wanting to explain further. I wasn't ready to tell him I got it from someone
claiming to be supernatural. "Can you tell anything else?"
"Not with this machine. But let me play with this stuff
a while. If a program did this, I want to know how, and I want a copy!" he
declared, pushing back his chair. He ran his fingers through his hair, his eyes
never leaving the screen. "Let me pull this stuff apart in the clean room.
Maybe I can find something it left behind." He turned to me with a
"I don't suppose you can tell me anything else about
I paused for a moment, wanting him to at least think I was
considering it. "Not yet," I replied. "Can you live with that
"Yeah, sure, but you're gonna owe me," he
snickered as he reached over and disconnected the drive. Then he picked up the
laptop and drives and carried them into another examination room as I followed.
"I gotta finish this other case; but I'll look at these when I get a
chance and give you a call if I find anything."
"Thanks, Mal." I said, smacking him on the
shoulder in a friendly way. "I need to get back to work anyway." We
walked to the door together. I paused before I went out. "One more thing.
Let's keep this between us, ok?"
"Keep what between us?" he joked. "Don't I
I didn't say anything else as I left and headed for my car.
The truth was, we'd shared plenty of secrets over the years and we trusted one
another. I'd probably end up telling him most of what happened last night
eventually, except maybe for the magic part. I didn't need to burden him with
all of it.
As I pulled into my parking spot in the back of my office, I
reflected on what had been happening to me. Magic beings, cursed computers, talking
dogs, bad dreams, you name it. It was turning into a helluva week. You'd never
know it from the way things were going, but most of the time my life was
boring. You read these stories about P.I.s and the dangerous and glamorous work
they do, but up to now, the reality had been somewhat different altogether.
I'm not saying there isn't the occasional exciting moment,
but a lot of my work is done on the phone and on the computer. When I actually
do get out of the office, it's to talk to a witness in some civil suit, or deal
with a criminal matter that the cops are too busy, or too lazy, to deal with.
That, believe it or not, was my bread and butter. Sure, that
wasn't the way things were going, but it was the way they were supposed to be!
I know I used to be a cop, and sure, I've had my fair share
of the glamorous side of this business, like catching robbers and murderers and
being on the evening news. Hell, I've even proven the cops wrong and gotten
folks out of jail. But civil and criminal work doesn't usually include Wizards
and magic wands. I just shook my head and hoped this wasn't an omen of things
to come. I got out of the car, walked to the door and waved hello to Hailey as
I entered. She was on the phone, but I saw her wave back as she continued her
Hailey owned a legal services business. Paralegal work,
document filing, subpoena services, that kind of stuff. She'd been in the
business longer than I had and knew me when I was still a young rookie on the
beat. It was a small business, and even with a staff, she usually acted as the
receptionist and answered the phones herself. I rented office space from her so
that I had a downtown business address and a place to hold meetings. More
importantly, she was a good friend and treated me like family. I spent a minute
chatting with her after she hung up the phone, and then retrieved my mail and
Once that was done, I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee
from the kitchen and headed to the back. Before you even ask, the cup is black
and says "
I want to believe
". I plopped down at my desk and
booted up the computer. Most of the mail was junk, but there were a few checks
and letters. The messages were return calls or calls from other business
acquaintances. The checks were a nice bonus. It was always a good sign when
clients actually paid on time.
The P.I. community in Vegas isn't small and, although the
large firms like to think they are the big shots, at the core of it all are a
group of folks just like me that I've known for years. These guys are ex-cops,
ex-agents or security professionals that cut their teeth on the Vegas streets.
Many as far back as when the mob ran the town.
Although I wasn't old enough to have been there for all of
it, I'd known most of these guys and gals when I was still a rookie on the
force and the others from my childhood days growing up.
I called a few of them back and spent twenty minutes just
bullshitting, or as we say in the business, keeping up with my contacts. Then I
reviewed the to-do list on my computer. Aside from my regular client caseload,
I had to do a few backgrounds, some phone interviews and one witness locate for
a girl from a wealthy family that was now a stripper. There you go. Here's
something that sounds like it would be out of the ordinary: head out to the
night clubs, find a stripper and let her know daddy's sick and mommy wants her
I love it when some guy asks me what I did interesting this
week and I tell them I spent an evening hitting the bars and the strip clubs.
Wow, they'll say, I wish I had a job like that, wink, wink.
Sure you do, buddy. Hell, unless I set it up in advance, I
usually don't even bother going past the check-in booth where you pay, unless I
have to. Most of the time, I just drop a dime.
Of course I don't tell them that. Let them think what they
want. It lends an air of mystery, which can be good for business. The reality
is I've spent too much time in those places and too many hours close up with
the girls. Hard bodies or not, I see way past the makeup and poor me stories.
Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike strippers, or exotic
dancers, as the profession is called. I get along fine with them, and they're
usually good sources. I do run across a few of them in my line of work. Most of
these girls are professionals, and believe me when I tell you, it's just
If you think some hot-bodied gal is gonna risk her $1000 in
nightly tips for a roll in the hay, you've got another thing coming. I'm not
saying some of them don't do that, but it's a quick way to get blacklisted or
arrested if they meet up with an undercover vice cop. The clubs do not look
fondly on a girl if that happens.
I picked up my phone and called a vice cop that owed me a
favor or two. Within minutes, I knew my girl was a dancer at
one of the more popular Vegas strip clubs. I got up from my desk, walked back
to the reception area and refilled my cup.
Hailey was doing paperwork, but she looked up at me and gave
me a smile. "Hey sugar! Any luck with that subpoena last night?" she
asked, taking a sip from her own cup.
"Sort of," I groaned. I eyed her as I decided what
to say. I couldn't exactly explain what really happened, could I? "I got
hooked up in some drama and ended up getting a promise from the folks to have
him call me. He was already on a plane to Jersey before I could catch up to
"Drama? You slippin' darling?" Hailey was from
Texas, and even in her 60's she could still turn on that southern belle drawl.
It didn't fool me though. She could make a truck driver blush if she wanted to.
"Actually, no, I wound up stopping some bozo trying to
mug Milagre, if you can believe that." Sometimes it's best to just tell
the truth, even if it is a slightly altered version.
"You're shittin me?" she sputtered, almost
dropping her cup. "I didn't hear anything about it. Did you get him?"
"Nah, he got away. I had to check on Milagre since he'd
had been knocked to the ground. But corporate's handling it, so no press."
"I'll be damned. He all right?"
"Yeah, he's fine. He promised me he'd have Pontedra
call me when he got back into town."
She shook her head and sipped her coffee. "That seems
like it'll be worth a few favors." That was Hailey; a favor was money in
"We'll see. Hey, you still have Alicia's number?"
Alicia was the house mother at
. A house
mother was the girls anchor. Not management, but not just an employee either.
She, or he, acted as the go-to person for all their needs; clothing, food,
personal items such as shampoo or perfume, or just someone to listen to. I had
dealt with her a few times, but I knew she was one of Hailey's regular sources.