Fae Today Gone Tomorrow - Chapter 1

Chapter One Excerpt

The cool air entered my office in a breeze, fluttering none of the papers on my desk. The sound of traffic mixed with the buzzing of the neon signs resonated in my ears as the smell of the city came alive with the setting sun. I loved it here. New Amsterdam was one of the biggest cities in the states yet held an old-time feel that echoed with the magic of its past.

Skyscrapers dotted the horizon, and the sound of a ship passing through Manhattan would occasionally reach an ear. Closing my eyes, I let the life of the city energize me. The beat of its heart surpassed the throttling speed of the subway or the blaring horns of the city streets as taxis and Ubers did their best to find a lane.

For many, country life brought peace, but for me, the hectic life brought calmness to my world. No meditation or deity could ever convey that stillness. I gave a brief stretch and gave my attention to the Malones, who sat on the office couch behind me.

Jenna Malone, the wife, sobbed. Her tears fell onto the brown thrift store item that fit perfectly against cream-colored walls and beige Berber carpet that had been in use since the seventies. Jenna's husband, Michael, did his best to comfort her while trying his best not to cry.

I couldn't and wouldn't blame him. Losing a child was devastating, but I understood his need to appear strong. One look in his eyes told a story of a man ready to break down. I'd do my best to keep that from happening, but I never was good at showing sympathy. Not that I was emotionless, but in my job, that sort of thing got you killed or, at the very least, put you in danger.

I may have been one of many private investigators in the area, but I was the only one who worked on both sides of the Veil. That was why the Malones were here. The crying got a bit worse, and I turned to scan the room, thinking of some way to get her to talk. I needed her and her husband to have a clear head before they told me their story.

They were here for a reason, but I needed to know as many details as they could give me, and it would make my job in finding their daughter, Sara, as soon as possible. Finn, my owl, sat on his perch, staring me down.

I cocked my head, hoping he'd give me an idea about how to speak to them, but the owl turned his head. Please don't ask me where to start. You know damn well I don't work well with humans!

He worked well with me, but I may have been the exception, not the rule. Finn wasn't like others of his kind. Finn was one creature that came through the veil. I met him as a kid, and he'd stayed with me ever since. He helped me with cases and could go places I couldn't.

Finn was also telepathic, which made him different from the others. It made interrogating the bad guys easier, and he also lets me know if a client lies. I sat on the edge of my desk and did my best to look concerned. It's not like I wasn't, but my facial expression somewhat showed what went on in my heart.

This also explained why my past relationships went to shit so fast. Also, none of my past partners liked Finn, and it was them or the owl, so here I am, with Finn, single in the Big Apple.

"Mr. Wolfe, do you understand? The Fae took our Sara, and we know it." Jenna said between sobs.

To blame the Fae was easy, and humans have done so since their first interactions with the creatures. They were an easy scapegoat, like Satan was for Christians. The eternal human condition was always to blame someone else for their transgressions.

"Call me, Alex. I like to think we don't need to dwell on formalities, especially with what's at stake here," I said, shifting my posture since hunching over hurt my back. Gods, I need to work on my posture, and I'll be hunched over like an old man in no time.

You are an old man. Finn screeched in my head.

I'm thirty-five! I got ways to go.

Finn flapped his wings and screeched. In your line of work, the life expectancy isn't too high, and you're practically on your way out.

Tomorrow, we'll go to the zoo and see the lions. I said.

I'll be quiet.

Michael Malone pulled a few tissues from the box at my desk and handed them to his wife. "It was the Fae, Alex. For generations, our family has known about the Other Side of the Veil. We'd never expected to deal with any of it in our lifetime."

I sighed and stared at the wall behind them. "Yeah, I understand that all too well. It's hard when these things come for you as a child, and no one understands unless they believe, but even there's always doubt."

"You must think we're crazy, Alex," said Jenna.

"No. My experience says you're as sane as I am, but the world is a crazy place with many things no one can fully explain. The Veil held back some nasty shit that goes bump in the night."

"This went bump during the day and snatched our daughter out of her bedroom window," said Michael.

The smell of coffee lured me to the coffeepot and poured myself a cup; I motioned to the Malones to see if they wanted some, but both shook their heads. I poured in some cream and sugar and stirred. The Fae did a lot of dirty shit, and that included stealing children.

Whether Seelie or Unseelie, both sides were dangerous and had ethics that made a politician appear moral. The cream made a swirl in the blackness that was my coffee. Steam rose, drifted up to my nose, and reminded me it had been sitting on the hotplate for most of the day. Great, I can't even make a good cup of coffee, and now I have got to go save a young girl from some psychotic fairy.

"Okay, let's start over. How do you know it's the Fae?"

While my gut told me they were right, I had to hear it. The Fae loved child trafficking, and with everything I've listened to in the neighborhood; it wouldn't surprise me if more kids went missing. There were times I've walked past a disappeared person's board at a store and wondered how many the Fae had taken compared to shitty humans. It made me think of how unfair this world was.

Jenna wiped at her eyes and tried her best to smile. "For the past few weeks, Sara had been excited about having a new friend. We both figured it was from school, but it was imaginary."

"We thought nothing of it since a lot of kids have those and figured it was her way of dealing with not having a sibling to play with," said Michael.

There I have it. The imaginary friend ruse. It was a common motive of the Fae. We should be friends but not tell anyone. It had served them well for centuries, and I doubt they'd stop soon. It didn't make things easier, but it gave people with jobs like mine a bit of direction.

"Sara's new friend had a name." I doubt it had given her one, as all the fairy folk kept that secret. They proved better at keeping those than the government.

Jenna shook her head and handed me a drawing. "Sara said her friend was a boggart and could do magic. This drawing is of Sara and her friend."

I glanced at the paper and froze. My heart raced as I saw the image. The stick figure of Sara in a pink dress was easy to guess, and the sun with the rainbow arching across the page was typical in its crayon textures. She drew the boggart drawn differently.

It looked haggard, and its face was set in a wordless scream. Sara colored it brown with yellow highlights and red eyes. The word happy was written next to it. Both the boggart and Sara held hands and stood on the green grass.

The picture would be prime refrigerator material if it wasn't for the boggart. Still, it was worth only the next therapy session with a child psychologist. I traced the outline of the creature and shuddered. Sara was in danger, and boggarts had an insatiable appetite for children. It was nothing sexual, but many parents lost a child to a boggart who got too hungry to settle for the local wildlife.

"Can you tell me more?" I said, swallowing hard. "How long did this last?"

"We heard another voice in her room a few weeks ago. When we went to check on her, there was no one there but her. I figured it was outside noise since we live near Central Park." Michael said.

There's the kicker. Boggarts thrive in natural surroundings, and Central Park was about as wild as anyone could get in Manhattan. The entire area was alive with gateways to the fairy realm, and it made sense a boggart came through and enjoyed itself while it was here.

I shot a glance at Finn. What do you think, old friend?

Sounds like you should've brushed up on your target practice. Not sure if your family's magic will keep you safe.

I let out a deep breath. This would be a rough job and did not guarantee success. Still, I had to try. Sara needed help, and I'd be damned if she didn't get it. I needed more information before I could start my investigation, and not like it would take much.

Time was limited to me tracking it down and rescuing Sara before the boggart eats or takes her to the Other Side. Neither of which was acceptable.

"Earlier this evening, the sound of her and another person giggling caught our attention," said Jenna. "We rushed to her room to find her missing, along with her doll."

"The window was open, Alex. We locked it the night before since we live at ground-level," said Michael. "The police weren't much help, so we came to you."

A ground-level bedroom window made Sara a prime target for a boggart. Fae rarely would've climbed a fire escape to snatch a child from their home. It was much easier this way, giving the beast an easy target. Living near the park made Sara too enticing to pass up. Fuck, this is gonna be a long ass night.

"Can you help us?" Jenna asked.

I stood and pulled a contract from my desk. My job required lots of paperwork, which was a necessary evil, but if I didn't want to be sued or lose my license, I had to do what I had to do. I slipped it over to them, my fee highlighted in yellow.

Charging a fee was sometimes rough, especially in cases like this, but I had rent to pay and needed to eat. I walked back to the window and stared out. It was dark now, which meant tracking a boggart would get harder.

"I'll do it, but I have to start as soon as we leave here. Time is short."

The traffic buzzed past, and the idea of the Fae scared me for once. A boggart wasn't to be trifled with, and here I was, trifling away. A glance back showed me the Malones were signing away at the contract. Michael took out a credit card and set it gently on the table.

I did my best to avoid kidnappings as the police got their small dicks in a twist if I entered their territory. Sometimes I didn't care, and this was one of them. The cops wouldn't know where to start and probably kick the Malones out or arrest them on some made-up charge.

Jenna and Michael did the right thing. At least, that was what I'd tell myself once I found their daughter alive and well. She'd have trauma to deal with as boggarts are nasty creatures, but the world is far from a fair place. I was not too fond of it, but I'd do my part to make it as fair as possible. It helped. I needed the money. We all got bills to pay, but it felt dirty to charge the Malones for this.

It's part of the job, and any private investigator would do the same. Still, this case was messy, and knowing the Fae kidnapped a human child didn't make it easier. The Fae was a shitshow on a good day. Lately, those days were quite limited.

There was enough talk on the streets to know that they were on the move. For what? I did not know. I doubt the boggart was part of it, but the Fae were all connected. They were like a supernatural mafia. Paranormal crime that had a high body count. Now, it had affected the Malones. They didn't deserve this, as they were good people.

Only those who dwelt directly with the Fae deserved their fate, not the Malones. They were innocent, and now they'd be looking over their shoulder for their whole lives. Creatures from the Other Side were on the prowl, and it took people like me to stop them.

There were no cops, juries or courts to help the innocent. Even though I was an investigator, I worked more as a vigilante. I fired my gun more times than I'd care to admit, and it never made the job easier or made me feel safer. What is safety in a world where the living, the dead, everything in-between, gods, and other creatures share the same space?

When the world was smaller, most of the problems would've stayed localized, but as it grew closer together and cultures mixed, so did everything else. The Veil was strong enough to keep the weaker monsters away, but anything could come loose now that it had fallen.

That included the stuff of nightmares. I turned and snatched up the card. Sitting at my desk, I quickly tapped in the numbers and handed them back to Michael. I rubbed my eyes. This would be a long night, but worth it if I saved Sara.

She may not be gone, Alex.

Yeah, I know. Can you scout for me and see if you can find anything?

I can. My eyes are good, but the Fae is better at covering their tracks. You may need magic.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. Magic was the kicker. It ran through my veins, but unlike some well-known wizards in the region, no one in my family gave me skilled training, nor could they if they wanted to. It had a price I refused to pay, but it had saved my life a time or two.

Finn was right. Tracking a boggart needed a form of arcane help. "Let's leave now and start at your place. I need to see Sara's room and outside her window. Time is short."

I stood and grabbed my coat. I didn't need it as the humid heat of summer made wearing a jacket of any kind pointless, but I paid a witch over a thousand bucks to put a weave a protection spell, and I would not pass that up.

"Can you find our daughter?" Michael asked. I looked into his and Jenna's eyes. "I'll do everything I can, but we got to go now."