Part 2
Thanks for the Memories

Usual disclaimers apply.  The following might contains male-to-male sex.
If you are under age or such reading is illegal in your country,
please go elsewhere. Otherwise, please enjoy.

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A Special thank you to Brett for his editing work


     The man used the chain link fence to pull himself up, but he kept going and soon his feet were dangling off the ground. His body jerked for a moment in the rain, like a marionette with tangled strings. His head rolled left and right as if it was too heavy for him. His legs flailed about as he tried to get them under him, Suddenly he took a deep breath, like it was the first one he’d ever taken.

     Eventually he was able to get his feet on the ground and after a few missed steps he was standing shakily. His arms fell to his side when he let go of the fence and it took him a few tries to get them to move well enough so he could touch his face, pulling and pushing at the skin.

     He opened his mouth and a wail came out, prompting him to close it quickly. He opened it again and this time it was a low growl. He massaged his throat before opening his mouth a third time.

     “Hello,” he said in an eerie sounding tone. He cleared his throat and it sounded like bones breaking. “Hello,” he said again, his voice now a deep baritone. “This is sounding better.” As he spoke his voice went up an octave and finally sounded like what it had when he man had been pleading. “I knew you would be a good fit,” he said, as he rolled his shoulders, “I just wish it hadn’t taken you so long to break our deal. I didn’t realize how rusty I was.”

     He took a tentative step forward and then another and one more, becoming more confidant as he reached the middle of the alley, turned and walked back to the fence.

     “At least you’re still young and healthy.” He checked his watch. “I’d better get to work. I’m almost a decade behind schedule.”

     * * * * *

     I was feeling like crap. Doesn’t matter how often you go through a mental shredding, you never come out of it feeling like sunshine. At best you felt like you had the worse flu ever. At worse you felt like putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger. I wasn’t quite that bad, but all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed, pull the cover over my head and not move until the world ended.

     That’s why I was at my favorite diner nursing a cup of coffee. I wasn’t going to admit defeat after the fact. That meant getting up in the morning and going to work, or at least out of the house. I’d seen the client yesterday and gotten the rest of my payment, as well as making him promise that the next time he needed a loan he’d go to a bank.

     Jen had sat on me for the rest of the day saying I needed my rest. Fortunately she was working today so I could do whatever I wanted until five.

     My hand started shaking as I reached for my cup and I knew what was coming. I clasped my hands together, closed my eyes and clenched my teeth. A moment later I was eight again. I’d gotten separated from my parents during a shopping trip and wandered down various alleys. At first it was just an adventure away from the overbearing adults, but it didn’t take too long for the fun to disappear. The way the homeless people looked at me, some of them with glowing hunger in their eyes . . .  Excitement had turned to worry, then fear and then terror.

     Nothing beats a child’s imagination when it comes to creating horror. As I tried to retrace my steps I could see wraiths, vampires, zombies and ghouls hiding behind every dumpster, around every corner. I ran faster and after until I collided with someone.

     That person had been my father, who’d been looking for me since we’d gotten separated. I knew that he’d hugged me and comforted me, but the creature had twisted the memory. Now he didn’t hug me, he grabbed me by an arm and shook me. His eyes turned red, his face became horribly twisted just before he devoured me.

     I opened my eyes with a gasp and I was back in the diner.

     “You don’t look so good cher,” said a woman standing next to my booth.

     “Then the way I look matches the way I feel,” I replied, my voice didn’t sound as bad as it had yesterday, but it was still a little raw. I grabbed my cup with both hands hoping it would help them stop shaking, but all it did was make me spill coffee as I lifted it to my lips.

     “The young man next to your office told me I’d find you here.”

     I had to lift my eyes from the cup after that statement. She was an older black woman with a bit of a stoop. Her frizzy hair was well kept and surrounded her head like a black halo. She wore a flower print dress with a shawl over her shoulders and she wore a necklace made of colored bones with markings I couldn’t make out. I brushed her mind and concern radiated from her. Concern for me as well as for someone named Eric.

     “Please sit down,” I said, “do you want a cup of coffee?”

     “Oh no,” she said as she slipped in the booth, “at my age all that caffeine isn’t good for me.”

     I gave her a smile before putting on my most professional face. “How can I help you?”

     No, I didn’t go rummage through her head for the information. That’s not how we do things no matter what television tells the public. Oh sure, we’re not all angels; take that Mortimer Capri who used his ability to manipulate the stock market. He got what he deserved. The thing is that unlike what those “factual” documentary and “reality” shows would have you believe, most psions only use their ability discretely. For one thing, it doesn’t pays to advertise and for another, it really freaks the mundanes out.

     “My son, Erik, is in trouble,” she said handing me a picture.

     “Do you have a more recent picture?” I asked. The picture she handed me was that of a teenager wearing a baseball cap, t-shirt and jeans that were riding low on his hips. He had another teen in the crook of his arm and he was giving him a noogie. I could see the resemblance to her in his face although his skin was a couple of shades paler.

     “The picture was taken last week,” she said.

     “How old is he?”

     “Forty three.”

     His age while looking so young and the pale skin meant only one thing. “He’s a vampire.”

     “Yes, he works at the outreach program for troubled teens.”

     “Alright, what kind of trouble is he in?”

     “The police arrested him, they say that he killed that man they found strung up in that alley last week.”

     It took me a few moments to remember which one she meant. The pedophile who had been cut up and exsanguinated. I was silent a moment while I extended my mind to catch her reaction to my next question. “Is it possible that he did it?”

     “No,” she said through clenched teeth and radiating of conviction, “my son would never do such a thing. He isn’t a killer. He studied to become a social worker, overcoming the stigma of being a vampire and looking like a boy because he wanted to help people, not hurt them.”

     She believed what she said completely. There was no possibility to her mind that he was responsible, not even that nagging doubt at the back of the mind when we don’t want to believe something that seems plausible.

     “Why do the cops think he did it?”

     “They said that someone saw Erik there.”

     “What did Erik say?”

     “I haven’t talked with him. He refuses to let me visit.” Her control cracked a little and the corner of her eyes became wet. “He would never do such a thing.”

     I placed my hands on hers and even though I was blocking my ability to read her I still got a flash of her seeing Erik for the first time as the doctor handed him to her, the fear for his life after the attack that made him a vampire and the pride when he finished school.

     “Don’t worry Isabel, I’ll look into it.” I winced mentally. I hadn’t meant to pull her name out of her mind.

     “Thank you.” He hands tightened on mine. “Thank you so very much. I don’t have much money, but I’ll pay you whatever you need.”

     “I said not to worry. Once I’m done we can discuss payment.” If I had been a bit more on the ball I wouldn’t have said that. We’d have agreed on my fee before I accepted the case.

     She thanked me again before leaving.

     I finished my coffee and then proceeded to extricate myself from the booth. Every bone in my body hurt and every muscle ached. I moved like was I older than Isabel. The creature had pushed my body past its limit. It hadn’t been its body so it didn’t have to care. If my body broke it would just move on to another one. It was a small miracle that nothing had been permanently damaged.

     * * * * *

     “I’d like to see Detective Rocky Trojian,” I told the officer at the reception desk, an overweight man old enough he should have retired already. The man called someone and then pointed me to the closest meeting room.

     The room was small, with only a table some chairs — if I didn’t know any better I’d think this was an interrogation room. They should add a coffee machine at least. I let myself fall in a with a sigh. It wasn’t comfortable, but my body thanked me for the respite.

     “Hey Rocky,” I said, when he entered to room.

     He looked me over before sitting down. “Man Jake, you look like crap.”

     “Had a bad weekend,” I said.

     “I can see that. You’re here to file a report?”

     I shook my head. “I need some help with a case I’m working on.” Rocky had been my contact inside the cops for years now. Of course now that he was a detective he was a lot more useful, if not always as willing to help. For years he’d been held back because the chief didn’t like arcanes, practitioners of magic, but he’d retired two years ago. The first thing the new chief had done was promote Rocky. He saw the value of a detective who knew some magic and had contacts within arcane circles.

     “Shouldn’t you be resting instead of working a case?”

     “Please don’t start. I have enough with Jen on my back about resting. Can I take a look at Erik Moon’s case file?”

     “Who?” he asked.

     “He’s a vampire, in his forties, but looks fifteen. He’s accused of killing that pedophile last week.”

     “Oh, him. That was pretty nasty. Why do you want to see it?”

     “His mother hired me to look into it. She doesn’t believe he did it.”

     “Well, mothers will believe in their children’s innocence. This time she’s wrong, he confessed.”

     “Really? Can I see the file anyway?”

     “Sure, why not. Let me go get it.”

     While alone I wished for a coffee again. My body wanted the rest that Jen kept trying me to get, but I didn’t want to give in. I worried that if I did I might not want to get up again.

     “Here you are,” Rocky said, startling me awake. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather be home sleeping?”

     “With the nightmares I’m having I’d rather not, no.” I opened the folder and immediately noticed the scribble at the top of each page. I couldn’t read it, but I knew what it was for. It was a small enchantment Rocky had put on the file to prevent anyone from leaving with it. I didn’t comment on it, but I was annoyed that he still didn’t trust me with files. I mean I’d only left with one once, well okay, twice, but that was years ago. You’d think he’d trust me by now.

     I spent a few seconds focusing my mind before scanning each page of the report. The reason I didn’t need to ‘borrow’ those reports anymore was that I’d discovered a way to store a perfect copy of what I was looking at in my memory. I could only store about thirty seconds and it would only stick around for the next few days, but during that time I could recall every detail.

     So I was going through the report pretty fast.

     Rocky stared at me when I closed it. “You got all that?”

     I nodded, closing my eyes. I read the file until I found the location the body was found. “Thanks Rocky, I’ll let you know if I find anything.”

     * * * * *

     The body had been found in one of the downtown alleys. Erik said that he’d recognized the guy after seeing him try to get a seven year old boy to come with him. Erik had followed him, pushed him in the alley and then fed off him. He’d cut him up to make him suffer like the kids he’d raped had suffered.

     It made some sense, Erik had been attacked when he was a teen so he had a disproportional empathy for children, that’s what made him decide to become a social worker. It wasn’t much of a stretch to think that he would have lost control when he came across a pedophile.

     “Hello there handsome,” a woman said taking me out of my thoughts. She was tall wearing high heels, a very short skirt with a tube top and a lot of makeup. Even without the desire underlined with desperation she was radiating I would have known she was a prostitute. “You look like you could really use a good time.”

     “No, thanks.”

     “Come on honey, I could be your nurse, or your masseuse, or whatever you like.”

     I looked her over, she was in remarkably good shape considering the age I could feel her being. “Look, I appreciate the offer, but unless you can change your plumbing you can’t even tempt me.”

     It took her a second to realize what I meant, but instead of leaving she waved someone over.

     “Hi,” said a deep baritone behind me. I turned to see this incredibly beautiful guy; six two with short cropped blond hair, gray blue eyes on a clean shaven face with a square jaw. The silver gray suit he was wearing made him look like a successful businessman. He was too beautiful to be just human, he had to be at least partially arcane, Elven probably. It took all my self control not to go poking in his head to get confirmation.

     “Would you like to come with me?” he asked and my body screamed *yes*. I hadn’t jerked off since before being possessed so I was pretty pent up by now and I could feel that he wanted me. No underlining agenda, he was simply lusting after me. I caught a glimpse of what he wanted to do with me and my breath caught.

     “I got to go,” I said harshly and walked away from them as fast as my aching muscles let me. It would have been easy to go with him and get my rocks off, from what I’d felt the guy was a hell of a lover, but it wouldn’t have meant anything to him. I’d have paid him, left and he wouldn’t think about me twice after that.

     I’d done that in my youth, minus the payments, gone from lover to lover never caring about them past getting an orgasm. It had been easy too. All I had to do was touch the edge of a guy’s mind in a bar to know if he wanted to get laid. By the time I was twenty I had so many notches on my bed post I needed a second bed, but no one to call my own.

     So now I was forgoing the one night stand in the hopes of finding mister right. ‘Course it mostly meant I was using my hand, but right now I was in no state to take care of the hardon the encounter had left me with even if I could find some privacy.

     I focused on mentally rereading the report while I got to the alley in the hopes it would help, but I was still hard; maybe he had been an incubus.

     The police tape had been removed but it didn’t look like anyone had ventured in since then. Only the makeshift cross to which the pedophile had been hung while he was being cut and bled had been removed. The rest was exactly like in the pictures from the report.

     I looked around at first in case the cops had overlooked anything obvious. When I didn’t find anything I picked up an empty pop can that had been lying next to where the pedophile had been killed. I focused on it to call up its history. Scientist called it psychometry, most psions just called it object reading.

     Experts at it could give you the history of a piece of dust, all the way back to the person the skin flakes composing it had fallen from. Me all I normally got was impressions of how old the item was as well as some emotions linked to it, maybe a faint image if something traumatic had happened nearby. So you can imagine my surprise when I didn’t get anything off the can. As far as I could tell from my psychic sense the can hadn’t existed before I picked it up. I tried a few more object from the alley and called Chris when none of them had a history.

     * * * * *

     “You know that Jen made me swear I’d drag you back to bed if you called me on a case right?” Chris said as he entered the alley. I’d spent the time waiting going from object to object in the alley and I’d been able to determine that everything within ten feet of where the pedophile had been killed had had its history erased.

     “I keep telling her she isn’t my mother.”

     “You have told her she isn’t your girlfriend either, right?”

     “She knows, she’s just protective of me.”

     “Over protective if you ask me, borderline stalker type. You never told me the history between you two.”

     “Ask her to tell you. Can you tell me how someone could erase the history of this alley?”

     “I’d need more information, what happened here.”

     “A man was killed here and drained of his blood. The killer also erased any psychic residue from the area.”

     “Was there any kind of magical writing around the body?”

     “Nothing the cops put in the report, but the body was cut up, could that be it?”

     “What did the cuts look like?”

     “Well, there’s a line across his chest, something like looks like a ‘v’ but at an angle . . .” I tried to find a way to describe the other cut but I couldn’t so instead I went to Chris and extended my hand.

     “What are you doing?” he asked taking a step back.

     “I just want to push the photograph in your mind. That way you’ll be able to see for yourself.”

     Chris nodded and I touched his temple. I didn’t really have to touch him or even be close, it just made it easier and it always seemed to comfort people when they thought it was necessary. I pushed the image and his eyes went wide, everyone did that when they realized something had been forced inside their head. Even when they let it happen most people think there’d be some sort of effort on my part, that they have some sort of natural defense protecting them from mental invasion. Truth is, unless they’ve had training or some protection charm, they don’t.

     Chris looked around for a moment and then walked to where the pedophile had been killed. “You know, I can help with your other problem too.”

     “What other problem?”

     “The horniness.”

     How had he . . .? Then I realized there had been leakage; I hadn’t paid attention when I pushed the image, some of how I felt had gone with it. “Thanks, but I can deal with it.”

     “I’m serious. I can do a ritual that’ll really make it worthwhile.”

     “I appreciate it, but I’m not interested in gratification, what I want is . . . ..”

     “Love,” Chris finished for me. “I know, but every form of sex is a form of gratification. Okay, some form of magic happened here. The cuts are actually sigils.” He pulled a dumpster to where the body had been strung up.

     “What do they do?”

     “I don’t know. I only recognize a few of them.” With the dumpster in place he picked up a piece of wood and charred the end with a word. He then recreated the cuts on the dumpster. When he did the last one he jumped back with a curse.

     “What’s wrong?”

     He didn’t answer instead he cut his finger and placed it on the ground. A circle with more magical symbols became faintly visible. Chris cursed again.

     “What does it do?” I asked.

     “I don’t know. I’ve never seen a circle like this. There’s nothing, no chalk, no scratches. Your killer made a circle of power using magic directly. As far as I know that’s impossible. You wanted to know what erased the history in this alley? I’ll bet you a hundred that this is what did it.”

     I thought about it for a moment. Nothing indicated that Eric knew magic and vampires rarely became powerful mages; not the right set of affinities. “Can you write everything down so I can pass it along to the cops?” Chris looked at me. “I’ll keep your name out of it.”

     Chris agreed and I left him to it, I wanted to go have a talk with Erik to find out why he had confessed.

     * * * * *

     I showed my PI card to the guard and he let me in. Rocky had arranged to have me talk with Erik. He was being held in medium security lockup while waiting his trail. I hadn’t given Rocky any details, but I let him know I had something that could show Erik hadn’t done it.

     The room was large with multiple tables and chairs. There weren’t any bars or partitions, but there were six guards around the room, one of which was, if I was reading the badge he was wearing correctly, a vampire. Three of the tables were occupied; one was a convict with a lawyer, one was with his family and the last one was Erik.

     “You don’t look so good man.” He said with a smirk.

     “Thanks,” I replied dryly. I offered him my hand. “I’m Jake, your mother hired me to prove your innocence.”

     He didn’t take my hand and the jovialness left his face. He looked at me for a moment before his eyes lit up. “You’re wasting your time,” he said. “I’m guilty. I’m the one who killed that guy.”

     I could feel his words moving around in my mind, trying to find purchase. Unfortunately for him I knew my mind and I had very good control over it. The words continued moving about for a few moments and then they faded away.

     “No, you didn’t,” I told him with a smile. He didn’t like that he hadn’t been able to mesmerize me. “Why don’t you tell me why you’re taking the blame for this?”

     His eyes narrowed. “What are you?” he asked.

     “I’m a private investigator. Like I said your mother hired me.”

     “You’re wasting your time, I’m not going to talk to you.” He stood up.

     “Sit down,” I said in a casual town, but backed it with my mind. Unlike a vampire’s mesmerizing ability, my will didn’t fade. Erik fought me for a moment and then sat. The interaction caught the attention of the vampire guard and I could see him paying us more attention now. “Look Erik I’m not here to get you in trouble, but I know you didn’t kill him. I even have proof, but I want to know why you admitted you did it before I take it to the cops.”

     The annoyance at having been forced to sit gave way to fear. “You can’t do that.”

     “Why not?”

     “If . . . if I go back outside he’s going to find me and he’s going to kill me too.”

     “He threatened you?”

     Erik shook his head. “I just know that’s what he’ll do.”

     “The police can protect you Erik, if you tell them the truth they’ll be able to protect you.”

     “You can’t know that,” he said harshly. “You didn’t see what I saw. No one can protect me from that.”

     “OK,” I said, “you’re right I didn’t see what happened.” He was right. “But I still think you need to tell the cops.”

     He shook his head. “And you can’t tell them anything either.”

     I sighed and closed my eye to give him the impression I was thinking about it. In reality I was preparing myself for what I was going to do, lightly tracing his memories to the one I needed. “Fine,” I said standing and offering him my hand, “if that’s what you really want.”

     He stood too and after a moment of hesitation he took my hand. “Yeah, that’s what I want.”

     I didn’t hear him, the moment our hands touched I was inside his memory. My questions had brought what happened close to the surface so it was easy to trace it. He was heading to talk to one of the teens he was looking after when he heard the commotion. He crept close to the alley and peered in. What he saw filled him with terror disproportionate with what was actually happening.

     A man in a beige business suit was tying another man to a wooden cross. He ripped the tied man’s shirt open and pulled out a long knife. The markings on the blade reminded me of an athame, but no self respecting wiccan I knew would use it in the way that man was. In the middle of cutting the man he stopped and straiten up.

     As he turned toward Erik all his features obscured themselves. I could make out his general form but no details, not even the color of his suit anymore. It was like looking at someone’s silhouette against a dark background.

     I knew that he . . . it looked Erik in the eyes even if I couldn’t see them, and I felt the terror Erik felt. If I hadn’t been through a mental shredding recently I might have been so shocked by the fear the sight engendered in me that I would have let go of Erik’s hand and ran away as fast as I could, like he had done.

     Instead I finished shaking it and then let it go. “I’m sorry,” I told him, amazed that my voice barely trembled, “but I promised your mother that I’d prove your innocence.”

     “You can’t do that!” he jumped at me over the table but the vampire who had been on the other side of the room a moment before was between us to catch him. “If I get out of here he’s going to kill me. What are you going to tell my mother then?”

     I walked away not listening to him. He wasn’t in danger for his life. What had triggered the terror in both of us wasn’t the knowledge that our lives were in danger. What we saw in those unseen eyes was just how utterly insignificant we were. It had looked at us and through us and not even seen someone, at best we were ants to it, at worst we were . . . nothing.

     I leaned against the wall and the shaking started.

     * * * * *

     It took me a few hours to make it back to the station where Rocky worked, that and two beers to calm my nerves. It had given Chris time to finish writing up what he’d found and I handed it to Rocky when he joined me in the meeting room.

     “What’s this?” he asked.

     “It’s a report a sorcerer friend of mine wrote about what he found in your crime scene.”

     “A sorcerer friend? You mean Christopher.” I didn’t bother denying it. “Damn it Jake. You can’t trust that guy. He’s under suspicion of necromancy.”

     “Suspicion doesn’t mean guilt,” I replied knowing that Chris did engage in necromancy. He wouldn’t be quite that good at binding spirits and demons if he didn’t. I didn’t care. Chris was a friend. He’d saved my life and my soul a few times. Necromancy was just one of the many aspects of magic he used. “Look, you don’t want to trust his report fine, just send one of your forensic sorcerers there and have him look the scene over. There’s a circle of power like Chris has never seen before.”

     “All right,” he said after looking at me for a moment, “I’ll have someone look into it, but that doesn’t mean the vampire didn’t do it, he did cop to it.”

     “Come on, he’s a vampire, it’s easy for him to mesmerize the questioning officer and make him believe whatever he wants.”

     “He knew details that haven’t been released.”

     “Did the cop questioning him know about them? Look I checked his memory, he saw what happened, the guy doing the cutting saw him and Erik ran off.”

     “Mind reading isn’t admissible in court,” Rocky replied.

     “I know damn it! but I’m the one telling you this. How many times have I given you information in a case and it panned out?  I’d think that would be enough to get you to take a second look at it.”

      “Alright, what did the actual killer look like?”

     “I don’t know,” I admitted and Rocky raised an eyebrow. “He had a spell of some sort that generated terror as well as hid his features.”

     “So according to you I’m looking at a powerful sorcerer who knows necromancy. Maybe I should take a look at your friend.”

     “What? You can’t be serious. Why would Chris help me if he was the one who’d done it?”

     “To move the suspicion to someone else comes to mind.”

     “Chris would never be involved in this. He’d never perform a ritual that required a human sacrifice.”

     “So you’re saying that he would do a ritual that used some other kind of sacrifice?”

     “I said no such thing. Damn it Rocky, this isn’t about Chris.”

     “Ok, I’ll look into this, but only if you promise me one thing.”


     “If the investigation does indicate that Chris is involved I want your promise that you’ll help me out rather than get in my way to protect him.”

     I hesitated a moment as doubt surfaced. Was I really certain that Chris wasn’t involved, after all he was involved in some shady deals and he did necromancy. I forced the doubt aside. “I promise.”

     “Ok, then I’ll keep you in the loop.”

     “Thanks.” I left the precinct and turned to head home only to find myself facing an amazon of a woman with golden skin, silver hair and wearing sunglasses.

     “What are you doing out of bed?” Jen said sternly. She must have come directly from her modeling gig because she was wearing a white evening gown under her usual black leather jacket.

     “I had to get out of the house,” I said walking by her.

     “I told you that you need to stay in bed and rest if you want to get better.”

     I spun and glared at her. “You aren’t my girlfriend!”

     “What?” she said taking a step back, “I know I’m not.”

     “Then why the hell are you ordering me around?” I stop myself from saying the rest and took some breathes to calm down. “Jen, you’re a good friend, but that’s all you are.”

     “I know, I’m just worried about you.”

     “No you don’t. As a friend, you don’t get to tell me what to do. You get to be worried about it and pissed that I’m not taking care of myself, but you do not get to order me around. Do you understand? You aren’t my protector, you aren’t my mother or my lover. You are just my friend.”

     The confused look on her face told me she didn’t.

     “I’m going home Jen, to sleep. Go home to and think about it. If you can’t differentiate we might not be able to remain friends.” With that I left her there to go home.

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