Monday Stories

New Fiction Every Monday

Category: Angel Liz

The Beast

The beast was old, and looked it. His skin was tight and mottled across his scalp, his eyes sunken. He walked slowly now, his voice was a tired, quiet wheeze. But when those sunken eyes fixed on you, when that tired voice addressed you, his power was evident. You got the feeling that Death had decided this one was too much work.

There is no violence, no depredation, no evil those eyes haven’t seen. The Beast was far beyond judging actions against any standard but personal gain. He had lived long enough and successfully enough, the rules by which he lived clearly worked.

But it was time for a change. He was tired, he was sick of living the kind of life where every moment was a possibility for everything to come down around him. And he was tired of hurting others, surprisingly. Inasmuch as he had ever thought of himself as the kind of person who has a soul, he felt that his was getting tired.

So now, having come down a convoluted path, he was a philanthropist It’s not a hard thing to be when you have far more money than you could ever use, far more money rolling in every day than you could ever spend. He suspected that giving some of it away would help him feel like a better person. At the very least people would think better of him when he died.

Ha. Like he was going to die anytime soon. But it was just about time to disappear.

Presently Davis Brown, the Beast’s CFO, arrived and knocked on the door of the Beast’s current office. He didn’t call his employer “The Beast”, of course. At least, not to his face. He called him Mr. Danwill. And it was Mr Danwill that he had come to visit, deep below the Luxor, where the Beast was currently renting space. The office doors were huge, wooden affairs, tasteful and sedate and incredibly thick. Davis Brown stood quietly outside those doors until they swung inwards silently.

The Beast’s desk stood in a pool of light, probably in the center of the space, but who could say? There was no other light outside the bright oblong around the huge desk that seemed to be built of the same wood as the doors. Behind it stood a tall leather chair of an old style, worn but cared for. There was a slight rustling sound in the dark beyond the desk, and the Beast approached, wearing a tan suit and a white shirt that was unbuttoned at the throat. He sat in his chair and waited for Davis to be seated.

“Yes, well?” The Beast said, his fingertips pressed together in front of him. Davis knew better than to waste his employer’s time.

“Your hospital is ready to be built. I got the budget from the contractors, and it’s well below the amount you told me. We have clearance from the city and the county. The groundbreaking ceremony will be scheduled in a few days, but will probably not happen until June. I’ll inform your secretary. I have a copy of the press release if you want to look it over.” He slid the paper across the desk.

The Beast glanced over it cursorily and pushed it away. “Yeah yeah it’s fine, sure.” He said, getting impatient already. The Beast was cunning, clever, and capable of almost endless focus when he was interested in something. When he was bored, however, he got petulant and fidgety like a small child.

“There’s another minor matter, sir,” Davis said. “The police disarmed a bomb planted in a nearby casino. Nothing to do with us, except they were made aware of it through a note, and apparently in the note the informant said it was planted by the “beast under the Luxor”. The police are treating this with the disdain it deserves, but…”

“Who was the informant?” Suddenly the Beast was all focus, intent and hard-eyed.

“I…I don’t know, some girl, I think? I can…”

There was a hollow crash behind Davis and the huge doors to the Beast’s office were thrown back. Between them stood a massive man, fully seven feet tall. His huge, curly black beard was covered in dirt and he wore what looked like a prison uniform, but torn and covered in dirt.

“Her name is Liz. Black girl, crazy colored hair. Thinks she’s an angel.” The intruder growled.

“Yeah, they always do,” the Beast said quietly. His face betrayed no surprise or shock at this monster’s entrance.

“Excuse me, who are you? How did you get in here?” the huge man ignored Davis and walked up to the desk and leaned on it.

“We’ve got problems, Youngster.” He said to the Beast. Then he turned his eyes to Davis.

“What is this?”

The Beast looked at him as well. “Ah, Davis, very good on the hospital, let me know, but you need to go. Now.”

“Yes, Mr. Danwill.” Davis stood and packed up his briefcase as fast as he could. The huge man sat in the other chair facing the Beast’s desk. His eyes were dark and he muttered to himself under his breath. Davis turned to leave and heard the Beast ask, in what he probably thought was a quiet voice, “Do you think she’s the real thing?”

“Who can tell these days?” the intruder asked. “But even if she’s not, she’s got some power…”

Davis closed the door and stood outside it for a moment, collecting his thoughts. And he could have sworn he heard a sound like rasping scales coming through the door.

Broken Wings

Paperwork. A lot of cops hated it, but Tremain always liked sitting in his office doing paperwork. It helped that he had an office, of course. But that wasn’t why he liked it. He liked doing paperwork because it meant he wasn’t outside getting yelled and/or shot at. Paperwork was a vain but pleasant attempt at making any form of sense of the world outside.

He was just getting ready to start writing up a requisition when there as a knock at his door. “Hey, Tremain, we’ve got someone here to see you.”

The door opened and a small, scared girl…no. She was tiny, but she was an adult. A small, scared woman entered his office, her eyes wide.

“Can I help you?” Tremain asked. He stood and motioned her to a chair in front of his desk. She sat silent for a few seconds, clearly gathering her courage and said, “Are you Alan Tremain?”

“That’s me. How can I help? Are you in trouble?” He looked the woman over quickly. He was able to take her appearance in without spending a lot of time looking at her. Her long brown hair was neatly combed, but not recently washed. Her dress was a simple floral print, a little too big for her. The style looked like it should have been a knee-length, but on her it went to mid calf, even when she was sitting. It was of a very conservative cut or else it would have been quite revealing up top. It was also at least twenty years out of date; suggesting she bought it from a thrift store. She carried no purse, just a small wallet. Her eyes were wide and scared. She was tiny, her skin tone a light olive shade, possibly Italian. Her features were finely formed and flawless; only a very careful examination of her face, particularly her eyes, belied her real age. Passing her on the street you could easily mistake her for a young teenager.

“It’s about Liz…She says she trusts you.”

“Liz… You mean the lady who calls herself ‘Angel Liz’? The one who keeps writing to me?”

The woman nodded. “She told me you would know who I am. I’m Jenny.”

Tremain had read all of Liz’s letters over and over. “Jenny…from the first letter? The roommate that she saved from Vincent?”

Jenny seemed to shrink in on herself even more when he mentioned Vince. “Where is he?” She asked in a small voice.

“Last I heard he’d been transferred to a federal prison. Between Liz’s testimony, some… things we found out behind your old trailer, and some things we found in his apartment, he’s going to be there for quite a while.”

“Like a rabbit,” Tremain thought. “She didn’t relax when I told her that, she just decided she doesn’t have to run away right this second. She’s still terrified.”

“But, if you’re Jenny, what are you doing here? I thought you were in California.”

Jenny smiled a little, and only briefly. “No, I never went to California. That was just something Lizzie told Vince so he would stop trying to find me. I live…I live downtown now.”

Tremain had heard that specific slang before. “You mean you live in the tunnels, right? The runoff tunnels, under the city?”

She looked startled, then nodded very slightly. “Liz found me a place, and found someone to help take care of me down there. It’s a good place! It’s warm and safe and I’ve got a nice bed and walls. Lizzie brings me money and food when she can. Now that she’s taken care of Vince we’re looking for an apartment again.”

“So Liz lives down there too.”

Jenny just looked scared.

“Okay, never mind, Jenny…Richards, right?”

“Richmond, actually. Lizzie…isn’t good with names.”

“Okay, Jenny Richmond.” Tremain resisted the urge to write that down somewhere. “Why did you come to see me?”

Jenny shifted in her seat. She looked down at her hands for a long moment, then looked up into Tremain’s eyes, looking for help. He realized he was sitting on the edge of his desk, towering over her. He stood up, didn’t react when she cowered away from him, and sat behind his desk. There, now he was farther away, there was a desk between them, and he was closer to her eye level. In a quiet voice he asked again. “You came to see me, and said it’s about Liz. Is there a problem? Is Liz in trouble?”

Jenny looked him in the eye and nodded. Having a desk between them seemed to help, and she found her voice again.

“It’s that guy she brought back from Idaho. Benny.”

“The one she calls ‘Bigfoot’ in her letter,” Tremain prompted. Jenny nodded again. “When she brought him here she thought she had him under control. She told everyone…downtown…that he was tame now. But he never looked tame. He…he snarls a lot and looks at people…like they’re food. But Lizzie seemed to be able to keep him in line, so we believed her.”

She seemed to run out of steam, or the next part was hard to admit.

“Anyway, she went to the Bellagio to verify what Benny had told her, and when she saw she couldn’t fix the problems herself she went and wrote you that letter. The problem was, she left Benny downtown. When she’d been gone a little while he looked up and smiled, but it wasn’t happy. He looked at me and said “I’m free,” and then turned and walked out of our little house down there. He…He hurt some people, and scared a lot of people, kids even, and…and he stole some money and food. I don’t know if you know what it’s like down there…but you don’t do that, Detective. You just…you can’t.”

Tremain put a hand over his eyes wearily.

“Anyway, some people caught him and held him, and threw him in the pit. And when Lizzie came back from the Bellagio, they took her as well. She’s being held in a cell down there.”

Tremain put his head in his hands. “Liz Liz Lizzie Liz,” he mumbled. “Why did you have to go and start thinking you’re an angel?” He asked.

“What makes you think she isn’t?” Jenny said sharply.

“I’m…sorry?” Tremain looked up. Jenny was sitting up tall, looking defiant. Scared, but defiant.

“You’ve never met Lizzie. You’ve never even seen her, have you? So how would you know she’s not an angel?”

Jenny was leaning back now, the fear overcoming the defiance, but she kept talking.

“I’ve seen Lizzie do things that no human could do. I’ve seen her power. Detective, Lizzie is an angel, just like I’m part elf and you’re…” she broke off suddenly.

“I’m what?” Tremain asked quietly, but Jenny sat back, hand over her mouth and shook her head.

“What am I, Jenny?”

“Lizzie will tell you,” Jenny whispered.

Here’s where you know how good you are, Tremain told himself. I could turn bad cop. I could shout and scare it out of her. I could terrify her, be a man, be a big ball of violence and authority. Or I could realize it’s not that important, and let it drop.

He let it drop.

“What do you want me to do?” He asked instead. Technically people having their own courts underground was illegal, but Vegas is a big city and there are a lot of illegal things going on all the time and at least this one is semi-orderly.

“Liz wants you to come arrest Benny. That way he’s out of the tunnels and they’ll let her go if he’s out of their way.

“But…detective…There’s a condition.”

“Oh?”

“You can’t…you can’t arrest anyone else. I know that living downtown is probably illegal, and there’s probably stuff going on down there that you don’t want to see as a cop…”

Tremain waved her off.

“I don’t have time to arrest people for trying to stay alive. Okay, Liz wants me to walk down to the tunnels, I’m guessing without any other cops,right?” Jenny paused, then nodded minutely. “Once I’m down there I’m supposed to take custody of a huge violent man she imported from Idaho. I thought she said he was in Utah?”

Jenny just shrugged, and Tremain continued.

“So what’s in it for me? Why would I do this? Why wouldn’t I just re-arrest Liz? If she’s an angel, why doesn’t she just set herself free?” He asked. That last question was deliberately mean, and he immediately felt bad about asking it.

To Tremain’s chagrin it worked. Jenny sat up again, smiled serenely, drawing on some strength that hadn’t been there before. “If you need there to be ‘something in it for you’, you’re not the man Lizzie thought you were.”

Tremain sat back, stared at the ceiling. This went against everything. Everything. You don’t go off on your own, you don’t make deals with criminals, even low-level ones whose only crime was staying alive. You don’t “turn a blind eye” to things to make an arrest.

Well, okay, lots of cops do these things; all of them. All the time. Police work isn’t all black and white, there’s a lot of give and take. But still, this…this went against…

He stopped arguing. He was going to do it. He knew he was. So why argue with himself? Instead he stood up, took his coat off the back of the door and said. “Okay. Take me to your angel.”

Children of the Desert

It had been three weeks since the last note from “Angel Liz”. Alan Tremain had put her almost entirely out of his mind when he was heading into work, mentally preparing himself for a peacefully boring graveyard shift.

The moment he walked into the office, however, it was obvious the night had other things in store. Several officers were getting into heavy padded gear…the bomb squad.

“What’s up?” Alan asked the first person who would hold still long enough to answer the question. The officer looked up, smirked and said “hey, Chief! Detective Tremain is here!”

Tremain walked over to the chief’s office. “Did you want to see me, Chief?”

The Chief of Police looked up and said “We got another letter from your girlfriend, Detective. Why don’t you give it a once over?” and he passed a paper over the desk to Tremain.

“Where was this one found?”

“On your desk, which is frustrating because we have cameras all over this office and…”

“And there’s a glitch in the recording. Before the glitch, no letter. After the glitch, letter. I really wonder how she does it.”

“So do the I.T. guys. They’re about to move in with Frodo and renounce technology over this one. Anyway, read this, we’ll talk after.

The letter seemed to be printed on the same cheap paper, with the same cheap printer as the last two. A small corner neatly cut from the bottom corner said that someone in forensics was making sure of that fact. The letter said:

Hello again Alan! Did you miss me?

I’m sure you did. I’ve been up north, learning about what it means to be an angel. Studying the ways of the Children of the Desert. Did you know that people up there already knew that humans were angels? They have it backwards, though. they think being a good person makes you an angel. They don’t realize that you’re an angel from the beginning, and eventually your angel-ness makes you good. But they taught me a lot, and tried to teach me a lot more. But I’ve got other things on my mind.

For example, I met Bigfoot. Did you know he was real? Do you know why nobody ever really sees him, or finds his dead body? Because he’s immortal! And there’s only one of him. He’s been around forever, and until now he’s been in Utah scaring Mormons, which he thinks is funny.

He is an evil creature, evil to the bones of him. But I have bound him with my Angelic Word, and he cannot go against me now. He must do as I bid, even though he thinks he’s secretly plotting against me. Isn’t Evil funny that way? They’re always convinced what they’re doing is their idea. Like Vince. How is he by the way?

Anyway I have Bigfoot here with me. I bound him and brought him with me. I mean, just because he’s a walking hairy ball of fury doesn’t mean I can’t use him. In fact he’s already been useful.

I’ve been foolish so far, Detective. I thought I was the first, maybe the only, Other to know what I was. I’m not of course. Bigfoot knows some of them, and to gain my trust he sold out one of his buddies here in LV to me. And while he may be a monster I know his information is real. So I’ll tell you.

The Beast that sleeps beneath the Luxor has weakened a critical electrical breaker box in the Bellagio. In a few days, not sure when, it’s going to short out. When it does it will start a fire that will spread quickly, killing any who are in the hotel or casino. An electrical short wouldn’t burn down a building by itself, duh. But the Beast has planted a bomb in the large emergency generator under the Bellagio, and when the power spike hits that bomb the building will go up. Get someone over there now, find that bomb, find that short, and you’ll see that Angel Liz is doing the work of Goodness and helping you in your work as well.

I have a feeling that the day of our meeting is not far off now, Detective. I have already bound one Evil minion to my will, I hope soon to join with you, not as a minion or master but an ally, both of us doing the work of Light.

I’ve been realizing something. I’ve always been a mirror, just, like, reflecting everything the world has chosen to send my way. But I can’t be that any more. I’m an angel. I’m a light on a hill. I’m a lens, focusing the light.


Speak to me of your fears and I will help you carry them.
Speak to me of your suffering and I will bear you up.
Speak to me of your burning passion and I too will catch fire.
Speak to me of your ardent faith and I will be strengthened.
Speak to me of duty and I will try to understand.
Speak to me from a committee and I will ignore you.

Angel Liz

Tremain read the letter and sighed. She was getting worse, and now apparently she had help.

Just then the Chief poked his head around the corner. “Alan. The squad just radioed back. They found an explosive device under the Bellagio, and have disabled it. Whoever built the thing was rich, it’s one of the most sophisticated they’ve seen in a while. They’ve got electricians in looking for a fault. in the wiring, but it looks like your Angel was right.” The Chief smiled broadly and said, “Be sure to tell her thanks when you have your ‘meeting’ with her.”

Vincent Wakes Up

He didn’t write it down; that would have looked like he believed her. But Tremain found that, unconsciously, he was counting the days until Liz’s alleged victim would wake up. It was just a coincidence, there was no way she was as good with the drug she used to actually dose someone accurately. Still, he checked with the hospital a few times a day, despite their promises to alert him as soon as there was any change.

In any case, three days isn’t very long to wait. Unless you’re the one doing the waiting.

The bomb team had gone through Tremain’s apartment, followed by the bug sweepers and even a guy from forensics who wanted to play with a fancy new spectrograph analyzer or whatever it was he said. It was supposed to show up any traces of human interference. All three teams came up clean, not even finding anything to make fun of Alan for. So they teased him for that. His house was neat, tidy, and uncluttered. “You need a wife and kids to make the place look lived in,” the forensics guy said. “At least smear some grape jelly on the arm of the sofa. It’s just not natural.”

But, natural or not, they didn’t find anything to worry about, so the next night Alan slept in his own bed. The third night after he was assigned to the Liz case he lay in his bed, but didn’t sleep. He kept looking at his phone, not expecting it to ring, but wondering if it were going to ring. Of course he didn’t believe it, but it was possible…

the phone rang. “Detective Tremain? Your patient is awake.”

“I’ll be there in fifteen. Thank you, nurse. How his he?”

“Groggy. He’s looking around a little and has accepted some juice, says his mouth is dry.”

“Okay, thank you, let me know if he says anything else. On my way.”

Vincent Davis wasn’t a large man, at five foot eight he was a little shorter than Tremain, but he was built along smaller lines. He had dark hair, and after three days his goatee wasn’t as neatly trimmed as he normally wore it. Also, after three days in a hospital bed his tan was starting to fade. his natural skin color was a light olive shade once the effects of the tanning bed and bronzer wore off. Basically, nobody is at there best in a hospital.

His dark eyes looked up incuriously when Tremain walked in. “Hello Detective,” he said, his voice oddly detached, and yet still seeming sllightly amused.

“Hello, Vincent. It’s good to see you awake.”

Vince just nodded.

“I’d like to talk to you about how you got here. Have the nurses told you what’s going on?”

Vince smiled weakly. “They don’t know what’s going on. But what do you want to know? I don’t remember much.”

“Do you remember being attacked?”

Vince shook his head. “The last thing I remember was coming home from work. I opened the door to my apartment and the next thing I remember is being here.”

Tremain stood breathing quietly for a moment, trying not to grind his teeth. “Do you know someone named Liz?” he asked, and described her as best he could from the descriptions he had been given. Again, Vince smiled weakly. “Yeah, I know Liz. We don’t have what you’d call a healthy relationship. And anyway I haven’t seen her since…since…”

“Since Jenny?”

“Was that her name? Little brunette girl? Yeah, since her.”

“Do you happen to remember Liz’s last name? Or Jenny’s last name?” It was a long shot.

Vince just laughed weakly. “I didn’t even remember Jenny’s first name, what do you think? And no, I never knew Liz’s last name. She was just my girlfriend’s annoying roommate until…”

“Until she beat you up?”

“Is that what she said happened? Naw, it wasn’t like that. I was pretty messed up on….I wasn’t feeling well, and when she got home I guess I’d been pretty rough with Jenny. Don’t look like that. she liked rough treatment. Anyway I guess I’d gone too far, because next thing I know Liz is taking Jenny out the door to the hospital. Somehow Jenny’s arm got broken. That was the last time I saw either of them. I woke up the next morning in their crappy little trailer and when nobody brought any food home that night I went home.”

“I,” Detective Tremain told himself, “am a professional. I do not get emotionally involved in things like this. I will not berate or harm a source of information, especially in a hospital.” Instead he counted to ten and said “How long ago was this?”

Vince shrugged. “Six months? I guess? I dunno man, It’s not like I wrote it down in my journal.”

Tremain nodded. “Okay. Do you know the address of the trailer?”

Vince didn’t know an address, but he gave a pretty good description and direction. Tremain thanked him and walked out the door. Once in the hall he asked the officer on duty, “how much of that did you hear?”

“All of it, Detective, like you asked.”

“Good. Keep our boy here until the police decide he’s clear to go, then take him downtown. We’ll probably have a few more questions for him once he’s put back together. I’m gonna go follow up on the one lead I’ve got.”

“Yes sir.”

The trailer park didn’t deserve the name. Three trailers surrounded by the remains of a fence out in the middle of the desert with one electrical connection shared between the three. There was a noisy pump in the middle of the “park” and some really rough pipework running to the three trailers. The place was just about as off-the-grid as you could get, because the grid didn’t want it.

One of the trailers stood dark and empty, the other two had lights on as Tremain rolled up. One of the lit trailers had the word “manager” spray-painted on the side and a bunch of noisy kids playing outside, so Tremain knocked on that door.

The “Manager” turned out to be a harrassed, sunken-eyed woman with long, greasy hair and another baby on her arm. She definitely remembered Liz and Jenny.

“Yeah, Jenny and her little angry friend. Jenny was a sweet girl.”

“Do you remember either of their last names?”

“Jenny…I want to say Richards. Yeah, that sounds right, Jenny Richards.She’s the one that always paid the rent, so I remember her name. They were the last ones to rent that trailer right over there.”

“The empty one? Mind if I take a look around?” Tremain asked. “Without a warrant,” he didn’t add.

“Nah, go ahead. Why? Is someone in trouble?”

“We found Jenny’s old boyfriend, Vince.”

The manager’s face darkened at the mention of Vince. “Yeah? well, if you’re looking for evidence against him go right ahead.” She grabbed a keyring off a hook by the door. “Here’s the key.”

Inside the trailer was a disaster. A low coffee table lay split in half, the cheap IKEA paper unable to hold up to whatever had been thrown down on it. A futon on one wall was covered in clothing and fast food wrappers. The sink was full of dishes and teh smell of the place said that even in the desert things had stayed wet enough to rot. The only clean place in the entire front room was the dining table. The only thing on that table was an envelope…

With his name on it.

Impatiently he pulled the letter out of the envelope and laid it flat on the table. He snapped a picture of it with his phone and sent it to headquarters, along with a request for a forensics team to get out to his location, with a warrant if possible. And then he sat down on a chair that didn’t quite collapse under him and read what Liz had to say now.

Hey Alan, how’s it going?

If you’re reading this Vince is awake and lying. But at least he gave you this address. He’s not good for much, but at least he did that right. he probably told you about Jenny too. Listen, Jenny’s fine, I told you that a while ago. You don’t need to worry about her. What you should be worrying about is Jenny’s first roommate in this trailer. I found out about this first roomate yesterday, when I called Jenny to tell her what I did to Vince.

“Did you kill him?” she asked me, which is weird for her.

“No, I killed the demon in him.”

“Liz, he didn’t have a demon in him, he was a demon. You should have killed him”

“I can’t do that now, Jenny, I’m an Angel” I told her, but she still doesn’t believe me. She plays along though. “If you’re an Angel, Lizzie, be an avenging angel and get rid of Vince.” She said and the she told me that Vince used to date her roommate, and that he killed her. And then he moved on to Jenny.

So here’s what I want you to do, detective. Walk out the door, walk around to the back of the trailer, and walk 100 feet out into the desert. Then start digging. but use a spade, you’re not going very deep.

I’m leaving Vince in your hands, Detective. See what you can find out about Vince’s poor girl. P.S. the manager never knew me; she only knew the girl you’re about to meet.

Also Jenny knows you’re going to call. She’s willing to talk to you, but be gentle with her; she’s had a bad life.

I’m glad you’re sleeping in your own bed again, Detective. Don’t worry; your home is your castle, and it won’t be violated.

See you soon, talk to you whenever,

Angel Liz

Tremain read the letter and his phone started ringing. It was HQ and apparently they had just finished it as well.

“WE just put two more guards on Vincent’s room, and we’ve got a forensics team with lights and sirens on their way to you. They’re excited, they never get lights and sirens. They’ll be there soon Detective.”

And then Detective Tremain walked out into the desert where he really hoped he wasn’t going to find Jenny’s body.

Detective Tremain

Note: everything in They Never Left is included in the letter the detective reads in this story. Okay, as you were.

Detective Tremain read the note found in Liz’s cell and looked up. “Okay. Narcissistic personality, but that’s nothing new. Persecution complex, but those are a cottage industry around here, and it sounds like she came by it honestly. Okay. where did you find this letter?”

“In the cell where the suspect…”

“Liz.”

“…In the cell where Liz had been held after being taken into custody.”

“And where is Liz now?”

“…She’s gone, Detective. That’s why we called you in.”

Tremain sat back. He wasn’t angry, not at the moment anyway. Things happen, people on the force shouldn’t beat each other up when they do. He’d get angry later, maybe, if it was worth it.

“Why don’t you walk me through the events of the night, let’s get a picture of what happened.”

The desk sergeant nodded and looked down at his form.

“At 18:22 we got a call on a domestic dispute in an apartment complex. Officers Brady and Cooper responded. When they arrived they found apartment 21 open, and the suspect…Liz…standing in the room over the prostrate form of the alleged victim…er,” he looked up the name of the alleged victim, trying to avoid getting asked, “Vincent. Emergency services were called and Liz was taken into custody. She was processed and held in the cells. At 21:30 after shift change I made the rounds and found her cell was empty.”

Tremain nodded, running his hands through his sandy hair, wondering irrelevantly if it was time to dye it again. Or maybe it was finally time to let the gray grow out. He focused again. He pretty much knew the answers to the next few questions he was going to ask, but he had to ask them anyway.

“Who was on duty?”

“Cooper. He was talking to the suspect in another cell. He didn’t hear the cell door open or close.” The Sergeant knew what questions were coming as well and rattled off the answers without being asked. “The door seems entirely sound, the lock works and was engaged when the cell was found empty. all keys are present and accounted for. And here’s the security footage.”

He turned his monitor towards Tremain and hit the space bar. The video was already queued up.

It showed a girl sitting in a cell, writing. Presently she finishes and then sets the letter on the pillow of the little bed in her cell. Then she looks at the camera and…

four seconds of static fill the screen. When the static clears everything is the same except there’s no girl sitting in the cell.

Tremain nodded and sat back. “Someone is hoping to make this a very long night for us, Sergeant.” The desk sergeant just nodded. “Okay, so, what do we have? Inside job? Does she have any friends?”

“Doesn’t look like it. She didn’t even have ID on her when we brought her in, so even the name Liz is just what she told us.”

“And the victim, how did she kill him?”

“Um, he’s not dead, Detective.”

“Okay, how did she almost kill him?”

“He’s not even wounded. No physical damage, nothing in his blood, he seems fine…”

“I’m guessing there’s more to it than that…”

“He seems fine except he won’t wake up. There’s nothing in his blood, no narcotics, some alcohol and pot but that’s clearing out. His liver and kidney function are both normalfine, brain shows no signs of trauma. Doctors say it’s like he’s sleeping, even dreaming from time to time. But it’s been hours, and we’ve picked him up and moved him around quite a bit. If he’s just a deep sleeper then he’s a very deep sleeper.”

Tremain sat back and misquoted the most famous detective line ever.

“I’m getting too old for this kind of…”

“We all are, Detective.” The Desk Sergeant had heard it before. Whatever else he was, this sergeant was good, so Tremain picked his brain a bit more.

“What do we know about the victim?”

The sergeant dug out a file and handed it over. “If anyone should be put in a mystery coma, it’s this guy. We can corroborate some of what the sus…Liz…said in her letter. He’s been brought in multiple times for harassment; pretty much once per girlfriend, it seems.”

“What leads do you have? Any Id on this roommate that moved to California? Any idea where Liz might be from?”

“Detective, they could be anyone. We don’t even know which casino Liz worked at, if she worked at one at all. She never gives a last name for her friend, and the only person who knew both of them is currently taking a nice nap. I know you’re just getting up to speed, but we’ve already asked all the easy questions and got nothing. That’s why we called you.”

Tremain just nodded. “okay, do you have Liz Doe’s mug shot?”

“Nope. Just a corrupted image file where it used to be.”

“This is getting frustrating, Sergeant.”

“I’m aware, Detective.”

“Can you tell me what she looks like?”

“She’s still got the Technicolor hair she mentioned in her letter, except now it’s blond, blue, and purple. But obviously don’t expect that to last. Skin tone is somewhere between caramel and milk chocolate, eyes appear copper colored, but that could be contacts. Height, weight, etc. is all in her file. Oh, and one last thing, Detective. She didn’t kill the alleged victim, nor is there any sign of any sort of attack on his person, except for the fact that he’s asleep, and this.”

The Sergeant handed Tremain an evidence bag. inside was a wickedly-curved dagger with a wire-wrapped hilt and an angel-wing motif on the needlessly large crossbar. The blade was stained brownish-red with drying blood.

“Don’t tell me.”

“It’s a perfect match, sir. This is Vincent’s blood. It was wet when we found it.”

“But there’s no…”

“But there’s no matching wound anywhere on the victim. If this is a hoax it’s a good one. But we can’t figure out what else it would be. And, again, without an actual crime, the best we can do is bring her in for questioning. We can’t get a warrant for her arrest. Unless she does something else, she’ll have to come freely.”

“Lovely.”

“I’m glad I’m not you, Detective.”

It would be nice to say that Detective Alan Tremain was the best the LVPD had to offer, that he was the one they went to when all others failed. It wouldn’t be true, but it would be nice.

In reality Tremain just happened to come on shift when this particular case came up. He was assigned to it because he was next on the duty roster.

But if someone had put some thought into it they might have chosen him anyway. Tremain’s specialty, if he could be said to have one, was not getting angry at infuriating suspects. He would sit back, smile, run his fingers through his hair, and just…talk to them. Maybe offer them a doughnut or some pizza. It was like he was doing the whole “good cop bad cop” thing but without the bad cop.

But his style was even more unique than that. He did a lot of work before interviewing people. He would study them, find out as much as he could. He’d read up on their family, look at their tattoos…anything that could give him a sense of who this person was. And then he would walk into the room where the suspect sat, and tell them the story of what happened. But not like a cop. He’d tell it from their perspective. His stories weren’t of the “on the night of April 14 you and several accomplices were seen approaching the bank. At 22:48 an alarm was triggered…” style. Instead he would sit down, look the suspect in the eye, and say, “you’re new in this gang, you’ve gotta get some respect. So when people are talking about how to get some cash you speak up, say you know a bank you can knock over…”

It didn’t always work. He wasn’t always right. Sometimes he got better results when he was at least half wrong. A lot of people would correct him and fill in details, seemingly out of a desire to be recognized, maybe even understood. It annoyed the other detectives no end.

Of course, right now he didn’t have anyone to interview. He went down to the lab, got a look at the knife and asked what tests were being run on the blood samples from the non-victim and the knife. He went over to the hospital and looked a some charts and graphs that said this sleazeball…sorry, possible witness…should be up and awake instead of acting like a vegetable. And finally, around two in the morning, he went home.

There was a letter taped to his door. That was never good. If someone knows where you live you should sleep somewhere else until the boys have a chance to check it out. Knowing this Tremain walked up to the door and ripped the letter off and walked away from his apartment.

The letter read:

Detective Alan Tremain,

Congrats, man. You just got stuck trying to find me. This is gonna be fun. Because you’ve got a lot of questions & I’m not going to answer the ones you want, but the ones you need.

Go ahead, look down at the signature, It’s Liz, of course, and no I’m not going to tell you my last name, you would do things the boring way if I did.

The scumbag you have in the hospital: he’ll be up and around in 3 days, but he won’t be like he was. Turns out 3 is an important number to angels, I guess. Look it up. Anyway he’ll be better than he was, I killed the demon, not the man. I coulda killed both.

Look Alan, I know you think I’m crazy. I would have thought that too, a while ago. But I’m not. And the thing is, you’re going to be part of this, too. I can sense Others now. They have like, a glow. And you’re one of us. Wouldn’t you like to know what you are?

I’ll give you a hint: go try some peyote. I know you have some at the station. Go take it, find a quiet spot in the desert, and let the Holy Smokes bring your spirit animal into focus.

Your apartment is fine, Detective, sleep well tonight, knowing an Angel is watching over you. I’ll see you again soon, but you won’t be ready to see me for a while. But when you are we’ll clean this place up.

No, not Vegas. Vegas can’t be saved. I mean the world. We got a lotta work ahead of us.

–Liz the Angel.

Tremain called the precinct. “Listen, is that cell still empty? The one Liz was in. Look, I got some new evidence for you, and I need a place to sleep tonight. Okay, I’ll be there in twenty.”

Uncharacteristically, the desk sergeant offered up some information freely. “Oh, Detective, news from the lab. They found some,” –here the sergeant rattled off an eight syllable chemical name– “in Vincent’s blood. Not a lot, but they say it could be why he’s out cold. We’re checking the knife to see if it’s got the same chemical.”

Tremain laughed. “So our self-proclaimed angel had some help from a local chemist, huh? Thanks, sergeant. That’s good to know.”

Putting his phone back in his pocket Alan Tremain turned back to the parking lot, not looking around. But behind him, and above him, he heard someone laugh.

They Never Left

It became obvious, once I knew what I was looking for.

Humans have always had stories about others, elves and fairies and trolls and the like, right? Those who are like us and yet different. And it seems like up until the last century or so, we all knew they were out there.

And then science happened. Science tells us that there aren’t any other intelligent beings on Earth, that humans are all there is. No fairies, no trolls, no gods, no angels. But I know better. I learned better.

I started seeing them when I was riding the bus one day outside of Tucson. I had my hair tied back in a tight ponytail. I had bleached and straightened and dyed it in Flagstaff, so it was a riot of blonde & red & purple, saying yeah, I’m a girl but I’m one of those girls and not worth the trouble. I was trying to catch some sleep while all the other passengers were old people on the boring part of the trip instead of the scum that would get on board when we got closer to Vegas. I had my backpack on my lap and my arms tight around it so nobody wouldn’t steal it. I woke up when someone sat down on my seat.

He was pale and had red hair and a wild red beard and green eyes, like, crazy green. He smiled at me when I woke up and said “Don’t worry, today’s your lucky day”. His voice wasn’t like one of those drunk oily pickup men, he meant it, it sounded like lucky. So I went back to sleep and slept all the way to Vegas and when I woke up all my stuff was still in my backpack & someone had shoved $50 in my hand. That’s when I realized that there were still sprites and leprechauns. I mean, what else could he be?

So I started looking around. And man, if you know what you’re looking for they’re everywhere. Not just leprechauns. All of ’em. That glitzy girl who looks like she’s flying when she dances and seems to sparkle, she’s obviously a fairy. That bouncer who takes a beer bottle to the back of the head and just turns around is all “sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave”, I mean, come on, he’s a troll.

Or like, part troll. I think they all got interbred with humans, so now it’s like, some dude’s got more fairy in him than normal and people call him metro. Or whatever, like we all just have all of it in us, after so long.

I wonder how many people know what they are underneath. Seems like everyone’s so stupid about it, just, like, saying “no, he’s just strong, it’s not a big deal”. And I’m like, “strong doesn’t make you not get cut when you get hit with a bottle”. So yeah, wake up.

Anyway my friend Jenny was definitely one. We lived together for a while in a crappy little trailer outside Vegas while we were trying to get enough money to go anywhere else. And once I knew what I was looking for it was obvious. Jenny was totally an elf. She doesn’t have like, pointy ears but her eyes are a weird color, like, copper gray? And she’s tiny tiny. I’m only like, five eight, and she makes me feel like a giant. But what makes it real obvious is how much she needs trees.

Vegas was killing Jenny. It’s all flat and dead and she couldn’t get whatever it was she needed from deserts. She came from, like, Canada or Idaho or somewhere that’s all pine trees and dirt, and all the sand was just drying her out. I guess she ran away when her dad went psycho and this was as far as her money took her. It’s like, everyone can get to Vegas, but nobody can get out of Vegas.

Anyway on really bad days when Jenny was crying and shaking I would try to get her to come with me to one of the Casinos that had an indoor park with real trees and Jenny would sit on a bench and cry, but it would be different, like, she wouldn’t be so crazy. And after a while she would just be breathing deep and then she’d say something like “These trees are crap, Liz” and we’d go home.

Oh and its not just the good ones that exist, you know. The bad ones are still around too. But they get all the movies and books and crap. Vampires and werewolves and demons and whatever. Everyone thinks they’re so cool. They’re not. Jenny was dating a demon, I’m sure of it. He said his name was Vince, but who knows in Vegas? But he was always in all fancy silk shirts and pants and had a car even though he worked at a crappy bar off the strip. And anyone could see that they were wrong for each other. Anyone but Jenny, because he used some demon spell to make her think he was the greatest guy ever.

Me, I started to suspect when we went to the beach. He never got hot. It’d be like, a hundred degrees outside and Jenny and I were sweating and exhausted and he was all “oh is it hot out here?” and he’d smile that smile of his under those sunglasses he thought were so cool. He was never any good for Jenny, I think he kind of hated her? But she was pretty, so he dated her. Kind of. He would have killed her if I hadn’t come home early that night, but I scared him off and fixed her up. I’ve always been good at fixing folks up.

But things worked out; I was making more at work now that I knew how to play the gamblers for tips and so Jenny and I moved out of that trailer and into an apartment the next day. I guess spending more on rent kept me in Vegas longer, but I had to do it, you know?

And anyway that apartment was where all the good times happened. We were both making more now, and we had money to get smart phones. And we came up with The Plan.

It wasn’t a fancy plan. We would just sit around after work and look for places for Jenny to live. She didn’t want to go back up where she came from; but she thought northern California looked like a nice place with all the redwoods and stuff, so we would look at apartments she could rent there and figure out how much it would cost for her to move there. Then one day some boy tipped Jenny $300 because he won a bunch and then some other guy sold me his laptop for $300 because he needed to “win it all back”. So Jenny and I made her a real resume in Word and we spell checked it and everything. Then we started sending it to jobs in some of the cities she wanted to live in.

It was right around then that I noticed something weird. Once you knew what you were looking for you saw that a lot of people were others, but it was always just the poor people like me. You never saw a casino manager and thought “he’s a goblin”, or a middle class tourist with their family and thought “oh, she’s a mermaid!” No, it was always the dealers, croupiers, dancers, bouncers, waiters, those were the people who were something other. Sometimes I kinda wondered if I was, too.

Anyway Jenny got a phone interview for one of those jobs and they agreed to hire her. I didn’t want to go to California. I kinda wanted to go back home Louisiana, but on the other hand I kinda didn’t. So I told Jenny I was just going to find a new roommate or whatever. I didn’t have a real plan or anything. Jenny kissed me on the cheek when she got on the bus for California and said “thank you so much, Lizzie. You’re an angel!” And then she was gone.

Walking home I thought about what she said. I wasn’t the usual blonde and blue-eyed kind, but why couldn’t I be an angel? My Granny always said I was, but that’s just what grannies say, right? But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I’ve always been blessed; you know, lucky. Like with that leprechaun. And I’ve always loved helping people, and I got a killer singing voice from my mamma.

Well, I got to thinking about it, and I realized that if there’s all these people around me that are other, whose to say I’m not an angel? If Vince was a demon, and I knew hew was, why wouldn’t angels be around as well? I don’t know about church stuff, maybe angels and demons exist outside of church stuff.

And that got me thinking. Some angels are all about singing and just being good, right? But others come down and get things done. And that’s when it clicked. That’s the kind I am. I’m the kind of angel that makes things better. And once I knew that, well, I knew what I had to do.

So that’s why I did what I did. Vince was a demon, and an angel’s first job is to fight off demons. And that’s why I let you catch me. I’ve got a job to do, and I wanted to let you all know. You regular people, you’ve been pushing us others into the shadows and ignoring us for a long time. So long you forgot we were real. So long even we forgot we were real, most days. Even now you don’t believe me, but that’s fine. You can believe what you want. I’m just going to give you my message and then I’m out of here.

You thought we were gone. You thought we were stories. Some of you hoped you could bring us back. But you know what?

We never left.

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