“And next week,” the paper read, “there will be a murder somewhere in the East section of The City. More details pending.” Joy Wells sighed at writing such an ominous — and not to mention tremendously unhelpful — bit of news. Normally, the dark and foreboding was her brother’s province, but lately her dreams showed only crimson, and however much she grasped at her usual optimism, she came up blank.
Cynric Wells came in just then with a cup of coffee in hand, and he stopped briefly to read over her shoulder. With a vague nod, he continued on to his desk, sitting and staring into space as he sipped at his liquid caffeine.
“Hey, sis,” he said after a moment, “your dreams told you that Officer Tannis would live a long life, marriage and kids and all that, yes?”
“Yeah, why?” She answered, looking up in confusion from the typewriter she’d been staring at as she wracked her brain for a happier way of sharing unhappy news.
“He’s dead,” answered her brother matter-of-factly.
“What?” She demanded, rising in surprise and horror. “How?”
Cynric took another sip of his coffee before answering. “An earth wyrm. Came right up out of a manhole, believe it or not; swallowed him whole. Now that’ll make for interesting reading for the common folk tomorrow morning.”
“But he could still be alive! Have they–“
“Oh no, Joy dear. I assure you, he’s very dead. Julius doesn’t like it when things happen to his underlings without his say-so, and had the rest search until they found the thing and gutted it. That’s where I’ve been these past few hours. I got a front row seat of the… operation.”
Joy fell back down into her chair, holding her head. “That’s terrible,” she muttered.
“That’s one word for it,” said her brother, eying her intently.
“Just say it, Cynric,” she groaned.
“Alright. You were wrong, sis. You’ve never been wrong before, and it’s not a good look, for either of us.”
She looked up at him. “You’re blaming me for appearances, when someone — a man we’ve known since we first came here — is dead? I knew you could be heartless, brother, but I didn’t realize you could be this petty as well.”
“Pettiness has nothing to do with it. Your ability has never been wrong before. If it can be wrong once, then why not twice, thrice, three hundred times? And if that’s the case, then I’m sorry to say, sister, but your ‘gift’ is downright worthless, and could potentially even be considered fraudulent. Once is bad enough already. But if this happens again, how long until the whole City starts to lean towards the ‘fraudulent’ answer? Tell me, Joy, have you ever been skinned alive before? Because let me assure you, it’s not very fun.”
“The Inkwell is the newspaper for the entire City. We have friends all over. You really think they’d just turn on us?”
Cynric scoffed. “What do you think happened to the people the job belonged to previously?”
“I thought you said they retired to a unicorn dimension?”
“No, dear. That’s called sarcasm.”
Joy’s face dropped. “Oh.” She took a breath. “So what are we going to do, then?”
“We make darn sure it doesn’t happen again. So… what do you say to a little investigative journalism?”
Per Goldie’s challenge. To be continued… Possibly.