The Price of Entanglement - Chapter 8, pt. 3

Transient

She tapped a control on her phone and flicked a set of files over to a larger tablet on her desk. Images of the recovered files appeared; she grabbed the device and together they studied the first one.

Quinn’s brow furrowed. “All of that for this?” The first record was an old police report. The constabulary had been called upon to deal with a noise complaint, of all things. “It’s not even an exciting report. Who’d care enough about this to kill for it?”

“Let’s check the rest, we don’t know what else is in here. There are a couple dozen files.” She flipped to the next document in the collection. More noise. And more. And more. “Someone was a bad neighbor.”

“No kidding.” Quinn flipped through them a little quicker until they got a little more than halfway through. “Ahh, it gets worse. Foul stenches, a lab, unnatural blue light in the middle of the night …”

Jo frowned. “Let me see that one?” She flipped it back.

Dated in the early 1890s, the report described what sounded like the latest in a series of sightings at the ironworks. The hair on the back of Jo’s neck stood up, her bad feeling intensifying. She shivered in spite of the warmth of the room. “The ironworks. I can’t stand that place,” she almost whispered.

“I’ve heard the stories, I didn’t know they were so old. I’ve never seen anything. Have you?”

She was about to say “No,” but hesitated. “Well, I’ve never seen the blue-light ghost of the stories, but my second … um … experience, I guess? It was right near there.”

She kept reading. Someone by the name of Tolvy Getz had reported seeing the blue-light ghost by a lab that neighbored the ironworks. He hadn’t been in his right state of mind; given how she felt whenever she was near the place, she couldn’t blame the poor man. He’d been in quite a state and confronted the constabulary about it, blaming the lab’s occupants.

“There’s not much here about the lab. Why would he blame them, instead of the ironworks?”

“Maybe the stories weren’t fully established then? If he saw the ghost near the labs, I guess it makes some sense.”

They flipped to the next report. It was dated several months after the last, and bore no mention of the labs. It _was_ another sighting of the ghost though, and in the same general area, if the reporting constable’s commentary was to be believed. The next one after that was very similar; a gentleman driving an auto-powered wagon with his lady had passed by the area of the ironworks and the labs around dusk when the poor lady let out a scream like she’d seen the headsman’s axe rushing to meet her, then fainted dead away.

The next several were similar, with complaints about noise and noxious odors fading in frequency as reports of sightings became more common and much more frequent. Jo’s early position that the labs were involved by their proximity was challenged as relatively few of the reports mentioned them specifically.

“I wonder if there’s enough data in these reports to match them up on a map,” she mused.

“Say no more,” Quinn said with a smile, by now as caught up in the unfolding drama as she was. He started typing away on a folding tablet-like computer with an actual physical keyboard that he swore up and down was far better for code input than any screen. Seeing how fast his fingers could move on it, she believed him.

 

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