The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 23

Daniel Lincoln had leased an apartment on the fourth floor of Medallion Heights, a rundown building in the low rent part of Sandy Grotto.  Nathan maneuvered his bike around the potholes and pulled to a stop. Trash piled up in the alleys outside the long neglected and overlooked buildings. It was a place of gray despair. Nathan let his eyes wander over the boarded up broken windows, graffiti, and filth of Medallion Heights. This was what Lincoln had called home.

Sandy Grotto was an island just off the coast of Crescent Bay. The poor part of town, it was a thorn in the side of Crescent Bay’s city fathers, one they would like to remove, especially the wealthy who lived in Blackstone, the jewel in the city’s crown. To that end, the small, humble housing for low-income residents was gradually being converted to upscale lofts for young professionals, housing far beyond the reach of the poor.

Nathan heard the sound of children and turned to see three kids playing ball in the grass of an empty lot while another child played alone, chasing a plastic bag that danced through the air just out of her reach. Watching Nathan were three men sitting on the steps leading into Medallion Heights. They wore matching colors, the uniform of The Shadows, and Nathan had dropped himself right into their territory. One of them stood, the leader Nathan figured, and started walking toward the bike, followed by the other two men. His head was cocked to one side, and he wore an arrogant smile.

“Marco Collazo,” Nathan thought. “Overcompensates for his lack of esteem. Afraid of the dark and snakes.”

“Nice bike. You lost?” Collazo asked.

Just then Elizabeth landed behind Nathan with a thud. When she kept her wings extended, the men hesitated and stepped back.

“Is there a problem?” Elizabeth asked.

“Not anymore, chica,” Collazo said. “You know who I am?”

“Should I?” Elizabeth returned.

“Mr. Collazo, I need your help,” Nathan interrupted. “I want to take a look inside the apartment of one of the tenants, Daniel Lincoln.”

“Why would I help you?” Collazo asked. “What’s in it for me?”

“I know who keeps breaking into your mom’s house,” Nathan said.

Collazo went white with rage and took a step toward Nathan.

“You?” Collazo demanded.

“No, not me. But I can give you the name of the guy. And if that isn’t enough, I can always inform Shadow Leader why your crew came up short two weeks ago,” Nathan explained.

“You threatening me?” Collazo barked.

“Nope. I don’t threaten. . .,” Nathan paused to point to Elizabeth.

“She does.”

Taking Nathan’s cue, Elizabeth walked over and picked up a discarded water pipe then bent it into a circle. She held it up for a moment, bent it back to its original shape then tossed it aside.

Collazo’s eyes grew wide with amazement.

 

Nathan slipped his hand into his pocket and removed a small notepad. He scribbled something then tore the sheet free.

“I need for you to run interference for me while I check out Lincoln’s apartment. Here is the name of the individual who has broken into your mother’s place twice. He’s caused people a lot of pain, and in two days he’s going to murder someone. Don’t be gentle.”

Nathan handed the paper to Collazo then stepped around him.

As he watched Elizabeth walk away with Nathan, one of Collazo’s associates said,

“Esa chica está bien, pero ella es peligrosa.”

The other man smiled, “Estoy enamorado”

As they stepped inside the shabby lobby of Medallion Heights, closing the door behind them, Elizabeth asked,

“They’re with The Shadows?”

“Yep,” Nathan replied. Sensing her next question, he added, “The Shadows don’t discriminate based on race, nationality, gender or even living status. Anyone can join.”

“Oh,” Elizabeth said. “Wait! What?”

“Julian Sharpe, or Shadow Leader, is a meta with the ability to summon and control the dead. He formed the gang and because he can manipulate shadows, his gang took the name The Shadows and he became known as Shadow Leader.”

Nathan and Elizabeth walked up four flights to Lincoln’s apartment. Trying the door, he found it was locked.

“The manager has a spare key. Let me go find him. I’ll be right back.”

“You certain it’s locked?” Elizabeth asked, hitting the door with her open palm. Under the force, the lock splintered and the door swung open.

“Oh look,” Elizabeth said coyly. “It’s unlocked.”

“That’s against the rules,” Nathan chided.

“What rules? I didn’t sign any special employment contract. I can do whatever I want,” Elizabeth said, sashaying into the apartment.

Lincoln’s place had a musty smell. In several spots, the wallpaper was peeling, exposing patches of mildew from leaky pipes in the walls. The carpet, once a plush rich tan, was now flattened by years of footsteps and covered with brown and black stains. Opposite the door sat an old couch, its bright, vibrant colors faded into dull weary reminders scattered across the torn fabric and misshapen cushions.

The moment he walked through the door, Nathan was flooded with the apartment’s secrets down through the years.

Lincoln’s sister had slept on the couch during a bad snowstorm that kept her from flying home after her visit. It was the same couch where Lincoln suffered a bad reaction to drugs bought from money he’d stolen from his sister’s purse. At his feet, Nathan could feel the memory of the wet carpet from the many times Lincoln had walked home in a rainstorm drunk and crashed to sleep off hangovers. One large window to the right of the couch was stained brown from the mud and paint that had been thrown at it during a riot that took place years ago.

Nathan closed his eyes and concentrated on blocking out the flood of foul memories.

“Are you okay?” Elizabeth asked.

“I will be,” Nathan responded.

“This place is absolutely filthy!” Elizabeth said, curling her lip in disgust.

“You have no idea how filthy,” Nathan said as another memory made him gag.

“Any idea where Lincoln would keep his blackmail file?” Elizabeth asked.

“None. If I open my mind, I’ll be inundated with every revolting thing that happened here, so let’s try doing this the old fashioned way,” Nathan insisted.

“Okay. We can start by looking around,” Elizabeth suggested.

“Right. Just be careful not to touch anything. The cops haven’t searched this place yet,” Nathan advised.

“Of course,” Elizabeth replied.

After searching for five minutes, Elizabeth called out from the bedroom,

“You find anything?”

“No blackmail file but a lot more than I wanted to know,” Nathan frowned.

Joining Nathan in the living room, she saw him looking intently at something out the window.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, coming alongside him.

“That bar across the street with graffiti and bars on the windows. Coltrane’s. Looks like it might be the watering hole for the locals.”

“Can we go now? I don’t think Lincoln ever cleaned up! This place is littered with trash and matchbooks from some bar called Eight Ball’s.”

Nathan turned away from the window and looked at Elizabeth.

“What was the name of the bar?” he asked.

“Eight Ball’s,” Elizabeth repeated. “Why? Is that important?”

Nathan took a second look at Coltrane’s and said,

“Let’s go find this bar Eight Ball’s. See what it has to offer in the way of information. What’s the address?”

 

 

*          *          *

 

Eight Ball’s turned out to be a biker bar less than five miles down the street from Lincoln’s apartment. Out front, motorcycles were lined up like horses outside a saloon. Nathan got a few side-glances while Elizabeth was welcomed by a chorus of catcalls.

The wood porch thumped under the weight of Nathan’s boots. When they stepped inside the bar, they were hit with thick smoke, suspicious glares, and excessively loud music.

Elizabeth followed Nathan as he headed over to the bar. The bartender, a short man sporting a Mohawk, stopped wiping a glass long enough to ask,

“What’ll it be?”

“I’m looking for information a friend of mine may have left here. His name’s Daniel Lincoln.”

“I might be able to help you,” a man’s voice said behind them.

He walked straight to Elizabeth, winked at her, and said,

“Name’s Gordon, little lady. What’s your name?”

“Just tell me what you know,” Elizabeth ordered.

“Not here,” Gordon said. “Follow me.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Nathan advised.

“I’ll be fine,” Elizabeth assured him.

As they walked away, Nathan said,

“I was talking to him.”

“What’s keeping me from having you thrown out?” the bartender asked.

“Wait a minute and you’ll see,” Nathan said.

A few moments after Elizabeth disappeared into a back room with Gordon, there was a loud thump and the door splintered as Gordon crashed through it, flew across the bar and smashed through a window. Elizabeth stepped out of the room, brushing herself off. The bar patrons quickly backed up as she walked over to Nathan.

“That’s why,” Nathan told the bartender.

Turning to Elizabeth, he asked, “Did he know anything?”

Elizabeth carefully smoothed her hair, returning loose strands to their place, then said,

“No, except where not to put his hands.”

“That was my boy!” one of the bikers growled as he stormed up to Elizabeth.

With one of her wings, she grabbed the man by his shirt, slammed his head into the bar and threw him backwards across the room.

When he crashed into the jukebox, the bar went silent.

“Sorry about your jukebox,” Nathan said nonchalantly. “Now what can you tell me about Daniel Lincoln?”

When the bartender hesitated, Elizabeth glared at him and Nathan asked,

“Please?”

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Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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